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Internationals

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AustraliaAustralia’s 2015 World Cup preparations will be well tested on their end-of-season European tour in November with coach Ewen McKenzie trying to replicate their potential campaign for the Webb Ellis trophy as much as possible.

McKenzie’s side will play five matches on five successive weekends, which includes clashes against World Cup Pool A opponents England and Wales.

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Fikile MbalulaThe South African Rugby Union will on Monday get a better idea of the government’s new ‘adapt or die’ transformation policy.

Speaking at a general meeting of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee recently Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula revealed that the minimum requirement for the number of blacks in teams have been increased to 60 percent.

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Nick MallettNick Mallett, who will take charge of the World XV against the Springboks in June, has ruled out a return to coaching full-time.

Mallett, 57, was earlier this week confirmed as coach of the team to face the Springboks at Newlands on 7 June.

He did, however, state that he was not interested in getting a coaching role on a full-time basis.

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Marcell CoetzeeCell C SharksCell C Sharks flank, Marcell Coetzee, knows that he has to stay on top of his game if he hopes to break into the Springbok loose trio this season as competition is ‘insane’.

Coetzee got his international break in 2012, with Bok coach Heyneke Meyer showing great faith in him from the start of his tenure, but the emergence of Francois Louw and Siya Kolisi saw the Sharks flank play a supporting role from the sidelines last year.

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Heyneke MeyerNick MallettSouth AfricaSpringbok coach Heyneke Meyer will start his international season by going head to head against his friend and former boss Nick Mallett at Newlands on 7 of June.

The South African Rugby Union confirmed that the Springboks will open their international season against a World XV – coached by former Springbok coach and SuperSport rugby expert Mallett before heading into tests against Wales and Scotland in the June international window.

The game will be at Newlands – and not the Cape Town Stadium – as initially reported with tickets going on sale Monday for the clash, priced at R250 and R350.

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South AfricaThe South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Friday named a reduced SA Under-20 training squad of 36 players for the remainder of the 2014 IRB Junior World Championship (JWC) training camp following two trial matches in Stellenbosch this week.

An large group of almost 50 players were selected for the camp as SA Under-20 coach Dawie Theron opted to cast his net wide in search of the best players to represent the country at the JWC in Auckland, New Zealand, from May 27 to June 20. This will be the first time the country hosts the tournament.

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Ewen McKenzieAustraliaWallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said on Friday that the attitude of players as much as form will help him decide the makeup of his team as he plots a course towards next year’s Rugby World Cup.

McKenzie said the desire to wear the gold jersey and professionalism would be major factors in weighing up contenders ahead of June’s three-Test home series against France.

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South AfricaHarold VersterFree State Rugby Union CEO Harold Verster says the union will next host a Test match in the 2016 season.

Verster wrote a column on the Volksblad website where he explained to fans the situation regarding the union’s hosting of Test matches.

Verster said the union gave up its right to host last year’s Rugby Championship Test between South Africa and Argentina.

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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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South AfricaThe Springboks will face 2013 Six Nations champions Wales in two Tests in Durban and Nelspruit during the Castle Lager Incoming Series in June, followed by a once-off international against Scotland in Port Elizabeth.

The fixtures were confirmed by the South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Wednesday.

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HSBC Sevens World SeriesThe International Rugby Board (IRB) has announced the dates for the HSBC Sevens World Series 2014 / 2015, which has gained in significance with the recent announcement that the top four-ranked nations will qualify from it directly for the Olympic Games in 2016.

According to the IRB’s official website, the 16th edition of the record-breaking series will visit the same nine countries as the current 2013/14 season with two changes to the order of rounds. The event in the USA will be played the weekend after New Zealand’s, and Japan’s tournament will follow on from Hong Kong.

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FranceCastres flyhalf Remy Tales has been recalled into the 30-strong French squad to prepare for the Six Nations match against Wales in Cardiff on 21 February.

The 29-year-old Tales held the number 10 shirt for the November Test matches before picking up a neck injury while playing for his club in the European Cup in mid January.

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HSBC Sevens World SeriesThe New Zealand leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series, in Wellington, was played this weekend.

The South African Blitzbokke started their bid to win a 3rd Tournament in a row in fine fashion, by beating Wales 26 / 0 and beating Portugal 27 / 5.

The Blitzbokke’s next challenge was England, and the game was won by England, by 19 / 5. Both England and South Africa advance to the Cup Quarters, England played Samoa and the Blitzbokke played Australia.

New Zealand comfortably beat France, 47 / 0 in the last game of Day 1, after earlier losing to Fiji, but also advanced to the Cup Quarters, where they played against Canada.

At the 2nd Day of the tournament, New Zealand and South Africa advanced all the way to the final, with Fiji beating England in the 3rd place play-off.

New Zealand won the final by 21 / 0 against the South African Blitzbokke, capitalizing on mistakes and shutting the Blitzbokke out in the 2nd half.

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FijiThe 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.

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ScotlandScotland have made three changes to their starting XV and three more changes to their bench for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations Championship match against England at Murrayfield.

There’s a new cap at openside flanker where Chris Fusaro, the 24-year-old Glasgow Warrior, a product of Bell Baxter High School and  the Howe of Fife club, who has graduated from Scotland 7′s and Scotland A, replaces Kelly Brown.  Fusaro will be Scotland’s 1052nd cap.

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