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Category: Rugby Championship

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Rugby union: talking points from the weekend’s European action

Nathan Hughes mars a fine display with a swinging arm, Morgan Parra’s injury causes head injury assessment concerns and Jonny May lifts Leicester to the topNathan Hughes was voted man of the match for Wasps and rightly so for a fine showing, full of ag…

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Wallabies jump to third in world rankings after Rugby Championship

  • Australia move above Ireland and South Africa
  • Michael Cheika’s side sit behind world No1 All Blacks and England

Despite recent concerns over the health of Australian rugby union, the Wallabies have jumped up two spots to third in the latest world rugby union rankings.

Michael Cheika’s side finished second in the Rugby Championship behind world No1 New Zealand to move ahead of Ireland and South Africa, with England ranked second behind the All Blacks, who went undefeated in the southern hemisphere competition.

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Wallabies end Rugby Championship on winning note in Argentina

Australia post hard-earned 37-20 win in MendozaReece Hodge stars for Wallabies with two tries and a hand in two othersThe travel-weary Wallabies have rounded out their 2017 Rugby Championship campaign with a hard-earned 37-20 win over Argentina in Mend…

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Argentina v Wallabies: Rugby Championship – live!

  • Updates from Australia’s final game in Mendoza
  • Get in touch with Kieran on email or via Twitter @KieranPender

11.40pm BST

1 min: Peeep! French referee Mathieu Raynal commences proceedings and we are underway in Mendoza. Stay tuned for live minute-by-minute coverage.

11.36pm BST

The Wallabies train ahead of today’s clash with Argentina in Mendoza.

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Rugby union: talking points from the weekend

Matt O’Connor’s Tigers are evolving fast, Bath’s fledglings offer hope for the country and Quins’ Kyle Sinckler is at the mercy of the law book

The Tigers are changing their stripes. A side which for years built its foundation on set-pieces, an all-enveloping back row, controlling half-backs and immovable defence has evolved into one that can thrive on less than 50% possession. The midfield partnership of George Ford and Matt Toomua allows Leicester to react quickly in broken play and, after all the upheaval of the last few seasons, continuity has been a theme this season. Five rounds into the Premiership the director of rugby, Matt O’Connor, has made just one change in his back line, and that was enforced when Manu Tuilagi was injured after the opening weekend. The wings Jonny May and Nick Malouf have scored seven of the 12 league tries between them, profiting from a broader range of passing, and both added to their tally against the champions in a match in which the home side spent two-thirds of the match in their own half and had just 38% of possession. Paul Rees

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Wallabies v Argentina: Rugby Championship – live!

11.17am BST

10 min: The referee loses patience with the Pumas and hands it over to the Wallabies who go long, kicking deep into the Pumas half. A looping kick comes flying back and it’s as you were – with the Pumas on the attack.

11.16am BST

9 min: Well it’s been a solid start from the Wallabies, and they’ve deservedly edged in front… although there are a few signs of the Pumas fighting back. They have a scrum in the Aussie half after almost breaking the line.

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Wallabies’ tactical evolution is both encouraging and discouraging | Bret Harris

There has been more attacking intent at turnover ball but it defeats the purpose of having such a strategy if turnover ball cannot be secured in the first place

The Wallabies have finally arrived at the party only to find the music has stopped and the revellers have finished their drinks and moved on to the next event. Are Australia doomed to continually play catch-up?

There is a long-standing argument that the Wallabies, as well as Australia’s Super Rugby teams, should be more alive to attacking opportunities from turnover ball when defence is unstructured, just as New Zealand sides do.

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Draw leaves Wallabies in danger of Rugby Championship wooden spoon | Bret Harris

Michael Cheika’s team appear to be progressing and regressing simultaneously but one fundamental flaw in their game is becoming an alarming constant

There are still three full rounds to go and anything can happen, but the law of probability strongly suggests the Wallabies have already done their dash in this year’s Rugby Championship.

Saturday’s frustrating 23-all draw with South Africa in Perth means the All Blacks and Springboks are likely to compete for the title, leaving Australia and Argentina to battle it out for third and fourth.

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All Blacks v Wallabies: second Bledisloe Cup/Rugby Championship Test – live!

  • Live updates from the second Test in Dunedin
  • Get in touch with Paul on email

10.50am BST

It’s all over! What a thrilling match! New Zealand are ecstatic! Australia gutted. After what happened last week, after everyone writing them off, they almost pulled off what would have been the biggest Bledisloe upset in some time.

10.48am BST

80 min: The Wallabies need to win possession from the kickoff but they can’t manage it. NZ need to play it out here… what a finish to this game!

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Wallabies’ more ‘violent’ approach to Bledisloe Cup hit by Adam Coleman injury

  • Australian lock ruled out of second Test with shoulder injury
  • Coach Michael Cheika has called for tougher tackling from his side

The Wallabies have been dealt a major blow on the eve of the second Bledisloe Cup Test in Dunedin, losing chief aggressor Adam Coleman to injury a day after coach Michael Cheika had called for a more “violent” approach from his side.

Related: Wallabies’ new defensive strategy will mean nothing if their players don’t tackle | Bret Harris

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David Squires on … the Wallabies’ chances against the All Blacks

Our resident cartoonist looks at the miserable state of the game in Australia following a heavy defeat and ahead of another likely pummelling

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Wallabies’ new defensive strategy will mean nothing if their players don’t tackle | Bret Harris

Australia will have to improve on the first Bledisloe Test against the All Blacks when they seemed to lose faith in their new system and trust in each other

New South Wales were preparing for the second game of the 1989 State of Origin series against Queensland when dual international Michael O’Connor asked coach Jack Gibson a question about the team’s defence.

“What are we doing? Sliding or up and in?” O’Connor asked innocently. Gibson went red in the face. “Sliding defence, !@#$ defence, I don’t care what you call it. You’ve just got to move up and tackle.”

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Ruthless All Blacks teach Wallabies lesson in Bledisloe Cup opener

  • Australia 34-54 New Zealand
  • Kiwis run in eight tries in record tally against Wallabies

There was hope it would be the start of something big, the resuscitation of Australian rugby no less – a Wallabies-led recovery which would bring the game in this country back from a near death experience. But it turned out to be a sad, forlorn longing, crushed by the weight of 23 men in black.

Some claimed there were cracks in the All Blacks’ armour. Sex scandals, bugging dramas and even a spelling crisis, but the only cracks were in the Wallabies’ defence.

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Wallabies v All Blacks: Bledisloe Cup/Rugby Championship opener – live!

  • Live updates as old foes Australia and New Zealand clash in Sydney
  • Get in touch with Kieran on email or via Twitter @KieranPender

10.42am BST

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen has offered some words of wisdom to Australian broadcaster Fox Sports in a pre-match interview. “The game will be won by scoring tries,” offered the gruff 58-year-old. “So we will have to score more then them.” Sagely indeed.

10.36am BST

Crisis is an oft-used word in Australian rugby right now. The Wallabies are at a low ebb, the Western Force have been removed from the Super Rugby competition after a chaotic few months and Australian Rugby Union (ARU) boss Bill Pulver has resigned. The prospect of an another embarrassing defeat to arch rivals New Zealand tonight threatens to compound a month of misery.

It is not all bad news for our Australian readers though. Kurtley Beale is back, the pack is full of potential and the Foley-Beale-Folau trio provide a potent attacking threat. The surprise selection of debutant winger Curtis Rona, a rugby league convert, could prove an inspired choice.

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Curtis Rona to make Wallabies debut as All Blacks spring selection surprise

  • Former NRL player to play in Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney
  • Damian McKenzie named at fullback for All Blacks

Curtis Rona, the former rugby league player, will make his Wallabies debut in this year’s Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney, while the All Blacks have sprung a selection surprise of their own ahead of Saturday night’s match.

The former North Queensland and Canterbury NRL winger, who starred in his first Super Rugby season for the Western Force, was named to play on the wing in the absence of the injured Dane Haylett-Petty.

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Tackle, tackle and then tackle again – how the Wallabies can upset the All Blacks

Despite Australia’s 0-26 win-loss record against New Zealand teams in Super Rugby this year, the Wallabies still have a chance in the opening Bledisloe Test

A new book about the 1969 rugby league grand final between Balmain and South Sydney should be required reading for the Wallabies as they head into the opening Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks in Sydney on Saturday night.

In The Great Grand Final Heist, respected sports writer Ian Heads tells the story of Balmain’s improbable 11-2 win against hot favourites South Sydney in one of the greatest upsets in Australian sporting history.

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Wallabies go commando with mental fortitude just as important as fitness | Bret Harris

Coach Michael Cheika’s gruelling Bledisloe Cup boot camps are required to get his players ready both physically and mentally for the challenge of the All Blacks

As sweat poured and lungs heaved during an intensive training session on a Sydney hillside last weekend, Michael Cheika’s intentions for his Wallabies could not have been more clear: improved fitness is a priority ahead of the Bledisloe Cup opener against the All Blacks on 19 August.

Players were even made to run up a hillside with their mouths taped shut (to ensure they only breathed through their noses) as Cheika and his conditioning staff seek to find any advantage over their trans-Tasman rivals. Further gruelling drills were seen in Newcastle early this week, and more await the squad in their camps in Cessnock and Penrith.

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Wallabies go commando with mental fortitude just as important as fitness | Bret Harris

Coach Michael Cheika’s gruelling Bledisloe Cup boot camps are required to get his players ready both physically and mentally for the challenge of the All Blacks

As sweat poured and lungs heaved during an intensive training session on a Sydney hillside last weekend, Michael Cheika’s intentions for his Wallabies could not have been more clear: improved fitness is a priority ahead of the Bledisloe Cup opener against the All Blacks on 19 August.

Players were even made to run up a hillside with their mouths taped shut (to ensure they only breathed through their noses) as Cheika and his conditioning staff seek to find any advantage over their trans-Tasman rivals. Further gruelling drills were seen in Newcastle early this week, and more await the squad in their camps in Cessnock and Penrith.

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Quade Cooper omitted from Wallabies squad – but Cheika leaves door open for return

  • Playmaker left out of Australia’s extended Bledisloe Cup training squad
  • Eleven uncapped players named by coach Michael Cheika

Quade Cooper has been omitted from Michael Cheika’s extended Wallabies squad ahead of next month’s Bledisloe Cup opener against the All Blacks, although the coach indicated the decision would not spell the end of the flashy but often unpredictable playmaker’s international career.

The move leaves Bernard Foley as the only specialist flyhalf in the extended squad picked by Cheika for a series of training camps starting north of Sydney next week. Kurtley Beale, a utility back who recently returned from England, was recalled to the squad for the first time since the 2015 World Cup and is only other potential No10 in the initial group.

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Michael Cheika still stewing about All Blacks on return to Australia

  • Coach refuses to back down as Wallabies arrive home following defeat
  • Steve Hansen had accused Cheika of ‘hijacking’ All Blacks’ historic win

Michael Cheika is refusing to be gagged, not backing down on Sunday after the All Blacks coach, Steve Hansen, accused his Wallabies counterpart of “hijacking” New Zealand’s Test world record celebrations.

In the aftermath to Saturday night’s Bledisloe Cup series finale in Auckland, Cheika took aim at New Zealand media over being depicted as a clown and then claimed the All Blacks did not respect the Wallabies, suggesting they were involved in the media caricature.

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