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European Rugby

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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FranceAustraliaFrance coach Philippe Saint-Andre insisted the best side won after their 29-26 victory over Australia on Saturday.

The Wallabies almost snatched victory late in Paris after Rob Simmons reduced the deficit to three points in the dying minutes at the Stade de France.

But France held on for the win after Ben Alexander dropped the ball in the final minute as the home team recorded just their third victory against Australia since 2005.

Post-game, Saint-Andre was adamant his team were deserved winners, despite almost throwing away the lead.

“I truly believe the best team won today,” said Saint-Andre.

“Today we can be happy about the intensity and the ferocity the entire French side displayed during the game.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

All Blacks flyhalf Dan Carter was unimpressed by his scratchy return in the number 10 shirt against Scotland but grateful just to get through the 24-16 win unscathed.

Starting at flyhalf for the first time in a year after a season blighted by a broken leg, Carter was well below his best at Murrayfield, struggling with handling errors particularly in the opening exchanges before being replaced shortly after halftime.

“That first 20 (minutes) was pretty scratchy and there were a lot of mistakes from me personally which, if I get another chance, I’ll have to improve,” Carter told reporters.

“My option-taking probably wasn’t the best at times. But I was pretty pleased to be back out there playing again and I felt as the game went on I grew in confidence.”

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JapanRomaniaJapan fullback Ayumu Goromaru has scored six penalties to give his team a far from convincing 18-13 victory over Romania in the first Test of their European tour on Saturday.

Romania coach Lynn Howells made extensive changes following last week’s 27-17 defeat by the United States but his side lacked the exciting cutting edge displayed by the rugby powerhouses.

Japan, who have reached an all-time high of ninth in the world rankings, started brightly and had the bulk of the possession but could not convert their overwhelming dominance into points.

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FranceAustraliaFrance (17) 29 / 26 (16) Wallabies (Final Score)

France and the Australian Wallabies did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Stade de France, Paris, France at 22:00 SA Time (21:00 France Time, 20:00 GMT, 07:00 Sunday AEST).

This was the live match discussion Article.

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

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ScotlandScotland’s team for Saturday’s test at BT Murrayfield has been announced and no doubt the players and coaching staff will be completely focussed on this match. After all, there is a team from a country called New Zealand who play in black who are in town. However, looking beyond this test would like to discuss the match day squad that would preferably be doing duty at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock, against Tonga next weekend. Rugby Park is the home of Kilmarnock football team, yes that can be confusing but that is not the topic of the this piece.

Scotland’s head coach Vern Cotter has selected the same starting XV that beat Argentina to face the All Blacks , one wonders when last a Scotland coach picked the same XV for consecutive matches. For Tonga though I would suggest wholesale changes to the team for a variety of reasons, the main one being – Glasgow Warriors.

The Scottish Rugby Union (SRU), unlike the case in South Africa, have a direct stake in the two professional clubs here: Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors, and it is with this in mind that my suggestion for the Tonga test is made.

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CanadaCanada Head Coach Kieran Crowley has announced his starting roster to face Samoa on Friday at Stade de la Rabine in Vannes, France in the third game of Canada’s year-end tour.

Following a loss to a Championship XV side in Worcester on November 2nd, Canada snapped a three test match losing streak last weekend in Colwyn Bay, Wales with a narrow 17-13 victory over Namibia.

This weekend, Crowley’s 17th ranked side will take on 11th ranked Samoa, who are fresh off a 24-13 loss last weekend to Canada’s Rugby World Cup 2015 opponent Italy in Ascoli Piceno, Italy. Before last weekend’s loss, “Manu Samoa” held the 9th spot in World Rankings.

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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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AustraliaWallabies prop Sekope Kepu will play his milestone 50th Test for Australia when they take on France at Stade de France on Saturday.

The talented 28-year-old will become just the sixth Australian prop to reach the 50-game milestone – joining a group which includes Ben Alexander (70 games), Benn Robinson and Al Baxter (69 games), James Slipper (60 games) and Ewen McKenzie (51 games).

Kepu will reach the mark in his seventh year of competing at international level, after making his debut against Italy in 2008 – with the honour adding to an already special season which also included winning a maiden Super Rugby title for the Waratahs.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika congratulated Kepu on his achievement.

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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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FranceFrance have stuck true to their winning formula by naming the same starting team that defeated Fiji 40-15 last weekend for their clash with Australia.

There were no injury concerns in the French camp and as such coach Philippe Saint-Andre decided to keep faith in his players.

“All the players who started (against Fiji) are at 100 percent and we wanted to go further with this team,” Saint-Andre said.

France picked up their first win of three November Tests last Saturday, boosting their confidence ahead of the game against the Wallabies, a side that put the French to the sword in June when they played in Australia.

“We will have to raise our level against one of the top nations in the world,” Saint-Andre added.

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ScotlandHead coach Vern Cotter has shown faith in his winning Scotland formula for this Saturday’s visit of world champions New Zealand to Murrayfield Stadium.

All 15 men that started the national team’s impressive 41-31 win over Argentina last weekend will once again kick off the second Test.

The reselection means that all five of the match-winning try-scorers – locks Jonny and Richie Gray and back-three trio Stuart Hogg, Sean Maitland and Tommy Seymour – all earn a return to the fold.

Man-of-the-match winning captain Greig Laidlaw will once again orchestrate the back division alongside flyhalf Finn Russell and a young midfield partnership of Alex Dunbar and Mark Bennett.

Packing down with the secondrow Gray brothers is the experienced front row trio of Alasdair Dickinson, Ross Ford and Euan Murray, and the promising loose forward combo of Rob Harly, Blair Cowan and Adam Ashe.

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Martin Castrogiovanni

Martin Castrogiovanni

Toulon prop Martin Castrogiovanni replaces Dario Chistolini in the only change for Italy as they look to follow up a 24-13 win over Samoa with a win against Argentina this weekend.

But Italy’s second game of their three-test November series, due to be played in Genoa on Saturday, is now hanging in the balance due to heavy flooding in the northern Italian city.

With storms and heavy rain predicted for Saturday, officials said Thursday they have moved the game earlier, to Friday 17:15 Italian Time (18:15 SA Time, 16:15 GMT).

Italy coach Jacques Brunel was forced to leave Castrogiovanni on the sidelines due to suspension last week as Zebre prop Chistolini claimed only his third cap for the Azzurri.

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Nigel Owens

Nigel Owens

The Rugby Football Union has launched an investigation into alleged homophobic and racial abuse of the Welsh referee Nigel Owens by a group of England supporters during the defeat by New Zealand at Twickenham last Saturday.

Owens told The Telegraph that he welcomed the investigation but revealed he has considered quitting the sport because of an increasing level of homophobic abuse in stadiums and on social media.

The investigation was launched after the RFU received an official complaint from a supporter who also outlined the extent of the alleged abuse directed at the 41 year-old official during England’s 21-24 defeat in a letter to The Guardian newspaper.

“As a lifelong rugby fan, a straight man in his 60s, I could not believe that a bunch of men half my age watching a rugby match in the 21st century could be capable of hurling such nasty, foul-mouthed, racist, homophobic abuse at an openly gay match official,” wrote Keith Wilson, from South Yorkshire.

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All BlacksNew Zealand All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has named his team to play Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday with Dan Carter starting and James Parsons making his international debut.

The matchday 23 for Saturday features 11 players from the 23 which played England last week and Daniel Carter makes his first Test start of the year at first five-eighth in his 102nd Test, with TJ Perenara at halfback.

Two of the locks who played against England, Brodie Retallick (shoulder) and Patrick Tuipulotu (shoulder), were not considered for selection, due to injury.

As a result, lock Dominic Bird, who, like Parsons, was called into the All Blacks as injury cover, will start, with Luke Romano coming off the bench. Loose forward Jerome Kaino (knee) was also not considered for selection.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

New Zealand flyhalf Daniel Carter is expected to return to the match day squad for their clash with Scotland on Saturday as he continues to work his way back from a broken leg.

Carter was the highest profile water boy in world rugby last Saturday when the All Blacks beat England 24-21 at Twickenham. The 32-year-old missed out on a place in the playing squad, ostensibly because coach Steve Hansen felt he had not played enough rugby.

Carter has barely played this year after taking a six-month sabbatical and breaking his leg in the Super Rugby final in August.

He came off the bench for 30 minutes against the United States on November 1 and assistant All Blacks coach Ian Foster said he would now get more playing time in their final two matches against Scotland on Saturday and Wales on November 22.

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Gethin Jenkins

Gethin Jenkins

Cardiff Blues prop Gethin Jenkins will captain a rejigged Wales team for their clash with Fiji at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday, head coach Warren Gatland announced on Tuesday.

Gatland has elected to make eight changes to the team beaten 33-28 by Australia last weekend, although there is no place in the starting XV for recalled Gloucester fly-half James Hook.

Jenkins takes over from Paul James in the front row, while Scott Baldwin of Ospreys will make his first Wales start at hooker.

Flanker Sam Warburton, the regular captain, is being rested, but there are recalls in the backs for fit-again centre Scott Williams, fly-half Rhys Priestland and scrum-half Mike Phillips.

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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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Agustín Creevy

Agustín Creevy

Argentina will be without their captain Agustín Creevy for the clash with Italy after the hooker sustained a thigh injury.

After leaving the field after just 20 minutes in the Pumas 31-41 loss to Scotland on the weekend, it now looks set that the hooker will not recover in time.

Creevy, who took over the Argentinean captaincy this year, underwent medical tests where it was revealed that he had suffered a grade one tear of his thigh.

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ScotlandDominate the collisions and get some big hits in at the tackle. That is Scotland’s recipe for success against New Zealand at Murrayfield on Saturday.

There is an air of confidence in the Scottish camp, following their 41-31 demolition of Argentina last week – a scoreline skewed by two late tries from the Pumas.

New Zealander Vern Cotter’s arrival as coach in Edinburgh has contributed to the country once called Caledonia by the Romans and also referred to as Alba – while they, of course, referee to it as ‘the greatest country on Earth’.

Last week’s victory over the Pumas, who recently tasted success over the Wallabies in the Rugby Championship, has contributed to their growing confidence.

However, captain Greig Laidlaw admitted there are plenty of work ahead before Saturdays showdown with the All Blacks.

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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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Joe Marler

England prop Joe Marler has urged the 2015 World Cup hosts to channel the frustration, following their defeat by New Zealand, when they face South Africa in the second of four November internationals at Twickenham on Saturday.

England established a 14-11 half-time lead against World Cup champions New Zealand, but the All Blacks won 24-21 as they beat Stuart Lancaster’s side for the fifth successive match.

“Our levels of frustration are high and the game review was very honest. I can’t really use the words that I’d like to use!” Marler said.

“We knew what we had to do in that second half. We spoke about it at half-time. And then we came out and did the opposite. Now we expect a reaction from ourselves,” the Harlequins captain added.

“We’ll take the frustration into this weekend. From a personal point of view it’s important to use that frustration to spur you on that little bit more.”

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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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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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James Hook

James Hook

Gloucester flyhalf James Hook was called into Wales’s squad for their remaining November internationals on Sunday after fellow No 10 Dan Biggar suffered a groin strain in the 33-28 defeat by Australia.

The 29-year-old Hook has won 76 caps but has rarely enjoyed the full confidence of Wales coach Warren Gatland, with the New Zealander seemingly mistrustful of the playmaker’s talent.

Meanwhile Hook’s versatility – he has also played Test rugby at fullback and centre – has proved as much a hindrance as a help in establishing himself as a first-choice plyer while Gatland has been in charge of Wales.

However, Biggar’s injury means Hook could be called upon for the Millennium Stadium clash with Fiji on Saturday.

“Hook will link up with the squad tomorrow (Monday) when they gather to prepare for Saturday’s clash against Fiji,” said a Welsh Rugby Union statement issued Sunday.

“No players have been released from the squad.”

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Conrad Smith

Conrad Smith

All Blacks centre Conrad Smith will skip Saturday’s Test against Scotland so he can return home to deal with a family matter, reports said Monday.

Coach Steve Hansen said “the 33-year-old Smith, who played his 84th test on Saturday and became a father for the first time in August, would miss the Test in Edinburgh.

However, he will again return in time for the Test against Wales on 22 November.

“It’s not overly serious but it’s serious enough for him to have to go home,” Hansen told reporters.

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John Mitchell

John Mitchell

South Africa meet England for the first time in two years in a suddenly critical Test match at Twickenham on Saturday … but respected New Zealand-born critic and coach John Mitchell advocates more regular, guaranteed annual clashes between the two in a reworked Six Nations.

The Springboks tackle these old enemies while reeling to some extent from a slightly unexpected 29-15 defeat to Ireland in Dublin in the first game of their four-match northern hemisphere agenda, whilst the hosts also enter the fixture on the back foot having been beaten at home by the world champion All Blacks rather more convincingly than the 24-21 score-line suggests.

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Luke Braid

Luke Braid

Jayden Spence

Jayden Spence

Versatile New Zealand back Jayden Spence is to join Bordeaux-Begles as cover while compatriot Luke Braid will arrive next season for two years, the French Top 14 outfit said on Sunday.

Spence, 23, who can play on the wing or in the centre, currently turns out for Otago in the domestic New Zealand league.

The 1.71m, 91kg back joins as cover for a Bordeaux side currently missing injured French international wing Sofiane Guitoune.

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Heyneke Meyer & Jean de Villiers

Heyneke Meyer & Jean de Villiers

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said that his team’s defeat to Ireland taught them some valuable lessons about what it takes to win in Europe.

Despite dominating the set-pieces, the Boks could not find a way to turn that pressure into points as a stream of basic errors saw them slump to a 29-15 defeat in Dublin on Saturday.

It was their first defeat in the Northern Hemisphere since going down to Scotland in 2010, and although he was disappointed with the result, Meyer said that there were some positives for his team to take from the match a year out from the World Cup.

“We are sorry that we let our country and our supporters down with that performance. Every single defeat hurts.

“However, I’d rather lose one now and see where we’re at for the World Cup next year than it to happen then because now I can see where we can adapt and improve,” he said.

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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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Shane Williams

Shane Williams

Wales great Shane Williams has announced he will retire from all forms of rugby at the end of this season.

Williams, 37, played the last of his 87 Tests for Wales against Australia in 2011, scoring his 58th international try with his last touch of the game – a Welsh record.

The former World Player of the Year is also a four-time capped British and Irish Lion, and even made a fleeting appearance on the victorious 2013 tour of Australia for a midweek game against the Brumbies.

After his retirement from international rugby in November 2012, the diminutive winger, standing just 1.70m (5ft 7in) high and weighing 80kg (12st 8lb), signed a contract with Japanese club Mitsubishi Dynaboars.

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