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David Pocock

David Pocock

David Pocock’s principled stand against homophobia on the field will cost him any chance of captaining Australia again, says former Wallaby Greg Martin.

Pocock’s on-field complaints to the referee led to Waratahs forward Jacques Potgieter being fined AU$ 20 000.00 for using homophobic slurs during his side’s win over the Brumbies on Sunday.

Respected rugby commentator Martin says Pocock did the right thing in speaking out but his action will split opinion in the game.

“He’ll pay for it. It will mean that he will never captain the Wallabies again,” Martin told Brisbane’s Triple M radio on Tuesday.

“What he’s done, he hasn’t fractured the game down a Waratahs-Brumbies line… It won’t be fractured down like that, but it will be fractured upon clear-thinking, modern-thinking footballers who will support David Pocock and the more old school, hard heads who will say that was a disgrace he shouldn’t have done that.

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Tevita Kuridrani

Tevita Kuridrani

Wallabies and Brumbies centre Tevita Kuridrani has signed a 2-year contract extension with Australian Rugby that will take him through until the end of the 2017 season.

Kuridrani joins Wallabies Nick Phipps, Sean McMahon, Rob Horne, Sam Carter and Scott Fardy who have committed to the Australian Rugby Union in recent months.

The 23-year-old has quickly established himself as one of the Wallabies rising stars since his maiden Test campaign in 2013, where he has since worn the gold jersey 20 times scoring 4 tries.

Kuridrani is highly respected amongst his peers, having polled strongly with 202 votes in the John Eales medal in his last international season.

However, the Fijian-born flyer still feels the need to improve as a player.

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WalesWales ended Ireland’s hopes of a Six Nations Grand Slam and in the process climb above Australia to 5th in the World Rugby Rankings.

Wales have climbed 1 place to 5th in the latest World Rugby Rankings after their 23 / 16 victory over Ireland, setting up a thrilling climax to the RBS 6 Nations with 3 sides tied on 6 Log points.

The Welsh victory, in a match which saw Sam Warburton surpass Ryan Jones’s record for the most tests as captain, leaves them, Ireland and England battling for the title this coming Saturday.

Wales’ climb comes at the expense of Australia, who have now fallen to their lowest ever position since the World Rugby Rankings were introduced in October 2003.

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Michael Cheika

Michael Cheika

Michael Cheika has insisted that he will be able to juggle his jobs as Wallabies and Waratahs coach throughout the 2015 Super Rugby season.

The Waratahs went unbeaten at home last year on their way to winning their first Super Rugby title which led to Cheika being appointed as Wallabies coach after Ewen McKenzie stepped down.

Cheika will step down as Waratahs coach at the end of the 2015 Super Rugby season but as they lost their first match since he took on the dual role questions would inevitably follow about whether he would be able to concentrate fully on both roles.

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World RugbyA strong second half saw Rugby World Cup 2015 hosts England storm back to beat Wales 21 / 16 in their Six Nations opener in Cardiff, a result which lifted them above Ireland back to 3rd in the latest World Rugby rankings.

According to the World Rugby (previously IRB), the victory sees England regain the mantle as the leading northern hemisphere nation in the rankings behind New Zealand and South Africa and they now sit 0.35 points above Ireland after their 26 / 3 victory over Italy in Rome had no impact due to the 11 places separating the teams.

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David Pocock

David Pocock

Former Wallabies skipper David Pocock escaped conviction on Wednesday over a protest against an Australian coal mine in which he locked himself to a digger.

Pocock was arrested in late November after he attached himself to the machine for 10 hours to protest against the Maules Creek coal mine in a New South Wales state forest.

The 26-year-old flank pleaded guilty at Gunnedah Local Court to hindering a workman in use of property but the charge was dismissed without conviction.

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Sekope Kepu

Sekope Kepu

Both Sekope Kepu (Waratahs) and Nic White (Brumbies), have added their names to the long list of Australian Players who will pack up and go play rugby in France after the Rugby World Cup of 2015.

 

Sekope Kepu:

Australian international prop Sekope Kepu has become the latest addition to the conveyor belt moving players from the Southern Hemisphere to France.

Kepu signed a three-year deal with ambitious Top 14 club Bordeaux-Begles.

The 28-year-old Wallaby – who will join after this year’s World Cup – is the second player from the Waratahs to join the club coached by former France captain Raphael Ibanez.

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Kurtley Beale

Kurtley Beale

Kurtley Beale, one of the most controversial figures in Australia, ended months of speculation about his future by signing a one-year extension to his Wallaby and Waratah contracts.

The 26-year-old Beale, who has played 49 tests, was fined AU$40,000 for sending a offensive text message team business manager Di Patston in June, and escaped having his contract terminated because there wasn’t enough evidence he sent a second, more lewd message.

The text message scandal blew up on a flight from South Africa to Argentina during the Rugby Championship when Beale and Patston argued of the player’s inappropriate dress code.

Beale was suspended, and Patston returned to Australia and quit.

The fallout included coach Ewen McKenzie, who quit in October just days before the Wallabies left for a five-match European tour which Beale later joined.

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James O'Connor

James O’Connor

Former Wallabies backline star James O’Connor is returning to Australian rugby after year-long exile in Europe, saying he has matured and is ready to resume his 44-Test career.

O’Connor was released from his Australian Rugby Union contract after a series of off-field incidents and forced to continue his career in Europe when shunned by local Super Rugby teams.

Now 24, O’Connor says he has grown up and is determined to leave behind his bad boy image.

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Scott Higginbotham

Scott Higginbotham

Scott Higginbotham has become the latest to join a growing list of Wallabies that will head for the exit door after the World Cup this year.

The veteran back row forward, Higginbotham, confirmed on Monday that he will leave Australia after the World Cup, where he is in contention to represent Australia.

Higginbotham will take up a contract in Japan.

His departure follows on the news that James Horwill and Adam Ashley-Cooper will continue their careers in Europe beyond the 2015 World Cup.

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Nick PhippsScrumhalf Nick Phipps has signed a two-year contract extension with the Australian Rugby Union (ARU), which will keep him with the Wallabies and Waratahs until the end of 2017.

Phipps started all 14 of Australia’s Tests in the past year, taking his tally of Test caps to 28 – since his debut in 2011.

Wallaby coach Michael Cheika welcomed Phipps’ decision to sign, saying the 25-year-old is “someone who is prepared to do whatever it takes to make things happen and I am sure we will see that from him over the next three seasons”.

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Michael Hooper

Michael Hooper

Wallaby captain Michael Hooper has allegedly been involved in an incident with a friend whist at the New South Wales coastal Town of Byron Bay, where the police were called out, and Hooper’s friend charged.

The latest incident is just another in a long list involving Wallaby players that is perhaps indicative of the deep rooted problems facing the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) in terms of player discipline off the field.

The ARU seem either uncapable, or unwilling to take the matters to heart and sort the issue (with their top players) out. A fact which must surely have an influence on Rugby Union’s endeavours to have the sport taken more seriously in a country where the sport lags far behing Aussie Rules, and Rugby League in terms of spectator support, and is battling to keep up with or ahead of Association Football (soccer) for bums on seats on a weekly basis.

Australia’s Nine Network

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Michael Cheika - Wallabies coach

Michael Cheika – Wallabies coach

The penny has finally dropped. The Wallabies know they need to resolve their scrum shortcomings or they will fall short at the World Cup next year.

According to media reports in both Australia and New Zealand Wallaby coach Michael Cheika appears to be close to securing a ‘scrum guru’ to solve his team’s set-piece woes before next year’s World Cup.

After watching the Australian pack get pushed around by Wales and England on the end-of-year tour, Cheika flagged an overhaul of the Wallabies’ scrum.

Sources close to Cheika said he is poised to add a big-name “been there, done that” scrum technician to his coaching unit.

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Liam Messam - the boxer

Liam Messam – the boxer

Fiery All Black loose forward Liam Messam will return to the growing ranks of Rugby Union players dabbling in boxing as a pre-season pastime.

Messam, known for his abrasive approach to the game, will be on the undercard when superstars Sonny Bill Williams and Quade Cooper headline the action at the inaugural Footy Show Fight Night in Sydney next month.

Rugby League star Paul Gallen and rising Australian boxer Willis Meehan will also feature in the 31 January event.

Messam’s last entry into the square ring was a points defeat to Gallen in December last year, after he had also beaten Wendell Sailor in 2011.

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Michael Cheika

Michael Cheika

Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika is unfazed about a possible mass exodus of players after next year’s World Cup, following the departures of veterans James Horwill and Adam Ashley-Cooper.

Lock James Horwill, captain at the 2011 World Cup, agreed to a three-year contract with English club Harlequins as he prepares for his first spell in English rugby.

On the same day, French Top 14 side Bordeaux announced they had agreed a two-year deal with wing Ashley-Cooper.

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James Horwill

James Horwill

Queensland Rugby has announced James Horwill has signed a three-year contract with English Premiership giant Harlequins.

Horwill will make the move to the famous London club following the 2015 Rugby World Cup, which concludes in October next year.

He is currently the most-capped Queensland captain, having led the Reds on 69 occasions.

A modern-day champion of the Reds who led Queensland to the 2011 Super Rugby title, Horwill will make the 2015 Super Rugby season his 10th and his last and is determined to achieve success when he pulls on the Reds jersey for the final time next year.

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Adam Ashley-Cooper

Adam Ashley-Cooper

French Top-14 side Bordeaux-Begles have announced on Wednesday that they had agreed a two-year contract with Australian international Adam Ashley-Cooper to join them after next year’s Rugby World Cup.

“Apart from being the great player he is, Adam Ashley-Cooper particularly impressed us with his extraordinary competitive spirit and his willingness to embrace our ambitious plans,” Bordeaux club president Laurent Marti said.

The 30-year-old Wallabies centre or wing has won 104 caps for Australia and is expected to play a leading role in their World Cup campaign in England next October.

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AustraliaWhile some might be quick to suggest Australia needs to put 2014 aside and focus on the upcoming season, no Test nation has as many potential improvements and as a consequence the prospective growth potential for the Wallabies excites.

Michael Cheika took over midyear but any who thought his success with the Waratahs would quickly translate to the national setup were sadly mistaken as the significant gap between Super Rugby and the Test arena was proved again.

There is plenty to like even if the old issue of the scrum reared its head, especially out wide, where man for man there is nothing to suggest that the Wallabies backline couldn’t become the world’s glamour division in time for the Webb Ellis trophy.

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Quade Cooper

Quade Cooper

Wallabies and Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper has committed to Australian Rugby for another year in a deal that will take him through until the end of 2015.

The 26-year-old flyhalf returned to national duty in the recent Spring Tour after overcoming an injury that curtailed his Super Rugby season and will be keen to add to his 53 Test caps next year.

“I really enjoyed the Spring Tour, even though some of the results weren’t what we wanted,” he said.

“We’re working hard to improve and I’m confident we’ve got a great group of players going into 2015.

“I love being at the Reds and playing rugby for Australia, and am looking forward to the opportunities next year.”

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End Of Year ToursOnce again the four Rugby Championship teams have been and gone but this time they did not have it all their own way on their annual visit to the British Isles as it ended five wins apiece from the 10 Tests.

Ireland beat both South Africa and Australia, Wales downed the former and England the latter, and Scotland defeated Argentina.

Admittedly, the Pumas are not part of rugby union’s traditional southern hemisphere big three, and the incomparable All Blacks sailed through their Tests unbeaten, but even discounting the Scottish win over Argentina the matches against the three giants from the south only ended 5-4 to the visitors.

Former England and Lions great Jeremy Guscott has been out and about  during November and here he selects a XV for both the home nations and the Rugby Championship sides.

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David Pocock

David Pocock

The Australian Rugby Union has issued a formal written warning to David Pocock following his arrest on Sunday.

In a statement published on Monday afternoon, the ARU said, “While we appreciate David has personal views on a range of matters, we’ve made it clear that we expect his priority to be ensuring he can fulfil his role as a high-performance athlete.

“The matter is now subject to legal proceedings and we will now let the legal process take its course.”

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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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AustraliaEnglandA try in both halves from Ben Morgan helped England claim a well-deserved 26-17 victory over Australia at Twickenham.

England displayed excellent composure in defence and made the most of their possession by running in two tries to claim a massive psychological advantage with the World Cup a few months away.

The Wallabies outscored the hosts 14-13 in the second half but failed to overturn a 10-point half-time deficit.

Scrum dominance, allied to fine work at the breakdown led by England captain Chris Robshaw, were the cornerstones of England’s victory.

The win saw England end the November programme with a 50 percent success rate after defeats by both world champions New Zealand (24-21) and South Africa (31-28) were followed by last week’s 28-9 win over Samoa.

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WalesSouth AfricaWales (3) 12 / 6 (3) Springboks (Final Score)

Wales and the South African Springboks did battle in the End Of Year Tours at

Millennium stadium, Cardiff, Wales at 16:30 SA Time (14:30 BST & 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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Take Note that the England vs Australia game was at the same time slot as the Wales vs South Africa game, therefore we concentrated on the Wales vs South Africa game, with SCORE UPDATES at the Bottom of the Article on the England vs Australia game.

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Chris Robshaw

Michael Hooper

Michael Hooper

England captain Chris Robshaw is an “absolute pest” according to Australia counterpart and fellow openside flank Michael Hooper.

The two loose forwards will be involved in a contest to boss the breakdown when England face Australia at Twickenham on Saturday, less than a year out from the teams’ 2015 World Cup pool clash at the London ground.

Yet even though Robshaw has established himself as England coach Stuart Lancaster’s undoubted first-choice captain, there are those who continue to question whether his leadership skills offset the fact he is not a turnover specialist in the mould of New Zealand skipper Richie McCaw.

Lancaster has faced repeated demands to abandon England’s policy of selecting overseas-based players in “exceptional circumstances” only and revive the Test career of impressive flank Steffon Armitage, the reigning European player of the year, who has been starring for French and European champions Toulon.

But Hooper, one of the best scavenging openside flanks in the modern game, said Robshaw’s qualities as a flank should not be discounted.

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Sean McMahon

Sean McMahon

Sean McMahon returns to the Australian starting lineup in one of three changes ahead of their final year-end Test, against England at Twickenham on Saturday.

With Tevita Kuridrani unavailable due to a low-grade ankle injury, Test veteran Adam Ashley-Cooper has been selected at outside centre, which allows Rob Horne to earn a starting position on the wing.

The starting line-up is otherwise unchanged with McMahon part of a back row including captain Michael Hooper and Ben McCalman, locks Sam Carter and Rob Simmons, and a front row of James Slipper, Saia Fainga’a and Sekope Kepu.

In the backs Nick Phipps and Bernard Foley continue their play-making partnership,Matt Toomua joins Adam Ashley-Cooper in the centres, with a back three consisting of Israel Folau, Rob Horne and Henry Speight.

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Billy Twelvetrees

Billy Twelvetrees

Billy Twelvetrees has been handed his first start of the 2014 Internationals against Australia at Twickenham on Saturday with Owen Farrell reverting to the bench.

The Gloucester Rugby centre, who started every game in last season’s Six Nations campaign, takes the No 12 jersey and shifts Saracen Owen Farrell to the replacements’ bench as George Ford is retained at flyhalf.

Up front, Northampton Saints pair Tom Wood and Dylan Hartley take over from James Haskell (Wasps) and Rob Webber (Bath Rugby) at blindside flank and hooker respectively.

Despite those changes to the run-on side, the same match-day 23 who beat Samoa 28-9 last weekend will be on duty as England look to secure a 10th victory in 13 Twickenham Tests.

Reviewing his selection, Head Coach Stuart Lancaster praised Twelvetrees for his committed self-development over the current campaign.

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