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Internationals

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Martin Castrogiovanni

Martin Castrogiovanni

Prop Martin Castrogiovanni, ruled out of Italy’s win over Scotland at the weekend because of a dog bite, has been dropped for the Six Nations matches against France and Wales.

Castrogiovanni, who needed 14 stitches after being bitten on the nose by a friend’s dog, was not in the 30-man squad named by coach Jacques Brunel on Tuesday and did not figure among the players who were listed as excluded through injury.

Versatile back Andrea Masi, who missed the Scotland game, and lock Quintin Geldenhuys, still to make his first appearance in the championship because of a knee injury, were recalled.

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Morgan Parra

Morgan Parra

France have been hit by an injury crisis with scrumhalf Morgan Parra and backs Wesley Fofana and Remi Lamerat ruled out Monday for the rest of the Six Nations campaign.

Parra will miss the rest of the Six Nations after being ruled out for at least 10 weeks with a knee injury.

Parra, who plays for Clermont in the Top 14, suffered a tear to the posterior ligament in his right knee during France’s 13 / 20 defeat to Wales at the Stade de France on Saturday.

The 26-year-old’s knee will be immobilised for 4 weeks and according to a Clermont statement: “his return to competition won’t be possible before 10 weeks”.

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Ireland’s victory over England in the Six Nations means they are once again the leading northern hemisphere nation in the latest World Rankings.

Ireland reclaimed the mantle after a 19 / 9 victory, in the battle of the unbeaten sides in Dublin on Sunday.

The victory turns what was a 0.17 rating point deficit into a 1.27 cushion for Ireland over the 2015 World Cup hosts. Joe Schmidt’s side are now less than 2 rating points behind South Africa in 2nd spot.

Wales have increased their margin over France to almost 4 points after a 20 / 13 victory over Les Bleus at the Stade de France on Saturday, although the margin was not enough to improve their position of 6th.

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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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ScotlandItalyScotland head coach Vern Cotter is wary of a physical Italian test as he welcomes the Azzurri to Murrayfield in search of a maiden Six Nations victory.

Cotter has charged Peter Horne with the task of filling Finn Russell’s No 10 shirt – one of 4 changes from the side that lost 23 / 26 to Wales 2 weeks ago.

And he expects the Glasgow Warriors utility man to step up to the plate and help an ever-improving Scotland side turn promising performances into a result.

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BC Place Stadium, Vancouver

BC Place Stadium, Vancouver

The World Rugby Sevens Series is expanding next season with a 10th tournament confirmed for Vancouver, Canada.

World Rugby announced the new tournament today, with the 60,000 seat BC Place Stadium in Vancouver set to host the Canadian leg of the world series.

Sevens has enjoyed remarkable growth in the past few years with the addition of the sport to the Olympic programme.

Canada are one of the teams that have seen rapid improvement in their performances on the field, and hosting a home tournament is just reward for their passion for the game.

Rugby Canada’s successful bid came through a competitive tender process involving 25 destinations.

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IrelandIreland have called in loose forward Roger Wilson and lock Billy Holland to their training squad ahead of the game against England at the Aviva Stadium.

The Ulster and Munster players complete Joe Schmidt’s 36-man group that will prepare for Sunday’s critical Six Nations Championship showdown in Dublin.

Only prop James Cronin, flank Robbie Diack, scrumhalf Kieran Marmion and prop Nathan White are unavailable due to injury as Ireland prepare for Sunday.

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George North down against England in the SIX Nations

George North down against England in the SIX Nations

Wales have recalled wing George North in place of Alex Cuthbert for the Six Nations match against France.

North missed the 26 / 23 win over Scotland on 15 February after suffering concussion in the opening defeat by England.

Lock Luke Charteris, prop Samson Lee and hooker Scott Baldwin were also named in the team for the game in Paris on Saturday as coach Warren Gatland made 4 changes.

Charteris replaced Jake Ball who started in the win over Scotland at Murrayfield.

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Mike Brown

Mike Brown

England fullback Mike Brown is unlikely to return to action in time for the crucial Six Nations clash against Ireland following a setback in his recovery from concussion.

The 29-year-old felt a recurrence of his symptoms on Friday after being knocked unconscious in the 47 / 17 victory over Italy and having completed a weekend of rest has restarted the return to play protocols.

The earliest the Harlequins star will be able to resume contact training is Friday, the day head coach Stuart Lancaster announces his starting line-up for Sunday’s showdown between the Championship’s only remaining unbeaten teams in Dublin.

It leaves Brown – who had an outstanding tournament last year scoring 4 tries – with a race against time to prove his fitness knowing any further flare-up in symptoms will force him to start the protocols again and rule him out of contention.

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw

All Black skipper Richie McCaw on Thursday dropped the strongest hint yet he will retire after this year’s World Cup in England and bring his glittering career to an end.

The 34-year-old captain of New Zealand, the reigning World Cup champions, admitted he was considering hanging up his boots, but was not yet ready to make a definitive announcement, preferring to focus on the ongoing Super Rugby season with the Crusaders.

“Honestly, I haven’t made any final decision, but probably the likelihood is I’m not going to be playing next year,” McCaw said at a Crusaders training session, in comments published on New Zealand Rugby’s official website.

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Malakai Fekitoa

Malakai Fekitoa

Following his 2014 breakout season for the Highlanders and All Blacks, Malakai Fekitoa has re-signed with New Zealand Rugby for 2 years, extending his contract until at least the end of 2017.

Fekitoa’s commitment is a major coup for both New Zealand Rugby and the Highlanders and he joins a growing list of current All Blacks who have recommitted beyond this year.

He was 1 of only 4 players to play in all 17 Highlanders’ games last year, staking his claim on the No 13 jersey early with his eye-catching performance in the opening round of the 2014 Super Rugby Competition against his old team, the Blues.

He was also 1 of 2 players to play every possible minute for their team last season (1360 across 17 appearances), the other being Michael Hooper who played 1440, including the Final.

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Michael Cheika

Michael Cheika

Michael Cheika has insisted that he will be able to juggle his jobs as Wallabies and Waratahs coach throughout the 2015 Super Rugby season.

The Waratahs went unbeaten at home last year on their way to winning their first Super Rugby title which led to Cheika being appointed as Wallabies coach after Ewen McKenzie stepped down.

Cheika will step down as Waratahs coach at the end of the 2015 Super Rugby season but as they lost their first match since he took on the dual role questions would inevitably follow about whether he would be able to concentrate fully on both roles.

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Tendai 'Beast Mtawarira

Tendai ‘Beast Mtawarira

Lodewyk De Jager

Lodewyk de Jager

Bismarck du Plessis

Bismarck du Plessis

We are just 1 week into the Super Rugby season and there is already a lengthy list of Springboks sidelined by injury.

With captain Jean de Villiers a non-starter thanks to a knee injury which has put a question mark over his availability for the World Cup, he has been joined by Eben Etzebeth, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Lodewyk de Jager amd Julian Redelinghuys.

Etzebeth hurt his chest in a warm-up game against the Cheetahs at Newlands, and is only expected back in the 3rd round – the 3rd consecutive year he has missed the start of the competition.

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HSBC Sevens World SeriesIt has become a familiar refrain, a cliché. However, it will never be boring, as the Olympic dream is as much a driving force as overall victory in the Sevens World Series.

New Zealand, who recorded their first Cup win of the season by beating England in the Final in Wellington last week, gave notice yet again of their class and determination to be among the top four (automatic qualifiers) when the Olympic dream is realised in May.

Fiji However won the Las Vegas Sevens, with New Zealand ending 2nd, South Africa;s Blitzbokke 3rd and USA 4th.

Many had put a question mark on whether the All Blacks would be able to defend their title in Wellington, especially after the late withdrawal of former Sevens player of the year Tim Mikkelson, and the result even exceeded coach Gordon Tietjens’ expectations.

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ScotlandHead Coach Vern Cotter has made 2 enforced changes to the starting Scotland side to face Wales at BT Murrayfield Stadium this Sunday (kick-off 15:00 BST & GMT, 17:00 SA Time).

Glasgow Warriors wing Sean Lamont – the most capped player in Scotland’s RBS 6 Nations squad with 91 appearances – has made a timely return from the calf injury that ruled him out of the nation’s opening championship match against France, as a direct replacement for club-mate Tommy Seymour, who has not yet recovered fully from the hip injury sustained in Paris.

The 2nd change sees London Irish tight-head prop Geoff Cross promoted from the bench in place of Euan Murray, who is unavailable on the Sabbath due to his religious beliefs, with Jon Welsh taking the substitute spot vacated by Cross.

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Morne du Plessis & Joost van der Westhuizen at the 2015 Sport Industry Awards

Morne du Plessis & Joost van der Westhuizen at the 2015 Sport Industry Awards

Former Springbok scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen was honoured for his contribution to South African sport at an awards ceremony in Johannesburg on Thursday night.

Van der Westhuizen, who suffers from Motor Neuron Disease, received an award for his Outstanding Contribution to South African Sport at the 2015 Sport Industry Awards held at Sandton Convention Centre.

Van der Westhuizen received a standing ovation when he received his award from former Springbok captain Morne du Plessis. Several well-known sports personalities attended the event.

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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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SpringboksThe game time of a number of key Springboks will be managed throughout the Vodacom Super Rugby series in the coming months, following an agreement between the South African Rugby Union and the franchises.

These players’ game time will be handled on an individual basis depending on their work load in the last year as well as injuries, in an effort to ensure the Springboks are managed as well as possible in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup in September and October.

“We are extremely grateful to the Vodacom Super Rugby franchises for agreeing to assist in ensuring our key players’ game time is managed in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux.

“It’s wonderful to know we have the support and cooperation of the franchises as the Springboks prepare for the Rugby World Cup and we’d like to wish them all the best for the forthcoming months of Vodacom Super Rugby.

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South African Rugby Annual 2015The 2015 edition of the South African Rugby Annul goes on sale nationwide today after being launched at Sunday’s South African Rugby Union Awards in Johannesburg.

In keeping with tradition, the 44th edition of the ‘bible’ of the game once again features South Africa’s player of the year on the cover, with the newly-crowned Duane Vermeulen following in the footsteps of the likes of Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana and Schalk Burger in recent years.

“Even in this digital age, it’s vitally important to retain a physical document of record for future generations,” said SARU CEO, Jurie Roux. “SARU strives to be a world leader in the game both on and off the field and when it comes to the Annual, we are immensely proud of the quality of the book we continue to produce year in and year out.

“We like to believe that we have an outstanding yearbook but that hasn’t stopped us from raising the bar even further with this new-look, Rugby World Cup-themed edition. We’ve made it a more user-friendly size, refreshed the layout and added a depth to the statistical records that surpasses anything we’ve done before,” Roux added.

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SpringboksThe South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Monday confirmed that the Springboks will get their season underway against a World XV in Cape Town on 11 July, a week after the Super Rugby final.

The match was initially scheduled for late August.

The Springboks also got their 2014 season under way with a clash against the World XV at Newlands, with the South Africans running out 47 / 13 victors on that occasion.

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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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HSBC Sevens World SeriesThe first Sevens Tournament in the 2015 calendar year for the HSBC Sevens World Series of 2014 / 2015 took place in Wellington, New Zealand at the Westpac Stadium.

The New Zealand Sevens tournament was played over 2 Days, Friday 6 and Saturday 7 February 2015.

Play started in the very early, small hours of the night / morning of 6 & 7 February (01:00 SA Time), with the opening game between the Blitzbokke from South Africa pitted against France.

South Africa’s Blitzbokke survived a scare to eventually progress to the quarters when France beat them 22 / 5 in the first game of the tournament and eventually finished in 3rd spot,beating Scotland by 40 / 7 and keeping their Top of the Log position after the early Rounds.

New Zealand won the Wellington Sevens in style, beating England in the final, by 27 / 21.

 

Pools:

  • Pool A: South Africa, United States, France, Japan
  • Pool B: New Zealand, England, Canada, Papua New Guinea
  • Pool C: Australia, Fiji, Wales, Portugal
  • Pool D: Argentina, Scotland, Kenya, Samoa

 

Fixtures & Results:

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

A discernible changing of the guard in Springbok playing personnel after a World Cup is an established trend… but national captain Jean de Villiers has some special fears about the expected migration of several leading stars to overseas clubs later this year.

Interviewed while he goes about his rehabilitation from a serious knee injury to try to make the Rugby World Cup 2015 cut in the United Kingdom, De Villiers said the exodus was threatening to be more acute this time – and not just to feature players on the receding end of their careers, as has been the general norm before.

“It does seem that this time around, if you can believe the rumours floating around, that more players are looking to go abroad than after 2011 (the New Zealand-staged tournament).

“Whereas that year we had quite a few guys retiring, finishing up (at Bok level), there weren’t as many switching shores.

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David Pocock

David Pocock

Former Wallabies skipper David Pocock escaped conviction on Wednesday over a protest against an Australian coal mine in which he locked himself to a digger.

Pocock was arrested in late November after he attached himself to the machine for 10 hours to protest against the Maules Creek coal mine in a New South Wales state forest.

The 26-year-old flank pleaded guilty at Gunnedah Local Court to hindering a workman in use of property but the charge was dismissed without conviction.

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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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Cricket BallSouth Africa and the West Indies battled each other, with both innings reduced to 42 overs a side due to the inclement weather, in the 5th and last ODI of the Series, at SuperSport Park, Centurion.

The inclement weather and lots of rain during the night and morning already delayed the Toss and accordingly the match, which was due to start at 13:30 SA Time on Wednesday 28 January 2015, but started quite a while later.

Prior to the start of the game, South Africa had already won 3 of the ODI’s and the West Indies 1, in the series of 5 ODI’s.

The West Indies won the toss and elected to bowl first.

South Africa notched up a massive 361 runs for the loss of only 5 wickets, with both Rilee Rossouw and Hashim Amla getting their tons (Rossouw – 132, off 98 balls & Amla – 133, off 105 balls).

The West Indies never looked like getting to the target, with wickets falling regularly, Marlin Samuels top-scoring for them (50 runs, off 47 balls).

South Africa won the match by 131 runs, hauling the West Indies all out, after 37.4 overs.

South Africa took the Series by 4 games to 1.

 

South Africa: 361 / 5 (42 Overs)

West Indies: 227 / 9 (37 Overs)

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Adam Jones

Adam Jones

Wales and British and Irish Lions prop, Adam Jones, has retired from international rugby, he said.

The 33-year-old Cardiff Blues player featured 95 times for Wales and won 3 Grand Slams but was left out of their Six Nations squad having missed out on the 2014 autumn series.

“It’s obviously not the way I would want to finish, it’s not how I planned it in my head, and I hope no-one thinks I am simply quitting,” said Jones.

His last appearance for Wales was in the 38-16 defeat by South Africa in the first test of their June 2014 tour when he was substituted after half-an-hour.

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Charlie Faumuina

Charlie Faumuina

All Black prop Charlie Faumuina has bucked the trend and re-committed to the Blues and New Zealand Rugby to the end of 2017.

One of the most mobile props in the game, 28-year-old Faumuina has established himself as a dominant and versatile tighthead, with the ability to play both sides of the scrum.

He has re-signed to play in New Zealand in 2016 and in 2017.

New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew welcomed Faumuina’s recommitment as a great result for the All Blacks and Blues.

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Cricket BallSouth Africa and the West Indies battled each other in the 3rd ODI, at Buffalo Park, East London.

Prior to the start of the game, South Africa had already won the 1st two ODI’s in the series of 5 ODI’s.

The West Indies won the toss and elected to bat.

South Africa struck early TWICE, dismissing both dangerous openers, Chris Gayle and Dwayne Smith, with only 6 runs on the board, Vernon Philander doing the damage on the bowling side and AB de Villiers taking both catches behind the stumps.

The West Indies lost their 3rd wicket, that of Deonarine, with the score on 33. Ramdin’s wicket fell with the tally on only 43 and Samuels went for 26, with the West Indies reeling on 52 / 5 after 16.5 overs.

A further wicket lost, with the West Indies on 83 / 6 after 24.2 overs, then another on 87 runs, and another 2 wickets on 95 and 96 runs… leaving only 1 wicket standing after 29.2 overs.

The last West Indies wicket fell, with only 33.4 overs bowled, West Indies ALL OUT for 122 runs.

South Africa started the chase and lost the wicket of Riley Rossouw (7), with the score on 27 / 1 after 5.4 overs, then consolidated andd started batting down the small target. South Africa’s 50 came on the scoreboard after 12 overs. South Africa’s score was 93 / 1 after 20 overs, needing 30 runs to win, off the 30 remaining overs.

South Africa hit the winning runs on 24.4 overs and won by 9 wickets (with 152 balls remaining).

 

West Indies: 122 All Out (33.4 Overs)

South Africa: 124 / 1 (24.4 Overs)

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ScotlandThe Scotland Women squad for the 2015 RBS 6 Nations includes a mix of experience and relatively newer faces, with a number of players having worked their way through the age grades and progressed from Scotland Women Under 20.

Worcester prop Tracy Balmer captains the squad again, lining up in the front row alongside 71-times capped Heather Lockhart while back row Rachael Cook – who hails from Larbert Academy and was part of the Scotland Women under-20 side who defeated Finland two years ago – will be looking to add to her five caps won last season.

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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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ScotlandHugh Blake has become the latest player to join the Kilted Kiwi brigade, joining his fellow countrymen Blair Cowan and Sean Maitland in the Scotland squad. It came as a big surprise to see Blake’s name on the team sheet as the Junior All Black and Highlander, now getting his first call up to a Scotland squad, only joined Edinburgh in December last year.

He played in an ‘A’ team fixture for Edinburgh against Glasgow Warriors on 22 December and had to leave the field injured, suffering from concussion following a knock to his head which knocked him out for a bit. Flanker Blake (1.87m and 102kg) has yet to appear for the senior Edinburgh team and what makes his inclusion even more baffling is that he was introduced as being recruited for a trial period on his arrival in Edinburgh.

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Rynard Landman

Rynard Landman

Newport Gwent Dragons’ South African second-row Rynard Landman says he would “play his heart out” if selected by Wales once he becomes eligible in 2017.

Landman joined Dragons from Super Rugby side Cheetahs on a three-year contract in 2014.

The 28-year-old can play for Wales once he has lived there for three years.

“I’m here to stay and, if it comes along my path in three years, I would accept it with open arms and play my heart out,” said Landman.

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Jeremy Thrush

Jeremy Thrush

Ben Franks

Ben Franks

Just like in South Africa and Australia, the New Zealand list is rapidly growing, of All Blacks players who are making preparations to depart New Zealand after Rugby World Cup 2015.

Jeremy Thrush is the lastest to already have announced he has signed up North, for Gloucester… but that is not all, with news that Ben Franks is thought to be next to go. It is believed that Ben Franks is ready to sign with English Club, London Irish.

Recent articles we have hosted seems to indicate that the extent of the exodus North is just as rampant in Australia and also in South Africa.

 

The list of players who are going or are suspected to be in the thows of following their departing countrymen are:

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