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Rugby World Cup 2015

Andrew Mehrtens

Andrew Mehrtens

The All Blacks may march on undefeated but the weekend demonstrated palpably that South Africa are going to be big-time World Cup threats.

Maybe bigger even than the hosts who are also going to take some beating at Fortress Twickenham.

Sure, the Springboks weren’t able to get up and end their five-year losing streak on New Zealand soil, but boy did they get close. And a year out from the Cup it’s significant that they’re knocking on the door.

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Rugby World Cup 2015On Thursday, the start of RWC 2015 will be exactly one year away. Nineteen of the 20 participating nations have been decided, with Russia and Uruguay fighting it out over two legs in the next few weeks to fill the last remaining spot.

We take a look at how the pools are shaping up in terms of where the competing countries are in the World Rankings.

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Matthew Burke

Matthew Burke

With the recent pedantic display of refereeing, it pains me to say that the World Cup could turn into a game of whistle-blowing, ruining the experience for the spectators and more importantly the players.

Some of the technical refereeing that has been on display has eliminated any “feel” for the game.

Right now, the blokes in the middle are trying to put on their best show to be chosen to get a gig in England in 2015. But who is judging their performance so they get to secure a position as a top whistle-blower?

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William Webb Ellis Trophy

The William Webb Ellis Trophy

Organised criminals with links to the arms and drugs trade were on Wednesday night plotting to hijack the Rugby World Cup ticket launch and hold countless ordinary fans to ransom on the secondary market.

Tournament organisers and senior police officers admitted the second biggest sporting event ever held in the UK would definitely be targeted by gangs of touts, who Britain’s leading anti-ticket fraud expert warned stood to make millions illegally from fleecing unsuspecting supporters.

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Ashley Johnson

The advertisement featuring Ashley Johnson in his Bok jersey.

The hosts of the 2015 Rugby World Cup say they didn’t forget to feature the All Blacks in an ad released yesterday encouraging people to buy tickets to the tournament.

In fact, current and former players were approached to do it, but declined the offer, an England Rugby 2015 official said.

Watch the video here

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James O'Connor

Runaway success: James O’Connor scores a try for Toulon on the weekend.

The short-term future of James O’Connor and his return to Australia is assured, but doubts remain about his long-term plans after the World Cup in Britain next year.

Queensland are expecting O’Connor, who has 44 Test caps with the Wallabies, to remain in Brisbane after announcing last Friday that the back had signed a two-year deal with them – starting next season.

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Keven Mealamu

MENTOR: Keven Mealamu imparts some knowledge to All Blacks halfback Aaron Smith.

Keven Mealamu says he isn’t done yet, not by a long shot.

As another round of hand wringing about the country’s lack of depth at hooker kicks off, Mealamu has reiterated his desire to be part of next year’s World Cup campaign.

Dane Coles’ looming absence from part, or all, of the All Blacks’ trip to Argentina and South Africa later this month for the birth of his partner’s child has again highlighted the dearth of options available to coach Steve Hansen.

Bay of Plenty’s Nathan Harris was the next cab off the rank, but after that it was anybody’s guess.

“We’ve been bringing people in and out of the environment,” Hansen said.

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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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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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IRB Rugby World Cup 2015 - EnglandCommunities across the length and breadth of England and Wales will share in the excitement of hosting Rugby World Cup 2015 after tournament organisers England Rugby 2015 and owners Rugby World Cup Limited announced the selection of team base camps.

With Rugby at heart, a selection of 41 venues from the University of Exeter in the south to Newcastle Royal Grammar School in the north, extend the reach of the showcase tournament, while delivering the stage for the world’s best teams to perform to their potential.

The search for team bases was launched via an open tender process in April 2013 and just under 100 bids were received from across the country and in Wales. All prospective team bases were subject to a rigorous selection process which included an expansive and detailed programme of site visits as well as liaison with the competing Rugby World Cup 2015 teams.

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Aviva Premiership

The Aviva Premiership is threatening to continue with their league schedule

Premiership Rugby has threatened to continue with their league programme during next year’s Rugby World Cup unless a deal can be reached with the RFU.

Tensions have been running high between Premiership Rugby and the RFU in recent months.

Premiership Rugby are upset after the RFU failed to consult them over the bid for the Rugby World Cup.

They are now seeking a compensation deal of £14 million from the RFU as they will have to shut down the league while the Rugby World Cup is taking place in England.

With the global showpiece scheduled to take place between September and October, England’s Premiership clubs will have no matchday income for five months – as the tournament finishes at the end of May – and according to projections each top tier club are set to lose £1.2 million.

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Rugby World Cup 2015 rugby ballInnovation and tradition is at the heart of MATCH XV, the official Rugby World Cup 2015 match ball, launched by Rugby World Cup suppliers Gilbert today.

The MATCH XV will make its debut in the English Premiership and French Top 14 later this month and will be used in top level Test matches throughout the rest of 2014 and 2015, meaning the world’s best players will have plenty of competition time with the ball.

A modern classic, the MATCH XV is the latest in a succession of balls stretching back to 1995 to be engineered by the industry-leaders specifically for Rugby’s global showpiece tournament and is packed with innovation. It is also the most-tested Gilbert ball in history.

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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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RussiaRussia remain in the hunt for the final place at Rugby World Cup 2015 after beating Zimbabwe 23-15 in their Repechage semi-final in Krasnoyarsk on Saturday.

The Bears, bidding to reach a second consecutive tournament, will now face the winner of the match later today in Montevideo between Uruguay and Hong Kong for the right to join hosts England, Australia, Wales and Fiji in Pool A at RWC 2015.

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Olympics 2016New ZealandAustraliaSeveral ex-New Zealand and Australia internationals have confirmed that they will lodge an application to switch allegiances to a Pacific Island nation with whom they hold a passport, with a view to participating at the Rugby World Cup in England next year.

With the inclusion of rugby 7s at the Olympics in 2016, there has been a change in eligibility laws that will see players who have represented one nation now eligible to play for another, if they hold a passport from that country.

If they have not played international rugby in the past 18 months, they will be eligible for their new country in the Sevens World Series or designated Regional Olympic Qualification Tournaments and would thus be able to play for that country in all forms of rugby.

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German Football

What lessons can be learnt from the successful German Football campaign?

As the dust settles on Germany’s recent FIFA World Cup triumph is there anything that those side’s hoping to lift the Rugby World Cup crown in England next year could learn from Joachim Löw and his all-conquering team?

Are there lessons that could prove pivotal for those sides aiming to win the Women’s Rugby World Cup in France next month?

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NamibiaNamibia qualified for a fifth successive Rugby World Cup by thumping hosts Madagascar 89-10 on Sunday to win the African preliminaries and book a place in Pool C at next year’s tournament alongside defending champions New Zealand.

Namibia finished level on two wins each with Kenya and Zimbabwe at the end of the four-team tournament but qualified by virtue of more bonus points.

Their task was made easier on Sunday when Zimbabwe beat Kenya 28-10, setting Namibia a target of beating Madagascar by 53 points to qualify.

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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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RWC2015FijiFiji have qualified as Oceania 1 for Rugby World Cup 2015 in England by beating the Cook Islands 108-6 in Lautoka. The Flying Fijians scored 17 unanswered tries in a runaway victory in front of their adoring home fans at Churchill Park.

Fiji join hosts England, Australia, Wales and the yet to be determined Repechage winner in Pool A, and will have the honour of playing England at Twickenham in the opening match of the tournament on 18 September.

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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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rwc2015Germany remain in the hunt for a place at Rugby World Cup 2015 after beating Sweden 45-20 in Enkoping to clinch the European Nations Cup Division 1B title and earn a play-off with the Netherlands next month.

They had gone into the final round of Division 1B matches level on points with Moldova and in the knowledge that if they matched or bettered their rival’s result against the Czech Republic then they would be crowned champions.

Moldova suffered a surprise 37-19 loss to the Czech Republic in Prague – the win not enough to prevent the Czechs from dropping down to Division 2A – and so Germany were guaranteed the title regardless of their result in Sweden.

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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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Rugby World Cup 2015The Springboks and South African fans on Wednesday received good news in the lead-up to the 2015 IRB Rugby World Cup in England, with the announcement that three of the team’s four round-robin matches will begin at 17:00 (19:00 SA Time) and only one at 20:00 (22:00 SA Time).

The Springboks kick off their Rugby World Cup campaign on 19 September 2015, against the top Asian qualifier at the Brighton Community Stadium, Brighton, at 20:00 (22:00 SA Time).

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Rugby World Cup 2015Twenty scrum machines will be required for Rugby World Cup 2015 in England
With just over two years to go until Rugby World Cup 2015, tournament organisers England Rugby 2015 and Rugby World Cup Limited are right on track to deliver a spectacular six-week celebration of rugby.

A massive amount of planning goes into the delivery of any major international sporting tournament, and RWC 2015 is no exception.

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The Southern Hemisphere tours of the Home nations and Ireland are well and truly over by now with almost all of the players from these teams now able to put their feet up for a bit of rest and recuperation after what has been a very long season.

For what it’s worth I thought it would be interesting to see which team had the best tour.

This could be difficult as each team faced different opponents and some had midweek games while others didn’t. To try and take away any bias and subjectivity we have a look at the results as well as the comparative rankings of the teams according to the IRB.

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The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has welcomed a compromise agreement on the kick off date for the 2015 Rugby World Cup tournament as well on a new funding model to recognise impacts on unions in Rugby World Cup years.

The IRB Council on Tuesday reached agreement that the 2015 tournament will kick off on September 18, which represented a compromise between the organiser’s preferred date and that of the SANZAR nations, who will be engaged in the Castle Rugby Championship until shortly before Rugby World Cup kick off.

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