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George Ford

George Ford

George Ford is set to make his first Test start after being selected at flyhalf in a revamped England side to play Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday.

Ford, all of whose four previous Test appearances have come as a replacement, now finds himself in the No 10 shirt with regular fly-half Owen Farrell moved across to inside centre by England coach Stuart Lancaster despite unimpressive showings in this month’s defeats by world champions New Zealand and South Africa

Farrell played the first two matches of his England career, in 2012, at inside centre when he was also alongside Brad Barritt, who is again set to be his midfield partner against Samoa this weekend.

“It’s great to give George a start in this series after he missed the summer tour through injury,” Lancaster said in a Rugby Football Union statement published on Wednesday.

“George has been impressive in camp and is now fully up to speed with the game plan and is ready to run the game. Owen switches to 12 and I’m sure will support George well.”

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SamoaSamoa’s Census Johnston is set to win his 50th international cap this weekend after being named in the side to play England at Twickenham on Saturday.

The tighthead prop, who has also played three Tests for the combined Pacific Islands team, lines up in the front row with hooker Ti’iPaulo and loosehead prop Sakaria Taulafo.

Samoa have made six changes to the starting XV that beat Canada 23-13 in Vannes, north-west France, last Friday.

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Bath PlugBath RugbyErrr… wrong picture… I did not say Bath Plug, I said Bath Rugby! OK, here’s the right one!

Gmpfff, still looks somewhat the same!

 

Anyway… Bath head coach Mike Ford has said the club are not in the market for Springbok loose forward Duane Vermeulen.

Earlier in the week there was speculation that Bath were on the hunt for Vermeulen to be one of their marquee players alongside Wallaby Will Genia.

“It was news to us when it was mentioned to us earlier today,” Ford said on Tuesday.

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Stuart Lancaster

Stuart Lancaster

England coach Stuart Lancaster made three changes to his matchday squad to face Samoa on Saturday, as he looks to end a five-match losing streak.

Richard Wigglesworth, James Haskell and Billy Twelvetrees will make their first appearances in a matchday squad in the year-end Tests, after being named among the 23 players to face Samoa in the third international this month.

Saracens scrumhalf Wigglesworth, who won the last of his 14 Test caps on the 2013 tour to Argentina, replaces the starting No 9 from the three-point defeats to New Zealand and South Africa, Harlequins’ Danny Care.

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Luther Burrell

Luther Burrell

Billy Twelvetrees

Billy Twelvetrees

Luther Burrell and Billy Twelvetrees are both in contention to face Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday, after Burrell was named in the group preparing for the third of England’s year-end Tests.

The Northampton Saints centre, who scored three tries in the 2014 Six Nations, is among 28 players recalled by Stuart Lancaster to Pennyhill Park on Monday – after recovering from a hand injury.

Bath wing Semesa Rokoduguni, missing from the 28-31 defeat to South Africa with a thigh injury, has not recovered sufficiently to retake his place in the squad and will remain at the club.

Domestic colleague Kyle Eastmond suffered concussion towards the end of the match last Saturday and will undergo the graduated return to play protocol in hope of playing against the South Sea Islanders.

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IRBThe International Rugby Board said Monday it wanted no repeat of Samoa’s threatened boycott of this weekend’s match against England ahead of next year’s World Cup.

Samoa’s players had warned they were contemplating pulling out of Saturday’s clash at Twickenham as a protest against their treatment by the Samoa Rugby Union.

IRB chief executive Brett Gosper, speaking at the World Rugby ConfEx in London said talks involving the SRU, the players, the International Rugby Players’ Association and the IRB meant “there is no threat to the game whatsoever at Twickenham”.

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IRBThe Wallabies 26-29 loss to France in Paris will result in Australia moving to 4th position overall in the IRB rankings.

Meanwhile Ireland, who defeated Georgia 49-7, moves into the top three in the world.

This is despite Joe Schmidt’s men not gaining any rankings points over 15th placed Georgia, and they will jump from fifth to third in the biggest move of the weekend.

Likewise the All Blacks made no difference and remain number one after playing eighth placed Scotland.

The Springboks improved their position by nearly a full ranking point with their 31-28 win over England.

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EnglandSamoaSamoa’s game with England may well be in jeopardy again as the Samoan Rugby Union continues to snub its players over grievances with their governance.

Samoa’s senior internationals issued a public appeal to the Samoa Rugby Union to discuss player grievances after the Union did not appear at talks on Saturday as festering disharmony clouds the future of the team.

Grievances which surfaced at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand remain unresolved, leading to players originally threatening to strike ahead of next weekend’s Test against England at Twickenham.

Although the strike was called off following the intervention of the International Rugby Board, the players say they want their concerns dealt with urgently “to ensure positive change for the benefit of Samoa rugby”.

Former Samoan player Eliota Fuimaono Sapolu, who was banned for six months after tweeting that referee Nigel Owens was “racist” and “biased” when his team lost to South Africa in the 2011 World Cup, has again spoken out on Twitter.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

The Springboks put in a powerful performance full of passion and pride to beat a game England 31-28 in front of a packed Twickenham stadium in London.

In doing so the Boks restored some pride after their Dublin ambush and continued their dominance over England in a run that now stretches 12 matches and back to 2006.

And while the scoreline eventually talked about a close match, the Boks were much more dominant than it suggests, and frustratingly let England into the game at crucial times when they should have put them away.

In the end, a crucial yellow card to lock Victor Matfield – inconsistent from referee Steve Walsh given the rest of his rulings in the game – swept England back into the game when they were staring down the barrel at 20-6 down.

For a brief five-minute period, down to 14 men, the Boks were unable to cope with England`s driving maul and conceded two tries, even though the second one came from a shocking error from the touch judge, who gave the English a line-out when it should have gone to the Boks.

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Stuart Lancaster

Stuart Lancaster

England coach Stuart Lancaster insisted there would be no panic after Saturday’s 31-28 loss to South Africa at Twickenham made it five straight defeats for the 2015 World Cup hosts less than a year out from the showpiece tournament.

“We’ve played the top two sides in the world now and that’s the benchmark for us,” said Lancaster, appointed in 2012 following England’s loss to France in the quarter finals of the 2011 World Cup.

“We’ve never said we’re the finished article. When we [the coaching staff] took the roles in 2012 we knew we had to take a young group of players through some tough environments.

“Playing New Zealand first up was always going to be tough but we’re not going to sit here and feel sorry for ourselves,” he added.

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Sir Clive Woodward

Sir Clive Woodward

England World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward criticised the absence of “real footballers” in the Red Rose back division after their 31-28 loss to South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday.

Woodward, who guided England to World Cup glory in 2003, saw current coach Stuart Lancaster’s side match the Springboks up front, but fail match them behind the scrum.

South Africa centre Jan Serfontein grabbed an intercept try in the first half and scrumhalf Cobus Reinach, making his maiden Test start, scored his first Springbok try after flyhalf Pat Lambie’s brilliant chip ahead was regathered, at speed, by fullback Willie le Roux a minute after the break.

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Patrick Lambie

Patrick Lambie

Cobus Reinach

Cobus Reinach

Rugby World Cup winners JP Pietersen and Schalk Burger will start Saturday’s second Test in the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour against England at Twickenham as the Springbok match-23 is retained from last weekend.

The five changes to the team are straight swaps between the starting line-up and the bench. Along with Pietersen and Burger, Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has handed starts to hooker Adriaan Strauss and the halfback pair of Cobus Reinach and Pat Lambie.

Cornal Hendricks, Handré Pollard, Francois Hougaard, Teboho Mohoje and Bismarck du Plessis will start on the bench.

“We’ve accepted our performance against Ireland last weekend was not up to scratch and everyone in the touring squad has put up their hands and dug deep this week,” said Meyer. “We’ve really worked hard at fixing the mistakes we made and the challenge is now to put that into action on Saturday.”

Meyer said the changes were not a knee-jerk reaction following the result in Dublin, but rather in line with rotational changes that he had in mind before the start of the tour.

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Anthony Watson

Anthony Watson

Anthony Watson will start his first international for England in Saturday’s clash against South Africa at Twickenham.

Watson replaces Bath Rugby teammate Semesa Rokoduguni on the right wing in the only change to the starting line-up from the match against New Zealand, the 20 year-old handed a chance to build on his cameo appearance from the bench in last weekend’s 24-21 defeat.

A prolific graduate of the England age-group system who was part of the 2013 Junior World Championship-winning side, he can also draw confidence from the June tour to New Zealand.

Watson’s promotion means Harlequins flyer Marland Yarde, who has scored four tries in five international appearances thus far, comes onto the bench.

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Marland Yarde

Marland Yarde

Semesa Rokoduguni is out of England’s international against South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday, with Marland Yarde replacing the Bath wing in the squad, head coach Stuart Lancaster announced on Tuesday.

Rokoduguni, who made his debut in last week’s 24-21 defeat by New Zealand, injured his thigh and Lancaster believes there is not enough time for him to recover to face the Springboks.

That is the only change to the 23 players selected to face the All Blacks, although James Haskell is added to the squad as cover for Tom Wood, who was unable to take a full part in Tuesday’s training.

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Johann van Graan

Johann van Graan

South Africa, after a solid session of introspection, realised they need to do what works for them and not worry too much about the opposition.

Springbok assistant coach Johann van Graan, speaking ahead of the Springboks’ trip to Twickenham and an encounter with England on Saturday, made it clear that they are rapidly moving on from their disappointing 15-29 loss to Ireland at the weekend.

Having done the necessary soul-searching and pin-pointed their mistakes in Dublin, Van Graan said they are “very excited” about the next match on their year-end tour.

“Pretty good,” was his blunt assessment of an England team that ran New Zealand very close (losing just 21-24) and even scoring a penalty try with their powerful scrum.

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

This coming weekend’s trip to Twickenham will determine whether Saturday’s unexpected defeat to Ireland was just a small bump for the Springboks on their rise to the top of world rugby, or whether it was a significant setback to the progress that has been made by Heyneke Meyer’s team since 2012.

The England game was always going to be the one that would define the four-match tour. As the 2010 team discovered, when they suffered the ignominy of losing to Scotland but still returned home as heroes because they beat England in the last game. If you win at Twickenham your tour is seen as a success.

But after the Dublin defeat there is a lot more on the line than just passing this immediate examination. The work they have done and the progress they have made through the entire year is now at stake, with the words of skipper Jean de Villiers ahead of the tour during a training session in Stellenbosch sure to be repeated in the build-up week: “This tour will decide if we’ve had a good year or not.”

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Steve Walsh

Steve Walsh

While Springboks fans will be relieved to see the back of French referee Romain Poite, Steve Walsh lies in wait at Twickenham next Saturday…

Poite raised the ire of several Bok fans during Saturday’s 29-15 defeat to Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, although it must be said, the Boks were the masters of their own demise.

Australian Walsh will handle matters in Saturday’s Test against an England side which went down 24-21 to the All Blacks.

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Chris Robshaw

Chris Robshaw

England captain Chris Robshaw said his team will look to take their frustrations out on South Africa, after a narrow defeat to New Zealand.

Robshaw was frustrated after England let a winning position ebb away against the All Blacks, losing 21-24.

England led 11-5 in the first half and 14-11 at half-time, a display of intensity and control by the forwards – illuminated by Jonny May’s stunning try, when he weaved past Conrad Smith and Israel Dagg with immaculate balance and searing pace.

Despite a disappointing second-half display in which they allowed the Kiwis to race into a 24-14 lead, before a late rally, Robshaw refused to be downcast.

He said they will target the three remaining Tests on their year-end campaign, starting with the Springboks at Twickenham this coming Saturday.

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Stuart Lancaster

Stuart Lancaster

Although his side suffered their fifth consecutive defeat to the All Blacks, coach Stuart Lancaster feels his side is not far off the world’s best team.

Having been whitewashed in New Zealand earlier this year, England pushed New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday but found themselves coming up short once again.

But Lancaster, without seven British and Irish Lions, was encouraged by the way his injury-hit side performed.

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Gilbert Rugby BallNine International Test matches as well as the cross-hemisphere club / provincial match between Saracens and DHL Western Province, took place this weekend.

Well, it was not a good weekend for South African interests in these games, as both the Springboks and Western Province were compprehensively beaten in the space of 2 days.

In addition South African neighbours, Namibia, probably put up the best fight amongst the Southern African sides, but still going down to Canada, by 17 / 13.

On Saturday the Springboks came tumbling down to earth after a few weeks ago beating the New Zealand All Blacks, when they fell havily against Ireland, by 29 / 15 and on Sunday the Currie Cup champions, DHL Western Province was outplayed and put to the sword by Saracens in Londen, badly beaten by 6 tries to 3 and a total score of 46 / 22.

It appears that the Northern Hemisphere rugby countries have all crept closer to the Southern Hemisphere rivals, as the Wallabies barely won against Wales and the All Blacks only scraped home against England by a measly 3 points.

Scotland beat Argentina and France romped over Fiji, whilst Italy beat Samoa.

 

The results of the weekend are as follows:

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EnglandFor England to beat New Zealand on Saturday, they must not just defeat 15 men but also logic, precedent and expectation.

You think that’s hyperbole or a cruel lack of faith? The men in black have lost only twice in 46 Tests since the start of the last World Cup. They have 1,023 caps in their match-day squad to England’s 437.

The men in white are missing six British Lions from their pack, have a debutant on one wing and a centre partnership that has never played together before.

Under Stuart Lancaster, England have only won two of their 11 matches against the three southern hemisphere heavyweights of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. Since the beginning of 2012 the All Blacks have scored an average of 31.5 points per game; England 24.

Intimidating? Maybe. But maybe, just maybe, self-belief and raw promise and some unholy coming together of atmosphere and occasion and ability can surmount it all. Maybe.

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EnglandFijian-born winger Semesa Rokoduguni was named in the England team on Thursday and will make his international debut in Saturday’s test against New Zealand at Twickenham.

Kyle Eastmond and Brad Barritt form a new-look centre partnership, while Dave Attwood replaces the injured Joe Launchbury in the second row after returning to the squad following the birth of his first child.

“I am delighted for Roko,” England coach Stuart Lancaster said on the RFU website of the 27-year-old soldier.

“Wing is an extremely competitive position but he has pushed himself forward with his form this season and it’s great to be able to give him this opportunity.”

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All BlacksSonny Bill Williams and Aaron Cruden have been reunited, this time in the New Zealand team to play Sonny Bill Williams England at Twickenham on Saturday.

The former Chiefs teammates are the major selection decisions made by All Black coach Steve Hansen, who named an extremely experienced team for the second match on their year-end tour.

As expected there are a number of changes, after Hansen gave the less experienced squad members an opportunity against the United States last week – with 13 of the squad from that matchday 23 boosted by the return of some experienced players.

The matchday squad that takes the field against England has 1,029 Test caps between them and an average age of 27 years.

No 8 Kieran Read, flyhalf Cruden, inside centre Williams and fullback Israel Dagg retain their starting spots from the US Test.

Two reserves, lock Brodie Retallick and wing Julian Savea, are back in the starting XV.

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SaracensSaracens have named a powerful 23-man squad for the north-south clash against Western Province at Allianz Park on Sunday.

Alistair Hargreaves will lead the side, as Saracens face the recently crowned South African Currie Cup champions.

“Western Province are one of the strongest sides in South Africa, and we’re really looking forward to the challenge,” Sarries Director of Rugby Mark McCall said.

“We will field our strongest possible side.”

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Sam Cane

Sam Cane

New Zealand’s build-up to their Test encounter with England on Saturday has not gone as smoothly as they would have hoped.

Flank Sam Cane has become the latest injury concern in a camp already scrambling to cover some setbacks.

Cane took a heavy knock in a body on body collision at training on Tuesday and received assistance on what looked to be his back or shoulder.

Cane started in last Saturday’s 74-6 win over the United States, but is unlikely to feature in the match against England this weekend.

Wyatt Crockett and Jerome Kaino, who are recovering from shin and foot injuries respectively, both came through training unscathed.

The latest setback comes after both wing Cory Jane and hooker Nathan Harris were ruled out of the tour after being injured against the US Eagles.

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Semesa Rokoduguni

Semesa Rokoduguni

Uncapped Semesa Rokoduguni is among 23 players retained by England coach Stuart Lancaster to prepare for Saturday’s Test against New Zealand at Twickenham Stadium.

The Fijian-born tank soldier is one of four Bath backs included after sparkling Premiership form, with Anthony Watson also being included in a matchday squad for the first time – alongside Kyle Eastmond and George Ford.

In the forwards, uncapped Saracens lock George Kruis is included for the first time after Joe Launchbury was ruled out of the 2014 Internationals with a neck injury.

Front row duo Joe Marler and David Wilson have trained fully this week after minor injuries and take their slots to face the All Blacks.

Meanwhile the injury-hit England squad were faced with the prospect of having to re-jig their side once more ahead of their clash with the World Cup champions, New Zealand, after lock Dave Attwood left their training camp to attend the birth of his first child.

However, England hope to have Attwood back in time for their opening November international.

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EnglandEngland have the resources to ride out a raft of injuries to key players ahead of this month’s Tests against the might of the Southern Hemisphere, coach Stuart Lancaster said.

In the latest blow for Lancaster, lock Joe Launchbury has been ruled out of all four internationals at Twickenham, including Saturday’s opener against New Zealand, because of a neck problem.

His absence follows that of Geoff Parling, Alex Corbisiero, Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole, Ed Slater, Tom Croft and Manu Tuilagi, all also ruled out of the entire series.

Dave Attwood of Bath is set to start in Launchbury’s place – Lancaster described his form for Bath this season as “exceptional” – as England attempt to end a four-match losing sequence against the All Blacks.

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DHL WPA 24-man DHL Western Province squad will leave Cape Town for London on Thursday, as the 2014 ABSA Currie Cup champions get set to take on top English club Saracens in the Sanlam Private Investments Challenge this coming weekend.

DHL WP won their second ABSA Currie Cup title in three years less than two weeks ago and they are now preparing to face up to last season’s European Cup and Premiership runners-up on their home turf at Allianz Park in North London on Sunday.

Sixteen members of the victorious DHL WP matchday squad from two Saturdays ago will make the trip to take on Saracens, with new forward signings Bongi Mbonambi, Vincent Koch and Wilco Louw joining the likes of Oli Kebble, Jurie van Vuuren, Dillyn Leyds, Pat Howard and EW Viljoen in the selection mix.

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Stuart Lancaster

Stuart Lancaster

As England’s injuries continue to stack up ahead of Saturday’s game with world champions New Zealand, coach Stuart Lancaster says his side have been the victims of “bad luck” after the loss of several forwards.

With regular forwards Alex Corbisiero, Mako Vunipola, Tom Youngs, Dan Cole and Geoff Parling already out of this month’s Test matches, second row Joe Launchbury has become the latest to withdraw due to a neck problem.

Northampton backs Luther Burrell and Stephen Myler have also been ruled out of the Twickenham match against the All Blacks.

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EnglandEngland suffered another injury blow on Tuesday when head coach Stuart Lancaster confirmed centre Luther Burrell is unlikely to be fit for the upcoming test against New Zealand after sustaining a hand injury.

Northampton centre Burrell suffered an injury to his right hand during his side’s European Champions Cup victory over the Ospreys last weekend and will see a specialist ahead of New Zealand’s visit to Twickenham on November 8.

“I think it would be tight for New Zealand, if I’m being honest,” Lancaster told a news conference.

“He’s not been in camp this week at all. He’s seeing the specialist and it will probably unfold over the weekend.

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England head coach Stuart Lancaster has added Dave Ewers, Henry Slade and Thomas Waldrom to the squad preparing for the 2014 Autumn Internationals.

The Exeter Chiefs trio come in as injury cover for James Haskell (Wasps), Luther Burrell (Northampton Saints) and Billy Vunipola (Saracens).

Burrell is remaining with Saints for specialist assessment on his injured right hand on Monday and Tuesday while Vunipola will undergo the return to play protocol in camp after suffering concussion in Saracens’ game at Munster on Friday.

Haskell is still getting over a viral infection and, with Will Fraser (Saracens) also suffering a concussion, Ewers comes in.

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EnglandSaracens wing Chris Ashton has been dropped from Stuart Lancaster’s England squad for the End Of Year Tours (November Internationals).

Ashton has been replaced in the squad by Bath wing Semesa Rokoduguni, one of three uncapped players named in the 33-man squad on Wednesday.

England play against New Zealand ( 8November), South Africa (15 November), Samoa (22 November) and Australia (29 November).

Chris Robshaw will captain the side in the four-game series at Twickenham.

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Manu Tuilagi

Manu Tuilagi

England centre Manu Tuilagi will miss the End Of Year Tours (November Internationals) after suffering a groin injury during Leicester Tigers’ first match in the new European Champions Cup, the Premiership club said on Tuesday.

The Samoa-born player hobbled off the field after 15 minutes of the 25-18 win over Ulster on Saturday.

Tuilagi was making only his second start after three weeks out with a groin problem but Leicester said it was not a recurrence of the same injury.

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