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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nude Blacks Looking For Sponsorship - At Least They Don't Need New Uniforms!

The Nude Blacks who started off playing annually in Dunedin's cold winters need sponsors. It isn't for new uniforms anyway! They are trying to go professional based on the novelty of playing rugby the way they were brought into this world, naked! The thought of scrums and rucks where naked guys (some girls play, but only very keen ones) rubbing up to and tackling each other is disturbing. The cold weather is a great leveller in this form of the game! Ball skills are a must.

Dunedin's Nude Blacks are looking for sponsorship heading into the Rugby World Cup.

However, unlike their local franchise team, the Nude Blacks will not be changing their uniform this season.

The team is likely to play three matches in the buff this year, including an unofficial curtain raiser for the All Blacks test against Fiji at Carisbrook.

Nude Blacks team spokesman Ralph Davies they've had phenomenal interest and want to capitalise on any international exposure.
Mr Davies says they're keen to get the Nude Blacks out there to entertain the public, and the team is very good for the city.

Rugby World Cup 2011 Sales Figures Released - Regional Centres Slow on the Uptake!

Rugby World Cup sales figures have been released, with Auckland's Eden Park the most sold stadium with the regional centres lagging behind with around 75% of tickets unsold for some of their matches. The problem with the regions is that they have meaningless matches between minnow teams and less population to attend these matches. The locals also realise that they can wait before buying tickets with no risk of missing out. Auckland has sold 90% of tickets, but they get some great matches including All Blacks vs France in Pool Play and most of the finals. While there are still about half the tickets still to be sold, these will be snapped up as New Zealanders are usually slackers and decide to show up at the last minute!

Southland would only sell out Rugby Park if the Stags were hosting a Ranfurly Shield challenge, expecting them to be more than half full for Scotland vs Romania is expecting quite a bit!

Have you bought your tickets yet? Which games will you attend?

Hundreds of thousands of Rugby World Cup seats remain empty, as many provinces have sold only a quarter of their stadium capacities.
Tickets elsewhere have moved briskly, however, putting pressure on for the leftovers when they are released on July 4.
Until then the general public can buy tickets through official travel agents and hospitality providers only, who sell them in packages with travel, accommodation or hospitality, such as corporate boxes.
"If anyone wants an absolute guarantee of tickets, that's the best place to go at the moment," said Rugby World Cup boss Martin Snedden.
Presently, the only public sales are to those who had booked to watch matches in Christchurch. The original ticketholders have been refunded and they now have the chance to buy tickets to the relocated fixtures.
Overall, the Cup remains half-full, with about 800,000 of 1.6 million total tickets sold. The sales target is 1.35 million.
"We've still got a significant way to go ... but it's achievable with a hard slog," Mr Snedden said.
Whangarei, Rotorua, New Plymouth, Palmerston North and Invercargill have about three-quarters of their seats left - with Rotorua the worst, so far filling just 18 per cent of its total, according to the latest breakdown.
It hosts three pool matches - Fiji v Namibia, Samoa v Namibia and Ireland v Russia - at Rotorua International Stadium, which has a capacity of 26,000. About 14,000 of its tickets have been bought, leaving 45,000 unsold and a further 19,000 yet to be put on the market.
Palmerston North has sold the fewest total number of tickets, at just 8000, while Whangarei and Invercargill have each sold 9000.
Palmerston Mayor Jono Naylor was reported as saying the town was just procrastinating. "I'm not fazed. It's often the case that people wait to the last minute to buy tickets to events in Palmerston North," he said.
Waikato Stadium is the only venue to have filled more than half its capacity on public sales alone.
Wellington and Napier have also sold well - with the Hawkes Bay city selling out all but 2000 tickets made available - while Eden Park has sold the highest percentage of publicly released tickets, at 90 per cent.
The statistics were released in December, with three months left in the latest phase of ticket sales. Since then, about 55,000 more public ticket sales - or 8 per cent of the previous total - were sold.
The next full ticketing update from organisers is expected next month.
The NZ-France match and the knockouts are expected to quickly sell out when the final phase of public ticket sales starts in July. Everything else will probably have vacancies.
Ticketmaster last month announced cheaper hospitality packages, starting at $3200, to the semifinals and finals at Eden Park, that were "designed to make the Rugby World Cup 2011 more affordable". The prices of tickets themselves, however, will not be discounted, even close to the tournament.
House of Travel retail director Brent Thomas said travel packages for popular matches would not last much longer.
"We're not talking about thousands of tickets - it's in the hundreds. It's very limited," Mr Thomas said. Pool matches had been selling faster than expected, he said.
Matt Lines, the director of Seasonz Travel, said those who had missed out in the public ticket ballots were buying finals packages through the company to guarantee their tickets.
The company could sell their tickets to the NZ-France match "15 times over", he said, and the Australia-Ireland match was popular with Australians who wanted a weekend visit.
To date more than 105,000 tickets have been bought through the travel programme, and final figures are expected to reach 110,000.
Australians had bought the majority of tickets at 37 per cent, but the level of French interest was a surprise at 23 per cent of all orders, said David White, operations director for Rugby Travel and Hospitality.
Other markets have surprised. There has been strong interest from Tahiti for the NZ-France match, owing to its large French expat population.
Venue - Released ticket sales - Seats left
* Eden Park - 90 per cent - 123,000*^
* North Harbour - 63 per cent - 52,000*
* Whangarei - 38 per cent - 27,000
* Hamilton - 88 per cent - 41,000
* Rotorua - 24 per cent - 64,000
* New Plymouth - 29 per cent - 62,000
* Napier - 88 per cent - 16,000
* Palmerston North - 47 per cent - 22,000
* Wellington - 80 per cent - 152,000*
* Nelson - 62 per cent - 23,000*
* Dunedin - 66 per cent - 59,000*
* Invercargill - 38 per cent - 25,000*
* Total - 69 per cent - 666,000*
* Excludes 255,000 total seats made available by relocating Christchurch matches.
^ Includes 202,000 commercial sales.(Figures exclude 55,000 sales for which breakdowns were unavailable.)

* Australia v Ireland, Eden Park (Auckland)
* France v Canada, McLean Park (Napier)
* New Zealand v France, Eden Park (Auckland)
* Fiji v Samoa, Eden Park (Auckland)
* France v Tonga, Stadium Wellington
* England v Scotland, Eden Park (Auckland)
* New Zealand v Canada, Stadium Wellington
* Knockout rounds
* Tickets packaged with transport or accommodation through official travel agents (House of Travel and Seasonz in NZ).
* Tickets packaged with hospitality, such as corporate boxes, through official hospitality agents (Eden Park and others).
From early July:
* Public sales of individual tickets through organisers.
The Rugby World Cup is relying on its Facebook page - and its one million fans - as it enters the final stretch of selling the tournament abroad.
The page has attracted a million fans, only 11 per cent of whom are from New Zealand. That leaves 890,000 people overseas who have taken an interest.
They overwhelm the 85,000 visitors the tournament has secured so far, a number that already exceeds expectations.
Tournament boss Martin Snedden said the biggest growth potential was in Australia, where visitors could put off making a booking until closer to the date. Some are likely to make repeat visits during the six-week event.
Demand in New Zealand, meanwhile, was likely to heat up once the tournament got started, he said.
The excitement would be as much about a six-week nationwide festival being held alongside the rugby as the sport itself.
"A lot of Kiwis' engagement won't be based around rugby but the festival," he said. "It will probably become one of the great success stories of the whole event. Nothing this extensive has ever been attempted."
More than 600 events have already been signed up for the festival, which has been named the REAL New Zealand Festival.
Tickets, particularly in the provinces, are likely to keep selling up till kick-off.
"Event history tells you an awful lot of tickets sell once the tournament starts," Mr Snedden said. "[In some cases] you will be able to rock up and buy tickets at the gate. It's unrealistic to expect we will sell out everything around the country."
Top ticket buyers
1. Australia
2. Britain and Ireland
3. France
4. United States and Canada
5. South Africa
Honorable mentions: Tahiti, Kazakhstan

Highlanders Hooker Rutledge Says Jersey Change Should Have Happened Years Ago!

Here is something for all those narrow minded people who are so oppossed to the Highlanders changing their colours to light green. The Highlanders are different to Otago and Southland. They play in different competitions and are separately run. They are different entities, yet for some reason they have been forced to have the same packaging.

Good on you Cabbage! At least someone has their head screwed on!

Jason Rutledge says the introduction of a neutral Highlanders colour should have happened 17 years ago for the Super Rugby franchise, and admits for him the new playing strip would be a welcome relief.

Highlanders officials have caused a stir, with many fans, especially those in Dunedin, outraged by the decision to move away from the traditional colours of blue and gold with a splash of maroon, and head in a new direction from Friday night.

The Highlanders will run on to Carisbrook in Dunedin in a new playing strip believed to be predominantly green, with dark blue and white also included.

Rutledge told The Southland Times that he had become increasingly frustrated listening to radio stations in Dunedin yesterday where people were rubbishing the decision to go for a new look.

He believed it was long overdue because they needed to show that it was not an Otago, Southland or North Otago team, they were the Highlanders, a completely separate identity, he said.

"I think to be brutally honest it should have been done in 1996, when the Highlanders started. Every year we wait to see the jersey to see how much maroon would be in it and then get a bit pissed off with how much there is, but it's not about Otago or Southland." Rutledge said during his time playing for the Highlanders he had felt uncomfortable wearing the blue and gold Otago colours, given that he had grown up with the provincial neighbours being the fiercest rivals of Southland, for whom he has played more than 100 games.

"I never felt that comfortable running out and seeing the blue and gold flags waving about and hearing people chanting `go Otago'. I always find it awkward. I can see that the Otago guys probably like the blue and gold jersey but this is not an Otago, Southland or North Otago team. We're completely different. A lot of the guys aren't even from Otago or Southland," he said.

While all the focus this week in the lead-up to Friday night's game has been about what the Highlanders will wear, the enormity of the game goes has taken a back seat.

The disappointing loss to the Lions on Saturday night has put them on the back foot as they chase a spot in the top six for a playoff berth.

Rutledge said the Highlanders had gone away from their attacking nature that had found them success previously, and played the ball too close to the ruck against the Lions.
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Against Force he expected the Highlanders would need to play with a bit more width to not only grab a win, but to push for a four-try bonus point as well.

Rutledge has started from the bench in the Highlanders' previous two outings, and it is understood Jamie Joseph prefers Mo Schwalger as a ball runner over Rutledge.

The veteran Southland hooker has re-signed with the Highlanders for another year, saying he never looked seriously at any other options.

"At one stage I thought I would never play professional rugby so to be doing it when I'm 34, in my 35th year, is going to be great," Rutledge said.


100 Days Until Rugby World Cup 2011 - Are You Excited Yet?

There are one hundred days until Rugby World Cup 2011 are you excited yet? I think once the actual tournament starts, fans, players and media arrive and the matches actually kick off, it will be magical. The country will get behind it, but for the majority of the next one hundred days it could be overkill with exposure to heaps of advertising and promotion which will become unbearable after a while. It is like the countdown to Christmas. It can be hectic organising your schedule and being bombarded with advertising, but once it arrives it is magic.

Which games are you going to and are you excited? I am heading to the Wellington matches except the recently added Scotland vs Argentina and I am going to the Rugby World Cup 2011 final, thanks to the ballot!

To be honest, I have too much to get through in life before then to get excited just yet, but once it arrives, it will be amazing. Looking at past Rugby World Cup finals (it can be painful), but the atmosphere looks unreal!

One hundred days out from New Zealand's biggest international event, and after a year overshadowed by tragedy and recession, Rugby World Cup organisers and the Government are uniting in a call to Kiwis to get behind the tournament.
The 100-day milestone will be marked at a ceremony at Parliament today, six years after former prime minister Helen Clark and All Black Tana Umaga scored an unlikely victory to secure the 2011 World Cup hosting rights by pitching New Zealand as a stadium of four million people.
But with just months until the opening ceremony, Rugby New Zealand 2011 chief executive Martin Snedden admits a lot has changed since those heady days.
He still believes in the stadium of four million but admits "that stadium is still under construction".
He is urging people to be realistic about the knockbacks that New Zealand has experienced since 2005, when it was in the middle of boom times economically. "I think the country itself is a little bit unsettled, we've been shaken by the earthquakes and the economic situation, so in a lot of ways Rugby World Cup has had to work within that environment, this year in particular."
Until the February 22 earthquake, ticket sales were on track, international visitor numbers were well ahead of original 2005 forecasts and visitor numbers from Australia were also well ahead of projections, he said.
Revenue from ticket sales had reached $189m, with another $79m expected by the start of the tournament.
But about $20m in tickets was refunded after the earthquake forced organisers to shift games from Christchurch. Now, 789,000 tickets have been sold, out of a target 1.35 million.
Mr Snedden remains convinced that target is still achievable. "Something that gives me confidence is the fact that, for the RWC in Australia in 2003, they sold more than 600,000 tickets in the period we've got left now ... we have always known that the final surge of ticket sales was going to be critical."
The next tranche of tickets will go on sale on July 4, mostly targeted at the domestic and Australian markets. The cheapest, for games in some smaller centres, have been slow to sell, but the most expensive tickets have sold quickly.
The tournament is expected to attract a host of VIPs and will be used as a springboard to showcase New Zealand food, wine, fashion and entertainment, as well as tourism opportunities.
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Organisers expect a $40m operating loss, underwritten by the Government and the New Zealand Rugby Union. But the Reserve Bank is predicting a $700m boost to the economy during the six weeks of the event – and $1.3 billion in overall economic benefit.
Mr Snedden says the tournament is due some good fortune. "I need some luck; the tournament does need some luck ... the performance of the All Blacks will have some impact and the performance of the Australian team as well."
An All Blacks loss would be a blow for the game in New Zealand – but the tournament should be a success regardless, Sir Brian Lochore says.
The former All Black, selector and coach of the inaugural Rugby World Cup winners in 1987, said it would be devastating if New Zealand lost. Finger-pointing and "navel-gazing" would ensue, which could turn ugly.
"That will be a big downer ... it's not the ideal situation for rugby in New Zealand; we've been through it so many times."
People should instead focus on having a good time and let a win be the icing on the cake, he said from his home in Masterton yesterday.
"We will be over the moon if we win the World Cup, there's no doubt about that, but first things first. We all want New Zealand to win, but I think the World Cup will be a success if everyone gets involved and enjoys what's in front of them.
"We are a rugby nation, and we like contests like the one we are poised to face.
"If we can look after the people who are coming here and do ourselves proud in terms of pleasing them, I think you can say the World Cup will be a success," Sir Brian said.
Five benefits of the Rugby World Cup
1. Millions around the world will watch the tournament on television, generating huge exposure.
2. Tourist numbers after the tournament are expected to increase.
3. International companies could be persuaded to do more business with New Zealand companies.
4. More than $250m has been invested in infrastructure upgrades, such as stadium refurbishments.
5. While most of the spending will be in the main centres, regional areas will get a boost as well.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Super Rugby Team of Round 15 - Return of the Old Firm!

Dan Carter is back to his best
Ma'a Nonu took SBW's place in the midfield this week!
Conrad Smith

Super Rugby Team of Round 15 sees the old stars returning to some form.  The All Blacks midfield of Conrad Smith and Ma'a Nonu finally scored well, so did other seasoned star players like Daniel Carter, Bismarck Du Plessis, Stephen Moore, Nathan Sharpe, Danie Rossouw, Cameron Shepherd and JP Pietersen.  The South Africans dominate this team, especially in the forwards with Ashley Johnson having a massive game, while Nick Koster is a bargain.  South African teams dominated this weekend, although New Zealand only had three teams playing.  Some Crusaders supporters think that referee Stuart Dickinson should make this team, while people like me are gutted that they dropped the dynamic Ashley Johnson for Adam Thomson who didn't even start this week following a late withdrawal!
Super Rugby Team of Round 15 by country
South Africa 6
Australia 3
New Zealand 3

Super Rugby Team of Round 15 by team
Sharks 3
Force 2
Hurricanes 2
Stormers 1
Bulls 1
Cheetahs 1
Brumbies 1
Crusaders 1

1 Stephen Moore FR BRM 1 470 470 $1,122,500
2 Bismarck du Plessis FR SHK 1 360 360 $1,447,500
1 Nathan Sharpe LK FOR 1 370 370 $1,322,500
2 Danie Rossouw LK BUL 1 355 355 $967,500
1 Ashley Johnson LF CHE 1 640 640 $1,005,000
2 Nick Koster LF STM 1 405 405 $592,500
1 Daniel Carter HV CRU 1 450 450 $1,297,500
2 Patrick Lambie HV SHK 1 450 450 $872,500
1 Ma'a Nonu CT HUR 1 400 400 $1,062,500
2 Conrad Smith CT HUR 1 400 400 $1,015,000
1 JP Pietersen OB SHK 1 490 490 $970,000
2 Cameron Shepherd OB FOR 1 445 445 $950,000

Who do you think deserved to make this team?

Why The Highlanders Should Wear Green - It Is Re-branding!

I find it amazing that Highlanders fans have become more fired up and supportive of their team changing their uniforms from blue, gold and maroon to green than they have been over the past five years.  The Highlanders recent history is poor and their support matches that with small crowds showing up to watch the bottom New Zealand team in recent years.

They finally brought in a new management structure and offices, a new coaching team and a new home ground at Forsyth Barr stadium in what some would call "Re-branding".  Out with the old and stale regime and everything it stood for and in with the new.  This latest change of jersey is the next stage in this "Re-branding".  It is a business these days and this confirms it.  Most struggling businesses make changes and this often includes office location, management and uniforms. 

Why wear green?

Green represents the lush green southern pastures and nature which is a big part of the southern area.  The funny thing is that this change of colour to green would identify itself with the area, when ironically blue, gold and maroon did that.   

It is a professional franchise game where the teams are no longer the Otago Highlanders and instead they are the Highlanders.  They are loosely associated with the Otago rugby team which has been so terrible in recent years and since been surpassed by Southland player representation.  The Highlanders play in the  Super Rugby competition to Otago and Southland who play in the ITM Cup.  It is just a team name and no longer represents the region.  Half the squad and the coach come from outside the region anyway, and the change to a new strip shows this.  The main fear for fans is that the franchise will be moved away from the southern area one day, is this on the cards?

But why now? 

It seems strange to change the jerseys with three rounds left of the Super Rugby competition.  It is the last game at Carisbrook and maybe this signifies this.  Another reason could be that they are playing three teams who wear blue (Force, Waratahs and Blues) in their last three games? Although I think the maroon away jersey would suffice. Maybe they want to boost money by selling more jerseys, given that the existing Super Rugby jersey just got released earlier this season.  It will also create new interest in viewing the game on Friday night?  Or is this a publicity stunt?

I wonder if other teams will follow suit and try to distance their Super Rugby team from the regions they represent and create a new identity?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

New Highlanders Green Jerseys To Be Unveiled on Friday Night Last Game At Carisbrook

The new light green Highlanders jerseys will be released on Friday night when they host the Western Force at Carisbrook.  Take a look at the artist impressions above!  I guess, this is another way to make money, as people will actually watch the game on Friday night, and people will buy these new jerseys, even though the current ones are less than a season old.

It will be interesting to see if the change of colour will still clash with the other five teams who wear blue anyway?  Surely it makes sense to have a colour which doesn't clash.  There will be a blue stripe on them still, but no Southland maroon anywhere to be seen, suggesting that the Highlanders are separating themselves from their feeder provinces.  Those colours blue, maroon and gold will be seen in the ITM Cup, but it is different to Super Rugby. 

I have got used to the idea, as long as the Highlanders get results, it shouldn't matter what colours they wear.  If all the teams did this, I don't it would be a problem, given that Super Rugby is completely different to ITM Cup now.

The Highlanders’ will mark their last home game at Carisbrook by playing in a new 2012 strip in their Investec Super Rugby match against the Force on Friday, the franchise announced today.

Highlanders General Manager Roger Clark said today that while the new-look colours would be introduced fully next year, the team will play in the new colours on Friday night, and the jerseys will be signed and gifted to fans at the Carisbrook.

Clark said the new colours – which will only be unveiled in full at the Carisbrook on Friday – reflect a time of positive change for the Highlanders.

“We believe the time is right for change.  We have a new coach, new players, new expectations, new and renewed fans, and next year, we will have a new home stadium.  We hope that Highlanders fans in our region and around the country will continue to support a great coach and a great team, support the new colours and make the Highlanders franchise strong and enduring,” Clark said.

“We have chosen colours that we believe represent the physical characteristics of the whole franchise region. The colours will make a clear statement about the geography of our region and will stand out in the Super Rugby international competition”

“A year ago, the Highlanders was not a strong franchise – the team wasn’t performing and it was hard work for our fans.  This year, there’s a real sense of renewal and renewed energy and our own research tells us that people across our Provincial Union regions want us to have a franchise identify distinct from their provinces”.

 “While not revealing what next season’s colours will be, supporters will not have to wait long to find out – I’m encouraging all our fans to help us say goodbye to the Carisbrook and get down to support the new look, but more importantly, to support the team”.

“To mark our last home game, and to repay the support we have had so far this season, at the conclusion of the game the team will give the new-look playing shirts off their backs to 15 lucky supporters.”

New Zealand Rugby Union General Manager of Professional Rugby Neil Sorensen said the NZRU was supportive of the colour change.

“The Highlanders are going great guns; it’s been exciting watching them this year.  Jamie is an inspirational coach, and they have a lot of new – and not so new – players who have made other teams sit up and notice them”.

“Next year, the Highlanders will have a new home, a new strip and potentially some new players.  If 2012 is anything like 2011 it’s going to be a great year to be a Highlanders fan. I can’t wait to watch them.”

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph said “for myself and the team this is an extremely important and exciting step in the development of the Highlanders into a truly regional team.  We currently have a group of men from all over this country that are extremely proud to represent this region and we will all happily champion these colours as our own. Really our job is to build some pride into playing for the jersey and ensure the opposition have plenty of respect for it”



The Highlanders represent the people, places, towns, cities and essence of the southern region of New Zealand - from as far north as the Waitaki River to as far south as Stewart Island. The franchise formed in 1996 was originally known as the Otago Highlanders and was administered by the host union Otago. In 2000 Otago was removed from the name to better reflect that the Highlanders represented the whole region of Otago, North Otago and Southland.

Since 1996 the colours of the Highlanders have been a combination of blue, gold and maroon reflecting the provincial colours of the region. The design and colour shading of the jersey has changed several times over the years but still retaining the colours of the Provincial Union partners. In 2011 the Highlanders’ home jersey is largely blue and gold and the alternate jersey is maroon and gold.

2011 has been a year of change for the Highlanders – most significantly, the Otago RFU relinquishing the hosting rights of the Highlanders to an independent management structure.

Under the stewardship of a new independent executive structure, and the new lease of life inspired by a new Head Coach and a new exciting Investec Super Rugby conference format, the Highlanders are ready to complete their transition into a modern, exciting, inspiring and excellent Super Rugby team to represent the strengths of the Southern provinces.
The Highlanders will play their last round robin game of the 2011 Investec Super Rugby season at their old faithful home ground Carisbrook on Friday 3 June.

Roger Clark


Why are you changing colours?
We believe the change will allow the Highlanders to stand in independent colours that reflect the physical characteristics of the whole franchise; they are refreshing and have an international feel that matches the competition we play in. We believe the new colours will stand out and showcase our region positively.

We must remember that the Highlanders over that last few years have been widely acknowledged as the worst performing NZ franchise. Our job is clearly to turn that around, we have begun that process and the colour change is the next step in the evolution of the Highlanders. To survive we have to get more support across our whole region as currently the support levels are unsustainable.

 To secure the future of the franchise we have changed a lot of things about the Highlanders and we will continue to make changes until we get it right! We are determined to fix this thing.

What is wrong with drawing on the regional provincial colours you currently have?
Nothing, quite rightly the provinces are very proud of their colours and they mean a great deal to the provinces. They have over 125 years of tradition attached to their colours, and our hope is that they are around for another 125 years. However the Highlanders are only 16 years of age they are not a provincial team and do not play in a provincial competition. We are a regional team that play in an international competition and we want colours that reflect that situation.

Why aren’t you releasing the colours today?
We want to make Friday a special occasion for the ground, the team and the supporters, so as not to take anything away from the event we are waiting till Friday.

How did you arrive at the colours you selected?
Our objective was to identify colours that you could relatively logically associate with our region. The obvious geographical features of our region immediately spring to mind i.e. rolling hills, rugged highlands, mountains and lakes.

How is the new jersey going down with the players?
Overall very positive - but like any change some people will be immediately sceptical, some will take a wait and see approach; others say yes that’s good and move on.

What about the provincial unions?
We have kept them in the loop throughout this process as much as we could and again we understand that this is a subject very close to their heart but we have explained our reasoning and we believe that the buy in if not already there will be eventually. At the end of the day everyone is entitled to their personal opinion.

Why now?
We feel the time is right, there have been a good many changes over the last year, a new coach, a new team, more importantly some different results and some new fans. Next year we head into a new era in a new home if ever the time was going to be a right time to go to a new strip its now.


The jersey change continued the rebuild of the franchise with new coach and new management and new offices, Highlanders general manager Roger Clark told the ODT.

The New Highlanders Super Rugby Jersey - Should The Highlanders Wear A David Bain Jersey?

Which new Super Rugby jersey would you rather see them wearing next weekend against the Force?  The light green one or the David Bain special as modelled by Highlanders captain Jamie Mackintosh?  One of these represents the region more than the other one!

Stuart Dickinson Do You Love Him or Hate Him?

Australian referee Stuart Dickinson showed everyone why he wasn't selected to officiate at the Rugby World Cup 2011 with an inept performance which saw the Reds defeat the Crusaders 17-16 in front of a record crowd of 48,000 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.  He only got the call up for this match when Steve Walsh withdrew with injury.  Getting someone the standard of Dickinson to officiate such a crucial match was always going to be a bold move. 

I am not a Crusaders fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I thought they were hard done by and were penalised heavily with Dickinson awarding 11 penalties to the Reds and 4 to the Crusaders.

The Reds scored their first try from a missed forward pass and there were also several knock ons and forward passes missed throughout the match.

There was one situation when the Crusaders journeyman Brent Ward put an up and under up and chased it up and missed the tackle and Corey Flynn then made a covering tackle but was penalised for not retiring 10 metres.  In the second half the same thing happened when a Reds player did the same thing and Radike Samo made the tackle in the same situation and was not penalised.  We just want consistency in our referees.

His refereeing at the breakdown was a lottery and it seemed that he was more interested in not upsetting the massive crowd, than being impartial.

Don't get me wrong, I thought the Reds played well in this battle of attrition, with Will Genia and Quade Cooper to the fore.  I also loved Scott Higganbotham's performance.  The Reds defence did hang tough by keeping the monster midfield of Sonny Bill Williams and Robbie Fruean quiet.  The Crusaders dominated set pieces and you can only imagine what trouble their backline could create if they were at full strength with Israel Dagg and Sean Maitland on deck.  But they aren't, and won't be for the rest of the season!

This was a close game that either side could have won, but I get the feeling that the Reds winning it with a controversial penalty really summed up the match. 

Man of the match:  Stuart Dickinson or Will Genia.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Watch Live Streaming Super Rugby Round 15 Reds vs Crusaders

Watch live streaming Super Rugby Round 15 Reds vs Crusaders.  This is going to be an epic match between two of the top teams in Super 15 rugby.  Who will win? 


Friday, May 27, 2011

Watch Live Streaming Super Rugby Round 15 Highlanders vs Lions, Brumbies vs Stormers, Sharks vs Waratahs, Bulls vs Cheetahs

Watch Live Streaming Super Rugby Round 15 Highlanders vs Lions, Brumbies vs Stormers, Sharks vs Waratahs, Bulls vs Cheetahs.


Highlanders Change To Green Strip Separates Professionalism From Amateur

The latest decision to change the Highlanders Super Rugby jerseys from the traditional blue, maroon and gold is a significant move from the amateur ITM Cup competition where blue and gold have traditionally been the colours of Otago and maroon, gold and blue the colours of Southland who are the two main unions in the franchise. It is difficult to know if the change is because there are too many other blue teams in Super Rugby or if it is a sign of the Highlanders wanting to differentiate themselves from the Otago and Southland ITM Cup teams?

I think the latter is the real reason for the change. Less than half of the Highlanders squad in 2011 actually play for Otago or Southland in the ITM Cup, with the coach, Jamie Joseph bringing in players from outside the area with him down south in an attempt to boost their chances. It was always going to be this way with the Highlanders area only having about 200,000 people in it. Super Rugby is the professional game and player loyalties give way to the team which offers players a professional contract. People play for the money and not necessarily the loyalty as there are plenty of people who play for several Super Rugby teams in their careers.

The interesting thing is that in the past a player would transfer to a specific ITM Cup team and then be offered a Super Rugby contract for the area too. This gave the power to the Super Rugby franchises, but these days the power has gone back to the provinces in the ITM Cup who are helped by a salary cap and are able to sign players for the ITM Cup and they can then go to a different franchise base outside the provinces boundaries for Super Rugby. The competitions have therefore been separated and this means that instead of the Highlanders colours having a history dating back to the early days of Otago and Southland rugby over 100 years ago, the colours only date back to the start of the Highlanders in 1996.

It is a difficult concept to grasp, but ITM Cup is where the heart and passion is. That is where players come together and play for the passion of the jersey, while Super Rugby is where some of the same guys just happen to wear the jersey representing the Highlanders, but don't necessarily have any allegiance to the area. This is why I prefer the ITM Cup. The next thing we know, Super Rugby teams will do what many other sports have done and actual franchises will get up and move. Whatever happened to the Charlotte Hornets in the NBA or the LA Raiders in NFL? They moved. We could well see a team called the Highlanders in name based in the southern North Island. They have already played home games there and this could be the next step!

I just find this changing to the light green jersey so strange. Why couldn't the Highlanders play in maroon to represent the Southland? I think this represents the movement away from amateurism and towards professionalism. The ITM Cup and Super Rugby have just moved one step further away from each other. Is this a bad thing? Only time will tell. Remember, professional sport is still young in New Zealand.

Rugby World Cup 2011 Release Finals Tickets For Sale Soon

Great news! Rugby New Zealand 2011 will soon release a limited number of tickets to the semi-finals and Final in June on a 'first come, first served' basis to those fans who entered the original ballots that took place in February.

As you entered into the ballots when you applied for tickets last year, you are now being offered the opportunity to purchase these tickets.

Tickets to semi-final 1 and semi-final 2 will be available from 9am (NZT) Thursday June 2

The Final
Tickets to the Final will be available from 9am (NZT) Friday June 3

Tickets to all three matches can be purchased online here

These tickets will remain on sale until 5pm (NZT) June 8 or until allocations are exhausted (whichever is earlier). Please note RNZ 2011 may open this offer to the general public from June 6 depending on availability. Ticket terms and conditions apply.

First come, first served!

As you can imagine, tickets to these matches are in extremely high demand, so you will need to act fast.

Ticket limits of four for each semi-final and two for the Final will apply.

Make the most of this chance to be there, amongst the crowd at some of the biggest, most thrilling matches of the Tournament. Get in quick and it could be you!

Best Regards

Martin Snedden

CEO, Rugby New Zealand 2011 Ltd.

New Zealand Activists Threaten Rugby World Cup

Like a scene reminicent of the 1981 Springboks tour of New Zealand, activists upset at the large amount money being spent on the Rugby World Cup at the expense of other parts of New Zealand culture are threatening action when New Zealand host the tournament. Will they be flying planes and throwing flour bombs because the Government spends more on staging the Rugby World Cup when there are pension, welfare and job cuts. I hope these people find other ways of venting their frustration rather than ruining our reputation at the tournament and causing senseless confrontation. Bring on the rugby, I say!

WELLINGTON, May 27, 2011 (AFP) - - Activists in New Zealand have threatened to disrupt this year's Rugby World Cup with protests over government cutbacks, including possibly flour-bombing Auckland's Eden Park stadium from the air.

Angered by cuts to pensions, welfare and public service jobs announced in the conservative government's budget this month, a group called the Coalition for Social Justice said it would target the September 9-October 23 tournament.

"(We) intend to take action during the World Cup to alert the world that New Zealand is not as squeaky clean as people might perceive," spokesman Meredydd Barrar told the New Zealand Herald.

"We might have to flour-bomb Eden Park again."

Barrar was referring to a 1981 cricket Test between New Zealand and South Africa, which was called off after anti-apartheid protesters threw flour bombs and flares onto the ground from a light aircraft, hitting one All Black player.

There were also violent clashes between police and protesters outside the stadium.

Former Green MP Sue Bradford said that rugby's showcase tournament was an opportunity to highlight issues such as public service cutbacks.

"There is a lot of talk at the moment in different groups about actions at the time of the World Cup," she told the Herald.

"I think there will certainly be protests at that time."

Maori activists said earlier this year that they would also consider using the World Cup to air the indigenous community's grievances.

At the time, Rugby New Zealand 2011 chief executive Martin Snedden said demonstrators risked a strong public backlash if they took to the streets during the event, which is being held in New Zealand for the first time since 1987.

"Where the country is trying to put its whole collective foot forward, I don't think you will find people want to spoil that," he said.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

May I Present - McTHOR - This Is How New Zealanders See Richie McCaw!


This photo shows why we were so glad that All Blacks captain Richie McCaw re-signed with the New Zealand Rugby Union. You will be able to see the 3D version in cinemas across New Zealand in October!


Super Rugby Newsflash - The Highlanders To Play In Green Shirts - Why?

The Highlanders Super Rugby team is set to play in light green uniforms with the new strip to be unveiled on Monday. The blue, gold and maroon uniform represents the Otago and Southland colours which makes sense, but I think that it is more of a cost saving measure.

The most likely reason is that the Highlanders last three games are against teams which wear blue in the Force, Waratahs and Blues. This could be the reason, given that two of those matches are away. I wonder if it is just for the last three matches this season or permanent? What is wrong with the maroon Southland coloured away uniform?

For some reason three of the Australian teams have blue uniforms, while the Blues and Bulls also have blue uniforms. Nearly half of the teams in the Super Rugby competition have blue uniforms meaning that the away strip gets used often. No teams would clash with green and they could play every match in it.

Another reason could be because there are so many drafted players from outside the Highlanders franchise area and going to light green would make them not seem like outsiders so much.

One other possible reason is that the National Rugby League team which represents the most boring city in Australia wears light green and some would say (not me) that New Zealand's most boring city Invercargill's team should also wear light green.

What do you think of the Highlanders wearing light green in Super Rugby? Would the Highlanders lose their identity without the Otago and Southland colours?

A change in the colour of the playing strip for the Highlanders is set to be unveiled by the Super 15 rugby franchise on Monday.
Highlanders general manager Roger Clark told the Otago Daily Times that it would make a major announcement next week and it involved the jersey design.
The newspaper understood the team's colours of blue, gold and maroon would be ditched in favour of a new light green jersey.

Here is the green strip



Super Rugby 15 Picks and Players to Watch - Reds vs Crusaders Should Be A Cracker!

Sonny Bill Williams returns for the match of Super Rugby Round 15 against the Reds. The Crusaders have an impressive forward pack, but are under strength in the backs. The Reds are on a roll and this match will be an absolute beauty. It is time to stand up and be counted with the Sharks vs Waratahs and Bulls vs Cheetahs matches also having plenty riding on them for both teams.

Three teams have the bye, they are the Blues, Chiefs and Rebels.

For punters there are always upsets, which gives everyone the opportunity to make up placings.

Hurricanes vs Force

These two teams are playing for pride in Palmerston North. The Hurricanes welcome back some of their stars like Cory Jane and Conrad Smith, while the Force will struggle without James O'Connor.

Players to watch: Victor Vito, Aaron Cruden, Hosea Gear, Sam Wykes

Teams: Hurricanes vs Western Force
Time: 27/05/2011 19:35
Venue: FMG Stadium
Pick: Home team by 13 & above

Highlanders vs Lions

The Highlanders need to win this one and preferably require four tries to stay in contention for the Top Six. The Lions are handy away from home and this match will be physical. The clash between first fives Conrad Jantjies and Lima Sopoaga will be interesting.

Players to watch: Adam Thomson, Kade Poki, Ben Smith, Bandise Maku, Jacob Johhanes Taute, Wickus Van Heerden.

Teams: Highlanders vs Lions
Time: 28/05/2011 19:35
Venue: Carisbrook
Pick: Home team by 13 & above

Brumbies vs Stormers

The Brumbies have been so disappointing this season that only their most loyal fans will pick them to win this match. The Stormers were great last week and Eden Park and they should be too strong for the Brumbies who I think will be tougher to beat than expected.

Players to watch: Stephen Moore, Matt Giteau, Pat McCabe, Andries Bekker, Jaque Fourie.

Teams: Brumbies vs Stormers
Time: 28/05/2011 21:40
Venue: Canberra Stadium
Pick: Away team by 12 & under

Sharks vs Waratahs

This match has a major influence on the Top Six with both of these teams in contention. A win will have a double whammy effect for the winner which will also deny the loser points. The Sharks were disappointing against the Bulls last week, while the Waratahs have a habit of winning ugly. If you need the points it could pay to pick the Waratahs.

Players to watch: Bismarck du Plessis, Patrick Lambie, Tatafu Polatu-Nau, Kurtley Beale.

Teams: Sharks vs Waratahs
Time: 29/05/2011 03:05
Venue: Shark Tank
Pick: Home team by 12 & under

Bulls vs Cheetahs

This is a local grudge match between two of the high veldt teams in South Africa. They both mathematically have a chance of making the Top Six, but only if they win this match. Both of these teams are finishing strongly.

Players to watch: Chilliboy Ralepelle, Wynand Olivier, Adriaan Strauss, Corne Uys, Ebersohn brothers, Morne Steyn.

Teams: Bulls vs Cheetahs
Time: 29/05/2011 05:10
Venue: Loftus Versfeld
Pick: Home team by 12 & under

Reds vs Crusaders

They save the best until last with this match featuring two of the best teams in the competition. It is difficult to predict this result. It is amazing how the top team in the Super Rugby competition are playing at home, yet are the underdogs at the New Zealand TAB.

Players to watch: Sonny Bill Williams, Daniel Carter, Robbie Fruean, Quade Cooper, Scott Higginbotham, Digby Ioane.

Teams: Reds vs Crusaders
Time: 29/05/2011 18:10
Venue: Suncorp Stadium
Pick: Home team by 12 & under

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Super Rugby Round 15 - Teams Named

Round 15 Super Rugby teams named


Hurricanes – 15 Cory Jane, 14 Andre Taylor, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Chris Eaton, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifile Levave, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Dane Coles, 1 John Schwalger.
Subs: 16 Andrew Hore, 17 Jacob Ellison, 18 Bryn Evans, 19 Mark Reddish, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Jayden Hayward, 22 Julian Savea.

Force: Cameron Shepherd, Nick Cummins, Patrick Dellit, Rory Sidey, David Smith, James Stannard, Mark Swanepoel, Ben McCalman, David Pocock, Matt Hodgson, Nathan Sharpe (capt), Sam Wykes, Tim Fairbrother, Nathan Charles, Kieran Longbottom. Res: Ben Whittaker, Matt Dunning, Tom Hockings, Richard Brown, Chris Cottee, Mitch Inman, Alfie Mafi.


Highlanders: Ben Smith, Kade Poki, Kendrick Lynn, Shaun Treeby, Siale Piutau, Lima Sopoaga, Jimmy Cowan; Nasi Manu, Alando Soakai, Adam Thomson, Josh Bekhuis, Jarrad Hoeata, Chris King, Mo Schwalger, Jamie Mackintosh (capt). Reserves: Jason Rutledge, Bronson Murray, Nick Crosswell, John Hardie, Aaron Smith, Matt Saunders, Robbie Robinson.

Lions – 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Dylan des Fountain, 13 Doppies la Grange (c), 12 Butch James, 11 Deon van Rensburg, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Derick Minnie,5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Subs: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Warren Whiteley, 19 Cobus Grobbelaar, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Alwyn Hollenbach, 22 Michael Killian.


Brumbies – 1. Jono Owen , 2. Stephen Moore , 3. Ben Alexander , 4. Ben Hand , 5. Mark Chisholm , 6. Mitchell Chapman , 7. Julian Salvi , 8. Ita Vaea , 9. Josh Valentine , 10. Matt Giteau , 11. Adam Ashley-Cooper , 12. Christian Lealiifano , 13. Tyrone Smith , 14. Henry Speight , 15. Pat McCabe

Replacements:16. Anthony Hegarty , 17. Jerry Yanuyanutawa , 18. Peter Kimlin , 19. Michael Hooper , 20. Patrick Phibbs , 21. Robbie Coleman , 22. Andrew Smith

Stormers –15. Conrad Jantjes,14. Gio Aplon ,13. Jaque Fourie,12. Juan de Jongh,11. Bryan Habana ,10. Peter Grant (Kurt Coleman),9. Dewaldt Duvenage,8. Nick Koster,7. Francois Louw,6. Schalk Burger (C),5. Andries Bekker,4. Rynhardt Elstadt ,3. Brok Harris,2. Deon Fourie,1. Wicus Blaauw

Reserves: 16. Tiaan Liebenberg,17. Steven Kitshoff,18. Anton Van Zyl,19. Duane Vermeulen,20. Ricky Januarie,21. Jean de Villiers,22. Johann Sadie


Sharks – TBC

Waratahs:Kurtley Beale, Lachie Turner, Ryan Cross, Tom Carter, Sosene Anesi, Berrick Barnes, Luke Burgess, Ben Mowen, Chris Alcock, Dave Dennis, Sitaleki Timani, Dean Mumm (c]), Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson.

Reserves: John Ulugia, Al Baxter, Pat O'Connor, Hugh Perrett, Brendan McKibbin, Daniel Halangahu, Atieli Pakalani.


Bulls – Zane Kirchner , Akona Ndungane , Jaco Pretorius, Wynand Olivier, Bjorn Basson , Morné Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Pierre Spies , Dewald Potgieter , Deon Stegmann, Victor Matfield (c), Bakkies Botha, Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dean Greyling

Replacements: Gary Botha , Rossouw de Klerk , Flip van der Merwe , Danie Rossouw , Dustin Jinka, Francois Brummer (5), Gerhard van den Heever

Cheetahs – 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 CornĂ© Uys, 11 Philip Snyman, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Davon Raubenheimer, 7 Ashley Johnson, 6 Kabamba Floors, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Francois Uys, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Subs: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Lourens Adriaanse, 18 Izak van der Westhuizen/Hendrik Roodt, 19 Johan Wessels, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Naas Olivier, 22 Hennie Daniller.


Reds – TBC

Crusaders: Tom Marshall, Brent Ward, Robbie Fruean, Sonny Bill Williams, Zac Guildford, Dan Carter, Willi Heinz, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (capt), George Whitelock, Chris Jack, Brad Thorn, Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Quentin MacDonald / David Hall, Ben Franks, Luke Romano, Matt Todd / Joe Wheeler, Steve Alfred, Matt Berquist, Ryan Crotty.

Sri Lankan Rugby Taking Off!

In a country known for great cricketers comes news that Sri Lanka is now in the elite Asian Five Nations competition and has over 100,000 players. It will be interesting to see if they can make a Rugby World Cup one day, they may struggle for size like most Asian countries, but with their population and the growth of the game, you wouldn't discount them making it soon. Their best chance would be if Asia hosts the tournament and they get another qualification spot.
COLOMBO (AFP) - It's a long way from England, the cradle of rugby, but steamy, jungle-clad Sri Lanka is a little-known haven for the sport in Asia, with even school matches attracting TV audiences of millions.

In a country better known for its cricket, tea exports and bitter civil war, Sri Lanka has quietly nurtured a large playing population with an aspirational bent which makes rugby a daily feature on both the sport and society pages.

President Mahinda Rajapakse, whose three sons play -- including one who is a flanker for the national team -- regularly attends games with his family, putting them firmly in the media and political spotlight.

And this year, Sri Lanka broke through into the elite Asian Five Nations tournament for the first time, raising hopes of further national successes.

The annual tournament between Saint Peter's and Saint Anthony's College, held this month in Colombo, illustrates how rugby has gone from colonial recreation to mainstay of Sri Lankan high society.

Like most school fixtures, the event has attracted hundreds of well-heeled spectators, turning the venue into a virtual family picnic.

As women pass around boxes of sandwiches and hot dogs, men down fizzy drinks or cold beer and shout advice as the game progresses.

Dozens of corporate executives loosen their ties, roll-up shirt sleeves, and sip cold drinks, while cheering their former school.

On the sidelines, press photographers shoot smartly dressed young women.

"Rugby is hugely popular at school level. Each game attracts thousands of spectators, much more than a top club cricket match," Chandrishan Perera, a former administrator, national captain and rugby coach, told AFP.

The Bradby Shield, a two-legged annual rugby fixture played between two boys' schools -- Royal and Trinity College -- regularly draws more than 18,000 spectators. Millions watch it live on television.

"Bradby Shield attracts crowds second only to a Sri Lanka cricket one-day game," said Perera.

Sri Lanka has been playing rugby union since the British colonialists first introduced it in the late 1800s. It has now evolved into a full league structure rivalling the country's first love, cricket.

"At first rugby was played by expatriates, the planters, traders and executives, and clubs were whites-only for a long time. After the expats left, the locals continued," said Perera.

Today, there are 103,000 players in Sri Lanka, according to a recent survey, making it Asia's second-biggest rugby-playing nation behind Japan -- and ahead of giants such as Australia and New Zealand.

Support is fed by generous television exposure, with home internationals screened live and one club match shown real-time every week during the rugby season.

Rugby remains the only sport that allows foreign players at club level, and is such a priority for Sri Lanka's rich, private schools that they regularly splash out on overseas coaches.

But for all the players, enthusiasm and mass appeal, Sri Lanka are ranked a lowly 45 in the international listings, sandwiched between the Ivory Coast and Madagascar.

Results did not come easily in their debut Asian Five Nations as the Elephants managed just one draw -- against UAE -- and three defeats to Hong Kong, Kazakhstan and regional giants Japan.

Lasith Gunaratne, secretary of the Sri Lanka Rugby Union, blames the team's poor performance on lack of funding to attract and retain players after they leave school.

The International Rugby Board (IRB) estimates there are more than 48,000 teenage boys and just under 1,000 girls playing rugby in Sri Lanka.

But the local governing body has no resources to conduct regular doping tests or maintain nutrition programmes for players, key elements of the modern international game, said Gunaratne.

"Unlike schools, clubs don't have money," Gunaratne told AFP. "Only eight top division clubs which includes the military. They don't have money to retain players. There are few openings for school-leavers. It's a pity."

Dilroy Fernando, a coach, IRB referee and national team player, blames successive administrations for failing to put in the structure to nurture school talent and expand the number of top clubs.

"It's important we catch the interest while players are young, improve their school game, and hope that some of them will pursue to represent the country eventually," Fernando told AFP.

At a rugby academy run by Fernando, dozens of young boys attend Saturday training sessions, coming from mixed socio-economic backgrounds.

"That's the good thing about this sport, we bring people from all walks of life and play as one big family," he said.

Gunaratne said there are plans to use the military -- which finally quashed a bloody, decades-long separatist war in May 2009 -- to train children in over 8,000 schools, after rugby was included in the national curriculum last year.

Security forces have significant manpower and infrastructure, especially in far-flung areas, after establishing bases in remote towns during their campaign to overrun the rebel-held north.

"With the war over, the military is now free to help us promote the game and unearth talent specially in the north and east, which did not have a rugby culture during the war," says Gunaratne.
And without a better club structure, Fernando believes Sevens rugby -- which will feature at the 2016 Olympic Games -- could be better suited for Sri Lanka to expose players to high-level training and international competition.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rugby World Cup Volunteers Needed For Opening Ceremony - This Could Be Your Big Break!

If you are looking to break into the entertainment industry then you should volunteer to be a part of the Rugby World Cup Opening Ceremony in 2011.  They need over 2000 volunteers for the ceremony which takes place on September 9th at Eden Park.  Details below.

Call for RWC 2011 Opening Ceremony volunteers

On September 9, 2011 the eyes of the world will be on New Zealand for the start of Rugby World Cup 2011. Behind the scenes, it will take the combined effort of over 2000 volunteers in performing and support roles to make the Opening Ceremony one of this year’s most spectacular international events.

“This is a great opportunity for anyone wishing to be involved in the Tournament to play a part, either as a performer in front of the camera or helping behind the scenes to ensure we provide a memorable start to the biggest sporting event of 2011,” said Shane Harmon, GM Marketing and Communications for Tournament Organiser Rugby NZ 2011.

The Opening Ceremony will take place before the first match of the Tournament between New Zealand and Tonga in front of a packed Eden Park of 60,000 spectators and a television audience of millions worldwide.

It will showcase New Zealand culture, our place in the Pacific and the sport of Rugby as well as representing the 20 participating countries in a way that captivates both the live and television audiences.

“We are looking for a variety of performing and athletic talent and various levels of ability. Most importantly, we are seeking people with a great attitude and positive energy,” said Harmon. “And behind the scenes we need people for a variety of roles including cast coordination, stage management, costume maintenance and makeup.”

Auditions will take place in June and July.

Those who would like to be invovled in New Zealand’s biggest ever international event can visit www.rugbyworldcup.com/ceremonies and apply now. Applications close June 12.

This Is Why The NZRU Signed Up Richie McCaw - Alternative Rugby Commentary

The New Zealand Rugby Union have signed up King Richie McCaw for four more years. No doubt he is getting a rather large carrot dangled in front of him to stay. The video above shows us why!

Richie McCaw Re-signs For The All Blacks - Is This Fair For The Other Players?

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw has re-signed with the New Zealand Rugby Union for four more years with his contract expiring after the Rugby World Cup 2015. Both McCaw and Daniel Carter will have special contracts where they will not only be getting paid more than their All Blacks team mates, but they will unlike any other player from New Zealand be able to go overseas on a "sabbatical" yet still be selected for the All Blacks. Is this double standards or the only way that the NZRU could secure their signatures?

I am sure heaps of other players would have loved that option with the ability to earn heaps of money in a short time overseas, while still living the dream of playing for the All Blacks!

What do you think? If it means they continue playing for the All Blacks, then do whatever it takes. Now we need to secure Sonny Bill Williams.

New Zealand Inspirational All Blacks Captain re-signs for four more years

The All Blacks' inspirational captain Richie McCaw has today confirmed that he has re-signed with the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) and the Crusaders Investec Super Rugby franchise, committing through until 2015.

The 30–year–old made the announcement at his Christchurch Rugby Football Club in Christchurch today and McCaw, who fronts the NZRU’s junior registration campaign, also took the time to hang out with a couple of Under 9 teams from the club.

McCaw said: “I’ve always said that as long as I am enjoying playing footy in New Zealand then I will stay, and the fact is I still am, so I’m pleased to confirm that I have re–signed with the NZRU for four more years.

“I still have the hunger and desire to continue to play for the All Blacks and the Crusaders and there are still things I want to achieve as a player.”

NZRU CEO Steve Tew said: “We are delighted to retain Richie for a further four years. He is an inspiration both on and off the field and as our most capped Test captain and All Black, he will provide New Zealand rugby and the All Blacks with a very solid foundation to approach the next four years from 2012.”

Tew, who is in London attending the IRB’s Economics of Rugby conference, said McCaw’s rugby knowledge was invaluable, not only on the field but in the wider sense as well.

“Our game faces some real challenges and Richie’s broader understanding of these and his commitment to the health of the game generally will be extremely important as we face those challenges.”

Tew also noted that McCaw’s on–field All Blacks partnership with Daniel Carter, who re–signed with the NZRU last week, was “a common denominator in much of the success” that has been achieved over the past seven years, with McCaw and Carter playing 51 Tests together for an 88 percent success rate.

“That alone shows how invaluable they are to New Zealand rugby so to have both players continuing with us for the next four years is fantastic news.”

Tew said that, as with Carter’s recently announced NZRU deal, McCaw also had the right to take a break from the game during the tenure of the contract.

McCaw’s agent Warren Alcock, from Essentially Group, added: “This contract, like Dan’s, is complex but it has been important to recognise their differences and ensure this contract reflects those. Having said that, the process of signing two players who are critically important to the All Blacks was made a lot easier by having both negotiations largely working in tandem. Ultimately, any contract needs to reflect Richie’s standing in the game and I’m confident this contract achieves that.”

All Blacks Coach Graham Henry said: “I have said this many times before: I think Richie McCaw is the most influential player in world rugby right now. His on–field impact is immense, he’s an outstanding player who leads and inspires others by his actions.

“Since taking over the captaincy, Richie has continued to develop as a leader and his personal standards, commitment and direction of others are inspirational to the All Blacks. He is a unique New Zealander,” Henry added.

Crusaders Coach Todd Blackadder said: “Richie has a massive influence on the Crusaders and All Blacks so for him to re-commit to these teams is fantastic. He’s a great player and an inspirational captain and I can’t speak highly enough of him.”

Richie McCaw has been the standout flanker of his generation. He made his All Blacks Test debut in 2001 against Ireland aged just 20 and was Man of the Match. He now holds the joint record for All Blacks Tests (94) together with teammate Mils Muliaina, and has been on the winning side 83 times, the most by any All Black in history. He has captained the All Blacks Test side a record 57 times, leading the team to victory in 50 of those Tests for a staggering 87.7 percent success rate. Those victories included 13 wins in the All Blacks 14 Tests last year, with the team retaining the Bledisloe Cup, winning the Investec Tri Nations and completing a Grand Slam on the Telecom BackingBlack Northern Hemisphere Tour. Following the tour, he was named the IRB Player of the Year, the only player to have won the award three times, and also won the 2010 Halberg Awards Sportsman of the Year award.

McCaw also led Canterbury to provincial glory in 2004 and then took the Crusaders to back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2005 and 2006 and again in 2008. McCaw played his 100th game for the Crusaders last year and is sitting on 107 Super Rugby caps.

McCaw is the latest in a large group of current and recent All Blacks who have recommitted to New Zealand rugby after this year’s Rugby World Cup, including hookers Keven Mealamu and Hikawera Elliot, the All Blacks most capped prop Tony Woodcock and fellow prop Ben Franks, locks Anthony Boric, Tom Donnelly and Sam Whitelock, loose forwards Jerome Kaino, Kieran Read, Daniel Braid, Liam Messam and Victor Vito, and backs Jimmy Cowan, Alby Mathewson, Daniel Carter, Colin Slade, Aaron Cruden, Conrad Smith, Benson Stanley, Israel Dagg and Ben Smith.

Richie McCaw
Born: 31 December 1980 in Oamaru, North Otago
Physical: 1.88m, 105kg
Position: Flanker
Province: Canterbury
Investec Super Rugby team: Crusaders
All Blacks Debut: 17 November 2001, vs Ireland in Dublin, aged 20.
All Blacks Tests: 94 (57 as Captain)
All Blacks Test Points: 95pts (19 tries)
All Black Number: 1014


Monday, May 23, 2011

Jamie Mackintosh's Chicken Burger Recipe - Is There Anything Whoppa Can't Do?

Southland Stags and Highlanders captain Jamie "Whoppa" Mackintosh has shown us his great form on the field in recent seasons including helping the mighty Southland Stags win the Ranfurly Shield, but the powerhouse farm-boy has also produced a Chicken Burger recipe for the Speights Southern Man Cookbook being promoted by New World supermarkets.  He must have got sick of his association with the Burger King Whopper menu and decided to create his own burger which the good folk at the Invercargill Speights Ale House now have on the menu.  Who said southern men don't know their way around a kitchen?  You have inspired a generation with that burger, Whoppa! 


+ vegetable oil, for frying
+ 4x 160 g chicken breast, schnitzel cut, crumbed
+ 4 hash browns
+ 12 slices streaky bacon
+ 4 large sesame seed buns, cut in half
+ 8 tbsp mayonnaise
+ 8 tbsp your favourite sauce, Jamie recommends a sweet 'n' sour tangy sauce
+ 4 iceberg lettuce leaves, washed and dried
+ 4 large tomatoes, sliced
+ 200 g cheddar cheese, grated (about 3 tablespoons per burger)
+ 4 pineapple slices, grilled, if that's how you like it
+ 4 long wooden skewers
Add all items to shopping list


  • Preheat the grill to high.
  • In a large frying pan, pour in enough oil to cover the base. Heat over a moderate heat, then pan fry crumbed chicken breasts. Cook for 5 minutes on each side, remove and place on kitchen paper to drain. Keep warm. (Cut into one a little to ensure they are cooked through – the juices should be clear without any hint of pink.)
  • Place the hash browns in a shallow roasting dish and grill for 5 minutes each side, until golden brown. Keep warm.
  • Grill the bacon until crisp, or alternatively pan fry.
  • Toast the sesame seed buns. Spread 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise and sauce on each of the bun bottoms.
  • Layer each bun with a lettuce leaf, 3 slices of tomato, a chicken breast, cheese, a hash brown, bacon and a pineapple slice.
  • Spread 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise and sauce on the each of the bun tops and place on top of the pile.
  • Push a wooden skewer through the middle of each stack to hold it together.

Tip: To turn chicken breast to chicken schnitzel, slip chicken breast into a plastic bag and gently pound it with the flat side of a meat mallet or rolling pin until it is an even thickness. This will ensure the chicken cooks evenly and more quickly.

Find this recipe in the Speight's Southern Man Cookbook, available in all good bookshops.


Super Rugby Team of Round 14 - Advantage South Africa

The Stormers showed that they have depth with De Jongh and Sadie in midfield

South Africans dominated the Super Rugby Team of Round 14 with 7 players making it into the team this week. The Stormers showed they can win on the road with a few injuries when their midfield can boast two great performers in De Jongh and Sadie while Fourie and De Villiers are out. The Bulls and Cheetahs are also finishing strongly with players like Morne Steyn and Adrian Strauss firing. The Lions are also well represented in this squad with two players. No one from the ugly draw between the Force and Brumbies made this team thankfully, while two Waratahs outside backs were the only Australians. This sums up the quality of the Australian conference! Liam Messam continues his good form for the Chiefs, while Luke Romano had a huge game for the Crusaders. What a dilemma to have for the Cantabs with bargain priced Romano having competition from Brad Thorn and Sam Whitelock returning from injury and Chris Jack also in the squad over the coming weeks! Alby Matthewson was a surprise inclusion for an inside back.

Remember, the best Australian team and two of the New Zealand teams weren't playing in Round 14.

Super Rugby Team of Round 14
By country
South Africa 7
New Zealand 3
Australia 2

By team
Stormers 3
Lions 2
Waratahs 2
Blues 1
Bulls 1
Cheetahs 1
Crusaders 1
Chiefs 1

1 Adriaan Strauss FR CHE 1 435 435 $1,107,500
2 Bandise Maku FR LIO 1 430 430 $725,000
1 Luke Romano LK CRU 1 410 410 $547,500
2 Andries Bekker LK STM 1 310 310 $1,465,000
1 Liam Messam LF CHF 1 345 345 $1,160,000
2 Wickus van Heerden LF LIO 1 335 335 $932,500
1 Alby Mathewson HV BLU 1 360 360 $815,000
2 Morne Steyn HV BUL 1 340 340 $1,157,500
1 Juan De Jongh CT STM 1 510 510 $952,500
2 Johann Sadie CT STM 1 480 480 $472,500
1 Kurtley Beale OB WAR 1 490 490 $1,530,000
2 Soseni Anesi OB WAR 1 400 400 $925,000