6 May

Headlines May 6th 2009
by Tracey Nelson
6 May 2009

MacDonald farewells NZ rugby

Crusaders fullback Leon MacDonald will return to Japan to play his rugby for the Kintetsu club at the end of this year’s Super 14, which will end an All Black career that started back in 2000. MacDonald spent a season with the Japanese club side Yamaha back in 2004, but returned to Crusaders and All Black rugby at year later. A serious concussion suffered when playing the Springboks in Dunedin cut his international season short last year, and injuries also sidelined at times during this year’s Super 14. MacDonald has played 56 tests for the All Blacks, 116 Super games (Crusaders and Chiefs), and 69 provincial games (Canterbury and Malborough).

Key All Blacks re-sign with NZRU

Mils Muliaina has re-signed with the NZRU and the Waikato Rugby Union through until 2011, while Ali Williams and Tony Woodcock have both re-signed with the NZRU through until 2012. Williams’ contract also contains a ‘sabbatical’ clause allowing him time away from NZ next year. The three join join 2008 All Blacks Richie McCaw, Rodney So’oialo, Keven Mealamu, Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu, Brad Thorn, Andrew Hore, Neemia Tialata, John Afoa, Andy Ellis, Richard Kahui, Brendon Leonard, Jamie Mackintosh, Rudi Wulf and Liam Messam, who are all signed with New Zealand rugby through to 2011 or beyond.

Latest Playing Apparel Revealed for All Blacks

At a launch in Auckland this week adidas revealed the two new All Black jerseys for 2009. Both jerseys feature a fern pattern across the front. A new all-white All Blacks jersey will be used as a second kit to complement the traditional, famous black apparel. The white jersey includes a white collar and New Zealand’s national symbol, the silver fern, on the left breast in black. It will be worn with the traditional black shorts and black sock with white stripes. The white jersey will only be worn when the All Blacks are playing outside of New Zealand when required in line with the IRB’s revised policy of the away team needing to change jerseys in the event of a clash. The first outing of the white jersey will be against France in Marseille, November this year.

New referees secure Test appointments

Bryce Lawrence has been appointment to control the opening Test between South Africa and the British & Irish Lions this June. In addition to the first Lions Test, Lawrence has also been named as Assistant Referee for the second Test and as Television Match Official for the third Test. He will also control a Tri-Nations match between Australia and South Africa in Perth in August.

Vinnie Munro joins Lawrence in all three Lions Tests as an Assistant Referee, while Chris Pollock and Keith Brown will both referee a Rugby World Cup qualifier each in June as well as officiate games at the IRB Junior World Championship in Japan in the same month.

Heartland Championship teams to trial Player of Origin

Heartland Provincial Rugby Unions will get the opportunity to have a Player of Origin in their 22-man Heartland Championship squads this year as part of a trial undertaken by the New Zealand Rugby Union. The Player of Origin will be in addition to the three loan players unions are entitled to have in their teams under current regulations. A Player of Origin will be defined as a person who from the age of 12-18 played rugby in the relevant Heartland Provincial Union (either for a club or school) for at least three years who is now playing club rugby outside the province.

SANZAR

The NZRU and Australian Rugby Union will continue to work towards expanding Super Rugby from 2011 in partnership with South Africa despite the current impasse in negotiations with SA Rugby. NZRU CEO Steve Tew and ARU Managing Director and CEO John O’Neill said this week that a continuation of the SANZAR alliance at provincial level remains the preferred option for both national unions.

Both New Zealand and Australia are determined to deliver a competition of the highest integrity to supporters and broadcasters and believe South African calls for further compromise will impact on that commitment. Talks will therefore continue on an alternative plan – an Asia-Pacific competition – to ensure a valuable and viable tournament is ready for implementation should resolution not be reached with South Africa on Super Rugby expansion plans.

28 Apr

Headlines
by Tracey Nelson
28 Apr 2009

Headlines from the current week

Luke McAlister will be signing with North Harbour and will play for the Blues in the 2010 Super 14, scuttling rumours that he may have been signing with the Hurricanes. McAlister is due back in New Zealand in June, and is likely to play for the Junior All Blacks so that he is available for selection for the TriNations series that kicks off in mid-July.

Chris Jack is returning to New Zealand from his time with the Saracens club in the UK and will play for the Crusaders in the 2010 Super 14. It is most likely Jack will sign with Tasman rather than Canterbury, as his wife’s family live in Nelson and they have close ties with the area. Jack has signed with the NZRU through to 2011, but will not be playing Air NZ Cup rugby this year.

Referee Steve Walsh has retired from his job with the NZRU. As the result of an enquiry into an employment problem that occurred at a SANZAR referee meeting in Sydney in December 2008, an agreement was made between Walsh and the NZRU, who will pay him out until the end of the year. Walsh admitted in a radio interview that he has struggled with both personal issues and alcohol in the past two years, and fully took responsibility for what had happened. Walsh made his National Referee Squad debut in 1996 and in total refereed 212 first class games, including 35 Test matches.

Security is not likely to be stepped up at North Harbour Stadium despite Blues’ coaches Pat Lam and Shane Howarth being verbally abused by an enraged fan during the Blues-Reds game on Saturday night. The disgruntled spectator made his way into the coaches’ box which is situated near the top of the main stand, and shredded his ticket as he vented his displeasure at the Blues’ performance on the night. Having left the box, he then returned to have another go and managed to leave again before security could apprehend him. The two coaches were escorted from the box by security after the conclusion of the match.

An administrative bungle has allowed Chiefs No 8 Sione Lauaki to escape any further punishment from a citing for a dangerous tackle during the Chiefs game against the Bulls over the weekend. Lauaki was yellow carded 10 minutes before half time after felling Bryan Habana with high tackle and was cited after the match. However, somewhat ludicrously the citing was dismissed on technical grounds because it was not received within the prescribed 12 hour period after the finish of the game. Lauaki will thereforebe available for the Chiefs game against the Stormers at Cape Town in their final match in South Africa before returning to New Zealand for the final two rounds.

23 Apr

NZRU grants dispensation to Luke McAlister
by Tracey Nelson
23 Apr 2009

The NZRU board announced today that they have approved exemption for Luke McAlister to allow him eligibility for initially selection in the Junior All Blacks who are playing in this year’s IRB Pacific Nations Cup, and in all probability selection for the All Blacks in the TriNations test series that starts in mid July.

Current NZRU policy states that to be eligible slection inthe All Blacks and other national teams, a player must be resident in New Zealand, contracted by the NZRU and have played in the competition immediately preceding selection, although the Board has the discretion to approve the selection of a player who did not meet the above criteria.

At its Board meeting in Wellington yesterday, the Board grantedexemption for McAlister, withthe following conditions:

  • he will play for the Barbarians invitational side prior to his return to New Zealand;
  • he will initially be eligible for selection only for the Junior All Blacks,
  • he would only be eligible for selection for the All Blacks in the Iveco Series squad, if injuryruled out the current contenders;
  • he will subsequently be eligible for selection in the All Blacks Investec Tri Nations squad .

  • The NZRU announced in February that McAlister had re-signed with the NZRU. He will return to New Zealand at the end of the English Premiership season next month.

    The 26-strong Junior All Blacks squad to play in the IRB Pacific Nations Cup and the 26-strong All Blacks squad to play in the Iveco Series will be announced at the conclusion of the Rebel Sport Super 14. A 30-strong All Blacks squad to play in the Investec Tri Nations will be named in July.

  • he will subsequently be eligible for selection in the All Blacks Investec Tri Nations squad .

  • The NZRU announced in February that McAlister had re-signed with the NZRU. He will return to New Zealand at the end of the English Premiership season next month.

    The 26-strong Junior All Blacks squad to play in the IRB Pacific Nations Cup and the 26-strong All Blacks squad to play in the Iveco Series will be announced at the conclusion of the Rebel Sport Super 14. A 30-strong All Blacks squad to play in the Investec Tri Nations will be named in July.

  • he would only be eligible for selection for the All Blacks in the Iveco Series squad, if injuryruled out the current contenders;
  • he will subsequently be eligible for selection in the All Blacks Investec Tri Nations squad .

  • The NZRU announced in February that McAlister had re-signed with the NZRU. He will return to New Zealand at the end of the English Premiership season next month.

    The 26-strong Junior All Blacks squad to play in the IRB Pacific Nations Cup and the 26-strong All Blacks squad to play in the Iveco Series will be announced at the conclusion of the Rebel Sport Super 14. A 30-strong All Blacks squad to play in the Investec Tri Nations will be named in July.