Saturday, July 18, 2015
The All Blacks touring squad to face South Africa next weekend has been selected following their convincing 39-18 victory over Argentina in the opening Rugby Championship 2015 match. It was New Zealand's 37th straight victory on home soil.
Argentina didn't let the game get away from them entirely after the home side looked control in the second half. Hooker, and skipper, Agustin Creevy scored two tries from lineout drives, but it wasn't enough to stop the composed organisation of the All Blacks.
On the occasion of the last ever home match for Dan Carter and Richie McCaw, the world champs scored five tries, with captain fantastic himself scoring the first.
There were positive signs as debutant Waisake Naholo had a strong showing, but then limped off injured. It's since been confirmed that he will be out contention for the World Cup.
"We are all a bit shocked about it because he was weight-bearing on it and pretty good," coach Steve Hansen said of the Highlanders flyer. "But he got back here last night and got really sore, so the doctor thought he better have it scanned. And in the scan there is a very fine crack in it [the bone].
"It just means three months out. There is no displacement which is good. If we get him right and we do need an outside back replacement, he will be fit and ready to go in the middle of October."
As a result, he was not chosen in the travelling squad heading to South Africa.
The travelling squad is as follows:
Hookers: Dane Coles, Keven Mealamu and Codie Taylor
Props: Wyatt Crockett, Ben Franks, Owen Franks, Nepo Laulala and Tony Woodcock
Locks: James Broadhurst, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano and Samuel Whitelock
Loose forwards: Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw, Liam Messam, Kieran Read and Victor Vito
Halfbacks: Andy Ellis, TJ Perenara and Aaron Smith
First five–eighths: Beauden Barrett, Colin Slade and Lima Sopoaga
Midfielders: Ryan Crotty, Malakai Fekitoa, Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith
Outside backs: Israel Dagg, Charles Piutau, Julian Savea and Ben Smith
Friday, July 17, 2015
Australia host South Africa on Saturday as Matt Giteau returns for the Wallabies after a four-year absence. Will Genia, Quade Cooper and Tevita Kuridrani also return to the starting lineup. Here's a look at some facts between the two sides and an interview with Giteau himself.
Giteau will earn his 93rd Test cap at the Suncorp stadium while Genia and Cooper start together for the first time since 2013.
Australia will have it tough though as they have lost four out of the last five meetings against South Africa, with the Springboks winning by 18 points or more in all those four victories. They have won just one game in their last seven, against Wales in November.
Injuries have meant that South Africa have had to have a reshuffle. Schalk Burger starts at 8 in place of Duane Vermuelen, while Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel, making his Test debut, start at 12 and 13 respectively.
Handre Pollard, the African's top scorer in last year's Championship with 43, gets the nod at flyhalf, while top tackler Marcell Coetzee starts at openside and Willie le Roux, who made the most metres for his country with 455, starts at fullback despite a hit-and-miss season.
Kick off: Saturday 18 July, 20:05 local, 10:05 GMT, 11:05 BST.
15. Israel Folau, 14. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Matt Giteau, 11. Rob Horne, 10. Quade Cooper, 9. Will Genia, 8. Scott Higginbotham, 7. Michael Hooper, 6. Scott Fardy, 5. Rob Simmons, 4. Will Skelton, 3. Sekope Kepu, 2. Stephen Moore (c), 1. James Slipper.
Replacements: 16. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17. Scott Sio, 18. Greg Holmes, 19. James Horwill, 20. David Pocock, 21. Nick Phipps, 22. Matt Toomua, 23. Drew Mitchell.
South Africa team:
15. Willie le Roux, 14. JP Pietersen, 13. Jesse Kriel, 12. Damian de Allende, 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Handre Pollard, 9. Ruan Pienaar vc, 8. Schalk Burger , 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Francois Louw, 5. Victor Matfield (c), 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck. du Plessis , 1. Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17. Heinke van der Merwe, 18. Frans Malherbe, 19. Lood de Jager, 20. Oupa Mohoje, 21. Cobus Reinach , 22. Pat Lambie, 23. Lwazi Mvovo.
Thursday, July 16, 2015
New Zealand host Argentina tomorrow in the Rugby Championship opener, fielding the first starting Test team to ever have over 900 caps. They have played Argentina 20 times, and won 19, drawing once. Here's a look at a few more stats, and the coach's preparation.
Argentina will face an uphill challenge when they start their campaign against the All Blacks in Christchurch, especially if stats and records are anything to go by. The World Champions have scored at least two tries in each of their games against Argentina, averaging 5.3 per match.
Los Pumas have scored just one try in the last three meetings between the two sides, losing by 15+ points in each of the last seven clashes. Furthermore, Steve Hansen's men have lost just one match in their last 29 Test matches.
Argentina did win their last Rugby Championship match, but have never won away from home, and will face a side that will start with four players with 100+ caps (Woodcock, Mealamu, McCaw, Carter), and will be the first team to start with five players capped 90+ times.
The hosts will become the most capped starting fifteen in history, with 920 caps, despite fielding a debutant in Waisake Naholo. The previous record was set by the same group when they beat Samoa, and the starting XV had 868 caps.
While Argentina did have the best ruck success in last year's tournament (95%), New Zealand scored the most tries (18) and conceded the fewest (7), while having the best tackling success at 88%, to Argentina's 83%, the lowest.
Kick off: Friday 17 July, 19:35 local, 07:35 GMT, 08:35 BST
New Zealand team:
15 Israel Dagg 14 Waisake Naholo 13 Ma'a Nonu 12 Sonny Bill Williams 11 Charles Piutau 10 Daniel Carter 9 TJ Perenara 8 Kieran Read 7 Richie McCaw (captain) 6 Jerome Kaino 5 Brodie Retallick 4 Luke Romano 3 Owen Franks 2 Keven Mealamu 1 Tony Woodcock Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor 17 Wyatt Crockett 18 Nepo Laulala 19 Jeremy Thrush 20 Liam Messam 21 Andy Ellis 22 Colin Slade 23 Ryan Crotty
15 Joaquin Tuculet 14 Horacio Agulla 13 Marcelo Bosch 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente 11 Santiago Cordero 10 Nicolas Sanchez 9 Tomas Cubelli 1 Marcos Ayerza 2 Agustin Creevy 3 Ramiro Herrera 4 Manuel Carizza 5 Guido Petti Pagadizaval 6 Juan Manuel Leguizamon 7 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe 8 Facundo Isa Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya 17 Lucas Noguera Paz 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro 19 Benjamin Macome 20 Javier Ortega Desio 21 Martin Landajo 22 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias 23 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino
Nehe Milner-Skudder has had such an impressive debut season for the Hurricanes that he has been called into New Zealand's Rugby Championship squad, and although not in Friday's team to face Argentina, the experience can only help him.
Milner-Skudder, 24, first came to the fore when playing for rugby league side Canterbury Bulldogs under-20s before featuring for New Zealand in touch rugby. He then moved back to local club Manawatu and tore teams apart in the ITM Cup.
Hurricanes saw his potential and included him in their 2014 Super Rugby wider training squad before he became an official squad member in 2015. He hasn't looked back since.
"I don't know how to explain it, it hasn't quite sunk in, but I'm buzzing at the moment," Milner-Skudder said of his recent All Blacks squad call up.
"I was coming back from Palmy and with a bit of flooding going on we sort of took our time. I just walked in the door, turned the telly and heard my name. I was taken aback, it's a bit of a shock," added the player that has had everyone talking this season.
View the hot-stepping, fleet of foot, wing/fullback's debut Super Rugby highlights below.
We've posted another Milner-Skudder tribute, also very good to watch, on page two
Wednesday, July 15, 2015
In the lead up to this year's World Cup, World Rugby are looking back at previous tournaments, and speaking to those figures that had a large influence on the game. On this occasion it's referee Ed Morrison, who analyses his own performence in the 1995 Final.
Morrison says of the huge occasion in '95 that he had to lock himself away from all the fanfare that went on in Johannesburg, and indeed around South Africa, in the lead up to the final.
"I never thought South Africa could win it because the All Blacks were so good at that stage," he said of the side that coasted to the final, with Jonah Lomu wreaking havoc along the way.
He also admits, twenty years after the final, that the late Ruben Kruger probably did actually score the try that he disallowed. "Nobody said anything, because they won!"
All points were therefore scored with the boot, as the Springboks won it 15-12 in extra time, thanks to a Joel Stransky drop goal after a back and forth kicking duel with Andrew Mehrtens.
It's an interesting interview, giving us great insight into the emotions and thoughts that a key figure on that historic day went through.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
A few months back we wrote about how Matt Giteau could yet prove to be a key ingredient in the Wallabies' World Cup campaign. Back then he wasn't eligible for selection, but a turnaround has meant that he is now in camp, four years since last wearing gold and green.
The Australian Rugby Union relaxed their eligibility rulings to the point that Giteau, and Toulon teammate Drew Mitchell, are now able to play for their country despite plying their trade in the south of France. It's a ruling that while logical, just didn't seem on the cards.
Now, aged 32 and having won countless trophies with Toulon while playing with true greats of the game from all corners of the planet, Giteau finds himself back in the media spotlight.
While he's completely humble and plays down the enormity of the change in policy, his presence, and probable Test selection, could prove a masterstroke for a prolifically talented group of Wallaby players who at times perhaps just need some direction and guidance.
Giteau says that his favoured position would be inside centre, but he's just happy to contribute, while proving himself. "Every training session I am out there trying to prove myself and earn the respect of the players and the coaching staff," he told Australia's Daily Telegraph.
"A World Cup is a huge honour and a huge occasion. It is not something I want to take lightly, or disrespect the jersey by playing if I am not up to it.
"I have got to play in some big finals and we have won some comps. In those tight situations, those big games, you learn more and you become more relaxed. The more relaxed you are the better you are going to play, the more natural your game will be."
The below chat with Rugby HQ offers excellent insight into how Giteau sees Top 14 vs Super Rugby, how physical Wallaby training is, and how his brother in law would never cut it in Union.
The Wallabies host South Africa this coming Saturday at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. New Zealand host Argentina on Friday. View all this year's Rugby Championship Fixtures
Monday, July 13, 2015
So this happened in the NRL at the weekend. Yes, it's not Union, but it is unbelievable, so we had to share it. Not only was the flip out of this world, but there was a great flick pass and some slick hands after that too, before stunned Melbourne Storm leaked a try in the process.
Nathan Friend of the NZ Warriors got up high, took the catch then while realising he was going to flip and likely land on his head, he managed to get the pass away mid-air, through his legs. A few very neat passes later and Tuimoala Lolohea went over in the corner for a the try. Brilliant.