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European Rugby

EdinburghBreslerDie Skotse rugbyklub Edinburgh se Suid-Afrikaanse spens raak al hoe voller. ’n Amptelike aankondiging word eers later verwag, maar Alan Solomons (afrigter) het glo ’n sewende Suid-Afrikaner na Edinburgh gelok.

Die slot van die Haaie, Anton Bresler, sal hom glo ná die Super Rugby-reeks by Edinburgh aansluit. Bresler kan hom as plaasvervanger vir die oud-Cheetahs slot, Izak van der Westhuizen, wat op pad terug na Suid-Afrika is, daar aanmeld.

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Heineken CupThe tug of war regarding the premier club competition in European rugby has been conducted very publicly for a long time and a week ago it was reported that an announcement on the structure of future competitions was imminent. However, it all seems to have gone quiet and no final announcement has been forthcoming.

There are rumours that the Italian clubs and their representative bodies were needing to discuss a few details of what should otherwise be a done deal. Furthermore there is the question of the broadcasting battle between Sky and BT Sport which is apparently in the process of being sorted out with a joint broadcast agreement likely for next season. The final rumour is that the parties involved may not have wanted to make any announcements this week in the lead up to the quarter finals of the current Heineken Cup competition.

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Clermont AuvergneClermont’s entire rugby union squad were drug tested on Thursday morning before the French Top 14 side meet English club Leicester in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.

The mass testing was carried out before the morning training session with the club claiming that the tests were commissioned by the International Rugby Board (IRB).

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Neil de KockSaracens RugbyFormer Springbok scrumhalf Neil de Kock is set to play his 200th match for Saracens, the English club’s official website reports.

De Kock, 35, is on the bench for their Heineken Cup quarter-final away to Irish club Ulster on Saturday and will reach the milestone if he makes an appearance.

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MathewReesInspirational hooker Matthew Rees admitted he had been ‘overwhelmed’ with the support from the rugby world as he made his comeback in the stunning victory over Ulster Rugby.

The front row ace came on as a second half replacement to a thundering standing ovation from the Arms Park faithful as Blues shocked high-flying Ulster in the RaboDirect PRO12.

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Brett WilkinsonConnacht Loosehead prop Brett Wilkinson has been forced into retirement due to a serious neck injury sustained in the last game he played for the club.

The 30-year-old South African has been with Connacht since 2006 and has played 183 times for the province.

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Saracens RugbyHarlequinsSaracens beat the world record attendance of a club match in their 39-17 Aviva Premiership clash at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

A clinical first-half display from Saracens saw them go in at half time 27-10 up, through tries from Chris Ashton, George Kruis and Owen Farrell, with Karl Dickson’s try and Nick Evans’s penalty keeping Quins within touching distance.

The second half was a more low-key affair, with Sam Smith’s converted try putting Harlequins within 10, but Jacques Burger and Marcelo Bosch sealed the victory for Saracens.

The game had a staggered start as David Strettle was on the receiving end of a swinging arm from Maurie Fa’asavalu, leaving the winger unconscious for a lengthy period of time, forcing him to be carried off on a stretcher.

Soon after, Nick Easter tried to make the most of a poor pass, but could only palm it into the path of Ashton who, after fending off Ugo Monye, dived over to score a 70-metre try, with Farrell converting.

Saracens vs Harlequins - Premiership Crowd Record

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Mike BrownSIX-NationsEngland full-back Mike Brown has been named Six Nations Player of the Championship after securing over 34% of the 68,000 votes cast by fans.

Brown, 28, scored four tries, including two in a man of the match performance against Italy, and was also man of the match against Scotland and Ireland.

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Edinburgh RugbyglasgowrugbyOne of the advantages of having the national rugby union in control of its clubs was highlighted by today’s announcement by the Scottish Rugby Union of the loan of Edinburgh tight head prop Geoff Cross to Glasgow Warriors for the rest of the season due to injuries to two of Glasgow’s props.

Glasgow Warriors are currently in fifth position on the RaboDirect PRO12 log, 3 points behind the forth placed Ospreys,  with two games in hand over the teams above them. This loan arrangement indicates that Glasgow reaching the knockout stages of the PRO12 must be considered priority by the Scottish Rugby Union, and as such they and Edinburgh Rugby need to be applauded for this decision.

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Sam WarburtonWalesWales captain Sam Warburton must undergo immediate surgery after dislocating his right shoulder.

Wales have never faced South Africa in the north-eastern city of Nelspruit, but judging by the blank they have drawn everywhere else in the land of the Springboks, they must already be fearing the worst – especially as Sam Warburton, their captain, has been ruled out of this summer’s two-Test tour.

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chrisdeansEdinburgh RugbyEdinburgh Rugby yesterday announced the signing of Scotland 7s and under-20 starlet centre Chris Dean on a two-year deal.

A former pupil of Law Primary School and Edinburgh Academy, Dean lifted the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools’ Cup in three consecutive seasons: in 2009 (under-15) and as under-18 captain in 2010 and 2011.

He has represented Scotland at every age-grade, and skippered Scotland under-17 through the Wellington Festival in 2011, before his development was fast-tracked on a Scotland 7s elite development player (EDP) contract in May 2012.

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ERCA new European Cup accord will be signed this week after nearly two years of fraught negotiations and stand-offs. The six unions involved in the tournament, together with officials from competing sides in England, France and Wales, met in Paris on Monday to finalise the details.

It was hoped the stakeholders would be able to sign the heads of agreement at the meeting but the translation of the document into Italian was completed only over the weekend and their rugby federation said it had not had time to fully scrutinise it.

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SIX-NationsIt has been a fantastic Six Nations and one that had a fairytale ending as Ireland handed Brian O’Driscoll the perfect retirement present by beating France to win the title.

The nail-biting victory in Paris meant Ireland took the championship ahead of England on points difference.

The two teams have been the form sides in the competition and although a few French and Welsh players showed well, it is the top two who naturally provide the bulk of my Team of the Tournament for 2014.

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Stuart HoggScotlandScotland’s Stuart Hogg made a public apology after being sent off during his side’s record Six Nations defeat by Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

The full-back was given his marching orders at the Millennium Stadium by French referee Jerome Garces in the 22nd minute following a late shoulder charge into the face of Wales fly-half Dan Biggar.

Garces intially produced a yellow card but, after viewing replays on the stadium’s giant screen, changed it to a red.

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Sam WarburtonWalesWales captain Sam Warburton is set to miss the rest of the European season and the tour of South Africa after suffering a suspected dislocated shoulder injury against Scotland.

Back-row forward Warburton completed Wales’ record 51-3 rout of Scotland in their Six Nations finale at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.

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LV-Cup-logoExeter welcome new father Ben Moon back to the front row for the LV= Cup final, while Don Armand will be on the bench.  Backs Jason Shoemark and Fetu’u Vainikolo also come into the starting Chiefs side, replacing the injured Ian Whitten (calf) and Tom James (knee).

Northampton, who have used more than 40 different players en route to the final, make eight changes to their XV.  There are starts for James Wilson, Jamie Elliott and Stephen Myler as well as Alex Waller and Salesi Ma’afu.

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