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Goosen makes PRO14 debut for Cheetahs

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Former Springbok fly-half Johan Goosen will make his PRO14 debut in this fixture after being named in the Cheetahs’ starting line-up.

Goosen takes over from Niel Marais, who will be wearing the number 12 jersey against the Irish province. Marais replaces Clinton Swart at inside centre. Swart will provide cover on the bench.

These two teams have met once before with Munster winning 51-18 in Limerick in Round 2.

“We’ve grown tremendously as a team since the last time we played against Munster and we are prepared for what lies ahead,” said Cheetahs captain Francois Venter.

Meanwhile, there are nine changes to the Munster side that defeated the Southern Kings 39-22 in George last Saturday.

Simon Zebo, Andrew Conway, Sammy Arnold, Darren Sweetnam, Brian Scott, Billy Holland, Peter O’Mahony, Jack O’Donoghue and Robin Copeland all come into the starting XV.

Zebo starts at full-back with Conway and Sweetnam on either wing as Arnold joins Dan Goggin, who scored his first Munster try last week, in the centres.

JJ Hanrahan moves from full-back to fly-half for the clash with James Hart at scrum-half.

Versatile prop Brian Scott makes his second start of the season, his first at loosehead, as Niall Scannell and John Ryan maintain their places in the front-row with Ryan set to make his 120th appearance for the province.

Holland returns to partner Gerbrandt Grobler in the engine room and it’s all change in the back-row as captain O’Mahony, O’Donoghue and Copeland are all back in the starting XV.

Rhys Marshall, Dave Kilcoyne and Stephen Archer provide the front-row cover with Dave O’Callaghan and Conor Oliver completing the forward replacements.

Conor Murray, Ian Keatley and Rory Scannell are the backline replacements.

The teams:

Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Francois Venter (c), 12 Niel Marais, 11 Sibahle Maxwane, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Zee Mkhabela, 22 Clinton Swart, 23 AJ Coertzen

Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Sammy Arnold, 12 Dan Goggin, 11 Darren Sweetnam, 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 James Hart, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Jack O’Donoghue, 6 Peter O’Mahony (c), 5 Billy Holland, 4 Gerbrandt Grobler, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Brian Scott
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Dave O’Callaghan, 20 Conor Oliver, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Rory Scannell

Brilliant second half seal Brumbies win

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The Brumbies came back from 15-0 down to claim a 45-21 bonus-point win over the Reds in an entertaining derby in Canberra on Saturday.

The home side were under the cosh for large periods early on but took control of proceedings as the match progressed and eventually outscored the Reds seven tries to two with Isi Naisarani leading the way with a deserved brace.

The result is a significant one for the Brumbies as it means they move above the Brisbane-based outfit into third position of the Australian Conference standings, six points adrift of the Melbourne Rebels, who are in first place.

The Reds were fastest out of the blocks and were rewarded as early as the sixth minute when Chris Feauai-Sautia beat a couple of defenders before offloading to Taniela Tupou, who crossed for the first try.

The visitors dominated the possession and territorial stakes for the next 20 minutes and after Jono Lance slotted a penalty in the 17th minute, Feauai-Sautia crossed for their second try five minutes later which gave them a 15-0 lead.

The Brumbies eventually came to life in the 27th minute when, from a lineout drive on the Reds’ five-metre line, Folau Fainga’a barged over for his first Super Rugby try.

Wharenui Hawera converted before Lance succeeded with another penalty which meant the visitors led 18-7 by the half-hour mark.

The Brumbies narrowed the gap in the 34th minute when Naisarani crashed over for his first try, from close range, before Feauai-Sautia was yellow carded for a defensive foul, and although the Reds led 18-12 at half-time, the Brumbies were slowly gaining the initiative.

Naisarani’s try proved crucial as the Brumbies continued where they left off in the first half, when they came out after the break, and they were rewarded with tries from Chance Peni and Rory Arnold soon after the restart.

Arnold’s five-pointer was a memorable one as the big second-row did well to outsprint several defenders before crossing the whitewash. That try was converted by Christian Lealiifano which gave the Brumbies a 22-18 lead before Lance added another penalty in the 61st minute to reduce the deficit to three points.

But despite that penalty, the Reds faded badly and the final quarter was dominated by the home side.

In the 66th minute, the Brumbies took the ball through several phases inside their opponents’ 22 before Sam Carter crossed for their fifth try and Lealiifano’s conversion meant they had a 10-point lead with the clock winding down.

They did not take their foot off the pedal though and late tries from Naisarani and David Pocock sealed an emphatic win for the two-time champions.

The scorers:

For Brumbies:
Tries:
 Fainga’a, Naisarani 2, Peni, Arnold, Carter, Pocock
Cons: Hawera, Lealiifano 4

For Reds:
Tries: 
Tupou, Feauai-Sautia
Con: Lance
Pens: Lance 2, Tuttle
Yellow Card: Feauai-Sautia

Lions with eight changes to face Saders

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Lions head coach Swys de Bruin has made several changes to his starting line-up for Sunday’s Super Rugby clash against the Crusaders in Johannesburg.

There are eight changes in all from the side which lost to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires last week with Hacjivah Dayimani’s inclusion at number eight the biggest surprise.

Dayimani, who has three Super Rugby caps under his belt, will pack down in the back row alongside Kwagga Smith, who is back at side of the scrum after wearing the number eight jersey against the Jaguares, and Cyle Brink.

Another youngster, Madosh Tambwe, will start at wing in the place of the injured Aphiwe Dyantyi.

Dillon Smit dons the number nine jumper in his first start in Super Rugby this season. Smit made his return to the playing field off the replacements bench against the Jaguares after a long lay-off due to a fractured ankle in August 2017.

Corné Fourie makes his way onto the bench as replacement hooker while Marnus Schoeman will also warm the bench again.

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Dillon Smit, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith
Replacements: 16 Corne Fourie, 17 Jacques Van Rooyen, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Marvin Orie, 21 Marnus Schoeman, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Shaun Reynolds

Highlanders send Stormers home with nothing

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The Highlanders outscored the Stormers to take a bonus point win on Friday when they beat them 33-15

It started well for the Highlanders as they moved the ball around and putting Stormers under pressure. Handling let the Highlanders down a bit in the early exchanges and almost gave the Stormers their first try.

It was the Highlanders that took their time to get over the Stormers defence to score the first try and take the lead 5-0.

It took not long for the Stormers to show that they can also keep ball in hands for long period of times to score their first try through van Zyl.

The Highlanders put themselves on pressure through some ordinary handling which Willemse quickly paunch on to run 80 meters to score a great try.

This gave the Stormers a 12-5 lead, but it was short lived as the Stormers defence let through the Highlanders to drew level again with a try from Smith.

The Highlanders hit back immediately with Naholo running down the sideline and Rhule that could not get the big man down as Smith went over.

The Stormers went ahead again with a penalty from SP to take the score to 15-12 but again the Highlanders hit back with a try to take a 19-15 lead.

The Highlanders kept on hammering the Stormers but the defence were up to it in the later part of the first half.

The Highlanders had one more chance to score but Ben Smith was judge crawling and the try was not awarded.

This send the teams into the break with the Highlanders lead 19-15.

Lineouts have yet again been the worst part of the Stormers game and defence has been good at times but also poor which gave the Highlanders chances to score.

The second half was it again the Highlanders that kept the pressure up and with a great break out they camped at the Stormers line to send Whitehead over for their forth try of the match and a 26-15 lead.

The middle part of the second half gave the Highlanders three opportunities to score but handling errors and forward passes left them without any extra points.

The Stormers were defending well to keep them out but could not get ball going in the backs.

It was the Highlanders that had the final say in the match when Smith went over for his second try also giving his team a bonus point with the win.

This left the Stormers without a win on their tour of three matches and a lot to work on if they want to reach the playoffs.

MATCH STATS – TEAM STATS

Highlanders Highlanders 33  15 Stormers Stormers

Scorers:

Highlanders

 

Tries – Aaron Smith(78′) Luke Whitelock(48′) Ben Smith(41′) Waisake Naholo(33′) Aaron Smith(20′) Liam Squire(4′)

Penalties – None

Cons – Lima Sopoaga(80′) Lima Sopoaga(49′) Lima Sopoaga(34′) Lima Sopoaga(21′)

Stormers

 

Tries – Damian Willemse(16′) Chris Van Zyl(11′)

Penalties – SP Marais(32′)

Cons – SP Marais(17′)

Reds and Rebels name their sides

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The Queensland Reds have named their team to play the Melbourne Rebels in their Super Rugby opener at AAMI Park in Melbourne this Friday.

The starting side features two changes from the XV which took on Fiji Warriors in the Reds’ final pre-season match at Ballymore last week.

The Reds have welcomed lock Izack Rodda (shoulder) and winger Eto Nabuli (wrist) back from injury and into the starting team.

Rodda has earned a starting spot ahead of Kane Douglas, who shifts to the bench, while Nabuli returns in place of Izaia Perese, who suffered a knee injury in the match against the Warriors.

The match will also see former National Rugby Championship representative Brandon Paenga-Amosa make his Queensland and Super Rugby debut as the side’s starting hooker.

The Reds have also named three potential Super Rugby debutants on the bench in flanker Liam Wright, scrumhalf Tate McDermott and winger Filipo Daugunu. While JP Smith is in line to make his Queensland debut, having previously represented the Brumbies in Super Rugby.

The Melbourne Rebels have named their team for the opening game of the 2018 Super Rugby season against the Queensland Reds at AAMI Park in Melbourne on Friday.

Rebels Head Coach Dave Wessels has named 10 international Test players in his starting line-up, including nine current Wallabies and a Japanese international.

After a back injury sidelined him from pre-season trials, new recruit Will Genia will make his much-anticipated first appearance alongside experienced flyhalf Jack Debreczeni.

Victorian prop Tetera Faulkner will run out in front of family and friends for the first time in a Rebels jersey.

Captain Adam Coleman and Matt Philip have been paired in an international second row while Wallaby and Japanese representatives Lopeti Timani and Amanaki Mafi, have been included in the back row.

Experienced Rebels Reece Hodge and Tom English will partner in the centres while Wallaby flyer Sefa Naivalu and young gun Jack Maddocks will start on the wings. Experienced fullback Dane Haylett-Petty completes the starting back three.

Teams:

 

Melbourne Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Tom English, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Sefa Naivalu, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Will Genia, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Angus Cottrell, 6 Lopeti Timani, 5 Adam Coleman (c), 4 5Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Jordan Uelese, 1 Tetera Faulkner
Replacements: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Fereti Sa’aga, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Ross Haylett-Petty, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Semisi Tupou, 23 Billy Meakes

Reds: 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jono Lance, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Adam Korczyk, 6 Caleb Timu, 5 Lukhan Tui, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 1 James Slipper
Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 JP Smith, 18 Sef Fa’agase, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Liam Wright, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Filipo Daugunu

Date: Friday, February 23
Venue: AAMI Park
Kick-off: 19:40 local (08:45 GMT)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nicholas Berry (Australia), Jordan Way (Australia)
Television match official: Ian Smith (Australia)

Preview SR – DHL Stormers v Jaguares

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The DHL Stormers kicks this years edition of the Super Rugby of when they host the Jaguares on Saturday afternoon at Newlands.

With the Stormers having again a few issues with injuries in the beginning of the season it could be a tough start for the men from Cape Town.

Springboks like Pieter Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Jano Vermaak will not be available on Saturday.

Things do not get any easier for the Stormers as they have to tour against the likes of the Waratahs, Crusaders and Highlanders after this.

Home games will always be important in this competition and the Stormers can not afford to loose their first home game against the Jaguares.

The Jaguares is one of those teams that you never know what you will get which makes this an even more difficult game for the Stormers.

They have always been good in South Africa and one can expect them to come out firing on Saturday at Newlands.

One thing that the Stormers will be going out to do is to control and dominate the set pieces which the Jaguares struggled with last year.

Without the foundation the game becomes more difficult and we can expect a huge onslaught from both teams in this department.

The Stormers have an exciting look to their backline with youngster Willemse taking up the number 10 jumper.

They will surely miss Jones who moved to Scotland last year but De Allende and Viljoen will want to put their mark down early in the season.

De Allende had a difficult two years and needs to man up in the midfield if he still have the wish to be part of the Springboks.

One thing coach Fleck will want to have his team improve from last season is their defence.

Where the Stormers was know for their solid defence in the Coetzee era they lacked the ability to defend against the top teams and let through a bunch of tries last year.

With a good record against the Jaguares the Stormers will want to keep winning. Although the Jaguares have come close when playing in South Africa they have lost their last four games in the Republic.

Discipline will be key for the Argentinian team this year as they have been one of the most penalized team in the competition and have an average of 1 yellow card for almost every game they play.

Players to watch:

Dillyn Leyds – Leyds have been exceptional last year for the Stormers and he has been part of some pretty magical moments for the Stormers in 2017. His vision for the game and deseptive speed catch players unaware sometimes. Playing at fullback will give the Stormers a great attacking ability from the back.

Damien Willemse – Willemse is a star in the making and his talent has been on our TV sets since his schooldays and Paul Roos. Getting the opportunity to show his class will be a huge advantage for the youngster to grow as a player. He has a deadly step and his kicking game has improved, defence is something he will want to improve this year.

Prediction: It is a tough one with so many injuries for the Stormers but they should have enough to take the Jaguares

The Teams:

STORMERS

15 Dillyn Leyds Dillyn Leyds
14 Seabelo Senatla Seabelo Senatla
13 EW Viljoen EW Viljoen
12 Damian de Allende Damian de Allende
11 Raymond Rhule Raymond Rhule
10 Damian Willemse Damian Willemse
9 Dewaldt Duvenage Dewaldt Duvenage
8 Nizaam Carr Nizaam Carr
7 Cobus Wiese Cobus Wiese
6 Siya Kolisi Siya Kolisi
5 JD Schickerling JD Schickerling
4 Chris Van Zyl Chris Van Zyl
3 Wilco Louw Wilco Louw
2 Mbongeni Mbonami Mbongeni Mbonami
1 Steven Kitshoff Steven Kitshoff

SUBSTITUTES

16 Ramone Samuels Ramone Samuels
17 JC van Rensburg JC van Rensburg
18 Carlu Sadie Carlu Sadie
19 Jan de Klerk Jan de Klerk
20 Kobus Van Dyk Kobus Van Dyk
21 Justin Phillips Justin Phillips
22 George Whitehead George Whitehead
23 JJ Engelbrecht JJ Engelbrecht

JAGUARES

15 Joaquin Tuculet Joaquin Tuculet
14 Emiliano Boffelli Emiliano Boffelli
13 Matias Orlando Matias Orlando
12 Bautista Ezcurra Bautista Ezcurra
11 Ramiro Moyano Ramiro Moyano
10 Nicolas Sanchez Nicolas Sanchez
9 Gonzalo Bertranou Gonzalo Bertranou
8 Tomas Lezana Tomas Lezana
7 Javier Ortega Desio Javier Ortega Desio
6 Pablo Matera Pablo Matera
5 Tomas Lavanini Tomas Lavanini
4 Matias Alemanno Matias Alemanno
3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
2 Agustin Creevy Agustin Creevy
1 Felipe Arregui Felipe Arregui

SUBSTITUTES

16 Julian Montoya Julian Montoya
17 Javier Manuel Diaz Javier Manuel Diaz
18 Juan Pablo Zeiss Juan Pablo Zeiss
19 Guido Petti Pagadizaval Guido Petti Pagadizaval
20 Marcos Kremer Marcos Kremer
21 Martin Landajo Martin Landajo
22 Juan Martin Hernandez Juan Martin Hernandez
23 Bautista Delguy Bautista Delguy

Follow the game live right here at Ruggaworld

#STOvJAG

Bekker retire from the game

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Former Springbok and Stormers lock Andries Bekker has announced his retirement following the conclusion of the Japanese club season.

Bekker confirmed his retirement after the Kobelco Steelers’ final game of the season, when they beat Toshiba Brave Lupus in the fifth-place playoff on Saturday.

Bekker made his debut for the Springboks in 2008 against Wales in Bloemfontein and earned 29 Test caps. The 34-year-old left the Stormers in 2013 to join the Steelers.

RJvR relishing Cherry and Whites challenge

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Rohan Janse van Rensburg says he can’t wait for Saturday’s Premiership trip to Gloucester where he will renew acquaintances with Johan and Ruan Ackermann.

Johan Ackermann enjoyed a hugely successful spell as coach of Super Rugby side the Lions, leading the South African side to the Super Rugby final in both 2016 and 2017.

Rohan was a key part of that side, along with Sale team-mate Faf de Klerk and Johan Ackermann’s son Ruan – a powerhouse number eight – who joined his father in making the switch to join the Cherry and Whites last summer.

And the Sharks’ inside centre says he is hugely looking forward to the reunion and what he believes will be a special occasion at a sold-out Kingsholm.

“With coach Ackermann and Ruan playing there it’s going to be very exciting to play against him,” he said. “The last time we played against each other was back at school in South Africa so it’s going to be interesting to see how we go on.

“We’ve been in contact while I’ve been over here in Manchester but we haven’t spoken about the game. They actually invited me over for Christmas but I had already made arrangements to join Josh Strauss.

“Me and Faf played under coach Ackermann for four years so it’s going to be exciting to see them again and to get to play against Ruan.

“Coach Ackermann has done a very good job at Gloucester and one of their few setbacks was when they lost 57-10 here at Sale in the autumn.

“So we have to keep that in mind and we know that they will come hard at us.

“I’m also really excited about playing at Kingsholm as I’ve heard it’s a very prestigious place to play.

“When I first got here, Dimes (Sale director of rugby Steve Diamond) told me it was a great place to go and play. He said it was always packed there and that it’s quite loud and I quite enjoy that and I am looking forward to it.”

Rohan, who is in the middle of a three-month loan spell from the Lions, enjoyed arguably his best game yet in a Sale shirt last weekend, as the Sharks secured an impressive 32-9 win over Bath.

Now, he says the Sale players want to maintain the approach that yielded such positive dividends against Bath.

“We all just enjoyed what we were doing and it felt like we were playing with no fear. Everyone wanted to try something and it worked out,” Rohan reflected.

“That’s what I admire about all the guys here at Sale – you have to play what’s in front of you and I could see the guys wanted to do that against Bath.

“As a squad, we said that we want to play what’s in front of us and if there is an opportunity we need to take it and you could see that the guys really wanted to carry the ball and break the gain lines and go forward.

“Now we have to take that energy into the Gloucester game as we know they play a very high-paced game. We are going to have to counter that with a high-press game of our own.”

thanks to

Ackermann accusers on the back foot in latest twist

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PREMIERSHIP CLUB GLOUCESTER HAS COME OUT IN SUPPORT OF UNDERFIRE COACH JOHAN ACKERMANN AND SON RUAN.

The Gloucester coach and his son Ruan have been caught up in a media storm over an allegation of assault.

Media reports claimed that the Ackermanns assaulted a man, which left him with facial injuries and is now the subject of a police investigation.

A woman called Christina Woods made allegations via social media on Sunday and Monday against Ackermann, 47, the West Country club’s South African coach, and his 21-year-old son Ruan, the No.8 who was named Premiership Player of the Month for November.

Woods, in her verbal tirade, claimed Harry Allen – a personal trainer – was autistic.

Allen, who did not mention the handicap in his media interviews, says he will be pressing charges against the Ackermann duo.

The alleged incident occurred at Club 21 at around 01.30 this past Sunday morning, hours after Gloucester’s win against Zebre in a European Challenge Cup match.

However, Gloucester has come out in defence of the Ackermanns and said their investigation revealed the incident was sparked by others and not the Ackermanns.

Gloucester said that following an accusation regarding Johan Ackermann and Ruan Ackermann “we can confirm an incident took place in Cheltenham last weekend”‘.

“Gloucester are aware that a small number of individuals are posting comments about the incident which are untrue.

“Gloucester does not condone violence in any shape or form and having reviewed the evidence, the club stands by the pair unreservedly.”

The club firmly believes that Ackermann acted with restraint in the face of severe provocation.

The possibility of pursuing legal action against the accusers was considered at one juncture.

Woods has subsequently removed her tirade on social media.

Gloucester Rugby CEO Stephen Vaughan stated: “Gloucester takes any allegations extremely seriously and we have conducted a full investigation into this matter.

“Having spoken to Johan, Ruan, the club where the alleged incident took place, the police and other independent witnesses as well as viewing subsequent CCTV footage, I am completely satisfied that whilst an incident did take place, it was instigated by others and not by Johan and Ruan, as has been incorrectly reported.

“Both Johan and Ruan have been upset and disappointed by the allegations, but do appreciate the support from Gloucester Rugby fans, players, colleagues, friends and family.”

Local police also released a statement which read: “Gloucestershire Constabulary is investigating a report of an incident which happened at the 21 Club in Regent Street, Cheltenham, in the early hours of Sunday morning – December 17.

“The allegation is that there was an altercation between two groups of men, during which one of the men sustained facial injuries.

“The incident was reported just before 1.30am. Police officers arrived shortly afterwards but all those involved had left the scene. Investigating officers will be examining CCTV footage this week and speaking to witnesses. No-one has been arrested.”

Allen, in an interview with Sport24, said his friend Chris Baker (25) – a ‘gentle giant’ – had been ‘body-checked’ by Johan, the Gloucester coach, while trying to get to the bar.

Allen said there was then a stand-off between Baker and Ackermann Snr, who had ‘pushed and grabbed’ Baker.

“I stepped in between them and tried to calm it down and I was punched,” he told sport24.

“My jumper was pulled over my head and I just felt constant knocks and bumps to the back of my head.”

Allen said he was hit at least 12 times and thinks Ackermann Jnr, Gloucester’s No 8, threw the first punch, although he can’t be sure.

“I’ll be honest with you, Ruan was an arrogant little **** afterwards,” he added.

“My friend Chris is about 6-ft-3 or 6-ft-4, a big guy but a gentle giant,” Allen told Sport24 over the phone on Monday.

“He buys himself Lego and Pokemon cards … he’s harmless. He tried to walk to the bar and Johan kept body-checking him and barging him out of the way.

“They [Johan and his son Ruan Ackermann] had their drink so they weren’t waiting at the bar, they were just standing there.”

Additional reporting by sport24 and Rugby 365

WP again providing the Hits with racial conflict

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Apart from having the worst rugby jersey in history for next year Super Rugby with the ongoing legal battle and the whole circus with Newlands Western Province rugby just keep on producing the hits.

This time Western Province Rugby Union (WPRU) vice-president Gerald Njengele is in hot water after allegedly being involved in a racial conflict last week.

The incident, according to Netwerk24, took place at the Cape Town Sevens on the weekend of December 9/10.

According to the report, Njengele is accused of launching a verbal and racial attack on Jessie Claassen, who is the national manager of the Vuka Rugby Programme – a SA Rugby-affiliated initiative that aims to cater for rugby development in the country.

Claassen said that the attack stemmed from his decision not to shake Njengele’s hand due to a previous altercation between the pair back in August.

When this happened, Njengele allegedly responded: “F**k you white people, f**k the coloureds. I’m a clever darkie. I don’t need your f*****g money.”

Njengele has since denied that he made those comments.

WPRU president Thelo Wakefield confirmed to Netwerk24 that an inquiry had been commissioned

Take the Money!

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Montpellier are hoping to tempt CJ Stander after offering the Ireland international €840,000 a year, according to the Irish Examiner.

The back-rower’s contract expires at the end of the season and, although the IRFU are confident of keeping hold of the South African-born player, the French club are looking to entice Stander with a huge offer.

Negotiations are ongoing between the 27-year-old and the governing body, with the Examiner claiming that they have tabled a bid which includes a basic salary of €400,000 per year, but Montpellier’s proposal could complicate matters.

While Ireland were dealt a blow with the departure of Simon Zebo, Peter O’Mahony and Tadhg Furlong signed new contracts last week and Munster will hope that Stander follows suit.

My opinion….for what is worth….TAKE THE MONEY CJ

Ackermann and Son implicated in nightclub fight

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Gloucester coach Johan Ackermann and his son, back-row Ruan, are the subject of a police investigation after being implicated in a nightclub fight which left a man injured.

According to a Daily Mail report, the Ackermanns were allegedly involved in the incident during the early hours of Sunday morning. This, after the Cherry and Whites beat Zebre in a Challenge Cup match at Kingsholm on Saturday.

The allegations against the father and son duo were made by the injured man’s family on social media where they claim their relative was “beaten up”. They also released photographs showing several cuts and grazes on the man’s face and head.

Local police released a statement which read: “Gloucestershire Constabulary is investigating a report of an incident which happened at the 21 Club in Regent Street, Cheltenham, in the early hours of Sunday morning – December 17.

“The allegation is that there was an altercation between two groups of men, during which one of the men sustained facial injuries.

“The incident was reported just before 1.30am. Police officers arrived shortly afterwards but all those involved had left the scene. Investigating officers will be examining CCTV footage this week and speaking to witnesses. No-one has been arrested.”

A Gloucester spokesman said on Monday night: “Gloucester Rugby are aware of the allegations. The club cannot make any further comment at this stage.”

The Ackermann’s joined Gloucester from Super Rugby finalists the Lions in August and have done well in their new surroundings.

Under Johan’s guidance, Gloucester are currently in second position in the Premiership standings as well as Pool Three of the Challenge Cup, while his 21-year-old son was recently named Premiership Player of the Month for November.

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South African Superrugby aspirations – The Sharks

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Seeing as how the Bok season has died down with a whimper, I thought it fitting that we get our hopes up for the new season. Who will be the South African Superrugby team to beat? Who is the team that is going to surprise us and who will be the team to disappoint? Rightly or wrongly (depends on who you support), Superrugby has gone back to 4 South African teams. That should make the competition a lot more balanced and interesting. The new format looks better, even though not perfect yet.

 

The Sharks for me, is the team that might surprise. After a really good Currie cup campaign, that ended ina rather surprising loss, the Sharks will be the team to watch. With Du Preez now no longer a new coach at this level, he would use his knowledge and should get far better results. They have acquired players in the squad, that only seemed to improve the quality of the team, rather than us sitting here, asking why would they buy that guy.

 

One question that I have, is at flyhalf. Having acquired the services of junior from the Cape, they have some real talent at their disposal. The problem facing coach du Preez, would be nepotism. Whether rightly so or not, he will have to make sure the team agrees with his decisions. Surely the twins are a no brained, but at 10, many a Sharks supporter would love to see the mercurial Bosch play at 10 and learns the ins and outs of senior rugby. I would however pick Du Preez junior at 10 and Bosch at 15, as I feel Bosch has the makings of a real good 15 and with the added space, he could wreak havoc in a back three, consisting of Bosch, Nkosi and Mapimpi. Add the form of Am at centre and you have the makings of a really good backline, both on attack and defense.

 

The back line of the Sharks surely looks set to ignite a charge of its own, and with some settled players in the pack, the team looks a Beast (pun fully intended) at scrum time. The Du Preez twin are both now Boks and deservedly so. They have captain Botha, who has been one of the standout locks this season and should be close to Bok honors, if he can keep the aggression controlled. A really good front row, with really good locks and an excellent backrow, there are very few frailties in this team.

 

The one pack question could be at 2. Ackers is a really good player and have just extended his Sharks contract till 2019.  The question is not whether or not Ackers should play, but whether to start him or not. I would most certainly use him as impact in the last 20 or 30. The guy is devastating in open play. The question then to me, is who to start. With Chiliboy there, this is a difficult one to manage. He is a bok hooker, but not necessarily first choice at his union. How Du Preez manages this next year, will go a long way to predicting how the season will go. Personally I’d not have him, but he is there, so they have to manage the situation really carefully.

 

To me the Sharks have a really good squad, made some really good additions and have, despite media rumors, a settled coaching staff, that really know what they want to accomplish. I for one see them as being one of the front runners in the SA challenge. What do you think about the Sharks chances next year?

 

 

All your Weekend Highlights

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Missed any of the test rugby this weekend catch all you highlights here…

 

 

WP Rugby ‘has sold Newlands’ – claim

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Embattled Western Province Rugby have had to move to deny to their clubs that, despite rumours swirling to the contrary, an agreement is already in place over the sale of Newlands reports Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

It is known to Sport24 that Thelo Wakefield, president of the cash-strapped WPRFU, issued an “urgent message” to their almost 100 clubs this week, responding to an email circulated to clubs from lawyers representing Aerios, the commercial partner at long-time, ongoing legal loggerheads with them – with a multimillion-rand claim – over advertising rights.

He issued a further spirited denial when WP Rugby were approached by Sport24 on Friday.

Hayes Incorporated sent a letter dated November 15 (Wednesday) to “affiliates of the WPRFU”, advising that their clients (Aerios) “have been informed by more than one source within the WPRFU that a decision has been taken to sell the Newlands Rugby Stadium and that a sale agreement may already have been concluded” for the stadium.

On Friday, the Southern Palace Groups of Companies told Sport24 in a statement that they were in discussion with WP Rugby over Newlands.

“(We) are in discussions with the WPRFU … that is as advanced as it is at this stage,” Southern Palace chief executive Lucas Tseki said.

The Southern Palace Group this year signed a three-year sponsorship with the Springboks, and among their investments in the last 18 months has been the purchase of Murray and Roberts Construction, which is now Concor.

Southern Palace is a wholly black-owned and managed South African diversified industrial holding company, founded in 2002.

The lawyers, under instruction from Aerios, advised clubs that they delivered notices under the Promotion of Access to Information Act to the Union and the City of Cape Town – owners of Cape Town Stadium, where WP Rugby is expected to move after the 2018 season – in order to “obtain further information regarding the sale of the stadium (Newlands) and in order to obtain copies of any documents relating to the sale”.

They also said no responses had yet been received from either.

Their letter added: “We wish to advise that any executives of the Union involved in the sale of the stadium will have acted unlawfully and beyond the powers conferred on them by the Constitution of the Union if they have purported to conclude an agreement for the sale of the Stadium without having obtained the requisite approval of the General Council.

“If the stadium has been sold without the approval of the General Council, we have been advised that this will not be the first time that the Union’s executives will have acted without having sought the prior approval of the General Council when required to do so, as demonstrated by the decision taken by the executive to liquidate WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd without any reference to the General Council.”

Clubs were also offered, at Aerios’s expense, the opportunity to “launch and prosecute legal proceedings to  interdict the sale from proceeding”, pending the outcome of a General Council meeting to bring the matter into the open and for purposes of allowing it to decide  whether or not the stadium should be sold.

But Wakefield, in his signed message to clubs, said the letter from Aerios’s lawyers was “devoid of truth”.

He added: “No decision has been taken to sell Newlands and no sale agreement is in place.

“Should any future decision be contemplated, the Constitutional requirements would be followed in full.

“The decision to liquidate WP Rugby (Pty) Ltd was taken by the executive committee, on November 7 2016, and in line with the terms of the Constitution.”

Following the liquidation of WP Rugby’s professional arm last year, and almost immediate installation of a new business structure, powerful stakeholders Remgro came to temporary rescue by loaning Newlands some R40-million which helped pay staff and player salaries.

But Remgro pulled the plug in August, saying that following a feasibility study, they would not be investing in the new business structure; WP Rugby is required to pay back the loan.

Newlands remains financially challenged, and it is believed WP Rugby bosses are also stepping up plans to sell off surrounding assets.

Properties owned by WP Rugby include the rugby complex housing Tech-Gardens in the upmarket City Bowl residential area of Oranjezicht, a portion of Brookside in Claremont where Villager Rugby Club is based, and several houses around Newlands stadium.

But Wakefield insisted on Friday: “There are no discussions taking place to sell off any assets of WP Rugby Football Union.

“The talks with the City could be described as exploratory, should we want to make a move to the Cape Town Stadium.

“Even if we decide to move … DHL Newlands or any other property will not be sold.”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Wales chance 14 for Georgia

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Wales will be led by Lydiate as they take on Georgia this weekend in Cardiff in a historical first ever test between the two nations.

Wales have made 14 changes to their side that lost against Australia last week with only Williams a survivor from last week.

Williams switches to full-back, from wing, in a new-look back three alongside Alex Cuthbert and Hallam Amos.

In the midfield Owen Watkin, who made his debut last Saturday, partners Scott Williams with Rhys Webb alongside Rhys Priestland as the starting half-backs.

In the pack Leon Brown, who made his international bow against Australia, lines up alongside Nicky Smith and Kristian Dacey in the front row.

Cory Hill and Adam Beard make up the second row with Lydiate packing down in a back row alongside Sam Cross at openside flank and Seb Davies at number eight.

We felt this week was really important to give a number of the squad as much exposure as possible to Test match rugby,” said Wales head coach Warren Gatland.

“It is an exciting opportunity for some of the younger guys to take the field and show us what they are capable of. 

“We have got a fair amount of experience to throw into the mix too, both with players who have got a decent number of cap numbers but also players who have been around this environment for a good while too.

“Georgia are coming to Cardiff on the back of a good victory last weekend and they will be looking to show what they can do on this stage and we have to be ready for that.”

On the bench uncapped Dragons hooker Elliot Dee features in Wales’ matchday squad for the first time with Wyn Jones and Tomas Francis the other front row replacements.

Josh Navidi and Taulupe Faleatu complete the forward contingent. Aled Davies, Dan Biggar and Owen Williams provide the back-line cover.

Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Seb Davies, 7 Sam Cross, 6 Dan Lydiate (c), 5 Cory Hill, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Leon Brown, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Nicky Smith
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Josh Navidi, 20 Taulupe Faletau, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Owen Williams

Date: Saturday, November 18
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Shuhei Kubo (Japan), Sean Gallagher (Ireland)
TMO: Leo Colgan (Ireland)

Exciting semi’s expected

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So the Currie Cup Play-off spots have been decided on Saturday with wins for the Blue Bulls(4) Golden Lions(3) and Western Province(2).

They have all qualified with the table topping Sharks for next week final four in Durban and Cape Town.

Western Province and the Golden Lions will meet at Newlands and the Sharks will host the Blue Bulls, so at the end the top four teams in South Africa has again qualified for the play-offs.

With teams having some of their Springboks back the level of the competition took a step upwards and we can expect another step-up next week.

The Sharks have been the best side by far during the season losing just two of their matches but it all counts for nothing if they lose next week.

Although they did not put their nest foot forward on Saturday against Province they still have the nest pack in the competition and that is where everything starts for a successful team.

We can expect coached to pick their best players next week as they go full tilt to win the Currie Cup.

One of the most improved teams in the recent weeks has been the Blue Bulls and the Sharks will have to pitch up and play at their best to get to that home final.

It took a while for Mitchell to get his troops going but with allot of young players being blooded into the team this year.

Their is still questions around their defence and scrums but one would be stupid not to recognized that they are a dangerous team to face in play-off matches.

They have great game breakers in Gelant, Matthews and Odendaal who has been sensational this season in the Currie Cup.

They are a dark horse for me in the play-offs to go all the way although Mitchell said before they are not aiming to win the Currie Cup but rather to improved every match, is their a difference?

The Sharks most properly have the most balanced side with a great pack and exciting backs and Bosch. Bosch have been exceptional this Currie Cup and the young man have been growing in each match which is great for Sharks and Springbok rugby.

Bosch is one of the most successful kickers in the competition and his overall game management have been great.

In the first semi-final we will see Province hosting a much improved Lions side who has welcomed back some Springboks which has made the world of difference.

They showed it against the Free State and this match is gong to be a great match. With Province you never know who will pitch up on the day as they remind me allot of the French, the one day world beaters the next properly useless.

Province have a good pack with exciting backs but they do not always click on the day with handling errors really having a huge influence on their game.

The last few weeks they also for some reason, decided to adopt the ” Kick and Pray” tactic. We have spoken so many times on SA teams adopting this tactic without success.

In South Africa we had the 2008/9 Springboks and Bulls sides of that era who could successfully implement this tactic bit for it to work you have to have chasers putting pressure on the receivers.

It is all expected that the Sharks and Lions should be the teams in the final in a few weeks time but with the Blue Bulls on the up and maybe a Province side actually pitching up for a match their may be some surprises next weekend.

All your weekend Highlights

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With so many rugby it is almost impossible to watch it all live here is the highlights of the weekend

 

 

 

 

All Blacks drop Fifita, start Hames

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September 13, 2017

Kane Hames is the bolter in the All Blacks squad after being named to make his first Test start against the Springboks in Albany on Saturday.

The Chiefs loosehead prop, most recently on duty for Tasman in New Zealand’s Mitre 10 Cup, has been used sparingly by the All Blacks since making his Test debut in 2016 and will thus earn just his third cap on Saturday.

Coach Steve Hansen made the move despite admitting that South Africa “scrummages well”, and it is possible that the timing of Hames’ call-up has got something to do with the withdrawal of incumbent Bok tighthead Coenie Oosthuizen with a broken arm suffered during last week’s 23-23 draw against Australia.

Almost as surprising, Hansen opted to drop Vaea Fifita, the star of last week’s 39-22 victory against Argentina in New Plymouth. Instead, Liam Squire returns to the No 6 jersey with Sam Cane packing down at openside, and Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock are reunited in the second row.

In the backs, Aaron Smith returns to the 23 for his 65th Test with TJ Perenara on the bench, Ryan Crotty is back at centre, with Anton Lienert-Brown in the reserves, and Rieko Ioane is back on the left wing.

New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Kane Hames
Bench: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown

Date: Saturday, September 16
Venue: QBE Stadium, North Harbour
Kick-off: 19:35 local (07:35 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Matthew Carley (England)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

Semi Final Preview – Lions v Hurricanes

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I am sure Lions supporters will not survive another close call this weekend but I will suggest you go and see your doctor before Saturday and get something to calm the nerves as this will be another close one.

It is a repeat of last years final only difference is that they will be playing this time at Emirates Airline Park and not in Wellington.

The Lions have done the work to get the top spot and secure home play-offs matches and need just one more win to get that all important home final.

It will take everything they have and a bit more to overcome the Hurricanes who is looking to have peaked at the right time yet again.

They are the only side (beside the British & Irish Lions) who could beat the Crusaders this year and they have also been boosted with some players back in their team for Saturday.

Dane Coles is back at hooker and will run out for the 100th time for them in Super Rugby and at the backs they have the brilliant Vince Aso back in the midfield.

When you look at the Hurricanes team you see all class from number one to number 23 but if their is one team that can beat them then it is Ackermann Lions.

The coach have kept faith in the same team now for three weeks and will be hoping that third time lucky as they have lost twice last year home and away against the Hurricanes but this is the one that matter now.

Ackermann will be hoping that that Jantjies will get back in the game after a very poor performance last week as his play and decision making will be key in their quest for a victory.

Upfront it will be a huge battle and the Lions have not just the tight five to compete but to dominate as well.

Leadership looked absent last week so a big game is expected from Jaco Kriel.

Who ever comes out the winner will be worthy of a place in the final but all hopes are leaning for a Lions win and home final.

Prediction: At home the Lions must be favorites, but this is a very good Hurricanes team, for me unfortunately Hurricanes by 4 points.

Teams:

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.

Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 23 Sylvian Mahuza

Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Wes Goosen, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Brad Shields, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Mark Abbott, 3  Jeff To’omaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben May.

Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Loni Uhila, 19 Reed Prinsep, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Otere Black, 23 Julian Savea.

 

Wales get win over Tonga

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Wales got off to a winning start with their June international against Tonga on Friday when the beat them 24-6 in a scrappy affair.

The score does not reflect the game as it was a much tighter affair and the game was up for grabs for the most of the game. Wales outscore Tonga with two tries to non at the end but the physical Tonga team made it difficult for them to get going.

The first half saw a try for Wales from Cuthbert and a penalty against the penalty from Tonga.

Cuthbert had a brilliant first half with two tries being disallowed during the opening quarter, in the third minute he dotted down in the right-hand corner, but his effort was disallowed after the TMO ruled that he had a foot in touch.

Five minutes later, Davies delivered an inch-perfect crossfield kick and Cuthbert dived on the ball behind Tonga’s try-line, but televison replays revealed that there was no downward pressure from the wing.

Midway through the half, Cuthbert eventually crossed for the opening try after gathering his own kick ahead, inside Tonga’s 22, and although Davies failed to convert, Wales looked well set with the score 8-0 in their favour.

It was not the perfect game Wales would have wanted first up but a great win.

The scorers:

For Tonga:
Pens:
Takulua 2

For Wales:
Tries:
Cuthbert, Penalty Try
Pens: S Davies 4

Injury Report

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As the season goes on we expect injuries and this week another few has added themselves to this ever growing list. 

 

 

The Cheetahs have been dealt a serious blow with the news that centre Nico Lee will miss the next four to six weeks of Super Rugby with an ankle injury.

Lee sustained the injury in the 48-21 defeat to the Crusaders in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

According to Supersport, the 23-year-old has a grade two ankle injury and will only return after the June international break. He is set to be replaced by William Small-Smith.

The Pretoria-born midfielder has firmly established himself as the centre partner for captain Francois Venter this season and will be disappointed as he was a contender for the South African A side to face the French Barbarians in June.

Meanwhile, flyhalf Fred Zeilinga is fit and ready for selection again on the plus side.

Western Force prop Ben Daley joins the side’s lengthy injury list after injuring his ankle in the 24-15 defeat to the Lions on Saturday.

The Force are still waiting on the final results from scans, but according to AAP Daley is set to be ruled out for the rest of the season.

He joins flanker Angus Cottrell (knee), scrumhalf Ryan Louwrens (knee), fellow prop Jermaine Ainsley (knee), winger Chance Peni (groin), skipper Ben McCalman (shoulder), lock Matt Philip (foot), fullback Dane Haylett-Petty (hamstring), Luke Morahan (fractured cheekbone) and Michael Ruru (ankle) on the treatment table.

As a slight consolation, Wallabies lock Adam Coleman (calf) and fellow second-rower Richard Arnold (calf) could return for Saturday’s clash with the Sharks in Durban, while utility back Marcel Brache has passed a concussion test.

Hurricanes full-back Nehe Milner-Skudder has set his sights on a June return as he recovers from the foot injury he sustained in March.

Milner-Skudder fractured his metatarsal against the Chiefs in March but says he is making good progress and can’t wait to return to action.

“I’m making progress. It obviously took a little bit longer than we expected. The first couple of weeks went so well just coming off the crutches but the three to six week mark it took a while to knit back together,” the 26-year-old told Stuff.

“I got it re-X-rayed and there was a little bit of calcification of the bone but not as much as we expected. I got back on the treadmill yesterday, another step in the right direction.

“It’s a bit of relief and a lot of satisfaction changing it up from being on the rower and the grinder. It’s heading in the right direction, getting back on my feet and getting the legs ticking over.

“It [foot injury] is not end of the year or anything like that. I’ll work my way back and definitely hopeful of featuring in that June window.

“I’m unsure who it’ll be for, but surely I’ll be back playing some footy by then.

“I’m hoping just to get back out on the field with the Canes. The boys head off to Africa in three or four weeks time [they play the Bulls in Pretoria on May 28] then they’re back against the Chiefs at home before the break. I could try to pencil that in as a bit of a goal.”

The Rebels season has gone from bad to worse with the news that their captain Nic Stirzaker has been ruled out for three weeks with an ankle injury.

Scrum-half Stirzaker was excluded from the matchday 23 on the eve of the 44-3 humbling at the hands of the Southern Kings on Saturday. And the Melbourne-based side have now revealed that the 26-year-old will be sidelined for three weeks.

“It’s some sort of bone fragment in Nic’s ankle that flared up so I think he’s going to be out for three weeks,” Rebels’ general manager of football operations Baden Stephenson told AAP on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, according to AAP, back-up scrum-half Mick Snowden is out for six weeks with a leg injury.

This means that Ben Meehan is set to wear the number nine jersey while Harrison Goddard has been recalled from the Australian U20 team.

“Harrison played particularly well for our under-20s team and did the whole pre- season with us so we’ve called him back,” Stephenson said.

“It will probably be his chance to make a debut on Saturday.

Stephenson has reflected on what can only be described as a horror season for the Reds in which they’ve only won one game while bemoaning his side’s injury-proneness.

“It has been relentless and we’ve had so many different types of injuries,” added Stephenson.

“We thought by mid-season we should be getting a fair few back but unfortunately as they come back we continue to lose more.”

The Kings have suffered a setback with the news that loosehead prop Justin Forwood has been ruled out for the rest of the season due to injury.

The 23-year-old has been an instrumental part of the Kings team over the past few weeks, but his participation in last Saturday’s historic win over the Melbourne Rebels was cut short when he sustained a knee injury 47 minutes into the game.

Kings team doctor Konrad von Hagen confirmed on Tuesday that Forwood would be out of action for up to nine months following an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear which will require surgery. The prop will undergo surgery in Pretoria.

“It is really sad news that Justin Forwood tore his ACL and will be out for nine months. The next step for him will be surgery which he will undergo in Pretoria,” said Von Hagen.

“We will then continue to monitor his progress.”

Captain Lionel Cronje sustained a concussion in the second half of the weekend’s match and will be undergoing the compulsory return-to-play protocol in time for the Kings’ next match against th Sharks in Port Elizabeth on May 13.

With the Kings enjoying a bye this week, the side has an opportunity for good rest and recovery before re-grouping next week to prepare for their next Super Rugby clash.

After the break, the Kings will welcome back loose forward Ruaan Lerm, who was withdrawn from the team last Thursday with an ankle sprain.

“Ruaan Lerm felt some discomfort and was rested. He will be back and fit for our next match,” confirmed Von Hagen.

The team doctor also confirmed that CJ Velleman, who is making a return from a long-term knee injury, will be re-assessed next week before being made available to play. The loose forward will join the rest of the Kings squad for full contact next week.

Malcolm Jaer, who sustained a Medial Collateral Ligament (knee) strain on tour in Australia, continues to respond well to treatment and is expected to make a full recovery in two weeks.

The team doctor is also happy with the progress being made by players on the long-term injury list – Cameron Lindsay (knee), Rudi van Rooyen (ankle) and Schalk Ferreira (biceps).

Juan de Jongh, Rynhardt Elstadt, Caylib Oostuizen and Damian Willemse will all join the DHL Stormers in Wellington ahead of their final tour game against the Hurricanes on Friday.

Centre De Jongh (knee) and utility forward Elstadt (ankle) have both recently recovered from injury and will provide some important experience ahead of the clash with the defending Vodacom Super Rugby champions.

There were more injuries added to the list following the defeat to the Highlanders in Dunedin, with prop JC Janse van Rensburg, locks Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit and flyhalf Kurt Coleman all flying back to Cape Town.

Janse van Rensburg has torn a bicep muscle and will be out for four to six weeks, whilst Coleman tore a deltoid ligament in his ankle in training and Etzebeth (calf) and Du Toit (knee) have also been ruled out due to injury niggles.

There are also doubts about captain Siya Kolisi who is nursing a shoulder injury, whilst prop Frans Malherbe will not be available for selection this week due to the Springbok management plan.

Despite these setbacks, DHL Stormers Head Coach Robbie Fleck said that the squad is determined to end their tour of New Zealand with an improved performance in Wellington.

“The injury list is growing, but luckily we welcome some quality players back this week and we are focused on the challenge ahead.

“We know that we can improve in a number of areas, so the goal this week is to raise our game against the Hurricanes,” he said.

 

 

Rohan held at gunpoint

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Rohan Janse van Rensburg and two of his family members were held at gunpoint in an armed robbery at their home on Thursday night.

The Lions and Bok centre, his younger brother Runan Venter and another unnamed family member were inside the house when three armed men entered the property. The suspects tied Venter and the woman together before forcing Janse Van Rensburg to drive them away with all the stolen goods to a township.

Janse van Rensburg only returned home hours after being forced to chaperone the suspects.

Venter posted an emotional message on Instagram on Friday in which he confirmed the incident and said that they were thankful to be safe.

International rugby returns to Soweto

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International rugby will return to Soweto’s Orlando Stadium and debut at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban in June when the South African ‘A’ team take on the French Barbarians in two exciting encounters.

These matches are being hosted in Durban and Soweto with the assistance of the Gauteng Provincial Government and the eThekwini Municipality – Moses Mabhida Stadium, on the eve of the second and third Tests between the Springboks and France, respectively.

The opening clash in Durban, on Friday June 16, will be the first-ever senior rugby match staged at Moses Mabhida, the iconic stadium which was built for the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa.

Kick-off is scheduled for 16:45.

The second match, on Friday June 23, will see international rugby return to Orlando Stadium for the first time since the 2010 Super Rugby final, in which the Bulls beat the Stormers in an epic local encounter.

In fact, for two weeks in May 2010, nearly 80 000 rugby supporters flocked to Orlando Stadium for the Bulls’ semi-final against the Crusaders and final against the Stormers, as Loftus Versfeld was not available due to the Soccer World Cup that year.

The main match at Orlando Stadium, which will start at 20:00, will be preceded by a curtain-raiser at 17:00 when the Blue Bulls take on the Golden Lions in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge Gauteng-derby.

“The hosting of these matches at two iconic venues will not only make for superb weekends of top-class international rugby between South Africa and France, but are also hugely exciting as we’ll be playing at non-traditional rugby venues,” said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.

“We would not have been able to do this without the assistance of the Gauteng Provincial Government and eThekwini Municipality – Moses Mabhida Stadium and we would like to thank them for their commitment to bringing rugby to new audiences.

“Supporters can look forward to two unique days of international rugby against a French Barbarians team that we understand will be quite strong, and will provide a proper challenge to Johan Ackermann and his SA ‘A’ team.”

More information on ticket prices and other exciting plans around these matches will be announced in due course.

Thanks to 

British and Irish Lions squad

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The British and Irish Lions squad have been named, with CJ Stander getting the nod. The squad will be captained by Sam Warburton

 

British and Irish Lions squad:

Backs: Dan Biggar, Elliot Daly, Jonathan Davies, Owen Farrell, Leigh Halfpenny, Robbie Henshaw, Stuart Hogg, Jonathan Joseph, Conor Murray, George North, Jack Nowell, Jared Payne, Jonathan Sexton, Tommy Seymour, Ben Te’o, Anthony Watson, Rhys Webb, Liam Williams, Ben Youngs.

Forwards: Rory Best, Dan Cole, Taulupe Faletau, Tadhg Furlong, Jamie George, Iain Henderson, Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones, George Kruis, Courtney Lawes, Joe Marler, Jack McGrath, Ross Moriarty, Sean O’Brien, Peter O’Mahony, Ken Owens, Kyle Sinckler, CJ Stander, Justin Tipuric, Mako Vunipola, Billy Vunipola, Sam Warburton.

SARU answers to new Super Rugby fromat

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SANZAAR announced on Sunday that Vodacom Super Rugby had been restructured for 2018 and would kick-off with a three conference, 15-team format featuring four teams from South Africa, five from New Zealand, four from Australia, one from Japan and one from Argentina.

The streamlining of the competition comes at the end of a nine-month consultation and strategic review process that looked at the short and long-term prospects for SANZAAR’s competitions.

The decision to reduce Vodacom Super Rugby competitors by three teams was unanimously agreed by the four SANZAAR partners. Franchises, broadcasters and fans were all engaged in the process.

“Fans, media and broadcasters have spoken and we have listened to them,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby. “The 18-team Vodacom Super Rugby competition has not worked and we had to face up to that hard fact. The integrity of the format and the lack of competitiveness in too many matches were major issues that needed addressing.

“From a South African rugby high performance perspective we’ve had to acknowledge that the dilution of talent and resources across six franchises – at a time when rand weakness has led to more departures to Europe and Japan – has seriously affected our ability to compete across the board.

“As a rugby nation we need several strong franchises all of whom are in with a serious chance of challenging for the title and we could no longer say that. A reduction in the number of South African franchises was the unavoidable conclusion, especially when put in the context of SANZAAR’s long-term strategy of adding to our tournaments’ appeal and commercial success which, in time, will mean greater returns for SA Rugby.”

SA Rugby will now begin internal consultations to identify its four entrants to the 2018 competition.

The newly-established Franchise Rugby Committee (made up of representatives of all six teams) will meet on Tuesday to finalise the criteria for selection. Their recommendation will go to the Executive Council. Once that recommendation is agreed it will need to be approved by the General Council of SA Rugby.

SANZAAR Chairman, Brent Impey said: “The decision to revert to a 15-team format reflects a consensus view of the mandated SANZAAR Executive Committee that met in London recently. It was not the determination of any one Union or stakeholder and follows a thorough assessment and review of the tournament over the last nine months.

“SANZAAR is delighted that its major broadcast partners have after due consideration agreed to the restructured format within the existing broadcast agreements. Our broadcaster partners are an important stakeholder and their vision for Super Rugby moving forward is the same as ours.

“This decision has not been an easy one and we recognise the difficulty associated with reducing the number of teams in Australia and South Africa. Naturally we understand that there will be some very disappointed franchises but the tournament’s long-term future and the economic reality of the business at present is something that had to be addressed.

“The decision to retain the Sunwolves is linked directly to SANZAAR’s strategic plan for the future. The potential for growth of the sport in Asia off the back of the establishment of the Sunwolves and the impending RWC in 2019 is significant. It remains an obvious focus for the organisation and a Japanese Super Rugby franchise is key to that strategy.”

Roux admitted a reduction in teams was a bitter pill for South Africa to swallow but his organisation had faced up to the fact that retaining six teams would have put South African rugby at an even greater risk.

“We have six strategic imperatives for 2017 – two of the most critical of which are Springbok performance and financial sustainability,” he said.

“Retaining a number of under-performing teams in Vodacom Super Rugby makes no sense from a high performance or financial point of view. We no longer have the resources to support them to the required level.”

Roux said the large number of South Africans now playing overseas had hastened the decision: “There are about five or six Vodacom Super Rugby squads’ worth of South Africans playing overseas.

“In 2015, 257 South Africans appeared for leading teams overseas; last year it was 313 – including 65 Springboks. There were eight Van der Merwes, seven Du Preez’s and six Du Plessis’s alone! That has got to have had an impact on our competitiveness.”

The new format will see the Sunwolves move into the Australian Conference while the South African conference will continue to feature the Jaguares.

The winners of each conference plus another five teams with the greatest number of log points will qualify for the play-offs.

SA franchises will play teams from both the Australian and New Zealand conference every year although the duration of the available ‘window’ – between the end of the compulsory rest period and the start of the international season – means that there are not enough weeks to play all teams.

Tournament Format

  • 120 match regular season plus seven finals
  • 15 teams
  • Three conferences
  • 18 rounds [16 matches per team, two bye weeks]
  • Each team will play eight matches within its conference (four home and four away)
  • Each team will play eight cross-conference matches – against four of the five teams from the other two conferences (four at home and four away)
  • Each team will have played 12 of the other teams within the season (85% which is up from 70% in 2016).
  • Eight team Finals Series: Three Conference winners and five wild card places – the next best performing teams after the Conference winners regardless of Conference.

SA Rugby said that it hoped it would be able to confirm its 2018 Vodacom Super Rugby participants by the end of June.

Hawks swoop on Cheeky

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UPDATE

Watson has been released on R2000 bail and case postponed till May
Large cheeky watson media2 800

NEWS: THE HAWKS SPRUNG INTO ACTION ON FRIDAY (MARCH 31) MORNING TO ARREST FORMER EP RUGBY PRESIDENT CHEEKY WATSON – AND OTHERS – ON CHARGES OF FRAUD OR CORRUPTION.

According to The Herald, Nadia Gerwel, Andrea Wessels, Mandisa Mkaza are the other parties who have been taken into custody. The fifth accused Stephen Pretorius, is believed to be in Cape Town.

Watson, Gerwel, Wessels and Mkaza are currently sitting in the dock in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court, waiting for the magistrate to arrive.

After years of resisting hostile takeovers, Cheeky Watson finally decided to walk away from the Eastern Province Kings earlier this month.

Watson’s decision to resign as President of the bankrupt Eastern Province Rugby Union came just days after the South African Rugby Union revealed administration of the EPRU is set to be returned to local hands – following a series of ground-breaking decisions at a special general meeting in Port Elizabeth.

The arrest of the quartet is believed to be linked to the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s IPTS funds of R200 million which was squandered.

More to follow…

Source: The Herald

Liebenberg sidelined

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Rugby365 reports the starting team has been announced

Large arno botha bulls 800

TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: ARNO BOTHA WILL MAKE A FIRST APPEARANCE FOR THE BULLS IN THIS YEAR’S SUPER RUGBY COMPETITION ON SATURDAY WHEN THE SOUTH AFRICANS TAKE ON THE CHIEFS IN HAMILTON.

Botha comes in for injured Hanro Liebenberg at No.8 as Bulls coach Nollis Marais also made a couple of rotational changes from the side that lost to the Blues last weekend.

Jesse Kriel moves from centre to fullback in place of Warrick Gelant, who will play of the bench. Burger Odendaal is back in the run-on team, and as in their win over the Sunwolves last month, will start with Jan Serfontein in the midfield, while at scrumhalf, Rudy Paige and Piet van Zyl swops jerseys, with Page starting this time.

The same happens up front at lock with Rudolph Snyman and Jason Jenkins swopping and at loosehead, while Lizo Gqoboka and Pierre Schoeman rotates again.

Jacobie Adriaanse, who missed out last weekend, is back on the bench in place of injured John-Roy Jenkinson. Jaco Visagie and Edgar Marutlulle also swops places, with the latter on the bench.

Strauss will extend his record as the most capped South African hooker in the tournament, playing in his 135th match.

Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Nick de Jager, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Rudolph Snyman, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Jannes Kirsten, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Warrick Gelant.

Date: Saturday, April 1
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19.35 (08.35 CAT; 06.35 GMT)
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Cam Stone (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

SA arrogance in the game.

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Why arrogance a lot would ask. Arrogance, because for a long time we punched above our weight in world rugby, and we believe we have an aura that will never disappear, Allister alluded to this last year when asked if the Boks risk losing their aura.

He firmly believes we will never lose our Aura as the Boks. Sorry Allister, but that Aura has been lost. All we have now in naturally talented and big players, with representing a history that we are shaming.

This is where I want to point out how arrogance has cost us for a long time already. The dawn of the professional era, has seen teams upping the ante and players growing in size. Gone are the days when our forwards were referred to as monsters.

We have natural size over our opposition, but due to hard work from them, this advantage has been nullified.

Just before the End of year tour, it has come to light once again, that our regular Boks are unfit. Why do we need an indaba to realize we need to get conditioned better? Our players do not work hard enough at fitness and this is biting us in the ass.

How many times last year did we struggle to finish off games? We need to become hard workers off the field, to play hard on the field, hardly rocket science here.

So as much as I hate to bring up the dead, our current setup as a whole reminds me of one Solly Tyibilika. His is a tale of potential never reached. He could and should’ve won a world cup medal in 2007 or at least been part of the squad.

Making his debut in 2001 at the Griquas, it wasn’t long before he caught the eye. Fast to the breakdown and a tenacious attitude, saw him catching the eye of the Sharks, who quickly signed him and he made his Super Rugby debut in 2003.

It was not long before he caught the eye of Bok selectors and he scored a try on debut against Scotland at Murrayfield in 2004. Solly was flying high and soon after at the beginning of the 2005 season, he scored 2 tries against Uruguay. But this is where things turned around.

You see, this was Solly’s first test on home soil and a number of his childhood friends went to this game travelling from New Brighton to watch it. The celebrations were rumored to go late into the night and when the rest of the Boks flew to Durban the next day, he stayed behind with his friends, footing a bill that would eat up his entire match fee. The bar fridges were emptied in his room.

Tyibilika played very few test that year (2 in fact) and the next year, he got his big shot. Burger got injured and Tyibilika started the 3 Tri Nations test matches that year. This was his big chance, which he failed to grasp. Seemed he was a troubled soul.

In 2007 Solly moved from the Sharks to the Lions and rumours were abound that he had discipline issues and showed up late for practice, if he showed up at all. Coach Eloff at the time accused him of disappearing for weeks at a time. A theme that was questioned later at Border as well.

Solly could’ve been so much better than his end result. Sadly he was shot in a Shebeen in 2011, after moving to Cape Town. He got involved in the wrong crowd and was pulled over while driving with no headlights late one evening. After a search the police found an unregistered gun in his vehicle.

So why bring up Solly? His was a problem of discipline, a problem with our current crop of Boks. We have the payers, we have the talent, what we lack is players disciplined enough to know they are not fit and to put in the extra effort to work on skills.

Sort this culture we have in Bok rugby out and we will go a long way towards sorting out Bok rugby.

Kiwis aren’t all that flash

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While Damian McKenzie and Beauden Barrett owned the exciting stats last season, South Africa’s top guns quietly put up some big numbers.

McKenzie was the centrepiece of a well-drilled counter-attacking plan and the Chiefs dynamo carved rivals up like Thanksgiving turkey to lead Super Rugby in a number of attacking categories, including carries (215), clean breaks (31), defenders beaten (67) and metres run (1,304).

Barrett scored the most points in the competition (223) as the Hurricanes blew the Lions away in the final to clinch the title.

Fans who have a complex about South African rugby hold these two Kiwis up as the benchmark for excellence. While there’s no arguing against the ability or effectiveness of McKenzie and Barrett in 2016, it’s naive to put them in a special class of their own.

For starters, McKenzie led the competition in knock ons while nobody missed more shots at goal than Barrett. And it will grate Kiwi fanboys to learn that nobody put boot to ball with more frequency than pivots from the Land of the Long White Cloud.

Clayton Blommetjies and Faf de Klerk made the top three for errors, but Lions finisher Ruan Combrinck rubbished all the talk about the ‘skills shortage’ in the Republic, beating out the likes of Ben Smith and Israel Folau to finish among the top three for clean breaks, defenders beaten and metres run.

And the Lions duo of Courtnall Skosan and Rohan Janse van Rensburg matched McKenzie for tries scored.

Points come from exerting tactical pressure on opponents and it’s the unheralded heavies that make holes for the flyers to glide through.

CJ Velleman and Chris Cloete armed the Kings with a pair of potent fetchers, while Sharks centre Andre Esterhuizen and Lions breakaway Jaco Kriel got their hands on the bounty too.

What makes Velleman’s haul so impressive is that he only played 528 minutes of rugby last season. David Pocock came away with eight more steals in 850 minutes of game time.

Poaching lineouts proved to be a South African speciality. Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit and RG Snyman featured in the top four for lineout steals, and SA’s second-row riches were also on display on the other side of the ball where Francois Uys, Stephan Lewies, Du Toit and JC Astle led the comp in lineouts won on their own throw.

Defence is an area that SA teams will have to radically improve on in 2017. A high penalty-count generally goes hand-in-hand with a high tackle-count – Chiefs flanker Sam Cane made the second-most tackles and gave away the second-most penalties.

But Marcel van der Merwe and Etienne Oosthuizen both feature in the top five for penalties conceded, even though Lappies Labuschagne was the only South African in the top five for tackles. Elton Jantjies tackled at less than 70-percent efficiency.

We’ll be supercharging our stats offering for the 2017 season, so stay plugged in to gain the winning edge in your next rugby debate!

By – Zelím Nel

“Hero’s…urr Europe in a Nutshell”

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With the Northern Hemisphere halfway in there season things start to heat up in domestic, European and Six Nations Championships. Here is a look of the latest news from up north.

Dave Kilcoyne scored a last-minute try for Munster to claim a 25-23 win over Ospreys on Saturday in the PRO12. 

Munster could have become frustrated but with one last surge they managed to score when Kilcoyne powered over from close range, an effort which secured a priceless victory.

The scorers:

For Ospreys:
Tries:
Dirksen, Fonotia
Cons: Davies 2
Pens: Davies 3

For Munster:
Tries: O’Donoghue, Saili, Kilcoyne
Cons: Bleyendaal 2
Pens: Bleyendaal 2

Bath director of rugby Todd Blackadder believes his side can play a lot better after their 22-12 victory over Harlequins in the Premiership.

A Max Clark try and 17 points from Rhys Priestland’s boot saw Bath to the win at the Recreation Ground as they stay fourth in the table.

Despite the triumph, Blackadder feels there is still a lot of work to do if they are to pick up further points during the Six Nations window.

“We can be a lot better and we will be a lot better, we lacked a bit of shape and direction, it was a pretty inexperienced midfield and wingers,” the Bath boss told Premiership Rugby following the hard-fought home success.

Wales fly-half Dan Biggar insists his side remain in the Six Nations title shake-up as they prepare to face Scotland at Murrayfield.

The 27-year-old knows his team must bounce back after losing at home to England if they are to stand any chance of winning the trophy.

Wales travel to Scotland, then host Ireland before heading to France in a tough run-in. But Biggar is staying positive ahead of the games.

“The next three games are absolutely must win if we want a chance at the title,” the determined fly-half told Press Association Sport.

Italy head coach Conor O’Shea says that shrinking the Six Nations is counter productive to the growth of the game.

The former Harlequins coach says that talk of dropping of Italy from the Six Nations would be detrimental to rugby in Europe and that they should instead expand the tournament.

“It was the four nations, then five,” O’Shea told The Times.

“We should be expanding, not going the other way.

England forwards coach Steve Borthwick has defended captain Dylan Hartley’s place in the national starting side.

The hooker’s selection as the starting number two has raised a few eyebrows recently, prompted by the scintillating form of understudy hooker Jamie George.

George replaced Hartley in their away win over Wales last weekend just halfway into the game raising speculation whether the England coaching staff still rated Hartley as the number one hooker in the country.

Borthwick has since shrugged off that speculation.

“Dylan has been fantastic. He has been a brilliant captain,” Borthwick told reporters.

 

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac believes that his side could have put more points on the board in their win over Zebre.

The home side put Zebre under pressure on their line early on with opportunities to secure the bonus point in the first half going astray due to over eagerness and handling errors.

Speaking after the game Pivac said: “It wasn’t pretty at times. We had a lot of opportunities in the first half, all the numbers were in our favour and we should have scored some more points but it wasn’t to be,” Pivac told the Scarlets website.

“We definitely left a few out there. Guys were maybe a little bit over eager at times, we made some good breaks but then lost the ball in the tackle and we were probably thinking about wanting to score tries too quickly.

Hendricks join Bulls

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The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Thursday announced that former Springboks and Springbok Sevens winger, Cornal Hendricks, has joined the Vodacom Bulls for medical and fitness testing.

Hendricks will train with the Pretoria franchise and undergo a number of medical tests and if all results are positive, will possibly join the Bulls for the upcoming Vodacom Super Rugby season.

The winger, who played Super Rugby for the Toyota Cheetahs and scored five tries for the Springboks in 12 tests, has been inactive since a medical condition was diagnosed early in 2016.

The player is keen to return to the playing field pending medical clearance and according to the BBC’s High Performance Manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg, they will be happy to see Hendricks continuing his career as a Vodacom Bulls player.

“We understand the potential health issues and risks and have asked a number of leading specialist in their field to give us their assessments. Cornal is a world class player and we will be delighted to have him in our squad, but player welfare has always been a non-negotiable priority in the Bulls set-up and will always be seen more important than short term results. We are confident that Cornal will be cleared and will join us,” Janse van Rensburg said.

Stormers and Lions name their teams

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The Stormers and Lions have announced their teams for this weekend warm-up match in Cape Town.

Elton Jantjies will lead the Emirates Lions against the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday with some familiar faces as well as some new ones in the side that will travel to Cape Town on Friday.

Stalwarts like Jantjies, Malcolm Marx, Franco Mostert, Faf de Klerk, Courtnall Skosan, Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Howard Mnisi will all start for the Lions in the warm-up with some new faces like Marvin Orie and Madosh Tambwe in the starting line-up and Hencus van Wyk on the bench.

Lions captain Warren Whiteley had his wisdom teeth removed this week and could not recover on time.

The Lions will take a squad of 29 to Cape Town before they kick-off their Vodacom Super Rugby campaign on 25 February against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein

DHL Stormers Head Coach Robbie Fleck has named a 30-man squad for his team’s pre-season friendly against the Emirates Lions at DHL Newlands on Saturday.

The match, which kicks off at 15h00 on Saturday, will be the final warm-up match for Fleck’s team before their Vodacom Super Rugby opener against the Vodacom Bulls at DHL Newlands on February 25.

It will also be the first chance for the DHL Newlands Faithful to see their team in action following pre-season victories against the Toyota Cheetahs in Zimbabwe and the South Western District Eagles in George.

Fleck said that the players are looking forward to running out in front of their supporters at DHL Newlands.

“It is always special to play at DHL Newlands and after a tough pre-season the players are excited to play in front of our fans,” he said.

The DHL Stormers Head Coach added that the match will be a valuable indicator of where his squad is at two weeks out from the start of their campaign.

“We have worked hard over the past couple of months, so we want to put that into practice against the Lions who were one of the form teams in the competition last year.

“It will be important for us to look at certain combinations and make sure that everyone has some good gametime under their belts before the season gets underway,” he said.

Tickets for the clash are on sale from wprugby.computicket.com and the stadium box office and will cost R50 with season tickets NOT VALID for the warm-up match.

Scholars tickets are available for R10, but these are exclusively for under-18s and grant access to the dedicated scholars area on the Jan Pickard Stand.

Supporters are encouraged to book their tickets early in order to avoid lengthy queues on matchday.

DHL Stormers squad: Juarno Augustus, Nizaam Carr, Jaco Coetzee, Juan de Jongh, Dan du Plessis, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Rob du Preez, Dewaldt Duvenage, Rynhardt Elstadt, JC Janse van Rensburg, Cheslin Kolbe, Siya Kolisi, Dan Kriel, Dillyn Leyds, Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe, SP Marais, Bongi Mbonambi, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Caylib Oosthuizen, Ramone Samuels, JD Shickerling, Chris van Zyl, Jano Vermaak, EW Viljoen, Cobus Wiese, Damian Willemse, Eduard Zandberg, Leolin Zas.

Emirates Lions squad: Jacques van Rooyen, Malcolm Marx, Ruan Dreyer, Franco Mostert, Marvin Orie, Cyle Brink, Ruan Ackermann, Fabian Booysen, Faf de Klerk,Elton Jantjies ©,Cortnal Skosan, Rohan Jnase van Rensburg, Howard Mnisi, Madosh Tambwe, Jaco vd Walt, Akker vd Merwe, Corne Fourie, Hencus van Wyk, Andries Ferreira, Lourens Erasmus, Robert Kruger, Jaco Kriel, Victor Sekekete, Dillon Smit, Andries Coetzee, Harold Vorster, Antony Volmink, Jacques Nel, Sylvian Mahuza

Net 2 Bokke was fiks

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Net twee van die 30 Springbokke op verlede jaar se toer na Europa het hul fiksheidstoets geslaag.

Goosen retires from Rugby…or did he really?

2

According to his club Racing 92, South Africa international Johan Goosen has reportedly retired from rugby at the age of 24.

Racing broke the news in a statement from club president Jacky Lorenzetti on the club’s website on Friday, saying: “Goosen, whose contract was overwhelmingly re-structured a year ago, now claims to be free in an incredible way.

“He has announced today that he has taken the incredible decision to end his playing career, to return to South Africa for a strong role as a commercial director.

“We regret that such a talented player has gone astray and decided to abandon professional rugby as it seems obvious that the role of commerical director is incompatible with high level sport.

“We wish to add that Racing 92 has always strongly supported Johan Goosen both morally and financially. And while it has unfortunately proved in recent times that there is a certain lack of vis-à-vis between the player and his coaches and more generally of all members of the club and its fans, we hope it quickly becomes aware that compliance with a contract like that of a given word is the basis of all human and professional relationships.

“Naturally, Racing 92 reserve the right to give such conduct all appropriate legal actions both towards Johan Goosen as those who advise him.”

The news comes as a huge shock. Goosen was named Top 14 Player of the Season for 2015/2016 after helping the club win the French title and reaching the Champions Cup final.

He has won 13 caps for South Africa since making his debut in 2012, starting at full-back for the Springboks in their most recent Test against Wales.

The 24-year-old moved to France in 2014 after beginning his professional career with the Cheetahs in Super Rugby.

@ProvinceFan had his own theory on what Goosen is busy doing

What ever his thinking is it is a hell of a shock after he just got back into the Springbok setup

SA Rugby makes ground-breaking decisions

10

The General Council of SA Rugby on Friday took a number of ground-breaking decisions that president, Mr Mark Alexander, said he believed would have far-reaching effects for rugby in the country in time.

The Council accepted a raft of constitutional changes that were designed to better reflect the needs of the Springbok team by re-shaping elements of the constitution.

Key changes approved were:

  • Permitting 74% shareholdings in commercial arms of rugby unions by private equity partners
  • Increasing the make-up of the  independent and player representation on the Executive Council to five independents with six elected members
  • Introducing new committees for franchise (Vodacom Super Rugby) and non-franchise rugby to focus and streamline decision-making
  • Moving responsibility for the appointment of the Springbok coach and CEO from the General Council to the Executive Council
  • Removing the selection committee while retaining a selection convenor to work with national team coaches
  • Aligning with the country’s geopolitical boundaries by moving to nine members of SA Rugby, while retaining 14 playing unions
  • Reducing the presidential roles from three to two by removing the vice presidency from 2018

“We have made a number of major decisions today that over time we believe will contribute to making South African rugby stronger and therefore assist the Springboks,” said Mr Alexander.

“The Council decided to open the door for greater private equity investment in rugby and greater business involvement to help recapitalise the game.

“We make no secret of the fact that in these tough economic times the rugby business is taking the same strain that every another South African business is facing. There is a battle to find and retain sponsors and supporters and we could not continue to do business in the same way. Rugby needed to make major decisions today to find new ways of doing things today and we have done that.”

Mr Alexander said that the other changes would help streamline and speed up decision-making.

“The creation of the new franchise and non-franchise sub-committees gives us a more nimble way to make decisions by providing a more flexible channel of communication between unions and the Executive Council.

“The old committee structure has been overhauled and the new committees will make us much more responsive to the needs of rugby.

“The other changes bring us more in line with modern business practice by increasing independent representation and removing some of the anachronisms of the amateur era such as a selection committee and vice president.”

A decision on the scheduling of a proposed new format of South Africa’s Premier Domestic competition, the Currie Cup, brought to you by DirectAxis and Nashua, for a seven-team Premier Division and a nine-team First Division (including Namibia) was deferred until January.

Issued by SA Rugby Communications

Springbok Sevens crowned Dubai Champions

16

lthumbdubairugbysevens

The Springbok Sevens team on Saturday scored a well-deserving 26-14 win over Olympic Games Rugby Sevens champions, Fiji, to win the Emirates Dubai Sevens tournament, the first of ten in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

Spearheaded by 11 tries from World Rugby’s Sevens Player of the Year, Seabelo Senatla, the Blitzboks showed great attacking skills, but an all-consuming defence was the highlight of their play on Day Two at The Sevens Stadium in Dubai.

The Blitzboks opened their day with a 40-0 win over New Zealand in the Cup quarterfinal and then eased past Wales 36-5 to book a place in the final with Fiji.

In the final, the South Africans struck early. First Cecil Afrika scored in the opening minute before a great run by Branco du Preez extended the lead to 14 points.

Fiji did score just before the break and just after to cancel out the early advantage.

The Springbok Sevens team showed great determination on defence though and forced Fiji into mistakes. A try by Chris Dry and the inevitable five pointer by Senatla made sure of a fifth Emirates Cup win for the team.

Earlier in the day, they advanced to the Cup Final with a great attacking display, beating Wales 36-5 in their semifinals clash.

Senatla scored three tries in six minutes to give his side a 19-0 lead at the break. The winger had some work to do to score the first, but will be the first to thank the efforts of Afrika and Du Preez in the next two.

Those early scores settled the contest, especially after Justin Geduld scored in the second half. Wales did pull one back, but a try from Werner Kok and a second from Geduld confirmed a place in the final and a 36-5 win.

The Blitzboks scored six tries in their biggest win ever over New Zealand, beating the Kiwis 40-0 in their quarterfinals clash.

It was a fine defensive effort by the Blitzboks that laid the foundation for this win. The South Africans kept New Zealand under pressure with some great tackles and pounced every time New Zealand spilled the ball or turned over possession.

Afrika and Senatla scored in the opening two minutes of the match and that set the tone for the rest of the match. Kyle Brown stole a New Zealand line-out ball to score and put his side 19-0 up at the break, but in the second half, three more tries confirmed the dominance.

Tries by Dry, Geduld and Kok rounded off a solid display by South Africa.

  • Senatla finished top scorer at the tournament with 55 points (11 tries) and was named Player of the Tournament, with Chris Dry named Player of the Final. Dry (23) finished the tournament as top tackler and Werner Kok came in third with 20 tackles.

South Africa also finished top in try-scoring stakes, with 30 tries at an average of five per match. England and Fiji were in second place with 25 tries each.

The top five log positions after the opening tournament are:

  1. South Africa 22
  2. Fiji 19
  3. England 17
  4. Wales 15
  5. Australia 13

The pools for next weekend’s HSBC Cape Town Sevens have also been confirmed.

Pool A: South Africa, Australia, USA, Russia

Pool B: Fiji, France, Kenya, Japan

Pool C: England, New Zealand, Argentina, Canada

Pool D: Wales, Scotland, Samoa, Uganda

STRAUSS BACKS SPRINGBOK OVERHAUL

1

We can analyase and complain all we want, Bok rugby is at a low point, let’s try and discuss the future. Our Friends over at rugby 365 has some comments from Allistair Coetsee, or as we now fondly call him, Koochie Koo

REACTION: RETIRED SPRINGBOK CAPTAIN ADRIAAN STRAUSS HAS THROWN HIS WEIGHT BEHIND A DECISION BY SA RUGBY UNION PRESIDENT MARK ALEXANDER TO OVERHAUL THE ADMINISTRATION OF SA RUGBY AS WELL AS A SPRINGBOK REVIEW PROCESS.

Speaking at the post-match press conference where the Springboks suffered a 13-27 defeat to Wales in Cardiff – which ensured they ended winless during their November internationals – Strauss was adamant that everyone needs to take responsibility.

 

He added that, despite retiring from the international stage, he would still like to contribute to paving a new direction for the future of the game in the country.

“I think no fingers can be pointed, we are all responsible for this – everyone up and down the ladder. I think it’s the ideal situation for change and accountability from everyone and to make constructive and productive changes. I would like to be part of that.

“When I get the opportunity to air my views in the correct platform, I will do so openly and honestly and will be ruthless with the truth.

“It’s [this year] been a massive challenge. When I accepted the responsibility of the captaincy, that day I became accountable for things that happen to the team.

“I’m not here for a pity party, I take responsibility – I am accountable, I am responsible – I will do the best that I can in the coming months. I did everything I could, I made many mistakes – I knew that I would – but in any situation, I put the Springbok first.

“I would love to be part of something that can produce change. I would love to still contribute,” Strauss said.

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee wants the cracks fixed from the core.

“It is very a difficult time for us as players and staff. We obviously live in a country where results are important for the national team and I am definitely not proud about the way this season has gone – it’s way below what is expected of the Springbok team.

“But hopefully, it’s the start of a greater time and place to get SA Rugby back on track again – not fix the cracks but make sure we fix it from the core. If you look at Springbok level alone, that is not just where the problems are.

“Our Under-20s have under-performed this year – we lost by a big margin to Argentina in the play-offs – so it is the right time to start working together and fix things.

“We have spoken about skill level [at the Indaba] and I don’t think that you hone skills at international level. It should be working together with the franchises, where players spend 38 weeks and only 12 weeks with international teams.

“I think that is also where we realised that it’s not just the job of the Springbok coach to up-skill the players, it’s a collective effort from all coaches. We need to get the standards up.

“The Springbok stands for excellence, so we need to make sure that whatever systems we put in place will give the players a platform to achieve excellence – to set the players and the team up for that,” Coetzee said.

Another issue that the Springboks face is the murky waters regarding overseas-based players, something Coetzee believes will be resolved as early as December.

“I am pleased there will have to be a firm decision on what we do with our overseas-based players versus our home-based players. A new policy and clear guidance will be released early December about overseas-based players.

“You’ve got to weigh up more time spent with the same team, compared to a team that comes in a week before a Test. But we will have to be creative in some ways – it’s difficult to compete against the pound and the euro – to retain players in our country.

Pollard to return to training next month

2

 

Flyhalf Handré Pollard will join the rest of the Vodacom Bulls squad on 4 December for a pre-season camp in George and is expected to make a return to the playing field on 28 January 2017 when the Vodacom Bulls will face a South African Super Rugby opponent in Zimbabwe in their first match of the year.

Pollard missed the 2016 season due to knee and shoulder injuries, but he is amongst a host of players, including midfielder Jan Serfontein that has recovered well and will return to the squad at the training camp that will last till 16 December.

A big squad is currently training in Pretoria and Vodacom Bulls coach, Nollis Marais, will cut the numbers before they travel to George for the camp.

The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd confirmed on Friday that Irne Herbst and Dayan van der Westhuizen will be on loan to the Southern Kings for the 2017 Vodacom Super Rugby season.

“This is a great opportunity for them to play Super Rugby and continue their development and progress as players,” BBC’s High Performance manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg said.

“We realise the importance of depth if you want to win a Super Rugby title, but it is also in the best interest of South African rugby and the players to have them on the field and playing, so we have no problem with them playing at the Kings in 2017.”

A large number of junior players are currently with the squad and according to Janse van Rensburg, this is done on purpose.

“We have been bringing in juniors to train with the senior squad since 2011 and it works well for us. We will expose our Under-19 recruits like Hanru Sirgel, Kwezi Mafu, JC Pretorius, Jerome Bossr, Christiaan Strydom and Cabous Eloff to the senior group. We deem it important to create opportunities for youngster to be exposed to senior and Super Rugby training sessions and players. In order for us to fast-track them and make the gap smaller, they need to measure themselves against the top players and we believe its integral part of their growth and development as a player. We will be constantly doing this with all the junior players,” Janse van Rensburg confirmed.

Western Province Under-21 wing, Sibahle “Rabs” Maxwane and Junior Springbok and Free State Under-21 prop Conraad van Vuuren, has also joined the Blue Bulls, he confirmed.

The provisional warm-up fixtures for 2017 are:

28 January: South African Super Rugby opponent (Zimbabwe)

8 February: Chiefs (Brisbane)

10/11 February: Brisbane 10’s.

The extended Vodacom Bulls training squad is: 

Utility backs: Duncan Matthews, Divan Rossouw, Manie Libbok, Jesse Kriel, Earll Dowrie.

Fullbacks: Warrick Gelant, Ulrich Beyers

Wings: Luther Obi, Kafentse Mahlo, Irvin Ali, Andell Loubser, Jamba Ulengo, Jade Stighling, Travis Ismaiel, Sibahle “Rabs” Maxwane.

Centres: Dries Swanepoel, Johnny Kotze, Jan Serfontein, Franco Naude, Burger Odendaal, JT Jackson, Boeta Hamman.

Flyhalves: Francois Brummer, Tony Jantjies, Joshua Stander, Tian Schoeman, Handré Pollard.

Scrumhalves: Ivan van Zyl, Andre Warner, Embrose Papier, Rudy Paige, Piet van Zyl.

Loose Forwards: Renaldo Bothma, Hanro Liebenberg, Freddy Ngoza, Arno Botha, Nic de Jager, Abongile Nonkontwana, Ryno Pieterse, Jannes Kirsten, Ruan Steenkamp, Shaun Adendorff, Roelof Smit, Jacques Potgieter, Eduan Lubbe, Marco van Staden.

Lock: Eli Snyman, Hendre Stassen, Lood de Jager, Jason Jenkins, Ruben van Heerden, RG Snyman.

Props: Jacobie Adriaanse, Conraad van Vuuren, John-Roy Jenkinson, Martin Dreyer, Trevor Nyakane, Pierre Schoeman, Gerhard Steenekamp, Lizo Gqoboka, Nqoba Mxoli.

Hookers: Jaco Visagie, Edgar Marutlulle, Corniel Els, Adriaan Strauss, Alandre van Rooyen.

Happy Birthday Bennie

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One of not just Ruggaworld accomplish writers and Rugby Guru’s is celebrating his birthday today

BC

Seems like yesterday that David introduced the “Uncle Robert Mugabe” son to us here at Ruggaworld and since then he has not just been Ruggaworld’s best annalist and writer but have also wrote for other publications as well.

He is the Q&A King in South Africa and the only worry is that he may be grabbed up by the Dark Side soon.

Happy Birthday Bennie and thanks for all the hard work.

a74a263ad0042e5f3f9a4f373e89173d

 

Protea’s take series win in Australia

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With so much that is wrong is SA Rugby this year, it is special when you can see the cricket boys giving it to the Aussies in Australia as they won the three match test series with one to go.

proteafire

 

South Africa have clinched the three-Test series against Australia with a match to spare, following up their 177-run win in Perth with an emphatic victory by an innings and 80 runs on Tuesday at Bellerive Oval.

It was South Africa’s third consecutive series win on Australian soil — following victories in 2008-09 and 2012-13 — and it handed Steve Smith his fifth straight Test defeat as Australia captain.

The Australians resumed on day four at 121 for two, still needing 121 to make South Africa bat again, but lost eight wickets for 32 runs in another staggering batting collapse.

The Australians were skittled for 85 after being sent in on a green pitch on Saturday, and conceded a 241-run deficit when South Africa replied with 326.

Usman Khawaja top-scored with 64 but was out swiping at a ball from Kyle Abbott and edging behind, triggering the collapse. Australia slumped from 129-2 to all out for 166 before lunch on the fourth day.

Abbott returned 6-77 and Kagiso Rabada had 4-34, the fast bowlers dominating some fickle Australian batting again.

Source: Sport24

Our coach lives in Laalaa land

2

As if it is not already difficult being AC, News24 brings us this article.

 

Cape Town – The theme of English press reaction to the Springboks’ decisive loss to the home nation at Twickenham has focused heavily on how violently in decline Allister Coetzee’s charges appear to be.

Some assessments of the 37-21 outcome in England’s favour on Saturday also picked holes in coach Coetzee’s post-match attempts to see the bright side or offer certain excuses for the Boks’ loss.

Michael Aylwin of The Observer described the surrender of the visitors’ near 10-year unbeaten record against England as “a dispiriting prick of the balloon… and balloon-thick is South Africa’s confidence at the moment”.

But he wasn’t entertaining the Bok coach’s attempts to put a positive spin on the performance: “Coetzee observed afterwards that it was just a lack of concentration, composure, organisation – delete cliche as applicable – but coaches always say that.

“And it almost always is a momentary lapse in basics that initiates, and sustains, each unravelling of a team in crisis. Let’s not go into the defensive lapses for tries three and four (to England).

“The ‘but for silly mistakes’ line is a favourite of coaches under pressure, trying to give the impression that the underlying structures are fine, that they have only a couple of kinks to straighten out before all is well.

“But it is a thin argument. In theory, if a team makes all its tackles and holds its defensive line, then tries would never be scored. At least on the chalkboard.

“On the field, maintaining one’s basics is a manifestly difficult feat, when the lungs burn and the opposition, irritatingly, keep putting pressure on you. The measure of a side is how they react to the inevitable errors, not just the amount of pressure they can handle before they make them.

“By both counts, this South Africa team are where the world knows them to be – in a desperate place.

“The broader picture is far bleaker. Whatever the troubled circumstances in South African rugby – and they have always been there – the sport is in danger of losing as a credible force one of its most famous exponents. Nobody benefits from it.”

Steve James of the Sunday Telegraph reminded that England hadn’t even been at their best.

“Just imagine if England had played well. They hammered South Africa here whilst overcoming some heavy rustiness and some awful ill-discipline in the first half, with their scrummage under some pressure too.

“It just shows how good they can be or indeed already are… but sadly also how poor South Africa are right now.  

“For the visitors did not exactly put up a frenzied fight in defence of their unbeaten record against England since 2006.

“They were desperately lacking in quality and also desperately dull in continuing to kick long even though England stationed Billy Vunipola in the back to field them every time.

“But England were obviously superior for a number of reasons. Most obvious to me was the speed of their ruck ball. Their breakdown work was of the highest order yet again and Tom Wood filled the James Haskell-type role very well.

“It meant that scrumhalf Ben Youngs could enjoy one of his finest games for England. He constantly taunted and teased the South African defence around the ruck area and created two of England’s four tries. He also box-kicked expertly.

“But to enjoy such quick ball you require big runners crashing over the gain line and in both Vunipolas, Billy and Mako, England had that. Both of them were titanic.

“England’s lineout was also magnificently reliable, with locks Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes having excellent matches all round against the one area of South Africa’s team where there was real class.”

Sam Peters, for The Mail on Sunday, wrote: “This was a comprehensive demolition of a South African team that may not have lost to England (previously) in a decade, but is showing alarming signs of terminal decline.

“On this evidence, it will be a long time before England lose to the Springboks again.

“Eddie Jones’s upwardly mobile team were in a different class… for periods of the second half, England toyed with their once-vaunted opponents.”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

The 7 most important attacking principles – according to chess

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No I haven’t suddenly decided that a solid defense should not be your first point of departure. It alone has never once won games, but without it you cant win either.

A healthy balance is needed, sadly we can’t do either at the moment. I have looked at the Chess masters and realized that we need these same attacking principles in rugby.

1.Always create a threat with your move. 

Creating a threat with every move is one of the most important principles in Chess. Same applies to rugby, if you attack, every move and play should threaten, as this makes the opponent unsure and puts them on the back foot.

It prevents them from anticipating your next move. It also prevents the opposition from coming into position to plan their next move.

2. Exploit your opponents weakness. 

Weaknesses come in different shapes and forms. Often they need to be created before you can exploit them. The English did this so well yesterday. They realized our pillar defense was non existent, because our big pack was just to slow.

Two of their tries came because of this. Our fielding of the ball from kicks were just as poor and we saw one penalty and try scored by England as a direct result of this.

3. Concentrate your pieces before an attack. 

In chess, you need to make all necessary preparations before attacking. I hate going to the All Blacks to prove this, but they use the diamond attack a lot. At every set move, their will be one player to the left, one to the right and one behind the player with ball in hand.

This means the defense does not know who will receive the ball next. It creates doubt if you give them space and it causes gaps to open up. By concentrating all chess pieces in the area where you want to attack, you have more available resources and greater possibility of success. Seems the same is true in rugby.

4. When you’re attacking, open files, ranks and diagonals.

This is a common sense rule, yet many players ignore it. When attacking, it makes sense to open up spaces for your rooks and bishops to use. In rugby this would equal to creating space out wide for your wings.

The centers need to straighten, Full back must join at pace and the ball must do the work. At the Boks yesterday, almost all our attacks fizzled out, because our back-line went sideways and our passing was slow and poor. By the time the wings got the ball, if they got it, they had to come inside. Lost opportunities. We just don’t seem to know what to do with the ball.

5. Exchange off key defenders. 

This is off utmost importance. When a back line player attacks, he should always look for a weak link in defense. It is not always the strongest defender you must look out for, but the players making up the gaps in between.

The forwards, especially tight forwards, defending centers and wings. Those are the gaps that should be exploited, yet we try and run over them.

6. When you have the initiative, avoid unnecessary exchanges.

In chess, when you have the initiative, you do not want to exchange pieces, less pieces means less attacking possibilities. Why then in rugby would our inside center ( a main component in successful attack), kick the ball in the opponent’s 22 against England.

You do not just give away the initiative like that! Giving the ball away is like swapping out chess pieces. You lose the initiative.

7. Attack on both sides of the board. 

This is common sense. Focusing your attack on one string, is limiting and makes defense easy. You need more than one option on attack, from clever kicks, to drop goals, to running lines, to the maul. Everything should be used and this keeps the opposition guessing.

So that is a quick take from me on what we are not doing, anything you would like to add? Because let’s face it, the list is much longer than this!

Muster take Maori scalp

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A strong second-half performance saw Munster beat the Maori All Blacks 27-14 at Thomond Park on Friday night.

Munster opened the scoring through Rory Scannell inside the first 15 minutes but Ian Keatley failed to add the extras.

The Maori All Blacks hit back 10 minutes later when Otere Black made the gap with a dummy pass before sending James Lowe through the gap on the 22 line. He was caught before the 5m line, but the wet conditions took him over the line.

The visitors doubled their lead just two minutes later when Munster gave a loose kick towards midfield where Akira Ioane took it at pace.

Marty McKenzie gave it some width out wide before Black got a hand on the ball to attract a tackler before putting Ambrose Curtis away.

LIMERICK, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 11: Maori All Blacks players present a shirt in memory of former Munster Coach Anthony Foley before the friendly match between Munster and Maori All Blacks at Thomond Park on November 11, 2016 in Limerick, Ireland. (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

              (Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

Munster were awarded a penalty try after Reed Prinsep was deemed to have taken out a Munster player off the ball, which also resulted in the flanker receiving a yellow card.

The conversion was miss but Munster managed to take the lead going into half time when Darren Sweetnam scored to give his side a narrow 17-14 lead at the break.

The second half had barely resumed when Keatley added a penalty to give Munster some breathing space on the scoreboard. They had the better of the second 40 and when Ronan O’Mahony went over with 12 minutes left it effectively sealed the game for Munster.

The scorers:

For Munster:
Tries:
Scannell, Penalty Try, Sweetnam, O’Mahony
Cons: Keatley 2
Pen: Keatley

For Maori All Blacks:
Tries:
Lowe, Curtis
Cons: Black 2
Yellow Card: Prinsep

 

Snor back with some more advise

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“All hair should be treated equally, and be given equal growth opportunity”, this is Peter de Villiers, former Springbok coach and world renowned moustache expert’s advice in the month when the mo is the mostest, reports Sport24

devilliers

Following on the video-parody that’s been catching mo-mentum on social media with almost 50 000 views, the second video in a series of four this month, has been published.

In the first video De Villiers encouraged South African men not to be content with close shaves, but to get back to a time when South African men were feared and respected for their moustaches, sharing his advice for maintaining a MO-tivating stash. Or was he talking rugby?

“If you have an under-growing and under-performing moustache, you can’t just blame the moustache. It’s the management. The moustache can only perform with good management. You need the best clippers, scissors, combs and razors… you can’t use a stick and expect results.”

In the video he claims that, “some of the best managed moustaches that I’ve seen in my travels are all black,” and that ‘…nowadays even the Japanese make ours look weak.”

Now, he is back with advice on growing your mo, because “you want everyone to grow together” to “one day champion a glorious moustache”.

This time, he moves his attention away from the coaching team and tackles political issues on the field, motivating for all people of all colours to be afforded the same opportunities.

Because it’s #snorre good idea to cut your mo this November, “one of the most important things with a moustache is growth.”

Check out the video on Facebook or YouTube to get first-hand advice from Peter de Villiers on how to give all your hair equal growth opportunities

New look Boks to take on Barbarians

5

Patrick Lambie will lead a new-look Springbok team, which includes six uncapped players in the starting line-up and a number of Currie Cup stars, against the Barbarians on Saturday at the Wembley Stadium in London.

The match-23 for the Springboks’ first of four Castle Lager Outgoing Tour matches includes a total of nine uncapped players, however, no Test caps will be awarded for this international fixture.

The newcomers in the starting line-up are RG Snyman (lock), Roelof Smit (flank), Jamba Ulengo (wing), Rohan Janse van Rensburg (inside centre), Francois Venter (outside centre) and Sergeal Petersen (wing).

Tendai Mtawarira (prop), Pieter-Steph du Toit (lock) and Oupa Mohoje (flank) are the only players in the pack that started for the Springboks against the All Blacks in Durban last month.

There is a return to the starting team for Lourens Adriaanse in the No 3 jersey in place of Vincent Koch who is not available for this match, while Julian Redelinghuys is injured. Snyman will partner Du Toit, the newly-crowned SA Rugby Player of the Year, in the second row.

Openside flanker Smit comes in for the injured Francois Louw, while Jaco Kriel could also not be considered as a result of his injury. The final change in the pack will see Nizaam Carr taking over the No 8 jersey from Warren Whiteley who is also not available for this match.

The Boks will start with a revamped halfback pairing in Rudy Paige (scrumhalf) and new skipper Lambie (flyhalf), with regular captain, Adriaan Strauss, not in the match 23 as part of the succession planning in his position.

The rest of the backline consists of Ulengo, Janse van Rensburg, Venter, Petersen and Jesse Kriel, who will start his first match for the Boks at fullback.

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee said the Springboks’ aim was to improve after a difficult season, but that it would not be easy against the Barbarians.

“The Barbarians play an attacking, adventurous style of rugby and it will be a real test for our young side,” said Coetzee.

“They have an excellent, world-renowned coach in Robbie Deans, exciting young players in their side, including some South Africans, as well as several players who have a lot of Test match experience.

“We rewarded several young players for their performances in Vodacom Super Rugby and the Currie Cup and we will approach this match as a Test, although no caps will be awarded.

“It will be a really big occasion for our young players, but we’re excited to be giving them an opportunity.

Even though some of the experienced players were last in action against New Zealand four weeks ago, our preparation the past few weeks was really good.

“The excitement and enthusiasm of the new inclusions is contagious. In ideal circumstances I would’ve preferred to give every player in the squad a run, but this tour was also about introducing players who are on our radar for the future, while also introducing them to the Springbok way and ethos. I am sure they will work even harder to stay in the squad.”

The Springboks have played the Barbarians in seven matches so far, with the Baabaas leading 4-3 in wins.

The Springbok team to face the Barbarians at Wembley on Saturday is:

No Name Province Test caps Test points
15 Jesse Kriel Vodacom Blue Bulls 17 15
14 Sergeal Petersen Toyota Free State Cheetahs 0 0
13 Francois Venter Toyota Free State Cheetahs 0 0
12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg Xerox Golden Lions 0 0
11 Jamba Ulengo Vodacom Blue Bulls 0 0
10 Pat Lambie (captain) Cell C Sharks 53 137
9 Rudy Paige Vodacom Blue Bulls 5 0
8 Nizaam Carr DHL Western Province 2 0
7 Teboho Mohojé Toyota Free State Cheetahs 14 0
6 Roelof Smit Vodacom Blue Bulls 0 0
5 Pieter-Steph du Toit DHL Western Province 17 15
4 RG Snyman Vodacom Blue Bulls 0 0
3 Lourens Adriaanse Cell C Sharks 4 0
2 Malcolm Marx Xerox Golden Lions 1 0
1 Tendai Mtawarira Cell C Sharks 84 10
Replacements:
16 Bongi Mbonambi DHL Western Province 3 0
17 Lizo Gqoboka Vodacom Blue Bulls 0 0
18 Trevor Nyakane Vodacom Blue Bulls 26 5
19 Eben Etzebeth DHL Western Province 53 10
20 Jean-Luc du Preez Cell C Sharks 0 0
21 Piet van Zyl Vodacom Blue Bulls 2 0
22 Tian Schoeman Vodacom Blue Bulls 0 0
23 Ruan Combrinck Xerox Golden Lions 4 13


Stats and facts:

The Barbarians:

  • The Barbarians Club was founded on 27 December, 1890 at Friary Field, Hartlepool. The founder, William Percy Carpmael’s dream was to spread good fellowship amongst all rugby football players.
  • Their first match took place on the same day, when they beat Hartlepool Rovers 9-4.
  • Their first match against an international side was against Wales on 17 April, 1915 at Cardiff Arms Park.
  • The Barbarians’ first International match outside the Home Unions was against Australia on 31 January, 1948.

Head to head:

  • The Springboks’ first encounter with the Barbarians took place on 26 January, 1952 also at Cardiff Arms Park. The final score was 17-3 in favour of the Springboks.
  • The results of their seven matches to date are:
  • 26/01/1952 in Cardiff: SA won 17-3
  • 04/02/1961 in Cardiff: Barbarians won 6-0
  • 31/01/1970 in London: SA won 21-12
  • 03/12/1994 in Dublin: Barbarians won 23-15
  • 09/12/2000 in Cardiff: SA won 41-31
  • 01/12/2007 in London: Barbarians won 22-5
  • 04/12/2010 in London: Barbarians won 26-20
  • Total: Played 7; SA won 3; SA lost 4; Points for: 119; Points against 123; Tries for 18; Tries against 20; Win percentage 43%.

Match officials:

  • The match officials for this match are: Referee – Mike Fraser (New Zealand); Assistant referees – Paul Williams (New Zealand) and Shuhei Kubo (Japan) with the TMO Graham Hughes (England).
  • It will be Mike Fraser’s first appearance as referee in a match involving the Springboks.

The stadium:

  • Wembley Stadium in London is home to the England National Football team as well as Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur.
  • The stadium capacity is 90 000.
  • The Springboks played only one Test match at the stadium before, against Wales while the construction of the Millennium Stadium (now Principality Stadium) in Cardiff was in progress. South Africa won the match 28-20. On that day, Franco Smith scored 13 points with two conversions and three penalty goals..

Interesting facts:

  • The total number of Vodacom Super Rugby caps in the starting line-up are 611 – of this, 231 caps are in the backline with 380 among the forwards. The combined Vodacom Super Rugby caps on the bench are 317. The average Vodacom Super Rugby caps for the match-23 are 40.
  • The youngest player in the 23-man squad is Jean-Luc du Preez (21y, 2m), while the oldest team member is Tendai Mtawarira (31y, 3m).
  • The tallest player in the squad is RG Snyman (2.06m) and the shortest is Rudy Paige (1.69m).
  • Six players will play in the Springbok jersey for the first time – RG Snyman, Roelof Smit, Jamba Ulengo, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Francois Venter and Sergeal Petersen. Furthermore, Lizo Gqoboka, Jean-Luc du Preez and Tian Schoeman are the uncapped players on the bench who might also have this honour.
  • It will be the first time that Pat Lambie will captain the Springboks in a match.
  • Any uncapped players in the squad, will only become a capped Springbok when they appear in a Test and, until such time, these players will be regarded as Springbok tourists.

Issued by SA Rugby Communications

SA rugby in crisis – Duane

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Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen feels that rugby in South Africa is in a state of “chaos” and doesn’t expect the situation to change soon.

Kings boost frontrow stock

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Good to see there is some life left in PE

 

Southern Kings confirm Van der Merwe signing

 

The Southern Kings will be boosted with the arrival of experienced prop Schalk van der Merwe, who will report for Vodacom Super Rugby duty as soon as his stint with the Barbarians is over.

 

Van der Merwe, who is known as ‘Hond’ amongst team-mates, will add even more experience to the Kings’ front row, where he will link up with, amongst others, Schalk Ferreira and Chris Heiberg.

 

The 25-year-old Van der Merwe’s most recent playing stint was with Montpellier in France, but he has previously played provincial rugby for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs, Down Touch Griffons and Xerox Golden Lions.

 

It’s his 25 Vodacom Super Rugby caps for the Emirates Lions in 2014 and 2015 though that made Van der Merwe such a valuable prospect for the Southern Kings.

 

“Every team needs experience in the front row and it is great to have a player with such pedigree join us in Port Elizabeth” said Southern Kings head coach Deon Davids.

 

Davids also confirmed that two outside backs from the Cell C Sharks, former Junior Springbok Wandile Mjekevu and Neil Maritz, will be available for the Southern Kings next year.

 

“Wandile was on loan with us earlier this year and he made an immediate impact, so it’s great to have him back. Neil has come through the ranks at the Sharks and is a young, but very exciting player to have available. I’m looking forward to having them in the squad.”

 

Van der Merwe, Mjekevu and Maritz are the latest names to be confirmed by the Southern Kings, after it was announced last week that Heiberg (prop), Irné Herbst (lock), Wandile Putuma (lock), Garrick Mattheus (flyhalf), Yaw Penxe (wing) and Sintu Manjezi (flank / lock) will join the squad in Port Elizabeth.

 

 

Mitre 10 finals wrap

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Mitre10-CUP-logo

Canterbury extend their dynasty in final

Getty Images

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2016    LYNN MCCONNELL    GETTY IMAGES

It was an extension of Canterbury’s dominance of the competition, their eighth out of the last nine titles, as they sent coach Scott Robertson on his way to the Crusaders’ coaching role.

If Tasman were to make a significant impact on the game they needed first five-eighths Marty Banks to be on top of his game but it became the changing of eras as his Canterbury opposite Richie Mo’unga took control of the game scoring two tries himself and setting up two others. For Banks there were some flourishes but more mistakes than he would have wanted in ending his association with the side before heading to Italy.

Canterbury made a sensational start when Banks’ attempted to clear the ball from the Tasman 22 had his kick charged down by hard-working lock David McDuling, who was able to run through onto the ball and open the scoring after only 42 seconds.

Five minutes later, Mo’unga broke from around halfway into the Tasman 22m area. From the resulting play the ball emerged to Mo’unga at first receiver and he slipped a grubber kick through and wing Nathan Earle won the favourable bounce to score Canterbury’s second.

But Earle blemishished his copy book after Banks had landed a penalty goal when infringing and was sent to the sin-bin by referee Glen Jackson. Hooker Andrew Makalio went close to scoring but the TMO ruled he was short of the goal-line and while Canterbury cleared the line when Tasman were unable to capitalize.

However, they received another chance after some untidy work by flanker Tom Sanders. He attempted to kccp the ball in play but it was seized by centre Kieron Fonotia and he kicked it into Canterbury’s 22m area. Centre Jordie Barrett was back to cover but lacked support as the Tasman forwards powered into the breakdown and it was flanker Shannon Frizzell who picked the ball up and scored.

Tasman had wiped out the deficit but there was no time to savour the moment because Mo’unga took advantage of an unexpected wall of his own players in front of him to elude the defenders and score a superb individual try to regain the initiative, which was extended when Barrett landed a penalty goal that saw Canterbury got to half-time leading 22-13.

It was typical of Tasman’s first half that just after the final hooter Banks was lining up a 52m attempt at a penalty goal but when the ball fell off the tee, an assistant referee Brendon Pickerill suggested the TMO look at an incident and when the view was taken it showed that Tasman lock Alex Ainley had neck rolled Canterbury fullback Johnny McNicholl. The penalty was reversed and Ainley was sent to the sin-bin for an extended half-time break.

It proved costly after the break as Canterbury took advantage with Earle making a strong run deep into Tasman territory and then Banks kicking the ball out on the full which allowed Canterbury to set up a maul and while they didn’t score immediately, they won a five-metre scrum and second five-eighths Rob Thompson took the chance provided to score.

Restored to full strength there was an immediate improvement in Tasman’s endeavor and Canterbury’s defences were given a thorough test during a 17-phase spell which only ended when a penalty was conceded. Tasman won the scrum and put replacement centre David Havili on a line close to the posts and from the rucks halfback Billy Guyton scored.

Inevitably, Canterbury struck back, although it was a knock-on from the re-start by Guyton that allowed a platform to be rebuilt and Mo’unga used his acceleration off the mark to prise open the defence for his second try, in the 60th minute.

Tasman didn’t know they were expected to stop as they applied pressure on Canterbury in their 22m area and a desperate clearing kick from Mo’unga did not make much ground and having placed Guyton in the front of the lineout, replacement hooker Jesse MacDonald threw the ball to him and he drove ahead.

Then from the ruck, MacDonald ducked around to the open side to score.

Again, Canterbury hit straight back and it was Mo’unga demonstrating another skill when popping a delayed short pass for replacement flanker Billy Harmon to put the issue beyond doubt. That was exacerbated when Viliami Lolohea broke through only to lose the ball as he attempted to ground it over the line.

Scorers:
Canterbury 43 (David McDuling, Nathan Earle, Richie Mo’unga 2, Rob Thompson, Billy Harmon tries; Jordie Barrett 5 con, pen)
Tasman 27 (Shannon Frizzell, Billy Guyton tries; Marty Banks 2 pen, 2 con)

North Otago claim Lochore Cup

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 SATURDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2016    LYNN MCCONNELL    GETTY IMAGES

Time after time King Country created chances only to suffer breakdowns that were seized upon efficiently by a North Otago side who scored six tries to three to hammer home the advantage they enjoyed.

It rewarded a big finals campaign for North Otago, who gained their place in the final by upsetting the more favoured Mid Canterbury in the semi-finals 36-24, and they showed little effect of having to play away from home.

Two tries in seven minutes just before time set North Otago up for a 24-8 lead at half-time.

They had taken the lead earlier nine minutes into the game after fullback Craig Smith ran a King Country kick back at them, making a break in midfield and linking with halfback Robbie Smith, left wing Matthew Vocea who made good use of space to find first five-eighths Josh Casey in support to put Robbie Smith in for the try.

King Country dominated possession throughout the half claiming 64 percent and 69 percent of territory but their only try-scoring reward came in the 25th minute after a lineout penalty option which allowed them to unleash their maul.

When it rumbled over the line it was blindside flanker Sam Mason who scored, and that was a good return for the efforts by the King Country loose forwards with flanker Daniel Baxter and No.8 Rob Sherson.

But the turnover issue was one that King Country could not quell and in the 33rd minute Shae Tucker recovered the ball from a turnover and fed left wing Vocea. He fed flying blindside flanker Maene Mapusaga and from 65m out, he turned on the after-burners, put in a goose step and pulled out a big fend to beat the defence and complete a fine try.

Just before half-time another turnover allowed North Otago to camp in the home 22m area and after a five-metre scrum was ordered when the ball was held up, No.8 Filipo Veamatahau ran from the base of the scrum, beat three defenders and scored under the bar.

Into the second half King Country achieved the key try they needed after the resumption after Baxter kicked ahead after North Otago failed to control a lineout. Good chasing saw Sherson catch a defender and from the ruck the ball was moved through the backline where centre Stephan Turner timed his pass well enough for fullback James Hemara to cut back infield and beat three defenders to get over for the try.

However, North Otago responded with another impressive piece of continuity when Sherson lost the ball in midfield. Mapusaga linked with Veamatahau before Vocea and Tucker took the ball ahead. Prop Ralph Darling made a key contribution before second five-eighths Lemi Masoe provided the ball for Vocea to score.

Veamatahau was sin-binned moments later for a foot-trip but King Country turned the ball over again from a lineout five-metres from North Otago’s line and the visitors cleared. They looked likely to go in again but a pass wasn’t held and King Country had a lineout throw just out from their line.

However, they lost the ball and North Otago worked the ball through eight pick-and-goes before a long pass from Casey put wing Simon Lilicama in for an unchallenged try.

Demonstrating the way in which they produced a complete performance was the 68th minute try scored by fullback Craig Smith. The ball had been moved right, left and back again and when Smith thinks about the ease with which he scored he will have plenty to thank Darling for. His pass, the last in the movement, was perfect – a quick hand-on which took the defence out of the play brilliantly.

Scorers: King Country 22 (Sam Mason, James Hemara, Anthony Wise tries; Zayn Tipping con, pen) North Otago 44 (Maene Mapusaga, Filipo Veamatahau, Robbie Smith, Matthew Vocea, Simon Lilicama, Craig Smith tries; Josh Casey 4 con)

Composed North Harbour clinch Championship crown

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 FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2016    ALLBLACKS.COM    GETTY IMAGES

In a bruising encounter at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Otago and North Harbour played out a classic final with water tight defence keeping the score board close throughout the entire match.

It was North Harbour’s first final since 1994 but the early signs weren’t good when livewire Otago wing Fa’asiu Fuatai crossed in the corner after a relentless period of attack. The ball was stretched both sides of the field before Fuatai found space out wide to secure the early lead for the home side.

The signs looked even more ominous when Otago swept straight back onto attack and attempted to rumble over the line. All North Harbour could do was to collapse the maul and receive a yellow card as loose forward Glen Preston was sent to the side for 10 minutes.

Otago turned down the chance for three points but were penalised themselves soon after to let the visitors off the hook. With a man down, two of North Harbour’s biggest stars combined when Tevita Li broke through two tackles to feed second five-eighth Michael Little to complete a determined finish in the corner.

With both teams up fast on defence and making their one-on-one tackles, scoring opportunities were limited between but Otago chose to turn down a penalty shot for the second time and were once again were let down by their lineout execution to come up empty handed.

North Harbour closed out the half with two Bryn Gatland penalties to take the unexpected 11-7 lead into the break while Otago were left to rue their missed opportunities.

Just like they did in the semifinal against Wellington, North Harbour came out strong early in the second half and converted their territorial advantage into points when Gatland landed his third penalty to make it 14-7.

With the handy lead, North Harbour looked to play the game in Otago’s half but Michael Collins pounced on an aimless kick to put the home side onto attack. With more numbers at the breakdown, Otago crashed over close to the line when lock Tom Franklin barged over to square up the score 14-14.

In the 60th minute, 38-year-old veteran Andrew Hore came on at hooker for his 311th first class match. Hore’s introduction heralded an intense final quarter as the defence lifted from both sides with halfback Jonathan Ruru making a number of steals in the tackle and Michael Little showcasing his increasing stature with some punishing hits.

With the score tied up in the 79th minute, North Harbour showed great composure to work the ball deep into Otago’s half before Bryn Gatland landed the clutch drop goal from 30 metres out to secure the Championship title and a place in the Premiership for 2016.

SCORERS:
Otago 14 (Fa’asiu Fuatai, Tom Franklin tries, Fletcher Smith 2 con)

North Harbour 17 (Michael Little try, Bryn Gatland 3 pen, dg)

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Canterbury march into Premiership final

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Counties traveled to Christchurch in a confident mood having beaten the South Islanders 33-21 eight days ago in Pukekohe.
The Steelers were further boosted by the return of halfback Augustine Pulu who rejoined the team following his midweek call up to the All Blacks’ squad for the Bledisloe Cup test.
Canterbury, who have made eight of the competitions previous nine finals, scored immediately from the kick off, forcing a ruck penalty right in front of the posts, which was easily slotted by second five-eighth (and new All Blacks squad member) Jordie Barrett.
However Counties dominated much of the first game’s first 20 minutes, with a wealth of possession inside the Canterbury 22.
Twice the Steelers came close to scoring off the back of a dominant scrum; No.8 Sootala Fa’aso’o was judged to have been held up over the line in a Richie Mo’unga tackle, before second five-eighth Cardiff Vaega dropped the ball while attempting to score from the resulting scrum.
The inability to finish was punished by the defending champions who worked their way back into the game and scored the first try of the match to Ben Funnell.
The hooker crashed over following a period of sustained pressure near the Counties goal line.
Despite being held up over the line twice themselves, Canterbury kept calm and strung 12 phases together in the lead up to Funnell’s 22nd minute try.
Funnell was back in the action almost immediately.

A desperate tackle by the Canterbury rake denied his opposite number, Hika Elliot, from scoring, as Counties threatened from the restart.
The try line play set the tone for the rest of the half as Canterbury harried and bullied Counties off the ball and began to dominant the break down and set piece.
The Canterbury backs were under utilised for much of the half, but three minutes before the break they landed the decisive blow to Counties’ hopes.
Quick ball from a turnover 30 metres out from the Counties’ line was spun wide, allowing left wing George Bridge to beat his marker, before drawing the cover defence and putting Jordie Barrett in for an unopposed run to the try line.
Barrett duly converted his own try and Canterbury took a 17-0 lead into the break.
Canterbury thought they had scored their fourth, three minutes into the second spell when open side flanker Tom Sanders crossed in the corner.
But Counties’ hopes were saved by a late referral to the television match official, who ruled Sanders had stepped on the touch line before scoring.
Counties refused to give up and, as in the first half, dominated much of the period’s opening minutes.
At one point the Steelers rolled back the years to the 1980s and used a “wall” move from a tap penalty, but were unable to crack the Canterbury defensive screen.
Canterbury’s resolute defence repelled wave after wave of Counties attacks – at one point Counties put together 14 phases within 15 metres of the Canterbury line but could not break through.
With 20 minutes to play the Steelers were offered a glimmer of hope when blindside flanker Jordan Taufua smashed his way across the line from a quick penalty tap, narrowing the deficit to 10 points.
But in typical fashion, Canterbury closed the match out clinically, playing for territory and keeping the ball inside the Counties half.
With 12 minutes to go, the result was sealed when replacement halfback Jack Stratton pounced on a poor five metre scrum clearance from Pulu, which squirted into the Counties in goal, to score his side’s final try and take the game beyond Counties’ reach.
SCORERS:
Canterbury 22 (Ben Funnell, Jordie Barrett, Jack Stratton tries; Barrett 2 con, pen)
Counties Manukau 7 (Jordan Taufua try; Luteru Laulala con)

Gutsy Tasman pack setsup final chance

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Taranaki had been 19-34 behind but pulled back 10 points with 10 minutes left to play but Tasman’s character shone through and in a great display of control they worked their 29 phases before Tasman’s kingpin of several years first five-eighths Marty Banks scored the try to seal the deal, added the conversion and ended with 21 points and a season haul to date of 149 points.

Having been such an important scoring factor for the side it represents a suitable platform to end his New Zealand-based career before heading overseas.

Taranaki added to the occasion with a gallant fightback but the control the visiting forwards gained, well led by captain and flanker Shane Christie and experienced lock Alex Ainley, proved the difference.

Taranaki made the first break, courtesy of good build-up work in midfield by wing Declan O’Donnell. He set up a ruck after making inroads and the ball was moved by first five-eighths Marty McKenzie to flanker Mitchell Crosswell and wing Latu Vaeno. Vaeno found centre Seta Tamanivalu outside him and with a graphic demonstration of his powerful fend, Tamanivalu scored the opening try.

Tasman kept moving the ball as they probed for openings and after first five-eighths Marty Banks landed a 14th minute penalty goal, they got back on attack and with some outstanding inter-passing and off-loading among the forwards, they got into the 22m area. Halfback Billy Guyton ran from the base of the ruck, double-pumped a pass which found prop Ross Geldenhuys with a full head of steam and he ploughed through for a try.

A TMO ruling a few minutes denied O’Donnell a try when he looked to have knocked the ball on just short of the pain when following through on a Tamanivalu grubber towards the line.

But more pressure from Taranaki with some strength-sapping pick-and-goes at the line resulted in second five-eighths Johnny Fa’auli burrowing under the Tasman defenders to score.

Tasman came back, as they always do, when replacement Alex Nankivell cut through the home defence to take play into Taranaki’s 22m area. The forwards kept the momentum going as they moved the ball, and then when it was freed up there was Nankivell perfectly placed to go in under the crossbar.

Misfortune for Taranaki was turned to Tasman’s advantage when left wing James Lowe kicked ahead in mid-field only to see the ball go between Taranaki halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi’s legs and Lowe was through in a flash to feed fullback Mitchell Hunt with the Taranaki defence shattered and he scored for Tasman to go to the half-time break leading 24-12.

The continuity that Tasman mastered through the middle stages of the game put paid to Taranaki’s chances and a key blow was struck in the 46th minute after a 16-phase build-up which saw a chance open up for Guyton and he got over also beneath the posts.

But some clever work at a lineout near halfway saw hooker Rhys Marshall throw to the front of the line where Tahuriorangi took the ball and threw it straight back to Marshall. Tahuriorangi followed up and took a pass from Marshall for an unimpeded run through to the line.

Banks could have made life tougher for Taranaki but he missed penalty goal chances in the 58th and 60th minute and almost predictably Taranaki didn’t waste their next chance on attack and from a lineout maul which had looked to have lost its way, Marshall extricated the ball to link on the blindside with Crosswell who in-passed to O’Donnell who scored to reduce the deficit to 24-34 with 16 minutes to go.

Then with nine minutes remaining a move saw Taranaki get fullback Stephen Perofeta into space on the left flank and he took play right up to Tasman’s line. The ball was quickly heeled and moved with aplomb through a backline almost made up of forwards for Crosswell to cross wide out.

Scorers:

Taranaki 29 (Seta Tamanivalu, Johnny Fa’auli, Te Toirao Tahuriorangi, Declan O’Donnell, Mitchell Crosswell tries; Marty McKenzie 2 con)
Tasman 41 (Ross Geldenhuys, Alex Nankivell, Mitchell Hunt, Billy Guyton, Marty Banks tries; Banks 5 con, 2 pen ).

North Harbour upset Wellington in Capital

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They will meet Otago in next week’s final, their first since 1994, while they committed Wellington to another year in the Championship.

It was a thrilling contest with North Harbour gaining the benefit of better use of what possession that could gain.

Wing Tevita Li made up for two earlier mistakes to charge into the backline from a disintegrating North Harbour scrum to take a reverse pass from replacement halfback Chris Smylie and unzip Wellington’s defence in a powerful run before passing to replacement Daniel Hilton-Jones to snatch a 37-30 lead with nine minutes remaining.

Superb leadership from captain and lock Chris Vui set the standard for his side with some commanding play with the ball in hand while in the backline centre Matt Vaega was a constant menace who had the better of a tight contest with Wellington’s Matt Proctor.

Wellington skipper Brad Shields attempted to lift his side with some determined running while among the backline wing Wes Goosen made some devastating early breaks but he was well contained in the second half. Instead, it was forward power, especially on the lineout drive that got Wellington back into the game.

North Harbour made an electric start, rocking Wellington with the intent of their assault from the outset and they had immediate reward as first five-eighths Bryn Gatland landed a penalty goal.

As Wellington looked to get into the game, they ran the ball but lock Mark Reddish threw a pass to unoccupied territory and Vaega was onto it and broke downfield and in-passed to Li who had a clear run to the line for the try.

Wellington’s desperation to get back into the contest resulted in an amazing period of thrust and counter-thrust. Neither sought the sideline with their kicks and breaks were blocked and kicks contested before an insertion from centre Matt Proctor sweeping at fullback produced the impetus his side needed with a corkscrewing run.

From the breakdown the ball was cleared to first five-eighths Jackson Garden-Bachop and he lobbed a kick to the corner where hooker Leni Apisai was favoured by the bounce of the ball to score.

After the first scrum of the game 23 minutes into the contest, Wellington resorted to employing its forward drive and it was a midfield rolling maul that traversed an amazing 45m that set up Wellington’s next try-scoring chance. As the ball was moved from the maul, second five-eighths Shaun Treeby secured a half-gap, got his hands through and fed fullback Jason Woodward.

He made ground deep into the 22m area and when tackled he flicked the ball inside where Goosen had moved to take the ball and score.

Wellington looked to have gained control but a slip-up just before half-time allowed Vaega to pounce onto loose ball on the sideline. The momentum switched to North Harbour and halfback Bryn Hall chipped a ball into the box and the ball could only be carried back over the line in defence.

Wellington poured the power on at the five-metre scrum but Hall cleared it and after a ruck it was flanker Glen Preston who had the body position to drive over the line to score. And with Gatland adding the conversion for 101 points for the season, North Harbour had the half-time lead 20-18.

They took a minute of the second half to extend that. It came after they moved the ball and Duffie kicked into the 22m area for the Wellington cover to take the ball into touch. Then from the lineout North Harbour unleashed their own rolling maul for prop Nic Mayhew to drive over for the try.

Wellington battled to get back in the contest and their chance was provided by flanker Vaea Fifita who blasted his way through the defence to get up to the goal-line and from the ruck a backhand flick from Garden-Bachop on the blindside provided wing Joe Hill with enough goal-line in sight to score in the corner in the 58th minute.

Li had two chances to secure what could have been the match-winning advantage. On the first he threw off Hill and made ground deep into Wellington’s 22 only to pass to Wellington prop Chris Baumann and then moments later fullback Matt McGahan made a superb blindside break to give Li a chance on the outside, but Li dropped the ball.

That was costly after Wellington’s replacement hooker Asafo Aumua was introduced from a penalty lineout which saw another lineout drive unleashed and it was Aumua who scored the try for Garden-Bachop to convert to draw the sides level with 14 minutes left.

There was a consolation last try for replacement halfback Sheridan Rangihuna after the fulltime siren had sounded.

Scorers:

Wellington 40 (Leni Apisai, Wes Goosen, Joe Hill, Asafo Aumua, Sheridan Rangihuna tries; Jackson Garden-Bachop 3 con, 2 pen )
North Harbour 37 (Tevita Li, Glen Preston, Nic Mayhew, Daniel Hilton-Jones tries; Bryn Gatland 4 con, 3 pen ).

Otago’s defence earns home final

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Otago had lost their last three semifinal appearances but were desperate not to make it four against a Bay of Plenty side that had scored more tries than any other team in the Championship.

Knowing that defence would win the knockout clash, Otago were strong in the contact zone, scrambled well and offered Bay of Plenty very few counter attack opportunities

After only winning three games during the competition phase, Bay of Plenty had nothing to lose and put Otago under pressure early with a Dan Hollinshead penalty to strike first.

In his 50th match for Otago, powerful lock Tom Franklin barged over to score from Otago’s first scoring opportunity in the Bay of Plenty half. Otago’s back three of Mitchell Scott, Fa’asiu Fuata’I and Michael Collins were busy at the back and tested the Steamers defence before Matt Faddes made a searing break to set up Naulia Dawai to score.

At 14-6 down at halftime, All Blacks flanker Sam Cane came off the bench for the Steamers to spark an intense head-to-head battle with Otago openside flanker James Lentjes.

Lentjes got the better of Cane by scoring a try early in the second half and leading the Otago defensive effort with a series of crunching tackles.

With their season on the line, Bay of Plenty lifted the tempo and crossed for tries to Lalakai Foketi and Terrence Hepetema to set up a grandstand finish.

Otago weren’t to be denied though, and in a fitting finish, it was their powerful defence that forced a Bay of Plenty error to close out the game.

The victory means that Otago will take on either Wellington or North Harbour in the Championship final as they seek their first title since 1998.

Otago captain Paul Grant said: “I think we deserve to have a smile on our face after a tough game. The crowd helped us home at the end. We had to keep our defence strong as they came at us.”

SCORERS:
Otago 27 (Tom Franklin, James Lentjes tries, Fletcher Smith 3 con, pen, Scott Eade pen)

Bay of Plenty 20 (Lalakai Foketi, Terrence Hepetema tries, Dan Hollinshead 2 pen, con, Te Aihe Toma con)