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Mike Brown

Mike Brown

England fullback Mike Brown is unlikely to return to action in time for the crucial Six Nations clash against Ireland following a setback in his recovery from concussion.

The 29-year-old felt a recurrence of his symptoms on Friday after being knocked unconscious in the 47 / 17 victory over Italy and having completed a weekend of rest has restarted the return to play protocols.

The earliest the Harlequins star will be able to resume contact training is Friday, the day head coach Stuart Lancaster announces his starting line-up for Sunday’s showdown between the Championship’s only remaining unbeaten teams in Dublin.

It leaves Brown – who had an outstanding tournament last year scoring 4 tries – with a race against time to prove his fitness knowing any further flare-up in symptoms will force him to start the protocols again and rule him out of contention.

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Coventry LogoThe ongoing poaching of South Africa’s Rugby players goes ahead unabated with the announcement by English club Coventry that they have signed South African born centre Mark Hodgkiss from Maties.

Coventry already have a number of SA born players on their books and even though they only play in the 3rd tier of English Rugby, this latest signing serves to illustrate the depth of the problem facing South African Rugby.

 

This media release from Coventry Rugby’s website:

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England head coach Stuart Lancaster has named an unchanged match day squad for Saturday’s Six Nations match against Italy at Twickenham.

The 23 players will re-assemble at Pennyhill Park on Wednesday, with the starting XV and replacements announced on Thursday.

Lancaster said: “We’ll name the team on Thursday but we’ve gone for the same squad that played against Wales as we look to build consistent performances.

“There are many players pushing hard for selection and we are looking forward to watching their club games this weekend.”

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World RugbyA strong second half saw Rugby World Cup 2015 hosts England storm back to beat Wales 21 / 16 in their Six Nations opener in Cardiff, a result which lifted them above Ireland back to 3rd in the latest World Rugby rankings.

According to the World Rugby (previously IRB), the victory sees England regain the mantle as the leading northern hemisphere nation in the rankings behind New Zealand and South Africa and they now sit 0.35 points above Ireland after their 26 / 3 victory over Italy in Rome had no impact due to the 11 places separating the teams.

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EnglandLuther Burrell and Jonathan Joseph form a new-look midfield partnership, as England recalled four British and Irish Lions for Friday’s Six Nations opener against Wales at the Millennium Stadium.

Dan Cole starts at tighthead prop, while Leicester Tigers teammates Tom Youngs and Tom Croft, as well as Saracens loosehead Mako Vunipola, are included among the replacements.

All four played some part in England’s 3 / 30 defeat at the same venue two years ago and will be itching to set the record straight.

Cole comes in for David Wilson (Bath) to win a 46th cap in a pack showing four changes from the one that started the final 2014 year-end Test against Australia.

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EnglandSale Sharks flyhalf Danny Cipriani has been named in the England squad for the Six Nations opener against Wales. The 27-year-old, who has not featured since last June’s tour of New Zealand, is set to start on the bench.

Harlequins No 8 eight Nick Easter, 36, returns for the first time since the 2011 World Cup.

Leicester Tigers trio Dan Cole, Tom Croft and Tom Youngs and Saracens prop Mako Vunipola are also named in Stuart Lancaster’s 25-man party.

Bath centre Jonathan Joseph returns to the squad for the first time since the 2013 tour to Argentina.

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SIX Nations 2015 Launch

The World Cup countdown is officially on, as the Six Nations sides get the first opportunity in the spotlight.

xThe Northern Hemisphere teams will look to sharpen up on their game plans, test out combinations and look to see who to cut from their World Cup plans.

With England hosting the global showpiece this year, the onus is on the Northern Hemisphere sides to fully challenge and grab the opportunity of a World Cup on their turf.

The conditions, referees and schedule seems to favour them.

The Six Nations in 2014 saw a tournament only decided on the final day – with three teams still able to win it. Eventually Ireland won it, a perfect swan song for arguably the greatest No.13 in the modern era – Brian O’Driscoll.

England won the triple crown, beating all the other Home Nations, but failed to win the Six Nations. Italy was also in the record books for the most tackles in a Test match as they made 208!

What do we expect in the 2015 edition of the Six Nations?

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SaracensVodacom Blue BullsSaracens (0) 26 / 39 (13) Blue Bulls (Final Score)

Saracens and the Vodacom Blue Bulls did battle in an inter-hemisphere match which also served as

warm-up for the Bulls at Allianz Park, London at 17:15 SA Time (15:15 BST & GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.

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SaracensVodacom Blue BullsFlanker Deon Stegmann will lead the Vodacom Blue Bulls on Saturday when they take on Saracens in a friendly match outside London. The Blue Bulls named their final travelling squad on Wednesday, just before departure to England.

Regular captain Pierre Spies will only play off the bench in his return to first class rugby after more than 12 months on the sidelines; hence the decision to employ Stegmann’s proven leadership skills. The former Springbok flanker captained the Vodacom Blue Bulls with great success in the ABSA Currie Cup competition in the past.

Another former captain, Victor Matfield, will travel to London as part of the coaching team and not as a player and will not be in action over the weekend.

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Christian Day

Christian Day

Tom Croft

Tom Croft

Leicester Tigers flank Tom Croft and Northampton Saints lock Christian Day have been called up to the England training squad.

The reinforcements come as coach Stuart Lancaster assesses the impact of an injury-laden round of European action – ahead of the first round of Six nations action, when England face Wales in Cardiff on 6 February.

Two-time British and Irish Lion Croft and former age-grade star Day joined the squad on Monday – while Geoff Parling’s knee and Tom Wood’s ankle are fully assessed by the England medical team.

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Vodacom Blue BullsSaracensThree-time Super Rugby champions the Bulls won’t find that their pre-season campaign gets any easier when they tackle English Premiership side Saracens at their Allianz Park, north London stronghold on Saturday.

The game (Kick-Off 17:15 SA Time, 15:15 BST & GMT) is due to be screened live on SuperSport 1 and CSN, after the Loftus-based side played out a 30 / 13 win minus the glare of television cameras against Super Rugby rivals the Cheetahs in Polokwane last Saturday.

There are few better ways to get European-stationed expatriate rugby players’ juices flowing than by pitting them against South African-based compatriots, and it seems Sarries – currently 3rd in the Premiership behind Northampton and Bath – will be in a position to field several against the presumably still rusty Bulls.

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Owen Farrell

Owen Farrell

England flyhalf Owen Farrell will undergo tests after hobbling off with a knee injury during Saracens’ 6 / 18 European Champions Cup defeat at Clermont on Sunday.

Farrell was forced off in the 19th minute, after twisting his left knee in a collision with Clermont flank Julien Bardy.

Saracens Director of Rugby Mark McCall said the 23-year-old would now undergo further tests to see if he can compete in the Six Nations which gets underway on 6 February.

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Nick Mallett

Nick Mallett

Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett says England made a mistake by not appointing him and New Zealander Wayne Smith as coaches 3 years ago.

Mallett, 58, was in line for the England head coaching job but lost out to Stuart Lancaster.

In an interview with The Times, Mallett said he would have appointed Smith as his assistant coach had he got the England job.

Smith was the All Blacks’ assistant coach when they won the 2011 Rugby World Cup and also helped the Chiefs to back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013.

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Harlequins No 8 Nick Easter and Sale Sharks flyhalf Danny Cipriani have been named in Stuart Lancaster’s England training squad for the forthcoming Six Nations championship.

The 34-man group will meet up at Pennyhill Park on Monday 26 January, to prepare for their tournament-opening match against Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Friday 6 February.

There are also places for 5 British and Irish Lions – as Alex Corbisiero (Northampton Saints), Dan Cole, Geoff Parling, Tom Youngs (all Leicester Tigers) and Mako Vunipola (Saracens) return from respective injuries.

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Courtney Lawes

Courtney Lawes

Courtney Lawes, one of England’s key forwards, will miss the start of the SIX Nations Championship after he undergoes surgery on an injured ankle on Monday.

Northampton rugby director Jim Mallinder said the 25-year-old Saints lock was set to miss the “first few weeks” of the tournament, which could mean Lawes being sidelined not just for England’s opening game with Wales on 6 February but also the Italy match on 14 February.

It is a blow for England to lose their 36-times capped powerhouse, as they are already without Wasps lock Joe Launchbury for the whole tournament as he continues his rehabilitation from neck surgery.

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Ben Morgan

Ben Morgan

England No 8 Ben Morgan is likely to miss the entire SIX Nations campaign after fracturing his left leg in Gloucester’s 24-23 win over Saracens in the Premiership last Friday.

The 25-year-old Morgan, who was carried off in the second half and given oxygen, had surgery on Saturday with Gloucester confirming the player had fractured his lower left leg.

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Plymouth AlbionPlymouth Albion’s chairman Graham Stirling claims the Championship is unsustainable unless the Rugby Football Union increases its funding to clubs.

Albion will go into administration next week unless they can find £250,000 to see them through until the summer.

Championship clubs currently receive £380,000 a year from the RFU.

“We do get central funding from the RFU, but it’s inadequate to support a fully professional side in the second tier,” Stirling told BBC Sport.

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Manu Tuilagi

Manu Tuilagi

England centre Manu Tuilagi could miss the Six Nations opener against Wales next month as he continues his recovery from a groin injury, his Leicester Tigers club boss said on Sunday.

The powerful 23-year-old, widely regarded as key to England’s hopes in the annual European tournament and September’s home World Cup, has not played since last October.

“It may well come too soon, we’ll see,” Leiceister’s Richard Cockerill told reporters when asked about the 6 February date in Cardiff.

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Jack Wilson

Jack Wilson

The Cell C Sharks have lured a New Zealand Sevens player to Durban as they continue to bolster their own ranks.

New Zealand-born wing Jack Wilson has signed for the Sharks from English Premiership club Saracens and will immediately join the Super Rugby squad.

The talented wing, 25, arrived in London in December 2012 and has scored 6 tries in 19 appearances for Saracens.

His arrival follows shortly after confirmation that Saracens’ England lock Mouritz Botha will also make Durban his home next year. Botha, unlike Wilson, will only join the coastal franchise in January.

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Sam Burgess

Sam Burgess

Sam Burgess scored his first try in rugby union as he played at blindside flanker in Bath academy’s win over London Irish A.

Burgess, 26, had featured at centre in each of his four first-team appearances since switching codes in October.

He played 63 minutes and scored in the first half of the 44-5 A League victory at the Rec.

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James Horwill

James Horwill

Queensland Rugby has announced James Horwill has signed a three-year contract with English Premiership giant Harlequins.

Horwill will make the move to the famous London club following the 2015 Rugby World Cup, which concludes in October next year.

He is currently the most-capped Queensland captain, having led the Reds on 69 occasions.

A modern-day champion of the Reds who led Queensland to the 2011 Super Rugby title, Horwill will make the 2015 Super Rugby season his 10th and his last and is determined to achieve success when he pulls on the Reds jersey for the final time next year.

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George North

Wales and Northampton’s George North

George North has insisted he is not planning to return to regional rugby any time soon but backed the new dual-contract system which has attracted Dan Lydiate to return from France.

The Northampton wing hailed Welsh union and regional bosses for finally agreeing a “feasible option” that will boost chances of top stars remaining in the domestic game.

Lydiate capitalised on the new contracts by return from Racing Metro to the Ospreys and will make his debut against Ulster this Saturday.

North believes more top stars could follow suit but stressed his current situation at Northampton suits him “down to the ground”.

The Saints release North for all his Wales commitments, a situation he admits allows him to gain the best of both worlds.

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Charlie Matthews

Charlie Matthews

Harlequins lock Charlie Matthews could face a ban of up to one year after he was cited for allegedly making contact with the eye area of Leinster flanker Dominic Ryan in last Saturday’s European Champions Cup match.

The 23-year-old – who was sin-binned by French referee Romain Poite for the altercation – will face a disciplinary panel in London on Wednesday.

The panel could impose anything from a low end sanction lasting 12 weeks, mid-range 24 weeks, while in the worst case scenario he could be banned for a year for a more serious offence.

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Dylan Hartley

Dylan Hartley

England hooker Dylan Hartley has rejected a mega offer from Top 14 club Montpellier to sign a new deal with Northampton.

The 28-year-old has revealed that he was given a ‘very generous offer’ by the club to move to France.

However, Hartley has opted to remain with Premiership champions Saints and outlined his reasons today.

Hartley stated that the move would have had no impact on his England career ahead of next year’s World Cup, while turning down the possibility of ‘300 days of sunshine’ was not easy.

“It’s no secret I was offered a deal to join one of the leading French sides, Montpellier, which would have been worth significantly more. But money isn’t everything,” Hartley wrote in his column in a newspaper.

“I don’t want to come across all ‘holier than thou’ over this, but I do believe the world loyalty has gone out of fashion a bit – and for me that really means something.”

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Mouritz Botha

Mouritz Botha

Mouritz Botha has been reluctantly released by Saracens to join The Sharks in South Africa, with effect from 1 January 2015.

Mark McCall, Director of Rugby, said: “Mouritz has been a massive part of our squad and our culture for the past five and a half seasons, and we are very sorry to see him leave. However, this is a great opportunity to play for one of the top teams in the Super XV, and we wish him, Natasha and young Joshua well.”

Botha joined Saracens from Bedford Blues in 2009, has played 142 matches for the club and has also been capped 10 times by England.

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End Of Year ToursOnce again the four Rugby Championship teams have been and gone but this time they did not have it all their own way on their annual visit to the British Isles as it ended five wins apiece from the 10 Tests.

Ireland beat both South Africa and Australia, Wales downed the former and England the latter, and Scotland defeated Argentina.

Admittedly, the Pumas are not part of rugby union’s traditional southern hemisphere big three, and the incomparable All Blacks sailed through their Tests unbeaten, but even discounting the Scottish win over Argentina the matches against the three giants from the south only ended 5-4 to the visitors.

Former England and Lions great Jeremy Guscott has been out and about  during November and here he selects a XV for both the home nations and the Rugby Championship sides.

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All BlacksReigning champions New Zealand remained the team to beat less than a year out from the World Cup in England after yet another successful November campaign in Europe.

There’s nothing new in the All Blacks being the yardstick for the global game and their rivals will take some comfort in knowing New Zealand have yet to win the World Cup on foreign soil.

So the fact they were pushed close by both England (24-21) and Wales (34-16) this month before emerging victorious won’t have done the All Blacks any harm, nor will the success of a virtual second-choice side in preserving their unbeaten record against Scotland.

However, all these matches demonstrated how no team goes for the full 80 minutes quite like New Zealand, who have enviable depth.

England found themselves needing two scores in the closing stages against the All Blacks and managed one while Wales conceded 24 points in the final 17 minutes.

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AustraliaEnglandA try in both halves from Ben Morgan helped England claim a well-deserved 26-17 victory over Australia at Twickenham.

England displayed excellent composure in defence and made the most of their possession by running in two tries to claim a massive psychological advantage with the World Cup a few months away.

The Wallabies outscored the hosts 14-13 in the second half but failed to overturn a 10-point half-time deficit.

Scrum dominance, allied to fine work at the breakdown led by England captain Chris Robshaw, were the cornerstones of England’s victory.

The win saw England end the November programme with a 50 percent success rate after defeats by both world champions New Zealand (24-21) and South Africa (31-28) were followed by last week’s 28-9 win over Samoa.

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WalesSouth AfricaWales (3) 12 / 6 (3) Springboks (Final Score)

Wales and the South African Springboks did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Millennium stadium, Cardiff, Wales at 16:30 SA Time (14:30 BST & GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.

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Take Note that the England vs Australia game was at the same time slot as the Wales vs South Africa game, therefore we concentrated on the Wales vs South Africa game, with SCORE UPDATES at the Bottom of the Article on the England vs Australia game.

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Chris Robshaw

Michael Hooper

Michael Hooper

England captain Chris Robshaw is an “absolute pest” according to Australia counterpart and fellow openside flank Michael Hooper.

The two loose forwards will be involved in a contest to boss the breakdown when England face Australia at Twickenham on Saturday, less than a year out from the teams’ 2015 World Cup pool clash at the London ground.

Yet even though Robshaw has established himself as England coach Stuart Lancaster’s undoubted first-choice captain, there are those who continue to question whether his leadership skills offset the fact he is not a turnover specialist in the mould of New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw.

Lancaster has faced repeated demands to abandon England’s policy of selecting overseas-based players in “exceptional circumstances” only and revive the Test career of impressive flank Steffon Armitage, the reigning European player of the year, who has been starring for French and European champions Toulon.

But Hooper, one of the best scavenging openside flanks in the modern game, said Robshaw’s qualities as a flank should not be discounted.

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Sam Burgess

Sam Burgess

Rugby league star Sam Burgess made his highly-anticipated union debut for Bath in a comprehensive 25-6 victory over Harlequins in the English Premiership on Friday.

Burgess had not played rugby since fracturing his cheekbone and eye socket during his final appearance for South Sydney in their 30-6 NRL Grand Final victory over Canterbury Bulldogs in October.

But he was named on the bench for Bath, for whom he was signed a three-year deal worth an estimated 270,000 with a tilt at England’s World Cup squad in mind.

And the player capped 28 times as a forward for England in rugby league came on in the 63rd minute as a centre alongside fellow league convert Kyle Eastmond.

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Sean McMahon

Sean McMahon

Sean McMahon returns to the Australian starting lineup in one of three changes ahead of their final year-end Test, against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

With Tevita Kuridrani unavailable due to a low-grade ankle injury, Test veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper has been selected at outside centre, which allows Rob Horne to earn a starting position on the wing.

The starting line-up is otherwise unchanged with McMahon part of a back row including captain Michael Hooper and Ben McCalman, locks Sam Carter and Rob Simmons, and a front row of James Slipper, Saia Fainga’a and Sekope Kepu.

In the backs Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley continue their play-making partnership,Matt Toomua joins Adam Ashley-Cooper in the centres, with a back three consisting of Israel Folau, Rob Horne and Henry Speight.

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Billy Twelvetrees

Billy Twelvetrees

Billy Twelvetrees has been handed his first start of the 2014 Internationals against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday with Owen Farrell reverting to the bench.

The Gloucester Rugby centre, who started every game in last season’s Six Nations campaign, takes the No 12 jersey and shifts Saracen Owen Farrell to the replacements’ bench as George Ford is retained at flyhalf.

Up front, Northampton Saints pair Tom Wood and Dylan Hartley take over from James Haskell (Wasps) and Rob Webber (Bath Rugby) at blindside flank and hooker respectively.

Despite those changes to the run-on side, the same match-day 23 who beat Samoa 28-9 last weekend will be on duty as England look to secure a 10th victory in 13 Twickenham Tests.

Reviewing his selection, Head Coach Stuart Lancaster praised Twelvetrees for his committed self-development over the current campaign.

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Recent Comments

  • MacroBull 3 Mar 2015, 21:28 SAST - It has nothing to do with loyalty to your employer at your current work situation or to have high moral...
  • MacroBull 3 Mar 2015, 21:26 SAST - @ Angostura: Still some snide jabs, In this sense of this subject (rugby) no one should expect a player to...
  • Angostura 3 Mar 2015, 21:01 SAST - 17 @ MacroBull: Relax Some (seemingly like you?) do not regard loyalty as a virtue e.g. "The first thing I...
  • grootblousmile 3 Mar 2015, 20:55 SAST - 25 @ MacroBull: Sometimes you get the rub of the green and sometimes it goes against you... I also have...
  • MacroBull 3 Mar 2015, 20:48 SAST - Pro nie rasta nie :)
  • MacroBull 3 Mar 2015, 20:47 SAST - Ek voel wel nie skuldig oor die ref nie. Saru skuld ons nog na daai rastapro newlands game.

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