Friday, June 06, 2008

International season starts Saturday

The international season kicks off Saturday, with referees under strict orders from the IRB to police the breakdown, and Southern Hemisphere sides having to resort to the old laws different from the ELVs played in this years' Super 14 (and different from an entirely new set of ELVs that will be used for the Sanzar Tri-Nations championship in a month). Confused? The SH players will be. Are upsets on the card?

The world champion Springboks host Six Nations champs Wales at Bloemfontein. Rugby Planet preview here.

South Africa: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Tonderai Chavanga, 13 Adrian Jacobs, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Butch James, 9 Bolla Conradie, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Luke Watson, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 John Smit (c), 1 Gurthro Steenkamp. Replacements: 16 CJ van der Linde, 17 Bismarck du Plessis, 18 Victor Matfield, 19 Danie Rossouw, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Peter Grant, 22 Percy Montgomery.

Wales: 15 Jamie Roberts, 14 Mark Jones, 13 Tom Shanklin, 12 Sonny Parker, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Gareth Cooper, 8 Ryan Jones (c), 7 Dafydd Jones, 6 Jonathan Thomas, 5 Alun-Wyn Jones, 4 Ian Gough, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Gethin Jenkins. Replacements: 16 Duncan Jones, 17 Richard Hibbard, 18 Ian Evans, 19 Gareth Delve, 20 Warren Fury, 21 James Hook, 22 Morgan Stoddart.

Date: Saturday 7 June, 2008
Kick-off: 15:00 (local) 14:00 (BST)
Venue: Vodacom Park, Bloemfontein
Referee: Dave Pearson (England)
Weather: Sunny, still, 18°C
Touch judges: Lyndon Bray (New Zealand), Stuart Terheege (England)
Television match official: Geoff Warren (England)
Assessor: Patrick Robin (France)

Early Saturday morning Eastern N.Am Time, the new-look All Blacks host Ireland at Wellington. This is New Zealand's first test match since their infamous flameout against France at the RWC quarter-finals. Many of the old crew have skipped to the northern hemisphere, meaning new faces starting for the ABs, some of whom are still recovering from last weekends' titantic Super 14 Final. Ireland, on the other hand, are playing under their normal rules and will be comprised mostly by the Munster team that won the Heineken Cup European championship two weeks ago. Ireland have never beaten the All Blacks, not in a century of competition, but this is a good opportunity for an historic boilover.

Rugby Planet preview here.

New Zealand Herald preview here.

Rugby Heaven preview here.

New Zealand: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Anthony Tuitavake, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 Rodney So'oialo, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 John Afoa, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Neemia Tialata. Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 John Schwalger, 18 Anthony Boric, 19 Adam Thomson, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Stephen Donald, 22 Leon MacDonald.

Ireland: 15 Robert Kearney, 14 Shane Horgan, 13 Brian O'Driscoll (c), 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Tommy Bowe, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 David Wallace, 6 Denis Leamy, 5 Donncha O'Callaghan, 4 Paul O'Connell, 3 John Hayes, 2 Jerry Flannery, 1 Marcus Horan. Replacements: 16 Rory Best, 17 Tony Buckley, 18 Mick O'Driscoll, 19 Shane Jennings, 20 Peter Stringer, 21 Geordan Murphy, 22 Girvan Dempsey.

Date: Saturday, June 7
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19:35 (07:35 GMT)
Weather: Showers, strong north-westerly wind, 8°C
Referee: Chris White (England)
Touch judges: Nigel Owens (Wales), Matt Goddard (Australia)
Television match official: Christophe Berdos (France)
Assessor: Stuart Beissel (New Zealand)


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