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FranceWalesGeorge North will make his 50th international appearance, in record time, against France on Saturday, and will be looking to continue his purple patch against Les Bleus.

At just 22-years-old, North will become the youngest international player ever to reach the milestone – it will be his 47th cap for Wales, added to three for the British and Irish Lions.

The towering Northampton wing scored tries against France in each of the 2 previous matches and will be looking to continue that form as Wales seek a 4th straight win over Philippe Saint-Andre’s side.

North will make his comeback for Wales having sat out the 26 / 23 win over Scotland 2 weeks ago due to a pair of concussions suffered against England the week before.

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Steffon Armitage

Steffon Armitage

A court in southern France called for further inquiries to be held into allegations of assault against Toulon’s former England flank Steffon Armitage.

Armitage faces a 5 to 6 month suspended prison sentence and €5,000 ($5,649) fine over the incident which occurred in a Toulon restaurant on 13 December.

“There are still a number of grey areas in this case that perhaps further investigation will throw light on,” Armitage’s lawyer Clement Lambert said.

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Omar Mouneimne

Omar Mouneimne

Eastern Province Rugby CEO, Charl Crous has confirmed reports that Kings defence coach, Omar Mouneimne, has been approached by French team Lyon OU to possibly assist them on a consultancy basis.

“At this point in time nothing has been confirmed and there is no agreement in place with Lyon. Omar played a valuable role in making the Southern Kings one of the toughest teams defensively in the 2013 Super Rugby competition, and we can already see the positive impact that his return has had on the team,” said Crous.

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Jano Vermaak

Jano Vermaak

Springbok scrumhalf Jano Vermaak is set to join the Stormers at the end of the season after 2 years with Toulouse.

The former Lions and Bulls scrumhalf joined the 4-time European champions in 2013, and featured regularly in his 1st season in the Top 14.

He has fallen down the pecking order this season however, with Sébastien Bezy and Jean-Marc Doussain both ahead of him, making just 2 starts so far.

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Rory Kockott

Rory Kockott

Castres scrumhalf Rory Kockott has been ruled out of Saturday’s crucial Top 14 game with Oyonnax, after suffering a quadriceps injury in France’s Six Nations defeat against Ireland.

The injury update came via the club’s scrum coach and recently appointed consultant Maurico Reggiardo.

The 28-year-old South Africa-born player – who became eligible to play for the French last year – may not be fit enough either to be named in the Six Nations squad for the game with Wales on Saturday week.

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Rory Kockott

Rory Kockott

Rory Kockott may be dropped after France coach Philippe Saint-Andre promised changes for their next Six Nations game against Wales.

Saint-Andre, speaking on Sunday, the day after his side lost 18 / 11 to defending Six Nations champions Ireland at Lansdowne Road, said several players had not performed at the level required for Test rugby.

While the 47-year-old, who has just 3 away wins (2 against Scotland and 1 against Argentina) to his credit since taking over at the helm after the 2011 World Cup Final, initially refused to name names he gave a curt response when asked about Kockott’s performance.

“He can do better,” said Saint-Andre.

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Fabien GalthieSidelined Montpellier coach Fabien Galthie has taken club president Mohed Altrad to an employment tribunal, judicial sources said Thursday, after being relieved of his responsibilities.

Galthie was effectively replaced as coach in late December when Altrad brought in South African World Cup winner Jake White to replace the former France captain.

Since then, former scrumhalf Galthie has been officially suspended from his duties, although he remains employed by the French Top 14 outfit.

Galthie’s complaint stems from his claim that he is no longer occupying a role that conforms with his employment contract, which will run until June 2017.

The two men are due to meet on March 30 to try to find an amicable solution, otherwise the case will go to the tribunal.

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FranceProp Eddy Ben Arous’s inclusion in place of injured Alexandre Menini is France’s only change from the win over Scotland for Saturday’s Six Nations game against Ireland in Dublin.

Menini was replaced by Racing Metro’s Ben Arous early in the second half in Saturday’s game in Paris after sustaining a foot injury.

Ben Arous, 24, will be making his 1st start after winning 2 previous caps.

Camille Lopez’s 5 penalties helped France edge out Scotland 15 / 8.

With Brice Dulin still hampered by an arm injury, Scott Spedding will again start at fullback.

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Steffon Armitage

Steffon Armitage

Prosecutors have requested a 5 to 6 month suspended prison term and £5000 fine against Toulon’s flank Steffon Armitage who appeared in a French court Tuesday on charges of assault.

Armitage, last season’s European player of the year and capped 5 times by England, is alleged to have struck a 31-year-old man on 13 December in a Toulon restaurant after an evening drinking with teammates following the side’s 23 / 8 victory over Leicester in the European Champions Cup.

According to witnesses, a fight broke out and Armitage, 29, and Toulon prop Xavier Chiocci, who was later released without charge by police, felled the restaurant goer before striking him, injuring his eye.

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Steven Kitshoff

Steven Kitshoff

Stormers and Western Province prop Steven Kitshoff has signed a contract with French Top 14 club, Bordeaux-Begles.

Kitshoff’s agent, Hilton Houghton, confirmed that his client has signed 2-year deal with the French club.

The 22-year-old is still contracted to Western Province until the end of October and will leave for France after the conclusion of this year’s Currie Cup competition.

Kitshoff, a former Baby Bok who boasts 45 Super Rugby caps, last played a first class match on 3 May last year before a knee injury ended his 2014 season.

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World RugbyA strong second half saw Rugby World Cup 2015 hosts England storm back to beat Wales 21 / 16 in their Six Nations opener in Cardiff, a result which lifted them above Ireland back to 3rd in the latest World Rugby rankings.

According to the World Rugby (previously IRB), the victory sees England regain the mantle as the leading northern hemisphere nation in the rankings behind New Zealand and South Africa and they now sit 0.35 points above Ireland after their 26 / 3 victory over Italy in Rome had no impact due to the 11 places separating the teams.

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FranceScotlandFrance (9) 15 / 8 (8) Scotland (Final Score)

France and Scotland did battle in the RBS 6 Nations at

Stade de France, Paris, France at 19:00 SA Time (18:00 French Time, 17:00 BST & GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

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

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Jacques du Plessis

Jacques du Plessis

Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe

The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Friday confirmed that efforts to keep Vodacom Bulls locks Jacques du Plessis and Flip van der Merwe in Pretoria have been unsuccessful, with both players taking up contracts in France at the end of the domestic 2015 season.

Du Plessis has signed a two year deal with Montpellier and Van der Merwe will join Clermont, also after the completion of the ABSA Currie Cup competition.

The BBC’s High Performance Manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg said talks with both players have been ongoing for some time.

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ToulonCell C SharksToulon (5) 10 / 12 (9) Sharks (Final Score)

Toulon and the Cell C Sharks did battle in a friendly cross-hemisphere match prior to the

Super Rugby season at Stade Mayol, Toulon at 22:00 SA Time (21:00 French Time, 20:00 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

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

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Rory Kockott

Rory Kockott

South African-born scrumhalf Rory Kockott will make his first start for France in their Six Nations opener against Scotland on Saturday in Paris, coach Philippe Saint-Andre announced on Wednesday.

After three substitute appearances for Les Bleus during the November internationals, the 28-year-old Castres half-back will line-up alongside Camille Lopez, who starts at flyhalf.

It will be the 14th different starting half-back pairing aligned by Saint-Andre since taking over the France reins three years ago – in November, Toulon scrumhalf Sebastien Tillous-Borde started all three Tests but was suffering from a knee injury in the build up to the Six Nations.

“It’s logical (to pick Kockott) given our organisation in November,” said Saint-Andre.

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ToulonCell C SharksThe Sharks match against Toulon will see 2014’s best European team take on the last year’s best South African team, but will it be rust versus readiness?

The men from Durban, bar a brief hit-out against Rovers last Thursday, have not seen competitive rugby in over 3 months, while their opponents, Toulon, are in the business end of their season.

There is bound to be some rustiness from the South Africans admits former Sharks prop Eduard Coetzee as he discusses what it will be like for them to face the Galácticos of rugby.

Coetzee is well versed in both countries’ rugby having spent 5 years with the Sharks before finishing off his career in France with Bayonne and finally Biarritz where he made 125 appearances.

“It is clear that for us that this meeting will be something special,” Coetzee said.

“We will assess our ability while facing the best team in the Northern Hemisphere.

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Conrad Smith

Conrad Smith

Will Genia

Will Genia

Reports from France seem to suggest that Wallaby Will Genia will finally make his much anticipated move to France along with the latest in the All Black post-World Cup exodus, Conrad Smith.

Genia, who for a peroid was heavily linked with English Premiership side Bath, now looks more likely to join Parisian side Stade Fancais on a 3-year deal.

It seems that Genia’s deal with Bath eventually fell through due to the Premiership’s salary cap restrictions and the English club’s existing deal with Rugby League convert Sam Burgess.

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Cell C SharksThe Bulls are the South African team to have laid down the early marker ahead of the Vodacom Super Rugby season that kicks off in a fortnight and after watching the Pretoria team deal with Saracens, the Sharks will aim at a quality performance when they play Toulon in France on Thursday.

In direct contrast to last season, when Jake White’s arrival as director of rugby created much hype and a few bold predictions about the Sharks’ chances long before the competition had started, the Durban franchise has been operating under the radar during the off-season.

The low key end to 2014, with the Currie Cup team bowing out in the semifinal stage as opposed to going all the way to the trophy the year before, has probably contributed to the low key build-up, as has the fact that the new director of rugby, Gary Gold, has until late last week been based in Japan. Consultant Brendan Venter has been overseeing the preparations for Super Rugby, but he is not known for making bold assertions to the media.

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SIX Nations 2015 Launch

The World Cup countdown is officially on, as the Six Nations sides get the first opportunity in the spotlight.

xThe Northern Hemisphere teams will look to sharpen up on their game plans, test out combinations and look to see who to cut from their World Cup plans.

With England hosting the global showpiece this year, the onus is on the Northern Hemisphere sides to fully challenge and grab the opportunity of a World Cup on their turf.

The conditions, referees and schedule seems to favour them.

The Six Nations in 2014 saw a tournament only decided on the final day – with three teams still able to win it. Eventually Ireland won it, a perfect swan song for arguably the greatest No.13 in the modern era – Brian O’Driscoll.

England won the triple crown, beating all the other Home Nations, but failed to win the Six Nations. Italy was also in the record books for the most tackles in a Test match as they made 208!

What do we expect in the 2015 edition of the Six Nations?

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Frans Malherbe

Frans Malherbe

Siya Kolisi

Siya Kolisi

French Top 14 club Toulouse are reportedly eager to attain the services of Springboks Frans Malherbe and Siya Kolisi.

French rugby newspaper, Midi Olympique, reports that the Stormers duo are on the shopping-list of the French giants who want to bolster their ranks after this year’s Rugby World Cup.

Prop Malherbe has played 4 Tests for the Boks, while flank Kolisi boasts 10 caps.

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Ulrich Beyers

Ulrich Beyers

Vodacom Bulls utility back Ulrich Beyers will know in the next few days if he will join the exodus to France after joining Bordeaux on a trial basis.

Beyers, who represented the Blue Bulls in last season’s ABSA Currie Cup semifinal at fullback, didn’t feature in last Saturday’s pre-season opener for the Bulls against the Toyota Cheetahs and isn’t part of the squad that heads Wednesday to London to face Saracens this weekend.

It has emerged that Beyers has been offered a trial with Bordeaux, with the option of a long-term contract if it goes well and could feature in his first start this coming weekend for the club.

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Jake White at Montpellier

Jake White at Montpellier

World Cup winning coach Jake White has revealed that he has been asked by Montpellier president Mohed Altrad to remain on as coach of the French Top 14 side.

White, former Director of Rugby at the Sharks, was brought in to replace Fabien Galthie who was suspended on 29 December after a string of defeats.

“The president wants me to stay,” White said in an interview in l’Equipe and Midi Libre newspapers.

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Ben Venter

Ben Venter

South Africa lock Ben Venter revealed on Wednesday he is set to join Top 14 rugby union side Bordeaux-Begles.

Venter will fill in for Adam Jaulhac who is absent for 3 months after undergoing surgery on a herniated disc.

“I’m proud and happy to announce that I’m going to join Bordeaux-Begles,” the 27-year-old Venter wrote on his Twitter account.

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Demetri Catrakilis

Demetri Catrakilis

Stormers flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis is the latest player linked to a move abroad, with French club Montpellier reportedly his destination. (Also see Update below)

Montpellier, currently coached by World Cup-winning former Springbok mentor Jake White, has been linked to a host of South African players – including the Du Plessis brothers Jannie and Bismarck.

Montpellier also secured the services of Wallaby scrumhalf Nic White, who will join them next season and be reunited with his former club coach White.

According to the French media the 24-year-old Brumbies No 9, White, has – along with Catrakilis – signed a 2-year contract with the option of extending it by a further year.

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Sekope Kepu

Sekope Kepu

Both Sekope Kepu (Waratahs) and Nic White (Brumbies), have added their names to the long list of Australian Players who will pack up and go play rugby in France after the Rugby World Cup of 2015.

 

Sekope Kepu:

Australian international prop Sekope Kepu has become the latest addition to the conveyor belt moving players from the Southern Hemisphere to France.

Kepu signed a three-year deal with ambitious Top 14 club Bordeaux-Begles.

The 28-year-old Wallaby – who will join after this year’s World Cup – is the second player from the Waratahs to join the club coached by former France captain Raphael Ibanez.

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Jerry Collins

Jerry Collins

Former All Blacks captain and back-row forward Jerry Collins has joined second-flight French club Narbonne as a stop-gap for the injured Rocky Elsom, the club said on Monday.

Narbonne’s player-owner Elsom, a former Wallabies captain himself, has an injured shoulder that will sideline him for three months. The 34-year-old Collins has played in France before, at Toulon in the 2008-2009 season, after seven seasons at Wellington.

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Mohed Altrad

Mohed Altrad

Montpellier president Mohed Altrad on Monday “categorically denied” reports of a deal to sign South African forwards Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis.

The brothers, various domestic media suggested, were due to join the Top 14 side after the conclusion of the 2015 Rugby World Cup in November on a two-year deal.

But Altrad said: “I categorically deny these reports.”

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Jano Vermaak

Jano Vermaak

Jano Vermaak, one of South Africa’s most experienced scrumhalves, is believed to be on the Stormers’ shopping list for their 2015 Super Rugby campaign.

Vermaak currently plies his trade for French Top 14 club Toulouse. He is a former SA Under 21 representative who has also played for the SA Sevens side as well as the Emerging Springboks.

The 30-year old was a member of the Springbok squad for most of the 2012 season, with Ruan Pienaar and Francois Hougaard as the two first choice scrumhalves in the squad.

The native of Graaff-Reinet made his Test debut for the Springboks on 8 June 2013 against Italy at Kings Park in Durban. He suffered a hamstring injury in the 62nd minute of that Test and had to be replaced. Since then he has played three Tests for the Boks.

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Bismarck du Plessis

Bismarck du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis as well as Duane Vermeulen will further their careers in France after this year’s Rugby World Cup, respected French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique has revealed.

According to the newspaper, the official announcement regarding Vermeulen will only be made in July.

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Rory Kockott

Rory Kockott

Scott Spedding

Scott Spedding

Bernard le Roux

Bernard le Roux

South African-born trio Rory Kockott, Scott Spedding and Bernard le Roux all maintained their places in France’s initial 31-man squad ahead of the Six Nations.

Kockott and Spedding made their debuts during the November Tests with differing levels of success.

While Spedding has been embraced by the French public following a string of good performances, Kockott has endured a tough start to his international career, with many questioning his inclusion at the expense of French-born scrumhalves.

Meanwhile, coach Philippe Saint-Andre also called up Fijian wing Noa Nakaitaci. The 24-year-old has played his senior club rugby in France since moving to Clermont from the Nadroga academy in his homeland in 2010.

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Ali Williams

Ali Williams

All Black legend Ali Williams vowed to spend his time fishing and hunting after announcing his retirement from the game.

The 33-year-old New Zealand international lock joined European and French champions Toulon at the beginning of last season, after a career spent with the Blues and Crusaders.

“I’ve enjoyed every day that I’ve played rugby and I’m still enjoying it to the end but my body’s said enough is enough,” said Williams.

“There’s huge motivation to go out on a winning note but like anything you can’t look to the prizes, you have to look to the processes for the next few months to try to get to the prizes.

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Peter Saili

Peter Saili

New Zealand flanker Peter Saili has signed for French Top 14 side Bordeaux-Begles, club president Laurent Marti confirmed on Friday.

Saili, 27, who recently left Blues after 5 years and 71 Super Rugby matches with the club, has penned a 2-and-a-half year deal with the western French side.

Saili, who will join his new club later this month, is the second Blues player to sign for Bordeaux after compatriot Luke Braid, who arrives next season for 2 years.

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Jerry Yanuyanutawa

Glasgow Warriors prop Jerry Yanuyanutawa was coached by Jake White at the Brumbies

Jerry Yanuyanutawa says the Warriors will face a highly motivated Montpellier team in Sunday’s European Rugby Champions Cup match at Scotstoun.

The French side have lost all four of their Cup matches so far, but those defeats were sustained while Fabien Galthie was in charge. Galthie was replaced by Jake White at the end of last month, and the South African put down his marker by guiding them to a 16-12 victory over European champions Toulon in his very first game.

Jerry’s knowledge of the coach is based on their season together with the ACT Brumbies in Australia and he is convinced that White is a formidable and inspirational character.

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Morné Steyn & Mosese Ratuvou

Morné Steyn & Mosese Ratuvou

South African international flyhalf Morné Steyn is free to play for his French club, Stade Francais, in their European Challenge Cup game.

Steyn was handed a 1-match ban on Wednesday, by the National Rugby League – the body controlling the French leagues.

The 30-year-old Steyn, who had asked for his disciplinary hearing to be moved forward from next week to Wednesday, had already missed the Top 14 clash with Castres this past weekend – an encounter that Stade won 49-13 at home.

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Jake White at Montpellier

Jake White at Montpellier

Former Springbok coach Jake White’s second week in the Top 14 was the polar opposite to his winning debut.

A week after beating defending French and Europeans champions Toulon on home soil, White’s star-studded Montpellier team were brought back down to earth with a bump as they lost to 20 / 13 to minnows Oyonnax, who only avoided relegation last season on point difference.

Just a few days into his stint in France, White was forced to issue an official apology after saying he was happy to play against heavyweights Toulon because “playing in Montauban, in a field in front of five people and a dog… does not interest me.”

Following Saturday’s result, Oyonnax winger Silvère Tian – who scored two tries in the win at the Stade Charles Mathon – didn’t mince his words when celebrating, suggesting that White will be a little humbler with his comments in the future.

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