#LoveRugby

Home #LoveRugby

Retro is a good look for Boks

0

You had to have a bomber jacket in the 90s. Preferably with a lumberjack plaid shirt underneath it. And a pair of black Doc Martens. Those were the staples of acceptable fashion for conforming teenagers.

Zelím Nel writes for AllOutRugby

This get-up has since been replaced by variants of 60s, 70s and 80s trends and, these days, even saying “bomber jacket” could get you fitted for handcuffs, if you happen to be in seat 7A when the words come out of your mouth.

My point is that, while what is popular changes, ‘there is nothing new under the sun’. Fashion trends don’t evolve, they’re on a circular pattern. Bomber jackets will be back, which is why I’ve got mine bubble-wrapped in storage…

Same goes for rugby. George Smith and Richie McCaw took Super Rugby hostage in the early 2000s. Suddenly everybody had to have a fetcher at openside flank, and Corne Krige and Schalk Burger were South Africa’s answer.

Now, try to name the game-wrecking ball-hawks in Super Rugby this season. Smith is among the top five, one of which is a hooker and only two of those players have appeared in a Test this year.

While the game still rewards a team for fielding an openside that plays effectively to the ball, opposing coaches have found ways to move the ball without being punked at every tackle point.

Attack is on the same cycle. South Africa has belatedly jumped on the all-out attack bandwagon; worse yet, they’ve bought into the idea that the game has ‘evolved’ and that means old is bad and new is good.

Over the past two seasons, the attack-minded Springboks have broken records for milestone defeats. Don’t let it escape you that what is being regarded as SA’s best performance during this time – last week’s 25-24 loss against the All Blacks – featured a commitment to kicking and a forwards-based running game.

Those were the staples of Bok rugby in the 90s and 2000s when South Africa won two World Cups and topped the world rankings.

In this year’s Rugby Championship, the Boks made the most offloads and the least tackles. Only Argentina missed more tackles as South Africa finished in third place overall, ahead of the winless Pumas and behind a Wallabies outfit that was beaten by Scotland in Sydney in June.

Our infatuation with the perception of All Blacks rugby has put South African rugby into a freefall.

As an example, the Boks want to be seen to be progressive, so they’ve emulated the popular 1-3-3-1 attacking shape. The problem is, unlike the All Blacks, South Africa’s roaming forward in each of those wide channels is not supported by backs who can be regarded as physical.

When Siya Kolisi was tackled in the trams at Newlands, the first arrival was 85-kilogram Andries Coetzee. Watching him try to remove the nearest All Blacks threat was like watching a Chihuahua try to take down a garbage truck.

South Africa conceded nine breakdown turnovers; New Zealand conceded one. This is why the All Blacks can float no-look passes – even when they commit 41 handling errors, their physical superiority in the collisions bails them out.

Ironically, the chunkier a backline is, the wider the attack can be, because they have the brawn to take care of themselves in contact. It’s a point that has escaped SA coaches who have pressed on with plans to widen their attack with backs who couldn’t shift Butch James on a see-saw.

The solution for a mini-backline is a more vertical shape that packs the forwards into tighter clusters. The knee-jerk reaction to this suggestion will be that ‘the game has changed’ and ‘you can’t just bash it up round the fringes anymore’. And yet that’s exactly where Eben Etzebeth, Steven Kitshoff and Pieter-Steph du Toit made metres at Newlands.

If the Boks are serious about being contenders again, they’ve got to go back to the staples of power rugby and reclaim control of the gain line before we can start talking about the tight five throwing offloads.

You can teach a hefty piano mover how to tickle the ivories, but Elton John was never going to move a Steinway.

Akker signs with Sharks

8

The Cell C Sharks have reeled in a Lions to the Sharks Tank in Akker van der Merwe.

The lively hooker will join the Sharks in a two-year deal and will be available for them immediately. This is a very good signing for the Sharks and a good move for Akkers as he was playing third inline at the Lions.

Springbok hooker Marx and Coetzee has been infront of him in the picking order at the Lions the last couple of years.

Van der Merwe will meet up with his Varsity Cup coach on Monday to start preparing for the Currie Cup match against the Blue Bulls on Wednesday.

Van der Merwe made his Super Rugby debut for the Lions in 2014 and played 50 times for the Johannesburg franchise.

 

Rugby union career
Position(s) Hooker
Current team Lions / Golden Lions XV
Youth Career
2007–2009 SWD Eagles
2010 Leopards U19
2012 Leopards U21
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
2013 NWU Pukke 10 (15)
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
2013 Leopards XV 6 (10)
2013–2014 Leopards 11 (0)
2014–present Lions 39 (30)
2014–present Golden Lions 18 (25)
2015 → Racing 92 2 (0)
Correct as of 25 October 2016
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
2016 Barbarians 1 (0)

Nothing left to say but….Go Lions

2

All we can do now is wait for Saturday 16:00 and Go Lions……

 

 

 

Ireland duo face rape trial

0

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding are set to miss the entire 2017-18 season after being charged with rape, reports SARugbyMag.co.za

This follows an alleged incident at a south Belfast house party in June 2016.

The Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby have stood the players down until the conclusion of the court process.

The players’ lawyers stressed that their clients denied the charges.

‘We are very disappointed at the decision of the PPS [Public Prosecution Service] to prosecute, given the particular circumstances and facts known in this case,’ said Kevin Winters, Jackson’s solicitor. ‘Our client rejects completely the allegations made against him and we are confident he will be ­exonerated in due course.’

Joe Rice, Olding’s solicitor, said: ‘My client has co-operated fully with the police investigation. He is a man of impeccable good character and has never brought himself to the attention of the authorities previously. He is not subject to any bail conditions and he’s anxious to restore his good name through the court process in Northern Ireland, where the charge against him will be fully contested.’

Jackson has 25 Test caps for Ireland and Olding four.

Lions v Hurricanes – Breaking it down

1

The Lions take on the Hurricanes in the second semi-final this weekend in Johannesburg and it is going to a huge clash between two teams that have score 175 tries this season.

We can take it that these two teams are not going to kick the ball too much and we will see something special on Saturday afternoon.

They are easily the two teams that made the most carries this season and between the two they have made 26 000 meters with ball in hand. Although the Lions have not perform as we expected the last two outings they do pop the Hurricanes in a few important stats.

The Lions have made more line breaks, stolen more lineouts, won more lineouts on own throw-ins, passed the ball more, made more tackle breaks, less tackles and made more turnovers than the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes feast of broken play and they shown it through the season with much more tackle turnovers than the Lions. Although the Hurricanes missed less tackles than the Lions the Lions dominated the tackle area better than the Hurricanes with 234 against 144.

The one factor that the stats do not tell us will be that the Lions have not yet played against any New Zealand team this year.

This does not make the Lions effort this season less impressive but we know that the semi-final this week will be a much greater speed than what the Lions had this year against the Aussie teams and the other SA franchises.

Up front the two teams will match up evenly but I do believe the Lions will have a small edge come scrum-time. Both teams have great game-breakers all around and it will be about ball in hand and how they are able to use it.

Both teams have good defensive systems but we can expect them to go full out and score tries as the weather looks like the perfect winters day in the city of gold.

At the end stats means nothing if you cannot produce the goods on the day and this is knockout rugby which only require 1 point to secure a place in the final.

CC Preview – Griquas v Blue Bulls

0

The second Currie Cup match will be hosted by Griquas in Kimberley as they take on the Blue Bulls.

Griquas had to put the disappointment of last weeks SuperSport Challenge final against WP behind them and start their Currie Cup campaign and it will not be an easy one against a very strong Blue Bulls side.

Griquas had a great SuperSport Challenge series and will take that confidence with them in the Currie Cup. With Tafel Lager behind the team they now have the sponsor that can add the good players and structures they have in the union.

The team has been playing together for a few months now and coming to Kimberley will be a very difficult trip for the Blue Bulls who had a poor Super Rugby this year.

With the Super Rugby players involved in the Currie Cup it will be the start for their new director John Micthel and Nollis Marais will tap into the knowledge of his new boss.

For the Blue Bulls it is a new start in so many ways and they will want to start good but easy it will not be.

Definitely one of the games to look forward to this weekend and a nice way to end off the Saturday evening.

Prediction: Griquas at home with a team that knows each other only one winner for me, Griquas by 10 points

Teams:

Griquas – 15 Adriaan Coertzen (c), 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Tertius Kruger, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Koch Marx, 10 Andre Swarts, 9 Christiaan Meyer, 8 Jonathan Janse van Rensburg, 7 Sias Koen, 6 RJ Liebenberg, 5 Floris Pelser, 4 Mzwanele Zito, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 Abraham le Roux, 1 Liam Hendricks.
Replacements: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Nicolaas Oosthuizen, 18 Jonathan Adendorf, 19 Wendal Wehr, 20 Rudi Van Rooyen, 21 George Whitehead, 22 Enver Brandt.

Blue Bulls – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Franco Naude, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Duncan Matthews, 10 Tony Jantjies, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Nic de Jager, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Boom Prinsloo (captain), 5 Abongile Nonkontwana, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 John-Roy Jenkinson, 18 Freddy Ngoza, 19 Shaun Adendorff, 20 Andre Warner, 21 Tinus de Beer, 22 JT Jackson.

QF 1 Preview – Brumbies Hurricanes

0

The most exciting bit of Super Rugby when you at least see strength vs strength and our first quarter final is Friday morning when the Brumbies host the Hurricanes in Canberra.

Most expect this to be a onside match and that the current champions will easily get pass the Brumbies but we have learned enough over the last couple of years that you do not write of any team when it comes to the play-offs.

The Hurricanes have draw not the shortest straw, not the longest straw but the best one when they beat the Crusaders last week to secure a trip to Australia rather than Cape Town. The Brumbies have not played the world on fire this year and to be honest have actually struggled in their last couple of matches.

The Hurricanes have been on of the top sides in the competition throughout the year and have a great change to defend their title this year again. They are the only side that could beat the Crusaders this year and have been brilliant on attack.

They have also top this years Super Rugby for most tries scored(89), being deadly from broken play and turnovers is something you do not want to give to this Hurricanes team.

The Brumbies have been good in the set pieces and their defence have been good as well this year.

Praying for rain is almost all they Brumbies can do to maybe stand a change of winning this one and taking their log position, rightly so as well. Another positive for the Brumbies will be that they will play in front of their passionate supporters but that is about it for them.

Prediction: Can only see one winner, Hurricanes by 15 plus points

Hurricanes – 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Jordie Barrett, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 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 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Ben May.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Loni Uhila, 19 Reed Prinsep, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Otere Black, 23 Cory Jane.

Brumbies – 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani,12  Andrew Smith,11 James Dargaville, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Jordan Smiler, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter (c), 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements:: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Jordan Jackson-Hope, 23 Christian Leali’ifano.

Vermeulen out of Rugby Championship

0

Springbok and Toulon Duane Vermeulen will miss the next three months after he went under the knife again for a minor groin injury.

Vermeulen who has 31 Springbok caps have not played for the Springboks for more than two season due to injuries and unavailability. Since the World Cup in 2015 Vermeulen only played 2 test for the Springboks against Ireland.

He did not make it again this year for the French test series and will now miss out on the Rugby Championship as well.

One will have to see if he will be selected for the end of year tour to the UK and France.

It is more likely that Springboks supporters must make peace for the fact that he will not play much more part for the Springboks.

With Warren Whiteley captaining the side from the number eight position also seems that Coetzee has made peace to go forward without Vermeulen

Canes, Saders, Lions and Chiefs for the win this weekend

2

To get to the final is much about momentum than anything else when it comes to the business end of Super Rugby and their are a few teams that are showing great form.

As we move into the first week of play-offs nobody will complain if the bookmakers are backing the New Zealand teams to advance to the next stage of the tournament with only the Lions that have shown again this year that they can go all the way.

In the first quarter final of the weekend we see the Brumbies hosting the Hurricanes on Friday and although the saying goes”Anything can happen in the play-offs” it will unfortunately not happen for the Brumbies.

The Aussie sides have been poor this year and even the Australian conference winner the Brumbies have not shown that they can scare any of the teams in the play-offs. More worrying for the Australian side is that their form this last two weeks have been poor as well and they are playing the current champions on Friday.

The only thing that is going for the Brumbies is that they are playing at home and will (hopefully) have more supporters at the stadium than the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes have shown that they are the one team that can again go all the way and have quality written all over the side, from number 1 to number 23.

The Hurricanes have top this years Super Rugby in most tries scored(89) and they have been deadly from broken play and turnovers is something you would not want to give to this Hurricanes team.

Praying for rain is almost all they Brumbies can do to maybe stand a change of winning this one and taking their log position, rightly so as well.

Can only see a Hurricanes win by at least 15 points.

The next quarter-final match will be an all New Zealand derby when the Crusaders host the Highlanders on Saturday morning. This is going to be a cracker and certainly not one to miss out on on. The Crusaders have been on top of the Super Rugby log until last weekend when they lost for the first time this year against the Hurricanes.

The end result is that they will gave up an easier run and a home final to the Lions who has ended on top of the overall log. The Highlanders are not the easiest team to play against and they have shown that they have a few game plans which have won them matches this season against good teams.

The Crusaders is a quality team and most properly the most conservative (if there is such a word in NewZealand rugby) of all the franchises there but they can score tries from anywhere and just don’t let up. They have one of the best set phases of all the teams in the competition and are one of the most balanced sides as well.

This one is difficult to call but have to go with the Saders by 10 points.

From the Crusaders and Highlanders we move to the next local derby match, this time in Johannesburg when the Lions take on the Sharks. The Lions have ended on top and will want to take the opportunity that has come their way and get the first win done and dusted against the Sharks.

Last week the two teams met in Durban and although it was not the Lions best game of the year they still beat the Sharks comfortable which will be a huge worry for the Sharks. The Lions are one of the most difficult teams to face at home and even without their captain Whiteley will not be easily beaten by any of the remaining teams.

They have so many game breakers and as with the Crusaders one of the most well balanced sides in the competition. The Lions struggled in the scrum last week and know that it is the one place where the Sharks will target them. When the two teams met earlier this year at Emirates Airline Park we witness one of the games of the season and most will want to see the same but we need to realistic and know that the Lions should be too strong for whatever the Sharks throw at them.

Lions will take this by 15 plus points at home.

The last quarter final will be at DHL Newlands when the Stormers will again take on the Chiefs. In the last two matches played between these two teams we saw the Chiefs running the Stormers off their feet in last years quarter final and during the season the Stormers had one of their best matches of the year when they surprise the Chiefs at Newlands.

The Chiefs is a quality side as all the New Zealand teams but have not dominated as they did previous years. The Stormers will take some believe into this match from the last time they meet but that frankly counts for nothing. The Chiefs also has all their big guns in the team and this will be a either a great contest or another runaway for the Chiefs.

That the Stormers have the quality  to beat the Chiefs no one will question, but they have been so much hot and cold this year that you never know what team will pitch up. Defence have also not always been up to scratch and they will have to defend out of their skins if they want to win this game.

This will be a great game to end the weekends quarter finals and although I hope the Stormers will pull this one through, the head keep on saying Chiefs by 12 points atleast.

Who do you think will be the winners this weekend?

 

No Carlos for Loftus – Mitch

3

John Mitchell had no sooner arrived at Loftus Versfeld to take up his position as Director of Rugby than he moved to squash a few rumours that have reared their heads over the past few weeks, writes Brenden Nel

One, former All Black flyhalf Carlos Spencer would not be joining the team as has been reported, and was never an option. Neither it seems, is his long-time friend and conditioning coach Wayne Taylor.

Both Kiwis were part of Mitchell’s coaching team at the Lions when he coached in Johannesburg and there has been much speculation that both would be heading to the Bulls to take up positions and reform the combination that started the Lions’ rise to power several years ago.

Mitchell will look rather at consolidating the coaching and conditioning structures within the Bulls union and making the most out of the resources already in the franchise rather than bringing new coaching staff into the Loftus fold.

“That is a massive rumour. Carlos is contracted in Japan and that rumour should be squashed,” Mitchell said rather clearly after being quizzed on Spencer.

“Clearly we’ve had a relationship in the past and he is a bloody good coach, but at this moment in time, we will just stick with what we have. I’m operational but also have a responsibility to mentor and develop coaches as well.”

Despite the fact that the head coach for this season Nollis Marais has complained about the conditioning in the team, and echoed sentiments that Scott Robertson, the Crusaders coach, said earlier on, Mitchell believes he first needs to assess the staff that the Bulls have, but has made it a priority that the strength and conditioning coach needs to be at the top of his game.

“We’ve got five strength and conditioning coaches here, and in my view the head strength and conditioning coach is someone who needs to be relevant and up to date with science, has to have the ability to collect data and also has to have the ability to lead men. And then the competencies that exist within that group in terms of nutrition, recovery, lifting, crawling, all those aspects that are covered by strength and conditioning. They can be covered by the group but ultimately there is one thing I’ve learnt since I was last in coaching is how much you’ve got to understand how to develop high intensity and having strength and conditioning coaches that can help you with the high metrics, collate it and give feedback, helps the athlete chase the standards.”

There has also been some massive speculation that the current assistant coaches will be redeployed and few of them will survive until the 2018 Super Rugby season, but on this the new Director of Rugby was non-commital at this stage, preferring to settle in and assess the situation before taking big decisions like this.

“We’ve had some time thinking on the restructuring and we will spend a bit more time. We’re not there yet, but I’m sure that won’t be far away in terms of being announced. Ideally in Currie Cup we would like to create the alignment immediately towards Super Rugby with the coaching group. A lot of the personnel is here, it is just a matter of identifying the competency and making sure people are relevant and up to date in some areas. And making sure that the competencies are in the right positions.

“I will take a major role in attack but also have an overview in all aspects of play. But ultimately I enjoy coaching attack and have been doing it for America as well. Not often do you see forward coaches getting excited about taking the backline. Its something I enjoy and have obviously been taking the forwards and the backline for the last 18 months.”

One thing is for sure, Mitchell has not arrived at Loftus looking for a retirement cheque. The former All Black coach is keen to shake things up, and knows what it takes to succeed at the highest level.

Getting the Bulls back to the powerhouse they were in the past is priority No 1 for him at the moment.

Thank to SuperSport 

Day of big  scores in the U18 Youth Weeks 

0

 The U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week and Coca-Cola Academy Week tournaments continued to entertain at St Stithians College in Johannesburg on Tuesday, with big victories dominating an action-packed day’s play, by SA Rugby
The Sharks registered an impressive 53-33 victory against the Blue Bulls, while Namibia overpowered the Valke 52-36, the Leopards outplayed Old Mutual Zimbabwe 72-17 and GWK Griquas defeated Eastern Province CD 42-20 in the U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week.

In the Coca-Cola Academy Week, meanwhile, the Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions XV overpowered Old Mutual Zimbabwe 62-14, while Valke Platteland defeated Border CD 51-12 and the SA LSEN (Learners with Special Education Needs) team earned a convincing 57-36 win against Tshepa Trading Griffons CD.

There were, however, a few close encounters in both tournaments, with SWD defeating Eastern Province 27-22 in the flagship tournament, while Pumas CD pipped Namibia 16-15, the Blue Bulls beat the Free State 26-23 and the Pumas defeated the Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions 23-22 in the Coca-Cola Academy Week.

Outside of the results, it was notable day in the U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week as female referee Aimee Barrett-Theron became the first woman to take charge of a match in the tournament.

U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week

SWD held off a strong challenge from Eastern Province for a 27-22 victory, with their prop Dian Bleuler scoring a brace for his team. The team’s packs were closely matched, but the talented SWD backline handed them the edge to outscore the Port Elizabeth team four tries to three after taking a 19-10 lead at the break.

The Sharks, meanwhile, used their solid foundation up-front to dominate the first half against the Blue Bulls, which paved the way for their six tries and an encouraging 38-7 halftime lead.

The Blue Bulls fought back strongly in the second half and closed the gap to 38-28 as the Sharks reduced to 14 men for a dangerous charge into a ruck.

The coastal side, however, stuck to their game plan to retain possession and earned the rewards as they two more tries to their tally and a penalty goal, which ensured that the Pretoria side’s four second-half tries were insufficient to push them into the lead.

The match was particularly special for Sharks scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba who scored a try, a penalty goal and five conversions.

Namibia staged a strong comeback against the Valke in the opening match of the day from 19-0 down to register a rewarding 52-36 victory in their first match of the tournament.

The Namibian forwards laid a solid foundation for the team as they dominated the scrums, while the side did well to spot the gaps in the defence and take advantage of them, with centre Gerswin Mouton earning a hat-trick.

he Valke, in turn, started the match strongly and scored three back-to-back tries, but the Namibians tightened up their defence and limited them to only two more for the match.

The Leopards delivered a solid performance all around against Old Mutual Zimbabwe, which saw them run riot on attack for a 72-17 win. The first half was competitive as the Potchefstroom side took a 20-7 lead, but they broke loose in the second half and ran circles around the defence to finish the match with 11 Tries.

Fullback Bertru Jones three tries, while flyhalf Hanru Van Rooyen scored two tries, seven conversions and a penalty goal. Despite this, Old Mutual Zimbabwe refused to give up and forced their way over the tryline twice late in the match.

GWK Griquas’ ability to maintain their structure on attack throughout their clash against Eastern Province CD and their constant pressure paid off as they secured a 40-20 victory.

The Kimberley side built up an encouraging 25-8 halftime lead and they picked up where they left off after the break to run in a total of six tries, while they defended with intent to keep the Eastern Cape side down to three.

Coca-Cola Academy Week

The Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions outplayed Old Mutual Zimbabwe completely as they ran in 10 tries for a 62-14 victory after leading 36-0 lead at the break. The home team’s flyhalf Tristan Oosthuizen was in fine form as he slotted over six conversions and scored a try for a personal total of 17 points.

The Valke Platteland delivered an equally effective performance against Border CD as they forced their way up-field with pick-and-goes and spread the ball wide wisely, which saw them cross the tryline eight times for a 51-12 victory.

They led 22-0 at the break and then lifted the tempo to take control of the match, while their effective defence allowed the Eastern Cape side to score only tries.

The SA LSEN (Learners with Special Education Needs) team retained possession and produced a solid attacking performance against the Tshepa Trading Griffons CD to outscore the opposition eight tries to two.

The SA LSEN team had a strong start and led 38-17 at the break, which set them up for the victory despite a much tighter second half.

The clash between Namibia and Pumas CD was gripping as the teams gave everything, resulting in the local side registering a narrow 16-15 victory.

Such was the closeness of the game, Pumas CD led 13-10 at halftime as each side scored two tries while Pumas CD added two penalty goals.

The only points scored in the second half was a try by Namibia and a penalty goal by Pumas CD, which proved to be enough to seal the win.

The Blue Bulls, meanwhile, overturned a 13-10 halftime deficit against the Free State to register a narrow 26-23 victory as they outscored the Bloemfontein side four tries to two.

A solid performance by Free State flyhalf Alex-Zander Du Plessis, meanwhile, kept them in the match as his try, two conversions and three penalty goals earned him 18 points. His heroics, however, were not enough in the end.

In a fantastic finale to the day’s play the Pumas slotted over a penalty goal on the stroke of fulltime to defeat the Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions 23-22 in a gripping match.

The hosts led 10-7 at the break, but the Pumas’ two converted tries and three penalty goals were sufficient to cancel out the home team’s four tries.

The U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week and Coca-Cola Academy Week will continue on Wednesday with the teams who battled in out on Monday taking to the field for the second time.

The main U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week team will see hosts, the Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions facing DHL Western Province, while DHL Western Province will meet the Sharks in the big match-up in the Coca-Cola Academy Week.

U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week day two results (Tuesday, 18 July):

Valke 36-52 Namibia
Leopards 72-17 Old Mutual Zimbabwe
GWK Griquas 42-20 Eastern Province CD
SWD 27-22 Eastern Province

Blue Bulls 33-53 Sharks
Coca-Cola Academy Week day two results (Tuesday, 18 July):

Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions XV 62-14 Old Mutual Zimbabwe
Valke Platteland 51-12 Border CD
SA LSEN 57-36 Tshepa Trading Griffons CD
Namibia 15-16 Pumas CD
Blue Bulls 26-23 Free State
Golden Lions 22-23 Pumas

U18 Coca-Cola Craven Week day three fixtures (Wednesday, 19 July):

09h00 – Tshepa Trading Griffons v Border CD
10h35 – Boland v GWK Griquas CD
12h05 – Border v Limpopo Blue Bulls
13h45 – Free State v Pumas
15h30 – Bidvest Waltons Golden Lions v DHL Western Province

Coca-Cola Academy Week day three fixtures (Wednesday, 19 July):

08h30 – Limpopo Blue Bulls v GWK Griquas CD
09h55 – GWK Griquas v Sharks CD
11h20 – Eastern Province v SWD
12h45 – Eastern Province CD v Valke CD
14h10 – DHL Western Province v Sharks
15h35 – Boland v Tshepa Trading Griffons

Micth- Lions can take this all

0

Former Lions and current Bulls director of Rugby John Mitchell believes the emotional attachment that the Lions have to their current coaching set-up can carry them all the way to this year’s Super Rugby title.

According to the SuperSport website, with coach Johan Ackermann heading to Gloucester at the conclusion of the Super Rugby campaign, the Lions will have more than the normal motivation to win the tournament, and as they have finished top of the league table, they will be comfortable at home without the travel nightmare that other teams face in the final rounds of the competition.

Mitchell believes that the New Zealand teams in particular underestimate the emotional attachment around the Lions team and that could be to their downfall if they have to visit Johannesburg for a playoff game.

“Most definitely. They’ve presented themselves with a great opportunity by finishing top of the log. I’m not sure if the other teams understand the emotional motivation with Ackers leaving after this tournament and the fact that they fell short last year at the last hurdle.

“They will be highly motivated and have a huge amount of desire. If they can keep their composure and focus on their processes and not get too emotionally committed to the outcome, I think they will finish off well.”

Mitchell also believes that while it was never good to see the Kings and Cheetahs leave Super Rugby, the proposed move to new competitions could well benefit the rest of the country’s rugby structures when the game moves to a global season in a few years time.

“Its not nice to exit a competition. If you look at my experience in 2012 with the Lions where I was hoping to debate whether people were transparent enough about what was happening to us. But ultimately when you look at it it was probably one of the best thing that happened to the Lions in the way they could clean out and get their wage bill way under R30-million and start again with a young committed group that wasn’t targeted by the market. It is only now they’re starting to be targeted by the market. There is actually a lot of good things to happen from coming out of Super Rugby.

“But for Saru, when the next broadcasting deal comes up in Super Rugby, hedging your bets by betting on the other side of the fence is not a bad commercial strategy as well. Ultimately as well where does SA Rugby head when it becomes a global season.

“There is a lot to be said for South Africans playing in the northern hemisphere, so I guess they get the best of both worlds.”

Mitchell was the coach of the Lions when they exited Super Rugby for a season to make way for the Kings to debut in the competition.

Read the full story on SuperSport

Cane impress by Kolisi

0

All Black and Chiefs Sam Cane believe Kolisi is a South African loose forward playing like a Kiwi.

The All Black flank was full of praises for Kolisi and the form he has shown this year not just in Super Rugby but also during the test series against France. The Stormers host the Chiefs in one of the four play-off matches this weekend at Newlands.

Cane admits to being impressed with Kolisi this season and knows his side must limit his impact.

 “He is a South African loose forward that plays a lot more like a Kiwi‚” he told TimesLive. “He’s got good footwork‚ a great skill-set‚ and is very physical too. I’m not sure if he has bulked up in the past few years. I first swapped a Test jersey with him four years ago. We always make an effort to chat after the game. We’ve got a good relationship.”

Judging from recent Stormers performances it promises to be a frantic game at Newlands this weekend as both sides like to play at a pace, which should create another thriller between the sides.

Everyone knows that our game revolves around lightning-quick ball,” added head coach Dave Rennie. “Because of that‚ teams are going to work really hard to slow our ball down. Our ball-carriers and supporting players need to do a good job to ensure we get quick ball. And hopefully the referee will play his part in that respect too.”

He continued: “That last game [against the Stormers] was a hell of a game of footy. We made a couple of errors and got punished. We need to look after the ball. They’ve got a big pack and a lot of firepower out the back. That’s what we expect from the African sides. Hopefully‚ we can get a bit of pill and put pressure on them.”

Pro12 agree deal to expand next season to include South African sides

0

A deal to expand the Pro12 to 14 teams from next season has been agreed, BBC Scotland understands.

The South African sides Cheetahs and Southern Kings will join the league after losing their Super Rugby status.

The six-year deal is likely to benefit the league to the tune of an extra £6m per season from the South African Rugby Union and additional television income.

All elements of the deal have been agreed and, once legally ratified, could be formally announced next week.

The new Pro14 league will kick-off in the first week of September and will comprise two conferences of seven teams. Each conference will have one Scottish side, one South African side, one Italian side and two each from Wales and Ireland.

The current preference is for two conferences of seven teams playing each other home and away. Within this format, the teams would also play one game against all the sides from the other conference, which would deliver 19 fixtures.

Additionally, each club would also play home and away derby fixtures as well, providing a total of 21 league games. However, other formats are also being discussed.

The winners of each conference will qualify automatically for the semi-finals, while the teams placed in second and third in each conference will be drawn together in play-offs for the remaining two semi-final places.

The Pro12 currently raises around £12m in television revenues, meaning the addition of the two South African sides represents a significant uplift as the Scottish, Irish and Welsh rugby unions try to bridge the financial gap to the English Premiership and French Top 14 teams.

The increase equates to around £500,000 in additional income per season for the existing Scottish, Irish, Welsh and Italian sides in the Pro12.

The Cheetahs and the Southern Kings are the weakest of South Africa’s Super Rugby teams, and they were cut from next season’s competition, opening the way for the move to join the Pro12.

One of the anticipated clauses for the deal is that the two franchises will commit to strengthening their squads, to ensure the competitive nature of the competition is protected.

SP Marais back from injury

0

The Stormers welcome back most of their injured players this week which sees SP Marais, Wilco Louw, Oli Kebble, Ali Vermaak, Rynhardt Elstadt and Kobus van Dyk all available for selection for the DHL Stormers’ Vodacom Super Rugby quarterfinal against the Chiefs at DHL Newlands on Saturday.

Prop Louw (knee) and flank Elstadt (wrist) were ruled out of the clash with the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld after picking up injuries late last week, but have recovered and will be up for selection this week.

Fullback Marais and flank Van Dyk have both been out for two weeks with knee injuries and have returned to full training this week.

Props Kebble (hamstring) and Vermaak (calf) will also both be available for the DHL Stormers for the first time since the June international break.

Good start to the Craven Week 2017

0

The Coca Cola Craven week started on Monday with the first five matches of the week.
Griquas, Limpopo Bulle, Free State, Western Province and Golden Lions took their first wins of the tournament. Griquas started the day with a narrow win over the Griffons when they beat them 28-27.
It was an exiting match which saw the two teams evenly match up to each other.
In the second match of the day Limpopo Bulls ran away against Border CD 41-3.
Free State was far to good for Boland but the eventually beat Boland 81-26. Western Province also easily put away the Pumas in their match beating them 36-10.
In the main game of the day the Lions had to work hard in the first half but eventually beat Border 44-8.

Day 1 

Griquas CD 28 (16) Griffons 27 (10)
Tries: Sebastiaan Jobb (2), Jacques Marthinus. Conversions: Iwan Lombard (2). Penalties: Lombard (3). Tries: Ulrich Stander, Jason Wagman, Brendan van der Walt, Triumph Baloyi, Andrew Kota. Conversion: Kota.
Limpopo 41 (12) Border CD 3 (3)
Tries: Ofentse Maubane (2), Marko Benade, Philip Apea-Adu, Heini Ferreira, Vincent Roos, Noko Malatji. Conversions: Kan-Karel Limbach (3). Penalty: Lonwabo Roto.
Free State 81 (31) Boland 26 (12)
Tries: Henk Cilliers (4), Ru-hann Greyling (2), Herman Agenbag, Marcel Theunissen, Ross Braude, Christopher Schreuder, Janco van Heyningen, Teboho Rampai. Conversions: Schreuder (9). Penalty: Schreuder. Tries: Romeo Eksteen, Larren Buys. Conversions: JP Viviers (2). Penalties: Viviers (4).
Western Province 36 (19) Pumas 10 (3)
Tries: Chris Rossouw, Janko Swanepoel, Vian Fourie, Gerado Jaars, Dawid Kellerman, Muller du Plessis. Conversions: Duren Hoffman (3). Try: Prince Nkabinde. Conversion: Stephan van der Bank. Penalty: Van der Bank.
Golden Lions 44 (13) Border 8 (8)
Tries: Yanga Hlalu (3), Kennedy Mpeku, Tinus Combrinck, Stephan le Roux, Dacvid Cary. Conversions: Mpeku, Tyler Hayward, Muzi Manyike, Tyler Hayward. Penalty: Mpeku. Try: Stephan Nieuwenhuizen. Penalty: Jason Rau

Stormers back Willemse

0

Stormers coach Robbie Fleck will have no problem backing young Damian Willemse to start at flyhalf in Saturday’s high-pressured quarter-final against the Chiefs, writes CRAIG LEWIS for SARugbyMag

The Stormers have opted to start the 19-year-old in their last three games, with Willemse having made his Super Rugby run-on debut against the Cheetahs after returning from duty at the World Rugby U20 Championship last month.

As it is, the highly-regarded youngster is seen as the future at flyhalf for the Stormers, with Brandon Thomson heading to the Glasgow Warriors, while Robert du Preez has been strongly linked with a move back to the Sharks.

In recent weeks, Willemse has displayed plenty of encouraging signs, particularly on attack, which has served to vindicate his selection.

And although this Saturday’s quarter-final against the Chiefs is sure to present his greatest challenge yet, Fleck insisted at a press conference at the team’s high-performance base on Monday that they had no doubts about Willemse’s ability to rise to the occasion.

‘I think he’s been outstanding, he’s brought a different dynamic to our attack. He brings a lot of energy and he’s a tough character who gets stuck in. So we’ve got no problem selecting him against the Chiefs, it doesn’t matter what his age is, the boy is performing, and we need to keep backing him.’

One area where Willemse has battled for consistency has been with his goal-kicking, which has seen him miss five out of 13 shots at goal.

Nevertheless, Fleck said they believed he would continue to grow into this role as a frontline goal-kicker, while suggesting there were enough backup kicking options if needed.

‘We believe in him [Willemse], he has huge belief in himself and the players enjoy playing with him. When it comes to the goal-kicking duties, SP [Marais] is back, so that might play a role in the selection, while Cheslin [Kolbe] did a good job when he had to kick against the Cheetahs.

‘We want to take the pressure off Damian, his goal-kicking is part of his growth in terms of where he’s going and we do like to have a flyhalf who has the kicking duties, but we’ll make the right decision going forward. Looking at his general play and his abilities, there’s no doubt around him.’

ALSO READ: Stormers must be smarter

As Fleck alluded to, Marais’ return to fitness does provide an interesting selection quandary this week, with Dillyn Leyds having impressed in his absence at fullback.

Of course, Leyds could move back to the wing in order to accommodate Marais, but this would be likely to result in Seabelo Senatla dropping out of the starting lineup at a time when the Blitzboks star has just begun to find some form.

‘We do have an interesting selection consideration,’ Fleck commented. ‘SP has had an excellent season at the back. His boot makes a big difference, and his decision-making has been very good all-year round. But Dillyn has been absolutely outstanding in the last couple of games, especially on the counter-attack, and he’s also made good decisions.

‘It’s a good headache to have, while we have to also consider that Seabelo has come into form of late. His speed does have an impact on the way we want to play, but we’ll look at the combinations that will suit what we want to do and provide the best opportunities on attack or with the kicking game.’

Fleck added that there were no new injury worries after this past weekend’s clash against the Bulls, while confirming that Rynhardt Elstadt, Wilco Louw, Ali Vermaak, Oli Kebble and Kobus van Dyk would be available for selection.

Super Rugby laughing stock of world rugby

4

Super Rugby is losing credibility faster than Titanic took on water or the Hindenburg ruptured on its fatal final attempt at docking, write Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief 

It is hugely difficult to imagine, under the frankly embarrassing circumstances, that it can survive another season next year of the conference format … at least as it is presently, near-farcically constituted.

The competition already lost a certain “something”, a notable chunk of its prior allure, when it shifted a little less radically to three conferences from an orthodox, fair and easy-to-follow round-robin format after the 2010 season – coincidentally also the last time a South African winner, the Bulls, was engraved on the trophy.

Even then, for a few seasons subsequently, legitimacy remained partially intact, given that most teams encountered each other at least once, despite the expanded emphasis on domestic derbies.

But both the 2016 and current seasons, with the altogether more convoluted and contrived formula employed (effectively conferences within conferences, and with widely-scattered newcomers the Jaguares and Sunwolves very dubiously being deemed “African”) have really turned the once-hallowed competition into a laughing stock of rugby the world over.

Hardly aided by the bizarre ordinary-season principle of SA sides playing New Zealand and Australian foes in alternate years only, really meaning you play the princes en masse one season and paupers the next, the finals series sees rank injustice as a key feature of at least two of the quarter-finals.

Most criminally of all, the Brumbies, who ended a humdrum ninth overall in log-points terms, somehow sport rights to a home QF tie against the defending champion Hurricanes, who finished third on a points basis and as many as 24 points and six victories superior to the men from Canberra.

What sort of honour is there in the Brumbies, admittedly an iconic outfit of years long past, running out as hosts? Don’t be too surprised if their supporters, too, fail to fill GIO Stadium to capacity on Friday as they vote with their feet on this abjectly hollow scheduling.

Not quite as acute but still well worthy of a wince, the Stormers entertain a Chiefs team 14 points better than they were in pre-knockout play.

People have been fired for lesser offences than this, SANZAAR!

The frailty of the conference system was already apparent some three weeks ago, when many teams came out of the Test-related hiatus (for the supposed “climax” of ordinary season) with conference honours already settled, or all but so.

Flimsy Africa Conference 1 would eventually end with the Stormers (43) earning more than double the points tally of runners-up – that expression is used cautiously – the Cheetahs (21).

In Africa 2, the Lions (65) had an even wider gap of 23 points over the second-finishing Sharks.

In the league of gripping finishes in sport, these outcomes don’t even make it to the grid, do they?

Increasingly, the public aren’t fooled, and they are also getting more and more strident in their mockery of Super Rugby 2017 on social media and over the pub counter.

Nobody is going to enduringly embrace a competition where the cream so palpably isn’t allowed to the rise to the top; it will be dead in the water if it doesn’t reinstate logical and fair principles speedily.

One ray of light a few months ago was the concession that 18 teams is too many, eroding the once pleasing concept of strength versus strength, and that 15 will be the number from 2018.

It is at least a step back closer to rekindling the halcyon days of Super 12, when the competition was arguably at its finest and most intense.

Yet if it is to really woo the swelling lobby of detractors back, I believe SANZAAR also need to be brave and proactive (they probably won’t, alas) by restoring a straight round-robin system: everyone plays everyone, and best four finishers, regardless of nationality, advance to semi-finals.

Yes, in the currently lopsided balance-of-power terms, it would mean a very high risk of at least three New Zealand teams hogging the knockout berths, but that’s sport … and we also know that sporting prowess tends to come in cycles.

Things do change, evolve, with time.

As for the inevitable likelihood that South African teams would be put back under deeper “travel pressure” … well, a counter-argument might be that we have bitten the collective bullet in these parts before.

All three Bulls titles, of course, came when the disadvantageous time-zone factor in itinerary terms was at its most acute, and remember that both the 2007 and 2010 finals also, commendably, ended up being all-South African affairs. So was the long-haul deal really that bad in those days?

Of course SANZAAR have created such a monster with the present Super Rugby model that genuinely “de-monstering” it from a legitimacy point of view cannot be limited to dramatically reworking the format.

Participating teams henceforth is another burning issue.

Already with a vastly-improved Kings side now sucked out with the bathtub waste – a deep, gurgling irony considering how spiritedly Super Rugby disturbed its synergy to initially accommodate them –there will be intense scrutiny over which of the Australian teams makes way.

The Force have been favoured for the drop for several months, which always seemed a shame considering their gees and the support they are capable of generating when things are going at least fairly decently, although the Rebels – from the wealthier metropolis of Melbourne, which may be decisive – should be the ones sacrificed based on their lame 2017 (a gaping 17 points behind the Force on the collectively sickly Aussie table).

We all know, at the end of the day, that the Sunwolves (played 30, won three, over the course of two hapless years thus far) should never have been arbitrarily latched on, creating a particularly discordant geographical dispersal of Super Rugby.

But they’ll almost certainly stay, as an act of pre-RWC 2019 convenience, and to many of us that just won’t sit well.

Truth be told, the best days of Super Rugby have passed.

But that doesn’t mean a humungous exercise in damage limitation isn’t required, for very survival purposes.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Cheetahs and Kings to play in different Pro12 conferences

0

The makeup of the two seven-team conferences in the expanded Pro14 will be based on the standings of the final log last season.

That would see Munster, the Scarlets, Ulster, the Cardiff Blues, Edinburgh, Zebre and either the Cheetahs or Kings in Conference A, with Leinster, the Ospreys, Glasgow, Connacht, Treviso, the Dragons and either the Cheetahs or the Kings in Conference B.

Teams will play against those in the same conference home and away, and teams in the other conference once.

According to WalesOnline.co.uk, each conference cannot have more than two teams from the same country, which means the four teams from each of Ireland and Wales would be split, with two in each conference.

This would see the number of Irish and Welsh derbies reduced from 12 each to eight.

Full story

Rumors that JJ on his way back to WP

9

Nuus24 reported that the chances are good for the return of JJ Engelbrecht to WP Rugby. After almost six years since Engelbrecht and Sadie left WP Rugby for the Blue Bulls he wants to return back to Cape Town.

JJ was a player that had plenty of potential but was moved from wing to the midfield by the Blue Bulls which also saw him earning his Springbok colors.

In hindsight he should have maybe stayed on the wing which saw him as a great attacker at Western Province and many expected much from the then young wing.

In the midfield JJ never had the best of defence which saw him lost his Springbok spot and later also his starting spot at the Bulls. JJ moved to Japan to play club rugby for Toyota Industries Shuttles.

It seemes WP Rugby is making a habit in buying players that is sometimes past their sell by date.

His return to WP will come with mixed feelings as there are already noises that  Sergeal Petersen and Raymond Rhule on their way is to Cape Town.

Time will tell if this will actually happen

Coetzee have better pool to pick from

7

Things are working out nicely for Springbok coach Allister Coetzee for the Castle Rugby Championship which starts next month. Not just did the Springboks played a confident series against the French but the inform players from which Coetzee can pick from is night and day from where he was last year this time.

The only thing that should be a problem at this stage for Coetzee is if his inspirational  captain Warren Whiteley will be fit and ready to lead the Springboks against New Zealand, Australia and Argentina.

Whiteley will be vital for the Springboks if they want to beat the likes of New Zealand and Australia. Although Etzebeth did a good job as captain in the final test one tend to believe for success in the Championship we will need the leadership of Whiteley.

With Super Rugby going into the play-off this week we can see how much better we are as a nation than last year this time. The Lions still miles ahead of any other SA Team but the Stormers as well as the Sharks can beat any team on the day and have brought through some exciting youngsters this season.

It is not just the youngsters that came through for us in Super Rugby but also the experience players that have stepped up as well.

A quick scan through players on form this Super Rugby season we can see that Coetzee will rather have a problem on who to leave out rather than who to pick. Coetzee will most properly concentrate on combinations when he pick his squad and eventually his test side.

A few players have put up their hands this year and then we have players that will come back from injuries as well.

If we look only at the South African base players then we see that we have more than just one or two options out there.

Fullback: Andries Coetzee, Frans Steyn, Warrick Gelant and SP Marais, Dillyn Leyds, Malcolm Jaer

Wings: Ruan Combrinck, Raymond Rhule, Sergeal Petersen, S’busiso Nkosi, Duncan Mathews, Travis Ismaiel, Dillyn Leyds, Kobus van Wyk, Courtnall Skosan, Makazole Mapimpi

Midfield: Jan Serfontein, Jesse Kriel, Frans Steyn, Damiejn De Allende, Lionel Mapoe, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Francois Venter, EW Viljoen, Juan de Jongh, Lukhanyo Am and Harold Vorster

Flyhalfs: Elton Jantjies, Handre Pollard(if back from injury and some Currie Cup games played), Francois Steyn, Curwin Bosch, Lionel Cronje

Srumhalfs: Francois Hougaard, Tian Meyer, Rudy Paige, Jano Vermaak, Ross Cronje

Loose Forwards: Duane Vermeulen, Warren Whiteley, Kwagga Smith, Jaco Kriel, Jean-Luc du Preez, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Siya Kolisi, Uzair Cassiem, Chris Cloete, Andisa Ntsila, Francois Louw,

Locks: Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth, Pieter Steph du Toit, Reniel Hugo, Jason Jenkins, RG Snyman, Stephan Lewies,

Props: Frans Malherbe,  Steven Kitshoff, Coenie Oosthuizen, Thomas du Toit, Ruan Dreyer, Pierre Schoeman, Lizo Gqoboka, Beast

Hookers: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Akker vd Merwe and Bismark du Plessis

It is a big group of players an dmost may not even come close to selection but it is nice to see that we have players that can make the step up. I am also sure that their are a few players that I missed as well which leaves Coetzee a few nice headaches for the Championship.

 

WP take SuperSport Challenge Cup

1

DHL Western Province were crown deserved SuperSport Challenge Champions on Sunday after beating Griquas 28-19.

Pictrure by:Michael Maytham

What makes this achievement even more special for Coach Dobson and his men was that they did not lost a game throughout the tournament.

Griquas came into the final also with a great record of only one lost the season and everyone expected a great final in-front of the passionate supporters at Florida Park Stadium. It was a great day of rugby and Western Province did not disappoint the local fans.

The game was almost a match of two half’s with Western Province scoring 28 unanswered points in the first forty minutes and Griquas coming back at them with 19 points in the second half.

That four tries in the first half was just too much for Griquas to catch-up with as they tried to come back in the match.

It all started with wing Bjorn Basson intercepting a wild pass and sprinted away. He was brought down before the line, but the ball was recycled quickly and Basson retained possession to score.

Marcello Sampson doubled the lead with a try that originated from a counter-ruck inside the opposition 22. Griquas deserved credit for their effort in the first 20 minutes, but they started to fall off more tackles in the second quarter and WP took full advantage, with lock Jurie van Vuuren and Sampson both scoring as the hosts took a commanding 28-0 lead into half-time.

The second half continued in the same vein, but WP failed to add to their tally and when they were reduced to 14 men, the momentum shifted in Griquas’ favour.

The team from Kimberley started to play with newfound vigour. With the numerical advantage, they breached WP’s defence twice, as first prop Nicolaas Oosthuizen, and then centre Koch Marx burst over for tries.

With 20 minutes remaining, WP lost their attacking edge and were made to defend for their lives as Griquas camped inside their half of the field.

WP’s defence held firm until the 78th minute when Tertius Kruger scored for Griquas, but it served as a mere consolation as the hosts celebrated the win.

This set Western Province and Griquas up for a good Currie Cup which starts this weekend.

Scorers:

Western Province – Tries: Bjorn Basson, Marcello Sampson (2), Jurie van Vuuren. Conversions: Kurt Coleman (4).
Griquas – Tries: Nicolaas Oosthuizen, Koch Marx, Tertius Kruger. Conversions: Andre Swarts (2).

 

Time to step up

0

The Lions, Stormers and Sharks have secured a place in the play-offs this coming weekend and will fight hard to move on to the next round of matches in this years Super Rugby.

The Lions were not at their best on Saturday in Durban against the Sharks but this win speaks volume of the quality of this team in still beating the Sharks in their own back yard with 17 points.

They also secured the top spot in this years Super Rugby Competition which means that they will have home games all the way through to the final if they secure the next two games. The first one of the three games for the Lions will be again against the Sharks but this time in Johannesburg.

It is going to be a cracker of a match and we can expect the Sharks to come out firing and try and upset the apple cart a bit in beaten one of the top teams in the competitions. This will surely not be easy but can be done.

The Sharks have held the Lions well in this weekend match and I was especially surprised by the effort from their pack as they put pressure on the Lions throughout the first fifty minutes. The Sharks may not have the skills and expansive mindset as they Lions but they do play a hard conservative game that suits their big pack with some great players at the back.

One mistake Du Preez did over the weekend is not picking talented Bosch at ten. In these big games you need the players that can change the flow of the game and Bosch is one of those players. April had a poor game against the Bulls two weeks back and a below average game this past weekend.

His kicking game was poor and he could was average at his general play and at these kinds of games you do not want good or average but great.

The Highveld will suit Bosch and he must be a automatic pick at ten for the Sharks.

The Lions will come out firing and will want to put points on the board early and fast to pull away from the Sharks and if they can hold them for the first forty minutes they will have a chance to push for a win.

In the other South African play-off match we have the Stormers hosting the Chiefs again at Newland and will be hoping for a different outcome than last year.

They do have the barging rights this year in beating the Chiefs in their round match earlier this year which was most properly the bets we have seen the Stormers played in years. The problem is though that they were never really able to repeat that brilliant performance again and now when it matters they need to produce three perfect games in the next three weeks.

The Stormers are much like the national cricket team in when they get to the big matches they choke. They have the players and the ability to beat the Chiefs and any team on the day but the question rather must be which Stormers team will pitch up on Saturday.

With a back three that can run from anywhere and a pack that can compete with the best there is, the only thing they need is to actually pitch up and play to their abilities.

The biggest worry for the Stormers is not their attacking ability but their defence. They have slipped tries a plenty this season and against the New Zealand teams defence must be one if not the highest priority on the field.

We can have two teams going into the semi finals but it is more likely it will only be one.

Rugby laws to be reduced by 50%

0

World Rugby has commissioned a technical group to overhaul its law book, which could see half of the laws abolished.

In an attempt to simplify the laws and make the game easier to understand, the technical group will head up the ‘Laws Simplification Project’ which is set to be completed by late 2018.

This follows a number of controversial refereeing decisions in the Test series between the All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions, which prompted Steve Hansen to call for simpler laws and the correct interpretation thereof.

New Zealand Rugby has nominated its high-performance referee manager Rod Hill to help run the project, while two representatives from South Africa, one from England and three from World Rugby complete the technical group.

‘This project was about “starting from scratch and making sure it reads well” and to reshape the law book to get that as an outcome. What we’re looking for is: Is the intent of the law is still correct? Are there any glaring errors?’ Hill told stuff.co.nz.

He also confirmed the revised law book will be based on comprehension level of school years eight and nine, and will be run through computer software to ensure it meets those levels.

Before the revision of the laws is signed off, World Rugby will send it to all the national unions for feedback.

Meanwhile, World Rugby plans to trial the seven new laws that were introduced at the U20 Championship, on a global scale from the 2017-18 season.

One of the variations will see the tackler only being able to play the ball from his side of the gate and a change in regards to what constitutes a ruck.

It is believed England is the only union opposed to the implementation of these laws on a trial basis. 

Full story

Japan not taking Super Rugby seriously – Mallett

5

Japan are not taking Super Rugby seriously, says TV analyst and former Springboks coach Nick Mallett after the Tokyo-based Sunwolves were humiliated 94-7 by Lionsat the weekend.

The Johannesburg side equalled the competition try-scoring record for one team in a single match by running in 14 for the second biggest Super Rugby winning margin.

Sunwolves were trailing by 59 points during the second half at Ellis Park stadium when Tonga-born substitute forward Uwe Helu scored the lone try for the Japanese side.

The most humiliating defeat by the two-year-old franchise angered Mallett, one of the most outspoken voices on rugby in South Africa.

“Japanese rugby officials are not taking the Super Rugby competition seriously,” he said on Johannesburg-based SuperSport TV.

“Unless officials in that country change course, there are going to be a lot more heavy defeats in the future, some even heavier than the one this weekend.

“Sunwolves were introduced to Super Rugby so that a strong Japanese national team could be built as they prepare to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

“But many of the best Japanese rugby players are turning out for company-owned clubs in the country and not for the Sunwolves.

“The best Japanese players have to play for the Sunwolves, otherwise they are going to be embarrassed many more times.

“In the match against the Lions they missed 53 tackles — you cannot compete successfully in Super Rugby with that sort of statistic,” warned Mallett.

“The Sunwolves defence was non-existent and they were continually smashed in the scrums,” said the man who guided South Africa to third place at the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

“Had it been a boxing match, the white towel would have been flung into the ring by half-time.”

Another SuperSport analyst, 2007 Springboks World Cup-winning flyhalf Butch James, was equally critical of the Sunwolves.

“The one thing supporters of any rugby team expect is commitment and effort — we saw neither from the Sunwolves at Ellis Park.”

South Africa-born Sunwolves skipper and loose forward Willie Britz — one of three non-Japanese starters against the Lions — was blunt after the thrashing.

“If you do not keep the ball and make your tackles, you are going to be in big trouble, especially against a team as strong as the Lions.

Sunwolves play Stormers in Cape Town next Saturday and complete their season the following weekend by hosting the Blues from New Zealand.

The Tokyo outfit have played 28 Super Rugby matches since debuting last year, winning two, drawing one, losing 25, scoring 545 points and conceding 1,225.

Both victories came in Japan, against the Jaguares last season and the Bulls this year.

‘It’s great for rugby’ – Hansen

0

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen expects his charges to be “sharpened” when they run out for the decisive third Test against the Lions.

After losing 24-21 to the Lions in Wellington in a series levelling result, it all comes down to Auckland this weekend for bragging rights.

Hansen has seen a positive of last Saturday’s result and believes his men should relish the challenge that awaits them at Eden Park.

“If we want to see our game continue to grow, to foster the things that it does in the way of camaraderie, to teach us lessons about life, good and bad, we have got to keep encouraging our game to be strong,” he told the All Blacks website.

“The big thing about when you lose is that it’s painful isn’t it? It sharpens the mind, it sharpens the attitude. You look at things probably a little deeper than you normally do.

“We try to learn when we win, but in this case we had a side that beat us because on the day they were a little better than us.

“We have to acknowledge that and then go: ‘Okay, how can we be better than them?’ We’ll do that through the week, do our best to stay 15 on 15 and then see if we can get some strategies going.”

Defeat at home is a rare thing for New Zealand but coach Hansen again views last weekend’s loss as something they can use to their benefit.

“Sometimes we brush over the cracks that are there. When you lose, the cracks get exposed,” Hansen said.

“There’s not a genuine Test match that doesn’t challenge you physically, that doesn’t challenge you mentally. It’s great for rugby, and it’s great for this team of ours. We’re having to learn, as a young team, how to cope with that. So it’s good.”

He added: “Rugby has been needing something like this for a while. It’s now got it, so everyone will be a bit nervy about that because it could go either way and how exciting is that?

“It’s moments like this that go down in history and excite young people to say: ‘Hey, I want to be part of this’, not only as a player, but also as a fan.”

Lions demolish Sunwolves in Johannesburg

11

The Lions took another step closer to get that home final when they demolish the Sunwolves on Saturday 94-7.

With the Lions picking their strongest possible side for this game one expected them to dominate play and the scoreline and that is exactly what they did from the start.

They scored five tries in the first half all off them converted by Jantjies to give them a 35-0 lead at the break.

The Sunwolves had no answer in the first half for the power and speed the Lions came at them and the tackling was poor to say the least.

The Lions dominated all aspects of the game in that first half from the scrums, lineouts to the breakdowns and where good enough to keep the Sunwolves scoreless in that first forty minutes.

If one though the first half was bad for the Sunwolves then the second was a massacre as they Lions ended up with 14 tries with only 1 that was scored by the Sunwolves.

They were totally outplayed and not in the same class to be honest. Serious questions on the thinking of SANZAAR to keep a team like the Sunwolves but want to send the Southern Kings, Cheetahs and ether Force or Rebels pacing.

They are not even close to be competitive in this competition and it is a shame that SANZAAR allows a mediocre side like them stay in this premier competition.

The Lions are well on their way to put their name in the hat for the title this year and will have a bye next week to take the Sharks on in their last match of the season in two weeks.

Scorers:

Lions:

Tries: Cronje, Smith 2, Kriel 2, Jantjies, Van der Merwe, Combrinck 3, Skosan, De Klerk, Mahuza, Ackermann

Conversions: Jantjies 6, Combrinck 5, De Klerk

 Sunwolves:

Try: Helu

Conversion: Ogura

 

 

Stormers beat Cheetahs ugly

2

The Stormers edge the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein from a scrappy game that saw the game end with two red cards 40-34.

The game started with both teams giving the ball air and running it down the field. It was the Stormers that scored the first try with brilliant backline move to send Kolbe over and the lead of 7-0 after just 4 minutes.

The Cheetahs answered the way they know best in scoring their first try from a scrum set five meters out often Stormers line.

This made the score 7 all after just 8 minutes.

Senatla made his appearance quickly onto the field with SP Marias injuring himself with Kolbe moving from wing to fullback.

The Stormers then started to take full control and played in the Cheetahs half where WIllemse showed his class and scored the Stormers next try.

It took not long before they got to 26-10 after just 32 minutes.

The Cheetahs had enough ball but made mistakes on attack which the Stormers took as opportunities.

A yellow card to Marais did not help the Cheetahs cause as well.

The Cheetahs did put the pressure back on the Stormers and while they were controlling things Elstadt got yet another yellow card this season.

The Cheetahs took the advantage of the one man extra in the pack and drove over for their second try of the match.

The teams went into the break with the Stormers leading 26-17.

The second half was much even between the two teams but it was again the Stormers to extend the lead and had a lead of 33-17.

A yellow card to Du Toit for a high tackle brought the Cheetahs back in the game and they scored immediately through Swart who powered over the line.

The Cheetahs scored twice while Du Toit was off and took the lead 34-33.

It cost all that is the Stormers to work for another try to take the lead back to 40-34 with minutes to go.

The game ended with two red cards which put a damper on the end result but a win for the Stormers.

Scorers:

STORMERS

Tries: Sikhumbuzo Notshe(73′) Cheslin Kolbe(52′) Seabelo Senatla(31′) Cheslin Kolbe(28′) Damian Willemse(20′) Cheslin Kolbe(2′)

Penalties: Cheslin Kolbe(60′)

Cons: Cheslin Kolbe(75′) Cheslin Kolbe(53′) Cheslin Kolbe(29′) Cheslin Kolbe(21′) SP Marais(3′)

CHEETAHS

Tries: Raymond Rhule(61′) Clinton Swart(56′) Elandre Huggett(39′) Reniel Hugo(7′)

Penalties: Daniel Marais(48′) Daniel Marais(18′)

Cons: Daniel Marais(62′) Daniel Marais(57′) Daniel Marais(40′) Daniel Marais(8′)

 

Lions win second test to keep series alive

6

It was a nervous start for both teams as they try to settle down in the test match with the All Blacks with ball in hand first up.

The Lions started the get ball in hand and they made some in rows in the All Blacks half but little knocks and forward passes stopped their progress.

The All Blacks got first opportunity to score points but Barrett first kick went against the upright.

With both team trading penalties, the big moment in the test came when Sonny Bill Williams was send off the field with a red card for a shoulder against a player head.

The referee had no other choice than giving him a red card as the law protect the players head. This gave the Lions a one-man advantage for the rest of the test.

Hansen then took Kaino off, and put Laumape on in midfield to get a centre pair in the rainy condition, it was a brave call to say the least.

The All Blacks kept the pressure on the Lions even with 14-men and the teams were only able to trade more penalties before halftime to have a 9-all sharing of the scoreboard.

The last part of the half the All Blacks made a big step-up to keep the Lions in tack.

The second half had it all as they two teams gave it all in Wellington and it was the All Blacks that took the lead with the one man down and kept the penalties coming.

They went into a lead that seems to have the Lions scrabbled for bits and pieces but also force them to make allot of mistakes.

The Lions got a blow early in second half when they got a yellow card which have been easily a red card with a shoulder to Barrett head but the French referee decided it is just a yellow card.

The Lions finally got things together to score the first of their two tries in the match. This seemed to make the turnaround for them as they started to dominate and hit the All Blacks back as well.

When the second try was scored they were level on 21 on the scoreboard with ten minutes to go.

Playing in the right areas of the field they forced an important penalty with a few minutes to go and took the lead 24-21.

Handling the pressure in that final minutes of the test they hold on and got the win to take the series to the final test to decide who will take this one.

The Lions showed great character and deserved the win leaving the All Blacks having to take the fact that they did not score a try and must do it all next week again to win the series.

The scorers:

For New Zealand:
Pens: Barrett 7
Red Card: Williams

For British and Irish Lions:
Tries: Faletau, Murray
Pens: Farrell 4
Con: Farrell
Yellow Card: Vunipola

Kings beat Jaguares in Buenes Aires

1

The Southern King got another victory this time against the Jaguares on Saturday morning when they beat them 31-30 in Buenes Aires.

 

Makazole Mapimpi crossed twice while Luzuko Vulindlu and Wandile Mjekevu also scored tries, with Lionel Cronje kicking 11 points.

What will make this defeat hurt more for the Jaguares is that they scored five tries – through Juan Manuel Leguizamón, Emiliano Boffelli, Nicolás Sánchez and Joaquín Tuculet (2) – but their goal-kicking percentage finished at 25.

There was only six points separating the sides at the break after a fast-paced first 40 minutes which saw the Jaguares cross three times. In reply the Kings went over twice as they once again proved they are a team on an upward curve this season under head coach Deon Davids.

The visitors came out in determined mood but their early pressure didn’t result in points, in fact they were lucky not to concede from a counter attack that was sparked by Jaguares centre Bautista Ezcurra. In the end scrumhalf Martín Landajo lost the ball on the try-line.

That breakout seemed to lift the Jaguares though and after a spell of pressure they went wide right to where the busy Tuculet found flank Leguizamón, who barged over. Sánchez missed with his difficult conversion attempt so it was a 0-5 advantage for the hosts on 17 minutes.

It did not last long as after Tuculet strayed offside, a kick to the corner led to centre Vulindlu crashing over off a short ball for 7-5.

Sánchez did restore his side’s lead on 26 minutes, but again the Kings responded, with Mapimpi racing over following quick hands for 14-8.

At this point it was end-to-end rugby so it was no surprise when Tuculet’s smart grubber found Boffelli on the left wing to make it 14-13.

The Jaguares weren’t done and when Sánchez cut back against the traffic towards a ruck, he slipped through weak tackling for a 14-20 lead.

Just two minutes after the break the Jaguares moved further ahead when Sánchez’s grubber saw Tuculet gather before going over for the try. However, four minutes later the Kings added a penalty via Cronje’s boot, which cut that buffer down to eight points at 17-25 to the hosts.

Sánchez was struggling off the tee in the game and was at a worrying success rate off 33 percent on 57 minutes after another penalty miss.

The Kings made the flyhalf pay two minutes later as Vulindlu combined with Mapimpi to send the wing over on the left. With Cronje cooly slotting the conversion, suddenly the South African franchise were just one point behind at 24-25 and had their tails up in Buenos Aires.

Joaquín Díaz Bonilla replaced Sánchez soon after but even he couldn’t add points to their tally, missing his first attempt on 63 minutes.

The match was seemingly there for the taking for the Kings and when Mjekevu raced over thanks to a lovely pull-back pass from scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer they had a six-point cushion with just eight minutes to play. The Jaguares needed to find something special at this point.

And they came agonisingly close to rescuing the four points on 75 minutes as a lovely Bonilla cross-kick found Tuculet wide out for the try. But it was perhaps fitting that a missed conversion cost the Jaguares the lead and victory on a dismal night for their goal-kickers.

 

Scorers

Jaguares

Tries: Leguizamón, Boffelli, Sánchez, Tuculet (2)
Conversion: Sánchez
Penalty: Sánchez

Kings:

Tries: Mapimpi (2), Vulindlu, Mjekevu
Conversions: Cronje (4)
Penalty: Cronje

 

 

thanks to

Gelant hat-trick sink Sharks in Durban

1

The Bulls outscored the Sharks to take their first win away from home when they beat them 30-17 on Friday night. Gelant scored a hat-trick of tries to sink the Sharks in the Shark-tank.

The Sharks and the Bulls started the return to Super Rugby after the June Internationals and kick off the last few rounds in Durban.

With the Sharks certain off a play-off spot and the Bulls just playing for pride it was a game to look forward to and more dangerous for the Sharks than the Bulls as the Bulls had nothing to lose.

Supporters from both side just wanted their sides to show some intend to run the ball and score tries and that is what the two teams tried to do on the night.

It was the Bulls with the better start showing a bit more in the first ten minutes of the match and scored the first try from a mistake from the Sharks at their own lineout.

This gave them a 5-0 early lead in the match.

The game then came to life with the Sharks replying with a try of their own through Thomas Du Toit. This gave them a 7-5 lead.

With the Sharks on the break-out the Bulls turned it around and score from the turnover to take back the lead 12-7 after 20 minutes.

The Bulls did not take long to extend the lead after a Sharks slotted a penalty over with Serfontein showing his class and sending his fullback over for the try.

The Sharks had their chances but Bulls defence hold them and some silly mistakes on attack prevent any points coming from it.

The Bulls kept the lead going into the break and great first half from the visitors.

The Sharks did not had a good start to the second half giving away allot of penalties and got a yellow card for repeated penalties against them.

The Bulls extend the lead with a penalty to 20-10.

It was the Sharks that scored against the run of play after they caught the Bulls asleep with a quick lineout to make the lead only 3 points.

Serfontein was again in the frame sending Gelant over for his third try of the match and a 10-point lead for the Bulls leading the Sharks 27-17 after 60 minutes.

The Bulls extend their lead to 30-17 with a penalty as both teams made more mistakes on attack.

The Bulls kept the lead till the end and got their first away win this season.

Jan Serfontein was again outstanding and my Man of the Match.

Scorers:

Sharks – Tries: Thomas du Toit, Curwin Bosch. Conversions: Bosch (2). Penalty: Bosch.
Bulls – Tries: Nic de Jager, Warrrick Gelant (3). Conversion: Tian Schoeman (2). Penalties: Schoeman (2)

Confirm: Erasmus and Nienaber coming back to SA Rugby

6

The worst kept secret is finally out and we can confirm that Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber will be joining SA Rugby again after a year with Irish club Munster

They will stay with the club until December and join SA Rugby after that to fill the new position of Director of Ruby at SARU.

Allister Coetzee’s position as Springbok coach remains unchanged, said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.

“Allister has done a great job to turn the Springboks around this season and I can categorically put to rest any idea that he is being replaced as Springbok coach,” said Roux.

“We will do everything in our power to support him for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship and everything that lies beyond that.”

 

Preview: All Blacks v British & Irish Lions

3

To be brutally honest New Zealand should seal the series this weekend against the British & Irish Lions but would it not be great for the series if they do manage to beat the All Blacks in Wellington to take it to the last test next week.

The problem the Lions face this week is far bigger than the previous week as they will have to cope with the fact that they were beaten up front last week and in  the small battles at ruck time.

The skills from the All Blacks was also as expected far better than that of the Lions and they have taken the opportunities which on the other side the Lions did not manage.

This week also see the All Blacks selecting a team that looks like they will be going out full on attack which does not spell anything good for the Lions.

What does may work in the Lions favor is the fact that rain is expected on Saturday but then again we have seen that the All Blacks skill and attacking ability does not suddenly take a back seat when they play in wet conditions.

Lions coach Gatland has also made some selections that raised eyebrows with Ben Te’o that was one of the best Lions players on the field being drop to the bench for the second test.

 

The other selection that seems strange was that e dropped last week captain O’Mahony totally from the match day squad and promoted Warburton to captain and a start in the second test.

Warburton have not really shown good form this year and in the tour so far but he is taking a last resort chance as this is do or die for the Lions comes Saturday.

England’s Itoje gets a well deserved start in place of Kruis which should put some more fire in the Lions pack.

Gatland also rolled the dice and picked Sexton at ten and Farrell at twelve in the backline.

 

The All Blacks too have made changes, although theirs were enforced due to the absence of Ben Smith and Ryan Crotty. That means the chief destroyer of the Lions for the Highlanders, Waisake Naholo, comes in, as does Anton Lienert-Brown, with both high-class internationals.

With Naholo and Rieko Ioane at the wings the Lions can expect a All Blacks team that will run at them all day and these two big boys can run for miles and do not mind the contact aspect of the game.

What ever happen this is going to be a classic and one of those games that you will not be able to turn away for one minute. This will be a test that will define Gatland as he as a coach have never beaten the All Blacks.

 

Prediction: Simple ……All Blacks by 20 points.

The teams:

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Ngani Laumape

British & Irish Lions: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 Sam Warburton (c), 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 CJ Stander, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Ben Te’o, 23 Jack Nowell

Pro12 welcomes SA invasion

1

The Cheetahs and Kings will be competing in the Pro12 before this year’s Currie Cup final.

BBC report supports an All Out Rugby column that linked South Africa’s two death-row Super Rugby franchises with a move to the European competition.

The Cheetahs and Kings are set to be culled from the southern hemisphere league on July 7, and the BBC report suggests both teams will be ready to participate in an expanded Pro12 in September, one month before the Currie Cup final.

The Pro12 organisers are reportedly on standby to roll out the schedule for a competition that will now add South African flavour to the incumbent 12-team contingent from Italy, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, though it remains unclear whether it will be a single-league or two-conference format.

While a home-and-away schedule is expected, the report suggests that the Cheetahs and Kings may play some of their ‘home’ matches in the UK.

“I can’t tell you probably any more than has already been stated,” Davies told BBC Wales Sport.

“There are discussions going on, which people are aware of, between the Pro12 and South African rugby union and the franchises down there.

“There is a desire from the South African teams I think to join the Pro12 and I think the Pro12 would like them to join,” Welsh Rugby chairman Gareth Davies told the BBC.

“It makes for a promising and exciting future, if it did happen. At the moment it looks like the two teams from Super Rugby that will not be in the competition next year will join (the Pro12). I suspect there will be interest further afield from South African teams as well.

“There is still a lot of work to be done in terms of the legal complexities with issues such as broadcasting, commercial and most important, player welfare with all the travelling that has to be done and the logistics associated with that.”

Thanks to 

Rugby 101

5

Sometimes one thinks people misunderstand the actual meaning of skill and balance you need to have to play an outright attacking game.

Nowhere does this means you need to take a page out of Harry Viljoen book and instruct your players not to kick and run from anywhere at all means, no it is a collective mindset to firstly do the basics right and then that cliche…” Earn the right to go wide”

The back three of any team, and so much more a test team, will be the determine factor for any team wanting to go on full attack.

Predictability is another aspect you need in players and your wings, to ensure that you can play this type of game-plan, as their biggest asset is to create uncertainty in the opponents minds which gives them the mental edge and that is worth gold at test rugby.

Most people do not want to hear this but in the modern game you need big men out wide so that when they go forward they keep on going forward.

Most teams have a different set up and different skill emphasis in their back three but the big, fast and skillful wings of this world will always stand out at the end of the match.

But that will come to nothing if you do not have an excellent tight five who can dominate around the park not just in the set pieces. Dominance of a pack today is more in the small battles during the match than the set pieces itself.

Set pieces today are mostly evenly contested at test level with teams holding their own for most of the time in lineouts and scrums, but in that small battles in-between you usually find the difference between winning and losing a test match.

Now combine that small battles with the skill set that the All Blacks showed last week in the first test against the Lions and you have a winning team. The one try came after a brilliant pickup from Read at a dominate scrum to get the ball wide and another try from skills on show from Rieko Ioane.

Last week it was all because of the excellence of their tight five and general physical dominance across the park that won the All Blacks the test match. And to be honest that has been the story of the All Blacks for the past few years.

One clever dude once told me that rugby is a simple game being played between four lines and to win the game you need to do one thing to win the game after 80 odd minutes…..be that little bit better in what you do than the other team

Naholo back at wing for All Blacks

3

All Blacks coach Hansen made two changes for the second test against the Lions with Naholo and Lienert-Brown starting the test.

Naholo comes in for injured Ben Smith but will play on the wing with Dagg moving to the fullback position. Lienert-Brown gets his chance at centre in partnership with Sonny Bill Williams whihc makes way to include Laumape on the bench.

Hansen said: “Whilst it’s disappointing to lose both Ben Smith and Ryan Crotty, it creates an opportunity for others. ‘Izzy’ (Israel Dagg) is a world-class back three player, as is Anton in the midfield, and both Waisake and Ngani are coming into the Test side following outstanding performances against the Lions for their respective Super franchises.

“Whilst we were happy with the win last weekend, we know that it was just a start, in what is a three-test Series. That means the job is far from done. It’s going to require us to take our game to a higher level. It’s going to be very demanding, physically and mentally, on both sides.

“We’re aware the British and Irish Lions have their backs to the wall and will chuck everything at us to keep themselves alive in the Series. They are a quality side who we respect immensely.

“In reality, last week’s Test could’ve gone either way had they taken more of their chances. Our job will be to make sure that we shut down their counter-attack better than we did last weekend and at the same time, win the critical moments across the 80 minutes. As always, it’ll start with the battle of the tight five.

“We’ve worked hard throughout the week in our preparation here in Wellington and are now looking forward to Saturday.”

This test can give the All Blacks the series win and we can expect that they will give it their all to secure the win and the series win. One thing we always know about the All Blacks is that they start slow in the year but every week they get better and better so we can expect a good test match as both sides wants to win this one badly.

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Scott Barrett, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Aaron Cruden, 23 Ngani Laumape

Gatland drop O’Mahony out of second test

3

Gatland had manage to make Peter O’Mahony his captain in the first test and then dropped him straight out of his match day squad in one week.

That now gives Wales Sam Warburton the captain armband for the British & Irish Lions second test against New Zealand in Wellington on Saturday.

Gatland also picked Sexton at 10 moving England’s Farrell to inside centre and up front he brings in Itoje for Kruis.

He made changes on the bench as well with Courtney Lawes, Jack Nowell and CJ Stander all coming into the squad after he thought they impressed against a second string Hurricanes side.

Gatland said: “We saw Maro’s impact in the first Test and he will bring an edge and a physicality, as will Sam Warburton in terms of pressure on the ball.

“It’s tough on Peter O’Mahony who has done a brilliant job for us. We had to look at the bench and we felt that CJ Stander’s ball carrying and defence was the right choice for the bench. You have to make the tough calls and pick what is the right team and the right combinations for a Test match.”

Gatland added: “In terms of the backs we have gone with the Sexton-Farrell combination. Both have played well and it gives us that attacking option in the 10-12 channel. We created opportunities in the first Test and there were a few that we didn’t finish.

“There were lots of positives from the first Test but we were disappointed that we put ourselves in a position to put the All Blacks under pressure and to get back into the game and we let it slip.

“This is a big chance for these players to go out and show what they are capable of on Saturday night. For the players retained from the first Test it’s an opportunity for them to step up and to show an improvement because individually they were disappointed and you have another group coming in who are also desperate to seize their chance.”

British & Irish Lions: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 Sam Warburton (c), 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Jamie George, 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 CJ Stander, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Ben Te’o, 23 Jack Nowell

White’s broken dreams

6

Jake White’s stint at Montpellier ended in failure, because he misread the French psyche, writes GAVIN MORTIMER.

So it’s ‘goodbye, Jake White’, or should that be ‘good riddance’? If the stinging attack launched on the Montpellier coach by one of his players is anything to go by, White won’t be missed in the south of France.

In an age of bland sports-speak, Montpellier hooker Charles Géli let rip at White during an extraordinary interview with French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique. Speaking the day after Montpellier had been dumped out of the Top 14 by Racing 92 in May, Géli told the paper the one positive from the defeat was it brought ‘to an end the South African era’. He continued: ‘They didn’t speak a word of French and the videos were all done in English … and the coaches would repeatedly tell us in a haughty tone that we did things badly in France.’

Géli, a Top 14 title winner with Perpignan in 2008-09, was similarly scathing of his South African teammates, explaining that most of them couldn’t string together a sentence in French, despite being at the club for two years or more.

‘I’ve got a better relationship with some supporters than with certain players, despite seeing them every day,’ said Géli. But surely, said Midi Olympique, White must have had one redeeming quality as a coach? ‘No,’ said Géli. ‘In the space of two years my English improved at the same rate my rugby went backwards.’

This wasn’t how it was supposed to end when White arrived at Montpellier in January 2015. Back then they had lost their way under Fabien Galthié, the former France captain who had guided them in 2011 to their first appearance in a Top 14 final – an honourable defeat to Toulouse. By the end of 2014, however, it was apparent the mercurial Galthié was bored, so Mohed Altrad, millionaire president of Montpellier, hired White.

From the outset White made it clear he had come to the Mediterranean to turn Montpellier from nearly-men into match winners. And if that meant implementing a style of rugby that was, in the words of one French newspaper, ‘cold and methodical’, then so be it. ‘I’m not paid so that some people can be happy,’ White told reporters in 2016. ‘I’m paid to win.’

And win he did that year when Montpellier defeated Harlequins in a dour European Challenge Cup final to lay the cornerstone for what White predicted would be an edifice of enduring excellence.

Twelve months on, the dream is in ruins and White has been replaced by Vern Cotter.

How did it go so wrong and how did the man who led the Boks to World Cup glory a decade ago win just 49 of his 82 matches in charge?

White has no one to blame but himself. It felt at times that he was intent on antagonising the French players and alienating the Montpellier public. Take, for example, his treatment of local hero François Trinh-Duc at the end of last season, when he denied the flyhalf the chance to say goodbye to his adoring public before his move to Toulon. ‘The sentimental thing would be to pick him for the last home match, but that’s not possible,’ said White. ‘My job is to select the best.’

In a sense, he was right, but it wouldn’t have hurt to have given Trinh-Duc who, let’s not forget, has won over 50 French caps, five minutes from the bench. It was a crass snub and reinforced the view in Montpellier that such a cold-blooded man was unsuited to coach a club of their character.

Altred evidently agreed, for in September he announced the appointment of Cotter for the 2017-18 season, much to the ‘sadness and disappointment’ of White. Cotter is also an outsider, but the Kiwi, who spent nearly a decade at Clermont before joining Scotland, has embraced French culture and accepted all their idiosyncrasies.

White never did. It was as if he believed the French would eventually come round to his way of thinking. That towering conceit cost him dearly.

It cost Montpellier, too, this season. Dumped out of the European Champions Cup at the pool stage, they were then beaten at home in their Top 14 quarter-final, and by Racing 92. This is the club that has lurched from one crisis to another in recent months and yet they still had the character to come together to beat Montpellier when it mattered. They did so in front of rows of empty seats, each one bearing mute testimony to the indifference many locals felt to White’s team. In 2013-14 the average home gate for a Montpellier match was 13,276, a figure that slumped this season to 10,935 (the 10th lowest in the Top 14). 

Speaking of alarming figures, Altrad wanted to know why there have been 58 torn muscles among the Montpellier players this season. Two years ago there were only 16. ‘It’s not normal,’ he reflected.

Jacques Giordan, the club’s medical co-ordinator, agreed. ‘The South African culture is different and I don’t think they have the same medical approach [as ours].’

And therein lies the reason White came to grief in Montpellier. He tried to do things the South African way. Fine, if he was in South Africa, but in France it was a faux pas that ended in failure.

– This article first appeared in the July 2017 issue of SA Rugby magazine

Rohan to make return for Lions

4

IOL has reported that Springbok centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg may be returning to the Lions setup as early as next week after his knee operation.

The Springbok centre has been given the all clear to play from his medical staff and just need to get his conditioning back in shape before running out for the Lions again.

Jansen van Rensburg has been one of the inform number 12’s in the country before his injury and will want to get back on the field to fight for his place not just in the Lions side but also in the Springbok setup.

Meanwhile, Lions team doctor Rob Collins said no one was to blame for Warren Whiteley’s recent injury, which saw him suffer a torn ligament in his pelvis.

‘It’s obviously been worn for a while and now it’s torn. It’s really unfortunate, but no one is to blame, nobody did anything wrong,’ Collins told The Star newspaper.

‘The good news is Warren is excellent when it comes to rehabilitation work. He’s one of the most professional guys I’ve dealt with regarding this sort of thing, so, if all goes well, he’ll be back before eight weeks.’

Oom Rugby – Desire powers ever-ready Boks

4

Hi guys. The French series is over and now we can look back to see how much have changed since the Springboks lost to Wales and Italy at the end of last year.

 

Oom Rugby writes for All out Rugby 

 

 

It was not a great tour of Europe, and the worse thing was that even after all that there still seemed to be no direction or plan. Today I think we can safely say that things is different and the Boks finally feel like they on a clear path.

But you know what is interesting, even though the Boks struggled last year they always played with desire and spirit. How do we know this? You can measure it! There is a stat called “Return To Play” which measure how long it take a player after he make a tackle to get up again and take a new position.

It is a very good indicator of the hunger in a team. Last year in the Rugby Championship the All Blacks average about 3.3 seconds to return to play and the Boks was sitting at 3.4 seconds (lazy Aussies close to 4.4 seconds). So we know the Boks played with heart in 2016 even though they didn’t always have a clear path.

This year what is so fantastic is that they are combining that same heart with new clarity and we are starting to see the fruit. So let us take a look at some moments of hard work and desire from the last test match against France.

In this picture above we see Beast make a tackle on Goujon just after kick off. Siya and Malcolm is the players in assistance. As the breakdown form, Malcom will play to the ball and it will pop out the back. But the one we must watch is Beast… because after his tackle he does not lie around like he is on holiday at Sun City.

He jump back on his feet, take his place in the defence line, see the ball pop out and immediately leap forward again to go and claim it. It is a vital turnover that lead to a French offside.

The Boks kick for the lineout and score a try. This is actions that wins Test matches.

Must we really talk about Franco Mostert hey? This guy is so busy on the field that the IRB is reviewing the tape to see if we playing with two men in a number 5 jersey.

In this picture above we see first how Franco take up a position as a guard for Hougaard’s box kick. It is standard practice and now he can relax and let the chasers do the work. But… in the next picture we see that he is among the first to arrive and put pressure on the French receiver. And he is a lock!

Like a giraffe in mating season he sprint from that ruck and try to get to the catcher first. Beautiful.

Above we see another lovely moment from the hard-working Jan Serfontein who is not only a player with a moerse desire but also the organiser of our defence.

The French is breaking out from turnover ball with flyhalf Plisson, but Jan track him and drag him down from behind. Two seconds later, Jan is back on his feet and then 1.8 seconds later he is back upfield and makes another tackle.

That is heart, that is spirit and that is like having a extra defender on the field.

What is significant about this last example above? It is toward the end of the game after 76 minutes has been played. Elton is exiting but he can not kick the ball directly out because it was passed into the 22m.

Normally this is a problem because we do not want tired guys to defend broken play. But even though it is the end of the game, and even though the Boks has a big lead, we see that Eben will make the effort to get up and form the defensive line. Not only that but him and Lood will hold up the fullback Dulin who try to run back the ball.

Do you know how hard a lock works in rugby? You are scrumming and tackling and carrying. To run up like that and have energy to still hold a man up for a turnover tell me you are not only fit but you are hungry. Well done to him!

So guys what is interesting to me is that even though Allister did not have a great year last year, the players played with desire. They are carrying on that spirit this year and now they can channel that urgency into a clear plan for the first time.

It is a testimony to Allister that the players want to play for him, they want to play for each other, and they want to put the pride back into the green jersey. There is a special brotherhood with these boys and it is from that kind of fertile ground that big trees can grow!

DISCLAIMER: English is Oom’s third language, after Rugby and Afrikaans.

Challenge quarter-finalists confirmed

0

The Golden Lions XV beat the Blue Bulls 55-49, while there were also Provincial Rugby Challenge wins for the Pumas, Griquas, Sharks XV, EP Kings and Western Province.

An away victory for EP and a seven-try spree by the Pumas secured them both playoff spots, while a hard-fought 46-41 win over the SWD Eagles in Oudtshoorn confirmed Western Province as the only unbeaten team in the tournament after eight rounds.

WP (39 log points) finished top of the South Section, while EP (25) scored a 48-29 win over Boland in Bredasdorp to sneak past Border into second place.

The Pumas claimed a 47-33 win over the Valke to secure third sport in the North Section. Due to a superior points difference, they finished as the best of the third-placed teams.

Griquas (35) topped the Central Section, with the Sharks XV (29) in second place. The Kimberley-based side scored a 49-35 win over the Griffons, while the KwaZulu-Natalians crushed the Free State XV 52-7 in Bloemfontein.

The Golden Lions XV (36), who dramatically edged past the Blue Bulls (29), topped the North Section, with their Pretoria neighbours finishing second, thanks to a better points difference than the Pumas, who also finished on 29 points.

The Free State XV and Border both finished on 22 log points, but the Bloemfontein-based team (-48) sneaked into the playoffs by the narrowest of margins due to a better points difference than that of Border (-49).

The Eastern Cape side, who had a bye this weekend, first had to witness being pipped by EP on the log and then saw themselves losing out again to the Free State XV.

The dates and venues of the quarter-finals will be confirmed as soon as the logistics have been confirmed by all stakeholders.

Round 8 results:

Pumas (47) – Tries: Francois Kleinhans, Hennie Skorbinski, Emile Temperman, Frank Herne, Ryan Nell, Ruwellyn Isbell, penalty try. Conversions: Sias Ebersohn (4), Justin van Staden (2).
Valke (33) – Tries: Christian Rust (2), Anrich Richter, Dwight Pansegrouw, Etienne Taljaard. Conversions: Rust (4).

Golden Lions (55) – Tries: Kwagga Smith, Akker van der Merwe, Lourens Erasmus, Jacques van Rooyen, Marvin Orie, penalty try, Michael Tambwe (2). Conversions: Shaun Reynolds (6). Penalty: Reynolds.
Blue Bulls (49) – Tries: Pierre Schoeman, Duncan Matthews, penalty try, Andre Warner, Dries Swanepoel, Jaco Visagie. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (5); Penalties: Schoeman (3).

Griquas (49) – Tries: Tertius Kruger, Enver Brandt (2), Koch Marx, Wilmar Arnoldi, Tiaan Meyer, Eric Zana. Conversions: George Whitehead (7).
Griffons (35) – Tries: Carel Coetzee, Vuyo Mbotho (2), Louis Venter, Alrin Eksteen. Conversions: Wynand Pienaar (2); Penalties: Duan Pretorius (2).

Free State XV (7) – Tries: Joseph Dweba. Conversions: Marco Mason. Penalties: Michael van der Spuy.
Sharks XV (52) – Tries: Christoffel van der Walt, Cobus Reinach (2), Stephan Coetzee, Daniel du Preez, Ettienne Ootshuizen, S’bura Sithole, Andre Esterhuizen. Conversions: Garth April (6).

Boland Cavaliers (29) – Tries: Vian van der Walt, Edwin Sass, Gerrit van Wyk, McMillan Muller. Conversions: Divan Nel (3). Penalty: Nel.
EP Kings (48) – Tries: Michael Willemse, Keanu Vers (2), Neil Maritz (3), Malcolm Jaer, Tango Balekile. Conversions: Pieter-Steyn de Wet.

SWD Eagles (41) – Tries: Teunis Nieuwoudt, Kirsten Heyns, Adri Jacobs, Quaid Langeveldt, Dillin Snel, Lodewyk Uys. Conversions: Leighton Eksteen (4). Penalties: Leighton Eksteen.
Western Province (46) – Tries: Nyasha Tarusenga, Eduard Zandberg, Craig Barry (3), Marcello Sampson (2), Bjorn Basson. Conversions: Brandon Thomson (2), Errol Jaggers.

Quarter-finals:

Western Province vs Free State XV
Golden Lions XV vs Pumas
Griquas vs Eastern Province Kings
Sharks XV vs Blue Bulls

Thanks to

All Blacks still miles in front of the rest

15

I been told the last couple of weeks that the All Blacks are beatable, that the Lions will beat them and now the Aussies are also saying that they will win against the All Blacks in this years Rugby Championship.

Is it just me or has the world gone absolutely mad?

I do not think people really see  the distance the All Blacks are in front of the rest in world rugby. The fact that they can loose their front line center and fullback early in a match and still make the British And Irish Lions look ordinary should tell the story to most but then you have those dreamers that will tell you otherwise.

Maybe we do not understand what the word  skill really means.

Skill is not just the ability to throw the ball around make a backward flip pass or a chip kick and pass kick, skill in the game of rugby are much much more.

It is the ability to see space, to stay calm when you up against it, to make something out of nothing and the ability to last longer than the other team in the game.

That is just a few I mentioned because the game of rugby today is all about skill and if you do not have it you cannot be compare to a team like the All Blacks. They are the best coached, conditioned and have reserve players that will be in most countries test teams who do not even have a test spot.

There is one team that have come closer to the New Zealanders and that is England but in the same breath they have not played the All Blacks in recent years so we cannot really compare the two.

Lions supporters are going on, on the fact that Ireland had the one win in USA last year and that England equal their wins in a row against tier 1 nations, but that counts for nothing as no team have been able to beat the All Blacks consistently in the past 10 years.

To win a once of match against the All Blacks or to run them close does not mean the gap is closing it just mean that on the day you came close or you succeed. Teams and coaches have tried many things to get under the All Blacks skin but did not really succeed. Gatland have tried as the last couple of weeks he first said they scrum illegal, then it was blocking and after the first test he suggest the All Blacks are going out to injure his star scrumhalf Conor Murray, this all just seems a bit desperate from a coach that knows he is under pressure.

The Lions are a great group of players but making so many mistakes in a test match will never get you pass the All Blacks as you need to be perfect and have some luck your way as well.

What does make the All Blacks better than other international teams?

It all starts with the way New Zealand rugby does things. For all New Zealanders it is about what is for  the better of All Blacks rugby, not provincial rugby not franchise rugby but All Black rugby. They all have this same common goal and they all work towards it and most important they have been lucky enough that the All Blacks jersey means more to most players in New Zealand than the big bucks in Europe and Japan.

Now for Cheika to come out and say that his awful Aussies have a chance against the All Blacks is not even a joke it is just a plain stupid comment.

Australia problems is not with Cheika and his national team it goes to the Super Rugby teams who have been absolutely horrible this year and they have now brought that culture to the national side. They do not look like a family in that team and the skills are absolutely a disgrace for Australian rugby. The players looked unfit with passion shown in their game.

The All Blacks and most New Zealand teams almost play the perfect game of rugby and to beat them you need to be near perfect everytime you run out against them and Australian rugby is not even close to that.

Skills and passing game has always been the one thing the Aussie teams had been good at if not the best, but to sit through any Australian Super Rugby match and now even their test team is worst than drinking “Kaster olie”

With a few weeks to go before the start of the Rugby Championship, one can only think that Cheika comments was what he had dreamed off on Friday night and not reality.

And for those still thinking the Lions will beat the All Blacks, you live in the same dream world as Cheika….

 

Whiteley out of Super Rugby

2

Springbok captain Warren Whiteley will not take part in any of the remaining Super Rugby matches for the Lions including the finals due to a torn ligament in his pelvis.

Whiteley was a lats minute withdraw from the first test which saw Eben Etzebeth taking charge of the Springboks in his first game as captain. The Lions made the announcement on Whiteley on Tuesday to confirm the injury after scans.

He does not require surgery but is expected to be sidelined for between six and eight weeks, Lions team doctor Rob Collins said.

With the Super Rugby final scheduled for August 5, it means Whiteley will not take any further part in this year’s event and the injury also leaves his participation for the start of the Rugby Championship in doubt.

The Boks open their campaign against Argentina in Port Elizabeth on August 19.

That is a over six weeks away and leaves the Bok skipper in a race against time to be fit for their Rugby Championship opener.

Lions throw away game to draw with Chiefs

0

The British and Irish Lions ended their midweek schedule with a 31-31 draw with the Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Tuesday.

Tommy Seymour (2) and George North crossed for the Lions while Dan Biggar kicked 16 points off the tee as the Lions let slip a 31-17 lead.

Callum Gibbins, Ngani Laumape, Wes Goosen and Vaea Fifita scored for the Super Rugby champions who made several costly mistakes.

The Lions would have been pinching themselves to be 23-7 in front at the break as two tries were somewhat gifted to them. However they took their chances when they came which will have pleased coach Warren Gatland as it’s a trait the tourists have struggled with in New Zealand.

Biggar nudged them in front on 10 minutes after the Hurricanes’ backline had strayed offside, with the pace of the game already impressive.

The Hurricanes were then looking to bounce back in style but sustained pressure on the 22 would lead to wing Seymour rushing up – looking very close to being offside – and forcing the loose pass which Greig Laidlaw collected. The scrum-half raced over halfway but was brought down and then offloaded to the supporting Seymour who had the necessary speed to go in under the sticks. Biggar made it 10-0 off the tee.

10-0 became 13-0 on 24 minutes as the Hurricanes’ woes continued, this time scrum-half Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi was penalised for tackling Lions centre Jonathan Joseph in the air. Biggar was on target again from distance to hand the tourists a welcome advantage in Wellington.

Finally the ‘Canes got on the board after half-an-hour as a passage of 10 phases led to soon-to-be Glasgow flanker Gibbins powering over. With Barrett’s extras it was 13-7 but soon after the restart Biggar was kicking again, this time after Ben May was pinged for obstruction.

The Lions weren’t done too as they pounced on loose ball 30 metres from the Hurricanes line and Iain Henderson found North for the run-in. Biggar made it 23-7 which, despite a late push from the hosts, was how the scoreline remained going into the break. The Lions were happy.

It took less than one minute into the second-half for the tourists to be pegged back though as a slick backline move led to Julian Savea finding Laumape on the wing, with the centre showing his brute force in crashing over Biggar for the score which Barrett converted from wide out.

Compounding the Lions’ woes from the try was Biggar needing a HIA, replaced by Finn Russell, who made his bow on a special moment for him.

The Hurricanes now had their tails up but couldn’t further cut the gap on 47 minutes, as Barrett was wide with a long-range penalty shot.

Barrett did make it 23-17 on 50 minutes but Biggar responded soon after, coming after Tahuriorangi sin-binned for a high tackle.

The Lions made their numerical advantage count as quick hands to the left found Seymour, who ran in for his double as the Lions led 31-17.

North came close to extending the gap and claiming a double of his own in the 63rd minute as he collected a grubber ahead but he put a foot in touch. That kept the Hurricanes within two converted tries of picking up a draw, which seemed unlikely as the Lions appeared the stronger outfit.

That all changed on 65 minutes though as the Hurricanes were handed a lifeline when lock Henderson was yellow carded for tipping Barrett over the horizontal at a ruck, sparking a home surge which led to the latter finding replacement Goosen for a run. Suddenly it was 31-24.

Incredibly the Hurricanes were level moments later as they went through the heart of the Lions defence, Fifita the man crossing under the posts to allow Barrett the simple conversion to make it 31-31. The Lions had to quickly calm the situation as the ‘Canes were on the march.

The Lions were scrambling to survive on their own try-line and ultimately did due to a ‘Canes offence before late drama saw Biggar have a drop-goal to win the game. It fell short of the cross-bar as the teams had to settle for a draw.

The scorers:

For Hurricanes:
Tries: Gibbins, Laumape, Goosen, Fifita
Cons: Barrett 4
Pen: Barrett
Yellow Card: Tahuriorangi

For British & Irish Lions:
Tries: Seymour 2, North
Cons: Biggar 2
Pens: Biggar 4
Yellow Card: Henderson

Thanks to 

What to expect from Springboks in Rugby Championships

7

Just before we close the book on the June Internationals and the Springboks series win over France we have to look at what is expected realistically from the Boks in the rugby Championships.

That the win against the French have been uplifting and great to see after last years effort is something we can celebrate but one need to be realistic on how the Springboks needs to progress to become a contender as one of the best sides in the world as well as having a chance in the World Cup in 2019.

One can see the team is is a total different place than 2016 and that not just the leadership but also the coaching have made a huge difference. The fact that Coetzee have picked inform players from Super Rugby also made a positive attribute to the team and you could see the positives on the field and the supporters starting to back the team again.

This is all nice to see but there should be goals that Coetzee and his team must set themselves if we want to see the progress going forward.

We start the Rugby Championship again with the home and away clashes against Argentina and they have been a bogey side  for the Boks of late. A lost in 2015 in Durban and a lost in Argentina last year still does not sit nice with Springbok supporters.

The two matches against the Pumas must be a must win for Coetzee and with what we have seen this year it should not be a problem. Argentina rugby is struggling at the moment with the Jaguares again fading away in Super Rugby and the Pumas losing in June against what can only be called a third English test side.

Next up for Coetzee and Whiteley to beat will be the Aussies and they have been in a free fall this year. I do not think I have ever seen Australian rugby in such a collective bad place than they are right now. The union is fighting the exit of one Super Rugby team, their finances are as bad as it has every been and the players and teams have been poor all year in Super rugby and test rugby.

The players are looking unfit and there seems to be no plan in Australian rugby at the moment.

With the poor form and team we had in 2016 we still beat them at Loftus and this year a home and away must be the only goal for Whiteley team and that will put the Springboks in the running and frame of mind to challenge the All Blacks.

We have to be realistic and except that the only likely winner of the Rugby Championship this year again will be Hansen All Blacks but what we need the Springboks to start doing is win against other nations and compete at least against the All Blacks for now.

The test in Albany should go for the All Blacks but we must see an improvement from last years lost of 41-13.

If all falls into place then we should have an exciting test at Newlands on the 7 October.

This year must be a year of progress for Whiteley and his Springboks and must be something we can see happening now in the Rugby Championship coming up. How much progress they will show we will see come October the 7th.

Injury Report

0

With test rugby a bit on the background we move our attention to the Super Rugby competition which will see the African conferences in action this week but there are a few injury concerns for some teams this late in the competition

Vodacom Bulls

The Bulls looks worst of all the teams when they returned to Loftus on Monday starting to prepare for this weekend clash against the Sharks.

They have atleast 13 players on the list and will have to reshuffle the team ahead of this weekends match.

Wingers Jamba Ulengo (knee) and Travis Ismaiel (knee) both a week away from action, their loss against the Lions in the SuperSport Challenge last Friday saw them lose two more wingers in Jade Stiglingh (broken cheekbone) and Rabs Maxwane (concussion) in the same game. Maxwane’s concussion is his second of the season, meaning he will need to undergo a mandatory six week layoff before returning to action.

In addition to this the return of Handre Pollard has been put on hold because of inflammation to his injured ankle, and his return is also a week away still.

 

The other bad news is that hooker Edgar Marutlule injured his ankle badly in Mauritius and underwent an operation on Monday that will also keep him out of action for six weeks.

Then there are the other injuries that compound selection, including fullback Ulrich Beyers (calf), Piet van Zyl (lung infection), Martin Dreyer (ankle), Hendre Stassen (knee), Johnny Kotze (knee) and captain Hanru Liebenberg (ankle) that will also not be available for selection this week.

The good news however, is that Springbok flanker Roelof Smit, who has not played a minute of Super Rugby this season, is fit and available for selection. The Bulls will have to decide whether to throw him in the deep end against the Sharks, or rather opt for Shaun Adendorff, with Smit heading back to the Blue Bulls for the SuperSport Challenge quarter-finals.

DHL Stormers

 

The Stormers are facing the Cheetahs and coach Fleck have some decisions of his own to make as well concerning some injuries.

Oli Kebble and Ali Vermaak are both struggling with injuries. Kebble is expected back for the last home league match against the Sunwolves on 8 July.

Back in the mix this week after missing the defeat to the Sharks is flanker Rynhardt Elstadt, but Fleck won’t be able to consider talented young inside centre Dan du Plessis, who dislocated his shoulder playing for Western Province against the SWD Eagles in the Supersport Challenge on Sunday.

With De Allende out and Scotland international Hugh Jones, who is back in training, only due back in the selection next week, Fleck has something to think about at centre. Juan de Jongh made his comeback as a replacement against the Sharks and is due for a start, but former Highlander Shaun Treeby is also now available again after completing the suspension that he incurred after being cited following the Newlands win over the Blues. EW Viljoen is the other centre in the frame and as he has played in every game he should be expected to wear the No 13 in Bloemfontein.

With all those players expected to be available from the Sunwolves game onwards, Fleck will have an abundance of midfield resources, with De Allende, De Jongh and Jones all boasting international experience.

Melbourne Rebels

Wallabies and Rebels wing Sefa Naivalu has been ruled out for at least six weeks with an ankle injury sustained in the 40-27 win over Italy.

It also means that Naivalu will take no further part in the Melbourne Rebels’ Super Rugby campaign. Naivalu twisted his leg going into a collision with Italian centre Tommaso Boni, ending his night against Italy and any chance of another Super Rugby outing this season.

It was a tough blow for the 25-year-old, who had scored a double before going off, including a spectacular exhibition of his pace to spark the Wallabies’ attack early in Brisbane.

Emirates Lions

The Lions will be looking for a new captain for their match against the Sunwolves on Saturday as Springbok captain Warren Whiteley is set to be on the sidelines for around three weeks.

According to the supersport.com website, Whiteley will get confirmation on Monday from a specialist about the groin injury that kept him out of the Springboks’ third Test victory over France this past weekend.

Confirmation from sources close to the team have confirmed that Whiteley is expected to be out for three weeks but should be ready in time for the playoff matches in this year’s Super Rugby tournament.

Cell C Sharks

Sharks lock Ruan Botha has been suspended for three matches following a disciplinary hearing after his red card in the match between South Africa ‘A’ and the French Barbarians at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Friday evening.

Botha was red carded in the 39th minute of the match when which he “charged into a ruck dangerously, leading with the arm and shoulder making contact with the opponent’s face.”

The player admitted foul play and agreed that the issue of a red card was appropriate

Preview: Hurricanes v English & Irish Lions

0

The final midweek match of the British & Irish Lions tour takes place against the Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Tuesday.

Victory over the Chiefs last week saw the tourists finally get a midweek win on the board and they will be keen to build on that success. However, they take on the reigning Super Rugby champions who are boosted by four players being released to them from the All Blacks squad.

Unlike the Chiefs, this Hurricanes line-up looks more like their team that runs out round after round. Only Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett are away with the Test squad so it’s a daunting prospect for the Lions coming away with a victory against this franchise.

The Hurricanes currently sit second in the New Zealand Conference after 11 wins from 14 this season. They’ve scored a competition high 85 tries, which is an average of six per game, so the Lions must be defensively aware of the threat they pose and it’ll be interesting to see if the Hurricanes persist with their tactic of snubbing kickable penalties in favour of going for the seven points in such a special match.

“We are under no illusions as to the challenge the British and Irish Lions will present and we want to put our best foot forward for what promises to be a memorable occasion,” said ‘Canes head coach Chris Boyd, who incredibly pits his wits against the Lions for a third time.

“It’s a fantastic event for our club, but also for the city of Wellington and the region, so hopefully the match will live up to its billing.”

The Lions meanwhile have a new face in their midweek side as George North looks to impress alongside Jack Nowell and Tommy Seymour in the back-three, with Nowell moving to the full-back shirt in place of Liam Williams. After Williams’ promotion, Nowell is keen to follow suit.

“Every chance you play before the Test is your chance to impress,” he told the British and Irish Lions website ahead of Tuesday’s fixture.

“Anything can happen when you’re out here, the most pleasing thing is the coaches are changing it and to see Liam and Elliot (Daly) in the Test side was pretty cool.

“Every single time you take the field you are trying to get into that Test team, that is the same for every player, but the main thing is not to think about it too much.

“It is about the performance that week, you have to perform well in that – there is a big squad buy in on that.”

Prediction: While the Hurricanes’ back-line does catch the eye, Perenara and Barrett in the half-backs have been integral to them in 2017. If the visitors keep the game tight and similar to how they performed against the Chiefs then they should come out on top. Lions by five.

The teams:

Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Otere Black, 9 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 8 Brad Shields (c), 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Mark Abbott, 3 Jeff To’omaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Ben May
Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Mike Kainga, 19 James Blackwell, 20 Reed Prinsep, 21 Kemara Hauiti-Parapara, 22 Wes Goosen, 23 Cory Jane

British & Irish Lions: 15 Jack Nowell, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 James Haskell, 5 Courtney Lawes, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Cory Hill, 20 George Kruis, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Finn Russell, 23 Jared Payne

thanks to 

Super Rugby returns this week

3

With the June Internationals a thing of the past for all expect the New Zealanders and British & Irish Lions, we turn our attention back to Vodacom Super Rugby.

It is the last few rounds and although most play-off spots have already been decided a few teams can make sure they do not have to travel for these play offs.

Firstly let’s have a look at the logs as it stands at the moment….

PosTeamPWLPts
10000
21100
31100
41100
51100
60000
PosTeamPWLPts
10000
21100
31100
41100
51100
60000
PosTeamPWLPts
10000
21100
31100
41100
51100
PosTeamPWLPts
10000
21100
31100
41100
51100

As it stands now it seems that the Lions will finish first in Africa 2 group and the Stormers in African 1, with the Sharks finishing as the wild card for the African Conferences. In New Zealand it looks like the Crusaders have secured their spot as the top New Zealand team and will have the luxury of a home play-off.

The Hurricanes, Chiefs and Highlanders will have to fight it out to see who ends where and who travels where?

In the Australian conference it looks all set that the Brumbies will qualify for the play-offs leaving the other Aussie teams yet again without a spot in the play-offs.

So to sum it up….it seems teams will be playing for where they will play the play-off games in a few weeks.

This weekend only sees the African Conferences playing and here is how the weekend pans out….

Friday 30 June 2017

Cell C Sharks v Vodacom Bulls Growthpoint Kings Park Friday 19:00

 

Sharks – 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 S’bura Sithole, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Sbusiso Nkosi, 10 Garth April, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tera Mtembu, 6 Philip van der Walt (c), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Marius Louw.

Bulls – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Duncan Matthews, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Kefentse Mahlo, 10 Tony Jantjies, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Nic de Jager, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Conraad Van Vuuren, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Johnroy Jenkins, 19 Shuan Adendorff, 20 Renaldo Bothma, 21 André Warner, 22 Burger Odendaal, 23 Tian Schoeman.

Saturday 1 July 2017

Jaguares v Southern Kings Estadio Jose Saturday 01:00

 

Jaguares – 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Moroni, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Bautista Ezcurra, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo (c), 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Julián Montoya, 1 Lucas Noguera.
Replacements: 16 Roberto Tejerizo, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Ignacio Larrague, 20 Rodrigo Báez, 21 Gonzalo Bertanou, 22 Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, 23 Santiago Cordero.

Kings – 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Wandile Mjekevu, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Lionel Cronjé, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Mzamo Majola.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Masixole Banda, 23 Yaw Penxe.

Toyota Cheetahs v DHL Stormers Toyota Park Saturday 15:00

 

Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Henco Venter, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Elandré Huggett, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Jo Dweba, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Justin Basson, 20 Oupa Mohoje, 21 Fred Zeilinga, 22 Ruan van Rensburg, 23 William Small-Smith

Stormers: 15 SP Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Rynardt Elstadt, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Frans Malherbe (c), 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 EW Viljoen, 23 Seabelo Senatla

Emirates Lions v Sunwolves Emirates Park Saturday 17:00

 

The teams:

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 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 Jacques Nel, 23 Sylvian Mahuza

Sunwolves: 15 Yasutaka Sasakura, 14 Takaaki Nakazuru, 13 Ryohei Yamanaka, 12 Derek Carpenter, 11 Teruya Goto, 10 Jumpei Ogura, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Willie Britz (c), 7 Shokei Kin, 6 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 5 Kotaro Yatabe, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Yasuo Yamaji, 2 Atsushi Sakate, 1 Masataka Mikami
Replacements: 16 Takeshi Hino, 17 Koki Yamamoto, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Uwe Helu, 20 Malgene Ilaua, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Kotaro Matsushima

 

Friday 30 June 2017

A Great one to start the Super Rugby returns from the International window with the Sharks hosting the Bulls in Durban. Before one can make any predictions we will have to see how the teams have taken stock with all the injuries and who is available.

What we do know is that it does not matter who runs on to the field in this one it will be a cracker of a match especially with the Bulls playing for pride.

The Sharks have opted for Bosch at the back and April at 10 for this clash with the Bulls. Coach Du Preez made a few changes from the team that beat the Stormers in their last outing way back in May. Odwa Ndungane starts at right wing in place of Kobus van Wyk, while there’s a new midfield combination in Andre Esterhuizen and S’bura Sithole.

Esterhuizen returns from suspension to replace Johan Deysel, while Sithole starts in place of Lukhanyo Am at outside centre.

Up front, Tera Mtembu gets a chance at number seven  in place of Springbok Jean-Luc du Preez, while Etienne Oosthuizen comes in for the suspended Ruan Botha at lock.

Franco Marais also starts ahead of Chiliboy Ralepelle at hooker.

Bulls couch Nollis Marais have picked the Springbok midfield pair in Kriel and Serfontein for the match. He also handed out first starts for Mahlo and Van Vuuren for this Friday match.

Van Vuuren, who has made three appearances off the bench, starts in his first match in place of Trevor Nyakane, who was ruled out, while John-Roy Jenkinson will take Van Vuuren’s bench duties.

Marais also decided to start Tony Jantjies at fly-half, with the former Junior Springbok running out in the starting team for the first time after three consecutive appearances off the bench. Tian Schoeman, who started against the Hurricanes, moves to the bench.

Marais made two changes to the starting pack. Nick de Jager is promoted off the bench and will start at number eight in place of the injured Hanro Liebenberg, with Renaldo Bothma and Shaun Adendorff coming onto the bench as lock and loose forward cover.

RG Snyman is also available again following his suspension and will combine with Jason Jenkins with Lood de Jager been ruled out.

Andre Warner could make his debut for the team after being named back-up scrum-half with Ivan van Zyl not available.

This will be a great match to re-start the Super Rugby after the international break and we can expect a huge battle between these two team. The Bulls are only playing for pride and will be dangerous with the Sharks that have already qualified, will want to start build momentum for their play-off game which will be away from home.

Previous Matches

Prediction: The Blue Bulls have been looking good in the SuperSport Challenge but that was under a different coach, they can beat the Sharks at home but have to go Sharks by 9 points for this one

Teams:

Sharks – 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 S’bura Sithole, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Sbusiso Nkosi, 10 Garth April, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tera Mtembu, 6 Philip van der Walt (c), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Marius Louw.

Bulls – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Duncan Matthews, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Kefentse Mahlo, 10 Tony Jantjies, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Nic de Jager, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Conraad Van Vuuren, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Johnroy Jenkins, 19 Shuan Adendorff, 20 Renaldo Bothma, 21 André Warner, 22 Burger Odendaal, 23 Tian Schoeman.

Saturday 1 July 2017

They say the early bird catches the worm, well if you are up for this one you will have plenty. The second match this weekend sees the Jaguares hosting the Kings early Saturday morning.

The Jaguares slipped away after they were in a good position to qualify for this years play-offs and will want to finish strong not just in the Super Rugby but also to build for the Rugby Championships that starts soon after the competition ends. The kings have been a revaluation this year and have surprise many will have to wait and see if they can make the trip to Argentina and surprise us some more.

The Kings coach Davids has named a strong side to take on the Argentina side on Saturday morning.

It is good to see that the Kings coach has opted to make as less changes as possible and rewarded players for the good form they have shown this year in the competition.

The Jaguares are not an easy side to face at their one eyed home stadiums and the Kings will have to be on par if they want to beat them this weekend.

Cronje will play a pivotal roll in the teams desire to win this game not just by the way he has control the team from the number ten jersey but also his leadership which have proven to be vital.

“This week we have tried to keep continuity as we considered players that have done well in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge competition and also players that have come back from injury,” Davids said from Buenos Aires on Thursday.

“It was a long and tiring travel to Buenos Aires. The guys were a little tired when we arrived here. We have done some recovery and had a good team meeting and training session,” said the head coach.

“The guys look excited and are ready to go on Friday night.

“We expect a very tough game. The Jaguares will always be a formidable side here in Buenos Aires. They have selected an internationally experienced team, so we know we have to be at our best from the start. We have to keep the pressure on them for the whole 80 minutes to ensure that we have a good result here in Buenos Aires.”

Predictions: The Jaguares should take this by at least 6 points but I am going with the inspirational Kings side by 5

Teams: 

Jaguares – 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Moroni, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Bautista Ezcurra, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo (c), 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Julián Montoya, 1 Lucas Noguera.
Replacements: 16 Roberto Tejerizo, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Ignacio Larrague, 20 Rodrigo Báez, 21 Gonzalo Bertanou, 22 Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, 23 Santiago Cordero.

Kings – 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Wandile Mjekevu, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Lionel Cronjé, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Mzamo Majola.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Masixole Banda, 23 Yaw Penxe.

The second match on Saturday sees the Stormers traveling to Bloemfontein to face the Cheetahs in what we only can expect to be a high pace game between these two sides.

Cheetahs v Stormers games are always a high scoring affair and I believe we can expect the same. As with the Sharks v Bulls game the Cheetahs are only playing for pride as they can not make the play-offs which makes them even more dangerous.

This game has been historically one of the great free flowing games of the season and we can expect the same from these two sides. The Cheetahs have been over the years a bogey side for the Stormers especially at the end of the season.

The Stormers have named an exciting team that will take the field while they are resting some of their Springbok. Etzebeth and Kolisi will sit this one out and that means that Du Toit will partner with Van Zyl at lock.

The most exciting news coming out of the Cape is the Junior Bok Damian Willemse that will get his first start at 10 for the Stormers. He is a player that they have earmarked for the future in Western Province and it will be great to see him show his worth on Saturday.

The Stormers have not been traveling well this year and have lost the last four games on the road this year which gives the Cheetahs that small believe in this match.
Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck said his team will have to be at their best in what will be a typically tough derby.

“The Cheetahs are always a tough prospect on their home turf, so we will have to be sharp if we are to come away with the win we are looking for,” he explained.

“The players have trained well this week and we are excited to see what they are able to produce in Bloemfontein.”

The Cheetahs have been boosted by the return of Francois Venter. Tian Meyer replaces Shaun Venter at scrum-half for the Super Rugby game this Saturday.

Up front, Niell Jordaan is named at number eight while Reniel Hugo and Elandre Huggett are included in the second-row and at hooker respectively, with Torsten van Jaarsveld out injured for the Free State Stadium clash.

Previous Matches:

 

Prediction: Although the match is being played in Bloem I still be believe the Stormers will pull this one by 8 points

The teams:

Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Henco Venter, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Elandré Huggett, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Jo Dweba, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Justin Basson, 20 Oupa Mohoje, 21 Fred Zeilinga, 22 Ruan van Rensburg, 23 William Small-Smith

Stormers: 15 SP Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Rynardt Elstadt, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Frans Malherbe (c), 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 EW Viljoen, 23 Seabelo Senatla

The last match this weekend will see the Lions hosting the Sunwolves in Johannesburg. Clearly the best team in South Africa again this year the Lions will want to end strong and chase the Crusaders for that top spot.

That can only happen if the Crusaders lose their last game in two weeks time against the Hurricanes and the Lions gets full house of points in their last two matches. It will be interesting to see how the Lions go about the task this time around.

The Lions will have to do without the service of their Springbok Captain Warren Whiteley who will take no further part in this years Super Rugby. Although this is a big blow for the Lions, they do have the quality in the players to be able to have another one step up.

The Lions are chasing top spot on the overall table in the competition and home ground advantage throughout the play-offs, and five points against the Sunwolves is a must. For this reason, they have named their strongest possible side for the clash.

This is going to be a tough one for the Sunwolves at Emirates Park and could get a big score against them.

The Lions have a seriously impressive home record. They have won their last 12 games at home and would surely like to bag the five points.

Although the Sunwolves have improved a bit this year they are still far away from really competing in this competition and off late have always faded in the second half of their matches.

The Lions is playing a New Zealand like game and also have adopted to step one or two gears up in the second half and ran away with teams.

It is still very debatable that their should be  spot in such a premier competition for a poor team like the Sunwolves but money drives SANZAAR to keep them and kick three other teams out for next year.

Prediction: The Lions will have too much power and should cruise to victory here. Lions by 20.

The teams:

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 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 Jacques Nel, 23 Sylvian Mahuza

Sunwolves: 15 Yasutaka Sasakura, 14 Takaaki Nakazuru, 13 Ryohei Yamanaka, 12 Derek Carpenter, 11 Teruya Goto, 10 Jumpei Ogura, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Willie Britz (c), 7 Shokei Kin, 6 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 5 Kotaro Yatabe, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Yasuo Yamaji, 2 Atsushi Sakate, 1 Masataka Mikami
Replacements: 16 Takeshi Hino, 17 Koki Yamamoto, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Uwe Helu, 20 Malgene Ilaua, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Kotaro Matsushima

Kriel maybe lost for Springboks

2

The test series against the French is something of the past and a clean sweep was what was demanded and what was given by Coetzee Springboks.

With the end of the series comes the start of the new policy of SARU that any player that have not played 30 test or more will not be eligible to be selected for the Springboks till 2019 World Cup.

With this in the mind the news came out this weekend that Lions and Springbok Jaco Kriel maybe on his way to English club Wasps. He will join the exodus of players like Cobus Reinach and Faf de Klerk.

With only eight caps for Kriel it means he will not be selected for the Springboks in the Rugby Championships if he does move to Wasps.

Kriel does compete with the likes off Kolisi and Francois Louw and then you have the Bulls Roelof Smit who came on the scene last year.

Other South African players and coaches who have recently signed contracts with English sides are ­Demetri Catrakilis (Montpellier) and Renaldo Bothma (Bulls), recruited by Harlequins.

After his Super Rugby duties with the Lions, Johan Ackermann will join Gloucester as head coach.

Time will tell if this exodus will stop…

Springbok Rating: Whitewash for Springboks over France

21

How much things can change in a year?

The Springboks made it a clean sweep on Saturday when they kept the French try-less in beating them 35-12 in the final test of the June Internationals. It was maybe not as good as the two previous wins but they scored tries and kept the winning culture in this Bok team.

12011297_10207441645668652_3220521062202725798_n

 

Overall Rating for the Springboks

 

It was again a great defensive performance from the Springboks as they controlled the game throughout the eighty minutes. Jan Serfontein had a brilliant game again in the midfield and is playing his best rugby in the green and gold jersey.

The Springboks had to go in this test without their inspirational captain Whiteley and did seemed to struggle a bit without his leadership but Etzebeth did good enough as the stand-in captain.

Upfront Jaco Kriel had a great impact in the match as he was promoted to start with Whiteley out of the test. His ability to unsettle teams attack was brilliant to watch and he had a good hand in the Springboks attacks and fight in the rucks.

Overall the Springboks did what was needed and got the series whitewash which they set out to do.

Andries Coetzee (7)

healthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthman

healthman

 

 

Andries game had got better and better and has shown that the number fifteen jumper can be made his now. He is great under pressure and have a usefull boot that helps when you need to get out of your half.

His attacking came more to the fore and he does that little things on attack and defence which many people do not see.

Raymond Rhule (5)

healthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthman

 

 

Rhule did not had a good test and were looking desperate at times in defence. Against bigger, better wings he may be out of his depth and he also did not had too many attacking opertunities

Jesse Kriel (7)

healthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthman

healthman

 

 

Jesse came back into the team after being injured for the Durban test. There was some questions on his defence but he scrambled well and linked also good with Serfontein when on attack. He was at the end of another try.

Jan Serfontein (9)

healthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthman

 

 

Serfontein gave us a man of the match display as he did in all three test matches. How far he has come from the poor form he shown in Super Rugby and last year for the Boks. He was just brilliant in defence and always part of the attacks the Springboks had in the test. He has come forward as a very clever player and deserve his place in the team.

Courtnall Skosan (7)

healthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthman

 

 

Skosan had a much better game in this test and have shown real character in his defence on the night. One would love to see him more in space and with ball in hand but he took what was handed to him and played really well. He is a no nonsense player and not scared to take on the big guns.

Elton Jantjies (7)

healthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthman

 

 

Elton Jantjies had been very good this series and although he did not get the same quality ball in this test was still able to get the ball out to his backs. The combination between him and Hougaard still needs time but Jantjies have played another good test.

Really enjoy that he does not step back on defence and mixing it up with the big boys as well.

Francois Hougaard (6)

healthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthman

 

 

Hougaard was alright but struggle with the ball he got from the forwards as the French was playing close to the offside line. He did get better as the test went on and he is a great backup to Cronje at the moment and a player for the big moments in test rugby.

Jean-Luc Du Preez (captain) (6)

healthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthman

 

 

Du Preez had to step in for his captain at number eight and did not had the same impact he had last week in Durban but had a few strong carriers and good in defence again. His a big young boy who will grow as a huge players in years to come

Jaco Kriel (9)

healthmanhealthman

healthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthman

 

 

Jaco Kriel had a huge impact in the team and played out of his socks. He was absolutely brilliant and between him and Serfontein the man of the match for me. He just give you that extra bit when you need it and is golden on the ground and defence. Great return to test rugby for Kriel.

Siya Kolisi (6)

healthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthman

 

 

Not as good a performance as last week but Kolisi did the hard yards again for the Springboks. He was good in defence and and worked hard with Kriel on the ground. He did his best to get involved in the attacks from the Springboks but the game did not evolve for him as we would have wanted.

Franco Mostert (8)

healthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthman

 

 

Mostert has surely made that jersey his own now as he again have put a star performance in for the Springboks. He is hard man doing the hard work there where it matters. His work in the scrums lineout can not be overlooked and is a critical part of this Springboks success in the test series.

Eben Etzebeth (8)

healthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthman

healthmanhealthman

 

 

As the stand-in captain Eben did well and most important played a calm game as the leader of the team which was great to see. He was much better in the loose and made some crucial steels in the lineouts. The teams lineout play in the first half was not good but the hard man from WP did his bit to correct it in the second half. His defence was great again as we expect from them.

Ruan Dreyer (6)

healthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthman

healthmanhealthman

 

 

The scrums was a mess in the first half but that was more the referee struggling to control it and when it stayed up Dreyer showed his class. He did his bit in the defence and loose and a good start to his test carreer and will only get better as we know he is one of the best in the country.

Malcolm Marx (7)

healthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthman

 

 

Another monster performance from the big man as he again showed why he is so highly rated in South Africa. He is such a good player to have on attack and although they struggled in the lineouts in the first half he did get his locks later on.

He scored another try for the Boks something we get used to from Marx.

Tendai Mtawarira (6)

healthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthmanhealthman

 

 

Beast had a quit game but did his bit in the scrums and on attack. Really loving Beast passing the ball when on attack rather than trying to run players over. Would have liked to have seen a better performance in scrums but as I said the scrums was a mess.

Replacement:

Bongi Mbonambi

Not enough time to really rate him

Steven Kitshoff (7)

He is such a great player at the moment for the Springboks coming of the bench and he shows every week his class on attack and defence. His skills is brilliant and interplay between backs brilliant, glad to see him back in South Africa.

Coenie Oosthuizen 

Not enough time to really rate him

Pieter-Steph du Toit (7) 

Du Toit made a huge impact from the bench and his characteristic runs was on display again. He was also brilliant on the ground and in defence.

Lood De Jager (7)

Lood had his best game in a long time although he was only on the field for a little while. He was brilliant in defence and made a few turnovers. His interplay was also great.

Rudi Page

Not enough time to really rate him, but did what he needed when he came on and score his first Springbok try as well.

Frans Steyn

Not enough time to really rate him

Dillyn Leyds

Not enough time to really rate him

Jan Serfontein

Ball Carries (Metres) 25
Tackle-completion 89%
Tackles – Made 8
Tackles – Turnover 1