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Zenay Jordaan lives her rugby dream




Nine years after taking up rugby as a sport, Springbok Women’s star player Zenay Jordaan’s dream of becoming a professional rugby player has become a reality, and she is still in awe since signing her national contract in January.

The slightly built 22-year old, standing at only 1.56m tall, is one of 15 elite Springbok Women’s Sevens players who recently received contracts for the first time in South African rugby history. Adding to this achievement, she was named SARU’s 2013 Women’s Achiever of the Year at the annual awards banquet at Gold Reef City in Johannesburg.

Despite her petite frame, Jordaan certainly has the skill and determination to establish herself as a star attraction on the international women’s rugby circuit.

The Middelburg-born flyhalf started playing rugby at the age of 14 in 2005 and made her way into the national Under-20 and Springbok Women’s teams three years later. She may be one of the youngest players in the squad, but she already boasts an impressive rugby resume which includes playing in two IRB Rugby World Cup Sevens tournaments and a 15-a-side IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup, among other international competitions.

Off the field Jordaan is easy-going and always carries a smile. She enjoys listening to music, watching movies, spending time with family and friends, and playing golf and garden cricket.

Rugby aside, she is a former sprinter and long jump athlete, with her sporty roots stretching back to her parents. Her father is a former Eastern Province rugby player and her mother a former provincial table tennis player. With this background it is no surprise that Jordaan’s parents are not only her biggest fans, but have also been the most influential people in her rugby career.

Her deep-rooted passion for rugby started in their presence as a young girl watching rugby on television at home, and playing the occasional game in the street with the boys in her neighbourhood.

“As a youngster I spent weekend’s watching rugby with my parents, and this sparked my love for the sport,” said Jordaan. “At first I joined the guys playing rugby in my street, but my first meaningful steps in rugby was when I joined the Middelburg Stormers in 2005. After my first training session I never looked back. “

Similarly to most female rugby players Jordaan says there were mixed reactions at home initially about her decision to play rugby, but in the last few years her parents have made every effort to attend her matches when possible.

“My dad was very supportive when I told him I had taken up rugby, but my mother was totally against it. As a result, I had to sneak out of the house to attend training sessions and matches, but it wasn’t long before my mother would arrive at the field looking for me,” she says with a chuckle. “Ironically a few seasons later my mother was the one insisting that my school should grant me permission to travel with SA Under-20 and national teams. My mother remains concerned about potential injuries, but my parents are very proud of me and this has certainly influenced my career.”

Being part of the Elite Springbok Women’s Sevens squad, Jordaan resides with her team-mates in a residential programme in Port Elizabeth supported by the Eastern Province’s Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture. But given the player’s extensive travels across the Sevens and fifteens codes in the last few years, she has been forced to become independent.

“I am used to being away from home because we have been travelling since I was in the SA Under-20 structures, so it wasn’t a big adjustment to move to Port Elizabeth,” said the young player. “There are days where one longs for your family, but playing rugby for a living has been my dream for many years, and I now have the opportunity to do so in a professional environment, which is a privilege.”

Given her passion for rugby, even the player’s role models are rugby stars, team-mate Lorinda Brown and Springbok Sevens stalwart Cecil Afrika, while her favourite team is the men’s Springbok Sevens side.

In the next three months Jordaan will participate in the Hong Kong Invitational Sevens tournament, an African Sevens tournament in Kenya and the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series in Amsterdam.

She will then turn her attention to fighting for a place in the 26-member squad travelling to the 15-a-side IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup in France from August 1 to 17.

“My two main goals this year are to do my best on the Sevens circuit and to be selected for the Rugby World Cup squad,” said Jordaan. “Every sports man and woman dreams of representing their country. It doesn’t matter how many times you have worn the green and gold jersey in the past, it remains an honour and a privilege to be selected for the national team.”

Issued by SARU Corporate Affairs



Cold and wet in Christchurch!


Stormers Press

The DHL Stormers landed in Christchurch late on Monday night (NZ time) and have since been greeted by some pretty inclement weather conditions in New Zealand.

www.iamastormer.com caught up with DHL Stormers skipper Jean de Villiers on Tuesday night (NZ time) to find out about their trip, Pat Cilliers’s non-birthday, the weather conditions and the retirement of Proteas skipper Graeme Smith.

(1) Jean, how are things in Christchurch after the tough traveling schedule? (The team left South Africa on Sunday afternoon and flew to Christchurch via Sydney – landing late on Monday night, NZ time.)
“Aside from a few bleary eyes at breakfast this morning, things have gone well so far. Pat Cilliers was a bit grumpy, not being able to celebrate his birthday as we left before his birthday in South Africa and landed in New Zealand the next day!

“But, seriously, we are always well looked after on our flights by the excellent staff and our management have ensured that we’ve been given enough time to recover before training.”

(2) How was training today (Tuesday – NZ time)?
“It’s been really cold, wet and windy here the past few days and it turned for the worst today… in fact, we lasted only twenty minutes at training. We decided to postpone training as it wasn’t ideal conditions to get things done. I must say it’s probably some of the worst weather I have experienced in New Zealand and it’s meant to be summer here!”

(3) Facing the Crusaders in their own backyard is no easy task. How is the team approaching Saturday night’s game (kick-off 08h35 – SA time)?
“Simply put – it’s a great challenge for us against a very successful Super Rugby franchise. Playing against the Crusaders is really tough, as you can note by the fact that no South African team has won there in ages. But that also means it’s a great challenge for us. If we win there we would have achieved something special, something we haven’t achieved in the past and it’s a great challenge for us as a young squad.”

(4) The big news from back home in Cape Town is that Graeme Smith has announced his retirement from international cricket. What are your thoughts on that, Jean, as an experienced captain of your country and Super Rugby franchise?
“Schalk (Burger) and I are actually watching the game here in the room as we speak. It’s sad, seeing such a legend retire and not being able to lead South Africa anymore, but he’s given so much to his country and the game of cricket.

“Having led his country for so long from a young age is a great achievement, but he’s moving on to the next phase of his life, with his young family, and we wish him all the best with that. Hopefully he can score a fantastic hundred and save this Test for us and that will finish up a career that has had so many highs.

“To Graeme Smith, from the DHL Stormers team, all the best for your last Test, your last innings and for life after cricket.”

Stormers clash: No 15s in focus



Cape Town – For vastly different reasons, respective fullbacks Israel Dagg and Jaco Taute ought to be particularly pumped-up customers when the Crusaders entertain the Stormers in Christchurch on Saturday.

The Super Rugby encounter has plenty at stake because both sides – more often than not among pace-setters in recent seasons – have started 2014 insecurely.

Seven-time champions the Crusaders are under special pressure after successive derby defeats to the Chiefs and Blues and not a single log point to show yet for their troubles.

The Stormers banked a bounce-back Newlands victory over the Hurricanes, following that undignified first-game battering at the hands of the Lions, but still flew abroad for their traditional four-match Australasian tour knowing it was grimly achieved and only in a late, concerted rally.

One ray of light, though, was Taute coming through his first start of the season quite convincingly after his 11-month layoff through a gruesome knee injury.

Signed from the Lions at the start of last season, the Stormers faithful saw him make a pretty tentative start for his new franchise in 2013, before he tore cruciate ligaments in a tackle to cruelly halt his acclimatisation to fresh pastures anyway.

So the Springbok has presumably been anxious to belatedly underline his worth.

Just getting through a full Super Rugby match unscathed was a triumph in itself for Taute, and he didn’t appear to be carrying any mental scars after his mishap.

There were few opportunities for him to show his once-renowned counter-attacking panache from the back, but he was solid defensively and on top of his game from a positional point of view as well.

His effort was good enough to inspire a popular former Stormers captain, Corne Krige (@CorneKrige6) to specifically tweet to Taute (in Afrikaans): “Great game, old mate. I am pleased your knee held.”

If Taute has been in the personal wars and now showing pleasing signs of emerging into daylight, the ‘Saders are likely to field a No 15 who has had issues of his own: different ones, but unusual to him.

The slippery Dagg, so often a heartbreaker for South African fans whether it be in a Crusaders or All Blacks jersey, suffered the indignity of being dropped from the starting XV following the 18-10 first-round loss to the Chiefs a couple of weeks back.

But he was sharper when he appeared as a substitute in the second half of the most recent outing against the Blues at Eden Park – despite the Crusaders slipping up again – and it is being speculated in the New Zealand media that he will slot in again at No 15 against the Capetonians.

With Dan Carter taking a sabbatical, the hosts have some instability at flyhalf at present, and with neither Tyler Bleyendaal nor Tom Taylor convincing in the slot thus far, current fullback Colin Slade will probably move closer to the action, facilitating Dagg’s reprieve.

As with Taute, expect him to strive to claw back lost ground …

Source: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Problems for Toyota Cheetahs



The neck problem of Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen is one of four injury concerns for the battered and bruised Cheetahs.

Following their 14-35 humiliation at the hands of the Rebels in Melbourne at the weekend, the last this the Cheetahs needed was a number of injury setbacks.

Springbok flyer Raymond Rhule injured his ankle ligaments against the Rebels and according to Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie his chances to play in the Round Four encounter with the Reds in Brisbane on Friday “are very slim”.

Star loose forward Pieter Labuschagne, prop Coenie Oosthuizen and flyhalf Johan Goosen were also unable to train at the team’s base on the Gold Coast on Monday.

The Bok prop, who has had a number of neck injuries in recent years, will go for an MRI scan on Tuesday, after which the Cheetahs management will make a call on his availability.

His loss will obviously leave a huge hole to fill.

Labuschagne is struggling with a heel injury sustained in the loss to the Rebels.

“He should be fine [to play against the Reds in Brisbane on Friday],” Fourie told this website.

The other major concerns would be at flyhalf where Goosen experienced discomfort in his left knee at training on Monday.

“It doesn’t appear to be too serious,” Fourie said of a troublesome knee that required surgery after he injured it while on Springbok duty in 2012.

“While he could not train today [Monday], he did train yesterday [Sunday],” the backline mentor told this website.

“He should be fine [to face the Reds],” he added.

Apart from having torn his medial ligaments when he was playing for the Springboks in 2012, which required surgery, Goosen also damaged his knee in a freak training ground accident while on tour in Australasia last year.

By Jan de Koning

No title means failure for Lancaster



England coach Stuart Lancaster has said anything less than winning the Six Nations would count as a failure for his side. 

Each of Lancaster’s two previous Championships have seen England finish runners-up to Wales – England’s opponents at Twickenham on Sunday.
They remain the only major European side Lancaster has yet to enjoy a victory over and this weekend’s clash has been given added spice by the fact it will be the last time the two nations meet at Twickenham before a potentially key pool match in next year’s World Cup.
But it is the example of Wales that England hope to follow this season.
A heart-breakingly narrow 24-26 defeat by France in their opening match in Paris put paid to England’s Grand Slam ambitions.
But Wales lost their first match of last season’s Championship, to Ireland, only to take the title with four subsequent wins including a record 30-3 victory over Grand Slam-chasing England in Cardiff on the final day.
“I agree that we need to close the deal and win the tournament,” Lancaster said.
“It was the objective at the outset to try to win the tournament.
“We didn’t quite achieve what we wanted against France. That put us on the back foot.
“From that point on we’ve used Wales as motivation, after they lost their first game against Ireland last year but went on to win the title.
“In order to win a championship you have got to win four straight after losing the first. No-one has won a title on three wins.
“If we can get the win on Sunday, it’s still within our capability,” he added.
Lancaster is due to name his match-day 23 on Friday but fit-again centre Manu Tuilagi and wing Marland Yarde are unlikely to feature despite training with the squad this week following lengthy lay-offs caused by chest muscle and hip injuries respectively.
“They’d have to go some [to be selected] in the next couple of days, it’s fair to say,” Lancaster said.
“It’s a big ask for Manu to come back having had such a long period out.
“He hasn’t had any time with us in camp whatsoever, so Tuesday will be the first training session he’s done since the Wales game last year.”
Source: Rugby365