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Bulls: Visser starts, Serfontein on the bench

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Utility back Jürgen Visser will start on the wing for the Vodacom Bulls in their Super Rugby clash against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.

Canes team for Landers derby

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The Hurricanes will face their third New Zealand based team in round four of the Investec Super Rugby competition on Friday evening. The side will travel this week to Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin to meet the Highlanders.

Kings unchanged for Chiefs

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The Southern Kings have announced an unchanged squad to tackle the Chiefs on Friday night at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Speaking at the press conference this morning, Director of Rugby, Alan Solomons said the unchanged team was a testament to the players’ commitment and dedication.

“I think we spoke at the beginning of the season about how we, as a group, were looking to get some consistency in selection particularly over the first three games, which was the first phase of the season before going away on tour; and we have been able to do that which is also a tribute to the players who have given themselves and have performed very, very well.”

Asked about the absence of regular captain, Luke Watson, Solomons said that Watson was still recovering from his injury after taking a blow to the throat during the game against the Western Force on the 23rd of February.

“Luke will be seeing the specialist tomorrow or Thursday. Once that has happened we can take decisions going forward. I think we have to take those decisions once we see the prognosis. It’s just a freak injury and just most unfortunate,” he said.

Asked about concerns over the depth of the Southern Kings squad, Solomons pointed out that the Kings were doing well in the face of recent injuries.

“I think our depth is reasonable., there are some positions where you have less depth than others, but I think we’ve got a reasonable amount of depth at the moment, and we’ve seen that. I mean Luke hasn’t played, Hannes hasn’t been available, Virgil hasn’t been available, I think our depth is not too bad across the board in our squad,” he said.

Head coach Matt Sexton said the team would be looking at retaining the ball more during their encounter with the Chiefs on Friday.

“They have good depth right across the board, so I think looking at their squad, whatever team they put out will be pretty solid at scrum time too, we will have a bit of a job on our hands and look forward to the challenge,” he said.

Sexton said the team had learnt a lot following their encounter against The Sharks last week.

“Part of being defensive was that we didn’t hold onto the ball properly and we made some silly errors and turned over ball when we shouldn’t have. I think if we held onto the ball for a number of phases it might have been a different story.”

“So we’ve been working on that at training and making sure guys understand. They’ve seen the pictures and the implications of letting go of the ball to easily,” he said.

Sexton said the Chiefs were particularly clinical in their game.

“They have threats right across the board. They’re pretty clinical when you turn over the ball or on a miscued kick or things like that. We want to be nice and tidy with what we do and I think that if we do that we’ll present a good challenge to them,” he said.

Darron Nell, who will once again captain the side in Watson’s absence, said he was looking forward to the game against the Chiefs.

“Last week we had the Sharks and this week we have the Chiefs, the two finalists from last year. I think we just want to concentrate on our processes and make sure that they work well and I think the results will look after themselves. Without a doubt it’s going to be a tough game but we just want to look at ourselves and make sure we can do what we can do properly,” he said.

When asked about comments being made about South African rugby being boring, Nell chirped.

“I think if you watch some of the games there were a few quite boring, if you watch the Sharks Kings game that was pretty exciting.”

Kings team

15.          SP Marais

11.          Marcello Sampson

13.          Ronnie Cooke

12.          Andries Strauss (Vice Captain)

14.          Sergeal Petersen

10.          Demetri Catrakilis

9.             Shaun Venter

1.             Schalk Ferreira

2.             Bandise Maku

3.             Kevin Buys

6.             Cornell du Preez

4.             Darron Nell (Captain)

5.             Steve Sykes

7.             Wimpie van der Walt

8.             Jacques Engelbrecht

Replacements

16.          Edgar Marutlulle

17.          Jaco Engels

18.          David Bulbring

19.          Daniel Adongo

20.          Nicolas Vergallo

21.          George Whitehead

22.          Hadleigh Parkes

Habs out for 10 weeks, Taute, De Jongh back

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Allister Coetzee, the head coach of the DHL Stormers, has released an injury update after his team’s 36-34 Vodacom Super Rugby win over the Chiefs this past weekend.

Super Rugby, Round 4 review

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Every now and then South Africans are treated to decent rugby results, and three from three against Kiwi teams certainly ranks amongst those special moments.

Blues 21, Bulls 28

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Both team has made several changes and it is anyone’s guess which coach got things right as the Blues host the Bulls in Auckland.

Kings 12, Sharks 21

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After a dream start to their Super Rugby entry, the Kings fairytale might come to a grinding halt as they host the Sharks in PE.

Stormers 36, Chiefs 34

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UPDATE: Habana out for 10 weeks with a knee injury after tearing the medial collateral ligament (MCL) – one of the four major ligaments of the knee. .

Brumbies 35, Waratahs 6

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Jake’s boys will be looking for their 3rd consecutive win as they host the Waratahs in Canberra.

Highlanders 19, Cheetahs 36

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The Cheetahs tour is not getting any easier as they travel to Dunedin to face the Highlanders.

Rebels 13, Reds 23

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It is off to Melbourne for the second game today as the Rebels host the Reds.

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.

Hurricanes 29, Crusaders 28

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We open Round 4 with a cracker of a game in Wellington between the Canes who will take on the Crusaders.

Kings get title sponsor

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The Aveng Group today announced that it has concluded a major sponsorship deal with the Southern Kings and the Eastern Province Rugby.

Chiefs team for Stormers

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The Chiefs have announced their team to play the Stormers in their Investec Super Rugby game at DHL Newlands Stadium in Cape Town on Sunday morning at 4.05am (Saturday 9 March 5.05pm SA time).

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has made several changes to his side.  Mahonri Schwalger starts at hooker and Tanerau Latimer at No 6 for the first time this season, while Craig Clarke resumes his starting spot at lock and Liam Messam moves to No 8.

Charlie Ngatai starts in the No 12 Jersey.  Nick Crosswell makes his debut for the Chiefs and Andrew Horrell comes back in from injury.  Hika Elliot and Augustine Pulu join the reserves.

Chiefs team

  1. Pauliasi Manu
  2. Mahonri Schwalger
  3. Ben Afeaki
  4. Craig Clark ©
  5. Brodie Retallick
  6. Tanerau Latimer
  7. Sam Cane
  8. Liam Messam
  9. Tawera Kerr Barlow
  10. Aaron Cruden
  11. Asaeli Tikoirotuma
  12. Charlie Ngatai
  13. Tim Nanai-Williams
  14. Lelia Masaga
  15. Gareth Anscombe
  16. Hika Elliot
  17. Ben Tameifuna
  18. Michael Fitzgerald
  19. Nick Crosswell*
  20. Augustine Pulu
  21. Andrew Horrell
  22. Patrick Osborne

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.

Hore returns for Landers against Cheetahs

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Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has named his team to play the Cheetahs at Rugby Park Stadium in Invercargill on Saturday night (7.35pm NZT).

In the forwards, Andrew Hore returns to the Highlanders after missing the first Highlanders match of the 2013 season due to suspension.  He will be joined by Highlanders debutants Brad Thorn and Jake Paringatai who both make their first start on Saturday for the Southern franchise.

Changes in the run-on XV also see a number of changes on the reserves bench. Brayden Mitchell and Jarrod Hoeata drop out of the starting XV and are joined by Chris King and Colin Slade; who are both returning from injuries.  Shaun Treeby also joins the reserves in place of Buxton Popoalii.

Highlanders v Cheetahs, Rugby Park Stadium, Invercargill – Saturday 9 March, 7.35pm (NZ Time).

1. Tony Woodcock

2. Andrew Hore (Captain)

3. Ma’afu Fia

4. Brad Thorn

5. Josh Bekhuis

6. Joe Wheeler

7. John Hardie

8. Jake Paringatai

9. Aaron Smith

10. Lima Sopoaga

11. Hosea Gear (Vice-captain)

12. Ma’a Nonu

13. Phil Burleigh

14. Kade Poki

15. Ben Smith

Reserves

16. Brayden Mitchell

17. Chris King

18. Jarrad Hoeata

19. Tim Boys

20. Fumiaki Tanaka

21. Colin Slade

22. Shaun Treeby

Reds team for Rebels

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St.George Queensland Reds defensive linchpin Anthony Faingaa returns from injury at outside centre for Friday’s round four Super Rugby clash against the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

Waratahs team for Brumbies

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Southern Districts youngster Ben Volavola will make his first start for the HSBC Waratahs on Saturday.

Liebenberg returns off the bench for Stormers

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The Stormers will take on the defending champion Chiefs at DHL Newlands on Saturday (kick-off 17h05), and Coetzee has kept the changes to a minimum – making just two adjustments to the bench.

Sharks names unchanged line-up for Kings

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John Plumtree has the rare pleasure of being able to select an unchanged line-up for his team’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash with the Southern Kings at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.

Brussow starts from the bench

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Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské has resisted the temptation to rush Springbok Heinrich Brüssow straight back into his starting XV.

Saders team named for Canes clash

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The Crusaders head to Wellington this Friday to face the Hurricanes. With both teams yet to secure a win it promises to be an exciting game with plenty of action.

Kings name team for Sharks

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The Southern Kings have announced their Super Rugby Squad to take on The Sharks at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday, 9th of March 2013.

The team will run onto the field under the leadership of Darron Nell, after Director of Rugby Alan Solomons announced that last Skipper Luke Watson had been named on the bench following the blow he took to his throat during the game against the Western Force.

“Luke is still battling with inflammation in the throat and there are still a few concerns around his fitness levels for Saturday’s game, and as a precaution we decided to keep him out of the starting line-up to ensure that we don’t disrupt the training ahead of Saturday,” he said.

“We felt from a playing perspective it was best to have the starting fifteen settled early on in the week, and we’ve done that. The consequence of that is that Darron comes up in place of David Bulbring, and takes up the leadership of the side,” he said.

Solomons said Watson would be seeing a specialist later in the week, and if there were still concerns there were alternatives that could be considered.

Andries Strauss, who celebrates his 29th birthday today, holds onto his Vice Captaincy, while Schalk Ferreira, who was battling a bit with a slight rib injury last week, has been named in the starting line-up.

Strauss said the team would be bringing the same level of intensity against The Sharks, if not bringing a more intense game than what was played against the Western Force.

“As a team we have set ourselves goals, and winning one game doesn’t mean we’ve really achieved anything yet… There is a big onus on us to improve on that and if we want to win more games in this competition then we are going to have to improve on that.”

“There is no better way than to take on a side with fifteen Springboks and showing the world once again that we can play this game,” he said.

Head coach, Matt Sexton, said they were expecting the game to be quite physical, with the Sharks most likely to be looking at wearing down the Southern Kings at the scrum.

“We will definitely be looking at improving our level of ball retention. If you consider that during the Western Force game we made in excess of a hundred tackles in the first half of the game, which, if you have to take those sort of statistics into every game, sooner or later you’re going to run out of petrol, so we want to make sure we retrieve the ball and hold onto it,” he said.

Former Sharks player, Steven Sykes, who also takes to the field in his second game for the Southern Kings, said he was looking forward to playing against his former teammates.

“I think the people will treat us with a bit more respect than what they had before the season. I think we did very well in the first game that we played and we showed that we are here and we are here to stay. I don’t think people will send their second string sides down to us, so it’s a nice challenge for us as well.”

Sykes said he was also looking forward to playing to a full house at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium.

“The atmosphere at the game against the Force was amazing, probably the best I’ve experienced, and I am hoping that everyone will come out and support us again as we take on the Sharks,” he said.

Kings team

15.          SP Marais

11.          Marcello Sampson

13.          Ronnie Cooke

12.          Andries Strauss (Vice Captain)

14.          Sergeal Petersen

10.          Demetri Catrakallis

9.             Shaun Venter

1.             Schalk Ferreira

2.             Bandise Maku

3.             Kevin Buys

6.             Cornell du Preez

4.             Darron Nell (Captain)

5.             Steve Sykes

7.             Wimpie van der Walt

8.             Jacques Engelbrecht

Replacements

16.          Edgar Marutlulle

17.          Jaco Engels

18.          David Bullbring

19.          Luke Watson

20.          Nicolas Vergallo

21.          George Whitehead

22.          Hadleigh Parkes

Bulls tour squad announced

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The Vodacom Bulls named their touring squad to Australasia for matches against the Blues, Crusaders, Reds and Brumbies. All four opponents are previous winners of the Super Rugby title.

Sharks 12, Stormers 6

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No matter what the coaches say, the Currie Cup final is still fresh in the minds of supporters and players and the Sharks will no doubt look for revenge when they clash in Durban.

Bulls 36, Force 26

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One would like to think there is no way in hell the Force can upset the Bulls at home – but the record between these two teams is actually split down the middle at 50% of wins to each team…

Chiefs 45, Cheetahs 3

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The Cheetahs could not have asked for a more difficult opening game on tour as they take on the defending champions, the Chiefs.

Force change 4 for Bulls

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The Emirates Western Force has made four changes to its starting XV to tackle the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday night.

Reds 18, Hurricanes 12

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This match has all the elements of being a potentially high scoring, or very boring game – let’s hope it’s the prior.

Waratahs 31 v Rebels 26

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Yes it is an Aussie derby, but surely the Tahs should come good at some stage?

Blues 34, Crusaders 15

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Coming off an unlikely win – the Blues have all the ingredients to upset the most successful New Zealand franchise in Super Rugby history at home.

Chiefs team for Cheetahs

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The Chiefs have announced their team to play the Cheetahs in their first Investec Super Rugby home game at Waikato Stadium on Saturday night at 7.35pm.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has made four changes to his starting line up.  Hooker Hika Elliot’s calf injury has recovered to see him take the reins off young hooker Rhys Marshall who moves to the bench.   Lock Michael Fitzgerald, halfback Augustine Pulu and winger Lelia Masaga all start with Craig Clarke, Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Patrick Osborne moving into the reserves.

Chiefs’ coach Dave Rennie said “Out of all the South African sides the Cheetahs probably play a style that is closest to ours.  They are innovative and can score tries from anywhere around the park and like all South African sides they are big and physical.

“We had a really free flowing match against them in Bloemfontein last year, and we are expecting them to play a style of game similar to us, which is a free flowing, high paced, ruck and run game.”

Chiefs team:

  1. Pauliasi Manu
  2. Hika Elliot
  3. Ben Afeaki
  4. Michael Fitzgerald
  5. Brodie Retallick
  6. Liam Messam ©
  7. Sam Cane
  8. Fritz Lee
  9. Augustine Pulu
  10. Aaron Cruden
  11. Asaeli Tikoirotuma
  12. Bundee Aki
  13. Tim Nanai-Williams
  14. Lelia Masaga
  15. Gareth Anscombe
  16. Rhys Marshall
  17. Ben Tameifuna
  18. Craig Clarke
  19. Tanerau Latimer
  20. Tawera Kerr-Barlow
  21. Charlie Ngatai
  22. Patrick Osborne

Sharks change one for Stormers

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The Sharks have only changed one for their match against the Stormers.

The only change for the Sharks comes in at loose-forward where Jean Deysel replaces Jacques Botes who moves to the bench.  Marcell Coetzee will shift from 7 to the openside 6 position with Deysel wearing the number 7 shirt.

The Sharks

15. Louis Ludik
14. JP Pietersen
13. Paul Jordaan
12. Francois Steyn (C)
11. Lwazi Mvovo
10. Patrick Lambie
9. Cobus Reinach
8. Ryan Kankowski
7. Jean Deysel
6. Marcell Coetzee
5. Franco van der Merwe
4. Anton Bresler
3. Jannie du Plessis
2. Craig Burden
1. Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements
16. Kyle Cooper
17. Wiehahn Herbst
18. Pieter-Steph du Toit
19. Jacques Botes
20. Charl McLeod
21. Meyer Bosman
22. Odwa Ndungane

Serfontein on Bulls bench

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Vodacom Bulls lock Flip van der Merwe will play in his 50th Vodacom Super Rugby match when his team takes on the Western Force at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Van der Merwe has played six of those for the Toyota Cheetahs whilst still a student in Bloemfontein and the commerce graduate has since reeled off 43 matches for the Bulls.

The lock will again combine with Juandrè Kruger in the engine room, but is behind them in the scrum where the most significant changes are to the team that beat the DHL Stormers last weekend.

Both Dewald Potgieter and Deon Stegmann picked up injuries in that win and will be replaced by Jacques Potgieter and Arno Botha respectively. Jean Cook comes into the reserves and will make his Super Rugby debut if he takes to the field.

In another change at the back, Lionel Mapoe moves from wing to outside centre in place of injured JJ Engelbrecht, with Akona Ndungane moving to the right wing berth for his 85th match in Bulls colours. Ndungane has been bracketed with Sampie Mastriet, with the latter to make his debut if Ndungane’s ankle injury flares up again.

Jan Serfontein has also been named on the bench, but has a hip strain and if ruled out, Francois Venter will again play in the number 22 shirt.

Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke was pleased to have experience to fall back on, but warned that it guarantees nothing against an opponent that has beaten the Bulls at Loftus before.

“Last week was last week. We are grateful for the win, but this week we face a new opponent that will post new challenges. The Western Force has been a difficult opponent in the past and will again ask questions to our all round game and our defence. We have prepared well though and will be looking forward to the challenge.”

Vodacom Bulls captain Pierre Spies admitted that a good performance would be paramount for his side before they embark on their overseas leg of the competition.

“We cannot look past this match as it will determine the mind-set we will take onto tour. So this is a very important match for us,” Spies said.

The team to play the Western Force (with Super caps) is: Zane Kirchner (72), Akona Ndungane (84)/Sampie Mastriet (0), Lionel Mapoe (29), Wynand Olivier (104), Bjorn Basson (43), Mornè Steyn (107), Francois Hougaard (46), Pierre Spies (90, c), Arno Botha (11), Jacques Potgieter (13), Juandrè Kruger (18), Flip van der Merwe (49), Werner Kruger (76), Chiliboy Ralepelle (53), Mornè Mellett (1). Replacements: Willie Wepener (54), Frik Kirsten (16), Grant Hattingh (10), Jean Cook (0), Jano Vermaak (89), Louis Fouchè (10), Jan Serfontein (0)/Francois Venter (9).

Elton starts, Grant on the bench

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Elton Jantjies gets another start for the Stormers after a horrid afternoon with the boot against the Bulls.

Fullback Joe Pietersen and tighthead prop Frans Malherbe come into the starting line-up from the side that went down 17-25 to the Bulls last Friday, whilst flyhalf Peter Grant is back in the matchday 22 after completing his Japanese club commitments.

Joining Grant on the bench is prop Pat Cilliers – who started in the No.3 shirt last week – and scrumhalf Louis Schreuder who will warm the bench in place of Dewaldt Duvenage this weekend.

Saturday’s match, which will be played at Kings Park, kicks-off at 19h10.

The DHL Stormers team to take on the Sharks is as follows:

15. Joe Pietersen
14. Gio Aplon
13. Jean de Villiers (captain)
12. Damian de Allende
11. Bryan Habana
10. Elton Jantjies
9. Nic Groom
8. Duane Vermeulen (vice-captain)
7. Rynhardt Elstadt
6. Siya Kolisi
5. Andries Bekker
4. De Kock Steenkamp
3. Frans Malherbe
2. Deon Fourie
1. Steven Kitshoff

Reserves:
16. Martin Bezuidenhout
17. Pat Cilliers
18. Don Armand
19. Nizaam Carr
20. Louis Schreuder
21. Peter Grant
22. Gerhard van den Heever

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan

Sarel starts against Chiefs

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Scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius will start for the Cheetahs against the Chiefs in their Super Rugby match in Hamilton on Saturday.

Waratahs team for Rebels

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HSBC Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has made two changes to the starting team to play the Rebels at Allianz Stadium on Friday night.

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.

Canes make 3 changes for Reds

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The Hurricanes head to Brisbane today for their second match of the Investec Super Rugby competition.

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.

O’Connor captains Rebels

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James O’Connor to Captain the RaboDirect Rebels against the NSW Waratahs.

What is in a name?

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What is in a name?

Kings 22, Force 10

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It is a funny thing to think that a teams first game could define their whole campaign, but this is more or less what the Kings face when they host the Force.

Cheetahs 22, Sharks 26

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The Sharks team travel home to Bloemfontein to take on a Cheetahs side which promised much improvement from 2012.

Reds 25 v Waratahs 17

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It might be an Aussie derby, but there is no love lost between these two sides which should be a cracker of a game.

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.

Bulls 25, Stormers 18

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The South African conference kicks off with the most fierce of rivalries, North vs South, the Bulls vs the Stormers.

Highlanders 27, Chiefs 41

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Round 2 of Super Rugby kicks off with all the teams now involved and we start the weekend with the Highlanders hosting the defending champs, the Chiefs.

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.