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All Blacks named for Lipovitan-D Challenge Cup Test against Japan



All Blacks selectors Ian Foster, Joe Schmidt and Jason Ryan have announced the team for the Lipovitan-D Challenge Cup Test against Japan in Tokyo.

Two players will make their first appearance in the run-on side while another five are set to return from injury, on what will be an historic occasion for both teams. 

The All Blacks make their debut at Japan National Stadium which recently hosted the Olympic Games. With a sell-out crowd of 65,000, it will be Japan’s largest ever crowd in an international rugby match played outside the 2019 World Cup. 

Adding to the occasion is a special milestone for two players. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Stephen Perofeta have been included in the run-on side for the first time, playing at second-five eighths and fullback respectively. Tuivasa-Sheck has been named in the midfield alongside Braydon Ennor.

Halfback Finlay Christie has been named to play his second Test in the number nine jersey, while Aaron Smith provides cover. If required to take the field, Smith will equal Dan Carter as the sixth-most capped All Black with 112 Tests.

The side also features the return of Anton Lienert-Brown. The 56-Test midfielder missed the start of the international season due to a shoulder injury and, after being named as midfield cover, is in line to earn his first cap since November.

Six players have been retained from the team’s win over Australia in Auckland, which clinched the Rugby Championship. Finding a balance of continuity, while building experience across the squad, has been part of this week’s focus for head coach Ian Foster.

“This Northern Tour is going to be huge,” said Foster. “We see four incredibly tough Tests ahead and this one against Japan will ask some serious questions of us.

“We want to show that we are ready to respond. We want to show that we have put in the work required to lift our game even further after the Rugby Championship.

“We have a lot of respect for Japanese rugby, the fans and the culture of this country as a whole. What an exciting way to kick off the next part of our journey as a group.”

Match day 23 (Test caps in brackets):

1. George Bower (19)

2. Dane Coles (84)

3. Nepo Laulala (42)

4. Brodie Retallick (98)

5. Tupou Vaa’i (15)

6. Shannon Frizell (21) 

7. Sam Cane (85) (captain) 

8. Hoskins Sotutu (12)

9. Finlay Christie (12)

10. Richie Mo’unga (41)

11. Caleb Clarke (11)

12. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (2)

13. Braydon Ennor (5)

14. Sevu Reece (21)

15. Stephen Perofeta (1)

16. Samisoni Taukei’aho (17)

17.  Ofa Tu’ungafasi (48)

18. Tyrel Lomax (20)

19. Patrick Tuipulotu (42)

20. Dalton Papali’i (18)

21. Aaron Smith (111)

22. David Havili (21)

23. Anton Lienert-Brown (56)

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby


Spencer looking to bring innovation to Sky Super Rugby Aupiki



Former All Blacks and Blues first five-eighths Carlos Spencer hopes to pass on the sort of rugby that marked his career as a backs coach for the Blues women’s side in Sky Super Rugby Aupiki in 2023.

The 99-time Blues’ pivot played 44 Tests for the All Blacks and 89 games for Auckland during his career spanning the turn of the century. He also played for Northampton and Gloucester in the English Premiership.

Since building his coaching record after completing his rugby-playing career in South Africa in Gauteng, he has coached in the Republic, the United States and the Hurricanes in Wellington.

Now he has taken the chance to join head coach Willie Walker and fellow assistant coach Linda Itunu with the Blues.

Spencer, 47, said: “When I was playing, I always liked to bring a bit of innovation and ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking to the table. Now, as a coach, I want to encourage and help grow those same traits in our Blues wahine.”

Like most of New Zealand, he was caught up in the Black Ferns’ World Cup success, and he anticipates there will be a follow-on effect in Sky Super Rugby Aupiki.

“You’ve seen the rise of women’s rugby and the way the public got right in behind the Black Ferns.

“We’re at an exciting juncture for the sport, and I’m looking forward to getting involved and doing what I can to help grow and support women’s rugby.”

“I’ve known Willie [Walker] for a while. We’ve thrown the touch ball around and have a good relationship. He’s done some fantastic work with the Auckland Storm in the Farah Palmer Cup, and I’m looking forward to exchanging ideas and getting the backline humming.

“I don’t know Linda, but have seen her exploits on the field for many years with the Black Ferns – she was an enforcer on the field,”

Blues chief executive Andrew Hore said having Spencer on board with the Blues organisation was special, and was an example of harnessing the resources available within the franchise’s region.

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby

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Constructive talks between World Rugby, Erasmus



South Africa Rugby - Image Credit Asics

World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin and World Rugby Director of Rugby Phil Davies met with South Africa Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus on Thursday and held positive discussions regarding recent events and match official communications in general.

Views were exchanged resulting in a better understanding of the respective positions.

There was agreement that further dialogue was needed in terms of enhancing the process that operates between teams and match officials to ensure all can play their part in creating great spectacles and avoid frustration but in a way that underpins the respect for match officials, coaches and players.

Further dialogue will continue after today’s final Springbok test of the year.

Content & Images from – South Africa Rugby

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Nienaber, Kolisi praise Boks for special win



South Africa Rugby - Image Credit Asics

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber and captain Siya Kolisi praised the team for their brave effort to earn their first win over England at Twickenham since 2014, and their first personal victories in London as they registered a rewarding 27-13 victory on Saturday.

The Boks built up an encouraging 14-3 halftime lead and managed to stretch it to 27-6 in the 57th minute before being reduced to 14 men for the last 20 minutes after replacement prop Thomas du Toit received a red card for a dangerous tackle. Despite this, the team hung on as if their lives depended on it to snatch the memorable victory.

The result saw the Boks win two of their four matches on the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour – with the two narrow defeats being against the first and second ranked teams in the world in Ireland and France.

“We’ve had a couple of special results as a team, but this was the first win for Siya and I at Twickenham, so it’s very special to us,” said Nienaber.

“The forwards were outstanding and created a good platform for our backs to attack, so all-in-all, it was a fantastic team effort.”

Kolisi echoed lauded the entire team for their efforts to make the victory possible.

“Sometimes we take it for granted what a special environment one is in and the great coaching team we have,” said Kolisi.

“When we got together with most of this coaching team in 2018, we all bought into the plans and the synergy and the way we work together is really special in this group.”

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi thanks the crowd after the Boks won at Twickenham.

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi thanks the crowd after the Boks won at Twickenham.

Nienaber was delighted with the way some of the young players rose to the occasion and said: “With this match being outside of the international Test window there were a whole lot of players who were not available for selection, but we have a lot of players knocking on the door and it was great to give those guys an opportunity tonight.

“It’s always good to give those players a chance under such pressure in front of a packed Twickenham, which can be pretty hostile, and they stood up today.”

Asked what he had told his players when they were reduced to 14 men, Kolisi said: “We actually said last week there is nothing we haven’t faced together as a group year. We’ve even been in situation when we had a red card, so the players knew what to do.

“Everyone knew they had to work harder to make up for the extra man, and the way the forwards played was great, and everyone did their bit to get the result.”

Wrapping up the tour, Nienaber said: “This was one of the most enjoyable four weeks we’ve had had even though we only got a 50% win record. The way the team, coaches, management and the game drivers made plans and worked tightly together with it was great, and we can take a lot from this going forward.”

The team will make their journey back to South Africa on Sunday and arrive on their home soil on Monday.

Content & Images from – South Africa Rugby

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