New Zealand Rugby

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Phil Kearns and David Campese

A youthful Phil Kearns and David Campese showing off the World Cup in 1991.

According to those Wallabies who have played there, nothing is particularly forbidding about the graveyard of Eden Park. It’s not the sound of a hostile crowd, or the reverberation of the grandstand above the visitors’ dressing room.

The spookiest part for those in gold jumpers is the number: how many years it has been since Australia last beat the All Blacks at the famous Auckland ground.

Twenty-eight years… Boo!

Alan Jones coached the Wallabies in 1986, and he knew in the opening 20 minutes of the third and deciding Test of the series that his Wallabies were about to carve out their own slice of Bledisloe Cup history.

“I knew they would throw the kitchen sink at us,” Jones recalls. “I picked up that vibe by my contacts around the pubs and so on.”

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New ZealandFrom the fringe to centre stage, Ryan Crotty will start his first test for the All Blacks in Saturday’s rematch with the Wallabies at Eden Park.

After seven cameos from the bench in the past 12 months, which included scoring the match-winning try against Ireland to seal last year’s prefect season, Crotty now gets the chance to push his case in a big occasion.

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Tony Johnson

Tony Johnson

I’m not sure I can remember a game from South Africa in which it rained so heavily. We get a fair bit of that in New Zealand, but Pretoria? Is this global warming in action?

And Sydney turned on a bit of a shocker for the first Bledisloe Cup test, contributing to an error-ridden, penalty infested stalemate.

The Springboks will be happy to get out of a tricky game with a win, and they’re the only team to have one of those right now!

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Chris Jack

Former All Black Chris Jack is building a new career.

In his heyday, former lock Chris Jack was accustomed to being lifted in countless lineouts. These days, he’s the one doing the heavy lifting.

The 35-year-old has taken up a building apprenticeship, a move which saw him hang up the boots after 14 years of professional rugby.

“It’s rewarding but it’s a big learning curve having not done much outside of school except professional rugby,” Jack says.

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Ewen McKenzie

Ewen McKenzie

Ewen McKenzie has stuck solid with his Wallaby side from the opening Bledisloe Cup clash to prevent dual droughts continuing in Auckland; a twelfth year without the prized trophy, and a 29th without victory at Eden Park.

But aside from on-field personnel, the Wallabies coach has continued to tinker with many of the team’s preparation and behavioural habits to snap both hoodoos against the All Blacks.

Though individually small, the changes are designed to add up to the Wallabies psychologically breaking the shackles of a long-run of defeat against New Zealand.

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Brad Thorn

Brad Thorn: Still going strong at 39

Leicester Tigers have confirmed the arrival of World Cup-winning former All Black second row Brad Thorn.

39-year-old New Zealander was referred to by Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill as “one of the great all-time rugby players the world has ever seen.” He is expected at the club at the end of September.

Thorn became the first player to win World Cup, Super Rugby and Heineken Cup titles and arrives from the Highlanders having previously represented the Crusaders and Leinster.

“He is a very driven individual,” Cockerill told the Leicester Mercury.

“He wants to play in the Premiership and he wants to win the Premiership.”

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Romain Poite

Romain Poite, the most influential Frenchman since Inspector Clouseau

IF Wallabies fans were dismayed by the whistle-happy performance of referee Jaco Peyper last weekend, they will be equally alarmed to hear that Frenchman Romain Poite is in charge of Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup return bout in Auckland.

Poite controlled last year’s big third Test defeat to the British & Irish Lions in a game in which the Wallabies front row was hammered by the referee.

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AustraliaWallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has named an unchanged line-up for Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup encounter, convinced the team that drew 12-all in the series opener in Sydney can topple the All Blacks at their Eden Park fortress.

McKenzie resisted calls to reinstate Bernard Foley at five-eighth to retain Kurtley Beale as Australia’s chief playmaker as the Wallabies bid to break their 28-year drought in Auckland.

Beale had an influential game in the first Test, kicking all of Australia’s points and McKenzie is backing the mercurial match-winner to continue sparking the Wallabies attack in more favourable conditions this weekend.

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The Rugby ChampionshipExtra-Time for Bledisloe Cup matches will not be introduced following the 12-12 draw between the Wallabies and All Blacks last Saturday.

SANZAR believes there is no need to change to laws as they stand, and given the rarity of tied results, they have no doubt there will be a clear winner of The Rugby Championship tournament within which the Bledisloe is contested.

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw

The New Zealand media is an unforgiving animal, pouncing at the very first sight of a potential weakness.

In the wake of a rare draw, after a 17-Test winning run, the question is now being raised: ‘Is this All Black team on the slide?’

NZ Herald columnist Chris Rattue suggested the All Blacks appeared to have peaked and are now sliding towards rugby mortality – where the rest of the world resides.

“Are these All Blacks any longer the indomitable force that we like to portray them as?,” Rattue suggested.

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IRBThere has been no change in the Top 12 of the IRB world rankings following the opening round of The Rugby Championship.

Despite seeing their 17-Test win streak end in Sydney thanks to a 12-12 draw with the Wallabies, New Zealand continue to lead the way on 93.42 points.

The Wallabies, courageous in their efforts – and perhaps a little unlucky – remain in third position on 87.32.

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New ZealandThe All Blacks were left feeling “hollow” and “gutted” after their record-equalling test win streak came to a limp end on Saturday night at the Olympic stadium.

To that they might have added relieved at escaping with a draw they scarcely deserved.

Truth be told, the All Blacks were fortunate indeed to slip out of Sydney with a 12-12 stalemate that was flattering to them, after being outplayed in the second half by a Wallabies outfit who just weren’t good enough to close out a victory that was theirs for the taking.

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AustraliaIf Michael Hooper could have turned back time, perhaps he would have revised his decision-making in the closing stages of the opening half of last night’s saturated Bledisloe Cup stalemate in Sydney.

Instead, as he reflected on a 12-12 draw that at least ended the All Blacks 17-test winning run, the Wallabies captain and influential openside flanker had to concede: “We’re in the same position as we were two hours ago.”

That means the Wallabies must win at Eden Park for the first time since 1986, in seven days time, to maintain any hope of reclaiming the symbol of trans-Tasman rugby supremacy at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium in October.

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SuperBruHello Rugby-Talkers,

We have created 2 brand new SuperBru Pools for the next two big tournaments envolving South African sides.

The ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division starts this Friday, 8 August 2014 and the pool we have created is known as Rugby-Talk Currie Cup 2014.

The Rugby Championship, between the Springboks, All Blacks, Wallabies and Pumas start on 16 August 2014 and the pool we have created is known as Rugby-Talk TRC 2014.

It is always nice and adds spice to rugby-enjoyment when one has a vested right in the results of games. The rivalry between Rugby-Talk.com subscribers makes for great fun and excitement between members of out friendly community, so hurry up and join in the fun!

The 2 Pools have both been upgraded to SuperPools at SuperBru itself, giving us extended features, such as the 2 new SuperBru Widgets on the Righthand Sidebar of Rugby-Talk.com, for easy access to these pools and an abbreviated Leaderboard.

Here are the complete details:

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New Zealand haka 1916

New Zealand side perform the haka before taking on South Africa in Richmond, Surrey, reportedly in April 1916. No further details of the match exist, with the All Blacks’ last official Test coming in August 1914.

Rugby Union did not shut down completely with the declaration of war in August 1914.

Australia and New Zealand were, as dominions of the British Empire, included in Britain’s declaration on 4 August, but inevitably the matter was less urgent.

The machinery of military recruitment clicked into action and the Wellington Rugby Union cancelled its programme of second, third and fourth grade matches on the following Saturday to enable players to attend volunteer parades. But war caught both countries in mid-season and with the All Blacks part way through a tour of Australia.

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New ZealandAll Blacks centre Conrad Smith is out of tomorrow’s Bledisloe Cup test in Sydney after returning home for the birth of his first child.

Smith will join wife Lee-Ann in Wellington, with Canterbury midfielder Ryan Crotty called in as cover and likely to start from the bench. Malakai Fekitoa is expected to take Smith’s spot at centre outside Ma’a Nonu.

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New Zealand Haka

New Zealand Haka

The Haka has been a contentious issue of late, and here, courtesy of Fox Sports, we bring you the top 5 responses to the challenge.

Personally, I feel that the IRB has erred in placing so many restrictions on the opposition sides regarding their response, all it means is that they must meekly stand X amount of yards away without being allowed to properly take up the challenge.

Come on IRB, grow a pair and allow the opposition to give as good as they get. It’s not as if it has an averse effect on the men in black, they still win most of the games.

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Steve Hanson & Richie McCaw

All Black coach Steve Hanson with captain Richie McCaw

Steve Hansen is “dumbfounded” by Ewen McKenzie’s selection of Kurtley Beale at first-five ahead of Bernard Foley for Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup test in Sydney, suggesting the Wallabies coach might have been told to select him because of an apparent interest by rugby league.

The comments by the All Blacks coach came this afternoon ahead of the test at ANZ Stadium where Australian confidence will be high following the Waratahs’ recent Super Rugby triumph at the same venue.

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Women's Rugby World Cup 2014Canada will face former champions England in the final of Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014 on Sunday at the Stade Jean Bouin after they enjoyed contrasting semi-final victories in the French capital.

England booked their place in a sixth Women’s Rugby World Cup final after an emphatic 40-7 victory over first-time semi-finalists Ireland, the Red Roses finally producing the all-round performance they had been craving.

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New ZealandSteve Hansen has sprung a Bledisloe selection surprise of his own, picking the in-form Ben Smith at fullback and dropping a fully fit Israel Dagg for the first time since he became the first-choice All Blacks No 15 three years ago.

The All Blacks coach has decided to stick with the back three that played the last two tests against England in June, which means there’s no room for Dagg in the squad of 23 to open the Rugby Championship against the Wallabies in Sydney on Saturday night.

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ITM CupCanterbury will be looking to seal a magnificent seven straight ITM Cup titles when New Zealand’s provincial competition kicks-off this Thursday.

For the third time, the red and blacks defeated Wellington for the 2013 silverware at the final hurdle as they ran out 29-13 at Westpac Stadium.

But will they triumph in 2014? Here we look at the runners and riders this season, with Auckland and Wellington set to be their challengers.

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AustraliaWallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has announced a revamped line-up for the opening Investec Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup clash against New Zealand at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.

McKenzie said the changes were based on three key components – strong individual form since Australia’s successful series clean sweep over France; a reflection of the style of Rugby the Wallabies want to play against the All Blacks; and those forced through injury.

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Saia Fainga'a

Experienced campaigner, Saia Fainga’a.

Australia have been dealt yet another front row injury blow with the news that Tolu Latu has become their third hooker to be sidelined.

Experienced Reds rake Saia Fainga’a has been called into the Wallabies squad as a replacement after Latu broke an arm in a Sydney club game on the weekend.

Ewen McKenzie’s squad has already been deprived of Australia’s two most senior hookers – Stephen Moore and Tatafu Polota-Nau – ahead of Saturday’s opening Rugby Championship game against New Zealand in Sydney.

However, in Fainga’a they have an excellent replacement. Although the 27-year-old will be third-choice player in his position, he has far more Test caps – 29 – than the combined total of the players ahead of him.

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Hosea Gear

Hosea Gear

Former All Blacks wing Hosea Gear is quitting northern hemisphere rugby and heading to the Chiefs in a bid to play in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Gear, 30, has signed a one-year contract with the Chiefs to play in next year’s Super Rugby competition as he makes a bid to return to the international stage and challenges again for a World Cup wing spot.

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AustraliaProp Paddy Ryan and uncapped winger Tom English have been added to the Wallabies Rugby Championship squad, with hamstring injuries set to rule out Laurie Weeks and Joe Tomane for the first two matches against New Zealand.

Both injuries are considered relatively minor, with Weeks and Tomane each expected to be out for two to three weeks.

However, that would be long enough to rule them out of the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup games against New Zealand in Sydney next Saturday and in Auckland the following weekend.

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Aaron Smith

Aaron Smith

After much speculation in the media the Highlanders are happy to announce today that Aaron Smith has re-signed with the Highlanders for two more years through to the end of the Super Rugby season in 2016.

Smith said “I love living and playing rugby in Dunedin, it’s my home and I couldn’t think of a better place to be.”

“I love the team and can’t wait to get back out on the field in front of our home fans in 2015”.

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Nemani Nadolo

Nemani Nadolo

Nemani Nadolo will remain at the Crusaders for two more years, after reports in New Zealand said the giant Fijian winger “never had any intention of going anywhere else”.

“We have loved having Nemani in the Crusaders this season, as have our fans, so it gives me great pleasure to confirm that he will be returning to the team next year and in 2016,” Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach said.

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