Home 2014 March

Monthly Archives: March 2014

Ixias get their Varsity Cup reward


Varisty Cup Logo

FNB CUT Ixias will play in the 2015 FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International after they won 35-26 against the FNB UKZN Impi in the Varsity Shield Final in Bloemfontein on Monday.

 The Men from Bloemfontein celebrate becoming champions for the second consecutive year and the third time in total, but it is the first time that they have managed to gain promotion up to the Varsity Cup. Meanwhile, it will be back to the training field for the Impi, as they have a promotion/relegation game against FNB UJ in Potchefstroom next week. The Impi had a strong wind at their back in the first half but it was the Ixias who got the early territory with clever kicking from scrumhalf Stephan Grisel.

It was an nervy start from both sides in such an important game and it showed, which unforced errors littering the early exchanges. The men from KwaZulu-Natal were guilty of more mistakes and the Ixias were agressive at the breakdowns and the turnovers began to hurt the Impi. A lost lineout in the ninth minute lead to the first try of the game as quick ball was sent to the backs where the centres combined well. Johan van Schalkwyk popped a great ball to Duan Pretorius who had wrapped around at pace and found fullback Charles Hitchcock who timed his pass brilliantly to send right wing Alec Mhlanga over in the right hand corner.

Just four minutes later the Ixias were in to score again. They won a turnover in their own half and Hitchcock broke away down the left but was caught by the cover defence. The Bloemfontein-based side won a scrum just inside the Impi 22 metre area and another silky backline play saw the ball shifted quickly from flyhalf Noel Marx to Pretorius who cantered over to score and then added the conversion.

The visitors tried to strike back, just before the first half strategy break, by setting up a lineout just five metres from the CUT line but their attempts to maul the ball over the line came to nothing and once again the hosts managed to make a turnover at the breakdown and clear their lines. The UKZN scrum was working well though and they won two further scrum penalties as they dominated the setpiece.

The visitors started to put the very strong wind at their backs to good use as flyhalf Duncan Campbell unleashed a massive touchfinder from inside his own half. The Impi set up the five metre lineout in the 33rd minute and after the maul didn’t work out, they sent it wide and Campbell stepped through the defence to score near to the posts before chipping over the extra three points to leave his side trailing by just 8-13 at half-time.

CUT were almost made to rue an early second half error as they knocked on from the kick off and Zwela Zondi went over to score after a break from scrumhalf Cameron Wright, but on review the TMO determined that Deon Carney had obstructed Mhlanga to create the gap for Wright to go through and the Ixias got the penalty and a reprieve. Great work from Pretorius soon extended the Ixias’ lead as they won a penalty by forcing Brandon Bailing to hold on and then nailed the kick to give the hosts a 15-8 lead after 47 minutes.

The Impi scrum continued to work wonders for them, just two minutes later, as they forced a penalty on CUT’s feed and set up a five metre lineout. This time their maul was successful and they rumbled over the line for hooker Dean Muir to dot down. Campbell added the tricky sideline conversion to put UKZN into the lead for the first time. Pretorius put his side back into the lead with another good strike from the tee from over 30 metres to make it 17-16 to CUT after 60 minutes.

The advantage didn’t last long as CUT No.8 Dean Kouprianoff hit Wright late after a kick and it gave Campbell a chance to put the Impi back in front from a penalty kick on the 22, which he duly did to edge the Impi ahead 18-17. A moment of magic from Griesel followed as he broke away from a CUT scrum just inside the Impi 22 and stepped past the covering tackle of Hendrik Lategan to charge over to score a vital try. Pretorius added the conversion to give the Ixias a 25-18 lead with 15 minutes to play.

The Impi hit back with sustained pressure and eventually it told as Deon Carney barged over from close range and Campbell was on hand to put UKZN ahead once more – 26-25 with 10 minutes left. Pretorius was not done and the CUT inside centre broke away from his own half and beat a few defenders before Hitchcock went on a mazy run, skipping past more Impi players and offloading to Fanie Coetzer to go over for the try to make it 33-26 to the Ixias with eight minutes to go.

CUT flyhalf Noel Marx added a long-range drop-goal from close to 40 metres out after 74 minutes to put the seal the game for the home side as they saw out the game to secure progression to the Varsity Cup for the first time

The scorers:

For FNB CUT Ixias:

Tries: Mhlanga, Pretorius, Griesel, Coetzer

Cons: Pretorius 3

Pens: Pretorius 2

DG: Marx

For FNB UKZN Impi:

Tries:Campbell, Muir, Carney

Cons:Campbell 3

Pen: Campbel

Stormers are no quick fix


Gert Smal’s appointment as director of rugby may not be enough to lift the Stormers out of the waters of mediocrity, writes JON CARDINELLI.

Remember when Brendan Venter first arrived at Saracens? Senior players spat out their dummies. The toys flew out of the cot. Venter proposed radical changes to the structures and personnel, and some of the players weren’t ready to accept this.

These players told anybody who would listen that Venter was bad for the English club. And some of the media even took pity on the players, some of whom were prominent internationals. Few could understand that Venter was initiating a change that the club desperately needed.

We know how that story panned out. Saracens went on to win the Premiership title in 2011, and became regular challengers for the European Cup. Thanks to Venter and the changes he implemented, Saracens was able to build not only a squad, but a culture that would be the envy of teams the world over.

I interviewed John Smit in St Albans in August 2012, when he was still playing for the club. Smit told me that the Saracens blueprint should be implemented at some level in South African rugby. Less than a year later, Smit was the Sharks’ new CEO, Venter was the Sharks’ director of rugby, and the Sharks were following Saracens’ lead.

These changes took some time to be accepted. The decision to axe John Plumtree and his assistants was not a popular one in Durban, not among the Sharks senior players, and not among the local media. It was, however, necessary for the Sharks’ growth.

Anybody who would doubt this assertion need only reflect on the Sharks’ successful 2013 Currie Cup campaign, and the more recent showings in the 2014 Vodacom Super Rugby competition.

What does this have to do with the Stormers? Changes are set to be made to the coaching structures. There is still a denial by Allister Coetzee and his assistants that anything is fundamentally wrong, and the players also seem to believe that they would be on course for a Super Rugby title if not for a lengthy list of injuries. This is, of course, a fantasy, and it’s best that the bubble is burst sooner rather than later.

Gert Smal is set to be named the new director of rugby. Coetzee has been doubling as the director of rugby and head coach since Rassie Erasmus resigned in January 2012. It’s hoped that Smal’s appointment will free up Coetzee to focus on the coaching and management of the team.

Are these changes sufficient? Is this the radical change the Stormers need at this point? I don’t think so. In fact, the Stormers bosses look to have swapped one recipe for mediocrity for another.

Few would have expected the Stormers to win the Super Rugby title in 2014. They’ve shown in 2011, 2012, and 2013 that they have the ability to qualify for the play-offs, but not to win the title.

That is on the coaches as much as the players. They haven’t improved since qualifying for the 2010 Super 14 final, a match in which they were taught a lesson in finals rugby by the Bulls.

Unfortunately, it’s taken a string of poor results in 2014 for the suits to realise that a shake-up is required. And yet there is talk that the changes to the coaching structures won’t be as dramatic as what was witnessed at the Sharks in 2013.

The administration is part of the problem at the Stormers. Erasmus never enjoyed a good relationship with the suits, and famously said that he spent more time fighting the politics in Western Cape rugby than coaching the Stormers. And if somebody as strong as Erasmus couldn’t endure the infighting and incompetence, what hope does Smal have?

Venter certainly has no appetite for it, as least not in a director of rugby role. It’s a shame, as Venter was probably the one man who could effect the changes the Stormers desperately need, at least from a rugby point of view.

Many will hope that I am wrong, that Smal will surprise us all and turn the Stormers around. Many will hope that his history with the franchise (he was at the helm when the Stormers suffered some of their heaviest defeats in 2005) won’t count against him. He’s been involved with the Springboks and Ireland as an assistant coach, and has done well with those teams, but he hasn’t been a head coach for nearly a decade. Many will hope that isn’t a bad sign.

It’s a lot to hope for, and therein is the problem. There is no reason to feel optimistic.

It may have been different if other changes were made, if a crack team of coaches and perhaps a revolutionary new CEO were brought into the mix along with Smal. Then we could talk about real change and possibly a new era for Stormers rugby. Smal coming through on his own? It won’t be enough.

The structures and the personnel require an overhaul similar to what was witnessed at Saracens in 2009 and the Sharks in 2013. Until that happens, the Stormers will always be also-rans.

Source: SA RUGBY Magazine

Gert Smal excited to be back home


Gert Smal 16/4/2004DHL Newlands has been his home before, but the internationally renowned and experienced Gert Smal is relishing the opportunity to once again call Cape Town his rugby home.

Smal was on Monday unveiled as Western Province Rugby’s new Director of Rugby – effective from April 1 – a role which will see him head up rugby matters in the Union from Under-13 right up until the DHL Stormers team.

Smal’s role is not a hands-on coaching one, but one that will help guide and advise the senior professional coaches as well as ensure that WP Rugby’s recruitment policy and development of its players continues to drive the union forward.

“WP is a vibrant and diverse Union and arguably the most talented union in the country, with teams from Under-13 right up to the Under-21s winning trophies last year,” said Smal on Monday.

“I’ve played and coached here before, I have nothing but fond memories of my time here. It’s also great to be back in Cape Town after a long time away. Our fans are well-known for their unrivalled support and I look forward to drawing on that loyalty and passion to ensure that DHL Newlands remains a rugby fortress for the DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province teams.

“I would need the support of the various management teams, the players, administrators and other key role-players in order for WP Rugby to be successful. Sometimes tough decisions need to be made and a unified vision and support is crucial in this process.

“This is obviously an exciting opportunity for me and a challenge I look forward to.”

Speaking further about his role as WP Rugby’s Director of Rugby, Smal explained: “This is not a hands-on coaching position, and not just about the senior teams, it’s a position that encompasses the strategic rugby role of WP Rugby – from the juniors right up until the senior professional teams.

“In terms of the senior team, specifically, my job is to add to the strategies and ethos of WP Rugby and to ensure that we remain a leading union and continue to push for trophies and continue developing international players too. I want to create an environment here that gives all players a deep and lasting career desire to play their rugby in the Western Province.

“I believe that Western Province Rugby has taken giant steps forward in certain areas whilst I have been away – both on and off the field,” added Smal.

“Certain structures are already in place, starting with our home training base, the High Performance Centre in Bellville, the School of Excellence, the WP Rugby Institute in Stellenbosch and our new Academy set-up in Tokai.

“We also have vibrant club and schools competitions and the WP Rugby structures continue to produce players of quality. In the last two years, Eben Etzebeth, Duane Vermeulen, Siya Kolisi and Frans Malherbe have become full Springboks and Scarra Ntubeni and Louis Schreuder have toured with the Boks. We are producing young talent, with ten SA Schools players being part of our 2014 WPRI intake, and we’re producing new Springboks too… part of my role here will be to ensure that I build on that base.

“Comercially, I also believe that WP Rugby is exceptionally well positioned with huge corporate support from some truly global players like DHL, Land Rover, adidas, Tsogo Sun, Powerade and SAB, not to mention a huge amount of other partners and suppliers.”

Whilst Smal considers himself a WP Rugby man through and through with back to back Absa Currie Cup wins in 2000 and 2001 and a Vodacom Super Rugby semifinal against the Crusaders in 2004, he believes his time away, which saw him serve as an assistant coach at international level with the Springboks and Ireland, has given him invaluable experience at the highest level and in some of toughest rugby competitions in the world.

His second stint in the Springbok set-up, between 2003 and 2007, saw him serve as an assistant coach to Jake White when the team tasted Tri-Nations (2004) and World Cup (2007) success.

Smal’s five-year stint with Ireland, under Declan Kidney, was also a successful time for him, with Ireland winning the Six Nations (and Grand Slam & Triple Crown) in 2009 and finishing top of their pool at the 2011 Rugby World Cup after they beat the Wallabies in the pool stages. Ireland’s 2009 triumph was the country’s first title in 24 years and their first Grand Slam since 1948.

“I have picked up crucial experience since my previous stint here – with the Springboks and Ireland, both of which are very different environments,” he told www.iamastormer.com.

“I have had the opportunity to coach world-class players and to work alongside – and coach against – renowned rugby brains. I have come back more experienced, as a coach and a person, and I firmly believe that I have a contribution to make at WP.”

Coaching career: Springbok assistant coach (1997, 2003-2007), Border head coach (1998-1999), Western Province head coach (2000-2005), Stormers head coach (2003-2005), Ireland assistant coach (2008-2013)
Playing career: Western Transvaal, Western Province, Springboks

Smal appointed as WP Director of Rugby



The vastly-experienced Gert Smal will join Western Province Rugby as the new Director of Rugby, with effect from April 1, 2014.

Smal, a former two-times Absa Currie Cup-winning coach with DHL Western Province, will return to the Cape after some time away, having served as the Springbok assistant coach between 2003 and 2007 and holding down the same role with the Ireland national team from 2008 to 2013.

During his time with the Springboks, Smal helped the Men in Green & Gold to a Tri-Nations title in 2004 and a World Cup triumph in 2007. As part of the Ireland coaching set-up, Smal played an integral part in their 2009 Six Nations, Grand Slam and Triple Crown triumphs, whilst he also helped mastermind a 15-10 win over the Boks in Dublin later that year.

Smal’s role at WP Rugby will see him head up rugby matters across the union, with the senior professional coaches, junior professional coaches and WP Rugby Institute management team all reporting in to him.

He will be based at the WP Rugby High Performance Centre in Bellville, helping with the ethos and strategy of WP Rugby’s teams and being responsible for the contracting and recruitment throughout the union – from the junior ranks right through to the senior ranks.

A crucial part of Smal’s job will also see him manage the process of the junior players taking the step up into fully-fledged senior professionals – all of which is geared towards ensuring that WP Rugby remains a leading brand with its teams continuing to push for trophies and players continuing to earn national colours.

Smal is well known to everyone at WP Rugby, as a player and a coach. His role is not a hands-on coaching one, but a position that will encompass the strategic rugby role from the junior teams straight through to the senior professional outfits.

New Currie Cup coach for WP



A new era is set to dawn on Western Province with John Dobson likely to be named Currie Cup coach, Monday’s Cape Times reports.

The Western Province Rugby Union (WPRU) will hold a press conference on Monday, where Gert Smal is expected to be appointed as Director of Rugby.

Allister Coetzee is likely to stay on as Stormers coach, but Dobson – who currently coaches the WP Vodacom Cup side – will also take charge of the team later this year in the Currie Cup.

While Coetzee is to keep his job, the positions of backline coach Robbie Fleck and forwards coach Matthew Proudfoot appear to be in jeopardy.

The Stormers on Sunday returned from a disastrous Australasian Super Rugby tour where they lost all four games – the first time it has happened since 1998.

They host the Waratahs at Newlands on Saturday (19:10 kick-off).

Two players suspended




Three SANZAR players were cited in the past weekend’s Super Rugby Matches.

Frans Steyn – Off field Yellow Card

The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Jannie Lubbe SC has accepted a guilty plea from Francois Steyn of the Sharks for contravening Law 10.4 (e) Dangerous tackling, after he was cited during a Super Rugby match at the weekend. 

Steyn has been issued an Off Field yellow card for the incident. 

The incident occurred in the 16th minute of the match between the Sharks and Waratahs at Growthpoint KINGS PARK in Durban on Saturday 29 March 2014.

Rob Horne – Suspend for one week

The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Jannie Lubbe SC has accepted a guilty plea from Rob Horne of the Waratahs for contravening Law 10.4 (e) Dangerous tackling, after he was cited during a Super Rugby match at the weekend. 

Horne has been suspended from all forms of the game for one week up to and including 6 April 2014.

The incident occurred in the 16th minute of the match between the Sharks and Waratahs at Growthpoint KINGS PARK in Durban on Saturday 29 March 2014.

Kane Hames – Suspend for one week

The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Jannie Lubbe SC has accepted a guilty plea from Kane Hames of the Highlanders for contravening Law 10.4 (h) Dangerous charging, after he was cited during a Super Rugby match at the weekend. 

Hames has been suspended from all forms of the game for one week up to and including 6 April 2014.

The incident occurred in the 59th minute of the match between the Blues and Highlanders at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday 29 March 2014.

SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Jannie Lubbe SC assessed the case.


Jake White baits Michael Cheika after Sharks swamp Waratahs


DURBAN: Jake White was only too eager to pour salt into the gaping wounds left in the Waratahs’ confidence by his new team the Sharks.

March 30, 2014
Former Brumbies coach Jake White.Former Brumbies coach: Jake White. Photo: Getty Images


The former Brumbies coach, who made niggling the Michael Cheika-led Waratahs a sport during his stint in Canberra last year, was delighted with his side’s commanding 32-10 victory at Kings Park on Saturday.

White labelled the win – which cemented the side’s spot at the top of the Super Rugby ladder – a “huge result” and thanked Cheika for handing him the ammunition.

Coach of the NSW Waratahs, Michael Cheika.Coach of the NSW Waratahs, Michael Cheika. Photo: Getty Images

“We had to front up today, they are very abrasive, they’ve got big, strong ball-runners, they bashed the Reds, so we knew we would have to front up,” he said.

“There had been a lot of talk in the media about [going] toe to toe and intensity and aggression, so I suppose I must thank Mike [Cheika] for making my team talk easier, I just put it all on the board.”

Cheika suggested the game, despite the score line, was “tight”, tilted only by a massively lopsided penalty count.

“It was only two tries to one in the end, it was not like we were chasing tries everywhere,” he said.

“It was a tight game in many aspects and we finally got a try in the end…”.

When that assessment was put to White, he said: “Whatever Michael Cheika says, we believe, don’t we”.

He also dredged up the infamous broken door incident from the Brumbies-Waratahs game three weeks ago. Cheika accidentally shattered the pane of glass in the Canberra Stadium facility when he pushed open the door at the end of the match.

White was asked for his take on the penalty count, which grew to 19-9 against NSW and was questioned by Cheika in his post-match comments.

“I just want to see if our coaches’ box is still alright, because I have to get [chief executive John Smit] to get some insurance for it,” White said.

“Hopefully it’s not too damaged.”

The niggle goes back some way, but was generally one-sided when both were coaching in Australia.

White raised eyebrows in the Waratahs when he said it would be an “indictment” on Australia if NSW fullback Israel Folau was picked by the Wallabies before agreeing to extend his one-year stay in rugby.

He also questioned, very early on last season, whether the much-talked about running rugby style Cheika had promised NSW fans had in fact materialised.

On the field both coaches drew blood. The Waratahs copped a 35-6 hiding in Canberra in round four before turning the tables with a 28-22 win in Sydney in round 14.

Cheika was pleased with the team’s defensive effort – an aspect they worked on all week at training – but said their attack was hobbled at the ruck and then by handling errors.

“The backs are trying to align and come onto the ball, so when the ball bobbles around at the ruck the backs come, they stop, they come again, passes weren’t great tonight,” he said.

“We were a bit across field, not as direct as we could have been, and when you run across field passes often go astray.

“That attacking part of the game that has been a strong point for us, we were disappointed with tonight, for sure.”

The result leaves the Waratahs inside the top six but one point behind the Brumbies in the Australian conference.

A win against the Sharks would have put the Waratahs at a commanding lead in the Australian conference after the Brumbies’ loss to Melbourne on Friday.

The squad travels to Cape Town on Wednesday to play the Stormers. They will be bolstered by the arrival of Folau from Australia, although his fitness is still being monitored.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-union/union-news/jake-white-baits-michael-cheika-after-sharks-swamp-waratahs-20140330-zqoky.html#ixzz2xVygCxnd

Romano blow for Crusaders


imagesInjury has ruled All Black lock Luke Romano out of the Crusaders’ two-game Super Rugby trip to South Africa.

Romano hurt a calf muscle early in his team’s 26-29 loss to the Hurricanes in Christchurch last Friday.

His place in the 27-man squad has been taken by Jimmy Tupou.

Captain Kieran Read left the Hurricanes game with a head knock, but was cleared to depart with the team.

The Crusaders took 27 players to South Africa, but beleaguered wing Zac Guildford wasn’t with them.

The out-of-flavour All Black is yet to suit up for the playing side this season and although he has struggled with a minor injury, questions will be starting to emerge as to whether his playing days in New Zealand are over.

He’s played one match for the development side and is considered by many as a player who has the X-factor which is so clearly lacking from the back line.

The 13th-placed Crusaders play the Lions in Johannesburg this weekend and the Cheetahs in Port Elizabeth a week later.

Crusaders squad:

Backs: Israel Dagg, Johnny McNicholl, Nemani Nandolo, Nafi Tuitavake, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Rey Lee-Lo, Kieron Fonotia, Ryan Crotty, Tom Taylor, Colin Slade, Tyler Bleyendaal, Andy Ellis, Willi Heinz.

Forwards: Kieran Read (captain), Matt Todd, Luke Whitelock, George Whitelock, Sam Whitelock, Jordan Taufua, Dominic Bird, Jimmy Tupou, Owen Franks, Nepo Laulala, Wyatt Crockett, Mike Kainga, Corey Flynn, Ben Funnell.

Source: NZ News

Preview: High stakes in Shield Final



The CUT Ixias will host the UKZN Impi in the Varsity Shield Final in Bloemfontein on Monday, with promotion to the Varsity Cup on the line.

It will be the Impi’s first appearance in a Varsity Shield Final, and they will have their work cut out for them against the Ixias who have played in all three finals since the competition began in 2011.

The two-time champions were denied promotion to the Varsity Cup in 2012 when Wits beat them on home turf, so it will be a case of unfinished business when they face former All Blacks coach John Mitchell’s team.

Wits will play in the Varsity Shield again next year after going winless in their two seasons in the Varsity Cup, whilst the team that loses on Monday will play a promotion/relegation play-off against UJ who finished seventh in the Varsity Cup this year.

UKZN secured their spot in the Final by beating CUT 39-21 in Pietermaritzburg last week, which has prompted Ixias coach Johannes Bester to label the KwaZulu-Natal side as favourites for the Final.

“I think they should now be the favourites to win this, so it’s going to be a tough one,” he said.

Bester added that whilst his team was off the pace last week they were beaten by the better team on the day, and have no illusions about the challenge that lies ahead.

“Yes, the guys didn’t show up mentally but apart from that they played well, so we know what we’re in for.

“Game’s don’t get much bigger than this for us and it’s on our home turf, so we can’t lose this, we cannot lose this another time,” he said.

Impi coach John Mitchell said that the key for his team will be to stick to what has worked for them this season.

“We have given ourselves an opportunity now, it is a new situation altogether but it is actually about sticking to the same processes, getting our preparation right and bringing our performances,” he explained.

The experienced Mitchell has plenty of respect for CUT, who went unbeaten to take the title last year.

“Clearly they set the benchmark in the competition, they were certainly ahead of us at the start of the competition and we have had to get better like all teams.

“They are very urgent, they like to move the ball around and they punish your weaknesses. They play an exciting brand of rugby and they work hard for each other, they come from a good rugby culture,” he said.

However, he still has plenty of confidence in his team who have shown great fighting spirit and developed as a unit this season.

“We are not an easy team to beat by any means, we pride ourselves on our work ethic and I guess we don’t yield easily,” Mitchell added.

* The Varsity Young Guns Final will also be played on Monday, with UP-Tuks looking to secure their third consecutive title when they host UFS-Shimlas in Pretoria.

The UP-Tuks Young Guns team has not lost a single game in the three seasons that the competition has been running, so a win against UFS-Shimlas will make it a remarkable hat-trick.

The two-time champions were pushed hard by the Bloemfontein side when they met earlier in the season, so despite their unbeaten record they will not be taking anything for granted.

UFS-Shimlas coach Jaco Swanepoel is hoping that the guts his team showed in their semifinal win against NWU-Pukke last week will be enough for them to cause an upset against the UP-Tuks juggernaut.

“The [Young Guns] competition is so short and the preparation time is so short that the best ingredients that you can have is guts and I think we have a lot of that,” he said.

All of the teams and match details:

CUT Ixias v UKZN Impi
(CUT Rugby Stadium, Bloemfontein – Kick-off: 16.30)

CUT Ixias: 15 Charles Hitchcock, 14 Alec Mhlanga, 13 Johan van Schalkwyk, 12 Duan Pretorius, 11 Kholo Ramashala (captain), 10 Noel Marx, 9 Stephan Griesel, 8 Dean Kouprianoff, 7 Vincent Marupeng, 6 Frans Sisita, 5 Lyvette Shikwambana, 4 Fanie Coetzer, 3 Danie van der Merwe, 2 Deon Gouws, 1 Len Noort.
Replacements: 16 Daniel de Jager, 17 Gerhard Baard, 18 Moeka Bolofo, 19 Johann Grundlingh, 20 Marius Grobler, 21 Johan Nel, 22 Theuns Truter, 23 Hanro Liebenberg.

UKZN Impi: 15 Hendrik Groenewald, 14 Shayne Makombe, 13 Brandon Bailing, 12 Kurt Mavrodaris, 11 Hendrik Lategan, 10 Duncan Campbell, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Deon Carney, 7 Zwela Zondi, 6 Lwazi Ngcungama (captain), 5 Johan Wagenaar, 4 Adam Wessels, 3 Stefan van Schalkwyk, 2 Dean Muir, 1 Henri Boshoff.
Replacements: 16 Mikyle Webster, 17 Bartholomeus le Roux, 18 Gideon Koegelenberg, 19 Sanele Malwane, 20 Nelson Makhanye, 21 Gavin Nyawata, 22 Yandisa Mdolomba, 23 Sizwe Kuhbeka.

Referee: Quinton Immelman
Assistant referees: Jaco Kotze, Khotso Raleteng
TMO: Johan Greeff

UP-Tuks Young Guns v UFS-Shimlas Young Guns
(Tuks Rugby Stadium, Pretoria – Kick-off: 19.00)

UP-Tuks Young Guns: 15 Philip Orffer, 14 Dimitrio Tieties, 13 Marquit September, 12 Adrian Maebane, 11 Keanan van Wyk, 10 Kobus Marais, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Chris Massyn, 6 Heinrich Viljoen, 5 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 4 Abongile Nonkontwana, 3 Pierre Schoeman (captain), 2 Arno van Wyk, 1 Piet Strauss.
Replacements: 16 Francois Steyn, 17 Njabulo Gumede, 18 Corne Cooper, 19 RG Snyman, 20 Kobus Wolmarans, 21 Simon Bolze, 22 Jurie Linde, 23 Matthys Basson.

UFS-Shimlas Young Guns: 15 Stephen Rautenbach, 14 Donovan Gissing, 13 Pieter Faber, 12 Stephan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Charlton Koopman, 10 Ruan Potgieter, 9 Zee Makhabela, 8 Andries Kriek, 7 Boela Venter, 6 Steven Meiring, 5 Andre Venter, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Conrad van Vuuren, 2 Reinach Venter, 1 Ox Niche.
Replacements: 16 Anrich Alberts, 17 Petrus Senekal, 18 Daniel Maartens, 19 Refuoe Rampetha, 20 TJ Goodard, 21 Herman Share, 22 Lorenzo Gordon, 23 Gunter Janse van Vuuren.

Referee: Lesego Legoete
Assistant referees: Jan Venter, Wilko Esterhuizen
TMO: Willie Vos

Steyn, Horne both cited – Update



Cell C Sharks centre Francois Steyn has been cited for alleged foul play during a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

Steyn is alleged to have contravened Law 10.4 (e) Dangerous tackling when he made contact with Waratahs’ player Kurtley Beale during the match against the Waratahs at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.

The referee for the match, Mike Fraser, awarded a penalty for the incident which occurred in the 24th minute.

Upon further review of the match footage, the Citing Commissioner deemed in his opinion the incident had met the red card threshold for foul play.

The citing is to be considered in the first instance by SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Jannie Lubbe SC.

All SANZAR disciplinary matters are in the first instance referred to a Duty Judicial Officer hearing to provide the option of expediting the judicial process.

For a matter to be dispensed with at this hearing, the person appearing must plead guilty and accept the penalty offered by the Duty Judicial Officer

Waratahs Player also Cited

The Waratahs player, Horne, has also been cited for foul play.

Horne is alleged to have contravened Law 10.4 (a): Punching or striking and 10.4 (e) Dangerous tackling.

His citings is the result of an incident when he made contact with Steyn in the 16th minute of the match.

The referee for the match, Mike Fraser, awarded a penalty for the incident. Upon further review of the match footage, the citing commissioner deemed in his opinion the incident had met the red card threshold for foul play.



Screw this rugby .. let’s have some fun with something all agree on!


Boys will be boys vroom vroom….

Okay due to popular demand let’s have some fun…..post your pics!!!

Let’s get some “Sexy” supporters

First up ……some Bulls!!


Howzat England!!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     From somewhere



From Canada!!






Vir Oom Boer and the Ladies !!






………..and the real supporters


Let the Valiants rev….

Vroom Vroom!

Same again but Coetzee still believe



DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee was again left lamenting crucial mistakes after his team’s 17-22 loss to the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday, but he was proud of the effort that his players put into their final tour match.

The DHL Stormers will fly back home to South Africa on Sunday after four narrow tour losses in Australasia, but Coetzee told his team’s official website: “We played so well at times (against the Reds)… only for crucial mistakes to cost us again.

“I still believe that we have the ability to beat any team (we play against), unfortunately we’re still making the same mistakes at crucial moments. It’s been our trend, but it’s something that we can rectify.

“Our line-out let us down today and we made a few mistakes in trying to run the ball back from deep in the second half, but I cannot fault the players’ effort… the effort is there!

“Not many teams can come back from 10-22 down against a Reds team in Brisbane and very nearly come away with a victory. We picked up two losing bonus points on this tour, which shows how close we’ve been on two occasions and, of course, we conceded late tries against the Chiefs and Brumbies to lose out on bonus points.”

The DHL Stormers have 10 league matches to come, seven of which are at home between now and mid-July.

“We’ve played at home just once this year, in six games,” Coetzee told www.iamastormer.com.

“Yes, it’s been a tough tour and, yes, we were unable to come away with a win on tour, but we’re all looking forward to getting home to our families, seeing familiar faces and building some momentum back at home at DHL Newlands.”

Unfortunately, experienced backline star Gio Aplon will be out of action for some time with a dislocated elbow, having left the field in the 23rd minute after falling awkwardly in a tackle.

“Gio dislocated his left elbow and, at this stage, it seems that he will be out of action for six to eight weeks,” said Coetzee. “It’s obviously a blow to lose someone of his ability and experience, but one bit of solace is that it’s not a dislocation.

“(Lock) Jurie van Vuuren also fell awkwardly on his shoulder and had to come off, but he should be good to go for the Waratahs game.”

The DHL Stormers will land in Cape Town on Sunday evening and will resume training on Tuesday.

SR: Cell C Sharks 32 Waratahs 10


imagesThe Sharks have made no secret that they are hurting from last week’s loss to the Bull and the Waratahs may feel the sting of that desire to right the wrongs.

Added to that the Waratahs’ prospects of being the first team to beat the table-topping Sharks at home this season nosedived when try-scoring freak Israel Folau was ruled out with a bruised throat.   Folau, who will only join the Waratahs at the weekend after being clear by a specialist in Sydney, has crossed for eight five-pointers in just four games – more than half his side’s total number of tries.

With a game in hand, the Waratahs sit fourth on the overall table, just three points behind the Sharks.  An away win could see the Tahs regain pole position, but Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has warned that the Jake White-coached side will be looking for vengeance after last weekend’s loss to the Bulls.

Recent results:
2012: Waratahs won 34-30, Sydney
2011: Sharks won 26-21, Durban
2010: Waratahs won 25-21, Sydney
2009: Waratahs won 16-12, Durban
2008: Waratahs won 28-13, Sydney (semifinal)
2008: Waratahs won 25-10, Sydney


Sharks: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Sibusiso Sithole, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Keegan Daniel, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Heimar Williams, 23 SP Marais.

Waratahs: 15 Jonno Lance, 14 Rob Horne, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Peter Betham, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis (captain), 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Jacques Potgieter, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: TBC

Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Marius Jonker (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)

SR: Vodacom Bulls 34 Chiefs 34


The defending champion Chiefs will be angry and determined to put last week’s aberration behind them.

Their first loss of the season – to the Western Force – was probably their wort performance in three seasons.  And they are up against a Bulls team fresh from beating the table-topping Sharks and showing some championship form of their own.

The Bulls, who have made only one change to their lineup with veteran wing Akona Ndungane returning, will again rely on the leadership skills and experience of World Cup-winning Springbok lock Victor Matfield.  The Bulls, who will aim for their seventh straight win at home over the Chiefs, are not paying much attention to last week’s result. They are expecting a “brutal” onslaught from the New Zealanders.  Matfield admitted that the Chiefs will be a stern test.

Recent results:
2012: Chiefs won 28-22, Hamilton
2011: Bulls won 43-27, Pretoria
2010: Bulls won 33-19, Hamilton
2009: Bulls won 61-17, Pretoria (Final)
2009: Bulls won 33-27, Pretoria
2008: Chiefs won 43-27, Rotorua


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

Chiefs: 15 Mils Muliaina, 14 Anton Lienert-Brown, 13 Andrew Horrell, 12 Tom Marshall, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden (captain), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Jamie Mackintosh, 18 Ben Afeaki, 19 Michael Fitzgerald, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Tim Nanai-Williams.

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa), Marc van Zyl (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

SR: Reds 22 DHL Stormers 17


imagesThe Reds can do themselves a huge favour by stop complaining that they were “robbed” by South African referee Stuart Berry – with SANZAR having cleared the match official of any wrongdoing.

What is important is that the Reds put their winless tour of South Africa quickly behind them and focus on their own shortcoming if they want to remain in the play-off race.  They’re up against an equally desperate Stormers team, who are in the midst of some major internal politics – with a management shake-up on the cards when the team returns to South Africa.  After three defeats on a fruitless Australasian tour the Stormers hierarchy have called former Ireland forwards coach and Springbok assistant Gert Smal in to salvage the sinking ship.

The Reds and Stormers have met 17 times in Super Rugby, with seven wins for Queensland. The Reds’ record against the Stormers in Brisbane reads five wins from nine matches.

Their most recent match against the Stormers was a 20-15 loss in Cape Town in 2013.

Recent results:
2013: Stormers won 20-15, Cape Town
2012: Stormers won 23-13, Brisbane
2011: Reds won 19-6, Cape Town
2010: Reds won 16-13, Brisbane
2009: Stormers won 27-24, Cape Town
2008: Stormers won 34-16, Brisbane


Reds: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Dom Shipperley, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 James Hanson 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga’a, 17 Albert Anae, 18 Jono Owen, 19 Ed O’Donoghue, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Anthony Fainga’a, 23 Ben Lucas.

Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Damian de Allende, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Michael Rhodes, 4 Jurie van Vuuren, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Tazz Fuzani, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Demetri Catrakilis, 23 Jaco Taute.

Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
TMO: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)

SR: Blues 30, Highlanders 12


images The Blues have had plenty to digest this week – with Piri Weepu’s stroke top of the list.

No doubt it will be an emotional occasion for the men from Auckland, with the return of All Black veterans Ma’a Nonu and Jerome Kaino to the starting XV adding further spice to the occasion.

And it the weather forecast of fine conditions with light winds holds true, this should shape up nicely to be a high-octane try-fest. Neither team has trouble scoring, although they sometimes tend to leak some first-half points and then go into overdrive after the break – producing some fine displays of catch-up.

In fact both sides leaked 30-plus points in their last outings. The Highlanders’ forward pack has been strengthened, with Jarrad Hoeta, Ged Robinson and Chris King all returning.

The Highlanders beat the Blues by eight in Round Two, but their record in Auckland isn’t flash.  While Blues coach John Kirwan was happy with last week’s fortuitous victory over the Cheetahs, he also acknowledge that his side would have to work much harder this week – as they can’t expect the same leniency that they received from Argentinean referee Francisco Pastrana, a performance so pitiful that it cost the match official his job.

“We had a win that we were happy with and we got maximum points,” he said of the 40-30 triumph over the Cheetahs. “However, I think we just need to look more at our own performance,” Kirwan added.

“We realise that we’re going to have to be better to beat the Highlanders. “They’re a better football team this year, they’re playing really well, they’ve got confidence so we need to tidy up one or two of our things and just get a little bit harder on each other about performing for the full 80 minutes.”

Recent results:
2014: Highlanders won 29-21, Dunedin
2013: Highlanders won 38-28, Dunedin
2013: Blues won 29-18, Auckland
2012: Highlanders won 27-20, Auckland
2012: Highlanders won 30-27, Dunedin
2011: Blues won 33-16, Auckland


Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 George Moala, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Luke Braid (captain), 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Tom Donnelly, 20 Peter Saili, 21 Sonatane Takulua, 22 Pita Ahki, 23 Benji Marshall.

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (co-captain), 7 Shane Christie, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Jarrad Hoeata, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Chris King, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 TJ Ioane, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 Shaun Treeby.

Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

Here we go again



The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has announced that quotas based on race will be used in the Cell C Community Cup club rugby tournament.

This decision was made at SARU’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Cape Town on Friday.

Teams will be required to field three black players in match-day squads in 2014, four in 2015 and five in 2016. The original specification was for five black players from 2014.

The Community Cup started last season and replaced the old National Club Championships.

Several rugby clubs in South Africa are affiliated to universities, who play in the annual Varsity Rugby tournaments.

The Community Cup was therefore created for the non-university clubs to run in parallel with Varsity Rugby.

Despatch from Eastern Province won the 2013 edition.

Another Sharks Bok heads to Japan


Sharks2014The table-topping Sharks are set to lose the services of another Springbok to the lure of the Japanese Yen.

Loose forward Keegan Daniel will depart the Sharks at the conclusion of the Super Rugby tournament to join Kubota in Japan.  He will join fellow Sharks Boks Ryan Kankowski and JP Pietersen, who plays in Japan and then returns for Super Rugby.  However, it is uncertain if Daniel will be back for Super Rugby duty next year.  Having joined the Sharks Academy in 2004, Daniel went on to make his Sharks senior debut in 2006 against the Reds. With 199 first caps to date for the Sharks, 59 of those as captain, he led the team to Currie Cup glory in 2013.
The Sharks said in a statement on Friday that Daniel will always be regarded as an exceptional player who has served the Durban-based franchise with distinction over the years.  He is a regarded as fierce competitor and someone that always boxed above his weight and led by example.v His humble nature and never-say-die attitude are some of his greatest attributes and both the team and administrators alike will miss his steely determination and courage.

Commenting on his departure, The Sharks CEO, John Smit said Daniel has been an “instrumental part” of the Sharks for many years. “His commitment to the jersey and to the franchise could never be questioned,” the World Cup-winning former Bok captain, Smit, said.  “We offered Keegan a long-term contract to stay in Durban, but he has decided that it was time in his career for a new challenge.
“We respect his decision and thank him for ten years of dedication and loyalty. We wish him the very best for this new and exciting chapter in his life.”
Daniel said he was “eternally grateful” to the Sharks for what they have done for his career.  “I have been at the union for 10 years, experienced many highs, and have had the opportunity to interact with people from diverse backgrounds and have built lasting friendships along the way,” the loose forward said.  “It is never an easy decision to make when the time comes to move on and ply your trade elsewhere.
“I am sad to leave a place that I have called home and will always respect what the Sharks jersey stands for. It was an honour to captain the team for a couple of seasons and I have enjoyed every single moment of my time here.

“I look forward to contributing to the team’s aspirations during the Super Rugby tournament before I embark on a new journey that seeks to embrace a new culture and style of rugby.”

SR: Brumbies 24 Rebels 32



The Brumbies, who arrive in Melbourne having beaten Western Force and Hurricanes at home and Waratahs and Stormers in Canberra are on top the Australian conference after six rounds. They were particularly impressive in defeating the Waratahs and the only blot against their name so far is their 17-27 defeat to the Reds in their first match.
Since that win over the Cheetahs, the Rebels were poor and punished appropriately by Western Force in Perth but showed great improvement and impressive fight to go down against the star-studded Crusaders in Melbourne ten days ago. In Sydney they competed manfully for 40 minutes, before three moments of magic from former charge Kurtley Beale saw the ‘Waratahs run away with it.
Recent Results:
2013: Brumbies won 17-39, Canberra
2013: Brumbies won 13-30, Melbourne
2012: Brumbies won 19-27, Melbourne
2012: Brumbies won 6-37, Canberra
2011: Brumbies won 17-32, Canberra
2011: Rebels won 25-24, Melbourne
 Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White,8 Ben Mowen (captain), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Jordan Smiler, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 JP Smith.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva,17 Ruan Smith,18 Ruaidhri Murphy, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Christian Lealiifano.
Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Tom Kingston, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Colby Fainga’a, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Max Lahiff.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Cruze Ah-Nau, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Sean McMahon, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Male Sa’u, 23 Angus Roberts.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Peter Marshall (Australia)

SR: Crusaders 26, Hurricanes 29



Both teams currently sit within the bottom half of the overall points table and would love to move up on the log. The Crusaders have won 2 lost 2 and would be desperate to keep on the winning ways after the bye last week. The Hurricanes are coming off a loss to the Highlanders – a match that was dominated by penalties in the first half.

With 11 matches remaining and a maximum of 55 points still up for grabs, the Hurricanes are looking to continue where they left off at the end of the Highlanders fixture, and ignite their season with a convincing performance against the Crusaders. Both sides will be looking for greater accuracy on attack. The Crusaders have scored just six tries in four matches and their outside backs have yet to click into gear, while the Hurricanes have run in 16 so far, but have also missed several opportunities.

Recent Results:

2013: Crusaders won 25-17, Christchurch
2013: Hurricanes won 28-29, Wellington
2012: Hurricanes won 22-23, Christchurch
2012: Crusaders won 42-14, Wellington
2011: Crusaders won 16-9, Wellington
2010: Crusaders and Hurricanes drew 26-26, Wellington
 Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Nafi Tuitavake, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Luke Whitelock, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Dominic Bird, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Kieron Fonotia, 23 Nemani Nadolo.
Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Jack Lam, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Chris Eves, 18 John Schwalger, 19 Mark Reddish, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Matt Proctor, 23 Marty Banks.
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Chris Watt (New Zealand)

Mvovo could be Bok fullback-JW


JakeIt will raise some eyebrows, but Sharks Director of Rugby Jake White feels his team selection could be a pointer for Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

While some will debate the decision to name young Fred Zeilinga at flyhalf, in the starting XV to face the Waratahs in Durban on Saturday, it is the selection of Lwazi Mvovo at fullback that sparked the most interest.

The Bok wing, Mvovo, who has seven Test caps for South Africa, was shifted to No.15 and SP Marais dropped to the bench.

White, who said it has been a bit “daunting” the last couple of weeks injury-wise, said he needed to find room for both Ndungane and Mvovo.

White even drew comparisons with Bok legend Percy Montgomery, when justifying his decision to select Mvovo in the unfamiliar role of fullback.

“He’s got things Percy [Montgomery] could do, he’s really quick and he likes broken field play,” White said at a press conference ahead of the game.

“If the Waratahs kick, which they don’t do much, Lwazi is probably the guy that will capitalise most.”

Mvovo, 27, has 57 Super Rugby caps for the Durban-based franchise and White felt his form this season would have made it difficult to drop him after the availability of Ndungane, who returns after compassionate leave.

“Lwazi is probably one of our form backs and now that Odwa’s come back, it’s not a case of finding a place for Lwazi, he just merits himself a place in the team,” White said.

“There’s no reason why he can’t play fullback and I’m quite excited.

“I believe with Gio Aplon going to France, there is no reason why a guy like Lwazi isn’t good enough to play fullback for SA.”

White also spoke of the pace his outside backs possess.

“We’ve got [Sibusiso] Sithole, Odwa [Ndungane], JP [Pietersen] and Lwazi, the four are probably the quickest guys in our franchise.

“I think it’s going to be exciting to see them run.

“Lwazi’s really played well right through the season so far.”

White made four changes in total to his side, another unfamiliar one being the shifting of Willem Alberts to lock instead of the injured Anton Bresler with Jean Deysel coming in at flank.

The flyhalf position, vacated by a six-month injury lay-off to Patrick Lambie, went to Fred Zeilinga, while Charl McLeod would complete a new halfback pairing after Cobus Reinach fractured his hand in the 19-23 loss to the Bulls last week.

“Ideally I’d like Cobus and Pat to be playing, but in the Currie Cup last year Charl played most of the time with Fred,” White said of the No.9 and No.10 positions.

“So it’s a change but they’ve played a lot together and I don’t think it’s a disruption.”

White admitted that Steyn was still the preferred flyhalf option in the absence of Lambie, with Zeilinga well aware of his thinking.

“I’m still considering Frans there, it’s not ideal and wasn’t obviously first prize,” he said.

“I’d like Frans to have stayed there and Fred knows that Frans can slot in there.

“Paul Jordaan comes back next week and can play 12 and 13, so there are lots of exciting things that can still happen.”

Despite the gloom around Kings Park over the latest injury setbacks, there is some good news with the return of former captain Keegan Daniel to the bench.

Heimar Williams also returns, while Stefan Ungerer is in line for his debut after coming in as scrumhalf cover.

Vic predict a try festival


VicBulls captain Victor Matfield is predicting a high-scoring game against the defending Super Rugby champions, the Chiefs at Loftus Versfeld this weekend and warned his teammates they will need to be at their best if they are to keep their impressive record at Loftus Versfeld intact.

According to the supersport.com website, the Bulls have only lost three times in the past two seasons in Super Rugby at the ground and have a long history of success against the Chiefs that stretches back to 2001 – the last time the New Zealanders could win at the famous ground.

But with back to back titles behind their names and a solid start of three wins out of four, the Chiefs will arrive as favourites to win, and will want to put their shock loss to the Western Force behind them as quickly as possible.

This, according to Matfield, makes them even more dangerous this time around.
“So far this year they’ve been good, they’ve only lost one game.
“It will be bad for us because they will be a bit sharper this week, I don’t think they were at the top of their game last week.
“In the other three games they played they were very good,” Matfield said.

“We’ve done our planning, we’ve got the plans to go out and be successful but it is getting tougher every week.
“We played the Sharks, one of the top form sides in the competition and now the defending champions”

The games between the two sides have traditionally been open affairs, with high scores and loads of tries the order of the day, and this weekend the Bulls expect nothing different.

For this they give credit to the Chiefs, who they say play a brand of rugby that simply makes it easier to play open rugby.

“If you talk about high-scoring games, you’re right.
“When South African sides play, there is a lot of kicking, and teams almost don’t want to give opportunities in their own half, while when you play New Zealand sides they want to score tries,” Matfield explained.

“They go out there and play.
“When they play, they give you opportunities to play as well.

“When you see two New Zealand sides play each other, it is high scoring games as well.
“It is very different than when two South African sides play each other, and you have to plan for that, because when they get momentum, the chances are good they will score a try or two, so you need to score tries as well.

“It’s nice for us, we want to go out in every game and we want to score tries.
“Hopefully they will give us some opportunities so that we can have a go.”

With the Bulls only scoring eight tries in their first five games, they are hungry to cross the tryline more, but Matfield’s conclusions about South African sides may have something to do with that.
The Bulls have faced just one overseas team – the Blues – this season in between several local derbies.

“If you look at them, they are the team that kicks the least in the competition.
“They don’t just give you the ball, they hold the ball for a lot of phases.
“They’re also the team that have given away the least turnovers, although they keep the ball a long time.
“This means they’re very accurate in what they are doing.
“For us firstly, we need to not give them broken field ball, if we give it to them, it must be on our terms.

“Secondly we need to create opportunities for ourselves.
“We can’t just go out there and defend.
“We can’t go out there and make 200 tackles and just 50 carries, we need to do things for ourselves as well on attack to make them defend as well.”

And if they can do that, then the Bulls will continue their good run against the New Zealand side.
But they know the stakes are high and mistakes result in points.

But the positive attitude is refreshing, and should make for a great game this weekend.

How to fix Sormers?


Stormers logo

Tank Lanning takes a look at the on-going speculations concerning WP Rugby Union.

Ever heard of Graham Mackenzie?
Thought not…
He is the president of the KZN Rugby Union.
Ever heard of Thelo Wakefield?
Ever heard of Rob Wagner?

Perhaps a few of you…
He is the CEO of the WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd.
Ever heard of John Smit?

And therein lies the fundamental flaw at the heart of the myriad of issues facing the Cape based union… The wrong guys are on the front and back pages of the paper!

In 1996, the commercial arm, WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd, was created to deal with the growing interest from the public, media, sponsors and players, and to maximise commercial opportunities. Clever.

Not so clever, though is the fact that the WP Rugby Football Union, a non-profit organisation that still reeks of the amateur days, remains the major shareholder in WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd.

So you have a governing body that relies on votes from the amateur clubs (all 91 of them, each with an equal vote, meaning that the largest rugby club in the world, Maties, has the same clout as a club in the third division who struggles to get just one team out each Saturday), and thus perhaps more concerned about garnering votes rather than administering the actual rugby, having the major stake in the commercial arm of the union – the arm that should be running the show in today’s professional era!

Hence the much talked about boardroom politics that saw Rassie Erasmus depart the union saying that he was spending more time fighting the politics than he was on rugby, and sees the coaches having to defend their teams to the blazer brigade, based not on skill level but ethnicity and the club they play for.

It is just typical of the union to have a little Sunday meeting on tour and then openly hint at plans to overhaul the management team. Just imagine what that does for team unity… It’s no wonder that captain Jean de Villiers has voiced his concern and expressed his disappointment at the swirling rumours. The core is fundamentally flawed and rotten!

Having chosen not to fill the post of High Performance Manager after the departure of Erasmus, the role – surely vital in a pro era – has been shared amongst the coaches and administration, meaning they spend less time preparing the team for the game on Saturday.

But that seems set to change from Monday, with Gert Smal seemingly coming as Director of Rugby, and Henning Gericke, a psychologist who worked with the Springboks when they won the 2007 Rugby World Cup, set to come in as the “kopdokter”.

So not a “High Performance Manager” brought in to manage player affairs away from the four white lines, but a traditional Director of Rugby that will see head coach Allister Coetzee have to move into the shadows under a new boss! That is very different to a Brendan Venter or a Jake White coming in above a young head coach like Brad MacLeod-Henderson who is there to learn.

I was very privileged to get my first few games for WP at the time when Smal was playing his last few games for the blue and white, most of them on a tour to Australia and New Zealand. He is a top man with an excellent rugby brain, but this is a big ask!

And bringing in a shrink who worked with the 2007 Boks and now pimps himself out on the speaker circuit? Why not try something new and innovative? Young and switched on sports mental coach, Tom Dawson-Squibb from Head Start Sport has done an incredible job with the Ikeys in the Varsity Cup this year …

Look, change is without doubt needed… I have been saying so for a good few years now. A lucky Currie Cup win and two Super Rugby Conference cups in the last 13 years is just not good enough for a union that has access to so much talent.

The “Great wall of Cape Town” defensive game plan that sees the Stormers unable to score tries, and mostly via the legalised obstruction of a lineout drive when they do, is simply not good enough.

But bringing in a Director of Rugby and a shrink smacks of papering over the cracks. It is time for a complete overhaul of all structures, including the constitution.
Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt

Seven Circus moves to Hong Kong


IRB_Sevens-300x186Hong Kong remains the ultimate destination for Sevens players and enthusiasts alike, with the advent of double-dipping – two tournaments in one – making it an even more appealing stopover.

Round Seven of the IRB Sevens World Series will see South Africa and New Zealand – the current pace setters – glance nervously over their shoulders at the hard-chasing Fijians.

However, for the second year running Hong Kong welcomes 28 teams – with 16 to play for the famous old Cup trophy and points towards the World Series, and the other 12 bidding to win the separate qualifier trophy and take the one place on offer as a core team for the 2014/15 Series.

In the main Cup draw, with two tournament wins apiece in this season’s IRB Sevens World Series, South Africa, New Zealand and Fiji are the front-runners for major Cup honours at So Kon Po.

Fiji have won 14 times in Hong Kong, including last year, and also took the most recent Cup title with a superb win over South Africa at the Tokyo Sevens last Sunday.

South Africa have never won the Hong Kong title, but are currently top of the Series standings with 116 points, two ahead of New Zealand – with Fiji in third place on 95 and England fourth on 85.

Having finished in the top two of Asia’s own regional Sevens competition, host Hong Kong is one of those 12 vying nations and harbours serious ambition to join the Series.

“There’s a long way to go but qualifying as a core team would accelerate the learning in Hong Kong by playing at that competitive level more often,” said Hong Kong’s Sevens coach Gareth Baber

“It would also accelerate the numbers coming into the game, and make them realise as well that there’s a potential to be an international athlete playing Rugby Sevens for Hong Kong,” Baber added.

Hong Kong start in pool play with matches against Italy, Tunisia and American Samoa. Russia are drawn with Zimbabwe, China and Barbados, while Asia’s top-ranked side Japan starts in a group with Cook Islands, Uruguay and Trinidad & Tobago.

“We have to treat this like any other event. I know there’s a lot of emotion wrapped around it, and there’s a big party atmosphere, but the message going out loud and clear to the players is that we need consistency in what we do and not to get carried away with the emotion.

“You need to play with emotion as a rugby player, but it’s tempering that with the ability to think clearly and do consistently what you do on the training paddock.

“I’m confident my players can make that step up (from failing to qualify as a core team last year), but there are a number of other teams who are going to be thinking exactly the same. We have a competition on our hands, and that’s why everyone is interested in it.”

Pool A: Fiji, Kenya, Wales, Sri Lanka
Pool B: South Africa, Australia, France, Spain
Pool C: England, Canada, Argentina, Portugal
Pool D: New Zealand, United States, Scotland, Samoa

(Kick-off is local time – GMT plus eight hours)

Day One – Friday, March 28
Match 1: United States v Samoa, 18.24
Match 2: Canada v Portugal, 18.46
Match 3: Australia v Spain, 19.08
Match 4: Kenya v Sri Lanka, 19.30
Match 5: New Zealand v Scotland, 20.20
Match 6: England v Argentina, 20.42
Match 7: South Africa v France, 21.04
Match 8: Fiji v Wales, 21.26
Match 9: New Zealand v Samoa, 11.12
Match 10: United States v Scotland, 11.34
Match 11: England v Portugal, 11.56
Match 12: Canada v Argentina, 12.18
Match 13: South Africa v Spain, 12.40
Match 14: Australia v France, 13.02
Match 15: Fiji v Sri Lanka, 13.24
Match 16: Kenya v Wales, 13.46
Match 17: Scotland v Samoa, 15.14
Match 18: Argentina v Portugal, 15.36
Match 19: France v Spain, 15.58
Match 20: Wales v Sri Lanka, 16.20
Match 21: New Zealand v United States, 18.10
Match 22: England v Canada, 18.32
Match 23: South Africa v Australia, 18.54
Match 24: Fiji v Kenya, 19.16

World Series core team qualifier
Pool E: Russia, Zimbabwe, Chile, Barbados
Pool F: Hong Kong, Italy, Tunisia, American Samoa
Pool G: Japan, Cook Islands, Uruguay, Trinidad & Tobago

Jake makes the changes


imagesThe Cell C Sharks team to play the Waratahs in Saturday’s Super Rugby clash at Kings Park shows a number of changes as the team look to retain their log position and dominance of the local conference.

Four home wins so far translates into top of the overall log and the South African conference, but to remain there requires a big performance against the Waratahs on Saturday, another of the forms teams in this year’s competition, reports Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick.

“We didn’t play well and we’re not making excuses; we weren’t on top of our game properly,” said director of rugby Jake White when discussing the 23-19 loss to the Bulls.

“But it’s a new week, a new opportunity and we have a bye next week, so there is a lot to play for and no reason why we don’t give everything this weekend. The Waratahs are a good team, they have a lot of Wallabies in their squad and they have been on a good roll so far in the competition.

“Like us, they’ve only lost one game and they have a really well-balanced team. Of the three games they’ve won, they’ve scored bonus points in all three victories, so they can obviously score tries. They’re a strong, well-balanced side and that means it’s going to be a tough game for us.”

The fact that they are top of the log means the Sharks can determine their own fate – it won’t take other results to affect where they end off.

“The nice thing is that we’re still in control of what happens to us; the one thing you want to do in this competition is to be able to control your own destiny. You don’t want to get into a situation where other teams dictate where you end and who you play against. That’s what every team aspires to in this competition, making sure you control your own destiny, and the only way you can make sure of that is by winning.”

White’s changes see Lwazi Mvovo shifting to fullback with SP Marais playing off the bench and Odwa Ndungane returning to the side following compassionate leave. At halfback, Fred Zeilinga is in for Patrick Lambie and Charl McLeod replaces Cobus Reinach.

There is no place in the match-day squad for Tim Swiel, who replaced the injured Lambie early in last week’s match at Loftus Versfeld.

There are two changes amongst the forwards, Willem Alberts shifts to lock following the loss through injury of Anton Bresler, with Alberts’ flank position taken up by Jean Deysel.

There is a debut opportunity for scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer, while Keegan Daniel makes a welcome return to the side having completed his injury recovery programme.

Kick-off is at 17:05 on Saturday.



15. Lwazi Mvovo, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. S’bura Sithole, 12. Frans Steyn
11. JP Pietersen, 10. Fred Zeilinga, 9. Charl McLeod, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Willem Alberts, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1. Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Etienne Oosthuizen, 20. Keegan Daniel, 21. Stefan Ungerer, 22. Heimar Williams, 23. SP Marais

Secret Mission for the Goose


johan goosen

Springbok and Cheetahs flyhalf Johan Goosen has secretly flown to France to explore possible future career opportunities, the Volksblad website reports.

The Cheetahs have a bye weekend in Super Rugby which enabled the 21-year-old to head abroad.

The club Goosen went to visit is believed to be Top 14 side, Racing Metro, who reportedly see him as an ideal substitute for Irish flyhalf Jonny Sexton.

With the eye on next year’s Rugby World Cup, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt reportedly wants to lure Sexton back to Ireland as he feels he is being overplayed at Racing.

Earlier reports also linked Goosen to French big spenders Toulon, while South Africa’s Bulls and a few clubs from Japan are also interested.

Goosen’s contract with the Cheetahs expires on October 31 this year and it’s unlikely that coach Naka Drotské will allow him to leave before then.

Outside clubs are only allowed to officially negotiate with players 120 days (July 1) prior to the ending of their contract.

The Cheetahs’ next Super Rugby game is at home to the Blues on April 5.

3 New signings for Kings


EP KingsThe EP Kings have confirmed three new signings today ahead of their preparations for the Currie Cup Premier Division.

EP Kings CEO, Charl Crous confirmed that Michael van Vuuren, Tim Whitehead and Hansie Graaff will all be joining the Kings over the coming months, along with Izak van der Westhuizen whose signing has already been announced. “We are very excited at these signings and are positive that these players will make a significant contribution in our Currie Cup endeavours as well as in our preparations for re-entry into Super Rugby in 2016,” said Crous.

Hooker Van Vuuren, who matriculated in 2009 from Grey High School in Port Elizabeth, will return home from France, where he has been playing for Stade Francais in the French Top 14, when his contract with them ends in June.  “I had a couple of options overseas which I had a good long hard look at, but when the Kings opportunity came along, I jumped at the offer. I felt that the time was right to come home.


“The Kings are a franchise with a tremendous desire to succeed and this was clearly apparent in their Super 15 campaign. Along with my team mates, helping my ‘home’ province reach great heights will be fantastic,” Van Vuuren said. After representing EP at Craven Week, Van Vuuren rose to prominence when he played for the South African Under-20 team in 2011.

Van Vuuren played in the Grey 1st XV in 2008 and 2009, alongside Springbok Siya Kolisi who is also an Old Grey. Van Vuuren has also played Varsity Cup rugby for UFS Shimlas in the 2012 Varsity Cup. He represented the Free State Cheetahs in the Currie Cup and Vodacom Cup in 2011 and 2012 seasons. At the age of 19 Van Vuuren made history at the Cheetahs when he became the youngest hooker to make his Currie Cup debut for the Cheetahs against the Leopards.

Versatile Sharks centre, Whitehead, will also be returning home to take up the Red and Black hoops. Whitehead was born in Port Elizabeth and, like Van Vuuren, attended Grey High before studying at the University of Cape Town and then playing Super Rugby for the Stormers and Sharks. While at Grey, Whitehead partnered explosive Springbok and Bulls star JJ Engelbrecht at centre.

He will be joined by fellow Sharks player, Graaff, who can play as a flyhalf, centre, wing or fullback.  Graaff, who originally hails from Pretoria, rose to prominence playing for a struggling TUT Vikings side in the Varsity Cup between 2010 and 2012 before joining the Griffons in 2012. He quickly establishing himself as a first-team regular and made several appearances for them in the Vodacom Cup and Currie Cup, earning the title of Currie Cup First Division player of the year in 2012.

He was then included in the final Cheetahs squad for the 2013 Super Rugby season, but failed to make any appearances for them. He subsequently moved to the Sharks for the Currie Cup Premier Division last year, but missed the entire competition because of a knee injury.

Now fit, Graaff will join the Kings when his contract with the Sharks ends in April.

One change for Bulls



Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made one change to his team to face defending Vodacom Super Rugby champions, the Chiefs, at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. Akona Ndungane, who missed last week’s win over the Sharks because of compassionate leave, is back in the team in place of Sampie Mastriet and will play in his 101st match of Vodacom Super Rugby for the franchise.

Mastriet drops out of the match 23 altogether.  Victor Matfield, who took over the captaincy of the team following the late withdrawel of Flip van der Merwe last weekend, will again lead the team into battle.  “We managed to pick up some good momentum over the last couple of weeks and with no new injuries, we can look at maintaining that,” Ludeke said on Wednesday.

“Akona has played in all our matches this season and only missed last weekend because of his father’s passing, so we are keen to have him back. He brings a lot of experience and composure.”

Matfield admitted that the Chiefs will be a stern test.  “They are not the champions for nothing. They are well-balanced with a lot of strike power at the back, but also have a solid and strong first phase in their play. We will have to be very accurate and use our changes if we want to be victorious,” he said.

The team is: Jurgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Dewald Potgieter, Jacques du Plessis, Deon Stegmann, Victor Matfield (c), Paul Willemse, Werner Kruger, Callie Visagie, Dean Greyling. Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi,  Morné Mellett, Marcel van der Merwe, Grant Hattingh, Jono Ross, Piet van Zyl, Handré Pollard, Ulrich Beyers.


Victor Matfield will play in his 130th match, a South African record for appearances in the Vodacom Super Rugby season. Of these, 121 were with the Vodacom Bulls and 8 with the Cats.

Matfield will also improve on his own South African record as captain, as he will lead the team for the 77th time in Super Rugby.

Francois Hougaard needs a try to get to 100 Vodacom Super Rugby points.

Vodacom Cup Round 4 Preview


vodacom cupHalf of the Vodacom Cup fixtures this week will take place at venues that can be described as “off rugby’s beaten track” as South Africa’s premier development competition continues to spread its wings.

Cradock’s Rovers Field, the DP de Villiers Stadium in Sasolburg, Leeudoring Rugby Club in Leeudoringstad and the Bill Jardine Stadium in Industria, Johannesburg will all host Vodacom Cup matches this weekend as the competition passes the halfway mark of the group phase.

The pick of the fixtures in the North Section is on Friday evening in Nelspruit, where the Steval Pumas will host GWK Griquas at the Mbombela Stadium.

These are the only two unbeaten teams left in this section and the side from Kimberley will be looking for revenge after losing this fixture at home last year to the eventual runners up.

Also in the North Section, the Valke and Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls will be looking for their first win of 2014 when they take on each other in Sasolburg on Saturday afternoon, while interest should be high for the Leopards XV’s home game in Leeudoringstad against the Vodacom Blue Bulls. The two top teams in the South Section also take on each other this weekend when the Cell C Sharks XV host the SWD Eagles in Durban on Saturday afternoon. The KwaZulu-Natalians are unbeaten, but following a defeat in the opening round, Bevin Fortuin’s Eagles side have recorded two solid victories and are looking strong.

The EP Kings, currently lying fifth in the South Section, will be keen to get back to winning ways and not lose touch with the front runners when they host the third-placed Toyota Free State XV in Cradock. And almost 300km south east, in East London on Friday, the Border Bulldogs will face DHL Western Province without one of our first featured rising stars, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, who has joined the DHL Stormers on tour in Australia.

Each week we will feature emerging young players from the North and the South Sections who are making their way up the rugby ladder. This week we look at two hard-working loose forwards, Thabo Mabuza (Golden Lions) and Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje (Toyota Free State XV).

Round 4 fixtures:

Friday, 28 March

Border Bulldogs v DHL Western Province
Kick-off: 15h00
Venue: Buffalo City Stadium, East London
Referee: Christie du Preez

Steval Pumas v GWK Griquas
Kick-off: 19h10
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Referee: Pro Legoete

Saturday, 29 March

Cell C Sharks XV v SWD Eagles
Kick-off: 14h30
Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Quinton Immelman

Valke v Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls
Kick-off: 15h00
Venue: DP de Villiers Stadium, Sasolburg
Referee: Archie Sehlako

Leopards XV v Vodacom Blue Bulls
Kick-off: 15h30
Venue: Leeudoring Rugby Club, Leeudoringstad
Referee: Tahla Ntshakaza

EP Kings v Toyota Free State XV
Kick-off: 16h00
Venue: Rovers Field, Cradock
Referee: Jaco van Heerden

Golden Lions v Down Touch Griffons
Kick-off: 16h00
Venue: Bill Jardine Stadium, Johannesburg
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen

Tusker Simba XV v Regent Boland Cavaliers
Kick-off: 16h00
Venue: City Park, Cape Town
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni

Seven changes for DHL Stormers


Stormers Press
Head coach Allister Coetzee has announced a team showing seven changes for the DHL Stormers’ final Vodacom Super Rugby tour match on Saturday – against the Reds in Brisbane(kick-off 10h40 SA time).

Springbok centre Juan de Jongh has been restored to the starting line-up, following his return from injury via the bench last weekend, whilst WP Under-21 star Jurie van Vuuren will make his first Super Rugby start after being named to partner Michael Rhodes at lock. Van Vuuren, who came off the bench last week, is a product of the WP Rugby Institute in Stellenbosch and has lifted silverware with the DHL WP Under-19 (2012) and Under-21 (2013) teams in the past two seasons.

His promotion to the starting XV, in the absence of injured lock Ruan Botha, is one of three changes to the DHL Stormers pack that started against the Brumbies in Canberra last Saturday – the others see Deon Fourie start at hooker and Nizaam Carr come in at No.6. In the backline, meanwhile, the return of De Jongh means a switch back to inside centre for captain Jean de Villiers and Damian de Allende moving back to the wing where he began the 2014 season. Louis Schreuder will come in at scrumhalf, with Nic Groom dropping down to the bench after three starts in a row. Groom also has a slight niggle and did not train fully this week.

In a final backline change, Kobus van Wyk drops out of the matchday 23 altogether after taking a knock to his knee against the Brumbies, with Jaco Taute back on the bench after resting his troublesome AC Joint last weekend.

Taute, in turn, will be joined on the bench by DHL WP Vodacom Cup stars, lock Tazz Fuzani and loose forward Sikhumbuzo Nothse. Both Fuzani and Notshe, who arrived in Brisbane just a day ago, are uncapped at Super Rugby level.

Fuzani, 23, played three Absa Currie Cup matches for DHL Western Province last season, to go with nine appearances at Vodacom Cup level, whilst Notshe – who left school at the end of 2012 – has played 12 Vodacom Cup matches for Province.

Looking ahead to the weekend, coach Coetzee told www.iamastormer.com: “We’d dearly love to finish our tour with a victory in Brisbane. “We know it won’t be easy, but the guys remain positive and determined to make it count this weekend against a Reds team that will also be desperate to get back to winning ways after two losses in South Africa.”

The DHL Stormers team for Saturday (v the Reds) is as follows:
15. Gio Aplon
14. Damian de Allende
13. Juan de Jongh
12. Jean de Villiers (captain)
11. Sailosi Tagicakibau
10. Peter Grant
9. Louis Schreuder
8. Duane Vermeulen (vice-captain)
7. Siya Kolisi
6. Nizaam Carr
5. Michael Rhodes
4. Jurie van Vuuren
3. Frans Malherbe
2. Deon Fourie
1. Steven Kitshoff
16. Stephan Coetzee
17. Oliver Kebble
18. Brok Harris
19. Tazz Fuzani
20. Sikhumbuzo Notshe
21. Nic Groom
22. Demetri Catrakilis
23. Jaco Taute
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)

Ackers give Coetzee advise


imagesLions coach Johan Ackermann has given the Stormers a few tips on how to beat the Reds when they meet in a Super Rugby clash in Brisbane on Saturday.

Ackermann’s Lions beat the Reds 23-20 at Ellis Park last week and the Lions mentor says he knows how to floor the Australian side. “The Reds do not have the strongest front row and start bending the rules when you put them under pressure at scrum time,” Ackermann told Die Burger’s website.

“You can also put them under pressure with lineout drives. You shouldn’t let the game become too loose, that’s their bread and butter, especially with the halfback pair of Will Genia and Quade Cooper. “They have centres who can break the line and strong wingers, but the Stormers defend really well and should be able to handle it.

“If I had to play against the Reds again then I’d focus on putting more pressure on Cooper. You have to try and limit the space offered to him and Genia and not give them too much time on the ball.” The Stormers haven’t been as dominant at lineout time – largely due to a crisis at lock – and their scrum also disintegrated against the Brumbies last week.

It will therefore be interesting to see who makes up the Stormers tight five when coach Allister Coetzee names his team on Wednesday.

Saturday’s game kicks off at 10:40 (SA time) on Saturday.

Junior Bok hopefuls annouced for training camp


The process to select the SA Under-20 squad to represent South Africa at the 2014 IRB Junior World Championship in New Zealand will begin on Sunday when the expanded training group gathers in Stellenbosch for an intensive two-month training camp.

The group, consisting of almost 70 of the country’s most promising Under-20 players, will play trial matches on Monday, 31 March and Wednesday 2 April in Stellenbosch. Following the trials, the squad will be reduced to approximately 40 players to continue with preparations ahead of the JWC 2014. The Junior World Championship will be held in Auckland from June 2 to 20, 2014.

Dawie Theron, the SA U20 coach and members of the SARU Mobi-Unit will guide the players through a series of planning, field and conditioning sessions before a short break for the Easter holidays. SARU will announce the SA Under-20 JWC squad of 28 players on Tuesday, April 22, at a media conference in Cape Town. The training camp will include two trial matches, scheduled for next Monday and Wednesday, daily training, conditioning and strategic planning sessions, as well as a much-anticipated three-match international series against the Argentina Under-20 side.

Last month, the SA U20 coach and the SARU Mobi-Unit hosted one-day planning sessions in Johannesburg and Cape Town, where the coach shared his vision and mission for the upcoming camp, among other things. Next week’s trial matches will give the players the opportunity to play themselves into contention for selection for the reduced training group before the final JWC squad is selected.

“The gathering of the large group of players will be the culmination of an extensive period of work behind the scenes where we meticulously planned the two-month training camp and identified the large pool of players,” said Theron. He added he was very pleased with the game time the majority of the players have been afforded so far this season.

“Thanks to the excellent relationship and constant communication between SARU and the various provincial coaches, I am pleased with the amount of game time these players have had this season. “It is a huge improvement from previous years, and hopefully it will count in our favour as we go in search of the title,” explained Theron. The following three players were not considered for the camp due to Vodacom Super Rugby commitments: André Esterhuizen (Cell C Sharks), Handré Pollard and Jessie Kriel (Vodacom Bulls).

Furthermore, the SARU medical team and their provincial colleagues will continue to monitor the rehabilitation programmes of the following injured players: Kevin Kaba (EP Kings, knee), Ryno Eksteen (DHL WP, knee), Duhan van der Merwe (Vodacom Blue Bulls/SARU, knee), Grant Hermanus (Paarl Gymnasium, hamstring). The players who were selected for the original training group, but will not be travelling to Stellenbosch for the trials, will still be considered for inclusion in the official JWC squad.

The following group of players will assemble in Stellenbosch on Sunday:

Vodacom Blue Bulls:
Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Dan Kriel, Pierre Schoeman, Duncan Mathews, JP Smith, Corniel Els, Wilco Louw, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Abongile Nonkontwana, Arno van Wyk, Leighton van Wyk, Janse van Rensburg, RG Snyman, Heinrich Viljoen, Kobus Marais, Warrick Gelant, Ganfried May, Marcus Kleinbooi, Chris Massyn, Nqoba Mxoli

Golden Lions:
Malcom Marx, Michael Hazner, Ramone Samuels, Jaco Van der Walt, Jano Venter, Thabo Mabuza, Victor Sisekete, Christiaan Meyer, Pieter Scholtz, Stephan Vermeulen, Cyle Brink, Dylan Smith, Kock Marx

GWK Griquas:
Hillford Clarke

Dean Stokes, Lloyd Greef

Toyota Free State:
Ox Nche, Joseph Dweba, Mthokozisi Mkhabela, Nicolaas Lee

EP Kings:
Aidon Davis, Sergeal Petersen

Cell C Sharks:
Thomas du Toit, Gideon Koegelenberg, Chris de Beer, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Dan du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Neil Maritz, Sandile Khubeka, Cameron Wright, Ayron Schramm, Ray Williams, Sias Koen, Alrin Eksteen

DHL Western Province:
JD Schickerling, Jacques Vermeulen, Ernst Stapelberg, Daniel du Plessis, Jarryd Sage, SP Ferreira, Justin Phillips, Dewald Naude, Chad Solomon, Frans van Wyk, Jan Uys, EW Viljoen, Rikus Bothma.

The SA U20 camp will include the following activities:

Camp One
When: 31 March – 16 April 2014
Where: Stellenbosch Academy of Sport

Camp Two
When: 23 April – 17 May 2014
Where: Stellenbosch Academy of Sport and Cape Town

SA U20 international friendlies vs Argentina U20:
09 May: SA vs Argentina (City Park Stadium, Cape Town)
13 May: SA vs Argentina (Paul Roos, Stellenbosch)
17 May: SA vs Argentina (Saldanha Rugby Club, Saldanha)

JWC Holding camp
When: 23 – 26 May 2014
Where: Stellenbosch Academy of Sport

Capping Ceremony
When: 25 May 2014
Where: Stellenbosch Academy of Sport

Squad Departure
When: 26 May 2014
Where: Cape Town International Airport

SA U20 2014 JWC fixtures:
2 June: SA vs Scotland (North Harbor)
6 June: SA vs New Zealand (North Harbor)
10 June: SA vs Samoa (Pukekohe)
15 June: Playoffs (Tbc)
20 June: Finals (Auckland)

‘Skrumreël moet dadelik verander’


Scrum - Bath United v Harlequins A

Rugby se skrums is voortdurend onder die soeklig en’n vooraanstaande afrigter voel dat nóg ‘n verandering dadelik gemaak moet word.

Franco out for six months


imagesThe Lions suffered a major setback as their most experienced player, Springbok lock Franco van der Merwe, has been ruled out for up to six months with ankle ligament damage.

The Springbok lock suffered the injury in the Lions’ win over the Reds at Ellis Park on Saturday, and will not play any more Super Rugby this year after undergoing surgery on Monday. He is expected to be out of action for up to six months. With the big lock fast approaching his 100th game coach Johan Ackerman is quite aware of what a loss this is for his high flying Lions.

“Franco is going to be out for up to six months, so we have definitly lost our most experienced player with over a 100 Currie Cup games and almost 100 Super Rugby games so it’s not the best news that I received yesterday. “He has already had an operation, he has torn all his ankle ligaments, a grade three syndesmotic tear,” Ackerman said. While Van der Merve is a big loss to the Lions the coach can be grateful for the bye his team has this week, players such as Coenie van Wyk and Deon van Rensburg should be available, after limping off the field against the Reds, when the Lions host the Crusaders at Ellis park the following week.

“First of all we had a lot of knocks on our bodies so the bye comes at the right time, but next week we have to be sharp. “The rest have bumps and bruises but those that came off the field on the weekend, Deon van Rensburg and Coenie van Wyk, will recover in time. “With the bye this week we are quite confident that they will be ready next week, the prognosis so far is that they will recover in time – it was all just bone bruises,” he said.

Ackerman has also indicated that Elton Jantjies is still very much part of his Super Rugby plans by giving the Springbok pivot a week break along with the rest of the squad, this comes after Jantjies played in the Vodacom Cup at the weekend. “Because we are limited in our squad, the whole Super Rugby group is going to have an off week, we will all see each other next Monday and nobody will play this weekend – Elton [Jantjies] falls into that Super Rugby group.

“We only have Marnitz [Boshoff] at flyhalf and we don’t want Elton to pick up unnecessary injuries,” Ackerman said.

By: Darryn Pollock

SA’s backs are still try-shy


imagesHuman steam-roller Willem Alberts who, let’s face it, generally prefers just one way to the line, currently heads the South African try scorers in Super Rugby with a less than princely three.

By: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

The hefty Sharks blindside flank got to his third of the season, and his team’s lone touchdown on the day, in their first setback of the season at the hands of the Bulls at Loftus on Saturday.

And yes, it was another of his short-range, unsubtle, route-one busts over the whitewash.

It kind of sums up the collective struggle by South African teams to manufacture scoring opportunities for the best intended finishers in rugby: outside backs.

Alberts may lead the SA “charge” for tries thus far, but even he is a long way behind the overall leader at this point, the Waratahs’ blistering fullback Israel Folau, who sports eight.

Behind Folau, in joint second with four tries each, comes a pair of Brumbies, Robbie Coleman and Jesse Mogg, plus the Hurricanes’ slippery flyhalf Beauden Barrett.

Early indications are that last season’s pattern may repeat itself.

Again then, South Africans failed to feature near the top of the try-scoring chart: the Blues’ Tongan express wing Frank Halai headed the 2013 pack with 10, and the closest South Africans, in joint eighth, were Cheetahs back-three talisman Willie le Roux and Kings flanker Wimpie van der Walt (six apiece).

For team tries thus far in 2014, the SA challenge is also less than inspiring: we lie bottom of the pile with 51 achieved between the five franchises, eight shy of the second-placed New Zealanders (59) and as many as 14 short of the pace-setting Aussies (65).

No South African side cracks the top five, despite the Sharks still occupying top log position overall, with the Blues notching 17 dot-downs, the Hurricanes and Waratahs 16, and Force and Brumbies 14 each.

The Sharks and Cheetahs are best SA flag-bearers thus far with 13 each, and the Stormers really drag the whole, local conference cause down by only dotting seven times from their five games to lie 14th out of the 15 tournament teams as things stand (the Crusaders a little surprisingly bring up the rear on six tries).

Scoring tries freely is not, of course, the be-all and end-all of rugby success: look at the table positions of the Blues (eighth) and Hurricanes (12th) for proof of that; sometimes teams crossing the line with some ease are guilty of lax defending at the other end of the park and leak plenty of tries themselves.

But it is also difficult to escape a suspicion that several SA teams could do with a bit more ball-in-hand urgency and fluency as the country seeks its first Super Rugby title since the change to the conference system in 2011.

Smal in WP & Stormers shake-up (Update)


Gert Smal 16/4/2004Western Province and the Stormers are set for a major shake-up next week, when Gert Smal will be appointed as Director of Rugby.

The former Stormers head coach, who was Ireland forwards coach for four years and was also a Springbok assistant coach for the same period, returned to Cape Town and has been seen at Newlands – with agents in tow. This website has been reliably told that Smal’s appointment is “a done deal” and will be confirmed next week – once the Stormers return from their disastrous Australasian tour.

There has been persistent rumours in recent weeks that the heads of Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee and backline mentor Robbie Fleck are on the chopping block. However, their roles in the new dispensation has not been clearly defined. WP Rugby Football Union President Thelo Wakefield, who is on tour with the team in Australia at present, has been central to the proposed changes.

He has been coy about the details of the shake-up, but hinted strongly that some management changes would take place. One suggestion has been that the current coaching structure – which include Coetzee, Fleck and forwards coach Matt Proudfoot – will remain in tact for the remainder of the Super Rugby season, but further changes could be in the offing for the Currie Cup competition.

Brendan Venter, a Cape Town resident who masterminded the Sharks’ win over WP in the Currie Cup Final last October, has also been linked to the shake-up. However, this website’s sources said no definitive role has been defined for Venter.

Coetzee was non-committal when asked about the proposed changes.

Speaking in a teleconference call from Brisbane, where the team was preparing to face the Reds in a Round Seven Super Rugby match on Saturday, he admitted to having had a “meeting” with Wakefield on Monday. “However, at this point in time my focus is on the Reds,” the Stormers coach said. “We are preparing to ensure we get a result [victory] this weekend,” he said, adding: “I am not going to comment on the meeting.”

Asked if he was willing to take on board any consultants, Coetzee again produced the ‘no comment’ card. “I am focussed on getting this ship sailing in the right direction. Our focus is on the Reds.” He said team management had a “great meeting” with the players and there is a lot of positivity in the squad. Smal and Coetzee were the assistant coaches of Jake White, when South Africa won the World Cup in 2007.

The 52-year-old Smal, who played six Tests for South Africa between 1986 and 1989, held a number of coaching positions in South Africa – including at the Border Bulldogs (1998 to 1999), Western Province (2000 to 2002, when they twice won the Currie Cup) and then with the Stormers in the Super 12 between 2003 and 2005, reaching the semifinals in 2004.

In 2004, Smal was appointed to the South African team management as assistant coach to Jake White, during which time the Springboks won the Tri-Nations championship in 2004, before winning the 2007 World Cup. In June 2008, Smal was appointed forward coach to the Irish team under Declan Kidney. During Smal’s time at Ireland, they won the 2009 Six Nations, completing the Grand Slam for the first time in 61 years.

His assistance was key in Ireland’s victory over the 2007 World Champions and Tri-Nations champions South Africa during the year-end tour in 2009 – where he taught the Irish pack some Afrikaans so that they could read the opposition’s line-out calls. In June 2011, he signed a contract extension with the IRFU.

Smal was replaced as Ireland forwards coach in 2013 by former Sharks mentor John Plumtree.


Henning Gericke, a psychologist who worked with the Springboks when they won the 2007 Rugby World Cup, is set to help at the Stormers.

The Stormers have only won only one game out of five in this year’s Super Rugby competition and are languishing in 14th spot on the overall log. According to Die Burger’s website, Gericke will be asked to help a team struggling to close out tight games. Gericke is well renowned in his field and also worked with South Africa’s swimming team ahead of the 2012 Olympics, while also working with the Proteas cricket team in the past.

Gericke has a PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Pretoria. His addition could be one of a few changes made in personnel at the union, with former coach Gert Smal expected to be appointed as director of rugby. WP Rugby President Thelo Wakefield indicated there will be changes in personnel but did not state if any of the current coaching staff would be axed.

The Stormers face the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday (10:40 kick-off) in the last game of their Australasian tour.

Ikeys packing for Potchefstroom


Varisty Cup Logo
A late penalty from replacement Rhyno Smith saw FNB NWU-Pukke clinch a 19-18 victory over NMMU in Potchefstroom to set up their first-ever home FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International final.

NWU-Pukke will host the FNB UCT Ikey Tigers in the final on April 7 after edging the Madibaz in a dramatic finish as the Eastern Cape side went down by a single point in their second consecutive semifinal. The home side made the early running as they surged into the NMMU 22 with purpose, and it was not long before flank Rhyk Welgemoed dived over for the opening try next to the posts.

There was no respite for the Madibaz as NWU-Pukke got right back on the front foot and some quick hands saw wing Luther Obi get over for their second try which gave them a healthy 13-0 lead inside the opening ten minutes. NMMU had hardly got their hands on the ball, and they made their first foray into opposition territory as they looked for a response, but Andile Jho was denied a try after being put over the line by a forward pass.

Two penalties from NWU-Pukke centre Adriaan Engelbrecht early in the second half saw them stretch their lead to 17-8, before some last-ditch defending saw them deny the Madibaz from scoring in the corner. However, the visitors struck soon afterwards as they launched a breathtaking counter-attack from their own territory after absorbing plenty of pressure from the hosts.

Fullback Jarryd Buys picked the ball up off his bootlaces and threw a neat dummy before releasing wing Tythan Adams who finished well, with Hauptfleisch’s conversion reducing the gap to 17-16 at the second strategy break. NMMU took the lead for the first time with just 12 minutes left to play when Buys slotted a drop-goal which set up a tense finish as both teams chased a first-ever home final.

However, Smith stepped up with just two minutes left on the clock and sent the ball sailing through the uprights to the delight of the crowd to break Madibaz hearts.

The scorers:

For FNB NWU-Pukke:
Tries: Welgemoed, Obi
Con: Engelbrecht
Pens: Engelbrecht 2, Smith

For FNB NMMU Madibaz:
Tries: Cloete, Adams
Cons: Hauptfleisch 2
DG: Buys

In Cape Town

FNB UCT booked their place in the 2014 FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International final with a dominant 20-8 victory over Maties on a wet Green Mile.

The wind and rain in Cape Town made it a tricky prospect for both teams, with UCT adapting best to conditions as they scored all of their points after half-time following a scoreless first half. The visitors made a positive start to the game, pegging the Ikeys back in their own half in the slippery conditions, but they were unable to make it count on the scoreboard as the UCT defence held up well after conceding a string of penalties in their 22.

The battle up front was always going to be key given the persistent rain, and Ikeys struck a big blow when they shoved the Maties pack backwards in the first scrum of the game, which set the tone for the rest of the match. They kept the pressure on and camped on the Maties tryline for a while, but the team from Stellenbosch showed just as much resolve on defence to keep the game scoreless after an intense opening 15 minutes.

Maties made their move once more, rejecting a few opportunities to kick at goal as they looked for the opening try, and although Ikeys wing Richard Stewart was shown a yellow card for repeated infringements the Stellenbosch side could not find a way through as they went into the first strategy break without bothering the scorers. Maties looked certain to score after the ball was sent wide following a turnover in UCT territory, but left wing John Durr was forced into touch just short of the tryline as the Tigers hung tough.

Maties continued to hammer away, but Ikeys clearly had the upper hand in the set-pieces and they managed to keep them out as the teams went into the half-time break still deadlocked at 0-0. The home side had the wind at their backs in the second half, and it paid off straight away as Lihleli Xoli followed up well on a chip kick to score the opening try, with Dean Grant’s conversion putting them 8-0 up.

Grant added two penalties which took Ikeys’ lead to 12-0, and it looked a long way back for Maties with the wind and rain blowing in their faces. Some clever kicking from Grant kept Maties back in their own 22, where the Ikeys scrum put them under some considerable pressure, and it finally told as a massive shove saw UCT No.8 Michael Botha crash over for a pushover try which made it 20-0 once converted.

That left Maties with it all to do in the last ten minutes, and they were given a glimmer of hope when Ikeys captain Liam Slatem was shown a yellow card for a dangerous tackle. His opposite number Jean Nel took advantage straight away when he slid over for a try in the corner, which was converted from the touchline by flyhalf Robert du Preez, but it was not enough to avoid defeat as Ikeys booked their place in the final.

The scorers:

Tries: Xoli, Botha
Cons: Grant 2
Pens: Grant 2

For FNB Maties:
Try: Nel
Con: Du Preez

Lambie’s season curtailed


(Gallo Images)
(Gallo Images)
The Sharks have been dealt a sizeable blow with the news that highly-rated fly-half Pat Lambie’s Super Rugby season is over.

Lambie picked up a knock early on in the Durban-based franchise’s narrow defeat to the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld, and though the initial prognosis was not too severe, it has been confirmed the pivot has torn a biceps tendon.

That rules Lambie out for the remainder of the Sharks’ campaign, with the recovery period likely to take around six months after surgery later this week.

Scrum-half Cobus Reinach picked up a fractured hand during the same match and underwent surgery on Monday.

He will be out of action for up to eight weeks which means he misses the match against the Waratahs this Saturday at Kings Park as well as three matches in April (Lions away and at home to the Cheetahs and Highlanders) and some – if not all – of the tour to Australia and New Zealand where the Sharks play the Rebels, Brumbies, Crusaders and Blues in May.

Liebenberg joins walking wounded


Stormers Press
DHL Stormers hooker Tiaan Liebenberg has also flown home from his team’s Vodacom Super Rugby tour of Australia, joining Schalk Burger who returned to Cape Town on Sunday.

Burger is out with a slightly torn quad muscle, whilst Liebenberg suffered a lower neck impingement against the Brumbies on Saturday and will consult a specialist this week once he arrives back home.At this stage Liebenberg will be out of action for at least three weeks, with Coetzee also sweating over the fitness of lock Ruan Botha who took a knock to his ankle during his team’s gut-wrenching 15-25 loss in Canberra.

“Ruan injured the ankle that was operated on last year and, at this stage, he has a 50 percent chance of being fit for the next match against the Reds (on Saturday),” DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee told www.iamastormer.com from the Gold Coast on Monday. “In the case of Schalk (Burger) we’ll wait and see what the specialist’s report says before we know how long he’ll be sidelined,” added Coetzee, “but we expect Siya Kolisi to be ready since he has responded well to ongoing treatment (on his AC Joint).”

Powerful lock Tazz Fuzani and 20-year-old flanker Sikhumbuzo Notshe – two stars of the DHL Western Province Vodacom Cup team – departed for Australia on Monday afternoon and will join up with the DHL Stormers squad in Brisbane. Said Coetzee: “We have flown over Tazz Fuzani (lock) and Sikhumbuzo Notshe (flank) as injury replacements and both of them will come in the reckoning for the matchday squad this week.

“Deon Fourie will start as a hooker this week and Stephan Coetzee, who joined us on tour last week, will be the reserve.”

With Fourie set to move from the side of the scrum back to hooker this week, that would leave space for both Nizaam Carr and Siya Kolisi to combine with Springbok star Duane Vermeulen in a new-look loose trio. “Duane Vermeulen has been playing so well this season and I would not like to move him (from No.8),” said Coetzee. “Nizaam and Siya will come into contention for places on the side of the scrum.”

Fullback Jaco Taute, who missed last week’s match because of an ongoing AC Joint problem, will come back into the selection equation for the DHL Stormers’ final tour match against the Reds on Saturday. (Kick-off 10h40 SA time.)

The DHL Stormers team – to take on the Reds in Brisbane – will be announced on Wednesday mid-morning (SA time).

Aussie get domestic series


Australian-RugbyAustralian Rugby Union today announced nine teams will compete in the inaugural season of its new domestic rugby competition, the National Rugby Championship, which will kick off in August this year.

The competition will include two teams from Queensland, four from New South Wales and one each from, Victoria and Western Australia. Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver said he was delighted that the entire Australian Rugby community has come together to form teams to take part in this exciting new competition. “The National Rugby Championship is an important strategic development for the growth of Rugby in Australia.”

“For Rugby fans it will provide an opportunity to engage with an elite Rugby competition during the second half of the year, once the Super Rugby competition is completed. “For players it represents the missing link in their development pathway towards Super Rugby and ultimately Wallaby selection. “It will also support the ARU’s objective to create additional compelling content for broadcasters with a quality local competition to rival New Zealand’s ITM Cup and South Africa’s Currie Cup.

“Consistent with our commitment to continually enhance the entertainment experience from Rugby, the ARU plans to launch a social media competition inviting Rugby fans to suggest law changes and match day innovations that could form part of this new competition. “This is an opportunity for our supporters to have their say to create a more innovative and exciting game of Rugby,” Mr Pulver said.

Teams to compete in the 2014 season are:

Brisbane City
Queensland Country
North Harbour Rays
Sydney Stars
Greater Sydney Rams
NSW Country
University of Canberra Vikings
Melbourne Rising
Perth Spirit

The National Rugby Championship will kick off in late August following the State Premier Rugby Competitions and will run until the beginning of November. The competition will run for 11 weeks and include eight preliminary rounds, with each team playing four home and four away games, one bye week and finishing with semi-finals and finals. All Super Rugby players will be required to play in the National Rugby Championship, with a quota system in place to ensure each of the nine teams have a mixture of Super Rugby players and the best up and coming players from their local club competitions.

Wallabies players will be playing Tests while the National Rugby Championship is on, but each member of the Wallabies squad will be allocated across the nine teams and will play if they become available.

Aplon leaves, Sevens Bok signs for Stormers


Stormers Press
Veteran WP and Stormers utility back Gio Aplon will further his career abroad at the end of the 2014 Super Rugby season.

However, two young backline talents have been signed to make up for his departure. With Aplon set to join French Top 14 club Grenoble later this year, two younger players will be available to Western Province from the start of the 2014 Absa Currie Cup season – fullback/flyhalf Dillyn Leyds and SA Sevens speedster Seabelo Senatla. Aplon has played over 160 matches for Cape Town-based teams – at Super Rugby (81), Currie Cup (73) and Vodacom Cup (nine) level – but will now move on to the next chapter in his impressive first-class career.

Comfortable at either wing or fullback, he made his Western Province debut in 2005 and his Stormers debut two years later – quickly becoming a darling in Cape Town with his quick feet on attack and bravery on defence. Allister Coetzee, WP’s Senior Professional coach said Aplon has been a “loyal servant” of WP Rugby and a true son of Newlands. “He will be missed, but he goes with our blessing,” Coetzee said.

“At almost 32 years of age, having just got married and starting a young family, we were never going to stand in Gio’s way when he asked to be released – having first played in the Blue and White hoops [as a Vodacom Cup player] back in 2005.” Meanwhile, Coetzee was delighted to have secured the services of Leyds and Senatla, two of the country’s brightest backline talents, with an even younger player, the WP Rugby Institute’s EW Viljoen, the next fullback in waiting within the union.

Leyds is currently part of the Western Force Super Rugby squad, whilst BlitzBokke sensation Senatla will join Western Province in a unique twin deal with the SA Sevens side. “We are naturally elated that Dillyn is returning to Cape Town – especially after the starring role he played for the cup-winning Western Province Under-21 team in 2013,” said Coetzee.

“However, as with Demetri Catrakilis – who rejoined us from the Kings last year – we understand that a move away from Cape Town can only be a good thing for his development as a player and a person.

“Seabelo’s signing is a real coup too, especially given the nature of the deal between us and SA Rugby. Seabelo has impressed at Junior World Cup level and on the international Sevens circuit. He has out and out pace and a high work-rate and we look forward to working with him later this year.”

Super Rugby refs axed for poor displays


South African official Stuart Berry – who whistled the Queensland Reds off Ellis Park in Johannesburg on the weekend – is among four Super Rugby referees axed for poor performances. Berry, compatriot Lourens van der Merwe, Argentina’s Francisco Pastrana and Australian referee Angus Gardner were all stood down by governing body SANZAR on Monday.
March 24, 2014 – 6:36PM

Jim Morton

Stuart Berry during the match between the Lions and the Reds at Ellis Park at the weekend.Stuart Berry during the match between the Lions and the Reds at Ellis Park at the weekend. Photo: Getty Images


The quartet paid the price for sub-par displays as SANZAR referees boss Lyndon Bray takes a hard stance on improving the competition’s standard of refereeing. Bray last week indicated there would be a purge of officials at the end of the month but has wielded the axe a week early, following continued on-field controversies.

Berry had come under widespread criticism – from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa – after he penalised the Reds 17-4 against the Lions, who came back from 20-3 down to win 23-20 in Johannesburg on Sunday morning Australian time. Reds coach Richard Graham, particularly incensed by the final 10 minutes of the game, said he’d never seen such a lop-sided count.

Berry was due to stand as assistant referee in Pretoria this weekend but has been taken off duty for at least two weeks, as has Gardner.


The performances of Berry, who awarded a controversial try to the Lions against the Blues the week before, and van der Merwe in South Africa had sparked renewed calls for SANZAR to return to neutral referees.

Graham had previously made a formal complaint about van der Merwe’s display in Queensland’s 35-20 loss to the Sharks in Durban the week before.

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske was just as cutting after panning Pastrana following his side’s 40-30 loss to the Blues in Auckland.

Van der Merwe has been stripped of controlling this Saturday’s Blues-Highlanders clash in Auckland, while Pastrana has been replaced by Nick Briant, who will referee Friday night’s Crusaders-Hurricanes game in Christchurch.

Bray has dismissed the need for neutral referees but said decreasing the pool of officials would see more consistency, with the very best handling more games heading into the finals. ”One of our core strategic objectives is to grow the depth of the team that is able to referee ‘any game, any time’,” he said. ”In line with this, we have reduced the size of the team heading into the next phase of the competition and in doing so, have recognised who has performed to expectation and who has not.”


Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-union/union-news/super-rugby-refs-axed-for-poor-displays-20140324-hvm8h.html#ixzz2ws8VvSnN

Matfield mastermind in Bulls


Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said that a few key ajustments made by Victor Matfield have been central to their recent success.

The Bulls beat the Sharks in their return match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, handing the visitors their first defeat of the season. When the two sides met in the first round of the competition in Durban, the Bulls were convincingly beaten by their coastal rivals. Ludeke said that the difference had been a few tactical changes made by Springbok veteran Matfield who was the team’s attack coach before making a return to the playing field. “A lot of things we worked on over the last few weeks came through. Victor made a few smart adjustments to our attack in the week and it paid off for us today,” he said.

The victory was affirmation to the Bulls coach that his side was on the right track as they cemented their place among the top sides in the competition with only five points separating them from the log-leading Sharks. “If you get a win against the Sharks, the way we played, it is a good reward for us and playing against a side that is on top of their game,” Ludeke said after the match. Matfield, who took over the captaincy after lock partner Flip van der Merwe, was ruled out due to a hamstring strain on Friday, lead a spirited Bulls pack.

The return of former Bulls captain Dewald Potgieter to the side also added a new dimension to the side as he formed a handy trio with Deon Stegmann and Jacques du Plessis. The 20-year-old Du Plessis is clearly coming into his own as he was again valuable with ball in hand and defensively. Stegmann and Potgieter were equally impressive with the former terrorising the Sharks at the breakdown area.

The Bulls lay down the gauntlet after the restart with Du Plessis breaking through a tackle in the 47 minute to score, with flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter converting to level the scores on 13-13. “We felt at half-time we created opportunities that we didn’t use, we gave away soft penalties that kept them in front,” Matfield said. “But 20 minutes into the second half we were good and we can take a lot out of that, there are still a lot of mistakes but we are a work in progress.”

Matfield said the secret to beating the Sharks brimming with Springbok players was the fact that they aimed at playing as a unit instead on relying on individual stars. “Against the Blues we were very happy about how we played, tonight we always knew it would be tough because the Sharks are a very good team, they haven’t lost yet,” he said. “We really had to fight till the end with 23 guys giving their best, playing for each other and really showing great commitment out there.”


Die Pypkan


Or for our English readers,”The side-step”.

I have recently come across this tendency from young players where either the ball is kept in both hands (this by the way is the correct technique as advocated by Boksmart), or have the ball in the wrong hand (as seen on this GIF)

Step off right foot

This is in contrast to the old school philosophy whereby we were taught to have the ball in the hand of the foot that gets planted, and then to immediately transfer the ball onto the ‘outside’ hand, as you can see on this and countless other videos of a bygone era:

Old School

Or as seen here from our old mate Quade Cooper, who has a similar step to those Fijians who excel at Sevens.


What I do see is kids merely ‘changing direction’ as opposed to stepping. For example in a group of 20 kids I only saw one player step from 12 O Clock to 3 of clock off his right foot, whereas the rest all stepped to 4 and 5 o clock, which is nothing more than a slight change in direction. Is the ability to step still required in the modern game, and if so – are players today being coached this skill differently?






Dis nie net Bulls wat spelers oppot nie


Baie is gesê oor BRENDAN VENTER se storie oor die oppot (hoarding) van spelers. Dit strek natuurlik wyer as die Bulls.

SR: Vodacom Bulls 23, Cell C Sharks 19


imagesThe big questions is: Can anyone beat the Sharks?

The Bulls believe they can, if they play to their true potential – more like their performance against the Blues a fortnight ago. However, they are up against a team blessed with having two genuine playmakers in their backline in Pat Lambie and Francois Steyn. The Sharks have shown they can play both an expansive game and handle a gruelling forward battle up front. A trip up to Pretoria looks to be their toughest test to date, although they did record a comprehensive 15-point victory over the three-time champions in Round One this year.

Back on track after two straight victories in the opening weeks, the Bulls have shown they might not be a spent force in Super Rugby after all. Sharks Director of Rugby Jake White admitted they are looking forward to finally playing on a dry field on the Highveld – after some testing and humid conditions in all four their home games. “I don’t think anybody can say we are conservative, given that we have scored the second most tries in the competition,” White told this website in an interview. The Sharks have scored 12 tries in their four games, and conceded five – with only the Blues, in 11th place and Hurricanes in 12th place who have more, both scored 13 in the same number of games.

“Our outside backs have scored 80 percent of our tries,” the Sharks boss said. “To get up there on the Highveld, with a nice hard field, and be able to move the ball around is something we are looking forward to.” The Bulls are determined to kick on from their two recent wins. “For us every game is important,” coach Frans Ludeke told this website.

“We are up against a team in good form, playing good rugby and unbeaten,” he said, adding: “That makes the challenge so much more interesting. “However, we have to put the past [last four games] behind us and come up with an 80-minute effort. “We are at home and must win if we want to have a say in the competition.” While a lot has happened since the Sharks beat the Bulls in Durban in Week One, Ludeke admitted some tough lessons were learnt from that outing.

“Our reaction at the breakdown was slow and our ball carriers turned over too much possession at the breakdown – that put us under pressure,” he said. “We created opportunities, but were disappointed that we didn’t convert those into points. “That [converting opportunities into points] will be critical this weekend. “Discipline is another factor.

“We need to ensure we are on the right side of the calls in all aspects – set pieces, breakdown, etc.” Both teams have the ability to put the opposition under pressure on the scoreboard with penalties, which means dominating up front will be crucial. Both teams have lost Springbok locks to injury – Pieter-Steph du Toit out for the rest of the year with a knee injury and Flip van der Merwe for a couple of weeks with a hamstring strain.

Recent results:
2014: Sharks won 31-16, Durban
2013: Bulls won 20-19, Pretoria
2013: Bulls won 18-16, Durban
2012: Sharks won 32-10, Durban
2012: Bulls won 18-13, Pretoria
2011: Sharks won 26-23, Pretoria
2011: Bulls won 32-23, Durban


Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Dewald Potgieter, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Morné Mellett, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Jono Ross, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Ulrich Beyers.

Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Sibusiso Sithole, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Anton Bresler, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Lubabalo Mtembu, 21 Charl McLeod, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Andre Esterhuizen.

Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommenstein (South Africa)

SR: Lions 23, Reds 20


imagesThe Reds are determined to bounce back from last week’s disappointment, when they felt hard done by a few decision from the match officials.

They will encounter another South African referee, Stuart Berry, who has come under fire from SANZAR Game Manager Lyndon Bray for his handling of the Blues game against the Lions last week. However, the Reds can’t blame all their problems on the referee. There were three blown tries – and some ill-discipline – that robbed Richard Graham’s men of a chance at upsetting the unbeaten Sharks. They now have to turn their attention to another South African side on a roll.

The Lions have racked up three wins already in 2014 to be the surprise packets of the competition and will take some beating at Ellis Park. As well as being on their game the Reds will want to be on their best behaviour, with Lions superboot Marnitz Boshoff – who has already booted 20 penalties among his 96 points so far in 2014 – sure to make them pay for any indiscretions. Lions coach Johan Ackermann has repeatedly warned that his team, despite their impressive form, can’t take anything for granted.

“They certainly bring a new challenge,” he said of the Reds. “We can’t just look at their game against the Sharks this past Saturday,” Ackermann said, adding: “We have to accept that they may have been a bit below par [in a 20-35 loss in Durban]. It was their first game on the road and we have to realise they will be a much bigger threat. “We know how dangerous their backline can be and we will certainly have to improve our defence.”

Graham said the team had prepared well despite a few injury setbacks and was looking forward to the contest. “The Lions have been one of the form teams in the early rounds of Super Rugby. They are a young, energetic team who fight and scrap for everything,” Graham said. “We have spent a large part of the week focusing on our own game and wanting to improve certain aspects around the contact areas.”

The Reds and Lions have met 17 times in Super Rugby, with Queensland winning 13 of the encounters and drawing one. The Reds’ record in Johannesburg against the Lions is seven wins, one loss and one draw.

Recent results:
2012: Reds won 34-20, Brisbane
2011: Reds won 30-25, Johannesburg
2010: Reds won 41-26, Johannesburg
2009: Lions won 31-20, Brisbane
2008: Lions and Reds drew 24-24, Johannesburg
2007: Lions won 26-20, Brisbane


Lions: 15 Coenie van Wyk, 14 JW Jonker, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Willie Britz, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Mark Pretorius, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 20 Stephan de Wit, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Lionel Mapoe, 23 Ruan Combrinck.

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

Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Francois de Bruin (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)

A bitter pill to swallow – Coetzee


Stormers Press
The Men from Cape Town conceded a last-minute penalty try to the Brumbies to miss out on a losing bonus point as they suffered a third tour defeat in the process.

Speaking to the www.iamastormer.com website from his team’s base in Canberra afterwards, Coetzee said: “This is definitely a bitter pill to swallow for us, even more disappointing than the losses to the Crusaders and the Chiefs. “It’s frustrating as we’re our own worst enemies at the moment. Individual errors and poor decision-making at key moments continue to cost us,” he added.

“But we’re not about to give up. I’ve said it before, no DHL Stormers team will ever give up and we will be putting everything into securing a win in our final tour game next week (against the Reds).” The DHL Stormers lost by one point to the Crusaders two weeks ago, conceding a late penalty goal to go down 13-14, and last weekend they were trailing the Chiefs by four points (20-24) before conceding two late tries to miss out on a losing bonus point (as they lost 20-36).

“It’s the third week in a row that we’ve not stuck to the plan in closing a game out,” said Coetzee. “It’s a lack of composure in pressure situations, but hopefully we’ve finally learnt our lesson.” The team also suffered a blow shortly before today’s clash against the Brumbies when veteran flanker Schalk Burger was forced to withdraw with a torn quad muscle. To make matters worse, Burger – boasting 91 Super Rugby caps – will head back to South Africa on Sunday.

“It’s always a big loss losing a player at the 11th hour – especially someone of Schalk’s calibre,” said Coetzee. “But we’re fortunate to be able to call upon someone like Siya Kolisi, who is of course a Springbok himself, and then there’s also a quality player like Nizaam Carr in the mix too. “Schalk will head home,” added Coetzee, “and we will call up a lock replacement as Jurie van Vuuren, who made his Super Rugby today, is (first and foremost) a flanker and can provide additional loose forward cover in Schalk’s absence.”

An announcement on Burger’s replacement will be made on Monday, either by flying in a lock from within the union or outside the Stormers region, whilst Coetzee also confirmed that Kolisi (who took a slight knock to his head) and fullback Gio Aplon (knee) would be fit for next week’s clash against the Reds. A call on the fitness of Jaco Taute – who missed today’s match with a shoulder injury (AC Joint) – will be made next week.

“The other positive was the return to action of Juan de Jongh,” Coetzee told the official DHL Stormers website. “Juan looked very sharp when he came on, despite limited game time for him this year, and it adds crucial depth to our backline with one week left on tour.”

SR: Force 18, Chiefs 15


The Western Force return home to take on the two-time defending champions, the Chiefs.

A big crowd is already building for Saturday’s clash, following the Western Australians’ consecutive bonus-point wins in their last two outings and the side is looking to continue that momentum against the unbeaten Chiefs. What has emerged from the past fortnight is that the Force can actually play a bit – producing outstanding efforts for a team that has barely secured two four-try bonus points in the last three years.

The opposition is obviously a step up on last week and they’ll suffer greatly with the loss of the competition’s form No.8, Ben McCalman. Just a solitary point separated them the last time the two sides met, with the Chiefs prevailing 22-21 in Pukekohe in Round 13 last year. This week the Force welcomes Wallaby forward Hugh McMeniman back from injury, as he returns at blindside flank. Angus Cottrell shifts to the back of the scrum in place of Wallaby No.8 Ben McCalman, who will miss the match after being suspended for a dangerous tackle against the Highlanders.

The Chiefs have made a number of changes to the side that defeated the Stormers last weekend, with lock Mike Fitzgerald and flank Sam Cane named in the forward pack, while wing Asaeli Tikoirotuma, utility Tim Nanai-Williams and club legend Mils Muliaina helping to form a new-look backline. Cane the sideline was the best place to assess progress. With his leg up, Cane was buoyed by his side’s performance against the Stormers last week. The Chiefs enjoyed a decent share of possession and, thus, displayed their lethal attacking abilities.

“We had two gutsy wins and, maybe, in other years we would have lost those,” Cane told the Waikato Times. “It’s pleasing to get those type of wins,” he said, adding: “We definitely enjoy scoring more tries, like we did against the Stormers.” Despite being unbeaten, assistant coach Wayne Smith made it clear the defending champions would not become complacent.

“This competition is all about keeping your feet on the ground. Past success doesn’t guarantee anything,” he said. “You’ve got to keep working on the character, attitude and spirit and keep improving your skill and decision-making execution. There’s a few more months of that yet.”

Recent results:
2013: Chiefs won 22-21, Pukekohe
2012: Chiefs won 20-12, Perth
2010: Chiefs won 37-19, Perth
2009: Chiefs won 31-13, Hamilton
2008: Force won 22-21, Perth
2007: Chiefs won 64-36, Hamilton


Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Junior Rasolea, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Angus Cottrell, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Hugh McMeniman, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Adam Coleman, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Marcel Brache.

Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Mils Muliaina, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Tom Marshall, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden (captain), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Michael Fitzgerald, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Kane Thompson, 20 Tanerau Latimer, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Andrew Horrell, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown.

Referee: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Will Houston (Australia)
TMO: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)

SR: Brumbies 25, DHL Stormers 15


imagesThe Brumbies, after a slowish start to the season, are beginning to find their true form.

A bruising win over the Waratahs last weekend has set the tone for the rest of the season, but it has come at a cost for the Brumbies. Three key players – led by wing Henry Speight – picked up injuries in the match and won’t take the field on Saturday against the Stormers. In addition to Speight, prop Scott Sio and lock Leon Power, Wallaby centre Tevita Kuridrani is also unavailable after flying home to Fiji for a funeral.

Wallaby flyer Joe Tomane and centre Andrew Smith are handy replacements in the backs, while Cape Town-raised prop Jean-Pierre Smith and flank Jordan Smiler come into the pack, with Scott Fardy shifting from the side of the scrum to lock. Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham admitted his team is in for another tough test, especially they have not defeated the Stormers since 2010 in Cape Town – with losses in Canberra (2011) and Newlands (2013).

“Traditionally we find them very difficult to beat,” Larkham said. “They’ve had a tough start to the season and will be desperate for a win in Canberra to get some pay from this tour.” The Stormers are on the back-end of a tough Australasian tour, falling to the Crusaders and Chiefs before facing the Brumbies and Reds on their way back to the Republic.

Stormers forwards coach Matt Proudfoot believes the hard work the players put in at training this week will put the team in good stead. “We’ve been really critical of ourselves, isolating where we need to perform to get the result we want,” Proudfoot said in an interview on the Stormers website. “On that note, the players have responded well at training [this week].

“You know, there’s not a lot of time to train when you’re on tour. You need to be accurate when you do and the players have responded well on that level.” The Stormers have won just once in seven games in Canberra. However, that win came in their previous encounter in Canberra (in 2011) and nine players – including captain Jean de Villiers and vice-captain Schalk Burger – are back for this fixture some three years later.

Proudfoot added: “We do take a good feeling out there [from last time out], but we know that this is probably Australia’s best side and they are playing well at the moment. We know it will be a very tough game. “We watched their game against the Waratahs, who they dominated, so it was a sobering experience to see that [having watched it together as a team]. We know what we have to do, the detail has been good this week and we hope to take our energy with us to Canberra.”

Recent results:
2013: Stormers won 35-22, Cape Town
2011: Stormers won 16-3, Canberra
2010: Brumbies won 19-17, Cape Town
2009: Brumbies won 17-10, Canberra
2008: Stormers won 20-10, Cape Town
2007: Brumbies won 26-13, Canberra


Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (captain), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Jordan Smiler, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 JP Smith.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Ruaidhri Murphy, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Stephan van der Walt, 23 Lionel Cronje.

Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Michael Rhodes, 4 Ruan Botha, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Siya Kolisi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Demetri Catrakilis, 23 Juan de Jongh.’

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: James Leckie (Australia), Andrew Lees (Australia)
TMO: Peter Marshall (Australia)