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Do officials crave the limelight too?

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Officials

Officials are starting to act like neglected kids who have always sought attention with atrocious calls and decisions every week. It is as if they want to be in the headlines every week and for all the wrong reasons. Some may call the criticism unfair but its warranted with the number of high profile howlers growing by the week. Soon the question of match fixing will become part of the rugby conversation.  Instead of focusing on the rugby, most press conferences, around the world have resulted in talk of the referee decisions. Blues coach Tana Umaga the latest to highlight some inconsistencies. There were many a dubious call that are yet to be put to the fore.

  1. The neck roll on Schalk Ferreira by Sam Whitelock has yet to be cited and one has to wonder what the problem is. A result of the Southern Kings front row heading back home.
  2. It was almost the howler of the year for me, Jaco Peyper was about to send the Brumbies to the bin instead of the shower for punches. Had sanity not prevailed the Brumbies could have got away with that one.
  3. The punch by Nizaam Carr was missed amidst the punching row.
  4. Dillyn Lleyds’ try was actually inconclusive. There is a grey area on this one and I await an explanation from the South African referees on how this was a try.

Law 22.1 & 22.2 state- There are two ways a player can ground the ball:

(a) Player touches the ground with the ball. A player grounds the ball by holding the ball and touching the ground with it, in in-goal. ‘Holding’ means holding in the hand or hands, or in the arm or arms. No downward pressure is required.

(b) Player presses down on the ball. A player grounds the ball when it is on the ground in the in-goal and the player presses down on it with a hand or hands, arm or arms, or the front of the player’s body from waist to neck inclusive.

The list will go on, unless teams adapt on a game to game basis they will struggle. What you will be penalised for in one week, you will be allowed in another. The Reds-Blues clash was an example of an official not sure about the breakdown /scrum laws with some contentious calls. Surely there can be ways in which the officials fix this trend before it gets worse.

The use of neutral officials in clashes could be of help. Watching the Jaguares game against the Chiefs; one has to wonder what SANZAAR are a aiming at with the officials finding themselves making some rather one sided calls on occasion. One has to feel for the Argentinians who have had to face this all season.

All attack, no defence

The Lions managed to put the Cheetahs to the sword and further exposed the Bloemfontein side’s inability to tackle, cover the support runners and read the play of the opposition. The Cheetahs have a tournament high of 116 tackles. A further 38 more than the beleaguered Kings who show some bright sparks but lack the nous to dominate an 80 minute game. The Bloemfontein side is still in rebuilding but would have done well to focus on defence first this season to heal an Achilles heel that has derailed them in the last decade. The chances are looking good that South Africa will harbour at least two of the worst sides in the competition. While most sides will battle with balance the Cheetahs just seem to forget the entire aspect that is defence.

Team of the week:

My team of the week this weekend features a few surprise players and the top performers in:

Warrick Gelant (Blue Bulls); Ruan Combrinck (Lions); Johnny-Ben Kotze (Stormers); Howard Mnisi (Lions); Nemani Nadolo (Crusaders); Elton Jantjes (Lions); Faf de Klerk (Lions); Jed Holloway (Waratahs); Sean McMahon (Rebels); Elliot Dixon (Highlanders); Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers); Blade Thomson (Hurricanes); Marcel van der Merwe (Blue Bulls); Malcolm Marx (Lions);  Sef Faagase (Reds)

Mealamu back for Blues

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Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan has made two changes to the starting XV for Friday night’s clash with the Highlanders at Eden Park (kick-off 7.35pm).

One change for Blues

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Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan has made just one injury enforced change to the starting XV for Saturday’s match against the Chiefs in Mount Maunganui.

Angus Ta’avao will start at tighthead prop in place of Charlie Faumuina who tore his right calf against the Waratahs last week and is expected to be out of action for at least eight weeks.

Former New Zealand Under-20 prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi is poised to make his Super Rugby debut after being named on the bench.

“Ofa is still a young man, he’s getting better, he’s been very good for the Development squad but Angus has been great for us so it’s just a natural progression after the unfortunate injury to Charlie,” Kirwan said.

After consecutive losses against the Bulls and Waratahs, Kirwan said it was important for his side to rediscover their excitement levels.

“We just need to play our game, we want to get excited again and start playing the high tempo, high skill, high impact game which we haven’t done in the last two matches so let’s let the shackles off and get out there and enjoy it.”

Kirwan believed playing against the defending champions would bring out the best in his young team.

“If you can’t get motivated to play the current champions who are in our neighbourhood then get out of the game,” he said.

“This is why we play the game. The Chiefs, our neighbours, down there, they’re champions, we need to win – it doesn’t get any better than that.”

The Blues team to face the Chiefs at ASB Baypark Stadium, Mount Maunganui on Saturday night (kick-off 7.35pm) is:

Starting XV

15. Charles Piutau

14. Frank Halai

13. Rene Ranger

12. Francis Saili

11. George Moala

10. Chris Noakes

9. Piri Weepu

8. Peter Saili

7. Luke Braid

6. Steven Luatua

5. Ali Williams (C)

4. Culum Retallick

3. Angus Ta’avao

2. James Parsons

1. Tom McCartney

Reserves

16. Quentin MacDonald

17. Ofa Tu’ungafasi

18. Anthony Boric

19. Brendon O’Connor

20. Jamison Gibson-Park

21. Baden Kerr

22. Jackson Willison

Kirwin backing his best

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Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan has restored his successful combinations for Sunday’s clash with the Waratahs in Sydney.

Blues change 10 for Bulls

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The Blues have made 6 changes to their starting XV for their game against the Bulls.

Bulls ring the changes

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Clearly not happy with the performance of his players against the Force, Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has made several changes to his team to face the Blues this weekend.

Chiliboy not guilty

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Chiliboy was found not guilty for charging into a ruck with no arms.

Blues unchanged for Saders

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Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan has named an unchanged line-up for Friday’s clash with the Crusaders at Eden Park.

Read captains Saders against Blues

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Crusaders Head Coach Todd Blackadder has named his starting fifteen to play the Blues in the Crusaders first season game of the Investec Super Rugby 2013 season.

Hurricanes 20, Blues 34

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It is derby weekend for just about all teams, and if this NZ derby is anything like yesterday’s, we are in for a treat.

Kirwin names 4 debutants in Blues team

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Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan has announced his side to take on the Hurricanes in their season opener at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.

Canes name side to face Blues

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The Hurricanes are set to host the Blues in their season opener this Saturday night at Westpac Stadium.

Tahs name 6 Wallabies for warm-up

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Michael Hooper will make his NSW debut this Saturday when the HSBC Waratahs take on the Blues in Whangarei (kick off 4.30pm EST).

Ali captains Blues for first time

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Ali Williams will captain the Blues for the first time when he leads out the side to face the Waratahs in Whangarei on Saturday in the second pre-season hit-out of the year.

Blues Super Rugby squad for 2013

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Blues Head Coach Sir John Kirwan announced his 2013 squad at a free breakfast event exclusively for members, sponsors and members of the media this morning.

Sir Graham Henry joins Blues

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Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan today confirmed his new coaching team.

Highlanders team named

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Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has named his team to play the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland tomorrow.

Lam benches Ali, Weepu & Nonu

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Ali Williams looks set to play his 100th Super Rugby game off the bench after he and fellow All Blacks Piri Weepu and Ma’a Nonu were relegated to the reserves for Saturday’s match against the Highlanders at Eden Park.

Crusaders & Blues teams named

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The Crusaders have made seven changes to their team which hosts the Blues this weekend.

Blues to boot Lam

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Well not just yet, but chances are very slim that Pat Lam will be in charge of the Blues for the 2013 season.

Injury force Blues into changes

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Further injuries have forced changes to the Blues line-up to play the Lions on Friday night at Eden Park.

Lions change one for Blues

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The Golden Lions Rugby Union announced the MTN Lions team to play in their tenth match of the 2012 Vodacom Super Rugby competition against the Blues on Friday, 11 May 2012 this morning.

Hobbs at 10 for Blues

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Michael Hobbs has been handed the number 10 jersey for Friday night’s encounter with the Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium.

Digby at centre for Reds

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St.George Queensland Reds livewire Digby Ioane will play his 50th game for Queensland when he returns from suspension at outside centre in the team’s round 10 Super Rugby clash against the Blues in Auckland on Friday night.

Woodcock out for Reds clash

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Prop Tony Woodcock suffered an acute calf strain at training yesterday and has been ruled out of tomorrow’s match against the Reds.

Highlanders change 2 for Blues

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Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has named his team to play the Blues in Dunedin tomorrow night.  He has made two changes to the run-on team that played the Stormers in Dunedin at Easter.

No Mealamu for Blues

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Flanker Luke Braid has been given the captaincy duties in the absence of Keven Mealamu for this weekend’s match against the Highlanders in Dunedin.

Auckland crowd behaviour investigated

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As the Blues’ pain over their poor on-field form continued, the franchise’s off-field troubles escalated as their supporters showed the darker side of Auckland.

Lambie back, Bismarck out

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The Sharks will welcome back ace flyhalf Pat Lambie to the team which will take on the Blues but lost a world class player in Bismarck du Plessis.

Braid brothers return for Blues

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The Braid brothers make a very welcome return to the Blues starting line up this week, with the loose forward duo pairing up for the first time in a month.

Blues name strong side for Rebels

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Blues head coach Pat Lam finally has the luxury of naming a full strength front row for Thursday night’s match against the Rebels, with Keven Mealamu returning from injury to partner All Black teammate Tony Woodcock and Charlie Faumuina in the engine room.

Blues lose Mealamu

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Having returned from South Africa and facing a short turnaround before their Friday night match against the Hurricanes, the Blues are forced to field a team without their captain, Keven Mealamu.

Braid gets a 3 weeks suspension

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Suspensions are coming thick and fast in Super Rugby it seems with news that Luke Braid has been suspended for 3 weeks for striking a Stormers player.

Blues forced into changes for Stormers

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Following the Blues win against the Bulls in Pretoria last week, the team has had a short turnaround in preparing to face the Stormers in Cape Town on Friday night.

Ranger cops 2 weeks

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Rene Ranger will be suspended for 2 weeks after being found guilty of a dangerous and late tackle on the Bulls’ Bjorn Basson.

Kaino’s season over

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Jerome Kaino’s Super Rugby season is over because he needs to undergo surgery to repair damage to a shoulder injury sustained in the Blues Round 2  match against the Chiefs.

Idiot spectator assaults Mealamu, Bulls statement

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Blues captain Keven Mealamu was hit in the head by a bottle following his side’s 29-23 victory over the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

Why the Bulls did not get <i>‘that’</i> penalty

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There has been a lot of controversy following the Bulls defeat last night to the Blues especially the incident that followed after the final try was scored by Björn Basson.

Rene Ranger cited

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Rene Ranger of the Blues has been cited for alleged foul play during a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

One forced change for Bulls

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Jano Vermaak will make his first start for the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday when the home side plays the Blues at Loftus Versfeld.

Blues announce touring squad for SA leg

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The Blues have announced their touring squad for their South African tour of SupeRugby.

Chiefs name team for Blues

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The Chiefs have announced their team to take on old rivals, the Blues in their epic Round Two Investec Super Rugby battle at Waikato Stadium on Friday night.

Blues change two for Chiefs

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There are only two changes from last week to the Blues line-up for their Friday night encounter with the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Blues name solid team for opener

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Blues coach Pat Lam has named a starting line-up of players who earned their jerseys through solid pre-season performances and are in optimum shape to play the Crusaders in the opening round of the Investec Super Rugby season.

Nonu commits to Blues, NZ

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All Blacks and former Hurricanes midfielder Ma’a Nonu has re–signed with the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) for two more years and also signed with the Blues Investec Super Rugby franchise, the NZRU and Blues have announced today.

News (Thu): Smit back at hooker

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We bring you the latest rugby news from around the world.

News (Thu): Lions Blanket drive at Sharks match

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We bring you the latest rugby news from around the world.

Blues 26, Stormers 28

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An injury ravaged Stormers side will hope for one or two miracles as they square up against the in-form Blues in Aukland.

Rugby News (Wed): Bulls make 4 changes

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We bring you the latest rugby news from around the world.

Stormers missing several key players

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Allister Coetzee was today forced to name a side to take on the Blues in Auckland with a number of senior players out to injury.