It's that time of year again: The annual Polar derby between the Northern Bears and the Southern Penguins at the Stade de Frigid.
It's that time of year again: Get set for the annual December 25 Polar derby between the Northern Bears and the Southern Penguins at the Stade de Frigid.
It's the match the whole planet has been waiting for: the Best of the North versus the best of the South with the winners set to take home the Bill Bew Sille trophy.
The Polar Bears will be under pressure to end their long loosing streak against their rivals from way, way down under – but we can't see it happening. The even colder than usual temperatures should favour the northerners but will it be enough to stifle the free-running side from the South?
While familiar names like Penguins skipper Richie McBurger and Bears lock Donncha O'Chabalahan are back from last year, a few new faces are set to entertain the fans at sold-out 140 000-seater igloo.
The northerners have their strongest back three in years in the form of full-back Ben Fearney and wings Maxy Bowdard and Vincent Clashton but will be looking to their pack to lay the platform for success.
“Like every year, we'll be looking to dominate up front,” Polar Bears coach Clause McSanta told News From the Far Side.
“The set piece is always crucial. We might have an advantage at scrum time but the Southerners have two of the best locks in the game in Victorio Albefielde and Nathan Sharpthorn. We never get to break their line-out codes either. Afrikiwi is impossible to understand.
“And we can't afford to kick badly either. Their full-back, Kils Bealiaina, is devastating – It's like he's got the legs of a 21-year-old with the head of Test veteran.
“That said, we have a few weapons of our own. Brannick O'Driszion is probably the best centre in the world and Jamie Harinordislip is in top form.”
The Bears were handed some good news earlier this week when it was confirmed that fly-half Hoby Flook has recovered from his reoccurring inflamed-incandescent-infected-ingrown toenail on his kicking foot.
Meanwhile, all the talk around the Penguins camp has been about Sonny Adam Smith and whether he should be wearing number 12 or 13.
“He has fitted well into the team, ” said Penguins coach Chris Masphather.
“The guys really like him because he brought with him some of the girls in skimpy outfits from his boxing days.”
Hooker Bismarck Meaplessis has recovered from his left-intercostal-earlobe-defragmentation on starts up front with Teny “The Monster” Woodwarira.
McBurger will lead the side and fans at the will be hoping for a master display of rucking and typical McBurger driving-through.
Versatile blinside/openside flanker/lock David Poussouw is on the bench but should get a run. He pilfers, he plunders, he pillages, he preys, he plucks, he picks, he lifts, he loots, he liberates the ball from any bondage – if you don't hold onto it, he'll steal it.
Injury-plagued and out-of-form Sitiveni Habakoco is lucky to retain his place and needs to come up with big performance or risks losing his place on the sleigh and being sent back to Masphather's workshop.
With heavy snow forecast, he'll be lucky to see much of the ball at all.
Whatever the conditions, the tackles are set to be ferocious so be prepared for a bone-chilling encounter at the Stade de Frigid
Players to watch:
For the Northern Polar Bears: The world's best scrummager in many people's opinion, Genith Mastrogiovanni is a versatile asset as he can play on both sides of the scrum. In fine form for his club, Leicignan Blues , the prop will be out to prove that the North still dominates when it comes to the tight stuff.
For the Southern Penquins: Born in Pretoria but raised in Cantberbury Pieran Spead is the quintessential modern number eight. A physical phenomenon, he has unbelievable pace for such a big man. Almost impossible to stop once at full-pace, he floats like rubber duck and stings like a freight train.
Head-to-head: Two of the world's most exciting scrum-halves face off. Drop goal specialist Ben Younvili has burst onto the international scene this year as has Jimmy Hougenia, who was in awesome form for the Red Bulls in the Super 27.
Prediction: It's a tough one to call, but considering the past results, the Penguins must start as favourites. You can be sure of one thing: after the game the 'refreshments' will flow thick and fast. The Hemispheres to draw 25-all and everyone to have cracking new year, be friends and live happily ever after!
North Pole: 15 Ben Fearney, 14 Maxy Bowdard, 13 Brannick O'Driszion, 12 Gordayne D'Arpe, 11 Vincent Clashton, 10 Hoby Flook, 9 Ben Younvili, 8 Jamie Harinordislip, 7 Maurtyno Willimasco, 6 Thierry Moodautoir, 5 Donncha O'Chabalahan, 4 Courtney Lines, 3 Genith Mastrogiovanni, 2 Dylan Hervat, 1 Andrea Sherugini.
Replacements: 16 Ross Rees, Buckley, 17 Thomas Domealy, 18 Tom-Wyn Palmallet, 19 Louis Haskemoles, 20 Morgan Pharraps , 21 Jonny Wilkexton, 22 Shane Willimasco
South Pole: 15 Kils Bealiaina, 14 Jane O'Connory, 13 Sonny Adam Smith, 12 Ma'ean Nilliers, 11 Sitiveni Habakoco, 10 Morniel Carper, 9 Jimmy Hougenia, 8 Pieran Spead, 7 Richie McBurger, 6 Juan Fernandez Smith, 5 Victorio Albefielde, 4 Nathan Sharpthorn, 3 Rodrigo Robinsero, 2 Bismarck Meaplessis, 1 Teny Woodwarira,
Replacements: 16 Chilimanio Raledesma, 17 Jannie du Pialata, 18 Anthonies Bothic, 19 David Poussouw, 20 Berrick Bienaar, 21 Filipe Stynepomi, 22 Hoseaw Gitchell
Date: Friday, December 25
Venue: Stade de Frigid
Kick-off: 12.00 GMT
Weather: minus 24Â°C, snow, and a fresh north-wester 35 km/h
Referee: Tony Lawrence (South)
Touch judges: Mark Lawrence (South), Bryce Lawrence (North)
Television match official: Phil Lawrence (North)
Assesor: His Royal Highness The Scarlet Badger