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Internationals

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Matthew Burke

Matthew Burke

I always find it interesting how people think they need to reinvent the wheel. They think they can make it work better when in fact it is spinning around just nicely as it is.

The wheel I am speaking of is the Waratahs combination at five-eighth and inside centre, and the fact that it wasn’t used for the Wallabies for the opening two games of the Rugby Championship.

Publicly Kurtley Beale was happy about his selection at five-eighth and I am sure he was in his preferred position, but I wonder if privately he ever thought, “have I spent enough time in the role?”

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SuperBru LogoRound 2 of The Rugby Championship and Round 3 of the Currie Cup is done and dusted!

No real surprises with the results, except the huge margin the All Blacks smashed the Wallabies by, and the fact that the Bokke hardly scraped their way to a 2 point win.

The Springboks have struggled in Argentina the past three years, but most pundits thought the Bokke would at least still be closer to a 10 point margin better than the Pumas, even on a bad day.

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The 1995 All Blacks

LINGERING PAIN: The 1995 All Blacks look on after losing the World Cup final at Ellis Park, Johannesburg.

The awful truth about the Wallabies’ hammering last weekend is that by 2015 the All Blacks could roll out an entirely different back line and dish it out all over again.

Wallowing in pessimism? Perhaps, but look at the stockpile of talent that wasn’t even in the 23 in Auckland that, in theory, they could select next year.

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Warren Whiteley

Warren Whiteley

Willem Alberts has been ruled out of the Springboks’ Rugby Championship tour to Australia and New Zealand and will be replaced in the 30-man squad by Warren Whiteley.

Alberts missed both Test victories against Argentina because of a hamstring injury and he underwent a fitness test on Thursday afternoon.

Although his hamstring is recovering well, he experienced some nerve irritation in his lower back and was sent for scans.

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Willie le Roux

Springbok flyer, Willie le Roux

Springbok fullback Willie le Roux says he has settled in the role coach Heyneke Meyer has entrusted him with.

Le Roux has become a popular player in South Africa since making his Test debut against Italy in Durban in 2013.

His attacking influence has given the Springbok backline an expansive approach as he’s played a playmaker’s role in a number of tries scored over the past year. He’s also scored seven tries in his 17 appearances.

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Michael Hooper

DEJECTED: Wallabies captain Michael Hooper trudges off Eden Park after his team was hammered by the All Blacks on Saturday night.

Test captain Michael Hooper says the Wallabies will hear a few home truths when they come back together for the first time since one of their worst losses to the All Blacks.

Hooper, who scored one of the Wallabies’ two late tries at Eden Park last weekend, described the side’s performance as ”terrible” and way off their best.

After a few days to stew on the 51-20 drubbing – he still has not watched a replay – Hooper said the Wallabies had to bounce back.

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IRBThe International Rugby Board will become World Rugby from 19 November 2014 as part of a major rebranding programme.

The new brand, including a new logo, will be launched at the IRB World Rugby Conference and Exhibition in London on November 17-18.

Global Rugby participation has boomed by more than two million to 6.6 million players over the past four years, driven by the commercial success of Rugby World Cup, the IRB’s development strategies and record investment, strong and vibrant Unions and Rugby’s re-inclusion in the Olympic Games.

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Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan has questioned whether the Springboks understand the nuances at scrums and breakdowns.

Despite winning 33-31 in Salta at the weekend, the Bok front row suffered humiliation at the hands of Argentina, with the reputations of Jannie du Plessis and Gurthro Steenkamp taking serious body blows.

Kaplan noted this when he analysed the Boks’ performance on his website, www.ratetheref.co.za.

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Israel Folau

Wanted man… Israel Folau playing against the All Blacks.

The risk of losing star Wallabies like Israel Folau after the 2015 World Cup has prompted the Australian Rugby Union to change its rules to allow overseas sabbaticals.

The Australian Rugby Union will dangle a sizeable carrot to lure the country’s top players to sevens in the lead up to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.

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Tony Johnson

Tony Johnson

Not until we get into the next group of games will we have some perspective and context in which to put the first two rounds of the Rugby Championship.

The All Blacks’ forward strength will be tested when they take on the Pumas and their physicality will be tested against the Springboks.

A win in either away game will put the Bokke in a powerful position, the Wallabies will have to bounce back from their thumping defeat at Eden Park or face an exit from calculations, and we will find out how many of their bullets Argentina has fired already.

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Brendan Venter

Brendan Venter

For all the criticism I levelled against Argentina for their negative play in the Loftus Versfeld test, in stark contrast, they deserve a world of credit for their impressive display in Salta.

In theory, the second-ranked Springboks should have destroyed the side placed 12th in world rugby. However, in practice, three main factors determine the outcome of a match:

They are, your own team’s performance, the performance of the opposition and, last but not least, the standard of officiating delivered by the assigned referee on the day.

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Argentine scrum

The Argentine scrum in action.

When on song, the Bajada is basically pornography to us flat eared folk who have done battle in the front row.

And on Saturday against the Boks, it was at its titillating best!

There are two defining characteristics of the Bajada – a scrum technique used by the Argentinians … One is that all the power is directed into the hooker, meaning that they scrum as an imaginary arrow pointing inwards from either side of the 8th man.

The other, and perhaps more important characteristic of the Bajada, is the ‘coordinated push’, which sees them act on a three part call.

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Argentina scrum

How Jannie Du Plessis and Gurthro Steenkamp saw the Argentina scrum

There are two things that we can take from the second round of the Rugby Championship 2014.

  1. The All Blacks are clearly not ‘on the slide’. In fact if anything they are on the up and up and all the 12-all draw did was to inspire them to dick punch the Wallabies in their faces, hard.
  2. The Pumas’ ‘Bajada’ scrum is a thing of beauty, unless you are the Springboks, then it is a thing of nightmares.

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Tom Wood

Tom Wood makes ground against the All Blacks in the summer.

Northampton flanker Tom Wood has said that the England squad has been told they have to get much fitter in the light of their series whitewash by New Zealand in the summer.

In an interview in the Daily Telegraph, Wood said that one of the issues is that the week-in, week-out club game no longer prepares players well enough for the rigours of the international game.

“International level is dramatically different to the club game,” he said. “We have been shown data that illustrates that.

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IRB Rugby World Cup 2015 - EnglandA New Zealand radio station has been criticised after running a competition to see how far its male listeners will go to win tickets to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The Edge offered tickets if two heterosexual male friends got married. “We’ve done stranger weddings, naked weddings, same sex weddings but this is the first one that we know will end in divorce,” the station said in its promotional material.

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Kurtley Beale and his Waratahs teammates

Feeling good: Kurtley Beale and his Waratahs teammates celebrate their Super Rugby triumph

The Waratahs are hopeful of locking in off-contract playmaker Kurtley Beale within a fortnight.

Coach Michael Cheika said he wasn’t taking anything for granted, but was reasonably confident of re-signing the 43-Test back for another season.

“It looks like it’s going better, so hopefully something’s going to happen there in the next week or two,” Cheika said.

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Steve Hansen & Sonny Bill Williams

‘ONE OF THE BEST’: All Blacks coach Steve Hansen shares a moment in 2012 with favoured player Sonny Bill Williams.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has made it clear that Sonny Bill Williams will be on the end of year tour, though there are no guarantees he will play any games.

Hansen has voiced his views on the controversial decision to get Williams instantly into the All Blacks selection mix on his return from rugby league, even though he may not have played for his Counties Manukau union. His selection would be against ordinary New Zealand Rugby regulations.

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Pat McCabe

Wallaby Pat McCabe returns from New Zealand.

The Brumbies have watered down head coach Stephen Larkham’s comments that hardman Pat McCabe has retired, saying the 26-year-old’s playing future hinges on a meeting with the Wallabies’ doctor.

McCabe fractured his neck in the Wallabies’ 51-20 loss to the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday, with Larkham telling ABC radio on Wednesday morning the 24-Test winger had decided to hang up his boots after consulting with a specialist.

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South AfricaVictor Matfield is over his injury problems and will rejoin the Springbok squad when they get together for the Australasian leg of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, while Marcel van der Merwe has been called up for the injured Frans Malherbe.

Furthermore, Willem Alberts has also been drafted back into the squad, pending a fitness test on Thursday when the squad gets together in Johannesburg. Both Alberts and Matfield were part of the initial 30-man squad, but missed out on the victories over Argentina in Pretoria and Salta because of injury.

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Sir Colin "Pinetree" Meads

Sir Colin “Pinetree” Meads

Eleven legends of New Zealand rugby have been inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame at a special ceremony in Auckland on Friday 21 August, staged the night before a Bledisloe Cup match in Eden Park.

This latest induction represents the incorporation into the IRB Hall of Fame of many of the International Rugby Hall of Fame, which was recently acquired by the IRB and presentations were made by Hall of Fame panel member Don Cameron and New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew. The new inductees are: Fred Allen, Don Clarke, Grant Fox, Sean Fitzpatrick, Michael Jones, Ian Kirkpatrick, John Kirwan, Terry McLean, Colin Meads, Graham Mourie and George Nepia.

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The IRB Hall of Fame recognises those who have made an indelible mark on our sport through feats on the field of play, displays of great character or through their tireless and inspirational work in driving forward our great Game.”

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Willem Alberts

Willem Alberts

Willem Alberts says he’ll be ready to play for the Springboks in their Rugby Championship encounter against Australia in Perth on 6 September.

Loose forward Alberts and lock Victor Matfield were on Monday recalled to the Springbok squad for the trip Down Under. Both missed the home and away Tests against Argentina because of injury.

Matfield suffered a knee injury during a cleaning drill, while Alberts withdrew shortly before the game in Pretoria as he picked up a hamstring tear during the captain’s training run.

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South AfricaAustraliaNow for some better news after the desperately close shave in Salta, Springbok fans: even Australians seem to believe South Africa will beat the Wallabies in Perth on Saturday 6 September.

The Sydney Morning Herald website has a poll up asking the simple question of the Castle Rugby Championship clash: “Who will win between the Wallabies and Springboks in Perth?”

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Jannie du Plessis

Springbok prop, Jannie du Plessis

After the mauling the Springbok scrum received at the hands of the Pumas in two consecutive tests there have been calls from armchair critics for coach Heyneke Meyer to make changes, but in the naming of his 30-man squad for the Australasian leg of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship came confirmation that his hands are tied.

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Juan Smith

Juan Smith het gesê hy moes op sy lippe byt om te keer dat die trane nie tydens die sing van die volkslied rol nie.

“Wat my gelukkigste dag ooit in die Springbok-trui moes wees, was toe my donkerste dag van my rugbyloopbaan.”

Só het ’n teleurgestelde Juan Smith Maandag gesê wat met sy aankoms in Suid-Afrika ook onder kritiek moes deurloop, omdat hy nie die volkslied in Saterdag se toets in die Rugby-kampioenskap teen Argentinië in Salta gesing het nie.

Die 33-jarige Smith was die eerste keer sedert 2010 weer vir die Bokke in aksie, en het nie die terug­keer gemaak waarop hy gehoop het nie.

“Die opbou na die toets was baie emosioneel gewees. Ek moes tydens die sing van die volkslied op my lippe byt dat die trane nie rol nie,” het Smith gesê.

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Lood de Jager

Lood de Jager

Lood de Jager, the ‘next big thing’ in the Springbok second row, has been ‘missing in action’ of late.

De Jager, after a series of stand-out performances for the Cheetahs in this year’s Super Rugby tournament, made his debut in the Green and Gold against Wales in Durban during the Incoming Series and currently has five Test caps to his name.

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Michael Hooper

DEJECTED: Wallabies captain Michael Hooper trudges off Eden Park after his team was hammered by the All Blacks on Saturday night.

The Wallabies will have plenty of down-time over the next week to ”mentally relax” after their humiliation by the All Blacks at Eden Park, captain Michael Hooper has said.

The 22-year-old flanker was one of the few Australian players to stand up during the 51-20 onslaught, which kept the Bledisloe Cup, the annual trophy contested between the two nations, in New Zealand hands for a 12th consecutive year.

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Frans Malherbe

Frans Malherbe in action for the Boks against Argentina

Frans Malherbe will miss the rest of the Rugby Championship after sustaining a serious injury to his right ankle in Salta.

Malberbe helped to stabilise the Bok scrum when he replaced Jannie du Plessis in the 46th minute, but was forced to leave the field in the 79th.

The tighthead prop will consult with a specialist in Cape Town upon his return to South Africa, when a call on further treatment and his replacement will be made.

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Nick Mallett

Nick Mallett

Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett says Boks’ the scrum performance against Argentina at the weekend was a bit embarrassing.

The Boks sneaked a 33-31 win but was completely overpowered in the scrums, with Jannie du Plessis and Gurthro Steenkamp having a nightmare Test.

Mallett was speaking in the SuperSport studio after the game and had the following to say:

“There were lots and lots of issues that we need to talk about. The Boks have got real problems with their front row’s scrummaging, particularly against the Argentines.

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Gurthro Steenkamp

Gurthro Steenkamp, getting massacred on and off the field.

Several retired Springbok front-rankers took to Twitter over the weekend to offer their varied takes on the national team’s scrummaging humiliation at the hands of Argentina in Salta.

The Boks summoned last-ditch reserves of energy and grit to squeeze past the Pumas 33-31 in a Castle Rugby Championship nail-biter, although the violent way they back-pedalled in the scrums at times will be a lasting, unpleasant memory for the players and their fans alike.

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Fireworks & Haka

Fireworks signal the end of the haka

The New Zealand Rugby Union has apologised to three fans who were hurt by fireworks during the build-up to Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup game at Eden Park.

One woman had to go to hospital after she was hit by debris from the fireworks which marked the end of the haka while another man suffered a gash to the head and was treated pitchside by paramedics.

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Brodie Retallick

Brodie retallick

What a difference a week makes.

The All Blacks forwards confirmed they had the acid put on them during that week, both by their coaches and by themselves, to put things right.

The conditions were perfect at Eden Park on Saturday night and when the black pack turned up with much improved intensity, physicality and enthusiasm the platform was laid on for a rout.

At the centre of it was Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick – at the tender age of 23 already a tight five international veteran and continuing to build his reputation as a test rugby super star within a 2.04 metre, 119 kilogram body.

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw being congratulated by Aaron Cruden

Another Test, another couple of world records for All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

The veteran flanker scored two tries, the third double of his 129-Test career, as New Zealand pummelled the Wallabies 51-20 in Auckland to retain the Bledisloe Cup.

In doing so, he took his tally to 23 tries, the most in Tests by any forward from a tier-one nation.

The previous record was 22, scored by former Wales No 8 Colin Charvis.

McCaw, 33, also holds the record for the most tries by any player against a tier-one opponent, surpassing a number of prolific outside backs.

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