Category Archive: New Zealand Rugby

New Zealand Rugby News

Mar 21

Warren Gatland refines search for bearers of Lions pride | Robert Kitson

Coach has four weeks to put together a squad capable of overpowering the All Blacks for the first time since 1971

Picking the best British and Irish Lions squad to tour New Zealand has long been a fraught job. In 1993, as now, England had just lost to Ireland in Dublin on the final weekend and the selectors were required to gather the following day. “We spent the next eight hours arguing,” recalls the then assistant coach Dick Best. “At one stage we had 21 England players on the tour but because we’d lost to Ireland it got whittled down to 17. Afterwards Ian McGeechan said: ‘I’m not going again unless I can select the team.’”

Related: Six Nations 2017 verdict: Guardian writers choose their highs and lows

The hardest thing is normally the last four or five players, with the right personalities, people who are going to be good tourists

Related: New Zealand media on England loss: ‘Stuffed plastic bags in need of a trolley’

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Mar 19

New Zealand media on England loss: ‘Stuffed plastic bags in need of a trolley’

The two sides’ winning sequence battle has ended in a draw with some claiming it is in fact Ireland who are the All Blacks’ closest challengers

Eddie Jones has a habit of being at his most honest straight after matches. After England’s victory over Italy he was not playing ball but a better example was when, after beating Wales, he made his true feelings known about the Principality Stadium roof controversy, saying rugby union is “a winter sport”.

Jones is also always at pains to protect his players so, when he talked on Saturday evening of how keen England were to face New Zealand later this year, it felt like an obvious way to deflect from being outfought and out-thought by Ireland – even though there was no doubt some truth in it.

Related: Bravo England on 18 in a row but Cyprus beat rats, kicks and punches for 24 | Simon Burnton

Related: ‘Congratulations England’: reading between the lines in New Zealand

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Mar 13

Eddie Jones stokes All Blacks rivalry but warns of Ireland backlash

• England coach likens New Zealand’s Steve Hansen to Big Bad Wolf
• ‘Winning back-to-back grand slams is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’

Eddie Jones has stoked the rivalry between England and New Zealand by comparing his All Black counterpart, Steve Hansen, to the cunning Big Bad Wolf in Little Red Riding Hood and warning his players not to be seduced by the warm words of praise from the southern hemisphere over the weekend.

New Zealand’s head coach was complimentary about England following their 61-21 win against Scotland, suggesting they looked fitter and more motivated than they had done previously. Jones, however, suspects Hansen of trying to lull his squad – and, potentially, the British & Irish Lions – into a false sense of security. “It’s a bit like Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf when the wolf comes dressed up as the grandmother,” Jones said. “When an All Black coach is complimenting you, you always have to be careful.”

Related: England happy to wait until they can step out from All Blacks’ shadow | Andy Bull

Related: How England equalled New Zealand’s 18-match winning streak, match by match | Gerard Meagher

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Mar 09

What the All Blacks will have learned about Lions from this Six Nations so far | Paul Rees

England have been below their best and, while Scotland have shown quality, it’s another thing to take on the world champions in a running game

England are the only unbeaten team after three rounds of the Six Nations, but they are the only side that have not led at least once at half-time. A table based on the first half of matches would see Ireland on top, Italy third and England bottom.

Italy have led twice at half-time but they have scored in the second period in only one of their matches, at Twickenham where an unconverted try improved on their blanks against Wales and Ireland. While Wales improved markedly in the second half in Rome on the opening weekend, they washed down their interval tea with a mere three points in the next two.

Related: Six Nations: Vunipola brothers gunning for Scotland fuelled by sibling rivalry

Related: Jonny Gray leads Scotland Six Nations title charge but they can still improve | Robert Kitson

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Mar 04

Warren Gatland and would-be Lions: crunch time for North, Hartley and co | Paul Rees

With two weeks left to impress the coach, which players have put their hands up in the Six Nations and who might miss out on the tour to New Zealand?

Leigh Halfpenny looked the Test full-back from the start in 2013, not least because of his goal-kicking, but with Owen Farrell able to fill that role it is more open this year. Stuart Hogg offers the most in attack but his defence is suspect while the reverse is true of Halfpenny, whose threat with the ball in hand seems to diminish every year. Mike Brown’s “they don’t like it up ’em” approach is not likely to be enough in New Zealand while pace is an issue for Rob Kearney. Full-back may be filled by a player chosen in another position, such as Liam Williams or Elliot Daly, who offers a counterattacking threat while being a resolute last line of defence.

Related: Warren Gatland warning puts Lions on behaviour alert for New Zealand

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Mar 03

Why would anyone drop the All Blacks to play for Ulster? Charles Piutau explains

Charles Piutau missed out on winning the Rugby World Cup when he signed for Ulster but his move wasn’t about his success – it was about his family’s welfare

By Jonathan Drennan for Behind the Lines, part of the Guardian Sport Network

Charles Piutau grew up as the youngest of 10 siblings in Māngere, south Auckland, heavily influenced by his Tongan heritage. The suburb is home to many families from the Pacific Islands and was once the home to another son of industrious Tongan parents, the late great Jonah Lomu. In Maori culture there is a concept called “mana” that pervades Māngere, whether in church, school or at home. It denotes personal and collective pride, strength and identity. No man or woman is bigger than their community in a Tongan family. When you rise, you support your relatives along the way, as they have helped you in your development.

Two years ago, Piutau was an All Black who made a decision that some of his compatriots struggled to understand. At the age of 23 he was recognised regularly on the streets on Auckland as a rising star for his provincial and international teams. To the surprise of rugby fans in New Zealand, Piutau decided to postpone his international career and sign for Ulster. An All Black must play their club rugby in New Zealand and Piutau was swapping the fabled black jersey for the white of Ulster.

Related: Ruan Pienaar: ‘I wanted to come to Ulster as a foreigner and make a difference’

Related: A life in boxing: Freddie Roach on Ali, Tyson, Cotto, Pacquiao and his mum

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Feb 21

Dan Carter loses sponsorship deal after drink driving charge

  • Car maker Land Rover end relationship with All Blacks star
  • Carter admits he made a ‘big mistake’ last week in Paris

A drink driving charge has proved costly for All Blacks great Dan Carter after the car manufacturer Land Rover cut ties with the All Blacks fly-half following what he termed a “a massive error of judgement” in Paris last week.

Related: Fit-again Taulupe Faletau gives Wales ‘nice Murrayfield selection headache’

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Feb 18

Warren Gatland warning puts Lions on behaviour alert for New Zealand

The head coach wants his Lions to ‘mend some stuff’ from the 2005 tour in which Clive Woodward’s squad were mocked, goaded and whitewashed

The last time Warren Gatland had a dig at New Zealand, one of their national newspapers put a cartoon of him dressed as a clown on the front page of their sport section. That was in November, when Gatland said he was “embarrassed” that the New Zealand Herald had run a picture of the Australia coach, Michael Cheika, wearing a red nose and a yellow ruff around his neck.

So, of course the paper then gave Gatland the very same treatment. “It was a bit of a lesson for me,” Gatland says. “I was really disappointed with that. I was really upset them turning me into a clown.” He pauses, and offers just a hint of a grin. “They could have at least made me a happy clown.”

Related: Warren Gatland mocked as clown by New Zealand media after anti-fan remarks

Related: Richard Williams: Woodward’s pride came before Lions’ fall

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Feb 12

Rugby Tens: Waikato Chiefs honour Sione Lauaki with title win

Waikato Chiefs 12-5 Canterbury CrusadersChiefs lose two players to serious injuriesThe Chiefs have honoured the memory of fallen All Black Sione Lauaki by winning the inaugural Brisbane Global Rugby Tens title.In an emotion-charged all-Kiwi final, the …

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Feb 12

Sione Lauaki, former New Zealand rugby player, dies aged 35

Tributes pour in for ex-All Blacks and Chiefs loose forward who was diagnosed with kidney and heart problems in 2012The former All Blacks and Chiefs rugby loose forward Sione Lauaki has died aged 35.Lauaki was diagnosed with kidney and heart problems i…

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Jan 18

Aaron Cruden set for France with Montpellier move lined up

  • Flyhalf to leave New Zealand at end of Super Rugby season
  • Remains eligible for All Blacks selection for Lions tour in June and July

All Blacks flyhalf Aaron Cruden will leave New Zealand at the end of this year’s Super Rugby season after signing a three-year contract with French side Montpellier. 

The 28-year-old, who made the announcement on the Waikato Chiefs’ Facebook page on Wednesday, will still be eligible for All Blacks selection when the British and Irish Lions tour New Zealand later this year. 

Related: Growing popularity of sevens demands it be given the respect it deserves | Robert Kitson

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