David Malan & Ben Robinson - Abie Malan Jersey - smallBenn Robinson could finally relax.

The Waratahs and Wallabies prop had been on edge for weeks, carrying around a precious piece of Australian and South African rugby history believed lost for decades.

It had brought him to a hotel lobby in Cape Town, where David Malan was waiting to receive the missing Springboks jersey his father, Abie Malan, had worn to captain South Africa against the Wallabies 51 years earlier.

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Frank OliverFormer All Blacks captain Frank Oliver has died at the age of 65, his old provincial club Manawatu said on Tuesday, describing him as “a truly great rugby man”.

Oliver played for the All Blacks 43 times from 1976-81, including 17 Tests, captaining the New Zealanders to a series win over Australia in 1978. His son Anton Oliver was also an All Blacks captain.

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melroseMelrose Rugby Club has confirmed four invitational teams that will appear at this year’s Melrose 7s on Saturday 12 April at The Greenyards.

Scottish professional side, Glasgow Warriors will be joined by French Top 14 outfit Clermont Auvergne, Trinidad and Tobago and USA Tigers.

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Super RugbyWith the Super Rugby season less than 6 days away, here is a bit of history on the Competition.

Super Rugby is run by SANZAR and consists of franchise teams from South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, 5 teams each, devided into 3 Conferences.

Super Rugby is the Southern Hemisphere’s prime Franchise tournament and part of the reason why the Southern Hemisphere currently dominate world rugby, with the New Zealand All Blacks 1st on the IRB World Rankings, the Springboks from South Africa comfortably in 2nd spot and the Wallabies from Australia in 3rd spot.

Super Rugby gets underway in South Africa first in 2014, on 15 February 2014 and a week later the Antipodion sides join in.

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New ZealandSouth AfricaThe 1994 Springbok team is regarded as the worst Springbok side visiting New Zealand. They were unable to win a single test –losing the first two and drawing the 3rd test- and losing one provincial match out of 11 against Otago (12-19).

In total they lost 3 matches and drew one out of 14 matches. Compared to the 1965 Springboks probably a better overall result; excluding the fact that they couldn’t win a test match. It was nonetheless a disappointing result considering the fact that this team also completed tours -with the same coach, Ian McIntosh- through Australia and Argentina in 1993. They won one test in Australia and both test matches in Argentina with reasonable good margins. In addition they played two test matches against England at the start of the 1994 season losing the first one 15-32 at Loftus Versfeld and winning the second one 27-9 at Newlands in Cape Town. From that backdrop there was understandingly an expectation that SA rugby and particular the Springboks will shed the impact of the isolation years and begin to adjust to the requirements of the international rugby if not win test matches.

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New ZealandSouth AfricaAll Blacks 11 / 5 Springboks (Eden Park, Auckland 1 September 1956)

Ron Hemi:
“The fourth test was the hardest game I ever played in, and this was at a time when I considered myself to be at peak physical fitness. South Africa made a big mistake in the selection of their first five-eighth and fullback. Bill Clark and Ross Brown were able to box in Howe and kill play close in, preventing the South African outside backs from operating. And a more determined fullback than Viviers would have prevented Jones’s try. The New Zealand tactics of bursting around the rucks, the ball being kept at close range in front of the forwards, was the winning formula.”

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RBS Six Nations ChampionshipEnglandIrelandWalesScotlandFranceItalyFrom time to time Rugby-Talk is approached by rugby enthusiasts, who read our content, who enquire whether they can write guest articles for publication.

My response is the same every time… send it along, if it is good, we will publish it. More aptly, I also invite these people to register and become part of our wonderful website, to join in the comments with us and should we see value in their style and knowledge, there will be no hesitation to make them fullyfledged authors here on Rugby-Talk.

I hope this is an inspiration to more people to contribute…

Here is a wonderful piece on the history of the Six Nations:

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South AfricaSouth Africa 17 / 6 Bay of plenty-Thames Valley-Counties

It was the last midweek match of the tour with only the 4th test remaining. The opposition was a combination of 3 relatively weak sides namely Bay of Plenty (who won only 1 of 5 matches played in the 1956 season); Thames Valley (who won only 3 of 8) and Counties (a team founded as South Auckland in 1926 and who won only 2 of 13 season games in 1956). These three teams combined for the first time in 1956 and played 2 warm-up games namely against Auckland (7th of August 1956 losing 6-7) and Waikato (11th of August 1956 losing 6-24) in preparation for the Springboks.

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56-NZ-MaorisIt was the Springboks’ best performance of the tour. A real confidence booster after the shock defeat against the University side but at the same time a game that had a negative impact in more than one way. It showed New Zealand the danger of allowing the Springboks space to play the Craven-linking pattern. Not that New Zealand was unaware of the Springbok style but it re-affirmed the necessity of keeping the Springboks on the back foot.

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Post tour cartoonNoticeably, conversation about the 1956 tour always detour to the match against the New Zealand Universities. Historically, it was the first time a New Zealand University team played against an international touring side but this match is synonymous with the 1956 tour for other reasons. The fact that the Universities team won is also not really the main reason why Kiwi’s still rate this match as the best match of the tour. It was the manner in which the Universities team won that delighted the New Zealand rugby fraternity. All the good football came from the home side. The backs demonstrated opportunism, sensible anticipation and application while the pack totally dominated proceedings. The game is nevertheless mostly remembered as the game of the great Ron Jardon ‘try-that-wasn’t’. A great howl went up in protest when Jardon was called back after a spectacular 65 meter run through almost the entire Springbok team (listen to Winston McCarthy highlights of the match here) and old-timers almost without exception still mention the Jardon try to this day whenever the 1956 tour are under discussion.

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