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Have a great 2015!!!

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To all our loyal Rugga Bloggers, hope you have a great 2015…..

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May the Bulls start running the ball with the Quality backs they have…..

May the Stormers actually start scoring tries…..

May the Cheetahs tackle as much as they scoring tries….

May the Lions……..aaahh they can just be the Lions and show the quality team they are…..

May the Sharks actually live up the hype they always start off with…..

May Willie score the winning try in the Rugby World Cup…..

May Willie start tackling……..

May the “Thor” be protected and go through the year without any injuries……

May we have Duiwel and Bekke show there love to Meyer smile

 

Too all we just wish a Great 2015, enjoy it!!!!

Rugby-Fans

 

 

Montpellier unveil White as new boss

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Montpellier have formally unveiled their new coaching staff to be headed up – for now – by former Springbok coach Jake White…report Planet Rugby

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The news comes a day after Fabien Galthié was “provisionally stood down” by club President and owner Mohed Altrad.

2007 World Cup-winning coach White has joined the French club as a ‘consultant’ on a six-month contract.

He will be assisted by fellow South African and former Toulouse number eight Shaun Sowerby, who will coach the forwards following the departure of Argentinean Mario Ledesma last month. Sowerby previously was forwards coach at the Southern Kings.

Incumbent backs coach Stéphane Glas is the only member of Galthié coaching staff to escape Altrad’s axe.

The future of Galthié remains unclear with Altrad insisting that he is “still an employee of the club” but the delay in defining his role seems to be a stalling tactic to circumvent French labour law.

He is expected to be formally dismissed at a club meeting on January 9.

L’Equipe quoted a friend of the former French international scrum-half as saying “Galthie has the feeling that they want to make him so disgusted that he leaves and therefore is less costly to them in terms of a pay-out”.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Altrad said he felt that Galthié had failed to communicate properly with management and players alike but stopped short of saying he was fired.

“He is an employee of the club, with a contract that continues,” said Altrad of Galthié’s situation.

“We’ll see how he behaves, what are his plans are.

“A fortnight ago, he was asked to reflect on the future of the club, on the way of working, and come back with plans for the club.

“In the meantime, we can not remain inactive, so we brought in skilled people.”

Altrad also left the door open for Galthié and White to work together.

“It is possible, but we’ll have to see how each of them behaves,” explained the club president.

“For my part, I will try to manage the club as best I can. What I have done in the past is still noteworthy.

“I arrived in 2011, and if you look at the players, there are only three players left. All others are new, there are only stars. Galthié spoke of his ‘Playstation team’ and that was given to him.

“We gave him the means, he was given what he wanted. He said several times that he had never had a president who had given him so much, that he had never had so many stars in his team.

“He has everything he wants, and it’s up to him to do something, to enhance this group to make a team. The addition of stars does not necessarily make a successful team. In terms of size,our squad has nothing to envy of Toulon, Toulouse, Clermont.”

“I want to reiterate that I arrived after him, since he had been recruited by the president in place before me.

“He had all the means necessary,but he has failed. We can not say that his career here was a success.

“Will I want to keep Galthié? Will he want to stay? Will we be able to exist together? I can tell you that I intend to remain at this club a long time. We’ve stumble, it’s human, that’s life.”

Montpellier were beaten 27-9 by bottom club Castres in Top 14 action on Sunday and have won just one of their last nine matches.

They are currently eighth in the table, 13 points behind new leaders Stade Français.

Young guns to watch in 2015

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There is no shortage of exciting young talent in South Africa, but which young stars will make the step up to the next level?

The saying goes that if you are good enough then you are old enough, and there is enough evidence that Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer subscribes to this school of thought with a wide range of ages in his squad.

However, players that show a lot of promise in the junior ranks do not always go on to shoot straight into the Springbok side like Handre Pollard has done.

There are a lot of young players with a lot of potential in South Africa, but these are the players we think it would be worth keeping an eye on next year as they look to show they can step up.

Five players to watch in 2015:

Warrick Gelant

The Bulls fullback was still in school last year, but wasted little time in making an impression this year. He featured for Tuks in the Varsity Cup, played Vodacom Cup and then started at the back for the Junior Boks as they came up just short in New Zealand. He was called up to the Springbok Sevens squad at the end of the year, and has winners medals from his only two tournaments in Dubai and Port Elizabeth. This leaves him poised to break through at the Bulls, and with speed, size and skill he has all the tools he needs to succeed.

Thomas du Toit

Although he went to school in Paarl, Du Toit always wanted to play for the Sharks which he did in his first year out of school this year. The burly prop made his Super Rugby debut before going on to bully those his own age at the Junior World Championship which he will be able to play in again next year. With Tendai Mtawarira coming towards the end of his career Du Toit looks to be his logical successor at Kings Park and if he manages to avoid injury he looks set to enjoy a long career at the highest level.

Robert du Preez

The son of the former Springbok scrumhalf with the same name, Du Preez has shown that he has what it takes to step out of his father’s shadow. Having kept Handre Pollard out of the Junior Bok starting line-up last year he made a move to the Cape and was named as player of the Varsity Cup after running the show for Maties. That loan deal led to a full contract with Western Province, and he went on to play flyhalf for their Under-21 side that lost in the final to the Blue Bulls. A physical playmaker who has a strong kicking game, Du Preez will be behind Kurt Coleman and Demetri Catrkilis next year, so his opportunities are likely to come in the Vodacom Cup at first.

Armand van der Merwe

Another product of Outeniqua High School, ‘Acker’ van der Merwe’s impressive form for the table-topping Pukke in the Varsity Cup saw him get a call-up to the Lions Super Rugby squad this year. Although he played Vodacom Cup and First Division for Leopards last year, by the end of the year he was starring for the impressive Golden Lions front row in the Currie Cup. An abrasive hooker who is powerful and tough to bring down, he will be one of the key players in Lions coach Johan Ackermann’s squad.

Nico Janse van Rensburg

One of the latest products of the rugby factory across the road from Loftus Versfeld known as Affies, Janse van Rensburg showed what he is capable of playing alongside JD Schickerling for the Junior Boks. A tall and imposing lock who is solid at line-out time, Janse van Rensburg also has an impressive turn of pace and can punish teams if allowed too much space. He impressed as an impact player for the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup, and will now look to do the same in Super Rugby next year.

By Michael de Vries
@smalldbigV
@rugby365com

Time for a Quickie

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European Rugby

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Ospreys backs coach Gruff Rees insists their impressive record against the Welsh regions is “not a burden” ahead of facing the Scarlets.

The squad is enjoying an unbeaten run of sixteen PRO12 matches against their three local rivals and could make it eighteen by January 3.

But Rees is not over-thinking the streak as the Ospreys, currently top of the table after a 31-20 victory against Ulster, prepare for Saturday.

“The record is not a burden,” he told walesonline.co.uk.

 

Jake-WhiteFormer South Africa coach Jake White is being lined up as the new manager of Top 14 club Montpellier, according to a report in L’Equipe.

The 51-year-old, who led the Springboks to World Cup glory in 2007, is said by a well-informed source to have inked a six-month contract.

“White’s coming with a view to being in charge of the team completely,” the source told L’Equipe, with Montpellier struggling this season.

“He will be above (Fabien) Galthie. He will have the role of manager, that is what has been negotiated.”

Such a move would put Galthie under real pressure even after the team recently ended a poor run of results with victory over Toulouse.

 

Dragons-number-eight-Taulupe-FaletauDragons and Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau has been sent to seek expert advice regarding the ankle injury he suffered against Zebre.

Director of rugby Lyn Jones revealed the news, with the 24-year-old international’s participation over the festive period in real doubt.

“We want to be careful. It’s a precautionary visit to make sure what we are seeing and feeling is right so we can move ‘Toby’ forward at the right speed,” he told the South Wales Argus.

“We have to give him time to make sure he’s fine again but it’s not right for me to predict how an injury is 48 hours after it has occurred.

“But we will do what’s right for Toby because it’s not just about the Cardiff Blues game; there is the Six Nations as well.

 

Jonny Wilkinson“What you find with a twisted ankle, is there will be a weakness for the rest of the season and it will need strapping.”

Jonny Wilkinson is set to be knighted in the New Year’s Honours list according to reports in England.

Wilkinson retired in June after a glittering career during which he helped England to the World Cup in 2003, while at club level he starred for Toulon as they won back-to-back European titles over the last two seasons.

The 35-year-old was affectionately known as ‘Sir Jonny’ in the South of France during a hugely successful five-year spell which finished with a domestic and European double last season.

And as a result of his rugby achievements, which also saw him spend 12 years with Newcastle, as well as his charity work, the Sunday Mirror is reporting that he will receive a knighthood from the Queen on Thursday.

“Jonny is one of Britain’s greatest-ever sportsmen,” a source told the Sunday Mirror.

“He has always represented England with distinction. He is a hero and a shining example to millions around the world. He thoroughly deserves this.”


Australian Rugby

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Michael Cheika’s reconstruction of Australia’s scrum is set to be aided by renowned scrum guru, according to reports.

The Wallabies set-piece struggled in their last Test of the year against England at Twickenham, prompting a response from Chieka to address the area.

Andrew Blades is already installed as Cheika’s forwards coach but some more in-depth expertise is now set to be brought in.

Sources have hinted that the addition will be a big name, with Cheika looking to finalise his staff next month.

 

 By: Planet Rugby

Dear 2015…….

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An Open letter by Benedict Chanakira

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Dear 2015,

We await you with earnest. 2014 ends while leaving such a sour taste in our mouths. The rugby world was a bit crazy from the Welsh defeating the Springboks, the injury to Jean de villiers, retirement of stalwarts and the unexpected perspective of being three steps back instead of being closer to New Zealanders who seem to have it all sorted. Steve Hansen extended his stay until the 2017 season.

Wait till they have their exodus in 2015, may be a tough time for the Kiwis when it happens. Its also tough to see anyone else in the Springbok helm but Heyneke Meyer going past the World Cup. A favorite among majority of the fans. Will he go on? We are grateful that we are not as bad as the Australians who seem to be getting worse with every game and look very average. So what do you have in store for us?

Super Rugby 2015 will be the last of competitive rugby in the competition, as the expansion will see the introduction of two sides that are looking to develop in the competition. The draw will see the Saffa side of the world look like a Currie Cup with Springboks. Yet to fully get the whole version but not playing the New Zealand sides and Australians could lead to the demise of our side’s quality.

We enter 2015 with similar patterns from last season; Sharks have a new coach in Gary Gold- we hope the change will bring a long term bearing to the Union instead of a short term project for him.

Stormers fans continue to mourn as they will have the beloved Allister Coetzee who always flatters. Poor Super Rugby and then produces a masterpiece of a Curried Cup run. Could he finally deliver? Something says the Gert Small factor could conjure up a new dimension at the Union.

The Lions look the most exciting prospect as they look to continue to grow. A lot more Springboks next year than what they started with in 2014. They gained experience and a bit more squad depth and they could march on further without fading. Getting Emirates on board? Huge plus.

Cheetahs, well same coach and personnel . Lost some key players to the Blue Bulls. Will be tough to survive and look the worst Saffa side.

The Blue Bulls will be up for it from their transfer business. In Trevor Nyakane they could have a prop that can actually scrum now. Rumors suggest some running rugby too. Believe it, when you see it. The return of Pierre Spies and how he will fit in Springbok plans will be interesting.

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Three factors catch my eye in the Australian and New Zealand the return of Sonny Bill Williams. Remember former Sharks coach John Plumtree? The Kiwi is back in New Zealand with the Hurricanes as an assistant coach.

Can they finally rejuvenate help their form and utilise their strengths. Maximise potential of the likes of Julian Savea, Cory Jane and Beauden Barrett.The Waratahs will look to defend their crown. Can Michael Cheika balance the two roles out? He accepted a challenge, Aussies will hope he does not fail at both ends.

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The Springbok Sevens are the best in the World for now. Character, guile and exciting. Full of pizazz in the side with the perfect blend of youth and experience. How we hope Seabelo Senatla will be as exciting and efficient on the 15’s International stage. Electric.

The Six Nations will be rather interesting. Main focus will really be the Ireland juggernaut looking to gain momentum. How will the World Cup hosts England fare in their final dress rehearsals? Both sides hampered by injuries will be a a lot stronger in the tournament.

With the France team an unknown entity Ireland and England hold the best hopes for the Northern sides to advance furthest in the World Cup.

Yours truly,

Expectant fan

Springbok-fans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Badger back for the Force

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Nick ‘Honey Badger’ Cummins will return to the Western Force for the 2015 Asteron Life Super Rugby season.

Cummins, who has played 74 matches for the Western Australian club over the past seven seasons, was granted a release from his Western Force contract on compassionate grounds to join Japanese club, the Coca Cola Red Sparks, at the end of the 2014 Asteron Life Super Rugby competition.

However, the 27-year-old, who has been capped 15 times for the Wallabies, will return to the Force after being granted leave from his current contract by the Fukuoka-based club.

He will join the Force squad at the end of the Red Sparks’ season in early 2015 and will return to the Japanese club for the 2015/2016 Top League season.

Cummins says he’s looking forward to returning to the Western Force and Australian shores in 2015.

“In November I was given an opportunity to play for the Barbarians,” he said. “Walking off the field after the match at Twickenham was a surreal experience, knowing I had just played against my country. It definitely lit a fire within and had me thinking about what could have been. “But I heard a bloke say at the end of the Super Rugby season that he hadn’t heard no fat lady sing!

“I’m stoked to be back on the burst and returning to Australian rugby in 2015. “Thanks to the Western Force and more importantly the Coca-Cola Red Sparks in Japan for making my return back to Australia possible. “Gonna be a huge year. Can’t wait to get amongst it!”

RugbyWA CEO, Mark Sinderberry says the organisation – spurred on by the support of its membership – was committed to bringing Cummins back to the Western Force.

“As a club, we believe it’s important to have Nick involved with Australian rugby and we’re very pleased to have him returning to us for next season,” he said. “Over the past seven years, Nick has not only been a consistent performer for both the Force and then Wallabies, but has developed a very strong and unique rapport with our passionate supporter base.

“Nick had unique circumstances behind his move to Japan, however, from that time, and supported by our ‘Sea of Blue’, it was important that we did what we could to bring him back.

“We have been humbled by the community support we have received in order to bring Nick back, and I’d like to thank the number of individuals directly involved for their generosity in making this possible.

“Special thanks must also go to the Coca Cola Red Sparks for allowing Nick to return to us for next season.

“It’s fantastic to know that Nick will be a part of our 10th season in Super Rugby, and I’ve got no doubt that our members and fans will be very excited to see the Honey Badger back in full flight for the Force next year.”

Western Force Head Coach Michael Foley says he’s pleased to have Cummins return to the squad.

While most people are aware of Nick’s colourful personality, the character he displays in his performances on the field makes him an integral part of our team,” he said.

“His ability to lighten the mood is balanced against a fierce determination to win and play for his mates, which was best evidenced by his performance against the Waratahs at home last season.” 

2015 Western Force squad:

Robbie Abel (EPS), Chris Alcock, Marcel Brache, Luke Burton, Nathan Charles, Adam Coleman, Angus Cottrell, Pek Cowan,

Nick Cummins, Patrick Dellit, Sias Ebersohn, Tetera Faulkner, Kyle Godwin, Dane Haylett-Petty, Ross Haylett-Petty (EPS), Chris Heiberg, Matt Hodgson, Zack Holmes, Oliver Hoskins, Brad Lacey (EPS), Ryan Louwrens (EPS), Steve Mafi, Alby Mathewson, Ben McCalman, Luke Morahan, Albert Nikoro, Ian Prior, Solomoni Rasolea, Mitchell Scott, Brynard Stander, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Heath Tessmann, Francois van Wyk (EPS), Rory Walton, Sam Wykes, Akihito Yamada

Investic Internatonal Rugby Academy

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The development of a skill set is key to achieving, whether in the class room, in the work place, or on the rugby field. The Investec International Rugby Academy provides world class courses that give amateur rugby players, as well as coaches, the opportunity to learn from rugby legends. This enables rugby talent the opportunity to benefit from the increasingly tough competition in order that they become up-skilled and so consider making a career of the game.

Courses took place at Glenwood High School in Durban mid-December. These intensive, tailor-made courses are specifically designed to assist individuals in making a career out of coaching or playing rugby by exposing them to international coaching. Through one-on-one-interaction with top local and international coaches, a strong focus is placed on areas such as fitness, power, training methods, mental toughness and the latest laws governing the game.

Rugby is a chosen career for many players and coaches who need to be at the top of their game in order to be successful. With so many individuals keen to reach the top, the game has gone beyond players’ talents and on-field performance alone. The game has evolved to such an extent that eager players and determined coaches need to remain in touch with the changing laws, latest techniques and playing styles all enhanced through cutting edge technology. This is where the Investec International Rugby Academy makes a difference.

Dick Muir, Investec International Rugby Academy managing director and course facilitator, elaborates on how the course capitalises on the uptapped demand for high performance in rugby, “The course provides a platform for the masterminds of the rugby fraternity to teach the next generation of talent about the game, life as a professional, leadership and coaching. With coaches of international calibre present, this course was once again a treat for any man wanting to pursue his rugby dream of representing his country one day. I am once again warmed and encouraged by our participants’ talent and eagerness to learn; it bodes well for the future of international rugby.”

The end-of-year classes were limited to two players per position. The list of coaches in attendance included Nick Mallett (game plan, role of the loosie, attacking options and the coach-captain relationship), Peter de Villiers (high performance coaching, breaking defences, half time chats and game evolution) as well as Louis Koen, Grant Bashford, Butch James, Marius Hurter, Braam van Straaten, Gcobani Bobo, John Allan, Jacques Botes, Brent Russell, Ryan Strudwick and Ryno Combrink.

Stuart Berry was also on hand to cover the laws, while Dr Peet Du Toit covered fitness, vision and hand eye coordination testing. Other topics addressed included recovery and injury prevention, team building, mental skills and defence. The courses attracted six international coaches who attended the coaching course, two of whom had previously attended the International Rugby Academy in New Zealand, established and run by Murray Mexted.

“This is an amazing opportunity to learn from the best, in an environment that allows players to grow on and off the field. The pool of knowledge is massive and the ideas shared on the course create a fantastic platform for players and coaches to launch their careers” – Braam van Straaten

Look out for courses taking place during 2015:

27 June – 3 July 2015
9 – 15 December 2015

Applications and enrolment can be done at www.investecacademy.com

Newlands stay WP home

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Currie Cup Champions 2014
Currie Cup Champions 2014

A Special General Meeting of the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) was held at DHL Newlands on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 to give feedback and to discuss the investigation of the feasibility and desirability to relocate to the Cape Town Stadium.

The WPRFU are the owners of the DHL Newlands Rugby Stadium – in turn, the clubs are the stakeholders and owners of the Union – and a decision to remain at DHL Newlands was carried by the clubs on Wednesday, 17 December 2014, unanimously and without abstention.

The decision to NOT further consider relocating to the Cape Town Stadium was based on a number of factors, the main considerations being the following:

(1) The WPRFU owns Newlands Rugby Stadium – including the ground it is built on – outright and is thereby in complete control of its own destiny. Any position for the WPRFU at the Cape Town Stadium will be as a tenant or a minority shareholder in an operating entity as the City has made it very clear the ownership will always remain that of the City.

(2) Whilst selling Newlands Rugby Stadium and moving to the Cape Town Stadium would result in a significant one-off cash injection for the WPRFU, it would be financially very difficult to ever own, purchase or build another stadium in the future, in all likelihood relegating Western Province to a tenant in perpetuity.

(3) There is a model whereby the existing Newlands Rugby Stadium and surrounding properties owned by the WPRFU can be redeveloped to create an additional income stream for the Union and to enhance the area and nearby sporting stadia/facilities.

(4) Spectator numbers at sporting events globally are under threat on an annual basis and we are concerned about the effect on the atmosphere in catering to smaller crowds in a 55,000-seater stadium.

(5) Various other operational and commercial issues were also considered, including:
5.1 – The operating costs pertaining to events at Newlands Rugby Stadium are significantly lower than those at the Cape Town Stadium.
5.2 – The capital replacement costs at Newlands Rugby Stadium are significantly lower than those at the Cape Town Stadium.
5.3 – Co-ordination of events at the Cape Town Stadium will be more difficult – especially in light that certain major entertainment events (such as concerts) are scheduled 12 to 18 months in advance, whereas the WPRFU would finalise its Super Rugby/Currie Cup schedules only by October of the previous year.

Cape Town 10’s Gives Back

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The takealot.com Cape Town 10’s Gives Back to Rugby’s Own
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The takealot.com Cape Town Tens has announced The Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players’ Fund as the official charity partner of the 2015 event.

The Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players’ Fund supports the fallen heroes of rugby, those who have sustained catastrophic head, neck or spinal cord injuries whilst on the field. 2015 marks the 35th anniversary of the organisation which was started by its current Chairman – Morné du Plessis and his Western Province Team mates in 1980, following the death of team mate and friend Chris Burger during a game.

The Players’ Fund currently has 106 recipients throughout South Africa, all of whom have two things in common – a future confined to a wheelchair and a love for the sport that can be likened to a religion in SA.
With close to 2500 rugby players taking part in the tournament, safety is of paramount importance. With the introduction of The Fund’s National Rugby Safety Programme Bok Smart – a joint initiative with SA Rugby – at the tournament this will ensure that the safest and smartest form of the game is being played.

“We are incredible happy to partner with the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Player’s Fund for the 2015 event”, said Bob Skinstad, Co-Founder of the Cape Town 10s. “Charity plays a big part in the tournament and what better way to give back than to those who have lived and breathed the game of rugby themselves.”

To give back to rugby’s own add R10 to your payment when booking your tickets at www.webtickets.co.za – all proceeds will be given to the Players’ Fund or visit the Players’ Fund Facebook Page to find out more.
Follow the Tens on Facebook at www.facebook.com/capetowntens or on Twitter on @takealot10s, #takealot10s.

New Signings for Western Province

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Stormers Rugby
Stormers Rugby

Western Province Rugby has announced some exciting additions to its coaching resources, with Paul Treu, Rito Hlungwani and Hanyani Shimange set to join, in various capacities, from 2015 onwards.

The signing of Treu, Hlungwani and Shimange will bolster the DHL Stormers and various DHL Western Province professional teams, whilst WP Rugby has also agreed to release Jacques Nienaber to further his career at national level.

Treu is a highly-regarded coach on the World Sevens circuit, having put South African Sevens on the map by guiding the Springbok Sevens side to the overall IRB Sevens World Series title in 2008/09 and recently also finishing a stint as coach of the national Kenyan Sevens team.

Treu, 43, coached the SA Sevens team between 2004 and 2013, leading them to an overall tally of 14 tournament wins and building a professional and structured squad set-up in the process. His presence will add a new and exciting dynamic to the settled DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province coaching set-ups.

“Paul brings with him plenty of big-game experience and he will add a lot to the already successful and well-balanced coaching set-ups at Western Province,” commented WP Director of Rugby Gert Smal.

“Whilst his recent coaching experience is at Sevens level, Paul has been looking to get back into fifteen-a-side coaching and this is a great opportunity to use his expertise and, at the same time, blood him back into 15s.”

Smal also lauded the appointments of young coaches Rito Hlungwani (who will serve as the DHL WP Under-19 forwards coach) and Hanyani Shimange (who will initially consult to the DHL WP Vodacom Cup team).

“The appointments of Rito and Shimmie are exciting – given that both are products (as players) of our youth system and both have been coaching at club level in the Western Cape for some time,” Smal told www.wprugby.com.

“Rito will add much-needed forward guidance at Institute and U19 level, whilst Shimmie will initially consult to the Vodacom Cup team before joining the DHL WP Under-21 set-up too.”

Meanwhile, defence coach Nienaber will join SA Rugby on a full-time basis after seven years of outstanding service to the DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province, with WP Rugby agreeing to SARU’s request to release him from his current three-year contract a year early.

Smal explained: “Jacques has not been involved in our last two Absa Currie Cup campaigns, due to his dual commitments with SA Rugby, so, I guess, you could say we knew this day would come.

“I would like to thank Jacques for unyielding work ethic and incredible attention to detail – all of which will serve him well at SA Rugby and no doubt benefit the national set-up at the same time.

“The defence-coaching workload will continue to be shared between Allister Coetzee and Greg Hechter, as was the case during our last two Absa Currie Cup campaigns, whilst, at the same time, Paul Treu will be phased into the DHL Stormers coaching set-up and team culture during the Vodacom Super Rugby competition.”

 

Blitzbokke Champions in PE again

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South Africa moved to the top of the HSBC Sevens World Series points table in Port Elizabeth on Sunday when they claimed a second consecutive HSBC Sevens World Series title in as many weeks.

The Springbok Sevens defeated New Zealand 26-17 in a pulsating final in the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens, a week after they claimed the Dubai Sevens title. The hosts trailed Fiji by two points coming into their home event, but now lead the standings with 59 points, with Fiji (51), New Zealand (47) and Australia (46) completing the top four places that would esnure automatic entry into the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.

More than 63 000 people attended the event in Port Elizabeth and they were left in raptures after the Blitzboks again came from behind to claim the title they won a year ago. The team, who had also trailed Australia in the semifinals (10-0), conceded an early try in the final, as Sherwin Stowers dotted down for New Zealand.

Tries by Philip Snyman and Cecil Afrika gave the home side the lead, but Afrika was yellow-carded shortly after and New Zealand used that advantage to claim a second try before the end of the half.

Leading tournament try-scorer Seabelo Senatla scored early in the second half to push the lead out to nine points, but again New Zealand came back within two minutes with a try by Joe Webber, his second of the final.

The deal was sealed for the home side though when Kwagga Smith scored, with Afrika’s conversion providing the necessary buffer for any late All Blacks Sevens counterpunch.

Coach Neil Powell was pleased with his side’s ability to stay calm under pressure and to play to their strengths.

“We had to dig deep. We had three very worthy opponents today and each asked very different questions. We had to come from behind in each match today, but this team has shown they have the determination and belief to succeed.

“We used sport psychologist Dr. Jannie Botha this week and it helped the guys to stay focused in a week full of the pressure that comes with hosting the tournament. A late second half surge by the Springbok Sevens team helped them to a hard-fought 19-10 win over Australia in the semifinals earlier on Sunday.

Three second half tries gave the home side a win that looked unlikely after Australia scored twice in a minute and the Blitsboks had Afrika sin-binned as well. Australia’s 10-0 lead was first cut by a try from Branco du Preez, before Kyle Brown and Werner Kok ran in from a distance to clinch the win.

In their quarterfinal match against England, they had to overcome an early try by England’s Alex Grey to score a 31-7 win.

A brace by Kwagga Smith, another long-range effort by Seabelo Senatla and a well-worked try by Werner Kok secured the passage into the next phase.

Earlier the USA won the Plate Final by beating Fiji 21-14, Portugal won the Shield by beating Samoa 19-14 and Canada outlasted Kenya 24-7 for the Bowl.

In the bronze final, Australia beat Argentina 34-19.

The standings after three rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series are:

1. South Africa 59
2. Fiji 51
3. New Zealand 47
4. Australia 46
5. Argentina 40
6. England 37
7. Samoa 29
8. Scotland 27
9. USA 26
10. Wales 25

 

Africa reach milestone as BlitzBokke reach Cup QF

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The Springbok Sevens qualified for the Cup quarterfinals of the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens on Saturday when they topped pool A, beating the USA, Kenya and Wales along the way.

The defending champions will face England in the first Cup quarterfinals match on Sunday.

Argentina topped pool B, Fiji Pool C and New Zealand finished top of Pool D to qualify for the Cup competition alongside Australia, USA and Scotland.

Former Springbok Sevens Player of the Year, Cecil Afrika, reached a milestone in the match against Wales as he scored a try to take his career tally to 928 points in the HSBC Sevens World Series. This took his past the long standing mark of Fabian Juries (925) and he now holds the record for most points in the series by a South African.

Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell was content with the efforts shown by the players, but warned that the real test will start against England on Sunday.

“We did attack well today. I did feel the guys were too tense and trying to do too much in the early matches, but they relaxed nicely against Wales and we could score a number of good tries,” Powell said.

“The USA was physical and made sure we did not get into our rhythm while Kenya was also tough to break down. One of our great successes last weekend in Dubai was the contribution of the guys who came on off the bench, and we are fortunate to have players of that calibre who can come on and make a difference.”

Powell was full of praise for winger Seabelo Senatla, who scored a number of breath-taking tries.

“Seabelo is a special player and he makes things happen. However, it’s always a team effort and the players upfront do the hard yards so that our exciting runners can finish the job.”

A breakdown of the Springbok Sevens matches follows below:

South Africa 36, Wales 0

The Springbok Sevens team kept their best performance of the day till last as they beat Wales 36-0 in the final match of the evening to secure the top spot in pool A. Seabelo Senatla ran riot and scored three tries as the South Africans showed too much speed for the Welsh defense to handle.

Cecil Afrika, Warrick Gelant and Kwagga Smith also scored tries, whilst Branco du Preez kicked three conversions.

Afrika’s try took his to total points tally in the HSBC Sevens World Series to 928, moving past the long standing mark of Fabian Juries (925).

South Africa 38, Kenya 7

In earlier action the Blitzboks raced away from Kenya after two break-away runs from Senatla.

The speedy winger started the match in spectacular fashion, running 70 meters for a try in which he showcased his raw speed, before a second closed out the half and a 26-0 lead. Branco du Preez and Cecil Afrika scored between Senatla’s brace, with Du Preez converting three of the four tries scored.

Werner Kok opened the second half scoring before Kenya’s Jacob Ojee scored in what proved to be their only try in the match.

Rayno Benjamin then raced in to give Warrick Gelant an opportunity to convert and he did not disappoint.

South Africa 26, USA 0

The South African opened their tournament with a 26-0 pool A win over the USA after leading 5-0 at the break.

The North American side attacked well in the opening minutes, but it was Senatla who scored the only try of the half.

The second half resulted in three more tries for the hosts, with Philip Snyman, Benjamin and Kok getting on the score sheet. Afrika converted two of those and Du Preez one.

There were plenty of tries to enjoy for a good first day crowd. The biggest results of the day, England beating Japan 45-0 and Australia hammering Zimbabwe 50-0 yielded seven and eight tries respectively.

There were few surprises on day one, but the USA’s beating of Wales in pool A did help them into the Cup. Argentina also outplayed Australia, finalists in Dubai last weekend. Japan’s win over Samoa was a real crowd pleaser.

The Cup Quarterfinals to be played on Sunday are as follows:

12h19: South Africa vs England 

12h41: Fiji vs Australia  

13h03: New Zealand vs USA       

13h25: Argentina vs Scotland

The Bowl matches are:

10h51:  Wales vs Samoa

11h13: Canada vs Zimbabwe

11h35: Japan vs               Kenya  

11h57: Portugal vs France

 

Results on Day One:

Pool A: South Africa 26, USA 0; Wales 29, Kenya 5; South Africa 38, Kenya 7; USA 38, Wales 12; USA 33, Kenya 5; South Africa 36, Wales 0.

Pool B: Argentina 31, Zimbabwe 5; Australia 33, Portugal 21; Argentina 14, Portugal 7; Australia 50, Zimbabwe 0; Portugal 19, Zimbabwe 5; Argentina 31, Australia 21

Pool C: Canada 14, Scotland 12; Fiji 45, France 5; Scotland 19, France 12; Fiji 26, Canada 7; France 24, Canada 21; Fiji 19, Scotland 12.

Pool D: England 45, Japan 0; New Zealand 24, Samoa 7; England 22, Samoa 7; New Zealand 29, Japan 0; Japan 17, Samoa 14; New Zealand 5, England 0.

All I want for Crissmisss…Yellow Valiant

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As most South African’s rugby fans goes into hibernation, we can think back when we were all kids and wrote our Christmas Wishes to Santa Clause……. If Santa Clause gave you three wishes for Christmas what will be…..vroom! vroom!

yellowvaliant

 

First things first……. My first wish…..I want the World Cup for the Boks again!!!

 

Springboks To lift the World Cup in England
Springboks To lift the World Cup in England

 

For that to happen we need…..

The Beast to become a Beast….

Beast becoming the real Beast
Beast becoming the real Beast

Thor to stay Thor!!

Vermeulen-_-Thor
Vermeulen-_-Thor

The “Sun King” Willie Le Roux to become the “Flying Dutchmen”

The Flying Dutchmen
The Flying Dutchmen

And lastly we need Duiwel and Bekke to give some love to Jean and Heyneke

 

Bekke and Duiwel after Jean scored the winning try in the World Cup Final
Bekke and Duiwel after Jean scored the winning try in the World Cup Final

 


Secondly ……Can one of our teams win the Super Rugby in 2015

Super Rugby Winners
Super Rugby Winners

For that to happen we need a team sheet that looks something like this

 

South African Super Rugby Team Sheet
South African Super Rugby Team Sheet

 Lastly ……may we see less of this….

Less Frog Referees and cards
Less Frog Referees and cards

And more of this….

961089-bulldogs-cheer-squad   All   Chiefs 3

What is yours?………santa_rugby_christmas_ornament_round

 

Nelson Mandela Bay 7s (Live Updates)

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Round three of the 2014/15 World Sevens Series, The Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens, will be played at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth this weekend.

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Rugby fever is running high in Port Elizabeth, and there will be plenty of support for the Blitzbokke on home soil.

South Africa head into the competition brimming with confidence as the defending champions and are currently in second spot on the World Series log after two rounds.

Fiji lead the standings on 39 points, two more than South Africa with Australia third on 29 points and defending Series champions New Zealand fourth on 28 points.

The final squads of 12 have been declared by the 16 international coaches and Neil Powell has named an unchaged side from his victorious Blitzbokke team that won in Dubai, while Fiji, Portugal, Scotland, USA and New Zealand also make no changes from the teams that competed last weekened.

England have made three changes with Sam Stanley, Mark Bright and Alex Davis coming in for Dan Bibby, Charlie Hayter and Sam Blanchet.

Santiago Cordero, who impressed on Australia’s Gold Coast, returns for Argentina in place of Joaquin Paz, Australia’s Michael Wells comes in for the injured Greg Jeloudev and Steeve Barry is named ahead of Stephen Parez for France.

Les Bleus are the most experienced of all sides with 284 events between them, while the only non-core side Zimbabwe have three players set to make their World Series debuts.

Here we look at seven players we believe you should look out for this weekend.

Cecil Afrika, South Africa: The defending champions are back on home soil after a near-perfect tournament in Dubai and looking to lift to another level. Expect to see plenty of Cecil Afrika as he chases just 11 more points to pass Fabian Juries (925) and become the Blitzboks’ highest points-scorer in the World Sevens Series.

Pama Fou, Australia: Made his debut back in 2011 but has really started to come of age under the tutelage of Geraint John. Showed tremendous speed and athleticism as a crucial weapon in Australia’s march to the Cup final in Dubai. Missed last year’s series with injury but won’t be missing from too many highlight reels if his form continues.

Mark Robertson, Scotland: One of his team’s best in Dubai, created opportunities every time he had his hands on the ball. The 29-year-old possesses a great turn of speed, amassing 54 tries in 31 appearances for his country.

Tim Mikkelson, New Zealand: At 103kg wing, Tim Mikkelson is a force to be reckoned with. The former sevens player of the year continues to impress and was named in the dream team in Dubai. Knows how to find the line and will need to do it often for the All Blacks Sevens if they are to pick up their first title of the series.

Pedro Leal, Portugal: A quick search of YouTube and you’ll soon come up with a couple of gems from the diminutive Portuguese star. A prolific points-scorer, Leal has 1,044 points, including 82 tries, from his 48 caps, defying his team’s standing in sevens rugby and will be looking to continue his form this weekend.

Semi Kunatani, Fiji: May have been watched for all the wrong reasons since his much-publicised failed effort at the Gold Coast Sevens when, in an all too casual stroll to the line for a certain try, and after skirting around the Scotland defence moments earlier, was pulled up short. Still, finds himself equal second on the series try scoring list with 10, just two short of South Africa’s Seabelo Senatla, and one of the top tacklers already. Sure to add to both tallies again this weekend.

Frankie Horne, South Africa: Sevens is not just all about speed, sometimes it’s what happens off the ball or before the line break that is just as important. Enter Frankie Horne, who will become the only player in the history of the World Sevens Series to play 62 consecutive tournaments. Did we mention he’s also scored 55 tries in his 61 appearances and set up two for Kwagga Smith in the semi-final against New Zealand quite remarkably.

Pools for Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens:

Pool A: South Africa, USA, Wales, Kenya
Pool B: Australia, Argentina, Portugal, Zimbabwe
Pool C: Fiji, Scotland, France, Canada
Pool D: New Zealand, Samoa, England, Japan

Day One schedule – Saturday, December 13:

(Local kick-off times – GMT + 2 hours)
Match 1: Fiji v France – 11.58
Match 2: England v Japan – 12.20
Match 3: South Africa v USA – 12.42
Match 4: Wales v Kenya – 13.04
Match 5: Fiji v Canada – 13.46
Match 6: Scotland v France – 14.08
Match 7: Australia v Zimbabwe – 14.30
Match 8: Argentina v Portugal – 14.32
Match 9: New Zealand v Japan – 15.14
Match 10: England v Samoa – 15.36
Match 11: South Africa v Kenya – 15.58
Match 12: Wales v USA – 16.20
Match 13: France v Canada – 17.04
Match 14: Fiji v Scotland – 17.26
Match 15: Portugal v Zimbabwe – 17.48
Match 16: Australia v Argentina – 18.10
Match 17: Samoa v Japan – 18.52
Match 18: New Zealand v England – 19.14
Match 19: USA v Kenya – 19.36
Match 20: South Africa v Wales – 19.58

Jo’burg and Durban to host Rugby Championship

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SARU-logoGold

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Friday confirmed the home venues for the 2015 Castle Lager Rugby Championship.

The Springboks will play New Zealand at Emirates Airline Park (formerly Ellis Park), Johannesburg, on Saturday, 25 July and Argentina at Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban, on Saturday, 8 August.

The schedule was amended as a result of the condensing of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship competition to three rounds because of the Rugby World Cup, which begins in mid-September.

Durban was due to host the Springboks’ home match against Australia – which was one of the matches to be removed from the schedule.

It will now receive the visiting Pumas while Western Province, which was due to host that Test, will be the venue for a match against a World XV on either 22 or 29 August.

The match against New Zealand was always scheduled to be held in Johannesburg.

SARU CEO Jurie Roux said that the recent practice of hosting New Zealand only at Johannesburg venues had been reviewed during the allocation process.

“Member unions have made a case for hosting the draw-card of a Springbok v All Blacks match at their venue and we have heard them,” he said.

“In the next round of allocations from 2016 onwards that fixture will be moving around the country including to coastal unions such as DHL Western Province and the Cell C Sharks.”

Springbok Fixtures 2015:

  • Saturday 18 July: Australia v South Africa – Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane (Castle Lager Rugby Championship)
  • Saturday 25 July: South Africa v New Zealand – Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg (Castle Lager Rugby Championship)
  • Saturday 8 August: South Africa v Argentina – Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban (Castle Lager Rugby Championship)
  • Saturday 15 August: Argentina v South Africa – Venue TBC (Test)
  • Saturday 22 or 29 August: South Africa v World XV – DHL Newlands, Cape Town (Friendly)
  • Saturday 19 September: South Africa v Japan – Brighton (Rugby World Cup)
  • Saturday 26 September: South Africa v Samoa – Birmingham (Rugby World Cup)
  • Saturday 3 October: South Africa v Scotland – Newcastle (Rugby World Cup)
  • Saturday 7 October: South Africa v USA – London (Rugby World Cup)

 

Treu quits Kenya

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Paul Treu will step down as Kenya coach after the PE Sevens this weekend reports SARugbyMag.co.za

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The former Blitzboks coach only signed a three-year contract with Kenya a year ago, but has decided to leave after his team earned just four points from the first two tournaments of this season’s World Series.

‘I must thank Paul for the professional manner in which he has conveyed his decision to me,’ KRU chairman Mwangi Muthee said in a statement. ‘I admire his bravery of venturing into unfamiliar waters, leaving the comforts of an advanced rugby nation, such as South Africa. A lot of Kenyans respect and salute him for that.’

Treu did not give any reason for his decision to quit, but there have been recent off-field issues with a player strike over contracts and a government task force report, which was slammed by Treu, claiming banned substances were found in supplements given to players.

Lions coach stays to end 2016

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Johan Ackermann has confirmed he will stay on till October 2016 with the Lions.

Unchanged Blitzboks for PE

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Bokke

The Springbok Sevens have announced an unchanged squad for the defence of their home Cup title, the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens tournament.

Port Elizabeth will host Round 3 of the HSBC Sevens World Series at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium this coming weekend on 13 and 14 December.

Blitzboks coach Neil Powell and his squad will also attempt to become the first South African team to successfully defend their home title.

The Springbok Sevens captured the Dubai crown last weekend with some sparking displays on day-two in the famous desert city, defeating Argentina, New Zealand and Australia during their successful march to the Cup.

That display enabled South Africa to move two places up the World Series log standings into second place where they are now just two points behind leaders Fiji, who lead with 39 points.

In naming an unchanged squad, Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell said the decision was easy after their success in Dubai.

“The players all deserve to be in the squad after that performance in Dubai. Every World Series tournament is an extremely tough and demanding event and there is no room for complacency,” cautioned Powell.

He added: “It is wonderful for the squad to play on home soil, in front of our own supporters. The players have really enjoyed their stay in the City and the support we have received so far is fantastic. We hope to make them proud again this weekend,” said Powell.

The top four teams on the final log standings at the end of the nine-tournament World Series will qualify automatically for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

Several Blitzboks will surpass some unique milestones this weekend. Playmaker Cecil Afrika needs just 12 more points to better the all-time points scoring record of 925 held by Blitzboks legend Fabian Juries.

Branco du Preez will play in his 35th tournament this weekend, which places him on the SA Sevens honours board alongside the likes of Juries, Marius Schoeman, Mzwandile Stick and Frankie Horne.

South Africa are the top seeds in Pool A and will battle it out for a group qualification place against Wales, the USA and Kenya.

Springbok Sevens day-one fixtures on Saturday are:

12h42 – vs USA

15h58 – vs Kenya

19h58 – vs Wales

The Springbok Sevens team to play in the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth (Round 3 of the HSBC Sevens World Series – WS caps in brackets):

1. Ruhan Nel (2)

2. Philip Snyman (26)

3. Frankie Horne (61)

4. Kwagga Smith (8)

5. Werner Kok (11)

6. Kyle Brown (41, captain)

7. Branco du Preez (34)

8. Rayno Benjamin (26)

9. Warrick Gelant (1)

10. Cecil Afrika (32)

11. Seabelo Senatla (12)

12. Cheslin Kolbe (7)

Fast facts:

• Frankie Horne is the only player in the history of the HSBC Sevens World Series to play 61 consecutive tournaments. He will extend that record to 62 in PE.

• Cecil Afrika (914*) could pass Fabian Juries (925) as the top points scorer for the Blitzboks in the HSBC Sevens World Series

Ruhan Nel became the 155th player to represent South Africa in the World Series in the Gold Coast and Warrick Gelant, who made his debut in Dubai, is the 156th.

•        South Africa are the defending Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens champions

Lions get big name sponsorships

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Chinese proposed Brumbies sponsor Huawei and former Force Sponsor Emirates have signed on as Lions SR sponsors

liions

 

Emirates, a global connector of people and their passions, and the Lions, one of South Africa’s top rugby teams, today announced a five-year sponsorship agreement.

The agreement will see Emirates become the title sponsor of the Lions Super Rugby team and have naming rights to the Lions home ground Ellis Park in Johannesburg. The announcement was made at a media conference today by Orhan Abbas, Emirates Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations for Latin America, Southern and Central Africa, and Rudolf Straeuli, the CEO of the Golden Lions Rugby Union.

Starting from 1 January 2015, the Lions will become known as the Emirates Lions, and the familiar “Fly Emirates” logo will adorn the match and training jerseys of the team for the next five years. Ellis Park, will be named Emirates Airline Park. The agreement also includes in-stadia hospitality as well as a number of other marketing rights and activities.

The five-year sponsorship is a unique one, as the norm is three years for most sponsors, allowing Emirates to invest in the Lions for the long term.

The Lions were without a sponsor for the 2014 Super Rugby series but will also announce on Thursday that Chinese mobile phone company Huawei will become a major sponsor of the team as well.

Huawei are well known for their mobile and 3g devices and are one of the fastest growing Chinese companies in the world at the moment.

The team says no shopping sprees however… they’ll be investing in retention of talent and the present players. However CEO Kevin De Klerk has hinted the side may make “strategic” acquisitions of players.

 

 

Vodacom Bulls vs Toyota Cheetahs

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IMG_5081

“The Vodacom Bulls confirmed today that they will play a Vodacom Super Rugby warm up match against the Toyota Cheetahs at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on 24 January 2015.”

Polokwane rugby fans are once again in for a treat, as the Vodacom Bulls today announced that they will be taking on the Toyota Cheetahs in a Vodacom Super Rugby warmup match, hosted by the Polokwane Municipality, at the Peter Mokaba Stadium.

With kick off set for 17h00 on 24 January 2015, and a host of activities that will pre-ceed, the scene will be poised for an epic encounter between these two rugby giants. Both teams will be looking to assert a bit of early dominance over their rivals, and will no doubt be looking to send a positive pre-season message to their fans.

The Vodacom Bulls will take to the impressive 45 000-seater World Cup stadium for the fourth consecutive year. This fixture forms part of a partnership between the Blue Bulls Company (BBCo) and the Polokwane Municipality which is aimed at generating funds for tertiary students in the Province.

Barend van Graan, CEO of the Blue Bulls Company, said that the Polokwane fixture has fast become one of the highlights of their pre-season preparations: “It’s always a real pleasure for our team to play in Polokwane.  The professionalism shown by the organsing committee is always of the highest standard, and reception we recieve from the fans is also something that our players and management really look forward to. It’s also a great specticle for all the rugby fans in Polokwane, as most of them are not able to travel for to Pretoria or Bloemfontein for Vodacom Super Rugby games. But most importantly, we are honoured that by participating in this match, we can assist in enabling young learners to further their education.”

Polokwane Executive Mayor, Cllr Thembi Nkadimeng said besides entertainment for the fans, “the game presents a welcome opportunity for the municipality to raise funds for tertiary students who will in future assist it in realising the 2030 Smart City Vision. Our appreciation goes to the Blue Bulls Company for their continued partnership on this journey”.

Ticketing

Tickets are on sale at the stadium and at Computicket outlets countrywide, by booking online at www.computicket.com or by dialling 0861 951 8000. Tickets cost R120 (Grand Stand), R80 (East Stand) or R60 for North & South stand and R30 for scholars.

Parking tickets, will be on sale at Computicket for R20.00

Hospitality Tickets

The packages will be sold from the stadium for both West and East. The cost of R15, 000 excluding VAT includes:

  • 22 Skybox Tickets
  • 10 parking tickets (VIP Parking)
  • Provision of Skybox and furniture
  • Branding inside the Skybox only
  • Client to provide refreshments and food
  • Security

Enquiries: Manthoa Phihlela: (015) 290 2300 or Mobile: 083 824 9844/ 082 923 8687

 

SARU Tag Rugby Clinic

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Clinic Winners Westering Primary School with Springboks Sevens players

 

The outer field at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium was a hive of activity on Wednesday afternoon as 10 local Primary Schools from all over Port Elizabeth enjoyed a wind free afternoon playing Tag Rugby® against each other.

The event marked the 15th and final event in a year long programme run by the Tag Rugby® Association and supported by SARU and regional Rugby Unions to find a Primary School to represent every Rugby Union (including Limpopo Bulls) at the 3rd edition of the SARU Tag Rugby® U9 National Finals to be held on Sunday during the Cell C Sevens in Port Elizabeth.

“Every year an invitation is sent to every participating Sevens teams to join us and assist in sharing some of their Rugby skills with the young players. We had the Zimbabwe, Canadian, Fijian and our Blitsbokke spend time with the young players and their coaches today,” commented Jongi Mei (Tag Rugby® Association Youth Manager)

The standard of Tag Rugby was superb and all the International Sevens teams were amazed at the abundance of talent on display. The final of this clinic was a hotly contested  affair between Westering Primary School and Herbert Hurd (coached by Springbok Legend Fabian Juries). Westering Pimary scored an equalizing try in the last 5 seconds of the final to take the game into extra time. The game then went to Golden try with still no winner. Finally after taking off a player from each team. Westering scored a well worked try in the corner to become the 16th and final team to secure a place in the SARU Tag Rugby® U9 National Finals for 2014.

The next event in the Festival of Tag Rugby®  takes place on Saturday on the outer fields. It is an adult Tag Rugby event starting at 08h30 and ending with an Aggreko  celebrity game featuring Springbok Sevens legend Mzwandile Stick, Fabian Juries, Marius Schoeman, Chris Dry and Steven Hunt, Lars Pols & Sjoerd Welcker (Int .Tri athletes, Holland), Dan Howzit (SA Triathlete), Dr Wayne Viljoen and Clint Readhead (SARU BOKSmart).

Blitzboks charm the Friendly City

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A young Springbok Sevens fan meet Blitzbok player Rayno Benjamin at the team’s signing session on Wednesday at the Cleary Park Mall in Port Elizabeth.
A young Springbok Sevens fan meet Blitzbok player Rayno Benjamin at the team’s signing session on Wednesday at the Cleary Park Mall in Port Elizabeth.

 

Hundreds of rugby fans turned up to meet the Springbok Sevens at a signing session held at Cleary Park Mark Mall in Port Elizabeth. The Sevens stars are in the Friendly City to defend their Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens tournament title.

Round 3 of the HSBC Sevens World Series takes place this coming weekend at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. The signing session is part of SARU’s promotional efforts to raise awareness for the annual Sevens showpiece.

South Africa are one of 16 internationals participating in the two-day tournament, on 13 and 14 December. The Blitzboks are defending their home crown and will attempt to become the first SA side to win back to back home titles.

Last weekend the team won the Dubai Sevens tournament in style after outplaying Australia in the final and beating arch rivals New Zealand and Argentina in the semi-final and quarterfinals respectively.

Addressing the enthusiastic crowd, Springbok Sevens captain, Kyle Brown, said the team was delighted to be back in South Africa to play in their home tournament. “The PE fans gave us a fantastic welcome when we arrived on Monday night and the turnout today was absolutely amazing.

“There are a couple of new guys in the squad and they were absolutely delighted by the amazing turnout and passionate support we experienced today,” said Brown.

Warrick Gelant, who celebrated his Springbok Sevens debut with a first World Series try last weekend in Dubai, marvelled at the passionate Blitzbok supporters. “Everywhere we go the people are so supportive, congratulating us on our performance in Dubai and wishing us well for the weekend. It is nice to have so much support behind us,” said Gelant.

SARU and the event organising partners have again laid on a fantastic entertainment programme for the event, with well-known local artists MiCasa, Jimmy Nevis and DJ Fresh set to add their unique showbiz performances to the Sevens extravaganza.

Tickets to the two-day Sevens showpiece cost just R30 and are available from Computicket and all Money Market outlets at Shoprite and Checkers stores.

The Springbok team announcement media conference will take place on Thursday, 11 December at the Garden Court Kings Beach hotel, Summerstrand. Location is the Albertina Room, Lower Ground Floor Level and the starting time is 14h00.

 

 

 

Today’s Quickie

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quickie15European News

Ricoh ArenaWasps set for bumper Coventry crowd

Wasps are set to record the biggest Premiership home crowd of the season in their first game at the Ricoh Arena against London Irish.

The club have already sold 22,700 tickets for the game in Coventry, which will mark the start of a new era in the midlands.

The controversial move to Coventry was announced in October, and the first match at the 32,609-seater stadium will take place on Sunday 21st against the Exiles.

This season’s record attendance for a home ground fixture is 22,639 by Leicester, while the Tigers also have the highest all-time home ground attendance of 24,000.


jj-hanrahan-rugby-union-munster_3224030Hanrahan tipped for Northampton move

Promising Munster youngster JJ Hanrahan is set to leave the province and join Northampton according to reports in Ireland.

The Irish Times has reported that the 22-year-old playmaker, who can play both fly-half and inside centre, is on the verge of signing a lucrative deal with the Saints.

Northampton have reportedly offered him a contract worth £150,000 a year and the former Ireland Under-20s star is expecting to sign it.\


Martin-Castrogiovanni-Leicester-v-Toulon_3238221Toulon suspend Castrogiovanni

According to reports in France, Toulon have suspended prop Martin Castrogiovanni for three days following his outburst in Leicester.

Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal has also written to Tigers to apologise for the Italian international’s rant after Sunday’s European Champions Cup defeat at Welford Road in which he lambasted Leicester boss Richard Cockerill.

Local newspaper La Provence reports that the Top 14 and European champions have suspended ‘Castro’ for three days, starting on Wednesday, meaning he may not be available for Saturday’s rematch with Leicester at Stade Felix Mayol.


New Zealand News

Drugs in SportDrug Free Sport boss concerned about school teams

The boss of Drug Free Sport New Zealand says he has concerns about supplement use undertaken by the country’s top school teams.

The agency will now undertake a large survey on first XVs to gauge the use of supplements as players face pressures to get bigger.

In response, New Zealand Rugby says it is pouring more than $100,000 a year into drug
testing and education and says it takes the issue of drug abuse in its sport extremely seriously.

A report from the Mail on Sunday in England showed 10 rugby players in England had been banned because of drug use this year, with most of them being young players. A report out of South Africa said out of 52 schoolboy rugby players tested in the republic, 12 returned positive tests for anabolic steroids.

 


South African News

482524-jaco-peyperFour SA refs on Six Nations panel

South African referees Jaco Peyper, Craig Joubert, Stuart Berry and television match official (TMO) Shaun Veldsman will all officiate in the 2015 Six Nations competition, World Rugby has announced.

Peyper will take charge of the match between France and Wales on February 28 at Stade de France in Paris, while Joubert will officiate the clash between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on March 1, with Veldsman in the role of TMO.

Berry, meanwhile, was named as an assistant referee for the matches between Italy and Ireland at Stadio Olimpico in Rome on February 7 and Ireland and France in Dublin on February 14 respectively.


Varsity-Cup-logoMadibaz name Varsity Cup skipper

Experienced fullback Jarryd Buys will lead the new-look NMMU Madibaz on their road to the 2015 Varsity Cup, team management announced in Port Elizabeth this week.

Madibaz head coach David Maidza said Buys, who has been vice-captain for the past two years, was the ideal candidate, as he had strong personal integrity and a clear vision for his future.

“Jarryd’s understanding of and authority over people around him, whether they be his juniors or seniors, is of the highest repute,” said Maidza.

 

 

 

 

SARU takes control of Bulldogs

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Border_Bulldogs_logo

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) announced on Wednesday that it had assumed control of the financial and administrative affairs of the Border Rugby Football Union, following a resolution by the Union’s executive.

The union handed over control to SARU to allow Border’s operations to be normalised. No time limit has been put on SARU’s control. The decision was taken in November at SARU’s request.

The impact of the decision is that only SARU personnel will have signing powers on Border’s accounts. Monde Tabata, an East London-based member of the SARU Executive Council (Exco), has been confirmed as the Union’s administrator. Mr Tabata has assisted Border for a number of months in an advisory role at the direction of the SARU Exco.

“The Border executive agreed to SARU taking control at our request,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU. “It is not SARU’s role to run member federations and it is something that the Exco would only consider as a last resort. That point had been reached with Border and we pointed that out to their executive, who agreed to hand over the management of the union to SARU.

“The Union faces severe financial issues due to a number of historical factors and on on-going management challenges.  We have put in place a number of checks and balances – all in the hands of SARU officials – to assist the Union in regularising its affairs.

“Our sole aim is to ensure that rugby at all levels in Border is restored to a sound footing and once again makes a positive contribution to the game in South Africa as a whole.”

Roux said that SARU would return control of the Union’s affairs to Border officials once that had been achieved.

Blitzboks ready to defend PE

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The Springbok Sevens are the 2014 Dubai Sevens champions after a brilliant display against Australia in the Cup Final on Saturday, which they won 33-7 to climb to second spot on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series league table.

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After clinching fourth place at the Gold Coast in October, the Blitzboks are now just two points behind Fiji who leads the standings on 39 points. The teams now head to South Africa for Round 3 of the World Series next weekend at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

South Africa are the defending Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens champions.

The Springbok Sevens conceded a paltry seven points on match day two while collecting 101 points against Argentina, Series champions New Zealand and a resurgent Australia.

Earlier on Saturday the Blitzboks thumped Argentina 40-0 in their quarterfinal clash.

Later they were in outstanding form against traditional rivals New Zealand in the semi-finals, scoring four converted tries without conceding a point (28-0) to secure their spot in the Final against the impressive Aussies who defeated Fiji in a thrilling semi-final that went into extra-time.

Afterwards, both the Springbok Sevens coach and captain praised the defensive efforts of the team, which paved the way for a commanding title victory in the famous desert city.

Captain Kyle Brown, who made his comeback in Dubai after missing the Gold Coast because of a shoulder injury, said his team put in a much improved performance on match day two.

“We knew we did not play our best rugby in the Gold Coast and probably not even yesterday (Friday), but we got the ball rolling, which was important. I think our defensive efforts were simply outstanding and it’s great to play in such a committed team,” said Brown.

Coach Neil Powell, who led the South Africans to Commonwealth Games gold in July, was equally pleased.

“We tried to play with variation and the guys really bought into the plan. The players deserve the credit for an outstanding display,” explains the Blitzboks coach.

He added: “We are not the biggest team on the circuit, but we are very physical and don’t stand back for any team in the tackle. Our form at the breakdown area was very good and we really took our scoring opportunities well,” according to Powell.

South Africa turned on their full attacking power in the second to score four tries after Australia restricted them to just seven points in the first half (7-7). Kwagga Smith scored in opening stanza while Philip Snyman, Seabelo Senatla (2) and Ruhan Nel added three tries after the restart.

They started their quest for a Cup final place with a comprehensive 40-0 demolition job of Argentina. Speedster Senatla scored a hat-trick while there were also tries by Cecil Afrika and debutant Warrick Gelant.

Livewire Smith also scored a first half hat-trick in the Blitzboks’ 28-0 semi-final win over traditional rivals New Zealand.

They led 21-0 at halftime.

The South Africans suffocated NZ with first time hits and then recycled their turnover possession with speed and accuracy. Afrika sealed a thoroughly deserved victory after a lightning break from substitute Cheslin Kolbe.

The 16 teams now fly to South Africa for Round 3 of the World Series in Port Elizabeth, the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens.

The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series log after two rounds:

1. Fiji 39 points
2. South Africa 37
3. Australia 28
4. New Zealand 28

 

Soaring to new heights

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From the schoolboy too big to lift in the lineouts, Brodie Retallick has become close to the complete lock for the All Blacks, writes MARC HINTON.

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Steve Hansen does not mince his words when it comes to assessing the potential of his premier tighthead lock Brodie Retallick. He uses the word ‘frightening’, which might also describe the first thought that runs through the mind of a defender when he looks up and sees the giant All Blacks forward steaming down on him with the ball tucked under his arm.

That’s an increasingly common occurrence these days as Retallick rounds out his game to, well, frightening proportions. Exhibit A was his dazzling performance in the All Blacks’ demolition of the Wallabies at Eden Park this Rugby Championship past. There wasn’t much he didn’t do that day as the New Zealand tight forwards chewed up and spat out their Aussie rivals.

Retallick has always been big and bulky – standing 2.04m and weighing in at around 120kg – but he’s now powered by a mighty engine that allows him to last a full Test match with unrelenting commitment and physicality, and has added a range of skills that are almost criminal in a man so huge.

In short, he’s become nigh on the complete Test lock, and alongside his similarly equipped All Blacks teammate Sam Whitelock, forms arguably the most proficient second row in world rugby. They are, say astute observers, almost the perfect tandem. The Yin and Yang of the engine room.

‘They’re mobile and more involved in the game than probably the older-style locks were,’ says former All Blacks flyhalf and Sky TV analyst Andrew Mehrtens. ‘They’re probably a combination of my old teammates Robin Brooke and Ian Jones. If you could design a lock so you’ve got the bulk and physical presence of a Brooke, and then add the skill in the lineout and mobility of Jones, you’ve kinda got the best of both worlds in both these locks.’

Former All Blacks skipper Taine Randell has been hugely impressed with the strides Retallick has taken.

‘He is a beast – the perfect foil for Whitelock. If you think of great lock partnerships you think Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield or Brooke and Jones, and he’s the Botha or Brooke.

‘I can’t remember the last time the All Blacks had someone like this. They’ve had incredible athletes but they haven’t been as talented or had as big a motor. And they’ve had guys with his size, but with nowhere near his package of skills. Not only is Retallick an excellent athlete with a high skill level but he’s a big, tough-minded and incredibly raw-boned individual.’

Adds Mehrtens: ‘He never goes backwards in contact, his ball placement is very good, he can pick the ball up off his bootlaces, offload in the tackle and does everything at 100 miles an hour.’

The thing to remember here is that Retallick is just 23 (two years Whitelock’s junior) and really just a baby in international second-row terms. He’s already tucked away 33 Tests (heading into November’s tour), and the mind boggles about what sort of numbers he might end up with.

‘Just how good he’s going to get is frightening’ – Steve Hansen

Hansen has been rapt with his big lock’s development, but hints at plenty more to come.

‘He doesn’t have a lot of experience as a first-class rugby player, basically coming straight into Super Rugby and straight into the All Blacks. Every game is a learning experience, but he’s got the raw ability to cope mentally and physically, and he’s got a massive motor that just goes all day.

‘His skills are also improving all the time, and he’s just at the beginning of his career. I think we’ll see him get even better – just how good he’s going to get is frightening.

‘His big challenge is to keep improving. If he can stay motivated and keep his feet on the floor he could end up with one of the great All Blacks careers. What I like about him is he hasn’t changed one bit from the time he first came in here. He’s a level-headed young man with a massive desire to play well.’

The potential didn’t always shine so bright with Retallick, who was passed on as an over-sized youngster by Canterbury and only blossomed when lured north by Tom Coventry to join Hawke’s Bay, and then the Chiefs. Soon he was making his debut for the All Blacks and from such humble origins a star was born.

At the time, Chiefs assistant and former All Blacks guru Wayne Smith noted the qualities of a big man clearly going places.

‘He’s got a big heart, he’s hard, he’s an amazing body mover for a tall guy, he’s a tackler and he’s got a lot of power. He really nails the detail, works hard at his game, and he’s pretty special.’

Retallick, for his part, adopts a simple approach to his craft.

‘You don’t want to show the opposition you’re hurting,’ he says of his game-time mentality. ‘You know if you are blowing they are probably at least as bad, if not worse. And you just don’t want to give up. You don’t want to be the person who gets left behind in the D-line and that’s where they break. You don’t want to fall off the kick-chase and they counter and you miss a tackle.

‘I guess that’s what really drives me. I don’t want to be that person who gets left behind and causes the team to lose. That’s a big thing for me.’

Given the All Blacks have lost just one of the 33 Tests in which Retallick has featured for them, it’s fair to say he’s living up to his side of the bargain.

– This article first appeared in the December 2014 issue of SA Rugby magazine

 

Ackermann targeted by Japanese

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The Golden Lions may have just finished off a season of renewal but all indications are they will have to fight tooth and nail to keep their coach Johan Ackermann in South Africa after being targeted by a top club in Japan By Brenden Nel – SuperSport

According to the supersport.com website, Ackermann has received a big-money offer from a Japanese club to join them from the end of 2015 after the Rugby World Cup and depending on his current negotiations with the Lions, may well take the bait of heading towards the Far East.

The Lions coach has overseen the team’s comeback from the mire, after missing a season of Vodacom Super Rugby to record their best ever season with seven wins in 2014, and took the team to the final of the Absa Currie Cup with some sparkling play that caught the eye of Bok coach Heyneke Meyer later on in the year.

The mix of rugby played by the Lions encompasses an ability to attack from anywhere, while their players have done wonderfully for a bunch of no-name recruits who nobody gave a chance.

Ackermann is currently negotiating an extension to his contract at the Lions with CEO Rudolf Straeuli and the offer from Japan will place renewed pressure on the Lions to sign their popular coach.

The former Bok lock, who was until recently the oldest Bok when he played his last test at 37, came into the job as assistant to John Mitchell and took over when the former All Black coach fell out with the players and Lions hierarchy.

His agent Gert-Andries van der Merwe confirmed to supersport.com that there was an offer, but was mum on the details.

“I was recently in Japan and we did receive an offer from a top club but that is all I can say. I’m not allowed to reveal which one,” Van der Merwe said on the offer.

While Japanese clubs are known for their big spending on players, Ackermann may become only the second South African coach to the coach there after Gary Gold this season. Gold is finishing his stay with the defending champion Kobe Steelers before returning to South Africa to take over the coaching at the Cell C Sharks.

It is known that Kobe will be looking for a replacement for Gold, but there has been no confirmation that this is the club that has offered Ackermann the position.

Kobe also have former Boks Jaque Fourie and Andries Bekker on their books, both who were also set to move to the Sharks before committing what remains of their careers to the Steelers, thereby negating any chance of either playing in next year’s Rugby World Cup.

Etzebeth going nowhere

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Eben Etzebeth is expected to remain at Western Province until the conclusion of his contract in 2016 reports SARugbyMAg.co.za

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Reports first surfaced over the weekend that Toulon would go in for the Stormers and Springbok lock, and were hoping to sign him following the World Cup in England in 2015. The French-based club are set to lose fellow Springbok lock Bakkies Botha at the end of this season and owner, Mourad Boudjellal, has highlighted the 23-year-old Etzebeth as the perfect replacement.

Such reports have proved wide of the mark, with WP Rugby confirming they have received no such approach from Toulon.

‘The report is news to us – Eben is contracted here until the end of 2016,’ Strategic Communications Manager Howard Kahn told SARugbymag.co.za.

Etzebeth, a product of the Western Province Rugby Institute, has played 33 times for the Springboks since making his debut in 2012. Having missed the whole of the 2014 Super Rugby season, he is expected to play a key role for the Stormers as well as the Boks in 2015.

Last month it was reported that Bath have made an approach to sign Duane Vermeulen, as European clubs look to take advantage of their financial positions to lure some of the southern hemisphere’s best talent across the equator.

Springboks claim bragging rights

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There was no shortage of either smiles or entertainment as the Springboks stunned the Proteas by five wickets to lift the Nelson Mandela Legacy Cup on a fun-filled Friday night at Bidvest Wanderers.

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On a day that featured a kicking competition, a six-hitting competition, an autograph signing session with players from both teams, a performance by Prime Circle, and a great deal of fundraising for the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Victor Matfield’s exciting innings ultimately gave the Springboks bragging rights for the next year.

Matfield displayed an impressive array of shots, some of which would have made any Protea proud, as he hit 62 from just 36 balls to put the Springboks on track in their chase of 182 for victory.

The lock forward made excellent use of the batting power play along with Tiaan Liebenberg as the opening pair put on 48 in the first five overs, and then added 66 for the third wicket with captain, Butch James.

Kagiso Rabada brought the Proteas back into the game when he dismissed both Matfield and James with consecutive deliveries, but Willem Alberts (24 not out in seven balls) hammered three huge sixes to take the Springboks home with seven balls to spare.

The Proteas total of 181 was based on a half-century from Hashim Amla and some fireworks lower down the order, but brilliant catching by the Springboks ensured that the innings never got out of control.

Amla hit 51 from just 31 balls before opting to retire, but when other batsmen hit balls in the air they often found a safe pair of hands, with Springbok fly-half, Handre Pollard, taking a couple of superb catches.

Both were off the bowling of Willie le Roux, who was easily the pick of the 12 bowlers used as he took 3 for 4 in two overs.

That left the Protea lower order with work to do, and Aaron Phangiso obliged by hitting 16 off five deliveries, while Rabada hammered 22 from 14

 

 

Vote for your Player of the year

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Five Springboks have been nominated for the prestigious SA Rugby Player of the Year Award for 2014 with one of Nizaam Carr, Marcell Coetzee, Willie le Roux, Handré Pollard or Duane Vermeulen in line to claim the coveted annual award for the first time in their careers.

The five players, who all played for the Boks this year, have been nominated by the South African rugby media following a stellar year on the field. Springbok rugby fans across the globe will now be given a voice in the selection of the winner, SARU announced on Friday.

The public will also be asked to cast their votes in two other categories, Young Player and the Absa Team of the Year. To cast your vote, CLICK HERE.

Carr and Pollard have also being named in the Young Player category, along with Cheslin Kolbe, Seabelo Senatla and Jan Serfontein. The Junior Springboks, Springboks, Springbok Sevens, DHL Western Province and Xerox Golden Lions have been nominated as Absa Team of the Year.

Public polling for the three awards will open on Friday 5 December 2014 with all the winners to be announced at a gala event on 8 February 2015 in Midrand.

The public can make their vote, which is powered by social marketing platform Spredfast, for the top awards on SARU’s website or by using (for example) #YPOTYNizaamCarr on Twitter*. Voting will also take place through SARU’s official digital Springbok Magazine, where subscribers can cast their votes.

Jurie Roux, SARU CEO said: “It is again very pleasing that we are able to give our rugby fans a voice in the game, and the SARU Player of the Year Awards is an ideal platform to do so. The last two years proved that supporters have strong opinions on who should win and that feedback was great, hence the decision to make the public part of the polling process again.

“The Awards are a highlight on the South African rugby calendar, and involving the fans and coaches more directly will no doubt add to the prestige of the event,” said Roux.

Media, coaches and players had a major say in determining the outstanding players of the season in a range of categories and competitions.

Other awards on the night include for the outstanding players in Vodacom Super Rugby, Absa Currie Cup Premier and First Division and Vodacom Cup competitions, as well as for the Absa Coach of the Year, SA Under-20 Player of the Year, Springbok Sevens Player of the Year, Women’s Achiever of the Year, SARPA Players’ Player of the Year, Supersport Try of the Year, Marriott Referee Award, Cell C Community Cup Player of the Tournament and Coca-Cola Craven Week Player of the Tournament.

The closing date for public voting is Friday, 12 December 2014 at 14h00.

It’s easy just click and give us your vote

Player of the year
Player of the year

 

 

 

Pienaar makes winning return

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SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend’s European Champions Cup, European Challenge Cup and Japanese Top League matches, which involved South African players.\

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EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS CUP

Pool 1

– Wing Gerhard van den Heever, centre Pat Howard and No 8 CJ Stander all started for Munster, who suffered a shock 16-6 defeat against visitors Clermont. Clermont not only denied Munster a losing bonus point, they also became the first French side to win at Thomond Park. The result lifted the winners to the summit of Pool 1.

– Lock Alistair Hargreaves led Saracens to a 19-15 win over the Sale Sharks on Saturday. Prop Petrus du Plessis started alongside Hargreaves, while ex-Bok scrumhalf Neil de Kock came on in the 77th minute. Sarries and Munster are level on nine points each, but the former are second on the log, behind Clermont, on points difference.

Pool 2

– Replacement flyhalf Tim Swiel kick two late penalties and a conversion to help Harlequins beat Leinster 24-18. Former Bulls fullback Zane Kirchner came on in the 56th minute for Leinster, who remain second behind Quins.

– A late surge saw Wasps stun Castres 32-17 in France on Sunday. Scrumhalf Rory Kockott converted Castres’ two tries, but it was flank Ashley Johnson and his Wasps teammates who secured the bonus-point win to open up a six-point gap between themselves and fourth-placed Castres.

Pool 3

– Bryan Habana scored one of two Toulon tries, but it wasn’t enough as his team slumped to a 25-21 defeat against the Leicester Tigers at Welford Road. Lock Bakkies Botha was also in the European champions’ run-on side with flank Juan Smith coming on in the 68th minute. Despite the result, Toulon still top Pool 3, with the Tigers a point behind in second.

– Scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar made a rousing return from injury when he scored one of four tries as Ulster beat the Llanelli Scarlets 24-9. Fullback Louis Ludik, flank Robbie Diack, lock Franco van der Merwe and prop Wiehahn Herbst all turned out for Ulster and hooker Rob Herring played in the final four minutes. Locks Johan Snyman and George Earle represented the Scarlets.

Pool 4

– Toulouse struggled to a 19-11 win over the Glasgow Warriors at the Stade Ernest Wallon to replace them at the top of Pool 4. Eighthman Josh Strauss skippered the Warriors, while prop Rossouw de Klerk and Bok scrumhalf Jano Vermaak were unused substitutes for Glasgow and Toulouse respectively.

– Centre Wynand Olivier and prop Pat Cilliers turned out for Montpellier, who were brushed aside 30-5 by visitors Bath. The winners moved off the foot of the table into third, with Montpellier dropping to fourth.

Pool 5

– Lock Reynier Bernardo and fullback Hanno Dirksen were part of the Ospreys match-day squad that overturned a 10-point deficit to draw 19-19 with Racing Métro. Lock Francois van der Merwe scored Racing’s only try, with flyhalf Johan Goosen adding a conversion, three penalties and a drop goal. No 8 Antonie Claassen, flank Bernard le Roux and lock Juandré Kruger all did service for the second-placed French team, who are level on points with the Nothampton Saints, but the Saints lead Pool 5 with a better points difference.

EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP

Pool 2

– Lock Cobus Grobler, hooker Rassie van Vuuren and their La Rochelle teammates went down 36-10 against the Exeter Chiefs in their Pool 2 clash. The Chiefs now sit in prime position in the standings.

– Wing Danie Poolman grabbed a brace for Connacht as they thrashed Bayonne 42-19. Lock Quinn Roux started alongside the winger for the victors, who sit second in Pool 2, a point behind leaders the Exeter Chiefs.

Pool 3

– Meyer Bosman, Morné Steyn, Jono Ross and Gerhard Mostert were all part of the Stade Français side that lost 30-23 to the Newcastle Falcons. Steyn slotted two conversions and three penalties in the losing cause as Stade remain third in Pool 3.

– The Newport Gwent Dragons recorded a 37-10 bonus-point win against the Bucharest Wolves in Romania. Brok Harris played for the Dragons and lock Johan van Heerden for the Wolves.

Pool 4

– Bordeaux recorded a 37-29 bonus-point win over Lyon in their French derby, to rise to the top of Pool 4. Locks Berend Botha and Jandré Marais started in tandem for Bordeaux. Loose forward Frans Viljoen was named on Lyon’s bench.

– Edinburgh were made to work hard for their 25-13 victory against London Welsh at Murrayfield. Centre Andries Strauss, lock Anton Bresler and prop WP Nel were on duty for the Scottish team, while No 8 Ben Pienaar did service for Welsh.

Pool 5

– Gloucester convincingly beat Zebre 35-10 to extend their lead at the top of Pool 5. Fullback Hennie Daniller and eighthman Dries van Schalkwyk started for the Italian team, with the former scoring a try.

– Fullback Riaan Smit‘s penalty and conversion guided Oyonnax to a 30-22 win over Brive. Flank Pedrie Wannenburg, hooker Jody Jenneker and prop Ruaan du Preez played for the winners, who moved to second on the Pool 5 log. Props Kevin Buys and Johannes Coetzee represented Brive, who linger in fourth with one point.

JAPANESE TOP LEAGUE

Keegan Daniel continued his rich try-scoring form with another touchdown for the Kubota Spears in their 17-6 victory over the Toyota Industries Shuttles. Daniel’s former Sharks teammate Ryan Kankowski turned out for the Shuttles from the 56th minute.

–  Elton Jantjies kicked a conversion and a penalty, but it wasn’t enough to help the NTT Communications Shining Arcs, as they lost 37-15 to the Toyota Verblitz. Ex-Sharks flank Jean Deysel made an appearance for Verblitz from the 55th minute.

– The Toshiba Brave Lupus defeated the Panasonic Wild Knights 30-20. Centre Frans Steyn started for Toshiba, while former Bok and Sharks teammate JP Pietersen came on in the 59th minute for Panasonic.

– Ex-Stormers duo Jaque Fourie and Andries Bekker starred in the Kobelco Steelers’ 30-20 victory over Suntory Sungoliath. Bekker played the entire match and scored a five-pointer, while flank Justin Downey played 80 minutes for Suntory.

Jacques Potgieter started on the side of the scrum for the Munakaua Sanix Blues, whose losing streak stretched to six, with a 34-17 defeat against the NEC Green Rockets.

– The NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes, with Heinrich Brüssow and Riaan Viljoen in their run-on XV, hammered the Coca-Cola Red Sparks 41-5. Viljoen scored a try before he was substituted to make way for Johann Sadie in the 56th minute, while Wimpie van der Walt replaced Brüssow two minutes later.

Pools for Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens

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World Rugby has confirmed the pool draw for the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens, round three of the HSBC Sevens World Series 2014/15.

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The tournament will be held in Port Elizabeth on 13-14 December.

After their Cup win at the second round of the Series in Dubai, hosts South Africa are top seeds and head Pool A, while runners-up Australia, third-placed Fiji and the fourth semi-finalist New Zealand head the remaining pools.

The 2014/15 season carries added significance because the top-ranked sides after the ninth and final round in London in May 2015 will qualify directly for the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.

Following the pool draw for round three of the Series, which was made before the Cup final at the Sevens Stadium, South Africa – who won this tournament last year – head Pool A in Port Elizabeth and face Wales, USA and Kenya.

Dubai runners-up Australia will play Argentina, as well as Portugal and Zimbabwe in Pool B.

Series leaders Fiji head Pool C as the third-placed team in Dubai and face Scotland, France and Dubai Shield winners Canada.

The reigning Series champions New Zealand, meanwhile, will play England, who they beat in the Dubai quarter finals, Samoa and Japan.

Pools for Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens

Pool A: South Africa, Wales, USA and Kenya
Pool B: Australia, Argentina, Portugal, Zimbabwe
Pool C: Fiji, Scotland, France, Canada
Pool D: New Zealand, England, Samoa, Japan.

Rugby’s replay madness

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The increasing involvement of the TV producer is beginning to have damaging consequences, writes MARK KEOHANE from SARugbyMag.co.za

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TV broadcasters determine everything in rugby union. The broadcaster decides on which day the Test is played. The broadcaster confirms starting times. Without the money of the broadcaster there is no professional game.

But the TV producer has now assumed an importance equal to the broadcaster for whom they work. The broadcaster has taken patriotism to another level; started to believe he/she is player 24 and in most instances the most influential of any home team coach’s super subs.

Rugby’s audience is encouraged to be boorish … be it at Twickenham or Ellis Park. Dublin’s Aviva Stadium may lack the soul of the old Lansdowne Road, but there is still respect for the game, for the referee and for the goal-kicker. But television replays on the big screen, insistent and continuous, even turned the Dublin do-gooders into replay sinners.

It started with a Marcell Coetzee run that had the crowd believing, thanks to repeated big-screen replays, that he had led with the forearm. It was nonsense but it took the best part of two minutes and a succession of replays for the referee to rule a scrum feed. Rugby is, after all, a contact sport.

The crowd was insistent Coetzee should be sent off. They chanted for his departure and for the Irish to be rewarded. Sanity prevailed but it was the exception rather than the rule in the mad world of the television replay.

Adriaan Strauss’s marginal ‘in the air’ challenge was only punished because of the crowd’s insistence that the referee revisit the moment of contact. The referee had played on. His touchline assistants seemed comfortable to continue play but then the TV producer stepped in – and this is becoming the norm.

One replay. Then another, in super-slow motion. Then the crowd buzzed, which turned to crowd irritation and then the crowd chant of ‘off … off … off’ started.

That’s when the referee halted play and referred the incident to the TMO, who gets footage that is slowed down to super-super-super-super slow motion to push the case of the home side.

Any tackle in rugby, when slowed down to a near freeze frame, can be made to look vicious or to have malicious intent. Any pass, when slowed down sufficiently, can be made to look forward and any grounding, when really slowed down, can appear as a knock-on.

TV referrals, like in cricket, were encouraged to limit the howlers and not to replace the referee or the real-time interpretation of the man tasked with the responsibility of officiating the game.

Nigel Owens’ officiating of the England vs New Zealand game was ridiculous when it came to the use of the TMO. It wasn’t because Owens selectively used the TMO, but why. He used it because of the pitchfork mentality among the 82,000 at Twickenham.

When they chanted their displeasure, the referee looked upwards at the big-screen replay and then looked again and then halted play to have another look.

This was not a case of ensuring accuracy in decision-making. It was clearly an ignorant and agenda-based home crowd doing anything possible to influence a hometown decision.

Owens, after officiating a 22-phase All Blacks try that took three minutes and two seconds to score, was less than a metre away from the action when he awarded the try. But when the crowd objected to something they believed they had seen on the replay – a replay slowed down to super-slow motion, Owens overruled his decision just before the conversion was about to be taken and asked for a TMO referral.

Who knows what he was looking for, but it lasted less than 10 seconds and he waved on play. It was a particularly disturbing moment, showing how the TV producer can find something to play that will incite the ire of the home crowd knowing that the chants and displeasure will ensure the referee has a second look.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen rightly questioned the wisdom of it all after his team beat England. Why go to the TMO in the first place when his decision counts for nothing? Hansen was referring to the yellow card given to hooker Dane Coles. The TMO’s recommendation was a penalty.

He was asked whether the kick at an opponent’s ankle warranted a sending-off. The answer was an emphatic ‘no’. The crowd started chanting and the replay was shown over and over. Owens predictably bowed to the pressure of the crowd and sent off Coles. It was a similar situation with Strauss’s sending-off. Technically, and when slowed down to a bare minimum, the referee was right.

Then again, technically the referee can never be wrong in union because the complicated nature of the laws means there is always a sub-section of a sub-section that can be applied to any decision.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer once told me the laws in union are such that a referee could turn his back on the play, face the crowd, blow his whistle and award a team a penalty and there would be a technical infringement, no matter how minute, that would justify the referee’s decision.

Rugby is too complicated in its laws, many of which are outdated and have no bearing on the flow of the game. Yet referees, often influenced by home crowds, are technically correct if applying them at their convenience.

I am not knocking the referee, but rather the game’s lawmakers and the custodians of the game who should be protecting the referee and doing everything to eliminate the howler. They should also be allowing for rugby to be a contact sport and for rugby to be a fair game in which the visiting team isn’t prejudiced by way of being away from home.

Players simply want a contest. They don’t need to be up against the mob mentality, an official who buckles because of human vulnerability and an agenda-based television producer who has eyes only for his home team.

It’s a crazy situation. The referee must be left to trust his eyes and the immediacy of real-time action.

If you take nearly every touchdown for a try and slice and dice it with modern technology’s super-slow freeze frames, you’d never see a try awarded in the game. The bias of a home crowd is understandable, but the ease with which the mad mob influences referees is not as understandable, and neither is it acceptable.

The media only adds to the issue because of the slanted take on match-day proceedings. Read the match report of a Test match featuring South Africa and England, as scripted by the journalists from the two respective countries.

By default the English focus on the English players and the South African media largely singles out the performance of the Springboks. There is no match objectivity because the readership asks for a local focus and not an independent view.

It is why the referee’s integrity is what determines his standing in the global game. What is being challenged now is the absence of integrity from the home television producer.

No country is exempt. In London, England get the favourable replays. In Dublin, it’s Ireland; at Ellis Park, it’s South Africa and at Eden Park it’s New Zealand. There are enough complications in travel and touring without the away side having to now also play the television producer.

Meyer said as much after the Boks’ horror defeat against Ireland in Dublin, but he was also honest enough to know this was not a match determined by the incompetence or bias of a referee; alternatively the overzealous patriotism of a television producer.

The Springboks were found out for a lack of match preparation. Resting the Boks for the Currie Cup play-offs had merit, but they should have enjoyed a warm-up match before playing Ireland. The core of the match squad hadn’t played a game in more than a month. And it showed.

The scrums and lineouts were good but the cohesion was missing and the basics of catch and pass were almost absent. You can’t simulate taking the ball into contact and the feeling of the body taking a tackle. The Boks looked like a team that hadn’t played a game in a while and the intensity matched a pre-season hit out.

There was intent but that is not the same as intensity. The result was more emphatic than you’d have got from any bookmaker, who had installed South Africa as favourites.

The result was also an emphatic reminder of the folly of judging the team (and country’s worth) exclusively on an ability to win a World Cup every four years.

The measure of World Cup success is making it to the last four. From there it becomes a lottery and one good 40 minutes as opposed to an indifferent 40 minutes is the difference between a flight home and another week in a foreign hotel.

One good TMO decision as opposed to one mad mob-influenced TMO decision is how fine the margin can be.

Meyer, in the past three years, has sought to create a winning habit with the Springboks. He has succeeded because a winning percentage in excess of 70 is better than the 63% the Springboks managed before Meyer’s appointment.

Nothing compares to the All Blacks in rugby and no team sport in the world has matched the All Blacks for consistency and for winning. Since the start of the 2011 World Cup, they have lost two and drawn two from 49 starts.

The Springboks – and the South African rugby public – need to lose the obsession with the All Blacks and with the comparison to everything New Zealand, because our players don’t have the mentality to back up getting up for New Zealand and then getting up for another team of lesser skill.

South Africa have to focus on beating a few more teams than New Zealand if they are to win the World Cup and if they are to consistently challenge for the bragging rights to be the game’s best team.

There was a lesson in the 2011 World Cup failure and there was almost a costly lesson for the All Blacks, who obsessed with beating Australia to such a degree that they had little left for the final against France. South Africa’s folly was to focus so much on playing New Zealand in the semi-final that they never got past Australia in the quarter-final.

The Springboks’ defeat in Ireland was a reality check on how easily it can go wrong away from home. If that had been a World Cup play-off match, the Boks would have been on a plane home.

It surely is a reminder to the public that nothing can be taken as a given when it comes to World Cups and that there is more to rugby than playing and beating the All Blacks.

It was also a reminder of the value of a player like Fourie du Preez. The veteran scrumhalf, injured for most of the international season, is integral to the potential of the Boks in any Test, and more so during a World Cup campaign. The Springboks, without the authority of Du Preez at No 9, are a lesser unit. He brings composure and leadership, as does another veteran, Victor Matfield.

The knee-jerk reaction after the Irish defeat was to label the Boks a team of old men. It is quite the contrary. There is balance between young and old; as there is with experience and novelty. What there isn’t yet is consistency in performance and the ability to play a game as favourites.

There is no need for panic but there is a need for honesty about the inconsistency within the squad performance. Similarly, there also needs to be honesty within the IRB about the growing influence of the television producer and the pending disaster of the mad mob getting to whoever referees the World Cup final.

The ability and skill of players is what should determine who wins on a Saturday; not 80 000 ignorant and patriotic hometown supporters – among them one armed with manipulative editing skills, access to the on-field big screen and a manic desire to be player No 24.

Castrogiovanni lays into Cockerill

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Italy prop Martin Castrogiovanni launched an astonishing tirade at Richard Cockerill after Toulon’s defeat to former club Leicester.

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Castrogiovanni was back at Welford Road for the first time since leaving the Tigers after a seven-year spell at the club, but ended up on the losing side in a 25-21 loss. It was clearly a huge occasion for the veteran tighthead, and there was a lot of chat from both teams throughout the game, as it threatened to boil over on a number of occasions.

And Castrogiovanni clearly felt he had some unfinished business with Tigers boss Cockerill, who he accused of lying over the reasons for his departure.

The 33-year-old made it clear what he thinks of his former coach, using a string of expletives to lay into him. “I never had the opportunity to defend myself when I left because people talked about this s*** and money and ‘Cockers’ talks about the money, but the real thing when I left this club is because you have [Dan] Cole and you have me,” Castrogiovanni said.

Cole gets paid half the money from the RFU and I am foreign. What the f*** you want? You have a good f****** tighthead prop playing for England and a hairy f****** Italian. “The thing is that they made it look like I went for the money but I paid £100,000 from my pocket to leave this club because I want to play rugby. That’s it. “I always love this club and I wanted to clarify and talk face to face, which is something ‘Cockers’ never does. I think in the last few years people are getting sacked and this club was not like that before.

They used to respect people, now they act like nothing is going on. That is not from the club, that is from the guys in charge. “Everything you do in your life – good or bad – will come back to you and they sack people who have been at this club for 17 years. “When I get to this club it was all about the shirt and the badge. It is easy not to talk about the money when you don’t really follow the club. I loved this club and I didn’t leave for the money.

Fair enough they deserved to win today. They played really well and we didn’t play our standard. They should play their game of lives. “I never want to speak with ‘Cockers’ any more. I am the kind of guy that if I hate you, if you are not clear with me or if you have been a c***, how you say in English, I never want to speak to you anymore.

That’s it. That’s how I am. I am not fake. If I hate you, I say in your face and I will never speak to you again. Love me or hate me. I don’t hate anyone. Peace and love. I just don’t like c****. “I thought f****** Leicester were a f****** amateur team. What about that? If they lost another game at home he [Cockerill] was going to get the sack. Everyone wants to win games against us because we are the best and it’s normal.

They played quite a good game, they were physical but they’ve just won a game. All they’ve done is win a f****** game. Now they need to come to our home and we’ll see. We’ll see next week what’s going on. “I just wanted to say that ‘Cockers’ is talking too much. He’s just won a game and there is still a lot of f****** games to play in this tournament. “He was saying that people go for the money but he has a lot of f****** squad players who get paid as well. I paid my own f****** money to leave this club.

I don’t need the money to play rugby. I love this game and I used to love this club – I still love this club, but when people are up to here in water, they talk this talk but don’t walk the walk. “I left half of my heart here and I still love this place. It was a little bit strange to go into a different changing room but this is life as a professional rugby player. “It felt like my first game for Italy against Argentina; there was a lot of emotion going around but soon you forget everything when you start playing.

It was quite beautiful and I really enjoyed it. You never want to hate a player being in another shirt. “A club is a club and life keeps going but when you get a lot of love from people like that they understand that you are a good person and you give the heart for this club. “That is what made me happy because I think they understand that and I think they realise that. A player never wants to be bigger than this club.”

 

Aussies unchanged for SA Sevens

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Qantas Australian Men’s Head Coach Geraint John has named an unchanged 12-man squad for this week’s South Africa Sevens.

Australian sevens

Australia head to Port Elizabeth for the third round of the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series with renewed optimism after reaching the Cup Final in last weekend’s Dubai Sevens and jumping four places to third in the overall standings.

Second seeds for the South African Sevens tournament after their impressive showing in the United Arab Emirates, Australia has been drawn in Pool B alongside Argentina, Portugal and Zimbabwe.

Head Coach Geraint John said: “The players who performed so well for the country in Dubai deserve to be picked again for this tournament. I was delighted with the way the team played in Dubai – courage, determination and skill – however, this series is very unforgiving and if we don’t turn up with the right attitude this weekend then we will fall short.

“For us, this next week is all about getting the little things right. Recovering well and preparing well for what is another hard group. Argentina have flown under the radar in my opinion but they have been very, very good this season so far and are producing consistently good results.

“Portugal have a couple of genuine match winners in their side and beat Canada in Dubai which makes them a threat. Zimbabwe don’t have the opportunity to play in too many World Series events, so this is a real opportunity for them to impress. Every team in this pool deserves and will get our utmost respect.”

Australia will be looking to improve on its recent record in Sevens tournaments in South Africa with seventh the best finish recorded since the 2002/3 season.

John added: “As we showed in Dubai, where our record has perhaps not been the best in recent times, these kind of runs are there to be broken. Every country that is heading to Port Elizabeth will be looking to win the event and we are no different. The South Africans are so passionate about their national Rugby team which won’t make it easy for us, but we go there with plenty of confidence.”

Australia currently sit third on 29 points after two rounds of the 2014/15 series. Fiji are the ladder leaders (39 points), two points clear of South Africa.

Fans can watch all of the action live from Port Elizabeth on FOX SPORTS.

Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens fixtures for Port Elizabeth, South Africa on 13-14 December:
Australia v Portugal, Pool B, 8.14pm (AEDT), 13 December
Australia v Zimbabwe, Pool B, 11.30pm (AEDT), 13 December
Australia v Argentina, Pool B, 3.10am (AEDT), 14 December

Qantas Australian Men’s Sevens squad for the 2014/15 HSBC Sevens World Series in Port Elizabeth, South Africa:
Cameron Clark. Club: Northern Suburbs, NSW. Hometown: Sydney, NSW
Tom Cusack. Club: Canberra Royals, ACT. Hometown: Canberra, ACT
Allan Fa’alava’au. Club: Endeavour Hills, VIC. Hometown: Auckland, NZ
Con Foley. Club: University of Queensland, QLD. Hometown: Fairfield, QLD
Pama Fou. Club: South, QLD. Hometown: Brisbane, QLD
Alex Gibbon. Club: Southern Districts. Hometown: Lismore, NSW
Lewis Holland. Club: Queanbeyan Whites. Hometown: Queanbeyan, NSW
Greg Jeloudev. Club: Sydney University. Hometown: Sydney, NSW
Ed Jenkins. Club: Sydney University, NSW. Hometown: Sydney, NSW
Nick Malouf. Club: Sydney University, NSW. Hometown: Robertson, QLD
Sam Myers. Club: Northern Suburbs, NSW. Hometown: Grenfell, NSW
James Stannard. Club: Souths, QLD. Born: Brisbane, QLD

Springbok 7’s Champions of Dubai

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The Springbok Sevens are the 2014 Dubai Sevens champions after a brilliant display against Australia in the Cup Final on Saturday, which they won 33-7 to climb to second spot on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series league table.

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After clinching fourth place at the Gold Coast in October, the Blitzboks are now just two points behind Fiji who leads the standings on 39 points. The teams now head to South Africa for Round 3 of the World Series next weekend at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

South Africa are the defending Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens champions.

The Springbok Sevens conceded a paltry seven points on match day two while collecting 101 points against Argentina, Series champions New Zealand and a resurgent Australia.

Earlier on Saturday the Blitzboks thumped Argentina 40-0 in their quarterfinal clash. Later they were in outstanding form against traditional rivals New Zealand in the semi-finals, scoring four converted tries without conceding a point (28-0) to secure their spot in the Final against the impressive Aussies who defeated Fiji in a thrilling semi-final that went into extra-time.

Afterwards, both the Springbok Sevens coach and captain praised the defensive efforts of the team, which paved the way for a commanding title victory in the famous desert city.

Brown, who made his comeback in Dubai after missing the Gold Coast because of a shoulder injury, said his team put in a much improved performance on match day two.

“We knew we did not play our best rugby in the Gold Coast and probably not even yesterday (Friday), but we got the ball rolling, which was important. I think our defensive efforts were simply outstanding and it’s great to play in such a committed team,” said Brown.

Powell, who led the South Africans to Commonwealth Games gold in July, was equally pleased.

“We tried to play with variation and the guys really bought into the plan. The players deserve the credit for an outstanding display,” explains the Blitzboks coach.

He added: “We are not the biggest team on the circuit, but we are very physical and don’t stand back for any team in the tackle. Our form at the breakdown area was very good and we really took our scoring opportunities well,” according to Powell.

South Africa turned on their full attacking power in the second to score four tries after Australia restricted them to just seven points in the first half (7-7). Kwagga Smith scored in opening stanza while Philip Snyman, Seabelo Senatla (2) and Ruhan Nel added three tries after the restart.

They started their quest for a Cup final place with a comprehensive 40-0 demolition job of Argentina. Speedster Senatla scored a hat-trick while there were also tries by Cecil Afrika and debutant Warrick Gelant.

Livewire Smith also scored a first half hat-trick in the Blitzboks’ 28-0 semi-final win over traditional rivals New Zealand. They led 21-0 at halftime. The South Africans suffocated NZ with first time hits and then recycled their turnover possession with speed and accuracy. Afrika sealed a thoroughly deserved victory after a lightning break from substitute Cheslin Kolbe.

The 16 teams now fly to South Africa for Round 3 of the World Series in Port Elizabeth, the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens.

The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series log after two rounds:

  1. Fiji 39 points
  2. South Africa 37
  3. Australia 28
  4. New Zealand 28

Player of the Year Award nominations

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Five Springboks have been nominated for the prestigious SA Rugby Player of the Year Award for 2014 with one of Nizaam Carr, Marcell Coetzee, Willie le Roux, Handré Pollard or Duane Vermeulen in line to claim the coveted annual award for the first time in their careers.

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The five players, who all played for the Boks this year, have been nominated by the South African rugby media following a stellar year on the field. Springbok rugby fans across the globe will now be given a voice in the selection of the winner, SARU announced on Friday.

The public will also be asked to cast their votes in two other categories, Young Player and the Absa Team of the Year.

Carr and Pollard have also been named in the Young Player category, along with Cheslin Kolbe, Seabelo Senatla and Jan Serfontein. The Junior Springboks, Springboks, Springbok Sevens, DHL Western Province and Xerox Golden Lions have been nominated as Absa Team of the Year.

Public polling for the three awards will open on Friday 5 December 2014 with all the winners to be announced at a gala event on 8 February 2015 in Midrand.

The public can vote for the top awards on SARU’s website (click here) or by using (for example) #YPOTYNizaamCarr on Twitter*, which is powered by social marketing platform Spredfast. Voting will also take place through SARU’s official digital Springbok Magazine, where subscribers can cast their votes.

Jurie Roux, SARU CEO said: “It is again very pleasing that we are able to give our rugby fans a voice in the game, and the SARU Player of the Year Awards is an ideal platform to do so. The last two years proved that supporters have strong opinions on who should win and that feedback was great, hence the decision to make the public part of the polling process again.

“The Awards are a highlight on the South African rugby calendar, and involving the fans more directly will no doubt add to the prestige of the event,” said Roux.

Media, coaches and players had a major say in determining the outstanding players of the season in a range of categories and competitions.

Other awards on the night include for the outstanding players in Vodacom Super Rugby, Absa Currie Cup Premier and First Division and Vodacom Cup competitions, as well as for the Absa Coach of the Year, SA Under-20 Player of the Year, Springbok Sevens Player of the Year, Women’s Achiever of the Year, SARPA Players’ Player of the Year, Supersport Try of the Year, Marriott Referee Award, Cell C Community Cup Player of the Tournament and Coca-Cola Craven Week Player of the Tournament.

The closing date for public voting is Friday, 12 December 2014 at 14h00.

More information is available on the SARU website – www.sarugby.co.za and www.springbokmagazine.com and @bokrugby on Twitter.

Mouritz now a Sharks

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The Cell C Sharks are delighted to announce the signing of English International lock Mouritz Botha, who has signed a two-year contract with the Cell C Sharks…by Rugby from a Wheelchair

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Botha was born in Vryheid, KwaZulu-Natal and currently plays for Saracens in the Aviva Premiership. After helping Saracens win the 2011 Aviva Premiership, he made his debut for England off the bench, in their 23–19 victory over Wales ahead of the Rugby World Cup in 2011.

He also featured for England in 2012 in both the Six Nations and in all three Test matches on England’s tour of South Africa, starting the first two and coming off the bench for the third. He has since accumulated over 110 caps for Saracens as well as making a total of 10 Test match appearances for England.

Confirming his signing, The Sharks CEO John Smit said: “Mouritz is a great acquisition for the Cell C Sharks and his experience gained at international level will be hugely beneficial to our squad. He will add significant value and depth to our tight five.

“We look forward to welcoming him to Durban.”

Player Profile
Name : Mouritz Botha
Date of Birth: 29 January 1982
Height: 1.98m
Weight: 117kg

Club news from Danny’s Desk

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The end of year is always an exciting time for our clubs as pre-season preparations begin to hit full steam. In addition to this, the AGM’s held at these clubs are an ideal way to review the year ahead, and begin preparing for the new season.photo

 

The USSA Sevens tournament was held in George on December 1-2. Various universities from around the country were invited to participate. Western Province’s representatives were Maties, UCT and UWC.

In the end, this is how they fared:
UWC lost 7-21 to NWU in the Plate Final.
Maties went down 12-17 to Tuks in the Cup Final.

(Well done to all our universities who competed!)

This Saturday is the Rockets Super 5’s Beach tournament. This is the first-ever Super 5’s tournament in South Africa and will be held at the picturesque Clifton Beach. Some of our clubs competing are Uni-Mil, Busy Bees, Masiphumelele and UCT. The action begins at 11am and will go throughout the day.

Thursday saw the start of the SA Academy Referees Squad camp which runs from December 4 until December 7. The WP representatives are Hennie Heydenrych, Divan Uys, Nathan Barry, Lee-Eustice Beukes, Willem Taylor, Dyllan Francke and Riaan Tolken. The camp began at 4pm and will be held throughout at Jan Kriel High School in Kuilsriver. Well done to all our club referees who made the cut!

Of course, this camp follows last week’s camp held in Table View. It was a one-day camp for beginner referees which ran 7am and ran until 12.30pm. Included in the camp were the level 1 exams as well as bleep tests and expert coaching.

The SA Academy Sevens team brought home the gold in the recent tournament in Harare after defeating Kenya B 12-5 in the final. It was a dominating performance by the team who went unbeaten in the tournament, not conceding a single point in the group stages. The team included several club rugby favorites, so it was good to see them perform at such a high level.

This weekend is the Dubai Sevens. Included in the squad are DHL Western Province and DHL Stormers speedsters, Cheslin Kolbe and Seabelo Senatla. We wish both them, and the entire Blitzbokke team the very best of luck – we will be watching and getting behind our boys, as they continue to push for Olympic participation.

 By: Danny Jones WPRFU

Ireland wants 2023 World Cup

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Ireland is set to bid to stage the 2023 Rugby World Cup with the bid to be unveiled in Armagh on Friday.

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The IRFU will join with the Northern Ireland Executive and Irish government to outline their joint bid.

An Irish bid would use both traditional rugby stadia, such as the Aviva Stadium in Dublin and Thomond Park in Limerick, while also hoping to use Gaelic football venues such as Croke Park, which hosted rugby internationals during the renovation of Lansdowne Road.

As far back as May, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt showed his support for the idea, likening it to the 2011 World Cup hosted in his native New Zealand.

“You have got the same population and the same kind of energy around sporting occasions and I think you have got the stadia,” he said.

Ireland has never hosted a Rugby World Cup on its own, however the 1991 edition of the competition featured games in both Belfast and Dublin, as did the 1999 tournament, along with Limerick.

Next year’s World Cup will take place in England before the 2019 edition that is to be hosted by Japan.

Among the other possibilities for the 2023 World Cup, Agustin Pichot has already expressed his intention to bring the competition to Argentina, while South Africa and Italy are also believed to be interested in hosting the tournament.

SA Sevens teams chase glory in Dubai

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Three South African Sevens representative teams will be in action over the next three days in a festival of international Sevens rugby action in Dubai.

The Blitzboks take to the field on Friday morning (5 December) in Round 2 of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, hoping to improve on their fourth place in Round 1 at the Gold Coast in October. Their pool opponents are Portugal, Canada and Wales.

The SA Sevens Academy side warmed up for their participation at the Dubai Invitational event with a convincing Cup win last week in Harare. Their group opponents are Georgia, Poland and The Royals.

The Springbok Women’s Sevens are also in Dubai competing in the Women’s Sevens World Series, which concludes on Friday. The team suffered defeats against Australia and France and secured a 17-17 draw against Spain earlier on Thursday.

SuperSport 6 will broadcast all the Dubai Sevens (World Series) live from 07h00 on Friday. Follow the progress of the Blitzboks and the other two South Africans teams on Twitter @Blitzboks and the Springbok Fan Page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/springsboks.

The SA Sevens Academy (Samurai) fixtures on Friday at the Dubai Invitational (SA time; Dubai 2 hours ahead of SA) are:

09h28 vs Georgia

11h40 vs Poland

15h30 vs The Royals

The Springbok Sevens fixtures on Friday at the Dubai Sevens (SA times):

07h00 – vs Portugal

10h00 – vs Canada

14h08 – vs Wales

Strauss eyes World Cup spot

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Former Lions captain Josh Strauss is edging closer to a Scotland Test debut after signing a two-year contract extension with the Glasgow Warriors by SARugbyMag.co.za

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The 28-year-old, who led the Lions to the 2011 Currie Cup title, will become eligible to play for Scotland in September next year, after completing the required three-year residency for eligibility. Strauss first signed for the Warriors in September 2012 and has gone on to make 56 appearances for the Pro12 team, many as captain.

‘I’ve learned a lot working with the players and coaches at Scotstoun and it was a good decision to move to Glasgow from South Africa,’ Strauss said. ‘I’ve enjoyed the last three years at the club and I really like the group of players that are here. I’ve developed playing in the Pro12 and European Champions Cup and I’m happy to be staying.

‘I’m ambitious and I want to win trophies and I believe I have the best chance of doing that at the Warriors.’

Fijian lock Leone Nakarawa is another to have extended his deal at the club and coach Gregor Townsend is pleased to have both players on board for the next two seasons.

‘Josh and Leone have made a big impact since they joined us and it’s a big boost for everyone at the club that they’re staying,’ said Townsend. ‘We really appreciate the continued backing from Scottish Rugby to make these deals possible.

‘Josh is part of our leadership group and has captained the side. When he first came over he settled in really well and has adapted quickly to our style of play. He will continue to have a big role to play at the club both on and off the pitch.’

Jean de Villiers’ knee surgery successful

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Springbok captain Jean de Villiers on Thursday underwent successful surgery on the left knee he injured in the final Test of the season, last Saturday against Wales in Cardiff.

 

De Villiers had a full reconstruction of the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments with an artificial graft, as well as a repair of the medial collateral ligament.

 

“The procedure went well, but at this stage it is difficult to determine an exact return to play time-frame,” said Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts.

 

“The use of an artificial graft should speed up his rehabilitation and hopefully increase his chances of making a successful return to the playing field.”

 

De Villiers said: “I would like to thank every medical practitioner involved in my injury, from Saturday when it happened until today’s operation.

 

“My focus will now be on the arrival of our third child in the coming days. Thereafter it will be about recovering as soon as possible so I can start with my rehabilitation. I still have my sights set on going to next year’s Rugby World Cup and will do everything in my power to get to England.

 

“I would also like to thank everyone for the well-wishes and support in the last week, it means a lot to me and my family and we really appreciate every message.”

Strong group highlights 2015 WPRI intake

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Thirty Craven Week players, five of whom played for the 2014 SA Schools team, and nine regular Under-19 First XV (or higher) captains from 2014 will form part of an exciting 2015 Western Province Rugby Institute intake.

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With the WPRI already having produced the likes of DHL Stormers and/or Springbok stars Scarra Ntubeni, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Nizaam Carr, Cheslin Kolbe and Juan de Jongh in recent seasons, there is plenty of excitement surrounding the announcement of the Class of 2015.

Five members of the 2014 SA Schools team – including captain and No.8 Jaco Coetzee – have chosen to join the WPRI in Stellenbosch, along with the 2013 Craven Week Player of the Year, Grant Hermanus, who featured for the cup-winning DHL Western Province Under-19 team in 2014, and another Paarl Gym star, lock Jaco Willemse (a WP representative in the 2014 SA Schools squad).

The 2015 WPRI squad is made of 75% local talent, with the likes of Coetzee (Glenwood), Michael Kumbirai (St Albans College), Eduard Zandberg (Outeniqua) and Eduan Keyter (Affies) – all members of the 2014 SA Schools team – joining from outside the boarders of the Western Cape.

It is the second year in a row that an SA Schools skipper has chosen to further his career at the WP Rugby Institute, with Jaco Coetzee following in the footsteps of Rikus Bothma, who captained the DHL WP Under-19 team to the Absa Provincial U19 title this season.

Paul Roos centre Edrich Venter, who captained the DHL WP Under-18 team in 2014, is another young leader who is part of the 2015 intake, whilst lock Willemse captained the SA Schools team against England this year – all of which, crucially, will add to the Institute’s leadership options next year.

WPRI CEO Jacques Hanekom told www.wprugby.com: “Rikus Bothma proved in 2014 (for the successful DHL WP U19 team) how important leadership is in rugby and, of course, we needn’t look further at the impact that Jean de Villiers has had on the Springboks (as captain) since 2012.

“Nine members of our new intake either captained at First XV or Craven Week level in 2014 – it’s crucial to have and to groom young leaders in a game like rugby and it’s exciting to welcome so many quality leaders into our next intake.

“As per last year’s intake, when we had five SA Schools players from outside of the Cape joining us, it’s nice to know that players from outside our region are choosing the Western Province Rugby Institute above other institutions – it says a lot about the work we have been doing here, the success-rates (here) and the belief all players have in the WPRI.”

The majority of the players are carefully identified and then invited to join the WPRI, whilst applications are also considered, both locally and from overseas, with scrumhalf Max Johnson (Leicester/Northampton Junior), flyhalf Ed Coulson (England Under-19) and wing Robrecht Bruneel (Lille Rugby Under-21) adding some international flavour in 2015.

“There is a lot to be excited about at WP Rugby, given that our Under-19 and Senior teams won trophies and the Under-21s went down narrowly in their final, but it’s becoming a common trend for our young players, almost fresh out of the Institute, to get – and take – playing opportunities at senior level,” said Hanekom.

“We look forward to working with this new intake and we will do our utmost to help this exciting group develop even more – as players and as people.”

The WP Rugby Institute will continue to work closely with the WP Rugby Academy (WPRA) which opened its doors in Tokai in 2014 and boasted an impressive intake in year one.

“Not only did the WPRA help to increase the depth of the 2014 DHL WP Under-19 team, but it’s given an opportunity to (even) more aspiring players, who are also able to combine their studies with their rugby commitments thanks to the buy-in from Varsity College and False Bay College,” concluded Hanekom.

THE 2015 WESTERN PROVINCE RUGBY INSTITUTE INTAKE:

HOOKERS:
Ruan Brits (Paarl Boys’ High School)
Percy Mngadi (Glenwood)
Jacques van Zyl (Paul Roos)

PROPS:
Adriaan Geldenhuys (Paarl Gym)
Jerome Korff (Paul Roos)
Michael Kumbirai (St Albans College)
Derick Marais (Paarl Boys’ High School)
Carl Prinsloo (Paul Roos)
Rueben Terblanche (Grey Bloem)
FC Jansen van Rensburg (Bredasdorp High School)

LOCKS:
Emil Cloete (Paul Roos)
Gary Porter (Michaelhouse)
Jaco Willemse (Paarl Gym)
Eduard Zandberg (Outeniqua)

FLANKS:
Iver Aanhuizen (Klein Nederburg)
Saud Abrahams (Bishops)
Mitchell Carstens (Paul Roos)
Mervano da Silva (Bishops)
CF du Toit (Paarl Boys’ High School)
Jacques Oosthuizen (Paul Roos)

NO.8s:
Jaco Coetzee (Glenwood)
HJ Luus (Paarl Gym)
Daniël Maree (Oakdale)

SCRUMHALVES:
Zandré de Koker (Paarl Gym)
Paul de Wet (Paarl Boys’ High School)
Herschell Jantjies (Paul Roos)
Max Johnson (Trent College, UK)

FLYHALVES:
Dennis Cox (Excelsior)
Ed Coulson (Sherborne School, UK)
Robbie Petzer (Noord-Kaap)

CENTRES:
Michael Andrade (Grey Bloem)
Carlton Fortune (Boland Landbou)
Justin Heunis (Bishops)
Christiaan Smit (Paul Roos)
Edrich Venter (Paul Roos)

WINGS:
Robrecht Bruneel (Ghent University, Belgium)
Grant Hermanus (Paarl Gym)
Wayne Parker (Pretoria Boys’ High School)
Gerard Pieterse (Bishops)
Duncan Saal (Kasselsvlei)
Edwill van der Merwe (Paul Roos)

FULLBACKS:
Aidynn Cupido (Paul Roos)
Eduan Keyter (Affies)
Tiaan Swanepoel (Stellenberg)

Toyota Cheetahs new jersey

3

PUMA has revealed a new Toyota Cheetahs kit for the Super Rugby 2015, which focuses on the team’s two distinct colours – orange and ‘poublou’ turquoise, rounded off with purple numbers and trimmings – but with a shift to orange for the home kit.

“The latest PUMA kit for the Toyota Cheetahs is something of a landmark,” says PUMA South Africa’s Marketing Director Brett Bellinger. “Traditionally the home kit has been marked by a largely white-based treatment with the away kit being orange. PUMA and the management at the Toyota Cheetahs decided that we should start to introduce orange as the base colour for the home kits and we have done so in a gradual manner – this being represented by the fading from white to orange in the home kit.”

Kobus le Roux, Sales and Marketing Executive for the Totoya Cheetahs says: “Even though the orange jersey will be labelled as ‘Home’ and the Turquoise jersey as ‘Away’,we will play with both jerseys throughout the competition as required. This means our home fans will see us in both jerseys in Bloemfontein and we will also use both jerseys on tour. The new slick faded design makes for maximum brand exposure to our sponsors and maximum supporter loyalty to our fans.”

The new Toyota Cheetahs Home jersey will be in-store from 4 December and the Away jersey from 10 December – both will retail for R699. To get their hands on a jersey, fans can head to PUMA stores and selected PUMA retailers countrywide.

For further info visit www.puma.com or call PUMA on 021 551 0832021 551 0832 and follow the conversation on twitter @PUMASouthAfrica.

 

Two Lions players retire

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Golden Lions players Michael Bondesio and Deon van Rensburg have announced their retirement from professional rugby.

The duo had been struggling with injuries of late and decided to call it a day, the union announced via their official Facebook page.

Scrumhalf Bondesio had not played much this year due to a knee injury, while wing/centre Van Rensburg was laid low by a rib injury.

Bondesio, 29, played for the Lions since 2011 after joining from the Leopards, while 32-year-old Van Rensburg joined in 2010, also from the Leopards.

deon-van-rensburg-2010-2-27-5-44-32

Deon van Rensburg

Gideon Andries van Rensburg (born 24 January 1982) . His regular playing position was winger or centre.

Between 2004 and 2009, he played for Potchefstroom side the Leopards, making 44 appearances and scoring 19 tries. In 2009, while still a Leopards player, he also earned a call-up to the Lions side during the 2009 Super 14 season and joined the Golden Lions prior to the 2010 Currie Cup Premier Division season. He eventually scored 19 tries in 44 appearances for the Leopards and 15 tries in 34 appearances for the Golden Lions, as well as four tries in 55 Super Rugby matches. He also played in two matches during the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa, one for a Highveld XV side in Potchefstroom[1] and one for an Emerging Springboks side in Cape Town.[2]

A persistent leg injury led to Van Rensburg missing the 2014 Currie Cup Premier Division season and eventually his retirement at the end of the 2014 season.

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Michael Bondesio

Michael Bondesio (born 10 March 1985) . His regular playing position was scrum-half. Between 2007 and 2010, he played for Potchefstroom side the Leopards, making 52 appearances and scoring 13 tries. In 2011, he moved to Johannesburg, where he played domestic rugby for the Golden Lions, scoring four tries in 42 appearances between 2011 and 2014. He also made seven appearances for the Lions during the 2012 Super Rugby season, scoring one try against local rivals the Bulls.

A persistent shoulder injury led to long lay-offs for Bondesio and eventually his retirement at the end of the 2014 season.

Bondesio currently has a degree in teaching.

 

Boks for Books library

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Boks for Books library gets ‘Legend-ary’ launch in Paarl…

Boks for Books library handover at Groenheuwel Primary School

The opening was attended by SARU Executive Council members and representatives of the Winelands District Education department, who worked with SARU and NGO, Blue Groove Africa, to identify a needy but deserving school.

“Literacy is the No 1 national priority, which is why this project is so important to us as an Education Department,” said Mr Juan Benjamin, District Director of Education for the Winelands. “Without literacy we are nothing and we have to thank SARU that this is a priority for them as well.”

Former Springbok Pieter Muller, of the South African Rugby Legends Association (SARLA), said: “As former Boks and former players we’re just delighted to be in a position to support initiatives like this and give something back.

“We do a lot of community as SARLA and we’re only too delighted to join with SARU and get behind what is a brilliant programme. You only had to look at the kids’ faces when they came in here for the first time to understand the impact that this is going to have.”

Previous Boks for Books libraries have been opened at Sekwati Primary School, Soweto; Kwamanzini Primary School KwaNdengezi District in Pinetown and the Gcobani Higher Primary School in Mdantsane.

Rights-free image captions:
Boks for Books_Pieter Muller: Former Springbok centre and South African Rugby Legends Association Member, Pieter Muller, reads to a learner at the Groenheuwel Primary School in Paarl in the Western Cape in a new library provided by the South African Rugby Union as part of their Boks for Books CSI initiative.Boks for Books_Wayne Julies and Desmond Ceasar: Former Springbok centre and South African Rugby Legends Association Member, Wayne Julies (right) with the Principal, Mr Desmond Ceasar, and learners at the Groenheuwel Primary School in Paarl in the Western Cape in a new library provided by the South African Rugby Union as part of their Boks for Books CSI initiative. Springbok Women’s player Denita Wentzel is reading in the background.

(Photos by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

 

Lions players acknowledged

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Ellis Park played host to the annual glittering Golden Lions Rugby Union Player Awards event on Wednesday evening, where several individuals were acknowledged for their achievements during the 2014 season.

 

Lions Rugby
Lions Rugby

The GLRU celebrated the Springbok capping of three players in 2014, namely Warren Whiteley, Julian Redelinghuys and Marnitz Boshoff.

Whiteley, Kwagga Smith, Ruhan Nel and Mark Richards all represented South Africa in Sevens rugby in 2014, with Whiteley and Smith both having been a part of the gold medal-winning Commonwealth Games side.

The GLRU’s SA U20 representatives for 2014 included Cyle Brink, Thabo Mabuza, Ramone Samuels, Malcolm Marx, Jaco van der Walt and Victor Sekekete.

All of these national representatives were honoured at the awards ceremony.

Meanwhile, in the U19 age group, Marnus Erasmus walked away with the U19 Forward of the Year award, while Godfrey Ramaboea was named the U19 Backline Player of the Year. Gerdus van der Walt was the recipient of the 2014 U19 Player of the Year award.

In the U21 age group, Malcolm Marx was named the U21 Forward Player of the Year. Harold Vorster was selected as both the U21 Backline Player of the Year and the 2014 U21 Player of the Year.

The Senior Awards were dominated by the forwards with Armand van der Merwe walking away with the Most Improved Player of the Year award. Loose forward Jaco Kriel was named the Forward Player of the Year, the Players’ Player of the Year and was also awarded the Supporters’ Player of the Year Award.

Over 650 votes were cast via social media for the Supporters’ Player of the Year award, with Kriel receiving 36% of the votes.

Lionel Mapoe walked away with the Senior Backline Player of the Year, while flyhalf Jaco van der Walt won most improved Backline Player.

Finally, captain Warren Whiteley was named the 2014 Player of the Year.

The full list of award winners is as follows:

U19 Forward Player of the Year

Marnus Erasmus

U19 Backline Player of the Year:

Godfrey Ramaboea

U19 Player of the Year

Gerdus van der Walt

U21 Forward Player of the Year

Malcolm Marx

U21 Backline Player of the Year

Harold Vorster

U21 Player of the Year

Harold Vorster

Senior Forward Player of the Year

Jaco Kriel

Senior Most Improved Forward Player of the Year

Armand van der Merwe

Senior Backline Player of the Year

Lionel Mapoe

Senior Most Improved Backline Player of the Year

Jaco van der Walt

Supporters’ Player of the Year

Jaco Kriel

Senior Players’ Player of the Year

Jaco Kriel

Senior Player of the Year

Warren Whiteley

Kirsten to call it a day

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Frik+Kirsten+2013+Bulls+Headshots+8qTjJvAemUxl

The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Wednesday confirmed the retirement from rugby by Vodacom Bulls prop Frik Kirsten. The former Junior Springbok player suffered a neck injury in March whilst playing his 34th match for the Vodacom Bulls and underwent surgery after that. Although the surgery proved successful, medical advice was for the 26-year old player not to play rugby again.

Kirsten, who studied B.Comm (Accounting) at the University of Pretoria while playing professional rugby, graduated with an honours degree and will now pursue a career in accounting, hoping to become a chartered accountant.

Xander Janse van Rensburg, High Performance Manager at the BBC, said it was sad to lose a player of Kirsten’s ability, but applauded the fact that the player prepared for a career after rugby while still playing.

“We continuously tell all our players, especially in our junior structures, that they should prepare themselves for situations where injuries can cut short their careers. Frik is a fine example of someone who continued his studies despite his rugby career and can now face the future with confidence. He will leave a massive gap as a player and leader, but his health is more important than anything else. We want to thank him for his contribution to the Bulls family of which he was part from schoolboy level up to Vodacom Super Rugby. Go well Frik.”

Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke, who picked Kirsten for the first time in 2009, thanked the player for his dedication and contribution towards the team.

“Frik was part of a great era and of the squads that won Vodacom Super Rugby and Absa Currie Cup titles. He was also called into the Springbok squad last year and had a great career ahead of him. It is very unfortunate to lose him now, as tighthead props are prime assets, but that is rugby and life. He will be missed, no doubt and we wish him well in his new career,” Ludeke said.

Kirsten thanked the BBC and his team mates.

“I had wonderful times at Loftus Versfeld and made friends for life. It was great being part of a fantastic squad who achieved many targets and milestones. It is not the ideal way to end the game, but I am fully focussed and prepared for the new phase of my life. I will still be around, supporting my younger brother, Jannes (Blue Bulls Under-21), and the rest of the boys. Allow me to thank all the supporters as well, as they kept us on our toes and often reminded us that we also played on their behalf.”

 

Zimbabwe’s continued regression

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The South Africa Academy side was invincible at the CAR 7’s tournament. Dispensing of everything before them with relative ease. Zimbabwe Cheetahs managed to qualify for the Hong Kong edition and the achievement was met with mixed reaction, by Ruggaworld’s Benedict Chanakira

130px-Zimbabwe_rugby_team_logo

The papers lauded the side mistakenly as having qualified for Rio 2016 Olympics. Such is the level of misinformed and biased reactions that mars our game. Squad selection was decided a week before the Summer series concluded.

Any new talent was seemingly ignored as the country lost out to the second strings of both Kenya and South Africa. Performances were unconvincing and we wonder how the side continues to call up old horses that have run their course.

Wesley Mbanje??  Gardner Nechironga?? Fortune Chipendo?? Legends in their time but the time has come for the nation to rebuild. The Olympics are around the corner and unlike our cricket side, we don’t need more embarrassment.

Rugby hit an all new low in 2014 with all national teams bar Bryan Rademeyer’s u13 having an impressive year. Even for the optimistic rugby fan the future looks bleak.

The recently held CAR 7’s tournament got some widespread praise and criticism.

A journalist who has been to several tournaments was put off as he was describing some of the situations he encountered, “Hosting this tournament brought to the fore how Zimbabwe as a nation is still far from staging a continental sporting event with exceptional level of professionalism.

Right from the build-up to the tournament things were chaotic with the media and the public starved of critical information by the Zimbabwe Rugby Union (ZRU) which led to a low turnout despite gate entry fees charged at $2 per head.

The Cheetahs final squad was only released to the media on the eve of the event yet our counterparts, the South African Sevens Academy and Kenya, who brought their second string side Shujaa, announcing their travelling party earlier in the week.

ZRU had also organised a pre- tournament press conference on Friday, a day before the tournament started. This presser was another shambolically coordinated event that brought the ZRU’s shortcomings to surface.

Apart from starting almost an hour after the advertised 2pm time, the 12 teams’ captains were seated in an unorderly manner which made it difficult for the media to get sounds bites.”

Credit to the hosts for a safe and successful event. The talent from the minnow nations has lots to be desired of African rugby, as they have grown in bounds with Namibia, Uganda and surprise semi-finalists Tunisia impressing the most. With Zimbabwe being the most experienced side at the event they failed to show it. Close matches against minnows Nigeria, Namibia and Uganda displayed how fellow African nations are catching on, as we continue to regress.

A shot at core status will be the making or further destruction of Zimbabwe rugby 7 ‘s. Having failed last year against minnows Italy another window of opportunity beckons. Success in patches never seems to do justice to the ongoing plots,  racism,  unorganization and chaos that is within the Union.

The situation seems to be worsening while the current Sables coaches remain in their roles having failed in the last two World Cup quests. Is there a way back from the wilderness for Zimbabwe? Liam Middleton the last Director of Rugby was the scapegoat in the failed World Cup and Sevens campaigns.

Now we await who will be the next to get the hero status or scapegoat tag. Zimbabwe sport has continued to get the ugly and deserved negative publicity. We await a change.

 

We await a step in the right direction. Will the attainment of core status be the first of many highlights in a country laden with talent but lacking in brains