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The Rugby Championship

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Schalk Burger

Schalk Burger

Experienced and versatile loose forward Schalk Burger has been called up to the Springbok squad for the final two Tests in the Rugby Championship for the injured Francois Louw.

Burger, capped 71 times for the Springboks, will play for his Japanese club, Suntory, on Friday and join the squad in Cape Town as soon as possible thereafter.

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Francois Louw

Francois Louw injury: massive loss for the Springboks

Springbok flank Francois Louw has been ruled out of the remainder of the Rugby Championship with a pinched nerve in his neck.

He picked up the injury during last Saturday’s Test against New Zealand in Wellington and the extent of the injury was confirmed after Louw went for scans and saw a specialist in Durban on Tuesday.

According to Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts, Louw will be out of action for approximately eight weeks and may be fit for South Africa’s November tour to Europe.

A decision on a replacement for Louw in the 30-man Springbok squad will be made in the coming day or two.

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Malakai Fekitoa

HARD RUNNING: Malakai Fekitoa brings a quick-stepping style to the All Blacks midfield.

Malakai Fekitoa seems set to start for the All Blacks at second five-eighth in Argentina next week with Ryan Crotty still working his way back to fitness after a facial fracture.

Crotty was expected to recover for the test against the Pumas in La Plata next week, but would instead make his return in the NPC with Canterbury and join the All Blacks for the Rugby Championship finale against the Springboks at Ellis Park on October 4.

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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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Richie McCaw & Jean de Villiers

Respect on and off the field. Richie McCaw making a special presentation to Jean de Villiers.

It came as an innocuous question from an All Black supporter on Twitter, but it summed up the feeling after Saturday’s epic Springboks-All Blacks test in Wellington.

“After that, don’t you wish Ellis Park could be next week?” he asked. The answer is a big resounding yes.

It wasn’t because we lost and wanted revenge. It wasn’t because the Boks will be kicking themselves for coming so close against the World Champions.

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Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan

What a difference a week makes…

 

The Rugby Championship:

We saw 2 very good test matches, particularly the All Blacks vs Springboks game, played in the Cake Tin.

It was played at tempo for the duration of the match and was superbly refereed by Jerome Garces. Chalk and cheese between what we saw last week.

He seemed to be able to make his decisions with ease, without pressure, and for the most part they were well timed, and accurate. He added huge value to a compelling test match which was deservedly won by the All Blacks.

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Ma'a Nonu

TOUGH BREAK: All Blacks inside centre Ma’a Nonu won’t be sighted on a rugby field again until next year after breaking his arm against the Springboks on Saturday night.

Ma’a Nonu didn’t win the respect and admiration of his South African opposite Jean de Villiers with a big tackle or a crunching run.

The All Blacks second five-eighth saved his classiest moment for the quiet of the changing room where doctors surveyed his broken forearm at halftime during Saturday’s Rugby Championship match at Westpac Stadium.

Nonu’s test, and season, were over, a steel plate inserted in his arm yesterday morning, but as the ambulance doors swung open to take the 32-year-old across town to Wellington Hospital, Nonu thought not of his misfortune and considerable pain.

Instead, he pulled off his No 12 jersey and instructed his handlers to take it to the opposition changing room where it could be collected by de Villiers after he completed his 100th test for the Springboks.

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JP Pietersen

JP Pietersen

RWC winning back JP Pietersen will replace injured scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar for home Rugby Championship Tests against Australia and New Zealand, it was announced on Sunday.

Pietersen, who can operate on the right wing or at outside centre, has been playing in Japan and was unavailable for the first four southern hemisphere championship matches.

“JP has always been part of our plans and did very well in June playing at outside centre,” Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said in a statement.

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Keven Mealamu & Richie McCaw

Senior All Blacks, including Richie McCaw (R), were heard complaining to the referee during the match.

The All Blacks say South Africa have returned to their time-wasting antics, at the same ground where they first accused them of feigning injuries eight years ago.

Senior New Zealand players voiced their concern at the number of Springboks who sought medical treatment during the All Blacks 14-10 win in Wellington on Saturday.

Captain Richie McCaw and No 8 Kieran Read regularly remonstrated with French referee Jerome Garces, believing the tourists were deliberately slowing the speed of the Test to nullify New Zealand’s high-speed approach.

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Cornal Hendricks

Silver lining: Cornal Hendricks scored an excellent try.

The Springboks put a positive spin on their narrow defeat to the All Blacks in a bruising encounter on Saturday, saying they learnt valuable lessons a year out from the World Cup.

The 14-10 defeat in Wellington all but ended the Springboks bid to prevent the All Blacks claiming the Rugby Championship trophy for a third successive year.

It also came at a price, with scrum-half Ruan Pienaar out for up to eight weeks with knee ligament damage and a question mark over flanker Francois Louw, who suffered an arm injury.

But in the plus column, coach Heyneke Meyer saw a valuable return from his gamble to play 20-year-old Handre Pollard and 21-year-old Jan Serfontein against the top side in the world.

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Ma'a Nonu

Out until next year: Ma’a Nonu

All Blacks center Ma’a Nonu will not play rugby again in 2014 after undergoing surgery on a broken arm sustained against South Africa on Saturday.

Nonu suffered the injury in the first half of the 14-10 win over the Springboks in Wellington and was replaced at halftime but only after having played for nine minutes after suffering the injury when tackling opposite number Jean de Villiers.

The injury means Nonu will miss New Zealand’s remaining Rugby Championship matches against Argentina in La Plata in a fortnight and South Africa in Johannesburg on October 5. He has also been ruled out of New Zealand’s November tour to the United States and Britain.

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw scores against the Springboks.

Thinus Delport acknowledged that New Zealand’s superior experience and mental strength was the difference as they earned a late victory.

He said: “It’s that winning mentality – not panicking, staying calm, making the right decisions.

That’s what it boils down to. One simple error at this level and the game changes.

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All Blacks vs SpringboksBrutal as this confrontation was, it was the subtle and cerebral touch of the All Blacks’ collective boots which separated them from South Africa.

This was test rugby in its most pure form. A brutal contest of physicality from the moment Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen levelled All Black captain Richie McCaw in the opening minutes.

It was a shame there had to be winner, but such is sport.

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Ruan Pienaar

Ruan Pienaar

Springbok scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar will miss the rest of the Rugby Championship after suffering a knee ligament injury in the 14-10 defeat to the All Blacks in Wellington.

Pienaar was carried from the field in the 36th minute after a swinging leg from team-mate Duane Vermeulen connected with his leg.

Team doctor Craig Roberts confirmed the 80-Test veteran is likely to face several months on the sidelines.

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South AfricaSo amper, maar alle aanduidings is dat die Springbokrugbyspan weer op die regte pad is ná sy naelskraapse nederlaag gister teen die All Blacks.

Dit is die eenparige mening van ’n klompie kenners by wie Rapport gaan kers opsteek het ná die Slag van Wellington.

 

Krynauw Otto:

“As ons die All Blacks só kan vat in Wellington, kan ons hulle op neutrale velde in die Wêreldbeker-toernooi klop,” meen die voormalige Bok-slot Krynauw Otto. “Dit was weer simpel foute wat ons, nes in Australië, die wedstryd gekos het. Tien foute minder en ons het gewen.”

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Tatafu Polota-Nau

No good: Ewen McKenzie talks to Tatafu Polota-Nau at halftime.

The Wallabies may have denied Argentina on the Gold Coast, but they could travel to South Africa without the man who helped make the 32-25 victory possible.

Hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau, whose assured set piece work helped deny the Pumas their customary scrum dominance in the first half at Cbus Stadium, has injured his left ankle and is in “serious doubt” for the Wallabies’ final two Tests of the Rugby Championship.

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Nick Mallett

Nick Mallett

This was an absolutely wonderful Test match.

It was what all rugby players and supporters want to see or be involved in.

The referee was outstanding in the game, absolutely clear, no controversial incidents and no yellow cards.

The Springboks played by far their best match this year. A lot of it had to do with the positive mindset that came into the team from the selection of Pollard.

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Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer knew he had rolled the dice in selecting rookie flyhalf Handre Pollard to play against the All Blacks, but was pleased the 20-year-old had proved he was worth the gamble.

Pollard hardly put a foot wrong in his fourth test, and first against the world champions, driving the Springboks around Wellington Regional Stadium, producing a superb inside pass to set up their only try and providing a solid kicking game.

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All Blacks vs SpringboksAll Blacks coach Steve Hansen lauded his team’s character but not their execution after beating the Springboks 14-10 to take a firm grip on a third successive Rugby Championship title.

New Zealand dominated possession and territory but couldn’t make it count on the scoreboard, eventually clinging on to beat their historic rivals for a fifth successive Test.

Outstanding South African defence nearly earned them a win but an assault on the home side’s line over the last seven minutes was unsuccessful.

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AustraliaArgentinaWallabies (14) 32 / 25 (7) Los Pumas (Final Score)

The Australian Wallabies and Argentinian Pumas did battle in Round 4 of The Rugby Championship at

Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast at 12:00 SA Time (20:00 AEST, 07:00 ARG Time, 10:00 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 on TV in SA.

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New ZealandSouth AfricaAll Blacks (6) 14 / 10 (7) Springboks (Final Score)

The New Zealand All Blacks and South African Springboks did battle in Round 4 of The Rugby Championship at

Westpac Stadium, Wellington at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 07:35 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.

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SuperBruRound 3 of the Rugby Championship ended in heartbreak for the Springboks when they went down to Australia by 1 point in the final few minutes of what was not an entertaining match at all.

The referee, the yellow card to Bryan Habana, the failed touchfinder by Morné Steyn and various other reasons have already been dissected and discussed, so we won’t dwell on those.

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George Clancy

In the spotlight: George Clancy

SANZAR are looking to bring in a challenge system in order to combat refereeing errors, with each team allowed three per game.

Following in the footsteps of cricket and tennis, teams would be able to challenge a referee’s decision, while the TMO would be used only for these challenges, leaving the on-field referee to make the rest of the calls.

There are currently concerns that referees are hiding behind their TMOs at the moment, rather than making their own decisions, and the official in charge would now be responsible for deciding on tries and incidents of foul play.

The news comes after a weekend where both Rugby Championship games featured controversial refereeing decisions, with Argentina denied a perfectly good try when Pascal Gauzère called a knock-on on a charge-down from Leonardo Senatore.

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 Ruan Pienaar

Ruan Pienaar’s prodigious kicking highlights a flaw in the Springbok rugby mindset.

Forget what you think about this test match.

There is so much more riding on tomorrow night’s capital contest than a handful of competition points.

This is a battle between total rugby and totalitarian rugby, a stylistic skirmish between one team that enjoys the sweet freedom of expression and another which squirms in the grip of moderation’s gorilla mitt.

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Victor Matfield

Veteran Lock: Victor Matfield

Victor Matfield can remember the time when he turned the All Blacks lineout into a jellyfish.

The veteran Springboks lock believes those days are over, but says South Africa can beat the All Blacks at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night.

“There was a time when their lineout didn’t fire, and now I think it is almost the best [in the world] to go up against,” the 37-year-old said today.

“I think they probably analyse it more, see it as a facet of its own and put a lot of time into it.

“They contest very well and I think they spend a lot more time at the lineout than they did in those early years.”

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Steve Hansen

Steve Hansen

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen doesn’t mind having a public pop at the Wallabies, but when it comes to one of world rugby’s enduring rivalries, and South African coach Heyneke Meyer, there is nothing but mutual respect.

“I myself have a huge amount of respect for their coach [Heyneke Meyer]. I think he’s a good man and a good coach,” Hansen said today, ahead of Saturday night’s test against South Africa in Wellington.

“Their captain Jean [de Villiers], having his 100th game [on Saturday] I’d like to congratulate him on that.”

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New ZealandFour months after being berated by coach Steve Hansen for his lack of fitness, the big Auckland loose forward will start a test against South Africa.

Luatua replaces the injured Liam Messam at blindside for Saturday’s Rugby Championship match at Westpac Stadium in one of three changes to the team that started against Argentina in Napier.

A fit-again Aaron Cruden returns as expected in place of Beauden Barrett at first five-eighth, while lock Jeremy Thrush comes in for Sam Whitelock, who is out with a rib injury.

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Jean de Villiers

South African captain Jean de Villiers enjoys Wellington’s sunshine during training at the Hutt Recreation Ground this week ahead of his 100th test, against the All Blacks, at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.

It’s when the discussion switches away from rugby that Jean de Villiers is most animated.

Make no mistake, South Africa’s captain is passionate about his code and about winning.

Growing up in Paarl he watched his father Andre play for Western Province and dreamed of following in his sprig-marks.

De Villiers has done that and more in a career that’s seen him win the World Cup, in 2007, beat the All Blacks eight times, score 25 test tries and clock up 99 caps for his country in the process.

And yet, it is a greater calling that seems to drive the 33-year-old midfielder on.

“Giving hope to a lot of people and kids in South Africa,” de Villiers said this week when asked what he hoped his legacy as a Springbok would be.

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South AfricaSpringbok captain Jean de Villiers will on Saturday join four other South Africans when he leads the team out in his 100th Test, against New Zealand at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington (kick-off 09:35 SA Time).

The Springbok match-23 to face New Zealand shows only one change from last weekend, with Handré Pollard starting at flyhalf.

The 33-year-old De Villiers will become the 34th Test player to reach this milestone. With him on the field will be two of the four South African centurions – the most-capped Springbok of all time, Victor Matfield (114 caps) and Bryan Habana, who reached this special milestone last weekend against Australia in Perth.

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Steven Luatua

Steven Luatua was the first choice for No 6 against South Africa, once Liam Messam was out of the picture.

Steven Luatua will start his first test of the year on Saturday against the Springboks in Wellington and the origins of his promotion can be found in not only Liam Messam’s injury, but also a searingly painful personal training session in Christchurch in June.

That was after Luatua had been told by the All Blacks’ coaches that he wasn’t fit enough, wasn’t offering enough for the Blues in the Super Rugby competition, and wouldn’t hold his place in the match-day 23 for the upcoming tests against England.

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Israel Dagg

Israel Dagg makes a break against the Springboks at Forsyth Barr Stadium last season.

The All Blacks will face the Springboks for the 88th time in history and the first time this year in Wellington on Saturday. Here are six of the more notable clashes between the two fierce rivals since the year 2000.

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Gavin Rich

Gavin Rich

Heyneke Meyer, as every Springbok coach has before him, will have his year’s work measured by how his side goes against the All Blacks.

That is just the way it is in South Africa and Meyer would have known that before he accepted the job. But if anyone thinks it’s a fair contest, and that he is pitting himself against his All Black adversary Steve Hansen on equal terms, they need to think again.

The expectations of South Africans do not match the rugby realities of the two countries. New Zealand’s centralised system, with Super Rugby coaches and players contracted to the NZRFU and everything geared towards making the All Blacks excellent, gives Hansen a leg up that Meyer doesn’t have.

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Brendan Venter

Brendan Venter

Having suffered defeat to the Wallabies this past Saturday, even the most die-hard Springbok supporters must be wondering if their team can win in New Zealand for the first time in five years.

Since taking the reins in 2012, Steve Hansen has forged a well-organised unit that plays with pride and purpose.

However, what makes the All Blacks most difficult to beat is their ball-in-hand threat.

To offer an example, in the final play of the first stanza against Argentina in Napier, the home side won a tighthead. Subsequently Beauden Barrett took the ball to the line, used his quick feet and evasiveness to pierce the defence and fed the lightening-quick Liam Messam, who scored the try.

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ArgentinaArgentina have dumped both their starting wingers as they aim for a maiden Rugby Championship victory on Saturday night against the Wallabies on the Gold Coast.

The Pumas have made three changes to the run-on side which fell 28-9 to the All Blacks last weekend, with suspended lock Tomas Lavanini replaced by the youthful Matias Alemanno in the only alteration to their powerful forward pack.

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