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May 30, 2013

Physio sues after on-field collision with players

Posted by Martin Williamson on 05/30/2013

Alison Donnan, a physiotherapist for New South Wales side Manly, is suing the New South Wales Rugby Union for A$750,000 after she fractured a vertebra when three players collided with her while she was treating a concussed player during a match.

Donnan was on the field in a first-grade game in April 2009 when she was injured and has been unable to return to full-time work since the accident.

Click here for the full story

May 27, 2013

Kurtley Beale out of re-hab

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 05/27/2013

The Australian Rugby Union has announced that Wallabies star Kurtley Beale has completed the first stage of his treatment at an alcohol rehabilitation clinic in Sydney.

Beale, 24, voluntarily sought counselling after a troubled few months that saw him suspended twice by the Melbourne Rebels - most recently for failing to comply with an alcohol ban. He is set to remain in Sydney to be close to his family support network and will play for the Randwick club in the Sydney Shute Shield competition.

As a result he will not be available for the Rebels' next two Super Rugby matches against the Reds and Brumbies but he is still considered a contender for one of the six places still yet to be decided in Australia's 31-man squad to tackle the British & Irish Lions that will be confirmed on June 11.

May 22, 2013

Digby Ioane a doubt for first Lions Test

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 05/22/2013

Wallabies winger Digby Ioane could miss the first Test against the British & Irish Lions after undergoing a knee operation this week.

Ioane went under the knife on Wednesday in an attempt to clean up some articular cartilage in his left knee. The official Australia Rugby Union Twitter account described Ioane's chances of making the first Test against the Lions on June 22 as 'touch and go'.

The news will come as a huge blow to the Wallabies who are already facing the Test series without hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau and flanker George Smith.

May 4, 2013

Scott Higginbotham re-signs with Australia

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 05/04/2013

The Wallabies and Melbourne Rebels have received a timely boost with news that Scott Higginbotham has recommitted to both for a further two years.

The new deal with the Australian Rugby Union and the Super Rugby franchise takes Higginbotham through to the end of the 2015 IRB Rugby World Cup, with the powerful back-rower acknowledging that attending the tournament had been a factor in his decision.

"I'd like another crack at it without doubt," Higginbotham said. "It was a privilege to make the squad for the last one, and a good experience, but there's definitely some unfinished business there. Obviously the tour by the British & Irish Lions is taking centre stage for everyone at the moment but we've got a good base at the Wallabies now, a squad that has plenty of competition for places and is maturing as a team.

"Hopefully everyone will stick together, stay in Australia and keep driving the standards upwards, so that we can use the Lions as a springboard for the likes of the Bledisloe Cup, the Rugby Championship and then the World Cup."

For the full story - click here.

May 1, 2013

Former player's brain sent to USA

Posted by Martin Williamson on 05/01/2013

The brain of former NSW Waratahs coach Barry ''Tizza'' Taylor is being sent from Australia to Boston University to help in research into concussion.

In a long club career Taylor, a fearless competitor, “was concussed many, many times, and just played through it” according to his wife. The University is undertaking extensive research into a condition known as CTE - chronic traumatic encephalopathy – which is a brain degenerative disease caused by repeated concussions and subconcussive hits. It is believed this leads to early onset dementia.

Click here for the full story

April 24, 2013

Scotland confirm autumn Test line-up

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 04/24/2013

Scotland have announced a three-Test line-up for November with games against Japan, South Africa and Australia all confirmed.

The venue for the match against Japan is yet to be announced, with the game taking place on November 9, but both South Africa and Australia will play their matches against Scotland at Murrayfield. Scotland will face the Springboks on November 17 and then the Wallabies on November 23.

"We're delighted to be able to confirm our Test matches for this November and are finalising some special season-long ticket packages for our supporters at present," a Scotland spokesman said. "This season our cumulative attendance for Murrayfield Test matches was more than 300,000. That speaks volumes both for the depth of support for an improving Scotland team and also for our determination to structure our ticket prices so that we give every family in Scotland the opportunity to watch international rugby in the flesh."

April 21, 2013

Grenoble bring in pair of Wallabies

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 04/21/2013

Grenoble have bolstered their ranks ahead of next season with the signing of Wallabies Dan Palmer and Peter Kimlin from the Brumbies.

Prop Palmer has made just one appearance for Australia, which came in their loss to Scotland last June, while back-row Kimlin has two caps to his name and has played for Exeter Chiefs in the past.

April 18, 2013

Max Lahiff completes Rebels switch

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 04/18/2013

London Irish have confirmed that Max Lahiff will leave the Premiership side at the end of the season to join the Super Rugby side the Melbourne Rebels on a two-year deal.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed playing for London Irish. The club signed me from school and have played an imperative part in my development as a player," said 23-year-old prop, who qualifies to play for Australia through his father. "Moving to the Rebels is an exciting opportunity for me and I am looking forward to playing in the Super Rugby competition."

London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith said: "Max is a terrific player and a young man with great values, he'll do well at the Rebels and may go on to play for the Wallabies. He's played hard for us all season and he'll always be welcome back at the club as a player.”

In related news, Irish have signed front five forwards Matt Parr and Nic Rouse on two-year deals from Championship club Nottingham.

April 17, 2013

Pitch invaders banned for five years

Posted by Martin Williamson on 04/17/2013

Western Force officials have admitted to being "embarrassed" by the pitch invasions that marred their team's Super Rugby win over the Crusaders in Perth on Saturday and have vowed to tighten security.

The Crusaders lodged an official complaint with South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby, labelling security "disgraceful and unacceptable" after several spectators disrupted the closing minutes of the match won 16-14 by the Force at nib Stadium.

Five men were taken into custody and all have been handed five-year bans from the venue. A statement from RugbyWA said one offender has also been charged with trespass while the others have been summoned to appear before Perth Magistrates Court.

April 2, 2013

Leinster admit interest in Drew Mitchell

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 04/02/2013

Leinster boss Joe Schmidt has revealed that the province have contacted the Waratahs about the services of their winger Drew Mitchell.

Mitchell's, who has 63 caps for the Wallabies, current contract is up at the end of the season and with Leinster losing star winger Isa Nacewa ahead of next season, the back-to-back Heineken Cup champions are on the search for a new winger. Reports in the Australian press a month ago claimed that Mitchell was on Leinster's radar and Schmidt has confirmed that they have made contact with the Waratahs.

"We were just trying to find out if he was available, that’s all," Schmidt told breakingnews.ie. "You try to get a bit of a feel of players, who you think might fit the bill. He's a left winger and a class player."

March 27, 2013

Vuna banned from using Facebook and Twitter

Posted by Martin Williamson on 03/27/2013

Rebels wing Cooper Vuna has been banned from using social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook following his fight with Kurtley Beale on the team bus last Saturday.

"The franchise endorsed the immediate sanction of standing Vuna down for this week's match against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein," a spokesman said, adding the player had given private undertakings not to take part in any social media activity.”

Click here for the full story

March 26, 2013

Suntory keen to extend George Smith's stay

Posted by Jonny McLeod on 03/26/2013

Brumbies coach Jake White is eager to extend flanker George Smith’s loan from Japanese side Suntory.

The former Australia openside is on a three-month loan during the Japanese off season. The 32-year-old’s presence has been a major asset for the Brumbies, especially following a season-ending injury to David Pocock.

"I think it would be a bit unfair for me to literally after two or three weeks start phoning and say 'How long can I have him for?"' he told AAP. "They (Suntory) have been really kind by loaning him to us. So what I'll do is just wait and see how the season pans out."

March 12, 2013

Will Genia returns for the Reds

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 03/12/2013

Reds scrum-half Will Genia will play against the Western Force on Saturday in what will be his first appearance since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in September.

The news will come as a timely boost to the Wallabies ahead of their Test series against the British & Irish Lions this summer but Genia will only play the first-half of the match. "Hopefully from then on I will be playing the full 80," Genia said. "I said they would have to handcuff me at half-time because I will want to get back out there. But I have to be smart, build up the endurance. It would be wise just to keep it to 40 minutes."

For the full story on Genia's comeback - click here.

March 10, 2013

Digby Ioane quizzed by police over alleged assault

Posted by Jonny McLeod on 03/10/2013

Australia and Reds winger Digby Ioane has been interviewed by police following an alleged assault in a Melbourne hotel this weekend.

The Victorian Police have confirmed they are investigating an alleged assault on a 30-year-old man, who sustained a minor leg injury at a Prahran pub on Saturday. Ioane, 27, was reportedly with a relative at the hotel when the alleged incident occurred.

The Reds said in a statement: “Queensland Rugby is aware there was an incident involving Reds winger Digby Ioane in Melbourne on Saturday night. It's currently a matter for the Victorian Police and we are therefore unable to make further comment at this time. QRU can confirm no other Queensland Reds players were in attendance and is also undertaking its own enquires while working alongside the ARU and police."

February 18, 2013

Lions tickets sell out in minutes

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 02/18/2013

Tickets for the British & Irish Lions' eagerly-awaited Test series with Australia later this year sold out within 15 minutes of going on sale to the public on Monday.

An Australian Rugby Union spokesman said all of the undisclosed public allocation - with prices ranging from ranging from A$95-A$295 (£63-£196) - were snapped up for the Melbourne (June 29) and Sydney (July 6) with tickets for the Melbourne showdown (June 22) selling out in similar time when they went on sale an hour later.

February 8, 2013

Quade Cooper wins first boxing bout

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 02/08/2013

Australia and Reds fly-half Quade Cooper made a spectacular start to his professional boxing career with a first round knock-out of Barry Dunnett in Brisbane on Friday night.

Cooper survived an early onslaught from Dunnett before rallying and flooring his opponent with a right cross in the closing moments of the opening round to claim the win. "I had so much fun out there I didn't want to leave the ring," said Cooper. "I'm just happy right now. It was great to have one round but I do want to get out there and do it again."

Trainer Shannon King was impressed with what he saw from his high-profile recruit who will return to the Super Rugby stage later this month. "I told him to throw a certain combination and he did that and he knocked him out," he said. "I have never had a fighter who listens like him and I think he has a huge future. We are talking about a second fight in seven months, or in his off-season, but rugby's his priority."

In the main event, former All Blacks star Sonny Bill Williams extened his unbeaten record to six wins with a controversial points victory over South African Francois Botha. The WBA international heavyweight contest was scheduled for 12 rounds but was ended after 10 in bizarre circumstances and with Williams clearly struggling.

Gareth Delve named Rebels' captain

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 02/08/2013

Melbourne Rebels have appointed Welsh International Gareth Delve as their captain for forthcoming Super Rugby season.

The first and only Welshman to play Super Rugby, Delve has been officially appointed to the role he filled with distinction in the absence of Stirling Mortlock last year - the first international player to skipper an Australian side. "Gareth leads by example on the field, and is a player many people at our Club, not just the players, look up to," said coach Damien Hill.

Delve said: "It's an incredible honour and one I didn't expect when I turned up three years ago as a foreign player. The club's been fantastic in terms of giving me that opportunity, letting me have a leadership role and be a part of building a great culture at this club."

February 7, 2013

ARU supports crackdown on drugs cheats

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 02/07/2013

Australian Rugby Union chief executive Bill Pulver has hailed the sport's efforts to stamp out the use of performance-enhancing drugs in the wake of a shocking Australian Crime Commission investigation that uncovered the widespread use of banned substances in professional sport in the country and links to organised crime.

"While being quite proud of our record it would be naive of the ARU to think this is not an issue that spans all Australian sports," said Pulver. "From the perspective of the Australian Rugby Union I think this report that has been released today is a very timely wake-up call for all professional sports in Australia. I think we were aware for some time about issues relating to performance-enhancing drugs but less aware of connections to organised crime and potential match-fixing."

He added: "The report is a wake-up call for all professional sports, and this is a whole of sport approach. There are no investigations on foot in regards to Rugby, but there can be no room for complacency."

Pulver also revealed that four amateur players have tested positive to banned substances over the past two years.

February 5, 2013

James Horwill to make Reds return

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 02/05/2013

The Reds and Australia have received a huge boost with the news that James Horwill is set to play his first competitive match since last May after being named in the XV to face the Chiefs on Friday.

The Wallabies skipper tore his hamstring against the Brumbies and subsequently missed the Rugby Championship and the autumn internationals. But with the British & Irish Lions tour on the horizon, Horwill is hopeflul that he will bounce straight back into the swing of things with the Reds.

"I'm a terrible spectator at the best of times, so it's a huge relief to be out of Team Rehab and in a position to play once again," Horwill said. "We've been extremely diligent in not rushing the rehab process to ensure that my hamstring would be ready for when the Super Rugby season kicked off."

February 4, 2013

Saints bring in Australia's Salesi Ma'afu

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 02/04/2013

Northampton Saints have announced the signing of Australian Test prop Salesi Ma'afu ahead of next season.

With Soane Tonga'uiha, Brian Mujati and Paul Doran-Jones all leaving the club at the end of the current campaign, they have opted to bolster their front-row with the 13-cap Wallaby. "We have been impressed by what we have seen from Salesi," Saints boss Jim Mallinder said. "He has built up a good reputation as one of the top props in Australia and has been a big part of the Wallabies' recent improvements in the set piece.

"Salesi will add a great deal to our group of props and the squad in general going into next season, and we're looking forward to welcoming him to Franklin's Gardens later in the year."

January 24, 2013

Moore and Alexander agree new ARU deals

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 01/24/2013

Brumbies front row duo Stephen Moore and Ben Alexander have put pen to paper on new contracts with the Australian Rugby Union until at least the end of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

"I've still got a lot that I would like to achieve both with the Brumbies and the Wallabies, and I can't do that by heading overseas," said 30-year-old Moore, Australia's most-capped hooker.

Alexander, 28, said: "While we (the Wallabies) might not be ranked number one in the world at the moment, I truly believe we have the potential to get there."

January 16, 2013

Deans eyes 2013 clean sweep

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 01/16/2013

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans is relishing the chance to take on the world's best in 2013 but he will not prioritise the British & Irish Lions tour over the Rugby Championship.

Australia welcome the Lions for a three-Test series in June and July and will then embark on the Rugby Championship in August. And Deans is targeting victory on both fronts rather than focusing on one over the other.

"They will both be great experiences for our players but both are stand-alone competitions," Deans told ESPN. "One is not preparation for the other, nor is the Rugby Championship title any less of an incentive for our players than beating the Lions. What I can say is that we have a massive year ahead for the game in Australia. It is one that our players, and the Australian public, are very excited about.

January 14, 2013

Folau left out of Wallabies' training squad

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 01/14/2013

Australia have stepped up their preparations for the visit of the British & Irish Lions by naming a 49-man training squad - that does not include high-profile recruit Israel Folau.

Folau, who joined the Waratahs last month from Australian Rules Football having already excelled in rugby league, was widely expected to be fast-tracked into the national set-up but it appears he will have to earn his place having been omitted from what has been described as a 'logistics camp'.

There are seven uncapped players in the squad: Melbourne Rebels centre Mitch Inman, Reds flanker Jake Schatz, utility back Ben Lucas, Rebels locks Hugh Pyle and Cadeyrn Neville, and Brumbies half-backs Nic White and Christian Lealiifano. Brumbies captain Ben Mowen and Waratahs winger Lachie Turner were both surprise omissions while veteran Reds forward Radike Samo and Western Force half-back Brett Sheehan also miss out.

"It doesn't guarantee them anything," an Australia Rugby Union spokesman told AAP. "If you're not here it doesn't mean you're not a Wallaby this year - it comes down to what you do on the field. There's nothing to stop Israel Folau going out there and playing the house down to make the team."

Queensland Reds (16): Saia Faingaa, James Hanson, James Slipper, James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Will Genia, Ben Lucas, Quade Cooper, Ben Tapaui, Anthony Faingaa, Mike Harris, Dom Shipperley, Digby Ioane, Luke Morahan.

Waratahs: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson, Paddy Ryan, Sekope Kepu, Kane Douglas, Sitaleki Timani, Dave Dennis, Michael Hooper, Wycliff Palu, Berrick Barnes, Rob Horne, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Drew Mitchell.

Brumbies: Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Dan Palmer, David Pocock, Nic White, Christian Lealiifano, Pat McCabe, Joe Tomane.

Melbourne Rebels: Cadeyrn Neville, Hugh Pyle, Scott Higginbotham, Nick Phipps, Kurtley Beale, James O'Connor, Mitch Inman, Cooper Vuna.

Western Force: Salesi Ma'afu, Hugh McMeniman, Ben McCalman, Nick Cummins.

January 8, 2013

Will Genia and James Horwill winning fitness battles

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 01/08/2013

Will Genia and James Horwill remain on course in their comebacks from injury but they will not be rushed back ahead of a massive year for the Australia pair.

Horwill is on track to be fit for the Reds' opening Super Rugby clash with the Brumbies in Canberra on February 16 while Genia's recovery from a knee reconstruction is ahead of schedule. However Reds coach Ewen McKenzie insists they will be cautious about Horwill's return to action and refused to put a date on Genia's comeback.

The influential pair will be crucial to the Reds' hopes in this season's Super Rugby and to Australia's chances in the Test series against the British & Irish Lions as well as the Rugby Championship.

On Genia's progress, McKenzie said: "I don't have a fixed date (for his return) but he has tracked very well. His rehab has been perfect ... possibly ahead of schedule."

McKenzie added: "He (Horwill) is on track - we haven't rushed him. It's been methodical and very positive."

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