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European Rugby

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BarbariansAlastair Kellock will lead the Barbarians against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.

The former Scotland captain takes charge of a cosmopolitan squad, coached by Sir John Kirwan, for the Killik Cup match.

In the starting side are Australia wing Nick Cummins, who lines up against his former team-mates, with New Zealand’s Bledisloe Cup match winner Colin Slade at flyhalf.

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Hi,

We have NEW SuperBru Pools for all to join!

The HSBC Sevens World Series of 2014 / 2015 starts this weekend on Saturday, so hurry up and do not delay to register for it, and after registering, make your picks for this weekend’s games!

The End Of Year Tours or November Internationals as it is also known is a few weeks away still, nevertheless register now, while the iron is hot!

As is usual, Rugby-Talk.com’s SuperBru Pools are open for ALL REGISTERED SUBSCRIBERS of Rugby-Talk.com, so if you are not yet registered here on Rugby-Talk.com, do so without delay!  It is so easy to register and such fun to discuss rugby here.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has warned his team they will need to be at their best if they are to keep their unbeaten record under his management in the Northern Hemisphere intact.

Meyer singled out the team’s first fixture against Ireland as a crucial one to kick off the team’s four week tour, and one which is the most tricky of all their fixtures.

While England has been singled out before as the fixture the Boks are likely to hold in the highest esteem, especially with next year’s Rugby World Cup being played there, the Boks know they cannot focus on the Twickenham showdown before getting past the tricky Irish, who have been a team that has plagued them at this time of year under previous coaches.

The Boks didn’t play Ireland when they went north last year, but the Irish will still be smarting from coming amazingly close to beating the All Blacks in Dublin last year, as the New Zealanders snatched the game away from them in the dying seconds to end their season unbeaten.

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IrelandAs the Springboks gather in Johannesburg before making their way to the Northern Hemisphere, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt is well aware of the challenge he faces against the 2007 World Champions.

“South Africa do loom large,” he said.

“I don’t know if there’s been a better player in the world this year than Duane Vermeulen. I think he’s been unbelievable and we know so many of their other players.

“I was down at the Junior World Cup and watched flyhalf Handre Pollard, as a young fella playing in that final against England and he is an impressive young player, an impressive physical ball-carrier, he’s a big kid.

“So, there’s the new and old there and they have got a great mix and they’ll be very tough.”

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Sir Ian McGeechan

Sir Ian McGeechan

The Springboks’ recent evolution from a kicking strategy to a more ball-in-hand approach has been noted in the Northern Hemisphere.

Heyneke Meyer’s Springboks are set to play four Tests there next month, starting with a clash against Ireland in Dublin on 8 November. After that, they will face England (London 15 November), Italy (Padova 22 November) and Wales (Cardiff 29 November) in consecutive weeks.

The Boks have shown more attacking intent in recent times after been criticised for playing a one-dimensional, kicking game.

The change in strategy has caught the eye for former British and Irish Lions coach Ian McGeechan.

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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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ScotlandHead coach Vern Cotter yesterday added two players to Scotland’s viagogo Autumn Test training squad in Newcastle.

Peter Horne, the five-times capped Glasgow Warriors centre, and uncapped Edinburgh scrum-half, Sam Hidalgo Clyne, have been brought in as precautionary injury cover for Alex Dunbar and Chris Cusiter respectively.

Dunbar reported ankle discomfort during the Warriors’ European Rugby Champions Cup win over Montpellier in France on Saturday, while Cusiter missed Sale Sharks’ corresponding Cup clash with a calf strain.

The pair will require further assessment from the medical team over the coming days to determine their time of return.

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EdinburghEdinburgh Rugby secured their second successive victory in the European Rugby Challenge Cup, beating Lyon 25-17 at BT Murrayfield, after numerous injury setbacks and losing five players in the opening quarter.

Coach Alan Solomons afterwards praised the character of his Edinburgh side, who came through adversity to record a morale-boosting victory.

“This actually tops it [last week’s win at Bordeaux]. To lose five players like that – in 37 years, I’ve never seen anything like it – speaks volumes for the strength of character of this side.”

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ItalyItaly captain Sergio Parisse believes winning the first of a three-match Test series, against Samoa next month, is “crucial” if the Azzurri are to build confidence ahead of the tougher challenge of Argentina and South Africa.

“It’s crucial for us to start this Test series off on a positive note with a win,” Parisse told reporters in Rome.

Italy head into the November Test series looking for massive improvements after finishing with the Six Nations wooden spoon and returning from a mid-year tour of the south Pacific winless.

Coach Jacques Brunel has welcomed several players back from injury, including Francesco Minto, Luca Morisi, Simone Favaro and scrumhalf Edoardo Gori.

New Zealand-born Kelly Haimona and Fijian Samuela Vunisa are also among three squad debutants alongside Simone Ragusi for November’s Tests.

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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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IrelandSouth African-born duo, Richardt Strauss and Robbie Diack, have been included in Ireland’s 37-man squad for the End Of Year Tours (November Internationals).

Ireland tackle South Africa at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday 8 November, before facing Georgia on Sunday 16 November and Australia on Saturday 22 November.

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WalesWales Head Coach Warren Gatland has named a 34 man squad to play in the upcoming End Of Year Tours (November Internationals) which features just one uncapped player but no place for Adam Jones and James Hook.

Instead of British & Irish Lions prop Jones, 20-year-old Ospreys prop Nicky Smith has been called into the squad for the first time and features alongside 12 players who return to International duty after missing the summer tour to South Africa.

Gatland’s side take on Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa on consecutive weekends in November as the countdown begins to next year’s Rugby World Cup.

In the front-row, former Wales Under 20 prop Smith, who has started all seven of the Ospreys’ encounters this season, joins the experienced Gethin Jenkins and Paul James.

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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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Grant Gilchrist

Grant Gilchrist

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter has named a 33 man squad for the End Of Year Internationals with lock Grant Gilchrist being named as captain.

The honour represents a return for the 24-year-old product of Alloa and Stirling County rugby clubs, who led Scotland twice during the June Internationals, including a 21-19 victory over Argentina in Cordoba.

He will return to the role against the same opposition when the Tests get underway at Murrayfield next month, when Scotland face the Pumas on Saturday 8 November (kick-off 17:30 BST), before facing Rugby Championship winners New Zealand, at the same venue (15 November), followed by Tonga at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock (22 November).

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European Rugby Champions CupWith new names, formats and trophies, the European Champions Cup era got underway over the weekend with a whole host of South Africans in action.

Zane Kirchner and Leinster were made to work hard to come from behind against Ashley Johnson’s Wasps on Sunday, recovering from a 12-point deficit to eventually put their English visitors away. Richardt Strauss played his part coming off the bench as Leinster were given a real scare by Wasps, whose form, exemplified by Johnson, has been good in the early parts of the new season.

European champions Toulon had a winning start at home to the Scarlets earlier on Sunday, with Bryan Habana, Juan Smith and Bakkies Botha all in the XV who were given a real challenge from the visiting Welsh region.

Wynand Olivier was a try scorer in the all-French Pool 4 clash between Montpellier and Toulouse, with Olivier’s side picking up a valuable losing bonus point from the Stade Ernest Wallon. Springbok prop Gurthrö Steenkamp was given the start at loosehead by Toulouse.

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Rory Kockott

Rory Kockott

Scrumhalf Rory Kockott was called into the France squad to face Fiji, Australia and Argentina next month after the South African qualified to play for his adopted nation through residency rules, the French federation said on Sunday.

Castres Olympique player Kockott has been on Philippe Saint-Andre’s radar for some time as the France coach regularly tinkers with his halfback line.

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Mourad Boudjellal

Mourad Boudjellal

Mourad Boudjellal is planning to take the IRB to court over payments to players on international duty in a groundbreaking move.

The outspoken Toulon president had already made his feelings clear erlier this season when he complained about having to pay the likes of Bryan Habana, Juán Martín Fernández-Lobbe and Bakkies Botha while they were away at the Rugby Championship.

And he has now revealed that he has the support of Premiership bosses in England ahead of a legal battle with the game’s governing body, who he has accused of an ‘abuse of power’.

“We’re in the process of speaking to our lawyers in Paris to see if we go to commercial or administrative court,” he told Var Matin.

“The IRB rules have no provisions for unions to pay the clubs for their internationals. Yet the IRB is made up of the unions.

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Warren Gatland

Warren Gatland

Wales coach Warren Gatland fired an early shot at the All Blacks’ World Cup defence, suggesting the New Zealanders may be hampered by their weak pool.

New Zealand and Wales face vastly different challenges to make the World Cup playoffs. The All Blacks head Pool C that includes the improving Argentina, Tonga, Georgia and Namibia.

In contrast, Wales find themselves in the “pool of death” with hosts England, Australia, Fiji and Uruguay.

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MoneyHaving just read an article which elicited quite a strangely strong emotional shout out loud response from myself I thought it would be worth sharing it here to bring it to the attention of anyone else who may not have heard about what I feel to be a very crude deal that has been made.

As it is so hot of the press (for me) I am not sure whether this horse trading breaks any specific laws as laid out by the International Rugby Board but I feel it certainly goes against the Spirit of our great game.

The detail of the deal between USA Rugby and Premiership Rugby Ltd (PRL) needs to be viewed in the context of the recent past regarding PRL’s stance on players playing for their country outside of the International Window. In particular, I am referring to the instance where they reportedly fined Northampton Saints (one of the clubs playing and contributing to the success of their very own league) £60 000 for allowing George North to play for Wales in a match that fell outside of the International Window.

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Guinness PRO12This weekend sees action in Round 6 of the Guinness PRO12 and is the last round of action before a few weeks break as we head into the initial stages of the European Professional Rugby Cup competitions – with the Champion and Challenge Cup matches kicking off next weekend.

There has already been two Round 6 PRO12 matches this weekend (Friday night) while there will be a further three on Saturday and the last match of the Round is due to be played on Sunday.

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WhistleThe International Rugby Board has announced the match official appointments for upcoming November internationals.

Appointments were made by the IRB Match Official Selection Committee at its recent meeting in Dublin and follow a detailed review of recent performances during the June international window, The Rugby Championship and other matches.

South Africa’s Craig Joubert will kick off a busy month of Tests as teams and officials begin the countdown to Rugby World Cup 2015, when he takes charge of the New Zealand v USA fixture at Soldier Field in Chicago on November 1.

Steve Walsh will be the man in the middle for England’s match with the Springboks and Nigel Owens will officiate at Stade de France when Les Bleus take on Australia, as well as refereeing New Zealand’s visit to Twickenham. Wayne Barnes has been appointed to Wales v New Zealand in Cardiff, while Ireland v Australia in Dublin will be refereed by Glen Jackson. Jérôme Garces will be in charge when the Wallabies take on England and will be in Padova on November 22 to referee Italy v South Africa.

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Nigel Owens

Having been involved in the professional game for the best part of 20 years now, I fully appreciate the hard work that goes in on a daily basis for players to perform and the challenges they face mentally and physically throughout the season.

Since becoming a coach, I also know the hours, which all those that support the players put in behind the scenes, whether they are coaches, medics or performance staff. However, I reckon that the toughest job in professional rugby might not be that of the players or management, but that of our referees.

The game’s officials often perform a thankless task and don’t get the chance to share a victory with others like we do. And, in the context of our fast-moving collision-based sport, which has a number of intricate laws, it is very difficult to get everything right.

Coaches and players make many mistakes during 80 minutes of rugby, so it is understandable that referees will also make errors. A lot of these errors are frequently viewed as great decisions by the opposing team, which makes things even more difficult for the man in the middle to get things right.

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Anton van Zyl

Veteran lock Anton van Zyl

Former DHL Western Province captain Anton van Zyl is set for a shock return to the team after an absence of four years as the Absa Currie Cup log leaders seek a way to protect their stocks ahead of the play-off phase of the competition.

Van Zyl, known as Worms by his friends, finished off a stint with Stade de Francais a few months ago and is back living in Cape Town. He last played for WP in the 2010 Currie Cup final, and last played for the Stormers in the 2011 season.

He attended a Province training session on Tuesday as the Cape side prepares for the clash with the Cell C Sharks this weekend, and according to WP sources, is in the reckoning to play in the game.

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Neil Doak

Neil Doak – New Ulster head coach

UlsterNeil Doak has been appointed Ulster head coach, while Les Kiss will become the province’s director of rugby after next year’s World Cup.

The elevation of attack coach Doak, 42, to the head coaching role is not a surprise.

Ireland assistant coach Kiss, 49, has been Ulster’s interim director of rugby at Kingspan Stadium in recent months following Mark Anscombe’s departure.

Kiss will leave the Ulster interim role next week but will return next October.

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Guinness PRO12Glasgow Warriors returned to the top of the Guinness PRO12 table as they secured their fifth consecutive win with a 40-23 bonus-point victory over Benetton Treviso at Stadio Monigo.

Scotland wing Tommy Seymour scored twice as Gregor Townsend’s side ran in six tries, with Tyrone Holmes, James Eddie, DTH van der Merwe and Sean Lamont also touching down.

Michele Campagnaro’s early try helped the hosts surge into a 10-0 lead but the centre’s second effort late on proved to be only a consolation as the Italian side remain winless this season.

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EdinburghThe hosts Ulster secured a bonus point win at Ravenhill on Friday evening as a lacklustre Edinburgh side failed to score any points.

“In the second half we had nine penalties against us and the two tries that killed us came from when Mike was sent off for a yellow card. I thought that [yellow card] was the turning point of the game.

“The final penalty count ended up 14-4 and when you get a penalty count like that and a card, that’s the difference. Having said that, Ulster deserved the win on the night.”

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Sean Maitland

Sean Maitland

Five Glasgow Warriors players will be plying their trade for their draft clubs this weekend, including Sean Maitland who will don the pink and black of Ayr.

The British & Irish Lion scored a try in the Warriors 30-5 victory over Edinburgh in the ‘A’ game last month and is looking for added game-time, having not featured for the Scotstoun club so far this season through injury.

He will play alongside Dougie Hall against Boroughmuir at Meggetland.

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Stuart Lancaster

Stuart Lancaster

Stuart Lancaster will be England Head Coach until 2020 after the Rugby Football Union decided to extend his contract.

Appointed permanent head coach in March 2012, his tenure in charge of the England team is now set to include the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Lancaster’s coaching team – Forwards Coach Graham Rowntree, Backs Coach Andy Farrell and Attacking Skills Coach Mike Catt – have also been contracted to the end of the 2019-20 season.

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Rugby World Cup 2015Russia will take the narrowest of leads with them to Montevideo in two weeks’ time after they beat Uruguay 22-21 in Saturday’s first leg of the final Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifier in Krasnoyarsk. However, while no team likes to lose a game of rugby, Uruguay’s Pablo Lemoine will probably be the more satisfied of the two coaches as his side is still very much in contention at what is effectively half-time. Of course, the fact that the second half will most likely be played on a warm day in front 12,000 home fans will give him cause for optimism after his team held their own in the near-freezing conditions and vociferous Siberian crowd of the first 80 minutes.

But for Russia’s indiscipline and the cultured right boot of fly-half Felipe Berchesi, who slotted seven penalties, the gap would have been more. Two yellow cards, a high penalty count and the spurning of several try-scoring opportunities did nothing for the mood of Russia coach Raphael Saint-Andre but he will know that his team was the more creative on the day and, if they can somehow learn to compete at set pieces and improve their defence at mauls, they too can make the long journey to South America with some confidence.

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Guinness PRO12The fourth round of matches in the Guinness PRO12 take place this weekend with three matches scheduled for Friday night, two for Saturday and one for Sunday.

In one of the fixtures on Friday night second placed Glasgow Warriors play hosts to third placed Connacht at Scotstoun Stadium. Both teams have won all three of their PRO12 matches this season, with Glasgow Warriors one point ahead Connacht thanks to the try scoring bonus point they picked up away from home against Newport Gwent Dragons last weekend.

The only other team who has won all three of their PRO12 matches this season are the Ospreys who top the table. They face an away trip to Ireland to face 5th placed Munster on Saturday evening.

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Chris Robshaw

Chris Robshaw

It is 8 November.

England are about to tackle the All Blacks at Twickenham.

For captain Chris Robshaw, matchday starts with a lie-in; he has his own room due to his thunderous snoring. Then comes breakfast, a massage and some physio if required before the forwards go through a couple of plays while the backs play a passing game.

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Tyrone Holmes

Tyrone Holmes receiving his marching orders against the Dragons.

Glasgow’s Tyrone Holmes has received a one-week ban after being sent off for stamping on an opponent during the PRO12 game against Newport Gwent Dragons at Rodney Parade last Saturday.

League organisers confirmed the Glasgow flanker appeared before an independent disciplinary committee in Dublin on Wednesday.

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Dylan Hartley

Dylan Hartley

When the World Cup kicks off in a little under a year’s time, England will have played all but one of the other nine sides in the top ten of the current IRB World Rankings. Psychologically, it is a huge 12 months for next year’s hosts.

In the past few seasons, they have made huge strides in the right direction – but they are not the finished product yet.

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Finn Russell

Birthday Boy Finn Russell kicks one over for Glasgow Warriors ‘A’ at the foot of the monument in Stirling

A young Edinburgh ‘A’ side, which included eight EDPs (Elite Development Players), faced the tall task of taking on an experienced Glasgow Warriors squad, in what was deemed an away fixture for the Gunners at Bridgehaugh, home of Stirling County.

The inaugural reserve team game gave many of Edinburgh’s young Scottish players the chance to gain some valuable minutes in the Gunners shirt, with many of them putting their hands up and staking a claim for promotion into the first team squad.

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Guinness PRO12Leinster’s indifferent start to the season continued as they slipped to a second loss of the campaign away at Connacht, going down 10-9.

The defending champions had led 9-3 at half-time thanks to three Ian Madigan penalties but Kieran Marmion’s solo try ensured Connacht – who had lost their previous 11 all-Ireland clashes – preserved their 100 per cent start to the season.

At the Liberty Stadium, Ospreys ran in nine tries against Edinburgh to consolidate their one point lead at the top of the table.

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