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Rugby World Cup 2015

Rugby World Cup 2015 - EnglandThe Wales squad will face temperatures ranging from 42 degrees to minus 150 degrees, will sleep in normobaric hypoxic chambers and will train in surroundings ranging from the deserts of Qatar to the peaks of the Swiss Alps as part of their gruelling preparation for next year’s Rugby World Cup.

Wales’ full schedule for 2015 will see Warren Gatland’s squad undergo intensive training camps in Switzerland, Qatar and Poland as well as face home and away ties against Ireland before concluding their preparations against Italy at the Millennium Stadium.

The rigorous schedule has left no stone unturned in order to ensure Wales arrive at the world’s showpiece tournament in peak condition with leading facilities at home in Wales and across the world utilized.

The programme is the culmination of months of research and planning and WRU head of physical performance, Adam Beard, who also designed the 2011 schedule, is delighted to formally announce the squad’s plans.

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SpringboksThe South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Friday confirmed the home venues for the 2015 Castle Lager Rugby Championship.

The Springboks will play New Zealand at Emirates Airline Park (formerly Ellis Park), Johannesburg, on Saturday 25 July and Argentina at Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban, on Saturday 8 August.

The schedule was amended as a result of the condensing of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship competition to three rounds because of the Rugby World Cup, which begins in mid-September.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

Dan Carter is still aiming to be a factor in the 2015 World Cup after an injury plagued couple of months that have seen him stuttering with form.

Cater now faces a nine-month race to regain the fine form he is capable of for the World Cup after an uncharacteristically below-par year-end tour.

The All Black flyhalf has decided sitting back on his laurels is no longer an option and that regular and consistent game-time will bring him back to his best.

“Throughout the tour my injury had healed. The body felt good but the game-time was lacking,” Carter admitted.

“That tour wasn’t the best situation to get regular game-time but it got me back in the environment, back into the team and a better understanding of the game we’re trying to play.

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Zane Kirchner

Zane Kirchner

Morné Steyn

Morné Steyn

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is likely to surprise with a few unpopular decisions in his 2015 Rugby World Cup squad.

According to weekend newspaper reports, the inclusion of flyhalf Morné Steyn and fullback Zane Kirchner could be the biggest shocks in Meyer’s 31-man squad for next year’s showpiece event in England and Wales.

Kirchner has fallen out of favour in recent times after the emergence of Willie le Roux, while Steyn has fallen behind Pat Lambie and Handré Pollard in the flyhalf pecking order.

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Steve Hansen

Steve Hansen

Convincing Steve Hansen to extend his contract after the 2015 World Cup would ensure the All Blacks aren’t exposed by the exit of their experienced players, says Mike Eagle.

Eagle, who was New Zealand Rugby’s chairman between 2010 and early 2014, understands supporters may be nervous about the All Blacks coach being reappointed ahead of next year’s global tournament – something that has never happened before – but believed it should be endorsed.

Last month NZ Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said discussions with Hansen, who replaced Graham Henry as head coach in 2012, were well underway and it was up to Hansen to decide if he wanted to sign a new deal.

While he hadn’t been privy to the discussions between Tew and the board, Eagle said it would foolish to wait until after the World Cup to start searching for a new coach if Hansen was prepared to stay.

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Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe

Springbok lock Flip van der Merwe says there is enough leadership in the team to fill the void left by Jean de Villiers.

The Springbok captain suffered a horrific knee injury in last Saturday’s Test against Wales in Cardiff. He faces an extended period on the sidelines and could even miss next year’s Rugby World Cup in England and Wales.

While losing De Villiers would be a big blow, Van der Merwe feels there are enough leaders in the squad for coach Heyneke Meyer to call on.

“It’s one of Heyneke’s big success stories during his time as coach. He concentrated on establishing a leadership group. of which Jean merely acts as manager,” Van der Merwe says.

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Jean de Villiers & Jan Serfontein

Jean de Villiers & Jan Serfontein

The Springboks are likely to head to the World Cup next year without a specialist outside centre, but is that such a problem?

Jaque Fourie’s recent retirement from international rugby and captain Jean de Villiers’ horrific knee injury means that Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s midfield options will have to be significantly revised next year.

The two formed the most capped centre pairing in Springbok history, and many had their money on seeing them together for one last hurrah in England next year.

A look at the options available shows that outside centres are in seemingly short supply, which means that the Boks may play with two inside centres as they effectively did throughout 2014.

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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

As one of three players to have played in all 12 of South Africa’s Test matches in 2014 it is safe to say No.8 Duane Vermeulen is now an integral part of Heyneke Meyer’s plans for the World Cup.

A stellar year that included a man-of-the-match performance in October’s win over the All Blacks, and culminated in his nomination for World Rugby Player of the Year.

The next goal for Vermeulen will be impressing on the World stage in his first ever World Cup tournament after only making his debut in the Rugby Championship in 2012 at the age of 26.

“It wasn’t always a dream to play for the Springboks – that developed later on, and now I want to play in a World Cup. Hopefully I can stay in the team,” he said,” Vermeulen said.

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All BlacksReigning champions New Zealand remained the team to beat less than a year out from the World Cup in England after yet another successful November campaign in Europe.

There’s nothing new in the All Blacks being the yardstick for the global game and their rivals will take some comfort in knowing New Zealand have yet to win the World Cup on foreign soil.

So the fact they were pushed close by both England (24-21) and Wales (34-16) this month before emerging victorious won’t have done the All Blacks any harm, nor will the success of a virtual second-choice side in preserving their unbeaten record against Scotland.

However, all these matches demonstrated how no team goes for the full 80 minutes quite like New Zealand, who have enviable depth.

England found themselves needing two scores in the closing stages against the All Blacks and managed one while Wales conceded 24 points in the final 17 minutes.

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Warren Gatland

Warren Gatland

Wales coach Warren Gatland fired an early shot at the All Blacks’ World Cup defence, suggesting the New Zealanders may be hampered by their weak pool.

New Zealand and Wales face vastly different challenges to make the World Cup playoffs. The All Blacks head Pool C that includes the improving Argentina, Tonga, Georgia and Namibia.

In contrast, Wales find themselves in the “pool of death” with hosts England, Australia, Fiji and Uruguay.

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Jake White and Eddie Jones

Jake White and Eddie Jones

Japan coach Eddie Jones says former Springbok coach Jake White is the ideal candidate to take over as Wallabies mentor should Ewen McKenzie be sacked.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald website, speculation is growing that McKenzie could be fired within weeks.

This comes despite the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) chief executive Bill Pulver publicly backing McKenzie as the man to take the Wallabies to next year’s World Cup in England and Wales.

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UruguayUruguay beat Russia 36-27 in Montevideo on Saturday to snatch the last qualification spot for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.

Although they lost the first leg in Moscow 22-21, the South Americans got the result they needed to qualify for their first World Cup since 2003.

They will now line up in a daunting Pool A alongside the hosts, twice former winners Australia, Wales and Fiji.

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Stuart Lancaster

Stuart Lancaster

Stuart Lancaster will be England Head Coach until 2020 after the Rugby Football Union decided to extend his contract.

Appointed permanent head coach in March 2012, his tenure in charge of the England team is now set to include the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Lancaster’s coaching team – Forwards Coach Graham Rowntree, Backs Coach Andy Farrell and Attacking Skills Coach Mike Catt – have also been contracted to the end of the 2019-20 season.

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Jake White and Eddie Jones

Jake White and Eddie Jones

Jake White could make a quick return to rugby coaching with Japan coach Eddie Jones keen to secure his services with the Brave Blossoms.

It was announced yesterday that White would be parting ways with the Sharks after a single season in Durban.

White and Jones worked together with South Africa during the successful 2007 World Cup campaign when the Australian helped the squad in a consulting role.

And the roles could be reversed this time, with Jones in charge of Japan, and eager to bring in White although he admits the South African will be in high demand.

“He is going to do some consultancy, I just don’t know where,” Jones told Kyodo News.

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Ma'a Nonu

Ma’a Nonu

All Blacks star Ma’a Nonu has been linked to French club Toulon as the European champions ramp up recruitment ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup.

Respected French newspaper Midi Olympique claims Toulon are close to finalising a two-year deal with the veteran New Zealand midfielder.

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Rugby World Cup 2015Russia will take the narrowest of leads with them to Montevideo in two weeks’ time after they beat Uruguay 22-21 in Saturday’s first leg of the final Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifier in Krasnoyarsk. However, while no team likes to lose a game of rugby, Uruguay’s Pablo Lemoine will probably be the more satisfied of the two coaches as his side is still very much in contention at what is effectively half-time. Of course, the fact that the second half will most likely be played on a warm day in front 12,000 home fans will give him cause for optimism after his team held their own in the near-freezing conditions and vociferous Siberian crowd of the first 80 minutes.

But for Russia’s indiscipline and the cultured right boot of fly-half Felipe Berchesi, who slotted seven penalties, the gap would have been more. Two yellow cards, a high penalty count and the spurning of several try-scoring opportunities did nothing for the mood of Russia coach Raphael Saint-Andre but he will know that his team was the more creative on the day and, if they can somehow learn to compete at set pieces and improve their defence at mauls, they too can make the long journey to South America with some confidence.

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Dylan Hartley

Dylan Hartley

When the World Cup kicks off in a little under a year’s time, England will have played all but one of the other nine sides in the top ten of the current IRB World Rankings. Psychologically, it is a huge 12 months for next year’s hosts.

In the past few seasons, they have made huge strides in the right direction – but they are not the finished product yet.

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Rugby World Cup 2015There’s a year to go until the World Cup – just enough time for it to be turned into an eligibility farce.

The potential for the game’s biggest event to be laughed out of town is growing. The prospect of teams turning up with legions of players who don’t really have a strong link to the jersey they wear is real.

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Premiership clubs

Premiership Clubs have been given dispensation by the IRB to start playing on 17 October next year, during the World Cup’s knockout stages.

The Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby have settled their dispute over World Cup compensation, the governing bodies have announced.

England’s 12 clubs are likely to share £13 million provided by the RFU and have been cleared to play matches during the knockout stage of the tournament.

“It’s a reflection of the strength of the partnership that once again we have managed to come to an arrangement that benefits both the RFU and clubs,” RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie said.

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Steve HansenAll Blacks coach Steve Hansen can see where his predecessor, Sir Graham Henry, is coming from.

But Hansen wants his team to continue improving without the need of a loss as a wake-up call.

Henry, with Hansen as an assistant, steered New Zealand to the World Cup title in 2011.

However, 12 months out from the start of their defence, Henry is worried they might get too used to winning and believes some adversity, namely a loss, might have benefits.

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Richie McCaw & Sir Graham Henry

LET’S DO IT AGAIN: Sir Graham Henry reckons Richie McCaw and his All Blacks can repeat their 2011 World Cup heroics next year.

Sir Graham Henry believes Steve Hansen’s All Blacks have the ingredients to carry out a historic defence of the Rugby World Cup at next year’s tournament in England.

Henry delivered New Zealand their second World Cup at home in 2011 following their victory as hosts of the inaugural tournament in 1987.

No team has won back-to-back titles and no All Blacks side has triumphed away from home.

But, a year out from next year’s tournament, Henry is backing the current side to buck history.

“For sure, but it won’t be easy,” warned Henry who oversaw the quarterfinal disaster in 2007 before redeeming himself.

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New ZealandWorld Cup-winning coach Graham Henry has committed the ultimate sin in rugby-mad New Zealand, suggesting it would not hurt the All Blacks if they lose a game before they defend the Webb Ellis trophy next year in England.

The All Blacks have lost just once since Steve Hansen succeeded Henry after the successful World Cup campaign in 2011, winning 32 of their 35 Tests. They have also drawn twice with Australia.

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Rugby World Cup 2015The Wallabies quest for an unprecedented third Rugby World Cup crown is now just 12 months away with Thursday marking the one year countdown to the game’s showpiece event.

The eighth edition of the tournament will bring the game’s elite together in England and it will again be the All Blacks who start as red-hot favourites.

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Graham Henry

TOP COACH: Former All Blacks coach Graham ‘Ted’ Henry believes Dan Carter, if fit, ought to be in the team heading to the next World Cup.

Sir Graham Henry would pick Dan Carter for the next World Cup though admits the veteran first-five now needs to earn his starting position ahead of two young “world class” alternatives in Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett.

Today is a year-to-the-day before the Rugby World Cup tournament began at Twickenham with a match between England and Fiji.

The defending champion All Blacks will launch their campaign two days later with a match against Argentina at Wembley Stadium.

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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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