After climbing into the top four after two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series, Australia and New Zealand know it’s far too early to rest on their laurels with Olympic qualification also up for grabs this season.
As the 16 captains assemble for the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth, Australian skipper Ed Jenkins and his New Zealand counterpart DJ Forbes reflect on their respective team’s elevation to the all-important top four after the first two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series.
The second last Tournament in the 2014 calendar year for the HSBC Sevens World Series of 2014 / 2015 is underway in Dubai.
The Emirates Dubai Sevens tournament is played over 2 Days, Friday 5 and Saturday 6 December 2014.
The last Tournament for the year is next weekend, in South Africa, at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
On Day 1, the traditional Sevens big sides, Fiji, New Zealand, South Africa, England and Australia have easily overcome their opponents in their first games.
Surprise results were Canada beating Wales by 19 / 14 and Scotland beating Samoa 21 / 14.
On Day 2 Fiji and New Zealand advanced to the 3rd place play-off and South Africa and Australia advanced to the Final.
South Africa’s Blitzbokke easily took the Final and the Dubai title by 33 / 7.
The Pacific Islands may yet get a taste of Super Rugby, with the Crusaders considering shifting their home match against the Hurricanes to Fiji next year.
The Fiji Village website reported that planning was underway for the seven-time Super Rugby champions to play the Hurricanes in Suva after a sponsor came forward to underwrite the move.
A Crusaders spokesman could not confirm the switch Thursday, saying there were a number of options under consideration with their usual second-choice home venues of Nelson and Timaru also in the mix.
“It’s too soon to comment on what may go ahead,” she said.
Former Fiji wing Rupeni Caucaunibuca has ended his unhappy second stint with French second division side Agen by mutual consent.
Caucaunibuca, more commonly referred to simply as Caucau, had played only 87 minutes for the Pro D2 side this season, having returned for a second spell following a highly successful first stint from 2004-09.
Back then, when Agen were in the French Top 14, Caucau twice finished as top try-scorer in the league.
He moved on to giants Toulouse in 2010 and then in 2012 returned to Northland in New Zealand, where he had also played Super Rugby for the Blues.
Agen said the explosive 34-year-old had asked to have his contract terminated.
Only one more Internatonal Test to be played today, that between Georgia vs Japan at 17:00 SA Time and Georgian Time, the rest of the results are in already!
Some surprising results all around, with the Italian Azzurri holding the Springboks to a limited win, Ireland narrowly beating the Wallabies, Wales containing the All Blacks untill the 69th minute before letting in 3 quick tries and France falling to a spirited Argentinian Pumas side.
The rest of the results, well they are pure wall decorations, for want of a better expletive.
The Weekend’s International Results are as follows:
Fiji (15) 20 / 14 (0) USA (Final Score)
Fiji and the USA Eagles did battle in the End Of Year Tours at
Stade De La Rabine, Vannes, France at 20:00 SA Time (19:00 French Time, 18:00 GMT, 13:00 Can Eastern Time, 07:00 Saturday Fiji Time).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was STREAMED LIVE by World Rugby (IRB) at http://www.worldrugby.org
USA captain Todd Clever will make a welcome return to the starting XV when the Eagles conclude their November tour against Fiji in Vannes, France on Saturday.
Another inclusion into the starting XV will see Ronald McLean earn his first International cap at fullback after he joined the team ahead of their 12-40 loss to Tonga last week.
Taku Ngwenya will look to add to his international try tally when he starts on the wing while Tim Stanfill, who has scored a try in two consecutive matches to begin his young international career, will earn his fourth cap.
Thretton Palamo and Seamus Kelly will hope to create chances from the center positions. Palamo’s second start since returning to the game, will be his fifth cap since making his Eagles debut at the 2007 World Cup.
John McKee has made seven changes to the Fiji run on team that will play against USA this weekend.
McKee said that his selection was based on the form in matches against France and Wales.
“I have named a very strong team for this match based on form in matches against France and Wales and I am also taking into consideration giving the opportunity to players who did not feature in the first and second matches”.
Fiji prop Campese Ma’afu was suspended for a week for being sent off for two yellow-card offenses in the 17-13 loss to Wales at Cardiff last weekend.
Ma’afu appeared before an independent Six Nations disciplinary hearing on Tuesday.
Wales’ narrow 17-13 victory over 2015 World Cup pool opponents Fiji on Saturday was “disappointing and frustrating”, according to coach Warren Gatland.
Despite the South Sea Islanders being reduced to 14 men after prop Campese Ma’afu received a second yellow card in the 52nd minute, the toothless Welsh team remarkably failed to register a score in the second half after leading 17-6 at the break.
Ahead of clashes against world champions New Zealand and South Africa, Gatland said his team’s performance was “disappointing and frustrating”.
Crusaders wing Nemani Nadolo will take his place at inside centre for Fiji when they face off against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Ospreys’ contingent in Warren Gatland’s Wales selection will come up against a familiar foe in the form of Josh Matavesi, who has been named at flyhalf for the opposition.
It will be Matavesi’s seventh international cap but his first for almost exactly two years, his last international appearance coming at Twickenham in November 2012 when he came off the bench against England.
The 24-year old missed Fiji’s defeat to France last Saturday due to a shoulder injury.
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.
Nine 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:
Flying Fijians coach John McKee named a powerful side to take on France in their first Test match for the November tour, when the two sides meet in Marseille on Saturday.
McKee said they selected the strongest team possible and that the players understand the challenge ahead.
“The forward pack from the June Tests is boosted by the addition of Masi Matadigo, who has been in very good form for Lyon in France Top 14.”
“Lepani Botia comes in at inside centre he is also playing Top 14 and can mix the direct game with the passing game. Nemani Nadolo has only joined the team this week due to some injury issues delaying his arrival. Expect him to have big impact when he enters the game from the reserves.
“For the players they understand the challenge ahead. The important thing for us is to have very good knowledge of our game plan and be able to stick to it under immense pressure.
South African-born fullback Scott Spedding will make his international debut when he runs out for France against Fiji in Marseille on Saturday.
The Bayonne player represented South Africa Under-21 in the 2006 World Championship and will be joined by fellow South African Rory Kockott, who starts the match on the bench.
The 28-year-old, who joined Bayonne from Brive in 2012, was brought into the squad on Wednesday for the November Test series by coach Philippe Saint-Andre following an injury to first-choice fullback Brice Dulin.
Clermont wing Napolioni Nalaga will miss Fiji’s November Tests against France, Wales and the United States due to family reasons, Fiji coach John McKee told AFP.
The prolific 28-year-old has scored nine tries in 16 internationals for Fiji, but won’t be adding to that this month.
“He expressed that he didn’t want to be considered for this tour,” said McKee.
“That is his decision, he had some family things to attend to. I respect that.”
There has been no change in the Top 12 of the IRB world rankings following the opening round of The Rugby Championship.
Despite seeing their 17-Test win streak end in Sydney thanks to a 12-12 draw with the Wallabies, New Zealand continue to lead the way on 93.42 points.
The Wallabies, courageous in their efforts – and perhaps a little unlucky – remain in third position on 87.32.
Fiji have qualified as Oceania 1 for Rugby World Cup 2015 in England by beating the Cook Islands 108-6 in Lautoka. The Flying Fijians scored 17 unanswered tries in a runaway victory in front of their adoring home fans at Churchill Park.
Fiji join hosts England, Australia, Wales and the yet to be determined Repechage winner in Pool A, and will have the honour of playing England at Twickenham in the opening match of the tournament on 18 September.
Fiji opened their defence of the 2014 Pacific Nations Cup with a bonus-point 45-17 victory over Tonga in Suva on Saturday.
Watisoni Votu and Sireli Bobo, who missed last week’s warm-up match against Italy, both scored twice with Nemani Nadolo and captain Akapusi Qera also registering a try.
Nadolo contributed 20 points in the match with a try, six conversions and a penalty.
He had Fiji on the board within three minutes of the start with a penalty as they raced to a 24-3 lead by halftime.
Samisoni Viriviri’s name was called out at a function following the London Sevens at Twickenham, the final Round of the 2013 / 2014 HSBC Sevens World Series won by New Zealand.
He becomes the first Fijian to win the award since it was first presented in 2004, having finished the season with 52 tries.
The Springbok Sevens lost 33-26 to Fiji in a thrilling, epic Tokyo Sevens Cup Final after the Pacific Islanders managed to score a brilliant and trademark long range winning try with just second remaining on the clock.
However, despite the disappointment of losing their tournament title in what must surely rank as one of the all-time great HSBC Sevens World Series Cup Finals, the South Africans did manage to regain the lead on the overall standings.
The cash-strapped Fiji Rugby Union on Friday hailed a new US$21.3 million sponsorship deal as a “game changer” for the sport in the Pacific nation.
FRU chairman Filimoni Waqabaca said the five-year agreement gave the organisation certainty after a troubled period when it had to sack the national team’s coach to save money and had financial aid from the International Rugby Board (IRB) suspended.
The cash-strapped Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) on Monday sacked coach Inoke Male in a money-saving move less than a month before they start their defence of the Pacific Rugby Cup.
Australia’s best emerging talent will compete against national representative teams from Fiji, Japan, Samoa, Tonga and Argentina in the 2014 IRB Pacific Rugby Cup (PRC).
The competition was established in 2006 to help develop rugby in Pacific nations, but for the first time in 2014, it will include the Argentina Pampas and will be held entirely in Australia.
Despite their difficult financial situation, Fiji will definitely still take part in the Wellington Sevens tournament next month.
Sevens Wellington general manager Marty Donoghue confirmed that the Fiji team will remain a key feature of the 7 – 8 February tournament at Westpac Stadium.
The IRB made the following statement:
The International Rugby Board has confirmed that it is to suspend all direct financial support to the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) with immediate effect until the Union adopts key financial reporting, administration and governance reforms.
The Fiji Rugby Union are yet to pay new head coach Ben Ryan any of his salary since he took over the national side this season.
Barbarians (17) 43 / 19 (7) Fiji (Final Score)
The Barbarians and Fiji did battle in the End Of Year Tours at
Twickenham, London at 16:30 SA Time (14:30 GMT, 03:30 Sunday Fiji Time).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 8 & HD5 on TV in SA.
Round 5 of the End Of Year Tours is the last Round of the tour and also signals the end of the Southern Hemisphere season as well as the welcome rest period for Southern Hemisphere teams.
This weekend does not see quite as much rugby, compared to to the previous 4 Rounds as it only has 2 matches, but it is going to be two great clashes. Any weekend with rugby is all in all still a good weekend.
Here are some head to head statistics and predictions.
Fiji coach Inoke Male faces a nightmare to ensure he can field a competitive team against the Barbarians at Twickenham on Saturday.
There are 6 Springboks in the starting 15 and a further 2 on the bench for the Barbarians’ clash with Fiji at Twickenham on Saturday. It would have been 7 Springbok starters as the initial side was named including Flip van der Merwe as No 4 lock, but he has been withdrawn from the squad after the Blue Bulls said NO under such short notice. Flip is directly replaced by Mick O’Driscoll of Ireland.
The season may have ended for International sides like the South African Springboks and the New Zealand All Blacks, but we still officially have one Test weekend left on the End Of Year Tours in 2013, and it is this weekend!
The Barbarians take on Fiji at Twickenham on Saturday afternoon at 16:30 SA Time (14:30 GMT), with a number of prominent Springboks and All Blacks in the Barbarians side and Wales host the Wallabies from Australia at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff at 19:00 SA Time (17:00 GMT).
But that’s not all folks, we have some quality Sevens Rugby on Friday and Saturday (HSBC Sevens World Series, Dubai Tournament) and we also have the Varsity Sevens on Friday, Saturday and Sunday… all broadcast live. In addition we have Aviva Pemiership Round 9 rugby betwwen Gloucester vs Leicester Tigers and French Top 14 Round 13 rugby between Perpignon vs Clermont Auvergne on Friday night and an Aviva Premiershpi Round 9 rugby match between Newcastle Falcons vs Harlequins on Sunday
Here are the broadcast times for Friday, Saturday and Sunday:
Springbok skipper Jean de Villiers will captain the Barbarians in Saturday’s clash against Fiji at Twickenham.
This weekend sees Round 4 of the 2013 End Of Year Tours. It is the last weekend on tour for the Springboks from South Africa, with their last game on tour probably the most difficult one. A a win over France will see the Springboks ending with what can be called a great season.
All in all a good weekend of rugby lies ahead and it will be enjoyed the world over, like always. Here are the head to head stats to help you with your SuperBru picks. Good luck to all sides.
England’s Wayne Barnes will referee the Boks’ final end of year Test against France in Paris on Saturday.
Barnes will be the Boks’ third northern hemisphere referee in as many matches on their tour after Ireland’s Alain Rolland took control of their 24-15 win over Wales in Cardiff, while France’s Jérôme Garcès was the man in the middle in their 28-0 victory over Scotland in Edinburgh last Sunday.