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22 February: Macqueen fears for breakdown laws

World Cup-winning Wallabies coach Rod Macqueen has warned new law amendments for the breakdown could risk making rugby union resemble unlimited tackle rugby league. The new rules, already in force in the northern hemisphere, will be in evidence when New Zealand and Australia's teams begin their Super Rugby campaigns this week and will also be enforced during this year's Rugby Championship. Macqueen cited the recent Six Nations test between Ireland and Wales as an example of how the amendments could change the way the game is played by reducing the contest for possession at the breakdown. Late in the game Ireland put together a massive 41 phases of possession to get five-eighth Jonathan Sexton into a position to kick a winning penalty. Read more here 

16 February: Shields to captain Hurricanes in South Africa and Argentina

Petone's Brad Shield will captain the Hurricanes to start the 2018 Super Rugby season, which features nine new players. The squad for the opening fortnight is:

Forwards; Toby Smith, Chris Eves, Ben May, Fraser Armstrong, Alex Fidow, Ricky Riccitelli, James O'Rielly, Sam Lousi, Murray Douglas, Michael Fatialofa, Vaea Fifita, Brad Shields (c), Ardie Savea, Gareth Evans, Blade Thomson; Backs, TJ Perenara, Jamie Booth, Beauden Barrett, Ihaia West, Ngani Laumape, Matt Proctor, Vince Aso, Wes Goosen, Julian Savea, Ben Lam, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Jonah Lowe.

16 February: Highlanders snuff our Crusaders in warm-up

The Highlanders’ 42-26 defeat of the Crusaders in their final pre-season game at Fred Booth Park inWaimumu  yesterday was a game that lived up to rugby’s oldest cliches. Quite simply, it was a game of two halves. The fortunate news for Highlanders fans was that their side won both of them. Scores: Highlanders 42 (Matt Faddes 3, Jackson Hemopo, Tei Walden tries, penalty try; Lima Sopoaga 3, Fletcher Smith 2 con) beat the Crusaders 26 (Bryn Hall, Wyatt Crockett, Braydon Ennor tries, penalty try; Richie Mo’unga con,  Mitchell Hunt con). Halftime: 28-19. Read more here

8 February: Gary Seear passes away

Former Otago and All Blacks loose forward and occasional lock Gary Seear lost a longtime cancer battle on Thursday, aged 65. Seear played 116 games for Otago and 34 games for the All Blacks, including 12 tests. He made his debut for Otago in 1971 and first played for the All Blacks in 1976 and famously kicked a 45-metre penalty against Franc in Paris in 1977.

3 February: Hurricanes run riot over Crusaders

It was the first game of a long year, but the Hurricanes have taken plenty of heart from their 43-22 pre-season win over the Crusaders in Greymouth on Friday evening. The Hurricanes lived up to recent weather carnage in the area by scoring seven tries, including a first half hat-trick to starting left wing Jonah Lowe. The Hurricanes led 24-5 at halftime and pulled further ahead to lead 36-5 before the defending champions came back. A crowd of 4,000 was on hand to watch the game. Both sides blooded plenty of new players and the two squads’next assignment is the Brisbane 10s next weekend. Elsewhere, the Blues overcame the Chiefs 45-19 in Te Kuiti and the Highlanders accounted for the Waratahs 55-29 in Queenstown on Friday. Hurricanes 43 (Jonah Lowe 3, Ben Lam, Julian Savea, Finlay Christie, Vince Aso tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop 2 con, Ihaia West 2 con) beat Crusaders 22 (Billy Harmon, Jack Stratham, Tima Faingaanuku, Manasa Mataele tries; Brett Cameron con). HT: 24-5.

28 January: New Zealand teams bow out of Sydney Sevens

The All Black Sevens and Black Ferns Sevens sides both fell on the final days of the Sydney Sevens tournaments. The men's side succumbed to Australia 24-12 in the quarter-finals and finished fifth overall, while the women missed out to Australia 31-0 in the final of the women's section. Australia won both the men's and women's competitions. The next men's round is this coming weekend in Hamilton, whilst the women are next in Japan on 21-22 April.

25 January: Nanai to join All Black Sevens team

2017 Saint Kentigern College and now Counties Manukau affiliated fullback Etene Nanai is in line to make his All Blacks Sevens debut this weekend in Sydney, named in the playing squad. Read more here

The schedule for Sydney is:

Friday 26 January
9.50pm NZT v Russia

Saturday 27 January
6.31pm NZT v Samoa
9.42pm NZT v Fiji
Sunday 28 January – Finals Day

13 January: National Sevens Day Two Draw

For a Day One wrap read here

The first games on Day 2 are below:

Men's Cup Quarter Finals:
11.30 Field 1 Waikato (Pool a winner) v Auckland
11.50 Field 1 North Harbour (Pool D winner) v Wellington
12.10 Field 1 Tasman (Pool C winner) v Manawatu
12.30 Field 1 Bay of Plenty (Pool B winner v Taranaki

Men's Bowl Quarter Finals:
10.05 Field 1 Counties Manukau v Mid Canterbury
10.25 Field 1 Hawke’s Bay v Southland
10.45 Field 1 Northland v Otago
11.05 Field 1 Canterbury v Wanganui

Women's Cup Quarter Finals:
10.05 Field 2 Waikato (Pool A winner) v Canterbury
10.25 Field 2 Bay of Plenty (Pool B runner-up) v Counties Manukau
10.45 Field 2 Auckland (Pool C winner) v Otago
11.05 Field 2 Manawatu (Pool B winner) v Wellington

Women's Bowl Semi Finals:
11.50 Field 2 Hawke’s Bay v North Harbour
12.10 Field 2 Southland v Poverty Bay

11 January Sopoaga departs
11 January: Sopoaga departs

Lima Sopoaga has announced his departure from NZ rugby. His post on Instagram includes these words: "I'd like to thank the Highlanders, All Blacks, Southland and Wellington for the awesome experiences you have provided me with over the years. Thank you to all the fans for your support it's been one heck of a ride." Sopoaga leaves at the end of 2018 for Wasps in England.  

10 January: Players suspended

The New Zealand Rugby Judicial Committee has completed the anti-doping hearings for Zoe Berry, Rhys Pedersen, Glen Robertson and Ben Qauqau-Dodds.Berry, Pedersen, and Robertson have been banned from playing rugby for the possession and, in some cases, use or attempted use of Clenbuterol and Qauqau-Dodds has been banned for the possession and use or attempted use of Metandienone.Clenbuterol and Metandienone are both prohibited substances under the NZ Sports Anti-Doping Rules. All athletes pleaded guilty to at least one of the offences alleged. The New Zealand Rugby Judicial Committee has ordered the suspension of Berry for four years commencing on 31 July 2017, Pedersen for 21 months from 1 January 2017, Robertson for four years from 3 February 2017 and Qauqau-Dodds for two years commencing on 31 July 2017. All four athletes were playing club rugby at the time of the offending.

Stories
Ngarohi McGarvey Black new cap in All Black Sevens
22 February: Ngarohi McGarvey Black new cap in All Black Sevens

All Blacks Sevens Coach Clark Laidlaw has named the squad to travel to the HSBC USA and Canada Sevens next month. Bay of Plenty’s Ngarohi McGarvey Black is the only newcomer, while Dylan Collier, Trael Joass and Andrew Knewstubb all return from injury.

Read more >
Teams from far and wide competing at Central 7s tournament
16 February: Teams from far and wide competing at Central 7s tournament

Last year's Hawke's Bay 7s tournament was a wet one, but the forecast this weekend is fine and warm and the rugby should be hotter. A total of 31 teams from several provinces throughout the lower North Island are set to descend on Waipukurau tomorrow for the 35th Paladin Sports Hawke’s Bay 7s tournament. The tournament, hosted by the Central Rugby and Sports Club, features 15 Men’s, nine Colts and seven Women’s sides each vying to take home the spoils.

Read more >
Hurricanes win well in final pre-season match in Mahurangi
15 February: Hurricanes win well in final pre-season match in Mahurangi

Above: the local crowd swarms the players on the field afterwards. Photo by @hurricanesrugby Twitter. The Hurricanes took their game to North Harbour club Mahurangi this afternoon for their final Super Rugby 2018 pre-season fixture and came away with an encouraging 26-14 win over a full-strength Blues unit.

Read more >
Eden defends National Club Sevens title
11 February: Eden defends National Club Sevens title

Above: Eden celebrating their back-to-back title win after beating Napier Old Boys Marist in the Cup final. Photo credit:  Eden Rugby Club Facebook  Auckland’s Eden has become the first club since Otago’s Alhambra-Union in 2009 to defend the Middlesex County Wavell Wakefield Cup, winning the National Club Sevens title in style at home at Gribblehurst Park on Sunday afternoon.

Read more >
Hurricanes see Blue in Brisbane
11 February: Hurricanes see Blue in Brisbane

For the first time since 2003, the Blues have won a Super Rugby trophy. The perennial underachievers from Auckland beat the Hurricanes 10-7 in the final of the Brisbane 10s to capture the pre-season title for the first time. Two vital mistakes cost the Hurricanes victory. Ahead 7-0 with three minutes remaining, Brayden Iose conceded a cynical penalty which allowed the Blues to march into the Hurricanes 22 and strike out wide via Akira Ioane.

Read more >
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Featured Points Table
National Provincial Championship Premiership 2017
  P W L D F A B Pts
Taranaki 10 8 2 0 390 318 10 42
Canterbury 10 8 2 0 442 246 9 41
North Harbour 10 8 2 0 331 220 6 38
Tasman 10 6 4 0 275 306 7 31
Counties Manukau 10 5 4 1 255 297 6 28
Auckland 10 3 7 0 235 298 6 18
Waikato 10 2 8 0 213 293 9 17
Featured Points Table
National Provincial Championship Championship 2017
  P W L D F A B Pts
Wellington 10 9 1 0 407 207 11 47
BoP 10 5 4 1 285 251 6 28
Otago 10 4 6 0 331 269 10 26
Northland 10 5 5 0 264 221 5 25
Manawatu 10 4 6 0 278 287 8 24
Hawke's Bay 10 2 8 0 203 396 3 11
Southland 10 0 10 0 154 454 1 1
Featured Points Table
Women's NPC - Farah Palmer Cup Women's Premiership 2017
  P W L D F A B Pts
Canterbury 7 6 1 0 257 153 5 29
Counties Manukau 6 5 1 0 288 64 7 27
Auckland 7 3 2 2 180 151 4 20
Waikato 7 4 3 0 148 186 4 20
Wellington 7 3 4 0 198 198 6 18
Manawatu 6 2 3 1 174 174 3 13
Featured Points Table
Women's NPC - Farah Palmer Cup Women's Championship 2017
  P W L D F A B Pts
BoP 6 4 1 1 150 83 5 23
Otago 6 3 3 0 198 120 3 15
North Harbour 6 2 4 0 84 201 1 9
Tasman 6 1 5 0 80 249 0 4
Hawke's Bay 6 0 6 0 57 235 0 0
Featured Points Table
Heartland Championship 2017
  P W L D F A B Pts
South Canterbury 8 7 1 0 273 190 8 36
Horowhenua Kapiti 8 7 1 0 227 107 4 32
Buller 8 6 2 0 250 203 4 28
Wanganui 8 5 3 0 279 125 6 26
Mid Canterbury 8 5 3 0 275 224 6 26
North Otago 8 4 4 0 235 178 9 25
West Coast 8 5 3 0 209 201 5 25
Thames Valley 8 3 5 0 209 174 8 20
Poverty Bay 8 4 4 0 185 229 4 20
King Country 8 1 7 0 206 323 8 12
Wairarapa Bush 8 1 7 0 174 313 6 10
East Coast 8 0 8 0 98 353 0 0
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