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Destination: Europe


Kanko Krazy!!!
Jun 18, 2010
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We are just a couple of days away from the start of the End of Year Tour. That time of the year when rugby unions from all over the world travel to Europe to take on the 6 Nations-teams. We will have a look at the 4 big countries from the southern hemisphere: Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Argentina joined the Tri-Nations in 2012 after being invited by SANZAR. The new format resulted in a 4-team competition and was renamed The Rugby Championship. Despite not winning any matches, they were not blown away in the competition, managing a draw at home against South Africa and losing to Australia twice with less than 7 points. Los Pumas travel to Europe to play 2 matches. Their first match is against Wales on the 10th of November. 2 weeks later they take on Ireland.

In the squad there's some surprises. Because of the exclusion of Marcelo Bosch we see the return of former captain Felipe Contepomi. The UAR has released Bosch together with Biarritz teammate Marcelo Kodela for the first test, making them available for their club. They will however return for the Ireland test. Among the players in the squad we also see the return of Gonzalo Tiesi who last represented Los Pumas at the 2011 World Cup. Tomas Vallejos is the only player in the squad currently active in Wales. No Argentinians are playing in Ireland at the moment.

In the past, Argentina played Wales 16 times. Of those 16 matches, Argentina have won 5, lost 10 and 1 ended in a draw. When we look at the results in Wales, things don't look very positive for Los Pumas. Of the 8 matches in Wales, they only managed to win once. That win came over a decade ago. Back in 2011, the teams also played on the 10th of November. Los Pumas won 16-30. Man of the match back then was Felipe Contepomi who recorded a full house. He scored a try, a conversion, 5 penalties and a drop-goal to complete this feat.

For the second match in Dublin, Argentina will have an even bigger task. Argentina has managed to beat the Irish 5 times out of 12. 2 of those victories came at a neutral venue. The teams have played each other 3 times in World Cup history. The 2 victories over the Irish at the World Cup came in 1999 and 2007 (both in France). The loss in 2003 in Adelaide gives them a 66% winning percentage at neutral ground. In Ireland though, Argentina have never managed to win. They did come close twice. In 2004 (21-19) and 1999 (32-28) the point difference was acceptable.

The squad for the End of Year Tour contains these players:

Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (Toulon, captain), Leonardo Senatore (Gimnasia Rosario), Juan Manuel Leguizamon (Lyon), Tomas Leonardi (SIC), Julio Farias Cabello (Tucuman), Tomas de la Vega (CUBA), Manuel Carizza (Jockey Club Rosario), Marcos Ayerza (Leicester Tigers), Agustin Creevy (Montpellier), Juan Figallo (Montpellier), Eusebio Guinazu (unaffiliated), Bruno Postiglioni (La Plata), Francisco Gomez Kodela (Biarritz), Tomas Vallejos (Scarlets), Juan Gomez (Los Matreros)

Joaquin Tuculet (Grenoble), Santiago Cordero (Regatas Bella Vista), Horacio Agulla (Bath), Juan Jose Imhoff (Racing Metro), Manuel Montero (Pucara), Gonzalo Camacho (Exeter), Gonzalo Tiesi (SIC), Juan Martin Hernandez (Racing Metro), Nicolas Sanchez (Bordeaux-Begles), Nicolas Vergallo (Toulouse), Martin Landajo (CASI), Tomas Cubelli (Belgrano Athletic), Felipe Contepomi (Stade Francais), Marcelo Bosch (Biarritz)

Australia will try to end 2012 on a high after suffering from injuries all year long. They ended 2nd in the Rugby Championship but the casualties are piling up. Saia Fainga'a, Will Genia, Quade Cooper, Rob Horne, Dom Shipperley, Joseph Tomane, Cooper Vuna and Luke Morahan are just some of the names missing in the squad. Scott Higginbotham isn't included either but that is due to a suspension following foul play on the All Blacks captain Richie McCaw. While in Europe, the Wallabies play a total of 4 tests. They travel to France to play Les Bleus on the 10th of November, go to England the week after that before flying to Italy and ending the tour in Wales.

The absence of all the first-choice players does open the door for new talent though and some players will be relishing the opportunity given to them. Among the youngsters are James Hanson, Mike Harris, Ben Tapuai and Liam Gill who all represent the Queensland Super Rugby franchise Reds. It isn't the team with the most players in the squad though. That honor belongs to Waratahs from Sydney who have 11. The Wallabies will be counting on the experience of Nathan Sharpe, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Drew Mitchell. The squad only contains 1 uncapped player, Waratahs prop Paddy Ryan. All players in the squad are currently based in Australia.

In France the Wallabies are not without a chance to win. History shows Australia knows what it takes to beat the French on their home turf. Of the 21 matches played in France, Australia managed to win 8. The last time France managed to beat the Wallabies was back in 2005. Ever since, the Wallabies recorded 5 wins of which 2 were in France. In 2008 and 2010 the Walalbies celebrated a victory at Stade de France in Saint-Denis. Ever since the professional era, France only won 3 times.

For the match at Twickenham, history shows better signs for the opponents. Despite Australia having a better record in England than they do in France, the English are more of a threat in recent years. Of the last 10 Tests between the two teams at Twickenham, both teams won 5. The last time the two teams met, England won 35-18, resulting in the only loss by the Wallabies on tour. The overall result in England shows Australia won 9 out of 21 since the first test in 1909 in Blackheath.

The results between Australia and Italy are very one-sided. Italy never managed to beat the Wallabies but maybe this is the year they can finally manage to pull it off. The closest Italy ever came to winning was in November 2006. A 7-point loss is still the best result when playing Australia. The first match between the two teams was in 1983, the biggest win was 5 years later when the Wallabies won 6-55 at Stadio Flaminio in Rome.

For the final Test, the players travel to Wales to take on the current Six Nations champions. The teams played each other 21 times in Wales with Australia winning 12, losing 8 and 1 ending in a draw. If the Wallabies manage to beat the Welsh, they will have their 4th consecutive win at Millennium Stadium. The teams met in Cardiff 3 times during World Cups, all matches being won by the Wallabies. The last time Wales beat the Wallabies, was in 2008.

The squad for the End of Year Tour contains these players:

Ben Alexander (Brumbies), Benn Robinson (Waratahs), James Slipper (Reds), Paddy Ryan (Waratahs), Sekope Kepu (Waratahs), James Hanson (Reds), Stephen Moore (Brumbies), Tatafu Polota-Nau (Waratahs), Kane Douglas (Waratahs), Nathan Sharpe (Force), Rob Simmons (reds), Sitaleki Timani (Waratahs), Dave Dennis (Waratahs), David Pocock (Force), Liam Gill (Reds), Michael Hooper (Brumbies), Radike Samo (Reds), Wycliff Palu (Waratahs)

Brett Sheehan (Force), Nick Phipps (Rebels), Berrick Barnes (Waratahs), Kurtley Beale (Rebels), Digby Ioane (Reds), Drew Mitchell (Waratahs), Nick Cummins (Force), Anthony Fainga'a (Reds), Ben Tapuai (Reds), Pat McCabe (Brumbies), Adam Ashley-Cooper (Waratahs), Mike Harris (Reds)

New Zealand, the no. 1 team in the world, will travel to Europe holding every possible trophy they can. They won the inaugural Rugby Championship remaining unbeaten throughout the competition but lost their chance to break the record of most consecutive Test match wins by ending the Bledisloe Cup match against Australia with an 18-18 draw. Still unbeaten in over a year, the All Blacks will be looking to build some depth for years to come. Coach Steve Hanson has stated he wants to give his star players some rest after a long season. The All Blacks will be facing Scotland (11th of November), Italy (17th of November), Wales (24th of November) and end the tour at Twickenham on the 1st of December when they play the old foe, England.

The squad contains 2 players with 100 caps or more. Captain Richie McCaw has 113 and hooker Keven Mealamu played his 100th match earlier this year. The squad holds 2 uncapped players. Hooker Dane Coles and scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow join a group of players still gaining experience including Brodie Retallick, Tamati Ellison, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett and Sam Cane. The absence of Sonny Bill Williams will be a disappointment for lots of fans who expected to see him play in Europe. SBW has decided a couple of months ago to move to Japan and is no longer part of Alan Hansen's plans as long as he is playing overseas. All players in the squad are based in New Zealand.

Scotland has never managed to beat the ALl Blacks but twice managed to fight to earn a draw. The most recent draw however, was in 1983 when the final score was 25-25. The first draw was a lot more boring though, ending in 0-0. Scotland has not scored a try against the All Blacks since 2005. Scotland will be hoping for some flair by the flying Dutchman, Tim Visser. The Dutch-born winger scored 2 tries in his first 2 tests. He also scored twice when representing the Barbarians last year but it remains to be seen if he can manage to repeat that when the Scots take on the mighty All Blacks.

The history between Italy and New Zealand is as one-sides as the history between the Italians and Australia, mentioned earlier in this review. The smallest deficit in a test between the two sides was in 2009, when the All Blacks won 6-20 at San Siro stadium in Milan. Italy have not scored a try against the All Blacks since the two teams met at the 2007 World Cup in France. The last time the Italians scored a try at home when playing New Zealand was 8 years ago, 2004.

The 3rd test will be at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff when the All Blacks try to win their 14th consecutive match in Cardiff. Of the 17 matches played in Wales, the hosts only won 3 of which the most recent one was back in 1953. In 2004 Wales came close to beating the All Blacks when they lost by 1 point: 25-26. The match will be regarded by some as the unofficial World Championship 2012 final with the Northern Hemisphere champion taking on the Southern Hemisphere champion.

The 4th and final test against England will conclude the 2012 season for New Zealand. At Twickenham the All Blacks have not lost in exactly a decade. The 5 meetings since resulted in an All Blacks victory. In 2005, England came close with a 19-23 loss. The last time the All Blacks lost to England was back in 2002: 31-28. According to the history between the 2 teams, England is due for another win. When looking at the history it shows England wins once every 10 years, with the last decade being the only one where they won twice. 1973, 1983, 1993, 2002 and 2003 are the years where they were victorious.

The squad for the End of Year Tour contains these players:

Charlie Faumuina (Blues), Wyatt Crockett (Crusaders), Ben Franks (Crusaders), Owen Franks (Crusaders), Tony Woodcock (Blues), Dane Coles (Hurricanes), Andrew Hore (Highlanders), Keven Mealamu (Blues), Luke Romano (Crusaders), Brodie Retallick (Chiefs), Sam Whitelock (Crusaders), Ali Williams (Blues), Sam Cane (Chiefs), Liam Messam (Chiefs), Adam Thomson (Highlanders), Richie McCaw (Crusaders), Victor Vito (Hurricanes), Kieran Read (Crusaders)

Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Chiefs), Aaron Smith (Highlanders), Piri Weepu (Blues), Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes), Aaron Cruden (Chiefs), Dan Carter (Crusaders), Hosea Gear (Highlanders), Cory Janes (Hurricanes), Tamati Ellison (Highlanders), Conrad Smith (Hurricanes), Ma'a Nonu (Blues), Ben Smith (Highlanders), Israel Dagg (Crusaders)

South Africa is the 4th and final team we are taking a look at in this preview. With a new coach the Springboks are slowly rebuilding towards the 2015 World Cup. When current coach Heyneke Meyer was appointed, the Springboks were without a bunch of players. Victor Matfield, John Smit, Danie Rossouw, Fourie du Preez, Bakkies Botha and Jaque Fourie are just some of the players Meyer had to replace due to retirement or moving overseas. On top of that, the Springboks have been suffering from injuries almost as much as the Wallabies. Bismarck du Plessis, Tiaan Liebenberg, Coenie Oosthuizen, Andries Bekker, Siya Kolisi, Jacques Potgieter, Pierre Spies, Johan Goosen, Francois Steyn, Schalk Burger, Juan Smith, Heinrich Brussow and Bryan Habana are all players who were part of the Bok squad in the last 12 months but are not in the squad due to injuries. The Springboks take on Ireland (10th of November), Scotland (17th of November) and England (24th of November).

Despite the massive casualty list, Heyneke Meyer managed to call up some good replacements. There's 5 uncapped players in the squad. Franco van der Merwe, Arno Botha, Jano Vermaak, Lionel Mapoe and Raymond Rhule have not yet made their debut and will be hoping to get their chance. Patrick Lambie was promised a chance to show what he can do at fly-half with Johan Goosen out and Morne Steyn off form. While South African player of the year Bryan Habana is out with an injury, Bok fans will be happy to see JP Pietersen back after missing the Rugby Championship due to injury. The squad includes 4 players who are currently active in Europe. Schalk Brits (Saracens), Francois Louw (Bath), Gurthrö Steenkamp (Toulouse) and Ruan Pienaar (Ulster) will meet up with the team once they arrive in Ireland. Ruan Pienaar being the only one not having to buy a plane ticket, being in Ireland already. Meyer is looking to add Northampton prop Brian Mujati to the squad but that has not yet been finalized.

The Springboks have a good record against Ireland, winning 8 out of 13 Tests being played in the country famous for Guinness, Shamrocks and leprechauns. The Springboks were invited in 2010 to play the opening match of the new Aviva Stadium in Dublin. South Africa won 21-23, but in years previous to that, the Irish had the upper hand. 3 consecutive wins over the Springboks improved the overall record massively, having only beaten the Boks once between 1906 and 2004. The match will possibly be the first ever Test match were 2 cousins go head-to-head. Adriaan Strauss, who has been the first choice hooker since Bismarck du Plessis injured his knee, might take on Richardt Strauss, born in South Africa looks set to make his debut with Rory Best out injured.

In Scotland, the Springboks also have the upper hand with 11 wins out of 16. 2 years ago South Africa was on its way to record a Grand Slam. They beat Ireland and Wales, lost to Scotland and beat England in the 4th match. The match will be remembered for the way the Boks getting a taste of their own medicine. While scoring the only try of the match, the Scots won 21-17 with Dan Parks being spot-on with the boot. It's only 1 of 2 victories over the Boks in over 40 years. The two teams met at Murrayfield during the 1999 World Cup, with South Africa winning 46-29.

The conclusion of the rugby year for the Boks will be played at Twickenham when they take on England. South Africa won 9 out of 18, a decent 50% winning ratio. The first match ever played between the two in 1906 was a draw (3-3) and the most recent one in South Africa also ended without a winner (14-14). England have not beaten South Africa since 2006, losing 9 times before getting a draw in Port Elizabeth. When the Boks take on England they will play 2 South Africans as well. Lock Mouritz Botha, born in Vryheid, never played professional rugby in South Africa but center Brad Barritt did. After representing the Durban-based team Sharks for years he moved to England in 2009.

The squad for the End of Year Tour contains these players:

Pat Cilliers (Lions), Jannie du Plessis (Sharks), Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks), Gurthrö Steenkamp (Toulouse, France), CJ van der Linde (Lions), Schalk Brits (Saracens, England), Chiliboy Ralepelle (Bulls), Adriaan Strauss (Cheetahs), Eben Etzebeth (Stormers), Juandre Kruger (Bulls), Flip van der Merwe (Bulls), Franco van der Merwe (Lions), Willem Alberts (Sharks), Arno Botha (Bulls), Marcell Coetzee (Sharks), Francois Louw (Bath, England), Duane Vermeulen (Stormers)

Ruan Pienaar (Ulster, Ireland), Jano Vermaak (Bulls), Patrick Lambie (Sharks), Elton Jantjies (Lions), Morne Steyn (Bulls), Francois Hougaard (Bulls), Lwazi Mvovo (Sharks), JP Pietersen (Sharks), Raymond Rhule (Cheetahs), Jean de Villiers (Stormers), Juan de Jongh (Stormers), Lionel Mapoe (Lions), Jaco Taute (Lions), Zane Kirchner (Bulls)

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