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DHL Stormers 19, Hurricanes 18

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It is another game that features two ‘losers’ from the first round – with the Hurricanes looking to score their first win at Newlands in almost a decade.

Not since the four-point squeaker (23-19) in March 2006 have Hurricanes left Cape Town victorious.

Despite being put under pressure in their set-pieces against the Sharks last week, there were plenty of encouraging signs for the Hurricanes in their first-up 9-2 loss in Durban.

The Hurricanes defended well at times and created several opportunities that could have turned the contest prior to the Sharks’ match-clinching intercept try with 15 minutes to play.

Similarly, the Stormers will be eager to bounce back from their 10-34 loss away to the Lions at Ellis Park – a game that turned into a horror show for the to the men from Cape Town.

The Stormers dominated the Lions in the territory and possession statistics, but the Lions took their chances – 29 points from the educated boot of Lions flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff (including three drop-goals) the undoing of the Stormers.

The Stormers, the best defensive team in the competition in recent seasons, conceded an early 0-19 deficit and failed to recover.

The Hurricanes have won at least one of their two matches on their South African tour for each of the last three years, and they bounced back to win their second match after losing their first in both their last two trips.

Last year in the Republic they lost to the Bulls (14-48) and then beat the Cheetahs (39-34). In 2012 they lost to the Stormers (26-39) and defeated the Lions (30-28).

The key areas in this match will be the set-pieces and the breakdowns.

An obvious work-on for the Hurricanes from the Sharks match will be at scrum time, where they were undone by an-all Springbok front row, and which the big Stormers pack will also target.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee admitted they can’t afford a repeat of last week’s disastrous start.

“One has to make sure we start well in every game,” Coetzee told a media briefing this week.

“Hopefully we are over the first-game jitters now, settle down, get stuck into our [game] plan and force our [game] plan onto the opposition.”

Coetzee hinted that the Lions blitzkrieg forced his team into unfamiliar tactics – playing more with the ball in  hand that kicking for goal and building pressure.

“The situation would have been different if we had started better, then we could have kicked penalties at posts instead of chasing the game,” Coetzee said.

He added that hopefully they have learnt their lesson this past weekend.

“We nailed it in [set the bar] very low and we have to improve by 40 to 50 percent in all departments,” the Stormers coach said.

“There are no excuses, we know now what it takes to be ready for Super Rugby.

“I was pretty happy with out set pieces, we just couldn’t hold onto the ball when we were attacking.”

The battle of the breakdown could also hold sway.

Hurricanes openside flank Jack Lam and No.8 Blade Thomson both stood out against the Sharks, while the Stormers loose forward trio of flanks Siya Kolisi (10 Tests) and Schalk Burger (68 internationals), along with No.8 Duane Vermeulen (16) are experienced campaigners.

It will also be the clash of the captains in midfield between Hurricanes centre Conrad Smith and Stormers midfield maestro Jean de Villiers.

Recent results:
2013: Stormers won 18-16, Palmerston North
2012: Stormers won 39-26, Cape Town
2010: Stormers won 37-13, Cape Town
2009: Hurricanes won 34-11, Wellington
2008: Stormers won 20-12, Cape Town
2007: Stormers won 30-17, Palmerston North

Teams:
Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Gio Aplon, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Michael Rhodes, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Ryno Eksteen.

Hurricanes: 15 Marty Banks, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 Mark Reddish, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 John Schwalger, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 19 James Broadhurst, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Alapati Leiua, 23 James Marshall.

Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), Marc van Zyl (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommenstein (South Africa)

Rebels too good for Toyota Cheetahs

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The Rebels recorded their biggest win in Super Rugby when they scored a comprehensive 35-14 win over an out-of-sorts Cheetahs team in Melbourne on Friday.

The final margin is not just a true reflection of the game, the Rebels full value for the win.

The Cheetahs also contributing to their own downfall. They simply lacked the desire shown by the home team in bucketloads.

Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss put it in a nutshell when he said: “We didn’t pitch up.”

The Cheetahs were caught napping all too often throughout the match, as the Rebels sped up the game – quick throw-ins, slick handling and all-sorts at the breakdown.

It was a quick cross-field kick from a penalty by captain Scott Higginbotham early in the first half that really put their game-pan into perspective. They were not interested in engaging the Cheetahs at forward battle and wanted to keep the play as unstructured as possible.

Showing far greater enthusiasm, the Rebels were able to find gaps all over the field, even though their finishing let them down at times.

In return the visitors appeared well off their game – too many errors and having difficulty to adapt to some of the eccentric calls by the match officials. Captain Adriaan Strauss was remonstrating with the referee and his assistants on numerous occasions.

The Rebels managed to counter the Cheetahs’ weight advantage at scrum time with some sneaky tactics, getting penalised at times, but mostly getting the rub of the green with the calls.

What the Cheetahs could not argue with was that they fell off tackles all too easily and most the tries were the result of their sloppy defence. Add to that some poor line-out play, sloppy handling (20 turnovers) and shocking out of hand kicking and you have the real reason why they struggled to get into the game.

The early stages of the game was marked by plenty of kicking, some of it very ordinary efforts, and a territorial game.

However, the Rebels quickly showed their counter-attacking ability – a line-out error by the Cheetahs handing the ball to the Rebels. They worked it through the phases long enough to suck in a few defenders and then went side to the right where Lachlan Mitchell sneaked over in the corner.

The conversion attempt by Jason Woodward was not on target and he also missed a penalty shot just on the 10-minute mark.

Cheetahs flyhalf Johan Goosen had a shocker of his own – a hack at the ball and a penalty attempt he would like to forget.

At the end of the first quarter captain Scott Higginbotham opted for a quick cross-field kick from a penalty and with the Cheetahs sleep-walking Jason Woodward was virtually unopposed in the ingoal area.

The kicking woes continued – Woodward missed the conversion attempt and Bryce Hegarty a penalty shot – leaving the home team with a 10-0 advantage at the half-hour mark.

Four minutes from the break the Rebels went offside at a line-out and Goosen, from 40 metres out right in front, again hooked it past the left upright.

Right on the half-time hooter the Cheetahs were again caught sleep-walking – scrumhalf Luke Burgess sneaking between a few defenders for the third try. Hegarty added the conversion to make it 17-0 at the break.

The Cheetahs got the second half off to the perfect start – a penalty that became a line-out and a powerful maul saw Jean Cook score his team’s try within a minute after coming onto the field as a replacement for Johannes Prinsloo. Goosen finally slotted a kick, the conversion making it 7-17.

In the 51st minute the Rebels were reduced to 14 men after Scott Fuglistaller was caught by the TMO punching Cook at a scrum.

However, again using their high-paced counter-attacking game the Rebels got their bonus-point try in the 59th minute – a poor kick by Goosen resulting in Hegarty going over for the bonus-point try – the conversion making it 24-7.

Right on the 70-minute mark the Cheetahs – after yet another foul play penalty – they mauled it up and replacement hooker Ryno Barnes had an arm-chair ride into the in-goal are. Goosen’s conversion made it a 10-point game – 14-24.

However, with five minutes left on the clock Angus Roberts slotted a drop-goal and he added a penalty a minute from time.

But the cherry on top was a try by captain Scott Higginbotham after the full-time hooter – making it 35-14 for their biggest Super Rugby win.

Man of the match: Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss did his best to get his team into the game, but very few of his teammates showed the same enthusiasm. Sean McMahon had a great debut and did plenty of hard graft in the tight exchanges. Fullback Jason Woodward had his moments on attack. Rebels scrumhalf Luke Burgess caused the Cheetahs’ defensive all sorts of problems around the edges and provide a snappy services for those outside backs when they needed quick ball. Our award goes to Rebels captain Scott Higginbotham, who got himself involved in everything – kicks, turnovers, holding up mauls and scoring the final try well after the full-time hooter.

The scorers:

For the Rebels:
Tries:
Mitchell, Woodward, Burgess, Hegarty, Higginbotham
Cons: Hegarty 2
Pen: Roberts
DG: Roberts

For the Cheetahs:
Tries:
Cook, Barnes
Cons: Goosen 2

Yellow card: Scott Fuglistaller (Rebels, 51 – foul play, punching)

Rebels 35, Toyota Cheetahs 14

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The Cheetahs may already have two tough games behind them – a defeat and a win – but with the Rebels having had a bye in Round Two, the men from Melbourne are an unknown quantity to the visitors.

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské also admitted that a substantial turnover in player corps, plus a new coach, means they can’t focus too much on the men from Melbourne.

This will be the first opportunity for Tony McGahan and his men to showcase their skills and what they have worked on in pre-season.

“They had a bye last week and they have a new coach,” Drotské told this website in an interview from the team’s base in Melbourne.

“Many players have moved on,” he added – in reference to the departure of Nic Henderson (retired), Ged Robinson (to Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand ), Jarrod Saffy (to Bressane in France), Gareth Delve (to Japan), Nick Phipps (to Waratahs), James O’Connor (to London Irish in England), Richard Kingi (to Stade Français in France), Cooper Vuna (to Japan) and Kurtley Beale (to Waratahs).

Their new recruits are scant – Toby Smith (from the Chiefs), Tom Sexton (from Leinster in Ireland), Colby Fainga’a (from the Brumbies), Tamati Ellison (from the Highlanders) and Tony McGahan (from the Australian national Sevens team).

“Their captain of last year has also moved on,” Drotské told this website, adding: “We have managed to get some video footage of their pre-season game against the Hurricanes and based some of our defence on that.

“However, it is more important that we focus on  our own game we have to ensure our systems are in place and the game plan is executed.

“It is dangerous to focus on the opposition of you don’t have enough video footage of them.”

The Cheetahs, who reached the play-offs for the first time in 2013, will hope to repeat or improve on last year’s impressive form on tour – when they won three in a row in Australasia.

The Rebels have ambitions of their own, least of all to attempt a first-ever win over the Cheetahs. The closest they came was a seven-point loss (26-33) in Melbourne two years ago.

The Cheetahs were surprised by the newly-promoted Lions in their Round One game and the Rebels are planning a similar ambush.

With a new coach, McGahan, and eight new faces in the 23-man squad, the Melbourne outfit will bank on their impressive pre-season form – where they won three from three.

New captain Scott Higginbotham feels his team is in a good space.

“All the boys are champing at the bit to get out there,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve kept anything up our sleeves, but we’ve had two weeks to prepare for this game so we’ve had a bit of stuff to work on.”

Previous results:
2013: Cheetahs won 34-16, Bloemfontein
2012: Cheetahs won 33-26, Melbourne
2011: Cheetahs won 41-21, Bloemfontein

Prediction: This is probably one of the toughest games to call, as there is no form for the Rebels to go on. Pre-season matches are not always a good indicator, as teams try out tactics and combinations, which might have an influence on the scoreline. The Cheetahs will go into the game as slight favourites and we feel they might edge this one, by about five points.

Teams:

Melbourne Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Steve Fualau, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Colby Fainga’a, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Angus Roberts, 23 Tom Kingston.

Cheetahs: 15 Willem le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Johannes Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Coenraad Oosthuizen, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Nicolaas van Dyk, 19 Rynhardt Landman, 20 Jean Cook, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Hennie Daniller.

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Matt O’Brien (Australia), Michael Hogan (Australia)
TMO: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)

Blues 15, Crusaders 17

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Both teams come of disappointing starts to the season – ironically both losing by eight points.

The Blues produced a strong second half, but still lost 21-29 to the Highlanders, who held a 24-0 lead at one stage.

The Crusaders were looking to score a late winner with the score at 10-11, before an intercept shattered their dreams in a 10-18 loss to the Chiefs.

Goal-kicking woes were the other features (or rather big negatives) to come out of those defeats.

And, of coarse, there is also the hype surrounding Rugby League recruit Benji Marshall, who will continue his conversion with second-half cameos off the bench.

Blues coach John Kirwan hopes that returning home will help his team get back on the winning track – given their poor pre-season form also did not inspire much confidence.

Winning is vital for the Blues, given that they head off on a two-match tour of South Africa at the weekend – where they will face the Bulls and Lions, before returning home to tackle the Cheetahs in Auckland.

“It’s important we get on the plane to South Africa with some points,” Kirwan said.

“The Crusaders are going to want to win, we’re going to want to win and I think already it’s a huge match, so I’m looking for a very vocal Blues crowd that can help get us over the line.”

The Crusaders – who host the Stormers, travel to Melbourne to play the Rebels and then tackle the Hurricanes at home – will hope their attacking woes improve this week.

Despite the Crusaders’ inability to crack the Chiefs’ defensive line last week,  assistant coach Tabai Matson suggested they are not too far off the pace.

“When you play the best teams, especially the really good defensive teams, you might get two opportunities,” he said.

“Probably we took one of them, but if we had taken another one we wouldn’t be feeling the way we are feeling,” Matson said of the late match-winning interception.

Recent results:
2013: Crusaders won 23-3, Christchurch
2013:  Blues won 34-15, Auckland
2012: Crusaders won 59-12, Christchurch
2012: Crusaders won 19-18, Auckland
2011: Crusaders won 23-16, Timaru
2011: Blues won 24-22, Auckland

Teams:
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 George Moala, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid (captain)/Brendon O’Connor, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons, 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Tony Woodcock, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Liaki Moli, 20 Brendan O’Connor/Jordan Manihera, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Benji Marshall, 23 Pita Ahki.
Crusaders: 15 Colin Slade, 14 Rob Thompson, 13 Reynold Lee-Lo, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Nafi Tuitavake, 10 Tom Taylor, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Richie McCaw, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Samuel Whitelock, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Tim Perry.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Willi Heinz, 22 Adam Whitelock, 23 Israel Dagg.
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

Two changes for Xerox Lions team

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Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named his 23-man outfit to do battle with the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.

Ackermann has opted for consistency, making just two forced changes to the Lions’ starting XV, that derailed the DHL Stormers 34-10 last weekend.

The changes see Warwick Tecklenburg start in the place of the injured Derick Minnie and JW Jonker come into the side after Alwyn Hollenbach was unable to pass a fitness test on Thursday. As a result of this change, Stefan Watermeyer shifts back to inside centre, with Jonker partnering with him at 13.

Meanwhile, on the wood, Willie Britz will provide loose-forward cover, having recovered from his hip flexor injury. Utility back Courtnall Skosan also comes in on the bench and will look to make his Vodacom Super Rugby debut. 

The match will kick off at 17h05.

15. Chrysander Botha

14. Deon van Rensburg

13. JW Jonker

12. Stefan Watermeyer

11. Ruan Combrinck

10. Marnitz Boshoff

  9. Faf de Klerk

  8. Warren Whiteley (c)

  7. Warwick Tecklenburg

  6. Jaco Kriel

  5. Franco van der Merwe

  4. Franco Mostert

  3. Julian Redelinghuys

  2. Robbie Coetzee

  1. Schalk van der Merwe

 

16. Willie Wepener

17. Jacques van Rooyen

18. Ruan Dreyer

19. MB Lusaseni

20. Willie Britz

21. Ross Cronje

22. Courtnall Skosan

23. Coenie van Wyk    

 

Force team for Brumbies challange

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Lock Hugh McMeniman and flanker Chris Alcock have returned to the starting XV for the Western Force’s clash against the Brumbies at the ‘Force Field’ (nib Stadium) this Saturday night (1 March).

McMeniman’s selection in the starting line-up completes his return from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the second half of 2013. McMeniman will pack down alongside Sam Wykes on Saturday. Alcock, who, along with Alby Mathewson, was one of only two players to play each match for the Force in 2013, will join captain Matt Hodgson and No.8 Ben McCalman in the back row.

The Force will field an identical backline to last weekend, including Nick Cummins on the wing and Kyle Godwin at inside centre, who each crossed for the Force’s two tries against the Waratahs. The changes to the Western Force bench see lock Wilhelm Steenkamp and flanker Angus Cottrell start from the reserves list, while Jayden Hayward returns to the match day squad after scoring 24 points in Force A’s 29-23 win over Reds A in last Friday’s Pacific Rugby Cup opener.

Flyhalf Zack Holmes and reserve scrumhalf Ian Prior will line up against their former club for the first time since joining the Western Force.

Western Force Head Coach Michael Foley says his team is looking forward to playing in front of the ‘Sea of Blue’ for the first time in 2014. “While we were disappointed with aspects of last week’s game, the upside is we have control of how we deliver in those areas in the future,” he said. “Some of our discipline to system let us down, but the boys individually showed great spirit to still be in the fight at the 65th-minute mark.

“We’re looking forward to playing at home in front of our supporters for the first time this season and above all else, our goal is to harness the individual fighting spirit into an 80-minute team performance.” The Western Force will celebrate its opening home match of the season by staging a welcome for its supporters from the Claisebrook Train Station and on arrival at the ‘Force Field’ (nib Stadium).

Saturday’s match will be preceded by a curtain-raiser between Force A and Junior Japan in the IRB Pacific Rugby Cup.

2014 Asteron Life Super Rugby – Week Three

Western Force v Brumbies

The ‘Force Field’ (nib Stadium), Perth

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Kick-off: 7pm

 1. Tetera Faulkner

2. Nathan Charles

3. Kieran Longbottom

4. Sam Wykes

5. Hugh McMeniman

6. Chris Alcock

7. Matt Hodgson (c)

8.  Ben McCalman

9. Alby Mathewson

10. Zack Holmes

11. Nick Cummins

12. Kyle Godwin

13. Junior Rasolea

14. Patrick Dellit

15. Luke Morahan

 

Reserves

16. Heath Tessmann

17. Pek Cowan

18. Ollie Hoskins

19. Wilhelm Steenkamp

20. Angus Cottrell

21. Ian Prior

22. Sias Ebersohn

23. Jayden Hayward

Chiefs team to take on Highlanders

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The Chiefs have announced their team to play the Highlanders at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on Saturday night in their first home game of the 2014 Investec Super Rugby competition.

After an impressive 18-10 victory over the Crusaders last weekend, Chiefs fans are being called upon to fill the Stadium to support the Chiefs in their New Zealand Conference top of the table clash.

The Chiefs coaches have been consistent in their process of giving players a start when depth prevails which will see Pauliasi Manu start at prop and Jamie Mackintosh move to the pine.

Mahonri Schwalger will make his long awaited return to rugby since sitting out the 2013 ITM Cup. Lock Matt Symons and flanker Nick Crosswell come into the starting line-up, joined by Tanerau Latimer with Liam Messam moving into the No 8 spot.  Tawera Kerr-Barlow has recovered from a rolled ankle to start at halfback and the back line remains the same.

After blooding in seven new Chiefs last week, including five Investec Super Rugby debutants, the Chiefs will increase that number with Liam Squire having his chance to make his debut off the bench.  The new additions to the reserves this week are hooker Rhys Marshall, prop Josh Hohneck and Tevita Koloamatangi.

Chiefs Coach Dave Rennie said “I was really impressed with the passion and the physicality that the Highlanders played with last week.  I really felt they out muscled and out enthused the Blues, so it will be another entertaining New Zealand derby match on Saturday night.”

Match entertainment will feature performances from the Chiefs Maori Toa group, The Bank Cheerleaders and the infamous Chiefs pre-match fireworks.  There will be giveaways for fans dressed in Chiefs colours and for the kids there will be a free bouncy castle, face painting and a free kid’s pack for Waikato Times Family Zone ticket holders.   For family friendly enjoyment the Waikato Times Family Zone is an alcohol free area.  At the conclusion of the match all ticket holders are encouraged to move to the Brian Perry Stand to take part in the player autograph signing session.

The Chiefs, Hamilton City Council and Waikato Regional Council will run FREE shuttle buses on game night.   Buses start from 6:30pm from Hood St to the Stadium and back to Hood St after the match and leave approximately every 15 minutes. Buses will travel via Victoria, Ulster and Abbotsford streets to the ground.

Chiefs’ fans can still secure their season memberships before the Highlanders hit town with memberships available from $75.  Match day adult tickets start at $19; children 14 and under start at $9 and kids 4 years and under are FREE on the knee.  Gates to the match sponsored by Splice Construction, open at 6pm.

All ticketing is available online at www.ticketdirect.co.nz or by phoning 0800 4 CHIEFS or in person at Gate 1 Waikato Stadium, game week Monday to Friday 8am-6pm and Saturday game day from 9am.   For more match day, ticketing and stadium information visit www.Chiefs.co.nz.

  1. Pauliasi Manu
  2. Mahonri Schwalger
  3. Ben Tameifuna
  4. Michael Fitzgerald
  5. Matt Symons
  6. Nick Crosswell
  7. Tanerau Latimer
  8. Liam Messam
  9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow
  10. Aaron Cruden ©
  11. Asaeli Tikoirotuma
  12. Charlie Ngatai
  13. Robbie Fruean
  14. Tim Nanai-Williams
  15. Mils Muliaina
  16. Rhys Marshall
  17. Jamie Mackintosh
  18. Josh Hohneck
  19. Tevita Koloamatangi
  20. Liam Squire
  21. Brad Webber
  22. Andrew Horrell

James Lowe

Hooper to captain NSW

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Michael Hooper will now lead the NSW Waratahs for the first time this Saturday after the late withdrawal of Dave Dennis.

Initially expect to by be fit, Dennis has failed to recover from a knee injury sustained in Sunday’s bonus-point win over the Force.

His place in the starting XV will be taken by Stephen Hoiles, with Pat McCutcheon joining the bench.

Invited to train with the squad for the 2014 pre-season, Hoiles was named on the bench for last week’s Force clash and came on for Dennis in the 66th minute.  The eight-year stretch between caps (he last played for NSW on May 19, 2006) is bettered by only two other players (Phil Hardcastle 2/5/1938 to 27/7/1946 and Jack Turnbull 12/6/1939 to 24/5/1947), both of whom had their career interrupted by World War II.

Tickets for the match, which kicks off at 7.40pm at ANZ Stadium, are priced from $20 for adults and are available in advance from www.waratahs.com.au.  Children aged 12 and under can now enjoy free access to all NSW home matches thanks to our new Free Junior Season Pass available now from www.futuretahs.com.au.   

 Updated NSW Waratahs team to play Queensland Reds
ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Saturday March 1, 2014 (7.40pm)

1. Benn Robinson (Eastwood)
2. Tatafu Polota Nau (Parramatta)
3. Paddy Ryan (Sydney University)
4. Jacques Potgieter (unattached)
5. Kane Douglas (Southern Districts)
6. Stephen Hoiles (Randwick)
7. Michael Hooper (Manly, captain)
8. Wycliff Palu (Manly)
9. Nick Phipps (Sydney University)
10. Bernard Foley (Sydney University)
11. Peter Betham (Sydney University)
12. Kurtley Beale (Randwick)
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Northern Suburbs)
14. Alofa Alofa (West Harbour)
15. Israel Folau (Sydney University)

Replacements to be selected from:
16. Tola Latu (Sydney University)
17. Jeremy Tilse (Sydney University)
18. Sekope Kepu (Randwick)
19. Will Skelton (Sydney University)
20. Pat McCutcheon (Sydney University)
21. Brendan McKibbin (Eastern Suburbs)
22. Rob Horne (Southern Districts)
23. Matt Carraro (Randwick)
24. Jonno Lance (Eastern Suburbs)

Issued by Waratahs Rugby

Reds annouce strong team

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St.George Queensland Reds head coach Richard Graham has named an unchanged side to take on the Waratahs in Sydney this weekend.

Graham said he wanted to reward the 23-man squad that secured a 27-17 win over the Brumbies in their opening match of the 2014 Asteron Life Super Rugby season.

“We needed to start the season strongly. We have a number of away games to begin our campaign and, as a group, we understand the significance of beginning with a win,” Graham said.

“That being said, I thought it was important for us to recognise their efforts and give the same 23 another opportunity against the Waratahs.”

“Michael Cheika wants to base a large part of their game play on a physical and abrasive style. However, we expect them to try to challenge us and throw the ball around as well,” Graham said.

With the oldest rivalry in Australian Rugby and the Templeton Cup on the line this weekend, Graham said his players had all the motivation they needed to notch their second win of the season.

“There’s massive history between these two teams and our players love the rivalry,” Graham said.

“We’ve won the Templeton Cup in our last five encounters and that is something that the playing group is hugely proud of. They also understand what it means to Queensland Rugby and the players who have gone before them.”

This weekend’s match sees the potential for Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper to break the existing points-scoring record for a Reds player in Super Rugby.

The record is currently held by Elton Flatley, who scored 629 points in 86 Super Rugby appearances. Cooper currently sits on 620 points scored in 89 Super Rugby appearances.  

This is not to be confused with the overall points-scoring record for Queensland prior to the inception of Super Rugby, which is held by Michael Lynagh on 1,166 points.

The Reds A team has also been named for its clash with Fiji Warriors in the Pacific Rugby Cup this weekend, with eight members of the Reds main squad named in the starting lineup.

The match will feature Ben Lucas in his first game of the season, alongside full squad members Albert Anae, Dave McDuling, Blake Enever, Curtis Browning, Chris Kuridrani, Rod Davies and Jamie-Jerry Taulagi.

The team is rounded out by members of the Reds’ Wider Training Squad (WTS) and Reds Under-20 program.

Graham said the talent within the Reds A team was a positive sign for the program.

“While we’ve selected the same team from last weekend to play the Waratahs, a number of the squad currently playing in the Reds A side are pushing for position in the Reds Match Day squad and also our upcoming tour to Africa,” Graham said.

“That depth and competition is critical to ensuring a high quality training environment which ultimately brings the best out in everyone.”

The Reds face the Waratahs at ANZ Stadium in Sydney this Saturday, 1 March, at 7:40pm (local time).

Reds A face Fiji Warriors this Sunday, 2 March, at Ballymore Stadium in Brisbane at 3:00pm (local time).

The Reds are calling on their Rugby community to show its support in 2014 as they target 50,000 Members this year.

All Reds membership information can be found at www.redsmembership.com.au.

St.George Queensland Reds v Brumbies (Canberra)
1. James Slipper
2. Saia Fainga’a
3. Greg Holmes
4. Rob Simmons
5. James Horwill (C)
6. Eddie Quirk
7. Liam Gill
8. Jake Schatz
9. Will Genia (VC)
10. Quade Cooper
11. Dom Shipperley
12. Mike Harris
13. Ben Tapuai
14. Lachie Turner
15. Aidan Toua

Reserves
16. James Hanson
17. Ben Daley
18. Jono Owen
19. Ed O’Donoghue
20. Beau Robinson
21. Nick Frisby
22. Anthony Fainga’a
23. Chris Feauai-Sautia

Eight debutants for Rebels

1

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RaboDirect Rebels Head Coach Tony McGahan has named rookie Sean McMahon at blindside flanker as one eight new faces in the side for the Club’s first game of the 2014 Asteron Life Super Rugby season, against the Cheetahs at 7:30pm this Friday night at AAMI Park.

Three players will have the opportunity to taste Super Rugby action for the first time, with Sean McMahon, Ben Meehan and Max Lahiff all being named on the reserves bench.

Alongside the debutants, All Black Tamati Ellison will make his first appearance for the Rebels in Super Rugby joining two-time Super Rugby winner and former Chiefs prop Toby Smith, while former Waratah Tom Kingston, former Crusader Steve Fuala and former Brumby Colby Fainga’a are named on the bench, however it is McMahon who was deemed the ‘bolter’ for the new look Rebels line up

McMahon, the youngest ever Australian Rugby Sevens representative, said he felt a cluster of emotions when he first heard the news.

“I was a bit stunned, a bit nervous; there were lots of different emotions, but mainly I was excited,” McMahon said. “My mum and Aunty are coming down from Brisbane, and I’ll have a couple of really good mates there too.

“I’m really happy to be in the run-on side, so I can get straight in and get a feel for it. I just want to contribute to a strong first-up performance, and go from there.”

For scrumhalf Ben Meehan, tasting some of the action would represent the realisation of a childhood dream.

“I’m very, very excited to be named in the 23,” Meehan said. “I’ve always wanted to play professional Rugby, and I just want to do my family proud.

“I’m so pumped to run out at AAMI Park in front of a packed Melbourne Crowd, and I’m sure the atmosphere will be electric.”

Melbourne Rebels team to play Cheetahs, Friday February 28, AAMI Park (7:30pm)

1. Toby Smith **

2. Pat Leafa

3. Laurie Weeks

4. Hugh Pyle

5. Luke Jones

6. Sean McMahon *

7. Scott Fuglistaller

8. Scott Higginbotham (C)

9. Luke Burgess

10. Bryce Hegarty

11. Tom English

12. Mitch Inman

13. Tamati Ellison **

14. Lachlan Mitchell

15. Jason Woodward

16. Steve Fualau **

17. Max Lahiff *

18. Paul Alo-Emile

19. Cadeyrn Neville

20. Colby Fainga’a **

21. Ben Meehan *

22. Angus Roberts

23. Tom Kingston **

S15 gives SA sides unfair advantage

3

Here are the latest blood rising musings of your favourite rugby scribe, an Aussie with a Greek name.

Refs must be tougher on 9’s

2

Lyndon Bray, SANZAR’s Game Manager, wants referees to “get stronger” on committing the scrumhalves to a proper feed and forcing hookers to hook for the ball.

Lions wary of ‘flying too high’

2

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Lions coach Johan Ackermann has cautioned against too high expectations from his team, despite their unbeaten start upon their return to Super Rugby.

A one-point squeaker against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein was followed by a clinical 24-point destruction of the Stormers in front of almost 40,000 spectators at Ellis Park, prompting suggestions that the Lions could be play-off contenders.

However, Ackermann suggested that there could still be plenty of hiccups along the way in a very long season.

“We don’t want to fly too high too soon,” he said in interview with this website ahead of their Round Three trip to Loftus Versfeld for a trans-Jukskei derby with the Bulls.

“Every weekend there will be a new and very different challenge,” he added.

While the Bulls have looked out of sorts and are coming off two consecutive defeats, the Lions mentor said they remain a quality outfit that can knock over any team.

“They are one of the teams that have performed consistently in our [the South African] conference in recent years,” he said.

“They have played in semifinals and finals and won. They also still have a number of Springboks.”

Ackermann pointed out that this will be the Bulls’ first home game of the season and everybody knows how tough it is to go play at Loftus Versfeld.

“It has to be remembered that they played two of the top teams in the competition, the Sharks and Cheetahs, so I won’t read too much into their performances.

“They remain a side that can knock any team over and they bring a very different dynamic.

“There is also the fact that they will have their backs to the wall and they are at, which home makes them even more dangerous.

“We will have to dig deep if we want to get a good result.

“That is why I say, it is so early in the season, we shouldn’t think we have achieved anything.”

The Lions mentor urged his charges to continue putting in the “hard yards”, although he said they also have to stark looking after the players’ bodies.

“We will address a lot of technical issues [this week],” he old this website, adding: “We will look after our scrums, as we where not entirely happy with our scrums [against the Stormers].

“We will also have another look at our attack.

“There were a few opportunities where we had scrums deep inside Stormers territory and our attack wasn’t as effective as we wanted to be.

“You get so few opportunities in Super Rugby, so when you get those kind of [attacking] scrum you must know exactly what you want to do.

“You have to be accurate in your line-outs -there is definitely plenty of work to do.”

By Jan de Koning

Bulls hunt Potgieter, Smith

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The Bulls are keen to lure former captain Dewald Potgieter back to Pretoria and have also shown interest in former Springbok flank Juan Smith.

Potgieter left the Bulls last year to play for Japanese club, Yamaha Jubilo, but according to the Beeld website, the 27-year-old could return to take part in this year’s Super Rugby competition.

The Bulls currently have three loose forwards sidelined.

Pierre Spies (arm) and Arno Botha (knee) have long-term injuries, while Deon Stegmann will see a specialist on Tuesday about a troublesome groin injury which has kept him sidelined for over a month.

The Bulls’ High Performance Manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg, said they are in “advanced talks” with Potgieter’s club regarding a possible move.

Janse van Rensburg said they are also trying to lure former Cheetahs captain Smith to Pretoria.

Smith, 32, has resurrected his career playing for French club Toulon and seems to be in hot pursuit all over the world.

Should the Bulls manage to attain Smith’s services, it’s likely to only be for the Currie Cup season.

Smith’s agent, Stephan Weyers, said his contract with Toulon expires at the end of June.

“Toulon want to keep Juan in France and have already made a new offer. There is also interest out of Japan and a few other teams.

“He is playing top rugby again and has played over 1 000 minutes injury-free, which makes him hot property overseas.”

Blou Bulle klub,skolerugby kry hupstoot

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Vodacom Blue Bulls Logo

 

Die Blou Bulle Rugby Unie en sy Skolevereniging, in samewerking met sportpromotor Willem Strauss en die koffiegroep Enrista, het Woensdag op Loftus Versfeld ‘n innoverende nuwe rugbyreeks bekend gestel wat skole en klubs kombineer en ‘n broodnodige inspuiting in die spel sal bring en nuwe lewe in klubrugby blaas.

 

Die Enrista Toekomstige Blou Bulle kompetisie gaan die agt Carltonligaklubs met skole in hul normale opvangsgebied kombineer en in ‘n nuwe kompetisie laat meeding waarin 46 skole in agt spanne sal speel.

 

Die Future Tuks, Future Polisie, Future Centurion, Future Oostelikes, Future Valke, Future Naka Bulle, Future Harlequins en Future Vikings sal almal o.19 spanne met slegs matriekleerders in die nuwe kompetisie inskryf.

 

Geen speler wat vir enige van die Blou Bulle Skolevereniging se verteenwoordigende spanne (Cravenweek ens.) gekies is, sal vir diè spanne kan speel nie.

 

“Dit sal nie net verseker dat ons die spelerbasis verbreed nie, maar ook aan spelers uit kleiner skole en diegene wat bietjie later ontluik, ‘n verhoog bied om hulle talente uit te stal,” het Strauss gesê.

 

“Spelers soos Marcel Coetzee en Juan Smith is sprekende voorbeelde van sulke spelers en ons hoop dat hierdie kompetisie soortgelyke talent sal oplewer.”

 

Die toernooi word tydens die Junie skolevakansie gespeel en elke span sal drie wedstryde speel. ‘n Soortgelyke reeds vir die Valke-streek vorder goed en Strauss hoop om die toernooie binnekort nasionaal uit te brei.

 

“Ons sien die skole/klubliga as die pad vorentoe om die spel op voetsoolvlak te groei,” glo Strauss.

 

Volgens die uitvoerende hoof van die Blou Bulle Rugbyunie, Dr. Eugene Hare, was dit maklik om die idee te ondersteun.

 

“Elke unie in die land ervaar druk met getalle wat afneem onder klubspelers en hierdie inisiatief kan beslis ‘n klomp nuwe spelers deurbring wat nà skool sal aanhou om rugby te speel. Ewe belangrik is die feit dat skolespelers nou die geleentheid sal kry om kennis te maak met die kultuur van klubrugby.”

 

Spelers sal ook kleure by die klubs verdien.

 

Ferdie Niemand, voorsitter van die Blou Bulle Skolerugbyvereniging, het gesê die kompetisie sal nie net ‘n klomp skolespelers aanwakker om by die klubs aan te sluit nie, maar hopelik ook erkenning gee aan verskuilde talent.

 

“Daar is net soveel seuns wat ons spanne vir die provinsiale toernooie kan haal en hierdie toernooi bied ‘n verdere geleentheid aan ons skolespelers om op ‘n hoëvlak mee te ding.”

 

Enrista se Andre van der Westhuizen het gesê dit was maklik vir hulle om by die projek betrokke te raak.

 

“Ons het aanvanklik die BBRU se skeidsregters geborg en toe verlede jaar die o.18 Cravenweekspan. Ons wou graag ons borgskap uitbrei om meer van ons tradisionele en getroue verbruikers te bevoordeel en te beloon en hierdie is so ‘n geleentheid. Dit is kommerwekkend hoeveel seuns nà skool ophou speel en en ons glo dat hierdie kompetisie hulle sal oorhaal om nà skool steeds by die betrokke klub aan te bly en rugby te speel. Ons is baie opgewonde oor die potensiaal en aard van die kompetisie. Die idee dat skole en klubs kombineer pas by ons visie van betrokkenheid op meer as een vlak.”

 

Vir meer inligting kan Ferdie Niemand by 084 548 1148 geskakel word.

 

 

 

Matfield start for Vodacom Bulls

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Jacques Louis Potgieter will earn a first Vodacom Bulls start at flyhalf since 15 May 2010 when the home side host the Lions in their first home match of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The 29-year old pivot is one of four changes made to the starting side that came up short in Bloemfontein last weekend, with Grant Hattingh (as no 8), Victor Matfield (at no 5) and Frik Kirsten (as starting tighthead) the others to earn a start on the weekend.

Potgieter replaces Louis Fouchè, who drops out of the match 23 altogether, Hattingh moves from lock to the back of the scrum in place of Jacques Engelbrecht and Kirsten swop places with Werner Kruger, with the latter on the bench for this match. Engelbrecht moves to the bench, whilst Matfield takes over from Hattingh at lock. His place on the bench will be taken by Paul Willemse, with Wiaan Liebenberg missing out.

The versatile Potgieter last played for the Vodacom Bulls as a replacement centre in the final of the 2010 showpiece, when the home side beat the DHL Stormers in Soweto for back-to-back Super Rugby titles.

Hattingh, who has played as a flanker for the Bulls and the Lions in Super Rugby before, will start at no 8 for the first time.

Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke believes the change in personnel will invigorate his side, who lacked composure in finishing off chances this far.

“It is still early in the competition, but we have to be honest with ourselves. We cannot afford a repeat of the first two weekends, where we were lethargic and inaccurate in our set plays. The Lions are high on confidence, so we need not only to start well, but play with belief and commitment.”

Ludeke backed his team selections.

“Jacques-Louis has 42 Super Rugby caps under his belt and need to show that for us, while we expect Victor to bring composure and calm to our set piece. I am excited to see Grant at no 8, he is a true footballer and read the play very well.”

Flip van der Merwe, who took over the captaincy from Pierre Spies last week, will again lead the team into battle.

“We are way down on the standards we set for ourselves this season,” Van der Merwe said at the team announcement in Pretoria on Wednesday.

“This will be our first home game of the season and we are pleased about it after two difficult weekends in Durban and Bloemfontein. We are facing a rampant Lions team though who are playing with passion, skill and precision. We need to match them in those areas if we want to record our first win of the tournament.”

The team to face the Lions (with Super Rugby caps) is:  Jurgen Visser (13), Akona Ndungane (98), JJ Engelbrecht (35), Jan Serfontein (14), Bjorn Basson (57), Jacques-Louis Potgieter (42), Francois Hougaard (58), Grant Hattingh (22), Jacques du Plessis (4), Jono Ross (6), Victor Matfield (126), Flip van der Merwe (65, c), Frik Kirsten (33), Callie Visagie (25), Dean Greyling (40). Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi (3), Werner Kruger (94), Marcel van der Merwe (5), Paul Willemse (6), Jacques Engelbrecht (16), Piet van Zyl (34), Handré Pollard (2), Ulrich Beyers (3).

 

Cardiff pain to drive England

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England

England scrumhalf Danny Care believes he is in the best form of his career and feels the “pain and hurt” of last season’s defeat in Cardiff can drive them to the Triple Crown.

The Harlequins man scooted over for his sixth international try in the 13-10 win over Ireland, rounding off a flowing move involving domestic teammates Chris Robshaw and Mike Brown in the 56th minute for what was perhaps the most important score of his 45-Test career.

This capped another intense and punchy game from the 27-year-old, who judiciously manoeuvred his forwards around the pitch and intelligently blended accurate distribution with potent carrying around the fringes.

The resurgent No.9 was third-choice scrum half during last November’s internationals behind Lee Dickson and Ben Youngs, but is now buoyed by the faith in him shown by the England set-up.

“I’m loving every minute at the moment,” said Care, who also delivered the scoring pass for Luther Burrell’s opening try in the victory over Scotland at Murrayfield. “It’s going really well and it’s great to have the coaches trust and have confidence in me. It’s great to repay a bit of the faith they have in me.

“There was a lot of excitement going over for that try. I can’t hide my emotions at times, I was really happy to go over. I think I owe Mike one for sorting me out with the pass but it was just brilliant to score at Twickenham, that’s definitely the favourite try of my career.”

Wales are the next visitors to Twickenham next Sunday, with a first Triple Crown since 2003 dangling as motivation. Not that extra incentive is required for England after the distress of the record 3-30 defeat when chasing the Grand Slam at the Millennium Stadium this time last year.

The Twickenham crowd was in fine voice during the nerve-shredding win over Joe Schmidt’s side at the weekend and Care believes home advantage can make the difference once again.

“There is definitely a feeling that we owe Wales one, last year was heart-breaking,” he said. “We’ll use a bit of that pain and that anger. But if we focus on ourselves and we play our own game we know we can be a match for anyone.

“It would be huge to win the Triple Crown. Obviously Wales played really well against France, they’ve bounced back to some good form. We know England against Wales is such a big game and we’ll hopefully use that Twickenham factor.

“It was an unbelievable feeling to play back at Twickenham. From the first moment we walked through the gates the fans were on our side. They were so loud and drove us through for that victory.”

As England recover and prepare at Pennyhill Park, Care concluded by paying tribute to the dynamic, relentless pack of forwards he is playing behind.

Highlighting the impact of Dave Attwood – nine tackles, nine rucks, three scrums and a turnover in 11 minutes off the bench – in closing out the win, Care said the whole 23-man squad bought into the game plan.

“The pack was outstanding, we knew Ireland would come with some real physical threats over the ball and try and slow it down but I thought we reacted and dealt with it quite well.

“The pack worked so tirelessly the whole game and you saw second rows chasing down wings at the end in the wide channels. I thought Dave Attwood came on and was outstanding. Everyone bought into what we were trying to do for the win.”

Source: Rugby365

Blues name strong team

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Promising young first five-eighths Simon Hickey will make his Super Rugby debut when he starts at 10 for the Blues against the Crusaders at Eden Park on Friday night (kick-off 7.35pm).

 

The New Zealand Under-20 playmaker and Auckland ITM Cup player of the year is in the Blues Wider Training Group but has impressed head coach Sir John Kirwan enough to believe he should be given an opportunity to guide the team.

 

“We think it’s time to give him a chance,” Kirwan said. “if we want to create internal competition then we need to start that now.”

 

“He’s had the same pathway as (Aaron) Cruden and he’s got the calmness of Foxy (Grant Fox) so I think he’s a mature young man who’s ready for the next step.

 

“I’ve got complete faith in him and he’s ready. I told him to just get out there, do what you do and enjoy it.”

 

20-year-old Hickey is joined by a number of youngsters in the starting XV, with Under-20 teammate Patrick Tuipulotu and 18-year-old wing Tevita Li promoted from the bench to start against the Crusaders.

 

However the Blues have been bolstered by plenty of experience as veteran All Black centurions Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock are named on the bench.

 

“It’s fantastic to have our two old heads back and I’m excited for them,” Kirwan said.

 

“They’re acting like 21-year-olds they’re so excited about it so that’s great and it’s what we wanted to achieve. Just having them there for us with that experience, you can’t put a price on that.

 

“It’s a big game for us, both teams are under pressure after first round losses and having that experience off the bench to bring a calmness late in the game is going to be critical.”

 

Sam Prattley replaces Ofa Tu’ungafasi at loosehead prop, while captain Luke Braid who suffered an ankle injury against the Highlanders is bracketed with Brendon O’Connor. A decision on Braid’s fitness will be made later in the week.

 

With Francis Saili ruled out of action with a foot injury, George Moala shifts into centre as Tevita Li makes his run-on debut on the left wing.

 

“With Francis out we’ve put our pre-season midfield combination of Jackson and George back together and George has been playing well in both positions. He’s been one of our best so I’m expecting him to show that form again,” Kirwan said.

 

“We’ve got young Tevita Li on the wing and he’s like Simon, he’s ready and every time he’s come on he’s really impressed us so it’s just about making sure we give those guys a crack.”

 

Benji Marshall continues his role on the bench where he is joined by Pita Ahki who is poised to make his Super Rugby debut after overcoming a foot injury.

 

Kirwan said he was hoping for a vocal Blues crowd at Eden Park to cheer his side on in what already shapes as a crucial match before the team departs for South Africa.

 

“It’s important we get on the plane to Africa with some points. The Crusaders are going to want to win, we’re going to want to win and I think already it’s a huge evening so I’m looking for a very vocal Blues crowd that can help get us over the line.”

 

The Blues team to face the Crusaders at Eden Park on Friday night  (kick-off 7.35pm) is:

 

15. Charles Piutau

 

14. Frank Halai

 

13. George Moala

 

12. Jackson Willison

 

11. Tevita Li

 

10. Simon Hickey

 

9. Piri Weepu

 

8. Peter Saili

 

7. Luke Braid / Brendon O’Connor

 

6. Steven Luatua

 

5. Tom Donnelly

 

4. Patrick Tuipulotu

 

3. Charlie Faumuina

 

2. James Parsons

 

1. Sam Prattley

 

Reserves:

 

16. Keven Mealamu

 

17. Tony Woodcock

 

18. Angus Ta’avao

 

19. Liaki Moli

 

20. Brendon O’Connor / Jordan Manihera

 

21. Bryn Hall

 

22. Benji Marshall

 

23. Pita Ahki

 

 

 

Crusaders team to play the Blues

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Crusaders Head Coach Todd Blackadder has named his team to play the Blues in Auckland this Friday night.  There are four changes to the starting line-up that faced the Chiefs last week. 

Kieran Read returns for his first start of the season to play at number 8 and captain the side.  Richie McCaw and George Whitelock are the starting openside and blindside flankers, and Matt Todd will again provide support from the bench.

Rob Thompson will be the 175th player to make his Crusaders debut when he takes the wing on Friday night.  Nafi Tuitavake will make just his second start on the other wing.

Tom Taylor, who played the second half against the Chiefs last week, starts at first five this week. Colin Slade has recovered from his bruised calf to start at fullback, with Israel Dagg ready to make an impact off the bench.

The team fly to Auckland tomorrow and kick-off at Eden Park is at 7:35pm Friday night.

 Crusaders team to play the Blues:

 

1 Tim Perry     RESERVES    
2 Corey Flynn     16 Ben Funnell    
3 Owen Franks     17 Wyatt Crockett    
4 Samuel Whitelock     18 Nepo Laulala    
5 Dominic Bird     19 Luke Romano    
6 George Whitelock     20 Matt Todd    
7 Richie McCaw     21 Willi Heinz    
8 Kieran Read (c)     22 Adam Whitelock    
9 Andy Ellis     23 Israel Dagg    
10 Tom Taylor          
11 Nafi Tuitavake          
12 Ryan Crotty (vc)            
13 Reynold Lee-Lo            
14 Rob Thompson            
15 Colin Slade            

Jean: ’That’s my 2nd angriest’

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Jean De Villiers

You seldom associate Springbok and Stormers captain Jean de Villiers with unhappy bunny moments, at least not publicly.

For one thing, he tends to be a more even-tempered, glass-half-full fellow by nature, and often preferring a dollop of humour to enliven his media sound-bites.

But he earned headlines after Saturday’s 34-10 Super Rugby drubbing at the hands of the Lions in Johannesburg for his animated immediate post-game interview on television, where he even used the word “disgusting” to sum up the Cape franchise’s woeful night.

Asked by Sport24 at Tuesday’s press briefing, where the Stormers announced just one change to their starting line-up for the Newlands encounter with the Hurricanes on Friday (19:10), whether it was the angriest he has been after any game as a first-class captain, De Villiers quipped: “Was I angry?”

He then elaborated: “No, I don’t think that the angriest I’ve been … but yes, I definitely meant everything I said and I feel the same today still.

“I include myself in that – it’s a team effort and I just don’t think that performance was good enough. Sometimes you have to take responsibility for your actions and that’s what we’ve tried to do regarding that result.

“There was a minor incident in Auckland last year when I represented the national team … I was pretty angry after that one as well.”

For slightly different reasons, De Villiers was referring, of course, to French referee Romain Poite controversially sending off Bismarck du Plessis in the Boks’ tense Castle Rugby Championship encounter with the All Blacks at Eden Park.

“So I won’t say (Ellis Park on Saturday) was my angriest, but it’s certainly top five.”

He then corrected himself, to laughter: “No, make that top two.”

Did he feel the team didn’t arrive at the races mentally against the Lions, or were they simply shell-shocked by the Lions’ early blitz?

“I did feel we got a bit shell-shocked. No, from a mental and physical point of view we had no fears about (preparedness) going into that game. But 20 points down, 20 minutes in … it was game over.”

De Villiers said there was a bright side to events on the Highveld.

“You learn a lot from the individuals at times like this … in professional sport you see how people to respond to difficult situations and it will be great to see if we can get out of this one with a positive result.”

Time will tell, but coach Allister Coetzee appears to have boxed smartly by keeping alterations to a very minimum for the Hurricanes clash, despite the collective shambles a few days back.

“It’s an opportunity for the players to redeem themselves, to put up a performance and make sure we get it right this weekend,” he said.

“It’s an important game for us to get back into the competition … we need a win.”

Bulls in need of a left-field call

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The Bulls are enduring a liberal serving of criticism, which could soon turn into an avalanche if their results don’t improve dramatically.

Many teams suffer back-to-back defeats and come back to finish in the running for the play-offs.

In fact the Crusaders were once the epitome of a slow-starting team. In 1998 they lost three of their first four fixtures, but bounced back to not only finish second on the standings, but also win the competition.

The problem with the Bulls, in their current guise, is they appear to lack the key ingredient to turn things around – a spine that can fire up the team.

And it is in two pivotal positions – flyhalf and scrumhalf – where the Bulls appear to be in need of a shakeup – a left-field call if you wish.

Now, I am not suggesting you throw out the baby with the bath water.

However, as talented as they are, Louis Fouché and Francois Hougaard have struggled this season.

And they have the same problem at the core of their lack of form – major surgery, ankle in the case of Hougaard and knee for Fouché, that saw them spent the entire second half of 2013 on the sidelines.

So, do you replace both till they regain form? Do the Bulls have adequate replacements?

Let’s start at flyhalf and look at Fouché’s clunkers this season.

His goal-kicking and touchfinders have been well below what he has produced in the past. He appears to lack the rhythm and calmness that is required from a Super Rugby flyhalf.

It has to be asked: Has he fully recovered from the knee ligament damage he suffered in the encounter with the Southern Kings in Pretoria in June last year?

The fact is, the one aspect that can make him special is not functioning – he is missing easy kicks at goal and tactical kicks are going directly into touch.

There is no doubt he has potential, given the promise he showed during the 2011 Currie Cup season and the form he showed when he started against the Reds last year.

However, maybe it is time for the Bulls to rethink the situation and bring in some experience. Perhaps Fouché can return to the Vodacom Cup competition and regain his confidence.

The Bulls have in their ranks three quality flyhalves – Fouché, Handré Pollard and Jacques-Louis Potgieter.

If Fouché is in need of some time in a less pressurised competition, then it leaves Pollard and Potgieter.

Is Pollard ready to start? We won’t know unless he gets a chance.

But my call will be to bring in Potgieter, a veteran of several season of Super Rugby – including two stints with the Bulls and a couple of seasons at the Cheetahs.

The 29-year-old has been playing for Dax in France for the last six months and featured for the Blue Bulls Vodacom Cup team in a curtain raiser in a pre-season outing in Polokwane.

Although he has not made any of the Bulls’ matchday squads for the first two rounds of Super Rugby, the situation may just call for his expertise.

His experience of the French ProD2 competition, where he played for Dax till January, will mean he is battle-hardened.

If the Bulls do get brave and go for such a left-field call, it might be wise to not change scrumhalf as well.

My reasoning for that would be that Hougaard – who by his own admission has struggled to come back from last year’s knee surgery – has at least shown some improvement from Week One to Week Two.

The Bulls’ field-position game requires a bit more accuracy from his kicking game, but he was much better against the Cheetahs than the previous week against the Sharks.

Piet van Zyl’s quick-passing and sniping behind rucks do bring some much needed variation.

However, if Hougaard can bring a bit more variation to his game, then perhaps there is no need to change both flyhalf and scrumhalf.

No doubt Van Zyl must be given some opportunities, but perhaps Hougaard should get another run to see if his upwards curve continues.

The Bulls’ pack can lay a solid platform and is adequately equipped to deal with most teams in Super Rugby.

If their halfbacks can begin to dictate terms, then perhaps they will regain the form that made them thee-time champions – in 2007, 2009 and 2010.

But, as stated, it will require some brave selection changes.

By Jan de Koning

FNB Tuks and FNB Pukke pulls Clear

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Just for David here is the full report on all the Varisty Cup Round 4 Matches

UP-Tuks and NWU-Pukke put some daylight between themselves and the chasing pack with good away wins in Round Four of the 2014 Varsity Cup.

Defending champions UP-Tuks continued their unbeaten run this season with a tough 26-16 victory over UCT in extremely windy conditions on the Green Mile in Cape Town, whilst NWU-Pukke were too strong for the NMMU Madibaz who went down 52-16 in Port Elizabeth.
The other two teams to notch wins on Monday night – UFS-Shimlas and Maties – round off the top four thanks to home wins over UJ and Wits, respectively.
UP-Tuks secured what could prove to be a crucial bonus point in the final stages of their win in Cape Town to hold a one-point lead on the standings over FNB NWU-Pukke who scored seven tries in their demolition of the Madibaz.
It was the Ikeys’ second defeat at home this season, to go with away wins against Maties and the Madibaz in the last two weeks, and leaves them in fifth spot on the standings, just ahead of NMMU on points’ difference.
The heavy defeat to NWU-Pukke was NMMU’s second consecutive defeat at home, where they had not previously lost since 2012, and leaves them with plenty of work to do with three away games to play before the semifinals.
In Bloemfontein, the UFS-Shimlas scored five tries in the first half to take the game away from UJ before cruising to a comfortable 52-16 victory which saw them leap up to third place on the log, four points behind NWU-Pukke.
UJ simply had no response for the fluid Free State side, and find themselves down in seventh position with just one win from their four matches this season.
Maties were forced to come from behind to earn a hard-fought 18-15 win against Wits who earned their first log points of the season despite narrowly missing out on their first-ever Varsity Cup win.
Wits were leading heading into the final half-hour, but conceded two tries when down to 14 men as Maties snuck home to move up to fourth place on the standings – Wits nearly stealing a dramatic draw through an unconverted try on full-time.
In the Varsity Shield, meanwhile, Fort Hare flyhalf Oliver Zono scored minutes from time to clinch a dramatic 31-29 victory over defending champions CUT in Bloemfontein.
It was the Ixias’ first defeat in the competition since 2012 and sees Fort Hare go from last place up to third position, four points adrift of the UKZN Impi who beat the TUT Vikings 32-8 in Pietermaritzburg.
In the Varsity Young Guns competition, UFS got their campaign up and running with a resounding 122-0 victory over Wits in Bloemfontein, whilst UJ made it two wins from two games with a 40-29 win against Ikeys in Cape Town.
In Steinhoff Koshuisrugby Championship action, Steinhoff Oppidani from NMMU went down 31-0 at home to a well-drilled Steinhoff Patria outfit from NWU-Pukke and Heimat from UFS got their campaign off to a convincing start with a 55-16 victory over Humanities from Wits in Bloemfontein.
The full list of scorers and teams in Round Four:
UCT 16 UP-TUKS 26
For UCT: 
Tries: Slatem, Jones
Cons: Grant 2
For UP-Tuks:
Tries: J Schoeman, Gelant, Matthews, Van Wyk
Cons: T Schoeman 2
MATIES 18 WITS 15
For Maties:
Tries: Kirsten, De Klerk, Du Preez
Con: Du Preez
For Wits:
Tries: Fraser, Davids, Nel
NMMU 16 NWU-PUKKE 52
For NMMU:
Tries: Bernardt 2
Cons: Hauptfleisch 2
For NWU-Pukke:
Tries: Van der Merwe, Mahuza 2, Marais, Robbertse, Language, Obi
Cons: Engelbrecht 5
DG: Welthagen
UFS-SHIMLAS 52 UJ 16
For UFS-Shimlas: 
Tries: Mohoje, Dolo, Tom, Engelbrecht 2, Kruger, Strydom
Cons: Prinsloo 5
Pen: Prinsloo
For UJ:
Tries: Pretorius, Vorster
Cons: Schmidt 2

Same Cheetahs again for Rebels

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Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske has gone for consistency and selected an unchanged 23-man matchday squad for the Super Rugby clash with the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday.

Drotske has rewarded his squad for their 15-9 victory over the Bulls at home last week and hasn’t felt the need to make any changes.
Springbok prop Trevor Nyakane remains on the bench after the strong early-season showings of Caylib Oosthuizen.
While the Cheetahs will be hoping their exciting back three of Willem le Roux, Raymond Rhule and former Springbok Sevens star Cornal Hendricks, get more of a chance to attack with ball in hand than they did in the pouring rain last week against the Bulls.
Drotske’s men have never lost to the Rebels, having tasted victory in all three encounters between the two sides.
Last year the Cheetahs won 34-16 in Bloemfontein, while in the previous meeting in Melbourne in 2012, it took an injury-time try from Piet van Zyl to eventually secure a 33-26 triumph.
The men from Bloemfontein will be looking to start their four-match Australasian tour on a positive note in Melbourne before they go on to play the Reds, Hurricanes and Blues before returning home for their bye.
Cheetahs: 15 Willem le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Johannes Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Coenraad Oosthuizen, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Nicolaas van Dyk, 19 Rynhardt Landman, 20 Jean Cook, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Hennie Daniller.
Date: Friday, February 28
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kick-off: 19.40 (08.40 GMT; 10.40 SA time)
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Matt O’Brien (Australia), Michael Hogan (Australia)
TMO: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)

Welcome return for Taute

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Stormers Press

Jaco Taute has been named at fullback for the DHL Stormers’ first home game of the 2014 Vodacom Super Rugby season.

The DHL Stormers will host the Hurricanes at DHL Newlands on Friday (kick-off 19h10), with Taute joining the starting line-up at fullback and Gio Aplon shifting across to the wing.

Damian de Allende will move from the wing to partner skipper Jean de Villiers in the Stormers midfield, the latter shifting to the No.13 jersey and Michael van der Spuy dropping out of the matchday squad altogether.

The rest of the team is unchanged from the line-up that went down 10-34 to the Lions last Saturday, as head coach Allister Coetzee looks to maintain consistency in selection.

“I’ve learnt from this competition that you take nothing for granted, it is never easy,” said Coetzee, “you have to take your opportunities.

“The Hurricanes have four All Blacks in the backline, that is where their strength is,” added the Stormers boss on www.iamastormer.com.

“We have to make sure we come up with a good performance. The Hurricanes, over the years, have never been scared to run the ball. That is their strength – as well as creating opportunities, with their ability to off-load – and will make it challenging for our defence.”

* Tickets for Friday can be purchased online at TicketPros, or from selected PostNet and Spar outlets/stores. (See more here on ticketing ahead of the weekend.)

 

The DHL Stormers team for Friday (v the Hurricanes – kick-off 19h10) is as follows:

15. Jaco Taute
14. Kobus van Wyk
13. Jean de Villiers (captain)
12. Damian de Allende
11. Gio Aplon
10. Demetri Catrakilis
9. Louis Schreuder
8. Duane Vermeulen
7. Schalk Burger (vice-captain)
6. Siya Kolisi
5. Manuel Carizza
4. Rynhardt Elstadt
3. Frans Malherbe
2. Scarra Ntubeni
1. Steven Kitshoff

Replacements:
16. Deon Fourie
17. Oliver Kebble
18. Pat Cilliers
19. Michael Rhodes
20. Nizaam Carr
21. Nic Groom
22. Kurt Coleman
23. Ryno Eksteen

Referee: Steve Walsh

Randell: SA doesn’t deserve 6 team

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Former All Black captain Taine Randell is against the idea of South Africa getting six Super Rugby teams.

A scheduled meeting of SANZAR’s Executive Committee took place in Sydney last Thursday where the future of Super Rugby was among the agenda items. SANZAR CEO Greg Peters confirmed that the preferred model likely to be adopted involves six teams from South Africa and a new team from Argentina.

However, Randell believes South Africa lacks the depth to warrant a sixth team in Super Rugby.

In his regular column on the stuff.co.nz website, Randell wrote:

“First of all, the South Africans. Having taken the wooden spoon in 13 of the 18 years Super Rugby has existed, South Africa has no right to another team. “Already their talent depth has proved to be too shallow with five teams. Adding another will only stretch that further. “And let’s not forget that the Springboks continue to rely heavily on selecting players who ply their trade offshore, collecting big money contracts in Britain, France and Japan.

“We will expect the Southern Kings to return to the mix in 2016. They finished last in their one-off season last year only to be replaced by the Lions who have had a long history of struggles. Nothing will change there,” wrote Randell.

Randell does support the idea of getting Argentina involved but says they should have two franchises in an 18-team competition.

“Rather than 17 teams, I believe a Super 18 might be a better way to go and if we are going to hold out a helping hand to Argentina, then perhaps we should have offered them two teams.”

Source: Sport24

Sephaka new Springbok Woman’s coach

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Former Springbok prop Lawrence Sephaka has been appointed the new Springbok Women’s head coach, with Springbok Women’s Sevens coach Renfred Dazel confirmed as assistant coach as the team prepares for the IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup in France in August.

Former Springbok Women’s captain Nomsebenzi Tsotsobe-Calata is the new Team Manager. The South African Rugby Union (SARU) announced these appointments on Monday, after they were approved by the Executive Committee.

Sephaka and his management team will work closely with Jacques Nienaber from the SARU Mobi-Unit, who will oversee the overall implementation of the SARU coaching blue print.

 

“It is a major coup for us to have a former Springbok guide the national women’s team,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux. “Lawrence is an up-and-coming coach and has worked with our elite women in the last few months, so he is familiar with the set-up and the expectations on the team.

“His experience as a former Springbok and his familiarity with the demands and the pressure associated with representing one’s country will certainly add to his coaching input as he prepares the squad for the World Cup.”

Sephaka, who played 24 Tests between 2001 and 2006, was named as a consultant to the Springbok Women’s team before their first training camp in Cape Town last month, while Tsotsobe-Calata and Dazel also assisted at the camp in their respective roles.

The former Springbok will work closely with the Gauteng-based players, in particular, in the months leading up to their next training camp in June and their pre-World Cup European tour, as he is one of five coaches who will run satellite coaching stations across the country with the women.

The objective of these coaching stations is to ensure that the players improve their skills in all areas of the game as well as role-specific preparation to excel in their respective positions.

Roux also welcomed the appointment of Dazel and Tsotsobe-Calata: “Renfred has been working closely with the Elite Sevens squad based in Port Elizabeth, and since those players will be eligible for selection for the 15-a-side Rugby World Cup, it makes sense to ensure continuity in the coaching team. He has also played the sport at the highest level as a former Springbok Sevens player and provincial 15-a-side player, so similarly, to Lawrence he understands the demands on a national team.

“It also gives SARU great satisfaction to appoint Nomsebenzi the team manager. She was the first captain of the Springbok Women’s team in 2004 and, as she played alongside some of the women, she knows what the players need to deliver their best performance on the field. I believe this trio is the ideal management team.”

The Springbok Women’s preliminary World Cup squad have been hard at work since early January to improve their fitness and skills levels, and will continue to work with the SARU Mobi-Unit and satellite coaches in the next few months to prepare for the international showpiece.

The squad will assemble in Pretoria on June 18 for a seven-day training camp, which will be followed by a tour to London and France from June 25 to July 5 for warm-up matches against the Nomads and World Cup pool competitors, France, respectively.

The squad will gather again in Stellenbosch for a pre-World Cup holding camp from July 14 to 27, with the squad set to depart for Paris on July 27 for the international spectacle.

Springbok Women management team:

Head coach: Lawrence Sephaka

Assistant coach: Renfred Dazel

Team manager: Nomsebenzi Tsotsobe-Calata

Team doctor: Jerome Mampane

Physiotherapist: Tanushree Pillay

New #DHLDeliveryRun Competition

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Another great competition on offer to our Ruggaworld followers brought to you by DHL Express Africa and DHL Stormers.
There will be two winners each receiving 4 tickets to the DHL STORMERS against the Hurricanes on Friday night 28th February at DHL Newlands.
The seats on offer are situated on the half way mark, front and centre main pavilion.
All you need to do is answer the following question and also tell us why you should win the tickets as the biggest DHL STORMERS fan. Don’t forget to include your Name and Surname, email address and contact number.

Question: For how long has DHL Express Africa been the DHL Stormers sponsors?
(#DHLDeliveryRun must precede your answer)
Conditions of Entry; you must be able to attend the game on Friday night with the 3 people you nominated to come to the game with you and as a additional bonus you and your friends will have the opportunity to win R1000.00 by taking part in the #DHLDeliveryRun on the pitch.
Do not forget to use the #DHLDeliveryRun otherwise you cannot be a winner!!!!!!
Competition ends Wednesday 26th February at 09:00.

NSW Waratahs Team For Derby Clash Against Queensland Reds

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Waratahs Rugby Media Release
Tuesday February 25, 2014

Potgieter swaps with Skelton for derby clash against Reds

NSW Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has made just one change to the side that earned a bonus-point win over the Force last Sunday.

Former Springbok lock Jacques Potgieter will start in place of Will Skelton, with the 21-year-old dropping back to the bench for Saturday night’s big local derby clash against the Queensland Reds at ANZ Stadium for the coveted Templeton Cup (7.40pm).

“It’s not about form, it’s about the roles they have to play in this particular game,” said Cheika.

“Jacques brings a different set of skills than Will. He has more experience and won’t give a damn that it’s a derby game. He brings a real physicality to the game in both attack and defence.”

Australia’s biggest rugby player Will Skelton will still have an important role to play when he gets his chance.

“Jacques was blowing pretty heavily after his 37 minute stint against the Force,” said the coach. “When Will gets on, he’ll be expected to maintain the level of intensity and do the job he’s been set.”

Prop Paddy Ryan has withstood the challenge from Sekope Kepu and will retain his place alongside Benn Robinson and Tatafu Polota Nau at the coalface in an all-Wallaby front row.

Despite a minor knee injury, captain Dave Dennis will lead the side out. The backline remains untouched with Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale in charge of the midfield.

Rookie winger Alofa Alofa has held his spot after crossing for a try on debut and, along with Wallaby Peter Betham and Israel Folau, has his sights on being part of the best back three in this year’s Asteron Life Super Rugby competition.

The prestigious Templeton Cup is symbolic of Australian Rugby’s oldest and most fierce rivalry between the Queensland Reds and the New South Wales Waratahs. It is named after legendary Queensland coach and administrator Bob Templeton (1932-1999) and was introduced in 2000 as a mark of respect to the service Templeton gave to the game.

Queensland is NSW’s oldest opponent, with the first game between the two states taking place back on 12 August 1882 at the Sydney Cricket Ground (NSW won 26-4).

For this reason, the match will form the centrepiece of NSW’s 140th anniversary celebrations. The pre-match build up will see the announcement of the NSW Waratahs greatest ever game (as selected through a legends and fans poll). Additionally, NSW Alumni will form the guard of honour as the teams take the field.

Tickets for the match are priced from $20 for adults and are available now from www.waratahs.com.au. Children aged 12 and under can now enjoy free access to all NSW home matches thanks to our new Free Junior Season Pass available now from www.futuretahs.com.au.

The match will be televised LIVE on Fox Sports. Alternatively, fans will be able to keep up to date with every score, as it happens, with the NSW Waratahs’ live twitter feed by following @NSWWaratahs on twitter or by searching #WARvRED. Highlights of the game will also be available online on the NSW Waratahs’ YouTube channel, Tah TV.

NSW Waratahs team to play Queensland Reds
ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Saturday March 1, 2014 (7.40pm)

1. Benn Robinson (Eastwood)
2. Tatafu Polota Nau (Parramatta)
3. Paddy Ryan (Sydney University)
4. Jacques Potgieter (unattached)
5. Kane Douglas (Southern Districts)
6. Dave Dennis (captain, Sydney University)
7. Michael Hooper (Manly)
8. Wycliff Palu (Manly)
9. Nick Phipps (Sydney University)
10. Bernard Foley (Sydney University)
11. Peter Betham (Sydney University)
12. Kurtley Beale (Randwick)
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Northern Suburbs)
14. Alofa Alofa (West Harbour)
15. Israel Folau (Sydney University)

Replacements to be selected from:
16. Tola Latu (Sydney University)
17. Jeremy Tilse (Sydney University)
18. Sekope Kepu (Randwick)
19. Will Skelton (Sydney University)
20. Stephen Hoiles (Randwick)
21. Brendan McKibbin (Eastern Suburbs)
22. Rob Horne (Southern Districts)
23. Matt Carraro (Randwick)
24. Pat McCutcheon (Sydney University)
25. Jonno Lance (Eastern Suburbs

FNB Varsity Cup: FNB UCT 16, FNB UP Tuks 26

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Varisty Cup Logo

Defending champions UP-Tuks are the only unbeaten side left in the competition, but they will still have their work cut out for them against a UCT team high on confidence.

Having won their last two games on the road, the Ikeys will be aiming to claim a big scalp in front of their home fans and cement their position in the top four.

As ever the windy conditions on the Green Mile will play a central role, so it could be down to which halfback combination is able to keep their forwards on the front foot.

UP-Tuks have been forced to make a couple of changes to their team, whilst UCT are enjoying some good continuity, so this will not be easy for the visitors.

FNB UCT: 15 Ross Jones-Davies, 14 Richard Stewart, 13 Martin Sauls, 12 Nic Holton, 11 Lihleli Xoli, 10 Dean Grant, 9 Liam Slatem (captain), 8 Guy Alexander, 7 Vince Jobo, 6 Jason Klaasen, 5 James Kilroe, 4 Jan Uys,3 Digby Webb, 2 Neil Rautenbach, 1 Robin Murray.
Replacements: 16 Chad Soloman, 17 Michael Kennedy, 18 Shaun McDonald, 19 Zakeyo Tinetenda, 20 James Alexander, 21 Huw Jones, 22 Suwilanji Chibale, 23 David Maasch.

FNB UP-Tuks: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Jade Stighling, 13 Dries Swanepoel,12 Ryan Nell, 11 Kefentse Mahlo; 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Carlo Engelbrecht, 8 Reniel Hugo (captain), 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Dennis Visser, 4 Irné Herbst, 3 Andrew Beerwinkel, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Arno van Wyk, 17 Brummer Badenhorst, 18 Jono Janse van Rensburg, 19 Leneve Damens, 20 Emile Temperman, 22 Francois Tredoux, 22 Duncan Matthews, 23 Neethling Fouche.

Referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Neville Heilbron

 

 

Read back, but McCaw a concern

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McCawThere was a mixed bag on the selection front for the Crusaders on Monday – Kieran Read set to return, but Richie McCaw likely to be ruled out.

McCaw is in doubt for Friday’s Round Three encounter against the Blues at Eden Park.

The openside flank is nursing a tender calf, after the Crusaders’ 10-18-10 loss to the Chiefs at Christchurch Stadium at the weekend.

According to reports in the New Zealand media Matt Todd is set to take over in the No.7 jersey. Todd has always proved a capable performer at openside whenever McCaw has been unavailable in recent years.

McCaw didn’t participate in the warm-up exercises during training at Rugby Park on Monday and Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said he will be “cautious” about pushing the 33-year-old McCaw back too soon.

Midfielder Ryan Crotty also had his calf strapped and was a spectator at training on Monday.

The good news is the return of Read, who was given an extra week off from playing duty, while flyhalf Colin Slade, who was not considered for the side to face the Chiefs because of a calf complaint, should be available for selection if he proves his fitness.

Slade participated in the warm-up exercises on Monday and looked to be running without discomfort.

Blackadder will be keen to have him back after Tyler Bleyendaal missed five penalties against the Chiefs.

He was replaced by Tom Taylor at half-time.

If Crotty fails to recover, Taylor is likely to start at inside centre.

“There are clouds over a few people who are in contention – Richie is straining a little bit, he has got a little bruise there and Ryan Crotty is not doing a full training today,” Crusaders assistant coach Tabai Matson said.

“We got dinged up, as they [the Chiefs] did, so we are just taking a few days to recover.”

Source: Fairfax NZ News

Spies set for lengthy lay-off

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Pierre-Spies-ballThe Bulls will again be without regular captain Pierre Spies for a large part of the Super Rugby season.

It was confirmed on Monday that the arm injury he suffered is more serious than first suggested.

Spies again suffered a bicep muscle injury to his upper arm, the same injury that sidelined him in June last year – which ruled him out for the remainder of 2013.

According to Bulls team doctor Org Strauss the player complained about pain in his bicep after the pre-season match against Stormers.

A MRI scan and ultrasound of the area was done and did not show any damage, but as the pain did not go away after the opening Super Rugby match against the Sharks, two other opinions were also called for.

These specialists found bleeding and rupture of the bicep after more scans and decided upon immediate action.

Spies will be operated on this week and will be sidelined for at least six months.

Commenting on the loss of the influential player, Bulls coach Frans Ludeke, admitted it is a setback.

“Especially as we recently just lost Arno [Botha] for the rest of the season,” Ludeke said.

“Both players are Springboks, were an important part of our game plan and contributed tremendously in the leadership category.

“However, we have learned by now that you have to adapt when the injury bogey strikes, so we will have to adjust accordingly,” Ludeke added.

* In other injury news, Strauss confirmed that Deon Stegmann will be seeing a specialist on Wednesday regarding his groin injury.

Dean Greyling sprained an ankle against the Cheetahs last Friday, but will train on Wednesday.

Morné Mellett has been declared fit, following his back strain.

Source: Rugby365

No excuses for sluggish Stormers

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Stormers captain Jean de Villiers said that the players should take full responsibility for their heavy defeat to the Lions at Ellis Park.

It was the first game of the season for the Cape side and their campaign could not have got off to a worse start in what their captain described as ‘the worst performance in six or seven years’.

De Villiers was fuming after the match which saw Lions flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff kill off Stormers hopes with his deadly accurate boot.

While he lambasted his side for their lack of commitment, De Villiers credited the Lions for playing clever rugby by playing in the right areas.

“I just don’t think that performance was good enough, first of all to compete in this competition and secondly for what we stand for as a team. It must be the worst performance in six or seven years, the biggest loss we’ve had in about seven years, and it just wasn’t good enough.

“At times like this the players must take responsibility and own up to what we dished up out there today,” he said.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee admitted his side had no answers to Boshoff’s long-range drop goals and the Lions’ inspirational defensive efforts.

“The most important thing for me is not to make excuses, but to give credit to the Lions, the way they play, and I mean 29 points from Marnitz Boshoff, says a lot,” Coetzee said after the match.

“He’s done really well. There is nothing much you can do about a guy that stands 50 metres back and slots the drop goals.”

SAPA

FNB Varsity Cup Round Four

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Just two log points separate the top four teams in the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International ahead of Round Four on Monday.

Defending champions FNB UP-Tuks are the only team yet to lose a game this season, and they lead the way but not by much with the chasing pack breathing down their necks.

They will be up against the fourth-placed FNB UCT – who are coming off two big away wins against FNB Maties and FNB NMMU – in the first televised game (live on Supersport One at 16.45) in Cape Town on Monday.

FNB NWU-Pukke and the NMMU Madibaz both suffered their first defeats last week, but they are not far off the pace, which sets up their clash in Port Elizabeth nicely. 

The loss to UCT last week was the Madibaz’ first defeat at home since 2012, so they will be looking to bounce back quickly against a NWU-Pukke side that went down to Maties in Potchefstroom in Round Three.

The Stellenbosch side will be back on home soil on Monday, with bottom-dwellers FNB Wits set to visit the Danie Craven Stadium as they look for their first log points of the season.

Maties got their campaign up and running with their win against NWU-Pukke last week after a disappointing start to the season, so they will be eyeing a bonus-point win against Wits who are still yet to win a Varsity Cup game. 

Both FNB UJ and FNB UFS-Shimlas will be hoping to break into the top four ahead of their clash in Bloemfontein. UFS-Shimlas are down in seventh place on the log, but just three points adrift of the Ikeys who are in fourth place, which shows just how congested the standings are ahead of Monday’s action.

In the Varsity Shield defending champions FNB CUT will be looking to extend their unbeaten run which stretches back to 2012 when they host FNB Fort Hare in Bloemfontein.

Fort Hare have already shown that they will be no pushovers this season by beating the FNB UKZN Impi in Durban, but they will have to produce a special performance if they are to get the better of the high-flying Ixias.

John Mitchell’s UKZN side are coming off a morale-boosting win over Peter de Villiers’ FNB UWC last week and they face the FNB TUT Vikings in Pietermaritzburg. The Vikings suffered their first defeat against CUT last week, so they will be keen to bounce back and put some more distance between themselves and the Impi on the log.

In the FNB Varsity Young Guns competition the FNB UFS-Young Guns will be out to put their narrow defeat to defending champions UP-Tuks behind them when they host Wits in Bloemfontein whilst in Cape Town the Ikeys will be looking for their first win when they face UJ.

The Steinhoff Koshuisrugby Championship moves into Round Two on Monday, with Steinhoff Oppidani hosting NWU-Pukke outfit Steinhoff Patria in Port Elizabeth and UFS champions Steinhoff Heimat starting their campaign with a clash against Wits’ Steinhoff Humanities in Bloemfontein 

FNB UCT v FNB UP-Tuks

(UCT Rugby Fields, Cape Town – Kick-off: 16.45 live on Supersport One)

 

FNB UFS-Shimlas v FNB UJ

(Shimla Park, Bloemfontein – Kick-off: 19.00)

FNB Maties v FNB Wits

(Danie Craven Stadium, Stellenbosch – Kick-off: 19.00)

 FNB NMMU v FNB NWU-Pukke

(Madibaz Stadium, Port Elizabeth – Kick-off: 19.00 live on Supersport One)

 For more info please visit www.varsitycup.co.za

 

 

Charl McLeod move to France

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2014 Super Rugby: Cell C Sharks v Vodacom Bulls

Top 14 play-off contenders Grenoble signed South African scrum-half Charl McLeod on Sunday on a two year contract from Super Rugby outfit the Sharks.

The 30-year-old, capped once by the Springboks, could be joined by compatriot international wing Gio Aplon, who was South African player of the year in 2010.

“We are simply awaiting him (Aplon) to send back a signed letter confirming his departure (from the Stormers),” the club said.

McLeod, who scored five tries in 52 appearances for the Sharks since he joined them in 2008, is a two-time Currie Cup winner with the Sharks.

Aplon, 31, has been capped 17 times by the Springboks and scored five tries.

McLeod is the latest in a series of high profile signings for next season with Racing-Metro’s highly-rated fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski, his clubmate Julien Brugnaut, Blues Jackson Willison and Dax’s Remy Hugues having committed themselves.

Grenoble are presently in the sixth and final spot for the post regular season play-offs, although they missed a chance to go at least four points clear of seventh-placed Toulouse when they suffered a surprising 22-20 defeat at home to bottom side Biarritz on Saturday.

The good, not so bad and the just plain ugly

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It was a weekend of mixed feelings for South African teams in week 2 of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition. The Cell C Sharks and Lions can definitely get the tag for the “Good” of the lot in South Africa with the Toyota Cheetahs as the not so bad and the Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers the “Just Plain Ugly”. For the long time power houses of South African rugby, The Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers is looking forward to a very, very long season if you look at the way they started 2014.

On Friday evening, the Toyota Cheetahs turned around an 11-match losing streak against the Vodacom Bulls for their first-ever win over the team from Pretoria in this competition. It wasn’t pretty and the conditions were dire, but the side from Central South Africa would not have been too bothered by that as they won 15-9.

Saturday afternoon saw the Cell C Sharks dismantle a spirited Hurricanes side by 27-9 in Durban, after which the Lions were responsible for yet another upset when they trashed the DHL Stormers by 34-10 in Johannesburg – their first win over the Capetonians in 10 attempts.

Lions flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff was his team’s hero with a personal haul of 29 points, meaning he has already reached 50 points this season after he got 21 last week against the Toyota Cheetahs.

His three drop-goals against the DHL Stormers also meant Boshoff joined a special group of only three players who have achieved this feat previously – Morné Steyn scored four for the Vodacom Bulls against the Crusaders in 2009, while Louis Koen (Vodacom Bulls v Cats in 2003) and Andrew Mehrtens (Crusaders v Highlanders in 1998) both slotted three drops each.

Boshoff’s efforts in the last two weekends is one of the fastest season fifties in the history of the game in SA, but it will take some doing to better the record held by Gavin Lawless, who scored 50 points in the opening match for the Sharks against the Highlanders in 1997.

Toyota Cheeths 15, Vodacom Bulls 9 

The Toyota Cheetahs won the kicking contest in atrocious weather for rugby when they recorded their first-ever win over the Vodacom Bulls in eight years of Vodacom Super Rugby.

The score of 15-9 tells a story of a match where no tries were scored and all the points came via the boot. It was the first time the Toyota Cheetahs could not breach the Vodacom Bulls’ line, and vice versa.

The heavy downpour in Bloemfontein obviously didn’t help, but both sides struggled to get their game going in a match which will probably not be remembered for too long.

In the end, the Toyota Cheetahs probably played the conditions better, with fullback Willie le Roux underlining the massive improvement he’s shown in his tactical play by keeping his team in the right areas of the field with a number of superb kicks up field, along with Johan Goosen.

The Toyota Cheetahs were also very good on defence and won a number of turnovers from the three-time champions, who struggled to get going on a night which would’ve been bitter-sweet for Victor Matfield as he became the most-capped Vodacom Super Rugby player in the history of South African rugby with 126 matches.

Scorers:

Toyota Cheetahs – Penalty goals: Johan Goosen (4). Drop goal: Goosen.

Vodacom Bulls – Penalty goals: Louis Fouché, Handré Pollard (2).

Cell C Sharks 27, Hurricanes 9 

The Cell C Sharks cemented their place at the top of the Vodacom Super Rugby standings with a 27-9 win over the Hurricanes at Growthpoint Kings Park on Saturday afternoon.

However, the KwaZulu-Natalians will be disappointed that their great forward ascendancy, especially in the first half, did not lead to more tries. The Cell C Sharks really had their visitors from the New Zealand capital on the back-foot, but simply could not find the tryline.

As it stands, they outscored the Hurricanes by two tries to nil, but one of those was a well-taken intercept from 40 metres out by speedster Lwazi Mvovo.

Bulldozing loose forward Willem Alberts celebrated his 50th appearance for the Cell C Sharks with their first try after a period of sustained pressure on the ‘Canes’ line.

The rest of the Cell C Sharks’ points came from the boot of Pat Lambie, who was spot-on with five of his six kicks at goal.

The Hurricanes, who play the DHL Stormers in Cape Town next weekend, never gave up though, but they were kept in the game by the Cell C Sharks finishing struggles.

Scorers:

Cell C Sharks – Tries: Willem Alberts, Lwazi Mvovo. Conversion: Pat Lambie. Penalty goals: Lambie (5).

Hurricanes – Penalty goals: Beauden Barrett (2), Marty Banks.

Xerox Lions 34. DHL Stormers 10 

For a second successive week the Lions caused an upset as they kept on celebrating their return to Vodacom Super Rugby with a magnificent 34-10 win over the DHL Stormers at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday evening.

Unlike their victory over the Toyota Cheetahs, which came thanks to a last-minute drop-goal, the Lions were the dominant side from the opening play and they kept it up for most of the 80 minutes.

The victory was built on Marnitz Boshoff’s dominant boot and a superb defensive effort, which saw the Lions turning over the scoreboard with regularity and keeping the DHL Stormers scoreless in the second half.

The Lions started very strongly – by the 19th minute Stefan Watermeyer had scored a try and Boshoff had added a conversion, two drop-goals and two penalty goals as the home side scored at a point a minute.

Thereafter the DHL Stormers narrowed the gap, with Scarra Ntubeni scoring his first Vodacom Super Rugby try, but the Lions were not to let this one slip. They stepped up the intensity after the break, especially on defence, with Boshoff and Co effectively kicking for territory and turning any scoring opportunity into points.

This was the first time in seven years the Lions have managed back-to-back Vodacom Super Rugby victories – in 2007 they beat the Reds and Force on consecutive weekends in rounds four and five.

It was also the Lions franchise’s biggest win in any local derby. As the Cats, they beat the Vodacom Bulls by 57-24 in 1999 and the DHL Stormers by 41-7 in 1998.

Scorers:

Lions – Try: Stefan Watermeyer. Conversion: Marnitz Boshoff. Penalty goals: Boshoff (6). Drop goals: Boshoff (3).

DHL Stormers – Try: Scarra Ntubeni. Conversion: Demetri Catrakilis. Penalty goal: Catrakilis.

Other Results:

Crusaders 10 Chiefs 18 (Christchurch)

Highlander 29 Blues 21 (Dunedin)

Brumbies 17 Reds 27 (Canberra)

Waratahs 43 Force 21 (Sydney)

Combined Log

Pos

Team

P

W

D

L

PF

PA

PD

BPts

Pts

1

Cell C Sharks (SA leader)

2

2

0

0

58

25

33

1

9

2

Waratahs (Aus leader)

1

1

0

0

43

21

22

1

5

3

Highlanders (NZ leader)

1

1

0

0

29

21

8

1

5

4

Lions (Wildcard)

2

2

0

0

55

30

25

0

8

5

Toyota Cheetahs (Wildcard)

2

1

0

1

35

30

5

1

5

6

Reds (Wildcard)

1

1

0

0

27

17

10

0

4

7

Chiefs

1

1

0

0

18

10

8

0

4

8

Vodacom Bulls

2

0

0

2

25

46

-21

1

1

9

Blues

1

0

0

1

21

29

-8

0

0

10

Western Force

1

0

0

1

21

43

-22

0

0

11

Brumbies

1

0

0

1

17

27

-10

0

0

12

DHL Stormers

1

0

0

1

10

34

-24

0

0

13

Crusaders

1

0

0

1

10

18

-8

0

0

14

Hurricanes

1

0

0

1

9

27

-18

0

0

15

Melbourne Rebels

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

 

NZ call Expansion, Madness

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Chiefs coach Dave Rennie heads the chorus of disapproval in the wake of the revelation that Super Rugby is set to expand to 17 or 18 teams in 2016.

The expansion was approved at a meeting of SANZAR’s Executive Committee in Sydney last Thursday.

The meeting was described as “another important step in deciding the future of Super Rugby” and the new model involves six teams from South Africa and a new team from Argentina.

However, it was met with strong opposition, rather than approval, from within the three SANZAR countries – South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

The Aussies, in particular, are keen to retain the current three-tier system where they have plenty of local derbies that attract spectators.

In his first comments on the proposal, the Chiefs coach said he was forcefully opposed to the changes, citing fears for player welfare and major concerns the integrity of the competition would be severely compromised.
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Former All Blacks captain Taine Randell, ex-NZRU boss David Moffett and national players’ association boss Rob Nichol also spoke out against SANZAR’s proposal.

Rennie clearly felt blindsided by the announcement, and that his and the views of other Kiwi Super Rugby coaches had been ignored.

”While we’ve been consulted I’m not sure we’re being listened to,” Rennie said in an interview published in the Sydney Morning Herald.

He revealed the Kiwi coaches’ suggestion of a 14-game round-robin competition between the existing 15 teams – a format that would shorten the season by two weeks – appeared to have been shelved.

”The New Zealand coaches wanted a legitimate competition where everyone plays everyone,” Rennie said.

”All the other scenarios include more teams, more travel and more time away from home.

”Their proposal has the same amount of games, but it’s not necessarily in the best interests of player welfare for our players.”

Rennie felt SANZAR’s proposal was compromised by the politics inherent in three-nation coalition.

”Another South African side may generate more money but is it in the best interests of our players and the competition?” he asked.

”I’m not sure how the public will take to their proposed format. Some of the punters would find that hard to follow.”

Rennie was also concerned about the competitiveness of an Argentinian team, feeling it could quickly join the Western Force and Melbourne Rebels as examples of overseas franchises that need propping up by South African and New Zealand players.

”I’m not sure where they’re going to get their players from. Most of them play in Europe,” he said.

”The worry is if there’s not the quality in Argentina, maybe they’ll start grabbing from New Zealand which further thins out the pool here.”

Randell described SANZAR’s plans as ”defying logic”.

He felt South Africa’s Super Rugby record did not justify an additional team and was bemused the Pacific Island nations continued to be snubbed

Moffett said SANZAR had bowed to political pressure and threats of a European walkout from South Africa who seem destined to get a sixth franchise despite their teams finishing last 13 times in 18 years of Super Rugby.

The former boss of the National Rugby League, as well as Welsh and NZ rugby, labelled the expansion to a 17-team competition as ”insanity”.

Moffett said that in promoting ”quantity over quality”, SANZAR risked turning fans off.

”It’s absolute insanity. People will get fed up. The quality of rugby will just go down further,” said Moffett, currently seeking chairmanship of the Wales Rugby Union.

”The extra South African team is purely political. There certainly aren’t enough quality players in South Africa for six professional teams.”

Vodacom Super Rugby: Xerox Lions 34, DHL Stormers 10

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The Lions will be keen to prove that last weekend’s win over the Cheetahs was no fluke when they host the Stormers in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Johan Ackermann’s men, who missed out on last year’s competition after being relegated, made a memorable return when they beat the Cheetahs – thanks to some last minute heroics from fly-half Marnitz Boshoff – in Bloemfontein.

That result shocked many but Ackermann is convinced his side have the ability to build on their superb start by beating the Stormers – a side who haven’t lost in nine previous Super Rugby encounters against the Lions.

“We are used to the pressure and how the referees make the calls, so those small little things will help and the fact that the guys got that first game out of the way – the uncertainty about where you are,” said Ackermann.

“Hopefully the tempo, the heat and the altitude will work for us but it is still an interesting game lying ahead.”

The departures of stalwarts like Andries Bekker, Bryan Habana, Joe Pietersen and Gerhard van den Heever as well as a injuries to Eben Etzebeth and Juan de Jongh mean the Stormers will have some new faces in their side, with four players – including Argentina lock Manuel Carizza – in the matchday 23 set to make their tournament debuts.

Ackermann believes this inexperience presents his side with an opportunity to break their duck against their visitors.

“I think they are a bit unsettled as well, it is always difficult to make changes and some of your frontline players aren’t there but looking at the team there is still quality and they still have a lot of self-belief,” Ackermann said.

“You’ve got the leaders in the side like Jean de Villiers, Duane Vermeulen and all those guys, but it obviously helps if a Eben Etzebeth and a Juan de Jongh are there.”

With a couple of youngsters in right wing Kobus van Wyk and centre Michael van der Spuy – preferred ahead of Damian de Allende, who is on the wing – Stormers skipper Jean de Villiers has extra responsibility.

“I remember the days when I was a newcomer and I enjoyed great encouragement from the senior players,” he said. “It is up to us as the senior players to support the youngsters coming through the ranks.”

The Springbok captain expects a difficult assignment in Johannesburg but unlike last year – when the Stormers lost their first two matches to the Bulls and Sharks – he believes his side can kickstart their campaign in positive fashion.

“Each guy in Saturday’s squad will go on to the field with a lot of confidence, and in the knowledge that they the best in their positions at the Stormers,” said De Villiers. “It’s always tough to play at Ellis Park, and after last week’s win over the Cheetahs, they (the Lions) too will be confident.”

Lions: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Ruan Combrinck, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 MB Lusaseni, 20 Warwick Tecklenburg, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 JW Jonker, 23 Coenie van Wyk.

Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Michael van der Spuy, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Damian de Allende, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements:16 Deon Fourie, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Michael Rhodes, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Ryno Eksteen.

Date: Saturday, February 22
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 19:10 (local, 17:10 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: tbc, Cobus Wessels (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)

Vodacom Super Rugby: Cell C Sharks 27, Hurricanes 9

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The Sharks will be looking to make it two wins from two in Super Rugby when they face an injury-hit Hurricanes side at Kings Park on Saturday.

Victor Vito, Ardie Savea and Brad Shields aren’t involved for the ‘Canes in their opener, which is a major blow before a ball has been kicked.

It’s difficult to stress just how much of a loss this is to the visitors as the trio are some of coach Mark Hammett’s vital attacking weapons. Shields and Vito’s athleticism is often seen in wide channels, where they cause defences trouble, while Savea is New Zealand’s next big thing.

Their absence subsequently hands the Sharks a lift before kick-off but for the neutral it comes as a blow as a scrap between the trio and Ryan Kankowski, Willem Alberts and Marcell Coetzee would have been worth the entrance fee alone. A lot now rests on Faifili Levave and Jack Lam for the Hurricanes while Blade Thomson adds to his one appearance of last year at one of the toughest venues around, versus a side looking in-form.

Last week’s 31-16 win over the Bulls at this very ground saw strong games from several Sharks players, with a noticeable amount of hard work having gone in during the off-season. Frans Steyn looked to have slimmed down, Paul Jordaan seems niggle free while Pat Lambie played smart.

Indeed Steyn got the better of opposite number Jan Serfontein which, for the benefit of the Springboks, is great news for South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer. Having both those two snapping at each others’ heels behind Jean de Villiers can only be seen as a positive approaching 2015.

Willem Alberts was not at his best against the Bulls though so a riposte is expected, with his carrying combined with a powerful home driving maul set to feature heavily. If the Sharks do dominate up front, it would help nullify the threat that is Julian Savea and Cory Jane out wide.

Jane returns to Super Rugby following last season’s injury and lines up alongside one of the stories of the past twelve months, Marty Banks. Banks earned a Hurricanes deal after impressing for Tasman in the ITM Cup, this coming after stints in Russia and New Zealand’s Buller side.

Could it be a similar fairytale-esque start to the season for the Hurricanes? It’s unlikely as this is a Sharks team on a mission that has a week of top flight rugby under its belt. Expect moments of class from Beauden Barrett and company but the home side will have too much grunt.

The teams:

Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (c), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Charl McLeod, 22 Heimar Williams, 23 S’bura Sithole.

Hurricanes: 15 Marty Banks, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Hadleigh Parks, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 Mark Abbott, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Chris Eves, 18 John Schwalger, 19 Mark Reddish, 20 Adam Hill, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Alapati Leiua, 23 James Marshall.

Date: Saturday, February 22
Kick-off: 17:05 local (15:05 GMT)
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: Marius Jonker (South Africa), Stefan Breytenbach (South Africa)
Television match official: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)

Vodacom Super Rugby: Brumbies 17, Reds 27

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Last year’s leading Australian outfits collide at the earliest opportunity in 2014 as the Brumbies tackle the Reds at Canberra Stadium this Saturday.

Two points separated this duo in 2013 as the then Jake White and Ewen McKenzie led sides battled it out for top spot in their conference

Fortunately for the former, their consistent league position – they remained in the leading bracket all season – saw them rewarded with a vital home qualifier against the Cheetahs before they won at the Bulls in a nail biting semi-final, which resulted in a Super Rugby finale away to the Chiefs.

Unfortunately it was not to be for the Brumbies but no one would dispute it was a positive campaign, which few expected from the former champions.

Then came White announcing he was leaving Australia to be closer to his family, ultimately seeing him take the head coach role at the Sharks, which leads to the jury remaining out over whether the Canberra side can better 2013. Stephen Larkham and Laurie Fisher will insist they can as they take the reins.

The duo’s first selection sees Andrew Smith preferred to Tevita Kuridrani alongside Pat McCabe (in for the injured Christian Lealiifano) in midfield while Scott Fardy is shifted back into the second-row, with Ben Mowen moving to blindside and Jarrad Butler given his debut start in the number eight jersey. Former Reds back-row Butler will hope to take his chance on Saturday after Fotu Auelua was ruled out for the opening ten rounds with an injury.

Elsewhere the Brumbies look very strong and should be in the business end once more, battling it out with the ‘Tahs and Reds for top spot in Australia. This opening result though is vital to both’s hopes as the Brumbies know from 2013 just how key their strong start was.

The Reds’ aspirations will of course be resting the Will Genia-Quade Cooper axis, which has looked remarkably slick during pre-season. Further forward there is a player who is progressing nicely under the radar in their back-row. That man is Ed Quirk, who is set for a big year alongside Liam Gill and Jake Schatz. And what better opportunity for both the 22-year-old Australia U20 product and the Reds to throw down a marker than in this derby?

If they can continue to create quick service for Genia, who mixes the creativity demands with number ten Cooper superbly, then they certainly have a chance of a victory that would see them take the initiative in Australia. However, if a certain David Pocock halts such a threat on his return then it’s likely we will see a great deal more of Jesse Mogg, Henry Speight and Joe Tomane than Aidan Toua, Lachie Turner and Dom Shipperley at Canberra Stadium.

The teams:

Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Jarrad Butler, 7 David Pocock, 6 Ben Mowen (c), 5 Scott Fardy, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Ruaridh Murphy, 19 Leon Power, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Conrad Hoffman, 22 Lionel Cronjé, 23 Tevita Kuridrani.

Reds: 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Dom Shipperley, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Ed Quirk, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Jono Owen, 19 Ed O’Donoghue, 20 Beau Robinson, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Anthony Fainga’a, 23 Chris Feauai-Sautia.

Date: Saturday, February 22
Kick-off: 19:40 local (08:40 GMT)
Venue: Canberra Stadium, Canberra
Referee: James Leckie (Australia)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Ian Smith (Australia)
Television match official: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)

Vodacom Super Rugby: Highlanders 29, Blues 21

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With six debutants in their starting XV and an exodus of big names behind them, the Highlanders open up at home to the Blues.

It’s safe to say little is expected of Jamie Joseph’s men. The Dunedin-based franchise finished 14th last season and that was with the likes of Ma’a Nonu, Hosea Gear, Andrew Hore, Tony Woodcock and Colin Slade.

They are now all gone, but the Highlanders can’t do that much worse without them than they did with all those All Blacks in supply last season and yet still propping up the table. Joseph has flipped the ethos from one focused on the big names to a tightly-bound squad, whose confidence and unity has been built up through a tough pre-season.

Siege mentalities have often worked and there’s no reason why it couldn’t for the Highlanders, but for now they just need to learn how to play together.Richard Buckman, Malakai Fekitoa and Patrick Osborne all make their debuts in the backs while Shane Christie, Gareth Evans and Kane Hames are all making their bow in the pack.

Still, the Highlanders have standout players in key positions. Ben Smith would have certainly been last year’s IRB Player of the Year had it not been for Kieran Read. Aaron Smith turned a tough year in Super Rugby on its head with a strong run of form during The Rugby Championship.

The pack isn’t short of strong carriers either, with Nasi Manu, Jarrad Hoeata and Brad Thorn, while Liam Coltman could be the next great All Black hooker. So there is some hope. Sadly, the Highlanders will need more than that. Their defence last season was porous and that will be an area of major concern, conceding 55 tries.

The Blues meanwhile travel to the Forsyth Barr Stadium with a star-studded backline, but no Benji Marshall. The former NRL star has to settle for a bench spot with Chris Noakes running the ship from fly-half, partnered at half-back by Piri Weepu.

It’s not so long ago that the Blues were down the bottom end of the log and weren’t receiving any praise, but a season under John Kirwan has changed the perspective. The gap seemingly has closed between the Blues and New Zealand’s best in the Crusaders and Chiefs.

If the pack can provide the platform, where Tom Donnelly is an astute signing and Steven Luatua enjoyed a breakthrough year with the All Blacks, then the likes of Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, Francis Saili and George Moala will all run riot. Those four make this game worth watching on their own.

Marshall will no doubt get a cameo at some stage, whether at fly-half or full-back, with Kirwan cautious enough not to throw him in too early. It comes down to whether the Highlanders can stop the Blues’ pack laying the foundations. Do that and they have a chance, but otherwise the Blues could run riot and this will get ugly.

Teams:

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Liam Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (c), 7 Shane Christie, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Jarrad Hoeata, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Chris King, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Kane Hames
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Matias Diáz, 18 Craig Millar, 19 Josh Bekhuis, 20 TJ Ioane, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 Phil Burleigh

Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Francis Saili, 11 George Moala, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons, 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi
Replacements: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Brendon O’Connor, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Benji Marshall, 23 Tevita Li

Date: Saturday, February 22
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kickoff: 19:35 (local, 04:35 GMT)
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Mike Lash (New Zealand)
TMO: Chris Watt (New Zealand)

Toyota Cheetahs first win over Vodacom Bulls

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Toyota Cheetahs got their first win over the Vodacom Bulls in Super rugby with a game that never really got to its full potential.

Most of the blame can be placed on the wet conditions but as professional rugby players the effort from both sides was just not up to the standards that we expect from these two teams.

The Vodacom Bulls surely is going to have a tuff season with both number 10’s, Pollard and Fouche struggle to get their team on the front foot. Fouche had one of his worst games I have seen from a fly half and his general play is almost showing that he is not up to standard for this level.

Pollard had a better game on attack and gave at least his backline better ball to run but overall he has still a long way to go in Super Rugby.

I just cannot understand how the Vodacom Bulls can sit with players like Basson, Serfontein and JJ and kick all their ball away. Handling errors was expected with the wet conditions and both teams lost momentum due to the handling errors.

This kicking game too nowhere is the most stupid game plan I have seen for a long time. You can stand on your head and proclaimed that it worked for you in the past as much as you want but the sooner the Bulls realised they do not have the players anymore to execute it the better this young team will be.

On the Cheetahs side, they will take heart in the way they defend for the past two weekends and not letting through any tries. The scrums the Cheetahs also had more ascendancy and had no problem most of the time in the lineouts.

Next week the Toyota Cheetahs will go to Australia and the Vodacom Bulls will have to face the Xerox Lions which look like a difficult prospect.

Atleast the Bulls got a away bonus point.

Scorers:

Cheetahs
Penalties: Johan Goosen x 4
Drop goal: Johan Goosen

Bulls
Penalties: Handre Pollard x 2, Louis Fouche

 

 

 

 

RBS 6 Nations: Wales 27, France 6

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France are strutting cockahoop while Wales wallow. After all France have won both of their Six Nations matches, while Wales were thrashed last time out.

Not that Wales would normally wallow long and France are unlikely to be overconfident.

France beat England who looked better than they did and they beat Italy with a burst of 21 points from three tries early in the second half. Both of those matches were at home whereas this one will be away. Not that the playing surface at Millennium Stadium, closed roof notwithstanding, will be better than the playing surface at Stade de France.

Both sides have beaten Italy – Wales 23-15 in Cardiff and France 30-15 in Paris. France scored three tries to one but battled for most of the second half for a score that possibly flattered them. Wales and Italy each scored two tries in their match. In both matches Italy struggled for want of an adequate goal-kicker.

There is a belief that France always wins in the aftermath of a British & Irish Lions tour.

There was no such tradition before 1997 as between World War II and 1997 it happened only twice. But it has been true since then – in 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010. If the effect of a Lions’ tour has a debilitating effect it should be a lot worse for Wales who had 15 of the 37 tourists and 10 players in the third, deciding Test which the Lions won so comfortably 41-16.

On present form and in keeping with the aftermaths of the last four Lions’ tours, France should stay cockahoop on Friday night.

Wales has to overcome France and also the demoralising effect of Welsh Rugby Union’s decisions which have affected professional players in the country. Of Friday’s 23, seven already play in other countries and others will follow next season.

France has a particularly settled side with only one change from the team that beat Italy. Good flank Wenceslas Lauret comes in to replace South African Bernard le Roux, who drops out altogether. France has made changes to the bench where Brice Mach comes in for injured Benjamin Kayser, big Belgian Vincent Debaty for suspended Rabah Slimani who was sent off against Italy and Rémi Talès, fit again, for François Trinh-Duc.

Injury played a part in some of the Welsh changes. Luke Charteris is back in the side after his hamstring injury, replacing Andrew Coombs, and Scott Williams is out of the side because of injury. As he did against Australia in November, George North moves to centre. giving Wales a huge centre pairing. Luke Williams comes in on the wing in place of North. Not injury related but certainly behaviour related, belligerent Mike Phillips who drops to the bench while Rhys Webb moves off the bench to start. The change may well make for quicker thinking and clearing and less kicking, apart from improved behaviour.

Goal-kicking is always a crucial part of the game . Here Wales have Leigh Halfpenny, one of the very best goal kickers in the world, while Jean-Marc Doussain is also no slouch. Halfpenny probably has the edge but much depends on how the team creates opportunities – in other words in which half they ‘get’ the penalties.

Wales may play a different kind of game and we could well have the sight of two sets of creative back running at each other, two sets of creative loose forwards making life happier for the backs and two competitive tight fives going at it hammer and tongs. Much will depend on the make-up of the Welsh minds. If it gets mind, heart and sinew working in unison, they could well win this match.

What the effect of the weather will be on crowd attendance is doubtful but you would not be keen to drive through filthy weather from Aberystwith and back on a Friday. Still the rugby heart of Wales from Llanelli to Newport and up to Neath is not a long way from Cardiff and it may well be a relief to be warmly housed watching Wales play and singing Land of My and Bread of Heaven with heads thrown back and mouths wide open. They are tough people, the Welsh.

This may well be the last match that great referee Alain Rolland of Ireland will be refereeing before slipping off into retirement. It will be his 69th Test in an illustrious career – a rarity as an international player who became an international referee. He will be 48 in August, nearly six years older than the next oldest of current international referees, Steve Walsh of Australia.

Recent results:
2013: Wales won 16-6 , Paris
2012: Wales won 16-9, Cardiff
2011: France won 9-8, Auckland (World Cup semifinal)
2011: France won 28-9, Paris
2010: France won 26-20, Cardiff
2009: France won 21-16, Paris
2008: Wales won 29-12, Cardiff
2007: France won 34-7, Cardiff
2007: France won 32-21, Paris

Teams

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 George North, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Paul James, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 James Hook.

France: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Hugo Bonneval, 10 Jules Plisson, 9 Jean-Marc Doussain, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Wenceslas Lauret, 6 Yannick Nyanga, 5 Yoann Maestri 4 Pascal Papé (captain), 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Thomas Domingo.
Replacements: 16 Brice Mach, 17 Yannick Forrestier, 18 Vincent Debaty , 19 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 20 Damien Chouly, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Rémi Talès, 23 Gael Fickou.

Date: Friday, February 21
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 20.00 (20.00 GMT; 21.00 French time)
Expected weather: The weather does not affect the match as it’s roof is likely to be closed but it can affect getting to the ground. The forecast if a 40 percent chance of rain on a cold day with a high of 8°C and a low of 6°C
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: John Lacey (Ireland), Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

By Paul Dobson

Vodacom Super Rugby: Toyota Cheetahs 15, Vodacom Bulls 9

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It is Willie the wizard against the brassbound Bulls.

While the Cheetahs are continuing to give Springbok Willie le Roux all the freedom he needs to weave his magic, Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made it clear his team will continue to rely in their rigid approach to get them across the line.

Both teams are desperate to get back in the Super Rugby race, after opening round defeats.

However, the Cheetahs appear to have a more solid base at this early stage of the season.

While their magician, Le Roux, produced a mixed bag in the one-point loss against the Lions last week, Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské saw enough to allow him the same freedom.

“In the past the decision-making and execution of Willie [le Roux] was always spot on,” Drotské said about his star fullback.

“To now, after just one game, tell him he is not allowed to play off-the-cuff would be stupid.”

The Cheetahs coach said execution cost his team, who failed to hold onto the ball long enough well enough to capitalise on the opportunities they created.

The Bulls, who suffered a setback when regular captain Pierre Spies withdrew as a result of an elbow injury, also feel there is nothing wrong with their approach.

Coach Frans Ludeke said their downfall (a 16-31 loss to the Sharks in Durban) was the result of poor execution of the game plan, not the much-talked about kicking.

“We all admitted that it was a poor show [in Durban],” Ludeke said.

“We have already put that behind us and will be in a positive frame of mind as we head into the encounter with the Cheetahs,” Ludeke said.

“We still have complete confidence in each other and the type of game we want to play.

“We know that it [the game plan] can only work if it is executed with enthusiasm.”

Recent results:
2013: Bulls won 30-25, Bloemfontein
2013: Bulls won 26-20, Pretoria
2012: Bulls won 40-24, Pretoria
2012: Bulls won 51-19, Bloemfontein
2011: Bulls won 32-21, Pretoria
2011: Bulls won 25-23, Bloemfontein

Teams:

Cheetahs: 15 Willem le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Johannes Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Coenraad Oosthuizen, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Nicolaas van Dyk, 19 Rynhardt Landman, 20 Jean Cook, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Hennie Daniller.

Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Flip van der Merwe (captain), 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Victor Matfield, 20 Wiaan Liebenberg, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Ulrich Beyers.

Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Francois de Bruin (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

Vodacom Rugby Stats App

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South African rugby fans now have access to one of the most comprehensive rugby stats Apps in the world with the Vodacom Rugby Stats App.  The App is free to download now here: http://www.vodacom.co.za/rugby/GeesCodes/RugbyStatsApp .

Developed in partnership with New Media Publishing, the App will be updated live (every 90 secs) throughout the 2014 Vodacom SupeRugby season with an array of the most in-depth statistics in the game.

From Try Assists to Clean Breaks, Missed Tackles and more, the Vodacom Rugby Stats App will allow fans to keep up to date with the kind of cutting-edge game analysis previously reserved only for the coaching and technical staff of professional teams.

The App is one of the pillars of the 2014 Vodacom SupeRugby marketing campaign, which is aimed at rewarding the die-hard supporter by distinguishing fact from fiction when it comes to discussions about teams and player performance.

The Vodacom Rugby Stats App will take the rugby conversation around a braai to an entirely new level. And the live updates during a match, using data from Opta, will make for the most interactive rugby viewing experience in the world.

“We consulted with fans and investigated what it was that they wanted.  As title sponsor for Vodacom SupeRugby we felt that one of the key areas where we could add value, to both the fans at home and at the stadium, was to reward the die-hard rugby supporters with statistics that previously were only available to team management.  We took this opportunity and are bringing to you world-class innovation in an App that will transform the way supporters consume rugby”, says Mzamo Masito, Managing Executive of Vodacom.

Every community has an unspoken code, a set of rules they live by.  This is what we at Vodacom call the Gees code.  We want to celebrate those gees codes by giving our fans the opportunity to win their seat at the Final. This is the season when rugby gets serious, because let’s face it, the Gees code is not for those who just watch the game, it’s for those who know the game.

By downloading the App and registering supporters are automatically entered into the draw to win the trip of a lifetime. Five lucky fans could be joining us on the popular Vodacom SuperGees Fan Tour at the end of the Vodacom SupeRugby season. By living the No1 Gees Code “Thou shalt know your rugby” fans could win an all-expenses paid trip to the 2014 Vodacom SupeRugby Final, wherever in the world that may be. And if the Final is in South Africa, no expense will be spared on creating the rugby experience of a lifetime.

“Essentially, this is an App for the hard-core rugby fan,” says Andrew “Tank” Lanning, a former Western Province prop and now a well-respected rugby analyst who consulted on the development of this App.

“The App extends the game beyond the 80-minute play period and gives people the kind of information they’ve always wanted to truly analyse the game on social media or over a beer with their mates.”

Stats available on the Vodacom Rugby Stats App:

1.       Minutes played

2.       Points

3.       Tries

4.       Try assists

5.       Penalities

6.       Yellow cards

7.       Red cards

8.       Kick percentage success

9.       Penality goals

10.   Missed penality goals

11.   Drop goals converted

12.   Kicks from hand

13.   Kick metres

14.   Metres run

15.   Tackles

16.   Missed tackles

17.   Clean breaks

18.   Defenders beaten

19.   Carriers

20.   Offloads

21.   Passes

22.   Handling errors

23.   Turnovers won

24.   Turnovers conceded

25.   Lineouts stolen

 

For more information visit www.vodacom.co.za/rugby/

View the SuperGees video here: http://www.vodacom.co.za/rugby/Leagues/Highlights/I/Its_Vodacom_SupeRugby_time

 

The quest for your Remote

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Although it is week 2 of the 2014 Vodacom Super Rugby, we are actually only really kicking of the season this weekend which will make life for some very difficult in the domination of the remote control over the weekend.

We already kicked of the weekend with the first match in New Zeeland with the Chiefs beating the Crusaders 18-10 in a nail bitter.

On the South African side of things we will see all 5 of our teams in action this week and all will start in Bloemfontein when the Toyota Cheetahs host the Vodacom Bulls tonight. The Cell C Sharks will take on the Hurricanes in Durban and ending the South African sides matches of with the Xerox Lions hosting the DHL Stormers.

Their is also the Six Nations that resumes up North after a weeks break with Wales and France clashing tonight. The big match up north this weekend must be Ireland and England who will take each other on at Twickenham. Italy will host Scotland in Rome for an afternoon kick-off on Saturday.

Here is a list off all the games for you to have some good South African “Domestic Inflight”

Cheetahs v Bulls, Bloemfontein – 19:10

These two teams were hugely underwhelming in Round 1 and looked as if their minds hadn’t quite awoken from a summer slumber.  It makes for an interesting clash in Bloemfontein this weekend, as they’ll each have a point to prove following heavy criticism and back-to-back defeats would be disastrous for their prospects. I’m leaning towards the Cheetahs to cut out sloppy mistakes, whereas the Bulls look like they have further to go to improve.

Wales v France, Wales 21:30

Wales on the back foot and France improving with a young team and building towards being the team they want to be in next years World Cup, this makes it one of picks for the weekend. Wales have everything to proof after two losses and need to win to stay somehow in touch to defend their championship. France will play with much more confidence and should pull this one through but Wales are playing at home.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 22

Highlanders v Blues, Dunedin – 08:35

The Highlanders have disappointed for the last couple of seasons, despite boasting a stellar cast of players – this year, they have said goodbye to the likes of Andrew Hore, Jamie Mackintosh, Tony Woodcock, Hosea Gear and Ma’a Nonu and look set for another unremarkable season. The Blues have more quality about them, and I’d expect them to win on the road this weekend.

Brumbies v Reds, Canberra – 10:40

These two sides approach the new season with new coaches – Stephen Larkham takes the helm at the Brumbies after Jake White departed for the Sharks, and Richard Graham takes over from Ewen McKenzie, now the Wallaby coach.  The Brumbies reached the Super Rugby final last year, but it’s difficult to see them being so competitive without White’s tactical nous, and I’d expect the Reds to edge this derby.

Sharks v Hurricanes, Durban – 17:05

The Sharks lived up to the hype with a bonus point victory over the Bulls in Round 1, and will be looking for the same again this weekend.  The travelling Hurricanes tend to blow hot and cold, but there’s unlikely to be enough puff to stop a rampant Sharks side in front of their own fans and with a competitive game already under their belt.

England v Ireland, Twickenham – 17:30

This is defiantly the game of the weekend concerning the Six Nations. England becoming a team that have all the ability to beat any team on the day and Ireland come to the fore front as the surprise package this year. This game is played at Twickenham and will be an upset if Ireland beat England on Saturday. This is a very tough one to call but I give it to England to just sneak pass the men from Ireland.

Lions v Stormers, Johannesburg – 19:10

Only 12% of players on SuperBru backed the Lions to beat the Cheetahs last weekend, but a sterling performance from flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff sealed an unlikely victory.  Can they back it up with a win over the Stormers?  It’s unlikely they’ll enjoy as many chances as the profligate Cheetahs offered them in Round 1 – the Cheetahs could and should have been out of sight in the second half – and the away side will start as favourites.

Castres v Toulouse, France – 21:30

Just to through something extra in for your Saturday, you can end the day with Castres hosting the money spending Toulouse. A few South Africans in action and a good way for you to calm yourself down after which should be an action pack Vodacom Super Rugby Saturday.

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 23

Waratahs v Force, Sydney – 07:05

This Aussie derby is unlikely to shake many people out of a Sunday morning slumber, but if there’s a SuperBru GSP on the line, it might just be worth a watch. The Force have a habit of causing an upset every now and then, and have beaten the Tahs twice before in Sydney, but the home side have a lot more star quality about them, fielding headline players such as Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale, Michael Hooper and Jacques Potgieter.

Enjoy the ” Huis Moles” and the rugby this weekend.

Vodacom Super Rugby:Crusaders 10, Chiefs 18

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Finally the time has come for us punters to be treated to a full weekend of top notch rugby as Round 2 kicks off on Friday. In all honesty these seven matches can barely be more closely matched, which will make for serious prediction headaches.

This is quite the humdinger to preview for the first full weekend of Super Rugby and my mind is changing as much as the weather in England. On the one hand we know that the Crusaders are notorious slow starters, building a head of steam as their domination grows, yet history will show that they’ve only lost one opening game as hosts, a decade ago when the Waratahs pummelled them.

Statistics aside, they’re the better team on paper and convinced with good wins in the warm-up against the Highlanders and Hurricanes. Must be said that I don’t believe either of their opponents will feature much this year, so the value of those games will surely be put to the test now that the pressure is on.

There’s no telling what the absence of Dan Carter and Kieran Read will have on the match, but their replacements aren’t in the same league as their direct opponents.  Richie McCaw will lead the team and a lot is expected of young Johnny McNicholl whose impressive pre-season try tally got him the nod ahead of Zac Guildford who’ll be playing water boy. Through in a handful of debutants in key positions and again my calculating brain does a backflip.

From the Chiefs’ point of view things couldn’t be better, bar of course a couple of niggles that will prevent them from fielding a full strength side. Hard-working Sam Cane will sorely be missed, as will their play-maker at the back, Gareth Anscombe. It is yet to be seen what influence the experienced Mils Muliaina will have now that he’s back from Japan and they could have a card up their sleeves through acquiring the services of Robbie Fruean, who’ll know a thing or two about the Canterbury camp.

I suppose this is just about as close to the All Blacks playing the All Blacks as you’ll get and you can expect nothing less than a fierce battle up front combined with some scintillating running and polished skills.

The time has come to make my bed and sleep in it, however difficult that may be. I’ll put my foot in it and back the Chiefs for this one. I just think that they faced tougher opposition coming into this match and having been shown up by the Reds, they clearly made an effort to get back on track for a resounding victory over the Blues.

TEAMS

Crusaders: Israel Dagg, Johnny McNicholl, Rey Lee-Lo, Ryan Crotty, Nafi Tuitavake, Tyler Bleyendaal, Andy Ellis, Luke Whitelock, Richie McCaw (captain), George Whitelock, Dominic Bird, Sam Whitelock, Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Tim Perry. Reserves: Rob Thompson, Tom Taylor, Willi Heinz, Luke Romano, Nepo Laulala, Wyatt Crockett, Ben Funnell.

Chiefs: Mils Muliaina, Tim Nanai-Williams, Robbie Fruean, Charlie Ngatai, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Aaron Cruden, Augustine Pulu, Kane Thompson, Tevita Koloamatangi, Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Michael Fitzgerald, Ben Tameifuna, Rhys Marshall, Jamie Mackintosh. Reserves: Nathan Harris, Pauliasi Manu, Ben Afeaki, Matt Symons/Liam Squire, Nick Crosswell, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Andrew Horrell/Anton Lienert-Brown, James Lowe.

by Jackie Smit

All hail “King” Carlos

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EP Kings

Carlos Spencer, who joined EP Rugby in December last year, has been appointed as the EP Kings Currie Cup head coach ahead of their foray into the Premier Division.

Speaking at a press conference at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium today, EP Rugby CEO, Charl Crous, confirmed that the former New Zealand flyhalf would be head up the coaching staff for the Currie Cup 2014 season.

Crous said Spencer, who played for the Blues and for New Zealand internationally, was well known for his flamboyant, attacking play and ball handling skills and brought with him a wealth of experience.

“After the confirmation of the Currie Cup inclusion, there has been a lot of speculation about what we were going to do, as EP Rugby, in terms of who the head coach will be and it is great for us to announce that Carlos will be looking after Currie Cup in 2014 and will be stepping up into that position,” he said.

Crous said Spencer would be joined by Michael Horak on defence at the end of the Varsity Cup season, and would also be assisted by Robbi Kempson, who would work with the Forwards. 

Spencer first rose to prominence when he starred alongside Christian Cullen in a Ranfurly Shield challenge in 1991, playing for the Horowhenua team against Auckland. Auckland coach Graham Henry spotted Spencer’s talent and recruited him to play for the Auckland team.

He played for the Blues Super 12 team from the inception of the competition in 1996 until 2005, and also played extensively for the Auckland NPC side. In 2005 he signed to the English club, Northampton Saints.

In 2010 Spencer signed for the Johannesburg-based Golden Lions, to play for the team in the 2010 and 2011 Super Rugby seasons. He subsequently took up a coaching role with the team before moving to the Durban-based Sharks for the 2013 season.

Spencer said this was his first time to hold a head coach position, but was excited at being given the opportunity.

“There are obviously challenges ahead, in terms of the head coach role, but I’m excited about it and looking forward to it and I feel I have the right people here to help me as well,” he said.

Spencer said there was a lot of hard work that needed to be done, but the players were committed and willing to work hard.

With regards to sourcing additional players, Spencer said they were looking at which players were available.

“It’s something we are still working on, obviously we do need certain players in certain areas, but it is something we are keeping close to our chest at the moment. Obviously we are working with the guys we do have, and right now our focus is on the guys we do have, and not the ones that we don’t,” he said.

Spencer described his coaching style as “very ambitious” and said that while he wanted the boys to have fun and enjoy themselves, he focused on hard work and instilling a good work ethic in his players.

“In terms of where we are in terms of our fitness at the moment, we’re way off the pace. The next eight to ten weeks that we have, we’ll sit down and work with players on their fitness, their strength and explosive power,” he said.

Spencer said he was excited to see the wealth of talent that the region was producing, and which had been showcased in the warm up matches that had been played.

Looking forward, he said he was not expecting too much from this year’s Currie Cup.

“This is a big step up for a lot of players. It’s going to take a lot of work and I’m not expecting too much out of this first Currie Cup, I just want to see the team being competitive. If anything happens above that, it’s a bonus.”

“This is not a six month process, it will take time, but we are excited at having the opportunity and we just need to make the most of it,” he said.

Source: Sport24

Ons beste rugbybrein sit eenkant

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Waar is Brendan Venter? Hoekom sit een van die land se heel beste rugbybreine op die kantlyn?

LIONS TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT

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VODACOM SUPER RUGBY ROUND 2: LIONS VS STORMERS:

Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named his 23-man team to front the Stormers at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Ackermann has made just two changes to the Lions’ starting line-up. In the mid-field, Alwyn Hollenbach comes in at inside centre. Stefan Watermeyer shifts to 13, due to the injury sustained by Lionel Mapoe.

On the wood, MB Lusaseni is primed to make his Super Rugby debut as he comes into the side. JW Jonker is also a welcome inclusion and will provide cover as a utility back.

The match will kick off at 19h10.

15. Chrysander Botha

14. Deon van Rensburg

13. Stefan Watermeyer

12. Alwyn Hollenbach

11. Ruan Combrinck

10. Marnitz Boshoff

9. Faf de Klerk

8. Warren Whiteley (c)

7. Derick Minnie

6. Jaco Kriel

5. Franco van der Merwe

4. Franco Mostert

3. Julian Redelinghuys

2. Robbie Coetzee

1. Schalk van der Merwe

16. Willie Wepener
17. Jacques van Rooyen
18. Ruan Dreyer
19. MB Lusaseni
20. Warwick Tecklenburg
21. Ross Cronje
22. JW Jonker
23. Coenie van Wyk

2014 Cell C Community Cup

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Thursday, 20 February 2014

For the latest Cell C Community Cup news, visit www.sarugby.co.za or follow SARU’s official club rugby and Community Cup Twitter account @saclubrugby

• East Rand TV derby to test waters of Thursday night club rugby

• Opening match in Despatch on 8 March also live on SuperSport

• All 12 Easter Championship matches live from George

• New timeslot for second season of magazine show

CLUB rugby will step back into the television spotlight next month when two of the country’s biggest derbies will be broadcast live during the second edition of the Cell C Community Cup, which kicks off on 8 March.

New ground will be broken at Bosman Stadium on Thursday 20 March when last year’s bronze medallists, G5 Metals Brakpan face arch-rivals Kaufela Boksburg in an eagerly-anticipated Pool C match that will be televised on SuperSport 1 & HD (kick-off 18:00). The East Rand derby will represent the first time open-club rugby has occupied a prime-time TV slot on a weeknight.

This follows confirmation that this year’s opening match, between defending champions Gap Management Despatch and their Eastern Province rivals Spring Rose, will be broadcast live from the WJ de Wet Stadium in Despatch on Saturday 8 March (kick-off 14h30).

And the Cell C Community Cup Easter Championship play-offs, to be hosted at Outeniqua Park in George from 17-21 April, will once again be broadcast in its entirety – thereby bringing to 14 the number of live matches in the 2014 edition of SARU’s flagship tournament for non-university clubs. Additionally, a second six-part season of the popular Cell C Community Cup television magazine show, “Working-Class Heroes”, will be broadcast in a new timeslot, starting on Thursday 13 March at 19h00 on SuperSport 1 & HD.

“Club rugby is slowly but surely reclaiming the territory it has lost in recent years and we are very happy in particular to see the growth in TV exposure compared to last year,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux. “Apart from the 14 lives games, SuperSport will be covering each of the 40 pool matches for the magazine show, which means all 20 competing clubs will have a great platform to showcase themselves, both on and off the field.

“The popularity and reach of the Cell C Community Cup is growing rapidly and on that note we will also be making a number of other exciting announcements before the 2014 tournament kicks off in two weeks’ time.”

The Cell C Community Cup begins on 8 March with eight pool matches taking place across the length and breadth of the country.

“No other tournament that SARU runs covers literally as much ground, or has the opportunity to leave its mark on so many geographically and culturally diverse communities,” said Roux. “In the pool stages alone, clubs will be travelling nearly 25,000km, which is an average of over 600km per match. It’s a tough tournament but club rugby players have never lacked an appetite for a challenge.”

The two highest-placed clubs in each of the four Pools will qualify for the Easter Championships.

The Cell C Community Cup 2014 fixtures:

POOL STAGES (all kick-off times 16h00 unless otherwise indicated):

Round 1 – Saturday 8 March:

Match 1 (Pool A) – Gap Management Despatch vs Spring Rose (WJ de Wet Stadium, Despatch, 14h30 – TV)

Match 2 (Pool A) – Mossel Bay Barbarians vs Bridgton (D’Almeida Stadium, Mossel Bay)

Match 3 (Pool – Roodepoort vs Bloemfontein Crusaders (Rand Leases Sports Ground, Roodepoort)

Match 4 (Pool – Jonsson College Rovers vs E-Car Welkom (KP3, Kings Park, Durban, 13h00)

Match 5 (Pool C) – BB Truck Noordelikes vs Kaufela Boksburg (Noordelikes Rugby Club, Polokwane, 16h30)

Match 6 (Pool C) – Roses United vs G5 Metals Brakpan (Pelican Park, Wellington)

Match 7 (Pool D) – Shumba Ferros vs Wesbank (Puma Stadium, Emalahleni/Witbank, 15h30)

Match 8 (Pool D) – Rustenburg Impala vs Sishen (Rustenburg Impala Rugby Club, Rustenburg)

Byes: Kempston Old Selbornians, Eagle Towing Rovers, Centurion, Hamiltons.

Round 2 – Saturday 15 March:

Match 9 (Pool A) – Bridgton vs Gap Management Despatch (Bridgton Sports Grounds, Oudtshoorn)

Match 10 (Pool A) – Spring Rose vs Kempston Old Selbornians (New Brighton Oval, Port Elizabeth, 15h30)

Match 11 (Pool – E-Car Welkom vs Roodepoort (Griffons Rugby Stadium ‘B’ field, Welkom)

Match 12 (Pool – Bloemfontein Crusaders vs Eagle Towing Rovers (Clive Solomon Stadium, Heidedal)

Match 13 (Pool C) – Kaufela Boksburg vs Roses United (Prince George Park, Boksburg)

Match 14 (Pool C) – Centurion vs BB Truck Noordelikes (Centurion Rugby Club, Centurion)

Match 15 (Pool D) – Hamiltons vs Sishen (Stephan Oval, Green Point, Cape Town)

Match 16 (Pool D) – Shumba Ferros vs Rustenburg Impala (Puma Stadium, Emalahleni/Witbank, 15h30)

Byes: Mossel Bay Barbarians, Jonsson College Rovers, G5 Metals Brakpan, Wesbank.

Round 3 – Thursday 20 March:

Match 22 (Pool C) – G5 Metals Brakpan vs Kaufela Boksburg (Bosman Stadium, Brakpan, 18h00 – live on SS1 & HD)

Round 3 – Saturday 22 March:

Match 17 (Pool A) – Kempston Old Selbornians vs Bridgton (Kempston Park, East London)

Match 18 (Pool A) – Gap Management Despatch vs Mossel Bay Barbarians (WJ de Wet Stadium, Despatch)

Match 19 (Pool – Bloemfontein Crusaders vs Jonsson College Rovers (Clive Solomon Stadium, Heidedal)

Match 20 (Pool – Eagle Towing Rovers vs Roodepoort (Rovers Rugby Club, Welkom, 16h30)

Match 21 (Pool C) – Roses United vs Centurion (Pelican Park, Wellington)

Match 23 (Pool D) – Sishen vs Shumba Ferros (Sivos Rugby Stadium, Kathu)

Match 24 (Pool D) – Wesbank vs Hamiltons (Wesbank Sports Grounds, Malmesbury)

Byes: Spring Rose, E-Car Welkom, BB Truck Noordelikes, Rustenburg Impala.

Round 4 – Saturday 29 March:

Match 25 (Pool A) – Mossel Bay Barbarians vs Kempston Old Selbornians (D’Almeida Stadium, Mossel Bay)

Match 26 (Pool A) – Bridgton vs Spring Rose (Bridgton Sports Grounds, Oudtshoorn)

Match 27 (Pool – Eagle Towing Rovers vs E-Car Welkom (Rovers Rugby Club, Welkom, 17h00)

Match 28 (Pool – Roodepoort vs Jonsson College Rovers (Rand Leases Sports Ground, Roodepoort)

Match 29 (Pool C) – G5 Metals Brakpan vs BB Truck Noordelikes (Bosman Stadium, Brakpan, 18h00)

Match 30 (Pool C) – Kaufela Boksburg vs Centurion (Prince George Park, Boksburg)

Match 31 (Pool D) – Wesbank vs Rustenburg Impala (Wesbank Sports Grounds, Malmesbury)

Match 32 (Pool D) – Hamiltons vs Shumba Ferros (Stephan Oval, Green Point, Cape Town)

Byes: Gap Management Despatch, Bloemfontein Crusaders, Roses United, Sishen.

Round 5 – Saturday 5 April:

Match 33 (Pool A) – Spring Rose vs Mossel Bay Barbarians (New Brighton Oval, Port Elizabeth, 15h30)

Match 34 (Pool A) – Kempston Old Selbornians v Gap Management Despatch (Kempston Park, East London)

Match 35 (Pool – Jonsson College Rovers vs Eagle Towing Rovers (KP3, Kings Park, Durban, 15h00)

Match 36 (Pool – E-Car Welkom vs Bloemfontein Crusaders (Griffons Rugby Stadium ‘B’ field, Welkom)

Match 37 (Pool C) – Centurion vs G5 Metals Brakpan (Centurion Rugby Club, Centurion)

Match 38 (Pool C) – BB Truck Noordelikes vs Roses United (Noordelikes Rugby Club, Polokwane, 16h30)

Match 39 (Pool D) – Rustenburg Impala vs Hamiltons (Rustenburg Impala Rugby Club, Rustenburg)

Match 40 (Pool D) – Sishen vs Wesbank (Sivos Rugby Stadium, Kathu)

Byes: Bridgton, Roodepoort, Kaufela Boksburg, Shumba Ferros.

Easter Championship Play-offs – Outeniqua Park, George (all matches live on SuperSport. K/o times tbc):

Day 1 – Thursday 17 April:

Match 41 (Cup QF1) – Winner Pool C vs Runner-up Pool D

Match 42 (Cup QF2) – Winner Pool B vs Runner-up Pool A

Match 43 (Cup QF3) – Winner Pool D vs Runner-up Pool C

Match 44 (Cup QF4) – Winner Pool A vs Runner-up Pool B

Day 2 – Saturday 19 April:

Match 45 (Losers’ match 1) – Loser Match 41 (QF1) vs Loser Match 42 (QF2)

Match 46 (Losers’ match 2) – Loser Match 43 (QF3) vs Loser Match 44 (QF4)

Match 47 (Cup SF1) – Winner Match 41 (QF1) vs Winner Match 42 (QF2)

Match 48 (Cup SF2) – Winner Match 43 (QF3) vs Winner Match 44 (QF4)

Day 3 – Easter Monday, 21 April:

Match 49 (7th/8th Place Play-off) – Loser Match 45 vs Loser Match 46

Match 50 (5h/6th Place Play-off) – Winner Match 45 vs Winner Match 46

Thursday, 20 February 2014

TV derbies to shine spotlight on 2014 Cell C Community Cup

For the latest Cell C Community Cup news, visit www.sarugby.co.za or follow SARU’s official club rugby and Community Cup Twitter account @saclubrugby

PHOTO CAPTION: Gap Management Despatch players lift the iconic Gold Cup after winning the inaugural Cell C Community Cup final at Outeniqua Park in George in 2013. Photo: Roger Sedris/ImageSA.

• East Rand TV derby to test waters of Thursday night club rugby

• Opening match in Despatch on 8 March also live on SuperSport

• All 12 Easter Championship matches live from George

• New timeslot for second season of magazine show

CLUB rugby will step back into the television spotlight next month when two of the country’s biggest derbies will be broadcast live during the second edition of the Cell C Community Cup, which kicks off on 8 March.

New ground will be broken at Bosman Stadium on Thursday 20 March when last year’s bronze medallists, G5 Metals Brakpan face arch-rivals Kaufela Boksburg in an eagerly-anticipated Pool C match that will be televised on SuperSport 1 & HD (kick-off 18:00). The East Rand derby will represent the first time open-club rugby has occupied a prime-time TV slot on a weeknight.

This follows confirmation that this year’s opening match, between defending champions Gap Management Despatch and their Eastern Province rivals Spring Rose, will be broadcast live from the WJ de Wet Stadium in Despatch on Saturday 8 March (kick-off 14h30).

And the Cell C Community Cup Easter Championship play-offs, to be hosted at Outeniqua Park in George from 17-21 April, will once again be broadcast in its entirety – thereby bringing to 14 the number of live matches in the 2014 edition of SARU’s flagship tournament for non-university clubs. Additionally, a second six-part season of the popular Cell C Community Cup television magazine show, “Working-Class Heroes”, will be broadcast in a new timeslot, starting on Thursday 13 March at 19h00 on SuperSport 1 & HD.

“Club rugby is slowly but surely reclaiming the territory it has lost in recent years and we are very happy in particular to see the growth in TV exposure compared to last year,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux. “Apart from the 14 lives games, SuperSport will be covering each of the 40 pool matches for the magazine show, which means all 20 competing clubs will have a great platform to showcase themselves, both on and off the field.

“The popularity and reach of the Cell C Community Cup is growing rapidly and on that note we will also be making a number of other exciting announcements before the 2014 tournament kicks off in two weeks’ time.”

The Cell C Community Cup begins on 8 March with eight pool matches taking place across the length and breadth of the country.

“No other tournament that SARU runs covers literally as much ground, or has the opportunity to leave its mark on so many geographically and culturally diverse communities,” said Roux. “In the pool stages alone, clubs will be travelling nearly 25,000km, which is an average of over 600km per match. It’s a tough tournament but club rugby players have never lacked an appetite for a challenge.”

The two highest-placed clubs in each of the four Pools will qualify for the Easter Championships.

The Cell C Community Cup 2014 fixtures:

POOL STAGES (all kick-off times 16h00 unless otherwise indicated):

Round 1 – Saturday 8 March:

Match 1 (Pool A) – Gap Management Despatch vs Spring Rose (WJ de Wet Stadium, Despatch, 14h30 – TV)

Match 2 (Pool A) – Mossel Bay Barbarians vs Bridgton (D’Almeida Stadium, Mossel Bay)

Match 3 (Pool – Roodepoort vs Bloemfontein Crusaders (Rand Leases Sports Ground, Roodepoort)

Match 4 (Pool – Jonsson College Rovers vs E-Car Welkom (KP3, Kings Park, Durban, 13h00)

Match 5 (Pool C) – BB Truck Noordelikes vs Kaufela Boksburg (Noordelikes Rugby Club, Polokwane, 16h30)

Match 6 (Pool C) – Roses United vs G5 Metals Brakpan (Pelican Park, Wellington)

Match 7 (Pool D) – Shumba Ferros vs Wesbank (Puma Stadium, Emalahleni/Witbank, 15h30)

Match 8 (Pool D) – Rustenburg Impala vs Sishen (Rustenburg Impala Rugby Club, Rustenburg)

Byes: Kempston Old Selbornians, Eagle Towing Rovers, Centurion, Hamiltons.

Round 2 – Saturday 15 March:

Match 9 (Pool A) – Bridgton vs Gap Management Despatch (Bridgton Sports Grounds, Oudtshoorn)

Match 10 (Pool A) – Spring Rose vs Kempston Old Selbornians (New Brighton Oval, Port Elizabeth, 15h30)

Match 11 (Pool – E-Car Welkom vs Roodepoort (Griffons Rugby Stadium ‘B’ field, Welkom)

Match 12 (Pool – Bloemfontein Crusaders vs Eagle Towing Rovers (Clive Solomon Stadium, Heidedal)

Match 13 (Pool C) – Kaufela Boksburg vs Roses United (Prince George Park, Boksburg)

Match 14 (Pool C) – Centurion vs BB Truck Noordelikes (Centurion Rugby Club, Centurion)

Match 15 (Pool D) – Hamiltons vs Sishen (Stephan Oval, Green Point, Cape Town)

Match 16 (Pool D) – Shumba Ferros vs Rustenburg Impala (Puma Stadium, Emalahleni/Witbank, 15h30)

Byes: Mossel Bay Barbarians, Jonsson College Rovers, G5 Metals Brakpan, Wesbank.

Round 3 – Thursday 20 March:

Match 22 (Pool C) – G5 Metals Brakpan vs Kaufela Boksburg (Bosman Stadium, Brakpan, 18h00 – live on SS1 & HD)

Round 3 – Saturday 22 March:

Match 17 (Pool A) – Kempston Old Selbornians vs Bridgton (Kempston Park, East London)

Match 18 (Pool A) – Gap Management Despatch vs Mossel Bay Barbarians (WJ de Wet Stadium, Despatch)

Match 19 (Pool – Bloemfontein Crusaders vs Jonsson College Rovers (Clive Solomon Stadium, Heidedal)

Match 20 (Pool – Eagle Towing Rovers vs Roodepoort (Rovers Rugby Club, Welkom, 16h30)

Match 21 (Pool C) – Roses United vs Centurion (Pelican Park, Wellington)

Match 23 (Pool D) – Sishen vs Shumba Ferros (Sivos Rugby Stadium, Kathu)

Match 24 (Pool D) – Wesbank vs Hamiltons (Wesbank Sports Grounds, Malmesbury)

Byes: Spring Rose, E-Car Welkom, BB Truck Noordelikes, Rustenburg Impala.

Round 4 – Saturday 29 March:

Match 25 (Pool A) – Mossel Bay Barbarians vs Kempston Old Selbornians (D’Almeida Stadium, Mossel Bay)

Match 26 (Pool A) – Bridgton vs Spring Rose (Bridgton Sports Grounds, Oudtshoorn)

Match 27 (Pool – Eagle Towing Rovers vs E-Car Welkom (Rovers Rugby Club, Welkom, 17h00)

Match 28 (Pool – Roodepoort vs Jonsson College Rovers (Rand Leases Sports Ground, Roodepoort)

Match 29 (Pool C) – G5 Metals Brakpan vs BB Truck Noordelikes (Bosman Stadium, Brakpan, 18h00)

Match 30 (Pool C) – Kaufela Boksburg vs Centurion (Prince George Park, Boksburg)

Match 31 (Pool D) – Wesbank vs Rustenburg Impala (Wesbank Sports Grounds, Malmesbury)

Match 32 (Pool D) – Hamiltons vs Shumba Ferros (Stephan Oval, Green Point, Cape Town)

Byes: Gap Management Despatch, Bloemfontein Crusaders, Roses United, Sishen.

Round 5 – Saturday 5 April:

Match 33 (Pool A) – Spring Rose vs Mossel Bay Barbarians (New Brighton Oval, Port Elizabeth, 15h30)

Match 34 (Pool A) – Kempston Old Selbornians v Gap Management Despatch (Kempston Park, East London)

Match 35 (Pool – Jonsson College Rovers vs Eagle Towing Rovers (KP3, Kings Park, Durban, 15h00)

Match 36 (Pool – E-Car Welkom vs Bloemfontein Crusaders (Griffons Rugby Stadium ‘B’ field, Welkom)

Match 37 (Pool C) – Centurion vs G5 Metals Brakpan (Centurion Rugby Club, Centurion)

Match 38 (Pool C) – BB Truck Noordelikes vs Roses United (Noordelikes Rugby Club, Polokwane, 16h30)

Match 39 (Pool D) – Rustenburg Impala vs Hamiltons (Rustenburg Impala Rugby Club, Rustenburg)

Match 40 (Pool D) – Sishen vs Wesbank (Sivos Rugby Stadium, Kathu)

Byes: Bridgton, Roodepoort, Kaufela Boksburg, Shumba Ferros.

Easter Championship Play-offs – Outeniqua Park, George (all matches live on SuperSport. K/o times tbc):

Day 1 – Thursday 17 April:

Match 41 (Cup QF1) – Winner Pool C vs Runner-up Pool D

Match 42 (Cup QF2) – Winner Pool B vs Runner-up Pool A

Match 43 (Cup QF3) – Winner Pool D vs Runner-up Pool C

Match 44 (Cup QF4) – Winner Pool A vs Runner-up Pool B

Day 2 – Saturday 19 April:

Match 45 (Losers’ match 1) – Loser Match 41 (QF1) vs Loser Match 42 (QF2)

Match 46 (Losers’ match 2) – Loser Match 43 (QF3) vs Loser Match 44 (QF4)

Match 47 (Cup SF1) – Winner Match 41 (QF1) vs Winner Match 42 (QF2)

Match 48 (Cup SF2) – Winner Match 43 (QF3) vs Winner Match 44 (QF4)

Day 3 – Easter Monday, 21 April:

Match 49 (7th/8th Place Play-off) – Loser Match 45 vs Loser Match 46

Match 50 (5h/6th Place Play-off) – Winner Match 45 vs Winner Match 46

Match 51 (3rd/4th Place Play-off) – Loser Match 47 (SF1) vs Loser Match 48 (SF2)

Match 52 (Cup Final) – Winner Match 47 (SF1) vs Winner Match 48 (SF2)

Issued by SARU Corporate Affairs