Rugby Championship 2017 News

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Bonus point win for All Blacks against Aussies

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The All Blacks just shown why they are the best in the world when they beat the Aussies in Australia 54-34 on Saturday

It was made out to be a close test by Australian media leading up to the first Rugby Championship test but the All Blacks already blew the Aussies off the field after 40 minutes.

Six tries against two penalties tells the story and some of the worst defensive performance we have seen from the Aussies in a long time.

It was not something special from the All Blacks just plain and simple rugby doing the basics right and making the tackles.

The Aussies have had no defence to speak of and their attacks lacked innovation and passion.

Rugby matches are won these days on how good your defence is and the rest will follow.

The one thing that the British and Irish Lions showed us to beat the All Blacks was defence and putting them under pressure with defence.

With the tries that come think and fast for the All Blacks in that first half all the Aussies had left to do in the second half was to see by how much they will lose.

The Second half seemed to start the same as the first with the All Blacks to score quickly after the break and made it 54-6.

It was the Aussies that sprang two quick tries together to get points on the board and made it 54-20 after 56 minutes.

The All Blacks were starting to make mistakes and the Aussies gained confidence in attack putting them under attack.

It seems that the communication in defence was also better as the match went on for the Aussies and Beale scored from a turnover in defence to make the score 54-27 after 62 minutes.

It was the Aussies to score again after yet another All Black mistake to make the score 54-34.

This was the end score as well and some hard work for Aussies as they will go to New Zealand next week to face the All Blacks again.

Scorers:

Wallabies – Tries: Curtis Rona, Tevita Kuridrani, Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau. Conversions: Bernard Foley (3). Penalties: Foley (2).
All Blacks – Tries: Liam Squire, Rieko Ioane (2), Ryan Crotty (2), Sonny Bill Williams, Damian McKenzie, Ben Smith. Conversions: Beauden Barrett (7).

Match Centre – Rugby Championship / Currie Cup

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Enough to keep us busy this weekend as we have three Currie Cup matches and two Rugby Championship test matches.

We start of with Western Province hosting the Golden Lions

Currie Cup

  Fulltime  
 39 SCORE 3
6 TRIES 0
3 CONVERSIONS 0
1 PENALTIES 1
0 DROP GOALS 0
0 PENALTY TRIES 0

 

Castle Rugby Championship

 

Fulltime
 34 SCORE 54
 4 TRIES 8
 4 CONVERSIONS 7
 2 PENALTIES 0
 0 DROP GOALS 0
 0 PENALTY TRIES 0

 

Currie Cup

 

  Fulltime  
 40 SCORE 41
 5 TRIES 6
 4 CONVERSIONS 4
 3 PENALTIES 0
 0 DROP GOALS 0
 0 PENALTY TRIES 0

 

Castle Rugby Championship

 

  Fulltime  
37 SCORE 15
 4 TRIES 2
 4 CONVERSIONS 1
 3 PENALTIES 1
 0 DROP GOALS 0
 0 PENALTY TRIES 0

 

Currie Cup

 

  SUN 14:00  
 0 SCORE 0
 0 TRIES 0
 0 CONVERSIONS 0
 0 PENALTIES 0
 0 DROP GOALS 0
 0 PENALTY TRIES 0

Preview – Springboks v Argentina

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South Africa will be looking to open their Rugby Championship campaign on a positive note when they host Argentina at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The last time the sides met the Argentines emerged 26-24 victors in the second round of the 2016 Rugby Championship in Salta. The Boks will be desperate to exact their revenge for this defeat and show they are a much-improved outfit from their 2016 annus horribilis.

Much has been made of the Jaguares’ poor season in Super Rugby. While it is true that these are the same players who will play for the Pumas, one should expect them to a be much tougher proposition in national colours.

The absence of Warren Whiteley gives Eben Etzebeth his third cap as captain but it is important the Stormers enforcer keeps his emotions in check in the face of a notoriously provocative Argentine side.

It is imperative for Alister Coetzee that the Springboks win here as he will know the Rugby Championship is a far more accurate test of his credentials than a three-match series against a weakened French side.

Should his side lose, the knives will be out and the question marks over his decision to leave players like Ruan Combrinck and Frans Steyn out of the squad will loom larger than ever.

Also, one wonders about the decision to start Uzair Cassiem ahead of Jean-Luc Du Preez despite Du Preez having yet to miss a tackle in his international career. He made 28 out of 28 tackles against France during the June Test series, the most of any player to maintain a 100 percent success rate.

Facundo Isa will be sorely missed as his big-money move to Toulon has taken him out of the Argentina reckoning for a while. The dynamic loose forward made 85 carries in last year’s edition of the Rugby Championship, 15 more than any other player, while he gained the most metres of any forward (361).

Meanwhile, Argentina enjoyed the most time in possession of any team in the Rugby Championship 2016 (17m 12s per game), as well as boasting the best ruck success rate (96 percent) of any of the four nations.

Therefore, despite the Jaguares’ below-par Super Rugby, the Pumas should not be underestimated.

The Cheetahs loose forward comes into the starting line-up for only his second Test after he made his international debut in November 2016 against Wales in Cardiff, with Jean-Luc du Preez moving to the bench.

The other change in the pack that started the third Test against France in Johannesburg in June, sees the inclusion of experienced tighthead prop Coenie Oosthuizen in place of Ruan Dreyer.

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee made only one change to the backline, with scrum-half Ross Cronje resuming the number nine duties from Francois Hougaard.

Hougaard and Du Preez are joined on the bench by experienced prop Trevor Nyakane, as well as Curwin Bosch, the promising young Sharks and Junior Springbok fly-half, who will make his Springbok debut should he run onto the field on Saturday.

“Uzair is a very versatile loose forward and the added advantage is that he is also an excellent option in the lineout,” explained Coetzee.

“Coenie has played consistently well this season for the Cell C Sharks and he performed well for us whenever he came off the bench in the French series, while Trevor has worked extremely hard and deserves his opportunity.”

Coetzee said that Bosch had slotted well into the Springbok environment during his stay of almost two weeks with the squad in Port Elizabeth. The youngster also attended the Boks’ pre-season training camp in April.

“Curwin is a young player with huge potential and a bright future ahead of him,” said Coetzee.

“He showed in the very tough Vodacom Super Rugby competition that he is a skilful player and a prolific goal kicker and he covers both full-back and fly-half.

“He can be very proud of his inclusion in the match day squad as he matriculated from Grey Port Elizabeth just two years ago.”

Meanwhile, Three changes have been made from the Argentina line-up that beat Georgia in June as Emiliano Boffelli comes in for Matias Moroni on the wing, Tomas Lavanini replaces Matias Alemanno at lock while Pablo Matera gets in ahead of Rodrigo Baez on the blindside flank for the away fixture.

Argentina narrowly lost this match in 2016 and will be desperate to start the campaign on a positive note before the reverse game next week.

The teams: 

South Africa: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Raymond Rhule, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Jaco Kriel, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth (c), 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23 Damian de Allende

Argentina: 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Martin Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Tomas Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Enrique Pieretto, 2 Agustin Creevy (c), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera, 18 Ramiro Herrera, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Juan Martin Hernandez, 23 Matias Moroni

Preview – Australia v New Zealand

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The All Blacks will hope to achieve consecutive clean sweeps of their Rugby Championship rivals this year, starting against the Wallabies.

Indeed, the bar was set incredibly high by New Zealand in 2016 as they picked up a maximum 30 from 30 points haul from their six fixtures.

Of course they cannot better that and repeating it would take some doing but there are many who think it could happen, due largely to the standard of opposition in their way. Argentina and Australia have been in poor form while South Africa’s revival is hardly scintillating.

On paper six wins from six is a possibility but this is not a New Zealand team full of confidence, far from it following the recent drawn Test series with the British & Irish Lions. Whether that’s rocked their confidence or we’re in for a backlash will be evident on Saturday.

They face a side in turmoil at Super Rugby level, which adds a further subplot to the action in Sydney. Several of the Wallabies’ futures remain unclear after the Force were axed and following a dismal season for all five franchises, they simply have to rally in Test colours.

The form book doesn’t look good too for Australia as the All Blacks have won their last five matches against them, the last time they won more was a 10-game streak from 2008 to 2010. Furthermore, last year’s fixture in Sydney saw New Zealand romp to an emphatic 42-8 victory.

Australia simply must start strongly if they’re to avoid another embarrassment such as that, but with the Wallabies having scored no more than a penalty goal in the first-half of each of their last three games at ANZ Stadium, the omens don’t bode well for the hosts this week.

It will surely be a comfortable victory for the All Blacks, who are boosted by six recent Super Rugby winners in their side with two more Crusaders on the bench. That would give them a huge leg-up in their quest to retain both the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship titles, something which they are hot favourites to do as coach Steve Hansen rolls out a side that could cut loose if given a sniff this weekend.

Players to watch:

The teams:

Australia: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Curtis Rona, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Sekope Kepu, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Lopeti Timani, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Reece Hodge, 23 Tevita Kuridrani

New Zealand: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown

Rugby Championship returns

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This weekend the Castle Rugby Championship returns with a bang as New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina take each other on for the next few months.

Many will say it is the same old same old with New Zealand yet again looking to dominate the Championship this year. One find it hard to believe that they will get too much stuck against the rest although many supporters put hope on the fact that they draw against the British and Irish Lions in June.

What people easily forget was that their were a few controversial decisions in the last two test which could have easily gone against the Lions and the Lions consist of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales players which makes a huge different in the quality that played against the All Blacks in June.

All Blacks have their problems but not as much as the other three who will again have to take on the Championship with issues.

The Aussies had the worst Super Rugby competition I can remember and the way they dealt with the Force being kicked out of Super Rugby next year did not help. Although Cheika had more than any other coach to work with his group, he still have a group of players who’s confidence will not be very high when they run out against the All Blacks on Saturday.

As much as people wants to deny it Super Rugby form does make a huge difference in the Rugby Championship. Cheika is also building a new group of players and they have it the most difficult to get into this against the All Blacks home and away.

The Argentinians also had a poor Super Rugby tournament with the Jaguares losing just to easily at home which was normally not something that happened. The biggest problem for the Pumas is the fact that they can never last the full eighty minutes and that they run out of steam at the end of the tournament.

We need more consistency from them and being competitive not just in the first two test against the Boks but straight through the competition.

The Springboks have their own kind of problems this year and the biggest one the fact that Whiteley will only be able to play in the later stages of the tournament if any.

Etzebeth will take charge of the team in Whiteley absence and many people question his ability to rally the players and questions are also asked if players will follow him like they did Whiteley.

Springbok coach Coetzee also opened himself up when he decided not to include Lions Kwagga Smith, Combrinck and Am from the Sharks. All three these players have been on great form but found themselves out of the Springbok group.

Coetzee also kept players with poor form in the squad like De Allende, Cassiem, Lood De Jager, Frans Malherb, Oupa Mohoje, Trevor Nyakane and Handre Pollard in the side.

Many questions on Coetzee squad

Coetzee told the media last week that he will not drop a player that has done nothing wrong, but in the same breath he is saying that he will pick the team on form. Surely players Super Rugby form must mean something?

Last year problem for Coetzee was exactly that he picked player who was not inform in Super Rugby and thought they will get their form back when in the Bok side.

There are a few question marks around the Springboks and the three wins against France can easily be quickly forgotten if Coetzee men falls against Argentina and Australia, game that will be non negotiable for fans.

What every your thoughts are, this years Championship will server some great test matches and hopefully another step upwards for the Boks

Etzebeth will lead Boks

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Springbok coach Allister Coetzee have opted to give the captain armband to his vice captain Eben Etzebeth with Warren Whiteley injured for the first half of the Rugby Championship

Bok coach Allister Coetzee confirmed that Etzebeth, who led the side in the third Test against France when Whiteley was unavailable, will continue in the captain’s role. Flank Siya Kolisi has been named vice-captain.

Whiteley will be out of action for at least six more weeks due to a groin injury. The ailment will rule him out for the opening part of the Rugby Championship.

‘Eben did an excellent job against France in Johannesburg, when he had to step in at short notice after the late withdrawal of Warren,’ said Coetzee. ‘He enjoys the respect of his team mates and also commands respect on and off the field.

‘He is well supported by our strong leadership group which consists of Siya, Tendai Mtawarira and Elton Jantjies.’

Etzebeth has played in 57 Tests since making his debut in 2012.

The Boks start their campaign against Argentina on 19 August in Port Elizabeth. They will play the Pumas in Salta the following week.

Springboks to play in red against Argentina

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The Springboks will wear a limited-edition alternate jersey in the red of the South African flag in their match against the Pumas in Salta on 26 August, SA Rugby announced on Tuesday.

The striking jersey has been commissioned to mark the 25th anniversary of rugby unity in South Africa. Only a limited number of replica jerseys will be available in stores from tomorrow (9 August).

The red Springbok jersey completes a “jigsaw puzzle” of playing and training apparel that was prepared for use in 2017. The colours of the flag – yellow, green, blue and red – have all featured in training or playing apparel this year.

“We wanted to mark the 25th anniversary of rugby in South Africa in a striking and memorable way and in partnership with ASICS came up with this bold alternate strip,” said CEO Jurie Roux.

“We chose the colours of the flag as a uniting symbol and believed that red made the boldest statement as a tribute to the achievement of rugby unity, which was completed before democracy arrived in South Africa.”

Roux said that red also provided the strongest contrast to the Springboks’ Castle Lager Rugby Championship rivals. The red colouring is rounded off by a black collar, logos as well as other details.

Brian Kerby, General Manager of ASICS South Africa, said they were excited to reveal the red jersey to Springbok supporters.

“This is definitely a bold statement by us as a brand – to celebrate Springbok rugby for what has been achieved over the past 25 years and also looking ahead towards a positive future for the team,” said Tam.

Rugby unity was achieved on 20 March 1992 following covert negotiations between the old South African Rugby Board (SARB) and the banned ANC from 1988 onwards.

SARB and the non-racial South African Rugby Union, the South African Rugby Football Federation and the South African Rugby Association came together in 1992 to form the South African Rugby Football Union (SARFU) under the joint presidency of Ebrahim Patel (SARU) and Danie Craven (SARB).  SARFU’s name was changed to SARU in 2003.

“It was a remarkable achievement to bring all rugby communities together after so many years of division,” said Roux. “We have made mistakes as a sport; we will not always get it right. But rugby has given South Africa moments of great joy in the past 25 years and proved its supreme capacity to build our nation.”

He added that the red jersey was a symbol of the conclusion of one era and the starting of a new one. “it is commonplace for national teams to be creative with their alternate playing kits but it is not something we have done with our white alternate jersey in South Africa before,” said Roux.

“The traditionalists might miss a heartbeat but we need to move with the times as a sport and it’s 111 years since a South African rugby team first wore a white jersey so it’s not something we’ve rushed into.

“We think this makes a statement, it will definitely be a collector’s item.”

The commemorative red Springbok supporters’ jersey will be available at selected sport retail stores from 9 August 2017 for a RRP of R750.

 Follow ASICS on twitter @ASICS_ZA

Issued by ASICS South Africa

Savea drop out of All Blacks squad

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Julian Savea has been dropped from the All Blacks squad for the Rugby Championship after the squad was announced by coach Hansen.

Savea has been in and out of  the team for some time now and question marks over his discipline and on-off form over the last couple of season.

A devastated runner with the ball and try scoring monster is what most people see when the name Julian Savea.

His defence have always been a question mark and he was not seen as a good player under the high ball.

A fit-again Nehe Milner-Skudder makes his return to the team and a recall for prop Nepo Laulala, the 33-man squad contains the majority of frontline players that featured against the British & Irish Lions.

Laulala’s call-up comes in the absence of Charlie Faumuina, who is plying his trade overseas.

All Blacks squad:
Forwards – Dane Coles, Nathan Harris, Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett, Owen Franks, Nepo Laulala, Joe Moody, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Luke Romano, Sam Whitelock, Sam Cane, Vaea Fifita, Jerome Kaino, Kieran Read, Ardie Savea, Liam Squire.
Backs – Tawera Kerr-Barlow, TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Lima Sopoaga, Ryan Crotty, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Jordie Barrett, Israel Dagg, Rieko Ioane, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Waisake Naholo, Ben Smith.

Boks still at risk out wide

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The injury-enforced absence of Warren Whiteley as well as the omission of Ruan Combrinck, Frans Steyn, and Lukhanyo Am could cost the Springboks dearly in the Rugby Championship, writes JON CARDINELLI for SARugbyMag

The 34-man Bok squad for the Rugby Championship was announced after the Super Rugby final on Saturday.  Much was made about the new faces in the squad. Not enough was made about those who didn’t make the cut.

The Boks hammered France 3-0 in the Test series played in June. The quality of the set-piece and breakdown performances was of a high standard. The finishing was good and overall the defence was accurate and aggressive.

That said, the decision to persist with an inexperienced back-three combination for the duration of the series was rightly questioned. The decision to favour players of modest dimensions (and only one with a kicking game) at the back was scrutinised, as was the individual defence of Raymond Rhule, who missed the most tackles across the series.

Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand will demand more of the Boks in the coming Rugby Championship. France came to South Africa on the back of a long and taxing northern hemisphere season. While they were outplayed by the Boks up front, they rarely sought to expose the inexperience of that back division with an accurate tactical performance. Indeed, they didn’t kick much at all.

Andries Coetzee, Rhule, and Courtnall Skosan will be marked men in the Rugby Championship. So too Dillyn Leyds, who was once again exposed in the recent Super Rugby quarter-final against the Chiefs.

Bulls fullback Warrick Gelant has been brought into the squad. One wonders why Combrinck, who featured prominently in the squad last year and has the bulk, the tactical kicking game, and the attacking strengths to be a success at Test level, was overlooked.

There’s even more cause for concern when one casts an eye over the midfield selections. Jan Serfontein was one of the standouts in the June series. Jesse Kriel had his moments. Allister Coetzee has missed an opportunity to strengthen the squad, though, by omitting Frans Steyn and Lukhanyo Am.

Damian de Allende and Francois Venter have had their issues on defence at both Super Rugby and Test level. One struggles to see how De Allende will offer more than Steyn, a World Cup winner with a proven defensive and kicking game. Rohan Janse van Rensburg must also be wondering what he did wrong, apart from suffering an injury that robbed him on a chance to play regularly in this year’s Super Rugby tournament.

It’s been said that Steyn needed a break after a long season in France. Surely it would have made more sense to rest Steyn for the three-Test series against France in June? Surely you would want a player like that available for the more demanding games against the Wallabies and the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship?

Am was one of the best South African players on show in the recent Super Rugby tournament. His physical presence at the breakdown, his excellent decision making on defence, as well as his accurate kicking game would be an asset to any team. This is the kind of player that Coetzee should be investing in with a view to the 2019 World Cup.

The decision to include Curwin Bosch in the Rugby Championship at this stage, especially as a flyhalf, is a risk. One would hope that Elton Jantjies and Handré Pollard remain fit over the course of the tournament so that the 20-year-old is not forced to start against the likes of the All Blacks. Going by his Super Rugby performances, Bosch may struggle to man that flyhalf channel on defence..

Perhaps it would have been better to ease Bosch into the set-up as a fullback. Perhaps Coetzee should have picked Bosch ahead of Gelant and then included someone like JP Pietersen or Combrinck to lend the back division a more balanced and experienced look.

Including Steyn in the squad would have given the Boks a further flyhalf option. Steyn was listed as the official back-up to Jantjies in the recent series against France.

Coetzee said that the Boks will miss Whiteley, who led the team in the first two games against France before succumbing to a serious injury. Whiteley is likely to miss the Rugby Championship. The Boks will also be without Duane Vermeulen, who is also battling his own injury.

Dan du Preez has been brought into the squad for the first time. The Sharks No 8 may be rushed straight into the starting side.

A look at the loose-forward group suggests that the Boks have no real alternative in that position, unless Dan’s twin brother, Jean-Luc, wears the No 8 jersey as he did in the third Test against France. Either way, the Boks will miss the likes of Whiteley and Vermeulen at the back of the lineout.

Thanks to

Many questions on Coetzee squad

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After the disappointment of the Lions not making it all the way to to lift the Super Rugby trophy yesterday more disappointment was installed for the fans.

Firstly Springbok coach Allister Coetzee named his Springbok Squad which saw a few surprises, more on that later, then we got the news that Lions and Springbok captain will be out for another six weeks and lastly they had to see their Currie Cup side lose badly against the Blue Bulls at Loftus.

Coetzee gave some uncapped players a call-up in Sharks Curwin Bosch, Dan Du Preez and Blue Bulls Warrick Gelant in his 34 man squad.

This is just my opinion but my problem is not so much the players he gave a change but the one’s that he left out.

Throughout this year we heard that Coetzee will pick players on form and give preference to players playing in South Africa.

Now the question…..Why no Combrinck, Kwagga Smith, Dryer, Ox Nche and Am?

Then we see under performing De Allende, Cassiem, Lood De Jager, Frans Malherb, Oupa Mohoje, Trevor Nyakane and Handre Pollard in the side.

If I can remember right Pollard must have no more than 3 game in total under his belt.

Not even God knows why Combrinck was left out by Coetzee and this will not sit nicely with fans.

Question marks will also be over Bosch inclusion so early in the Springbok setup, that he has talent we all know but we do not need another Gaffie du Toit here.

Bosch still have allot to learn and if he is only their to learn then why give a spot which could have gone to Combrinck to him?

Pollard inclusion is a total surprise and I have no clue why he could be included in a Springbok squad without playing for almost six months.

Why is it that we always take two steps forward with Boks and three steps back.

The Springbok squad for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship (in alphabetical order):

Forwards (19):
Uzair Cassiem (flank/No 8), Toyota Cheetahs – 1 cap, 5 points (1 try)
Lood de Jager (lock), Vodacom Bulls – 29 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
Dan du Preez (No 8), Cell C Sharks – uncapped
Jean-Luc du Preez (loose forward), Cell C Sharks – 4 caps, 0 points
Pieter-Steph du Toit (lock), DHL Stormers – 23 caps, 15 points (3 tries)
Eben Etzebeth (lock), DHL Stormers – 57 caps, 15 points (3 tries)
Lizo Gqoboka (prop), Vodacom Bulls – uncapped
Steven Kitshoff (prop), DHL Stormers – 13 caps, 0 points
Siya Kolisi (flank), DHL Stormers – 19 caps, 5 points (1 try)
Jaco Kriel (loose forward), Emirates Lions/Kubota Spears (Jap) – 8 caps, 0 points
Frans Malherbe (prop), DHL Stormers – 17 caps, 0 points
Malcolm Marx (hooker), Emirates Lions – 5 caps, 5 points (1 try)
Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), DHL Stormers – 8 caps; 0 points
Oupa Mohoje (loose forward), Toyota Cheetahs – 17 tests, 0 points
Franco Mostert (lock), Emirates Lions/Ricoh Black Rams (Jap) – 10 caps, 0 points
Tendai Mtawarira (prop), Cell C Sharks – 90 caps, 10 points (2 tries)
Trevor Nyakane (prop), Vodacom Bulls – 28 – 5 points (1 try)
Coenie Oosthuizen (prop), Cell C Sharks – 26 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
Chiliboy Ralepelle (hooker), Cell C Sharks – 22 caps, 5 points (1 try)

Backs (15):
Curwin Bosch (flyhalf), Cell C Sharks – uncapped
Andries Coetzee (fullback), Emirates Lions – 3 caps, 0 points
Ross Cronje (scrumhalf), Emirates Lions – 2 caps, 5 points (1 try)
Damian de Allende (centre), DHL Stormers – 22 Caps, 15 points (3 tries)
Warrick Gelant (fullback), Vodacom Bulls – uncapped
Francois Hougaard (scrumhalf), Worcester (England) – 42 caps, 25 points (5 tries)
Elton Jantjies (flyhalf), Emirates Lions/NTT Shining Arcs (Jap) – 14 caps, 130 points (1 try, 22 conversions, 27 penalties)
Jesse Kriel (centre), Vodacom Bulls – 19 caps, 25 points (5 tries)
Dillyn Leyds (utility back), DHL Stormers – 3 caps, 0 points
Rudy Paige (scrumhalf), Vodacom Bulls – 8 caps, 5 points (1 try)
Handré Pollard (flyhalf), Vodacom Bulls – 20 caps, 188 points (2 tries, 29 con, 37 pen, 3 dropkicks)
Raymond Rhule (wing), Toyota Cheetahs – 3 caps 0 points
Jan Serfontein (centre), Vodacom Bulls – 29 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
Courtnall Skosan (wing), Emirates Lions – 3 caps 0 pints
Francois Venter (centre), Toyota Cheetahs – 3 caps, 0 points

Bosch make Bok Sqaud

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Promising young flyhalf Curwin Bosch, No 8 Dan du Preez and fullback Warrick Gelant were on Saturday included in the 34-man Springbok squad for the start of the 2017 Rugby Championship campaign.

The 22-year old Du Preez is the twin brother of Springbok loose forward Jean-Luc du Preez.

Springbok coach, Allister Coetzee, said he is pleased with the largely unchanged squad, which allows for greater continuity and consistency.

“Our players must be well-conditioned, match-fit and also be able to make good on-field decisions. We are also looking for continuity, experience and combinations – all elements which I believe are reflected in the current squad selection,” said Coetzee.

The Springbok group gets together on Tuesday, 8 August in Port Elizabeth to start their preparations for the 2017 campaign, which kicks off their on 19 August against Argentina at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Coetzee furthermore praised the good form of the Bok players during the French series and the Vodacom Super Rugby competition, which have allowed him to keep squad changes to a minimum.
“All of the Springboks who were in action in the June Tests and the latter part of the Vodacom Super Rugby campaign played very well and I have no doubt that they will bring that form with them when we assemble,” explained Coetzee.

“Some players have initially missed out on selection due to various reasons, but this squad is not cast in stone and changes can be made as we progress through the tournament.

“I always said it must be difficult for a player to force himself into the squad, and I am really pleased that through their performances they have again earned selection to the Springbok group.”

The uncapped trio of Bosch, Du Preez and Gelant, as well as experienced prop Trevor Nyakane, flanker Uzair Cassiem and flyhalf Handré Pollard are the only players in the squad that were not part of the Springboks’ 3-0 Test series win over France in June.

Coetzee emphasised that the Castle Lager Rugby Championship will pose a different challenge to the Boks over the next two months.

“The next six contests will be completely different to what we faced against France in June,” said the Bok coach.

“ We will have to work even harder to meet these tough challenges against the Pumas, Wallabies and All Blacks. Thorough preparation is once again crucial to our campaign and I am therefore pleased that we could manage to work with some of the players in Stellenbosch last week as those players would have been out of action for almost a month by the time we assemble in Port Elizabeth.”

Gelant impressed for the SA ‘A’ team against the French Barbarians in June and has been performing consistently well for the Vodacom Bulls this year, especially during the latter part of Vodacom Super Rugby. The 20-year old Bosch had a similar good season with the Cell C Sharks and the Junior Springboks at the World Rugby Under-20 Championship.

“Warrick is a good attacking player that finishes his try scoring opportunities well. Curwin has shown a lot of promise when playing fullback and flyhalf, and has exceptional kicking abilities, while Dan has performed consistently well for the Cell C Sharks. We will introduce them to the Springbok environment and I am looking forward to working with all three,” said Coetzee.

The inclusion of Pollard is to monitor his rehabilitation and conditioning first hand and also to assess his return to play protocol. The 23-year-old flyhalf has earned 20 Boks caps already but he missed the entire 2016 season because of a knee injury and saw limited Vodacom Super Rugby action this year because of his ankle injury. He attended the camp in Stellenbosch, where he took part in some training sessions and also did extra rehabilitation and fitness exercises under the supervision of the Springbok medical and conditioning team.

No 8 Warren Whiteley was withdrawn because of his groin injury, which will most likely keep him out of action for six more weeks. Whiteley captained the Boks in the first two Test against France and missed the final match in Johannesburg because of his groin problem, which also forced him to miss the rest of the Vodacom Super Rugby campaign.

“Warren’s absence is a massive blow for the Springboks and for him personally.  I really feel for him but I am sure he will get back stronger. It gives an opportunity for another player now and I am sure there will be very strong competition for the No 8 jersey.”

Meanwhile, experienced prop Tendai Mtawarira is recovering from a neck injury sustained in June. He will however join the Bok squad in Port Elizabeth, where his return to play will be closely monitored and a call on his availability for selection will be made during the course of the two weeks.

“We have planned for all eventualities replacements will only be called upon when needed,” Coetzee emphasised.

According to Coetzee, Nyakane has the ability to cover both sides of the scrum, which he has done at Test match level already and is a bonus when touring with a smaller squad.

“Trevor has worked hard and has met conditioning targets which were set before the June series,” explained Coetzee.

Frans Steyn was not considered for selection at this time as a decision was made that it was in the player’s best interest to have a good pre-season following a prolonged layoff since June and a gruelling European season.

The Bok coach also praised the Emirates Lions for reaching the Vodacom Super Rugby Final and wished their coach Johann Ackermann well with the next chapter in his coaching career. “He can be proud of his legacy at the Emirates Lions,” said Coetzee. “However, I am looking forward to continue with the Boks’ preparation when all the players report for duty on Tuesday.”

The Springbok squad for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship (in alphabetical order):

Forwards (19):
Uzair Cassiem (flank/No 8), Toyota Cheetahs – 1 cap, 5 points (1 try)
Lood de Jager (lock), Vodacom Bulls – 29 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
Dan du Preez (No 8), Cell C Sharks – uncapped
Jean-Luc du Preez (loose forward), Cell C Sharks – 4 caps, 0 points
Pieter-Steph du Toit (lock), DHL Stormers – 23 caps, 15 points (3 tries)
Eben Etzebeth (lock), DHL Stormers – 57 caps, 15 points (3 tries)
Lizo Gqoboka (prop), Vodacom Bulls – uncapped
Steven Kitshoff (prop), DHL Stormers – 13 caps, 0 points
Siya Kolisi (flank), DHL Stormers – 19 caps, 5 points (1 try)
Jaco Kriel (loose forward), Emirates Lions/Kubota Spears (Jap) – 8 caps, 0 points
Frans Malherbe (prop), DHL Stormers – 17 caps, 0 points
Malcolm Marx (hooker), Emirates Lions – 5 caps, 5 points (1 try)
Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), DHL Stormers – 8 caps; 0 points
Oupa Mohoje (loose forward), Toyota Cheetahs – 17 tests, 0 points
Franco Mostert (lock), Emirates Lions/Ricoh Black Rams (Jap) – 10 caps, 0 points
Tendai Mtawarira (prop), Cell C Sharks – 90 caps, 10 points (2 tries)
Trevor Nyakane (prop), Vodacom Bulls – 28 – 5 points (1 try)
Coenie Oosthuizen (prop), Cell C Sharks – 26 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
Chiliboy Ralepelle (hooker), Cell C Sharks – 22 caps, 5 points (1 try)

Backs (15):
Curwin Bosch (flyhalf), Cell C Sharks – uncapped
Andries Coetzee (fullback), Emirates Lions – 3 caps, 0 points
Ross Cronje (scrumhalf), Emirates Lions – 2 caps, 5 points (1 try)
Damian de Allende (centre), DHL Stormers – 22 Caps, 15 points (3 tries)
Warrick Gelant (fullback), Vodacom Bulls – uncapped
Francois Hougaard (scrumhalf), Worcester (England) – 42 caps, 25 points (5 tries)
Elton Jantjies (flyhalf), Emirates Lions/NTT Shining Arcs (Jap) – 14 caps, 130 points (1 try, 22 conversions, 27 penalties)
Jesse Kriel (centre), Vodacom Bulls – 19 caps, 25 points (5 tries)
Dillyn Leyds (utility back), DHL Stormers – 3 caps, 0 points
Rudy Paige (scrumhalf), Vodacom Bulls – 8 caps, 5 points (1 try)
Handré Pollard (flyhalf), Vodacom Bulls – 20 caps, 188 points (2 tries, 29 con, 37 pen, 3 dropkicks)
Raymond Rhule (wing), Toyota Cheetahs – 3 caps 0 points
Jan Serfontein (centre), Vodacom Bulls – 29 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
Courtnall Skosan (wing), Emirates Lions – 3 caps 0 pints
Francois Venter (centre), Toyota Cheetahs – 3 caps, 0 points

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