World Cup

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Paul O'Connell

Paul O’Connell

Ireland captain Paul O’Connell insists that past, bitter experiences mean that their first double over South Africa and Australia since 2006 does not necessarily guarantee a successful World Cup.

The 35-year-old lock, named man of the match after the thrilling 26-23 victory over the Wallabies, was part of the 2007 team that lost the Six Nations title on points difference, and then experienced a nightmare World Cup campaign, having been considered dark horses for the title.

“We’ve been here before and it didn’t serve us well,” said O’Connell.

“All we are trying to do is improve game by game. We will go into the Six Nations and try to improve on what we have done in November.

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Steve Hansen

Steve Hansen

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has clearly marked his team’s challenge, after again dominating world rugby in 2014 – winning an unprecedented back-to-back World Cup in 2015.

After crashing out in a shock defeat by France in the 2007 quarterfinals, the All Blacks stormed to World Cup glory on home soil in 2011.

Since then, they have been in awesome form, losing only one match this season, to the Springboks by two points, after having already wrapped up a third successive Rugby Championship.

And Hansen, speaking after his team produced a second half five-try fest to see off Wales 34-16 on Saturday, was in no doubt about what lay ahead for him and his charges.

“No one’s won back-to-back World Cups so we shouldn’t even be the favourites, but we will be because we’re the number one side in the world,” said Hansen.

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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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Jake White

Jake White

Tonga have added former Springboks coach Jake White to their backroom staff for the year-end tour to Asia and Europe.

White will serve as a technical advisor to head coach Mana Otai when Tonga plays Georgia, the United States and Scotland next month it was reported by TVNZ.

“Through some mutual acquaintances we got in touch with Jake and he was extremely keen to come on board,” Tonga high performance manager Peter Harding told ONE News.

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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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Matthew Burke

Matthew Burke

If there was a World Cup without the All Blacks, we would have a great chance of lifting the William Webb Ellis trophy. Unfortunately that isn’t going to happen.

I say this because perhaps we may have been a little harsh in our criticism of the Wallabies in relation to our neighbours across the ditch.

The Wallabies are in a predicament, along with South Africa and Argentina. The three of us contest a competition against a side who right now are clearly the best rugby-playing nation.

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Chris Robshaw

Chris Robshaw

It is 8 November.

England are about to tackle the All Blacks at Twickenham.

For captain Chris Robshaw, matchday starts with a lie-in; he has his own room due to his thunderous snoring. Then comes breakfast, a massage and some physio if required before the forwards go through a couple of plays while the backs play a passing game.

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Regrets: Former England manager Martin Johnson.

England legend Martin Johnson has finally broken his silence on the team’s World Cup embarrassments off the field in New Zealand, saying he lamented the way “rugby got dragged through the mud”.

Under Johnson’s command as coach, England’s 2011 campaign lurched from one disaster to another including: drunken players involved in a dwarf-throwing competition in a Queenstown bar, Mike Tindall being photographed with an ex-girlfriend, inappropriate comments being made to a female hotel worker, and Manu Tuilagi jumping off a ferry into Auckland’s harbour.

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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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Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith

Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith

Conrad Smith has spoken highly of his midfield partnership with Ma’a Nonu after the pair equalled the world record for caps as a midfield combination in New Zealand’s 14-10 win over South Africa earlier this month.

Sadly, the broken arm suffered by Nonu during the first half in Wellington means they will have a long wait before getting the opportunity to improve on the 55-Test landmark shared with Irish centres, Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy.

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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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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer was left visibly frustrated and annoyed his side had failed to end the All Blacks’ five-year winning streak in New Zealand.

Deep down, however, he knew the mistakes that had been made could be rectified and the youngsters in his team would only be better for their tight 14-10 defeat to the world champions in Wellington on Saturday.

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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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Israel Folau

Wanted man… Israel Folau playing against the All Blacks.

The risk of losing star Wallabies like Israel Folau after the 2015 World Cup has prompted the Australian Rugby Union to change its rules to allow overseas sabbaticals.

The Australian Rugby Union will dangle a sizeable carrot to lure the country’s top players to sevens in the lead up to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.

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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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