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Florian Fritz

Battered Florian Fritz being led off the field, only to return

French rugby powerbrokers have confirmed no decision will be taken on the Florian Fritz concussion saga until the LNR Executive Committee meets in early September – some four months after the Toulouse centre was led bloodied and reeling from the Stade Ernest Wallon pitch.

In the wake of the incident during the club’s Top 14 barrage against Racing Mètro on May 9, the player’s ill-advised return to the game and the apparent misconduct of head coach Guy Novès are the subject of an investigation from a panel of doctors assembled by the LNR.

Repeated attempts from the IRB – who requested the French bodies launch the investigation – to press both the FFR and LNR for answers proved fruitless until Tuesday (yesterday), when a spokeswoman for the professional league administrators confirmed no action will be taken until after the September meeting.

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French Rugby

French rugby is just one bad November away from falling out of the top 10 rankings

After years of selling itself as a global game when it never really was, rugby is poised to take grip in territories it has always dreamed of conquering writes Gregor Paul in the Herold on Sunday.

The All Blacks are scheduled to play in Chicago this year, Samoa in 2015 and probably Singapore in 2016. Super Rugby is also heading to Argentina and probably Singapore.

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IRB Rugby World Cup 2015 - EnglandKenya are in pole position to make history and qualify for a Rugby World Cup for the first time after maintaining their winning run in the Confederation Africaine de Rugby Africa Cup Division 1A Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifying tournament in Antananarivo on Wednesday.

Kenya, aiming to break Namibia’s recent stranglehold as the Africa Region’s second representative on Rugby’s greatest stage, recorded a bonus point 34-0 win over Madagascar to open up a four-point lead over Zimbabwe at the top of the table with one round remaining on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s 24-20 defeat to Namibia in the opening match of the day means that it is mathematically possible for all three teams to finish top of the table going into Super Sunday when Madagascar play Namibia and Kenya face Zimbabwe.

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The Rugby ChampionshipWhistleThe International Rugby Board has named the Match Officials for SANZAR’s The Rugby Championship in August and September. A new face amongst them is John Lacey of Ireland.

Lacey has become increasingly prominent this year and last Friday refereed the Test in Cordoba between Argentina and Scotland.

He is an e at -player – a wing or fullback for Munster and Ireland A. His debut for Munster was in 1995 against Transvaal. He played till 2007 when he retired and then became a referee. In 2008 he was refereeing club rugby in the Amlin Cup and the Magners League. In 2009 the IRB chose him as an international assistant referee. In 2010 he replaced injured Greg Gardner at the Junior World Championship where he refereed a semifinal. The next year he was on the international panel as a referee. Now he is going to Loftus Versfeld to referee a Test between the Springboks and the Pumas.

The last Championship matches are on 4 October 2014, the Bledisloe Cup match a fortnight later.

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Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

South Africa Under 20 captain Handré Pollard won a consolation prize for his team when he was named the IRB Junior Player of the Year.

This followed after England were crowned IRB Junior World Champions for 2014, beating South Africa 21-20 in a pulsating Final at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday.

Finalists South Africa and England each had a player nominated – in Baby Bok captain Pollard and wing Nathan Earle respectively, with Ireland centre Garry Ringrose and New Zealand wing Tevita Li completing the shortlist of players.

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IRBThere was little change in the International Rugby Board’s rankings after the weekend’s matches, according to the IRB website.

Full IRB World Rankings

New Zealand, who beat England 28-27 in Dunedin to secure the three-match series, remain at the top with 93.81 ratings points.

The Springboks, who beat Wales 38-16 in Durban, stay in 2nd position on 89.34, while Australia – who were 6-0 victors over France in Melbourne – stay in 3rd position (86.92) ahead of England (85.68).

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Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

The International Rugby Board has confirmed the shortlist of four nominees for the prestigious Award, with the winner set to be announced following the Junior World Championship final at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday.

Finalists South Africa and England each have a player nominated in captain Pollard and wing Nathan Earle respectively, with Ireland centre Garry Ringrose and New Zealand wing Tevita Li completing the quartet of players.

The management of the 12 teams involved in the IRB Junior World Championship of 2014 in New Zealand voted on their top three players after each round with votes tallied to provide the shortlist of nominees.

The public now has the chance to vote on this shortlist on the official Facebook page www.facebook.com/irbjuniors. The results of the public poll will be considered, along with the original votes, when finalising the winner.

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Brett Gosper

Brett Gosper

IRBIRB chief executive Brett Gosper has revealed that while an IRB committee is working on it a global season is unlikely to happen before 2019.

Super Rugby and Rugby Championship organisers SANZAR have requested that the IRB move the current June Test window to July in order to allow their Super Rugby tournament to run without a break for internationals.

July does not currenly fit in with the European season as the climax of the Northern Hemisphere tournaments take place in May and the June Internationals follow on.

Moving the mid-year internationals to July would therefore not work for Northern Hemisphere teams as the players would not get sufficient rest and the season would have a “dead” month in June.

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Brett Gosper

Brett Gosper

International Rugby Board Chief Executive Brett Gosper urged international unions to play their star names at the Rio Olympics Sevens to maximise the sport’s opportunity on the world stage.

Gosper said that while the value of having regular Sevens players must be properly respected, Rugby Union’s chances of becoming a permanent Olympic sport may rely on an injection of star power from the traditional, more high-profile 15-a-side game.

“In 2017, straight after Rio, they’ll decide if Rugby continues to be a core sport at the Olympics. We will be in Japan in 2020 as well, but that may be it,” Gosper told reporters in Sydney.

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Andrew Nuzum

The late Kenny Nuzum’s son – Andrew

shontaynehape1

Shontayne Hape

While rugby spent the past week looking back on the glorious careers of two of its departing heroes, Jonny Wilkinson and Brian O’Driscoll, there was forensic analysis of a very different kind going on elsewhere close to the game.

Last Tuesday morning, at the Coroners Court in Dublin, it was found that a former amateur rugby player, whose family had donated his brain for research, had died prematurely because of repeated blows to the head on the field during his rugby years.

The coroner, Dr Brian Farrell, accepted evidence from two neuropathology experts, one of whom was Dr Willie Stewart, a consultant neuropathologist at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital and a world leader in the examination of head trauma of sport.

The findings were that Kenny Nuzum, a prop forward with the Lansdowne club in Dublin and a former team-mate of the legendary Moss Keane, passed away in March last year because of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). In layman’s terms, punch-drunk syndrome.

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hawkeyetennis

Hawkeye technology used in tennis

Technology company Hawkeye says it is in talks about providing a replacement to the television match official (TMO) system in rugby.

Hawkeye, which operates systems in football and tennis, could be used in domestic rugby and internationally in time for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Hawkeye founder Paul Hawkins said: “We are in conversation with Premiership Rugby and the IRB.”

The International Rugby Board would not confirm any talks with Hawkeye.

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Greg PetersSuper RugbyThe newest addition to Vodacom Super Rugby in 2016 will not be a team of “mercenaries” put together with a big budget.

That’s the word of Sanzar chief executive Greg Peters, who said the 18th team that will go out to tender to join the Southern Hemisphere competition will need to be sustainable, and have the support of the market it bases itself in.

So far Sanzar has received interest from Spain, Singapore, Japan and the USA, but it is doubtful if any of these countries could put together a team that could be competitive over 17 weeks of the competition in 2016.

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Steve TewA push to move June internationals back and create an integrated global rugby season by 2016 remains a ‘long shot’, New Zealand Rugby Union chief Steve Tew has warned.

The International Rugby Players’ Association (IRPA) has campaigned for the June Test window to be pushed back to the end of July to allow southern hemisphere-based players to finish the Super Rugby tournament and have Europe-based players start their domestic campaigns later.

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500daysRWCWith 500 days to go until Rugby World Cup 2015 in England kicks off, Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman Bernard Lapasset is confident that preparations are on track to deliver “an unforgettable and special” record-breaking event that will further the growth of the sport worldwide.

With fans snapping up tickets in record numbers through the official supporter tour programme and with Rugby community ticket sales beginning today, tournament organisers England Rugby 2015 Limited have announced that tickets for all 48 matches will go on general sale globally from September 12-29 2014.

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Romain PoiteSteve WalshFrancisco PastranaIRBNo, this is no April Fools joke, it is true… the IRB has released the names of the Match Official Appointments for the June International Test window!

Romain Poite (FFR), hated by most South Africans, will referee the match between South Africa and Wales on 14 June 2014 at Growthpoint Kings Park and will be assisted by Steve Walsh (ARU), Francisco Pastrana (UAR) and Vinnie Munro (NZR).

One could be forgiven to believe, despite our assurances, that this MUST SURELY be an April Fools joke, because apart from the run-in with Romain Poite, South Africans have had run-in’s by Steve Walsh too and just recently Francisco Pastrana was taken off the Super Rugby officiating lists till further notice for his abhorrent and totally inept refereeing performance against yet another South African side.

Let’s cut to the chase and just place the Official Appointments list here for you…

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Rugby World Cup 2015South AfricaSouth African rugby fans need not worry about securing match tickets for Springbok matches at Rugby World Cup 2015 in England following the establishment of SA Rugby Travel, it was announced on Tuesday.

The new company – a joint venture between the South African Rugby Union and Tourvest Destination Management – has secured thousands of tickets for likely Springbok matches and tailored packages to suit a wide range of fans’ pockets and experience choices.

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SamoaThe International Rugby Board clamped down on foul play in the Pacific Cup tournament this week.

Four players from Samoa were handed bans for various acts of foul play.

Five players from the Samoa A team were cited, following the Pacific Cup match between Argentina Pampas and Samoa A in Canberra on Tuesday (11 March).

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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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South AfricaThe South African Rugby (SARU) Union announced a group of 76 players on Tuesday for the start of the SA Under-20 preparations for the 2014 IRB Junior World Championship tournament to be hosted in Auckland, New Zealand, in June.

SARU also unveiled a comprehensive preparation plan aimed at ensuring the Junior Springboks are battle ready for the 2014 JWC showpiece.

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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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Olympics Rio 2016The International Rugby Board has announced that the Brazil men’s and women’s teams will automatically qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Rugby Sevens events.

Confirmation follows ratification by the International Olympic Committee of the inaugural Rugby Sevens qualification process that will feature a blend of the existing men’s and women’s Series structures, regional competitions and a world play-off, ensuring universal representation and the participation of the best teams and players.

The decision to automatically qualify the host nation in both the 12-team men’s and women’s competitions underscores the growing strength of Rugby in Brazil and the IRB’s commitment to further drive growth of the sport across a nation where Rugby participation has grown by more than 25 per cent since 2011.

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IRBWhistleInternational Rugby Board (IRB) chairman Bernard Lapasset has spoken out against the “increase” in public criticism of referees ahead of the start of this season’s Six Nations.

Rugby Union, in common with many sports, has long set great store by respect for match officials.

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  • grootblousmile 28 Jul 2014, 12:12 SAST - Shit, there goes another wicket! SA 110 / 6
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  • BrumbiesBoy 28 Jul 2014, 12:07 SAST - @ BrumbiesBoy: Sorry, should read: "...with their (official) planned quota bullsh*t"
  • BrumbiesBoy 28 Jul 2014, 11:58 SAST - I looked at these pics & shudder to think how the "powers that be" are stuffing everything up with their...
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