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Daily Archives: March 26, 2014

3 New signings for Kings

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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

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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.

Milestones:

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

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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

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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
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)

Ackers give Coetzee advise

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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.