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Rugby Championship

Big names bolster All Blacks for northern tour

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Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

All Blacks captain Ardie Savea will continue to lead the side as they prepare for their northern hemisphere tour on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

Coach Ian Foster said with Sam Cane, Sam Whitelock, Dane Coles and Shannon Frizell meeting up with the All Blacks in Washington their readiness to play would be assessed before any captaincy change was considered.

“At the moment, we’re going to stay with the status quo,” Foster said. “…so, Ardie will carry on leading this team in the short-term future but then once we get to Washington and Wales, we’ll make some assessments about where the other guys are, then we’ll let people know.”

Cane would be left to come back into the environment for two or three weeks to get his confidence up. The 29-year-old loose forward has not played since the end of March, when he suffered a pectoral injury against the Blues in Super Rugby Aotearoa,

The All Blacks are to play: the United States on October 24 in Washington, Wales in Cardiff on October 31, Italy in Rome on November 6, Ireland in Dublin on November 14 and France in Paris on November 20.

With locks Scott Barrett and Patrick Tuipulotu returning home, after securing places in the MIQ lottery, the way was open for Taranaki bolter Josh Lord to join Brodie Retallick, Tupou Vaa’i and Sam Whitelock as the locks for the trip.

Foster said Lord was a young player with a lot of promise who had impressed the selectors when doing their rounds of the Super Rugby sides.

“He’s very athletic and we saw this as an opportunity to grow a young player for the future. He’s got the physical attributes that we think are right, and it’s a chance to get him on this tour and start working with him,” he said.

It wasn’t a new ploy by the All Blacks as Jerome Kaino, Isaia Toeava and, Asafo Aumua were examples of what former coach Sir Graham Henry described as ‘special projects’ on past tours.

There was a temptation to include another lock but, with Frizell, they felt they had sufficient cover.

Vaa’i would have an increased role with the side, and Foster was confident of his ability to handle that.

“We love what he did with us last year. We saw Tupou come in quickly last year, and he dealt with a starting role in a Bledisloe Cup game under a lot of pressure. Whenever we put him on the park, we felt he performed well, and he’s continued to do that and impress us.

“We see this tour as a chance for him to get some significant game time and have a big role,” he said.

Whitelock and hooker Coles will play Bunnings NPC games this weekend, and with Bay of Plenty on a bye, efforts are being made for Cane to play a Heartland game.

While the NPC continuing into November would be ideal should injuries be an issue for the All Blacks, Foster said it wasn’t a concern because previous northern tours occurred when the NPC had finished.

Having the competition continue meant it would be easier to get players into Europe and that would be a useful backup should they get an injury.

“The fact that some NPC is going is still a positive for us,” he said.

They were resigned to halfback Aaron Smith not joining them, but such was the situation that it was a case of ‘never saying never’, he said.

Source – All Blacks Rugby

Autumn Nations Cup

All Blacks bring up a century in Washington DC

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(Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

Making the most of their starting opportunities the All Blacks’ less experienced players took them with both hands in a 104–14 record win over the United States Eagles in Washington on Sunday (NZT).

Second five-eighths Quinn Tupaea, halfback Finlay Christie, lock Tupou Va’ai and centre Braydon Ennor all had respective impacts as the All Blacks posted 16 tries against two.

Apart from a phase through the middle stages of the second half, the Eagles were shut out of the game, and the All Blacks recovered to come home with two tries in the last three minutes to reach their century.

Scoring the first of their nine first-half tries only 29 seconds into the game when flanker Luke Jacobson scored the first of two tries, the All Blacks set the tune from the outset.

Speed was the obvious difference between the sides. It showed up in the All Blacks’ decision-making, and it was demonstrated in their handling and unrelenting support play.

Every time an All Black’s progress was impeded there was someone on hand to carry on the momentum.

Common contributors in set-up plays were Va’ai and Tupaea, who were frequently responsible for giving the ball tidily to those coming through to join breakdowns and allowing the ball to be moved quickly and effectively.

Prop Ethan de Groot scored a try on starting debut six minutes into the game while tighthead prop Angus Ta’avao crossed for his first in the 32nd minute and then backed that up by opening the second half scoring after flanker Dalton Papalii had worked with fullback Damian McKenzie to open the defences.

McKenzie’s speed on the outside break was a constant problem for the Americans throughout the game and produced the first try of the game for Jacobson.

On the left wing Will Jordan was able to feast on the wealth of possession to score three tries while first five-eighths Richie Mo’unga scored a lovely try halfway through the first spell, chipping ahead for Jordan to regather and then feed back to the Crusader. He was tripped but got back up and had enough time to run in the try during a 23-point haul.

An electric break he made early in the second half saw him link with McKenzie who then had flanker Dalton Papalii inside him to score.

The USA had reward just before halftime when lively halfback Nate Augspurger broke from a ruck and had the speed to run away and score what was the first United States try in all matches against New Zealand. That was supplemented in the second half when former North Harbour Sevens player and wing Ryan Matyas got over in the corner.

Flanker Hanco Germishuys was a constant presence in the home defence but lacked the support the All Blacks enjoyed. First five-eighths Luke Carty showed some good touches when the USA was able to build some momentum.

But there were few other moments to savour, as the pressure didn’t ease up as the replacements were ushered onto the field. Centre Anton Lienert-Brown scored almost immediately, inevitably off a good ball from Tupaea.

Replacements first five-eighths Beauden Barrett, hooker Dane Coles and halfback TJ Perenara all crossed before the end to set up the remaining four Tests of their 2021 programme.

Scorers: United States 14  (Nate Augspurger, Ryan Matyas tries; Luke Carty 2 con) New Zealand 114 (Luke Jacobson 2, Ethan de Groot, Will Jordan 3, Damian McKenzie, Angus Ta’avao 2, Richie Mo’unga, Quinn Tupaea, Dalton Papalii, Anton Lienert-Brown, Beauden Barrett, Dane Coles, TJ Perenara tries; Richie Mo’unga 9 con; Damian McKenzie 3 con). HT: 59-7

Source – All Blacks Rugby

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Rugby Championship

All Blacks named for Washington Test

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Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

The All Blacks team has been named to play the USA in the 1874 Cup Test match at FedExField in Washington DC on Saturday 23 October (Kick-off: 3.30PM EST, 8.30AM Sunday 24 October NZT).

The matchday 23 is (Test caps in brackets. New caps in bold):

1.   Ethan de Groot (2)
2.   Asafo Aumua (4)
3.   Angus Ta’avao (19)
4.   Samuel Whitelock (127) – captain
5.   Tupou Vaa’i (7)
6.   Luke Jacobson (10)
7.   Dalton Papalii (9)
8.   Hoskins Sotutu (8)
9.   Finlay Christie (3)
10. Richie Mo’unga (27)
11. George Bridge (16)
12. Quinn Tupaea (4)
13. Braydon Ennor (2)
14. Will Jordan (9)
15. Damian McKenzie (37)


16. Dane Coles (76)
17. George Bower (8)
18. Tyrel Lomax (10)
19. Josh Lord – new cap
20. Sam Cane (74)
21. TJ Perenara (75)
22. Beauden Barrett (98)
23. Anton Lienert-Brown (53)

It will be a special day for new All Blacks lock, 20-year-old Josh Lord, who has been named on the bench and will have huge experience around him for his first Test match, with All Blacks Captain Samuel Whitelock returning at starting lock, alongside Tupou Vaa’i.

In the starting front row, prop Ethan de Groot gets his first Test start after two appearances off the bench this year, hooker Asafo Aumua gets his second Test start of the year and Angus Ta’avao provides experience at tighthead prop.  George Bower and Tyrel Lomax are the prop reserves, with Dane Coles, making his eagerly-awaited return to the All Blacks, on the bench.


The starting loose forwards are the exciting young trio of Luke Jacobson at six, Dalton Papalii at seven and number eight Hoskins Sotutu, with the hugely experienced Sam Cane making his welcome return to the national side via the bench, after missing the international season to undergo chest muscle surgery. He will be playing his 75th Test.

In the backs, it’s a first Test start for halfback Finlay Christie with Richie Mo’unga at 10. The inside pairing sees Quinn Tupaea come in at 12 and Braydon Ennor, in his first Test start, is at centre.  Will Jordan and George Bridge are on the wings and Damian McKenzie is at fullback.  The All Blacks will have huge international experience in the back reserves, with halfback TJ Perenara, first five-eighth Beauden Barrett and Anton Lienert-Brown ready to make impact from the bench.

This will be the fifth time the All Blacks and USA have played each other, with the last Test in Chicago in 2014, and is the first Test of the All Blacks Tudor Northern Tour.

All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster said: “We’ve had a great week’s build-up here in Washington DC. The early part of the week was about recovering from our travel and getting clarity around some concepts in our game and we have slowly been building in intensity and getting into our work.

“The chance for us to play in a new city and new stadium is pretty special and the group is really excited and looking forward to the occasion. It’s time to get back into our groove after our break in Australia and with a number of players having not played for awhile. It’s time to get our game going again and we are ready to go.”

Speaking on the newest All Black, Foster said: “Josh Lord is a young man who’s been really enthusiastic since he came in. He’s bringing a lot of energy and learning a lot and we’re looking forward to seeing him go.”

On the players making their first Test starts, Foster added: “Ethan (de Groot) has been raring to go in recent weeks.  We’re really excited for him, he’s been training well and he’s a quality player with a big future.

“Finlay has made the most of his opportunities and he just keeps growing his game and getting better and better and we’re delighted at how he’s going. Braydon has had a year disrupted by injury but he’s back.  He’s running fast and we’re again looking forward to seeing how he goes.”

The All Blacks and USA will be playing for the 1874 Cup which references the year rugby was first played in the United States, a collegiate match between McGill and Harvard University.

Source – All Blacks Rugby

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International

SA Rugby assumes administrative control of Western Province RFU

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SA Rugby has advised the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) that it was invoking its constitutional power to take administrative control of the Union.

The advice was provided following a decision by the Executive Council (Exco) of the South African Rugby Union on Monday.

Experienced former SA Rugby CEO, Rian Oberholzer, has been appointed as an administrator and will assume oversight of the union’s affairs immediately. His remit includes supervision of the operational affairs of Western Province (Pty) Ltd, which manages the professional playing teams of the DHL Stormers and Western Province.

The president of Western Province, Mr Zelt Marais, was informed of the decision this morning (Tuesday).

SA Rugby president, Mr Mark Alexander, said the decision had been taken with extreme reluctance.

“We had engaged with the WPRFU over a number of months on the challenges the organisation faced and tried to assist them in finding solutions,” said Mr Alexander.

“We attempted to partner in a joint oversight committee but were frustrated in our attempts to receive accurate information and engage constructively.

“However, the Union has regressed in its attempts to extricate itself from those challenges and we could no longer stand by.

“This is very much the last resort, but it had become apparent that the Union’s leadership was incapable of putting in place the actions to regularize its position.

“Several of the Union’s stakeholders have contacted our offices to express their dismay and we are aware of the public alarm.

“Clause 29 of the constitution of the South African Rugby Union charges that all unions have to ‘conduct their business affairs in such a way that, at all times, they are in a sound financial position, comply with the laws of the Republic and adhere to the requirements of good governance’.

“It is Exco’s view that WPRFU has failed that test and we could no longer distribute SA Rugby income in that knowledge. On that basis we have taken this decision with a heavy heart.”

The powers of clause 29 allow for the “assumption of responsibility for the affairs of unions…[including] the suspension from office of their elected and/or appointed officials, and the appointment by SARU of administrators, who shall assume all decision-making powers of the unions at both governance and operational levels, and who shall have the authority to direct employees, including chief executive officers, on a day to day basis, such administrators to report and be accountable to and to take direction from the executive council.”

Mr Alexander said that all stakeholders – the union’s commercial partners, broadcaster, coaching staff, players’ union and Vodacom United Rugby Championship partners – had been advised of the decision.

He assured supporters that the appointment of an administrator was to stabilise the Union’s governance and operational business and was not to have any direct influence on DHL Stormers affairs.

“Clause 29 gives us the authority to remain in administration until the Union’s affairs are stabilised,” said Mr Alexander.

“It is not possible right now to put a timeline to that – although it is our intention and desire to make this process as short-lived as possible.

“The most important thing right now is to quietly go about the off-field business so that coach John Dobson and the DHL Stormers squad can focus on performing to their best in their debut season in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship.”

Source – South Africa Rugby

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