Planet Rugby

Far Side Preview: North v South

Far side christmas preview 2011

Donncha O'Chabalahan, Richie McBurger, Mikiel Rougindall and Ma'an Nilliers

24th December 2011 10:33

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Mikelien Rougindall far side

Centre of controversy: Mikiel Rougindall

It's that time of year again! The game the whole world has been waiting for - the annual North v South Derby at the Stade de Frigid.

The Northern Polar Bears and Southern Penguins renew their age-old rivalry in the traditional December 25 fixture with the battle for the Bill Bew Sille trophy set to be more brutal than ever.

After three consecutive heavy defeats the northerners were be seeking revenging and with plenty of bad blood between the sides sparks are sure to fly.

The build up to the clash has been mired by scandal after northern centre Mikiel Rougindall was caught on film sticking his finger into the eye of southern skipper Richie McBurger's dwarf ex-girlfriend in a night club.

Rougindall is not the only player in trouble as the Bears camp has been in the media spotlight after a series of off-field incidents and a rumoured fallout between the coaches and players.

Polar Bears coach Clause Santason insists the press have blow the situation out of proportion however.

"Rugby players drink beer, sexually harasses hotel staff and jump off a ferry - shocker," he told News From the Far Side.

Assistant coach Martin Lièvrenson's relationship with the press and his players continues to fall apart. When asked if his team had a chance of beating the mighty southern side in light of their recent troubles, his answer got tongues wagging.

"Go to hell with your question," he barked.

"I told them they are a bunch of spoiled brats. Undisciplined, disobedient, sometimes selfish. Always complaining, always whingeing."

The southern camp has not escaped controversy either after centre Sonny Berrick Fuimaono-Steyn complained that he had not been given enough time to recover after being concussed in his most recent boxing match in Paris.

"Unfair treatment, like slavery, like the holocaust, like apartheid," he blasted on social media network URAtwitter.

The Penguins have also been dealt a severe injury blow with the news that playmaker Juan Martin Carterez has been ruled out with an overused groin.

As a result Filipe Cooperpomi will start with Morne Sonald a late arrival to the camp after having to cancel his jellyfishing holiday.

Coach Chris Masphather was optimistic about his team's chances.

"The Bears will be looking to dominate up front but we have a very good set piece, and very fast backs. Plus Cirby Joane breakdances better than anyone I know, that'll get the crowd going, " said Masphather.

Assistant coach Graham Deanilliers added that the game could be won or lost in the line-outs.

"We've been working on secret line-out calls," he said.

"Victorio Albefielde is a genius and it's unlikely the Bears will understand what we're saying. Afrikiwi is a difficult language to master,"

In team news, southern fans will be relieved to hear that superstar skipper Richie McBurger is back to captain the Penguins once again.

The stalwart flanker has been suffering from the left-intercostal-earlobe-defragmentation that has plagued his whole career and has rested all week. Fans at the 40 000 seater igloo will be hoping for another master display of McBurger driving-through.

Age is catching up to record-breaking veteran wing Sitivan Habacoko, who has been dropped.

For the northerners, Jonny Wilkexton, is once again suffering from an inflamed-incandescent-infected-ingrown toenail on his kicking foot so will start from the bench with Rhys Floodland wearing the number ten jersey.

There is a debut for loose forward Mick Gorgodeaster but he starts on the flank, not his regular position of number eight, which is held by fan favourite Jamie Harinordislip.

There is no place for veteran Brannick O'Driszion while Shane Willimasco will bid farewell to fans in his last game in red.

In the second row, there is a surprise recall for Donncha O'Chabalahan.

Players to watch:

For the Northern Polar Bears: Seen by many as the future of pivot play in the North, young Scarlet Tigers fly-half Rhys Floodland has been preferred for is running game over Wilkexton's boot. But can the handle the pressure of the big occasion or will he leave his lunch on the halfway line?

For the Southern Penguins: Without doubt the best 15 in the world at the moment Crusatahs full-back Kurtley Bagg is a counter-attacking master. Faster than a kangaroo on amphetamines and more elusive than a lubricated ninja, he's a try-scoring machine.

Head-to-head: The battle of the breakdown is set to be epic with the Penguins fielding two specialist ball fetchers. David Possouw pilfers and plunders the ball from any bondage and McBurger makes sure the ref is none-the-wiser. Meanwhile, Thierry 'Mad Cow' Moodautoir dives in head-first with no regard for his own safety whatsoever, meaning anyone is his way is bound to be left bruised and bloodied.

Prediction: The Penguins must start as favourites but with heavy snow forecast, which will favour the Bears, anything is possible. 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!

The teams:

North Pole: 15 Ben Fearney, 14 Vincent Clashton, 13 Mikiel Rougindall, 12 Maxie Robermoz 11 Shane Willimasco, 10 Rhys Floodland, 9 Morgan Pharraps, 8 Jamie Harinordislip, 7 Thierry Moodautoir, 6 Mick Gorgodeaster, 5 Donncha O'Chabalahan, 4 Lionel O'Chartellet, 3 Genith Mastrogiovanni, 2 Dylan Hervat, 1 Fabian Healicella.
Replacements: 16 Rory Beraldini, 17 Andrea Sheragini, 18 Richie Grawes, 19 Louis Haskemoles, 20 Benni Younvili, 21 Jonny Wilkexton, 22 James Huilagi

South Pole: 15 Kurtley Bagg, 14 JP O'Connorsen, 13 Sonny Berrick Fuimaono-Steyn, 12 Ma'an Nilliers, 11 Cirby Joane, 10 Filipe Cooperpomi, 9 Willy Cowenia, 8 Pieran Spead, 7 Richie McBurger, 6 David Possouw, 5 Victorio Albefielde, 4 Nathan Sharpthorn, 3 Rodrigo Franksero, 2 John Smealamu, 1 Tony 'Monster' Woodarira.
Replacements: 16 Chilimanio Redesma, 17 Jannie du Pialata, 18 Ali Horliams, 19 Jerome Martin Fernandez Laino, 20 Piri Wambie, 21 Morne Sonald, 22 Conrad Fourie

Date: Sunday, December 25
Venue: Stade de Frigid
Kick-off: High Noon
Weather: minus 24°C, snow, and a fresh north-wester 35 km/h

Referee: Lawrence Lawrence
Touch judges: Mark Lawrence, Bryce Lawrence
Television match official: Jean-Pierre Lawrence III

Assesor: His Royal Highness The Scarlet Badger

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