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Nelson Mandela Legacy Cup Launched

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The Springboks and Blue Label Telecoms Proteas will go head-to-head in the Nelson Mandela Legacy Cup T20 match at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium on 5 December 2014.

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The South African Rugby Union (SARU) and Cricket South Africa (CSA) will partner with the Nelson Mandela Foundation to bring fans another unique encounter on the first anniversary of the passing away of our beloved former President, Nelson Mandela.

Various fundraising initiatives will take place on the day with proceeds going to the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

“The passing of Madiba affected all South Africans and left us with a duty to continue his legacy,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux.

“He worked tirelessly to bring people together from different communities and, in a small way, this sporting celebration of his contribution to South Africa does that in a symbolic way. The fact that a donation will be made to his Foundation is our contribution to continuing that work.

“The Springboks really enjoyed last year’s encounter and I know that meetings of the selectors have already taken place.”

CSA Chief Executive, Haroon Lorgat, said: “We all remember the excitement at last year’s match between the Proteas and Springboks in Cape Town when a sell-out crowd enjoyed the rivalry between these two national teams.

“With this match eagerly anticipated by sports fans around the country, we are expecting the same enjoyment from fans who will make their way to the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium.

“With two of our best national sports teams meeting each other, I can’t think of a better way to honour one of the world’s greatest leaders. This will be another memorable day for all South Africans,” added Lorgat.

The Springbok and Proteas Team Management have agreed to field their best available players for the match.

Sello Hatang, Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, looked forward to the match and said:  “Nelson Mandela’s legacy has created the opportunity for us to achieve a bright future. This is a journey that is our collective responsibility as active citizens and it cannot be achieved without valued partners such as CSA , SARU and the Gauteng Cricket Board. The pride, passion and tradition of sport is what connects us as individuals, families, communities and nations.

“Madiba aptly said: ‘What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.’ ”

“The inaugural match at Newlands last year was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone who participated and I have no doubt that this year’s match will be no different, if not better,” Proteas T20 captain, Faf du Plessis said. “The Boks were no mugs with both bat and ball and will definitely bring their A game. I think we’re in for a competitive and entertaining game of cricket.  Both teams will be out to claim some bragging rights, but the bigger picture lies in honouring Madiba’s legacy; this will be a celebration of the invaluable contributions he has made to South Africa.”

Tickets for the match will go on sale on Tuesday, 11 November 2014. Tickets are available from www.ticketpros.co.za  and range from R90-R200.

Chief Executive of the Gauteng Cricket Board, Greg Fredericks, commented: “As the GCB, we consider this a great honour and look forward to hosting this event at the Bull Ring. We received the tiding of Madiba’s passing after hosting the Proteas at the stadium last year and this match is a fitting tribute for a man that saw the power that sport had in bringing our nation together.”

Fans will also be entertained on the day by top local artists. A signing session with both teams will also take place as well as the popular Hit a Six competition.

 

RIP Tinus Linee

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Tinus Linee passed away on Monday morning after losing his battle with motor neuron disease.

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Linee was diagnosed with MND in April last year and his deteriorating health resulted in him having financial difficulties. He auctioned off his Springbok and Western Province blazers in an attempt to cover his medical costs, while the WPRFU also helped him to raise funds.

Linee played nine midweek matches for the Boks on their 1993 and 1994 end-of-year tours, scoring two tries.

He represented Western Province from 1992 to 2001 and the Stormers in 1996 and 1999.

The news of Linee’s death was broken by fellow MND sufferer Joost van der Westhuizen, who tweeted: ‘Sad day for Rugby in SA. Just received news of the passing of a rugby legend and MND Warrior Tinus Linee RIP my friend.’

The former Springbok scrumhalf was diagnosed with MND in May 2011.

Playing career

Provincial

Linee made his debut for Western Province in 1992 and played 112 games for the province until his retirement in 2001. Renowned as a hard-hitting centre he was a regular starter in the centres for Western Province. In 2001, current Springbok captain Jean de Villiers made his Western Province debut alongside Tinus Linee.[2] On 14 October 1995 Linee played in his first Currie Cup final, against the Natal Sharks at Kings Park Stadium in Durban. Linee played alongside Springbok and Western Province legends such as Pieter Rossouw, Chester Williams, Justin Swart, Joel Stransky and Tiaan Strauss as well as French legend Laurent Cabannes. The Sharks won the game 25-17.[3] Linee was also part of the Western Province squad when they won Currie Cup titles in 1997, 2000 and 2001.

Super Rugby

In 1996 Tinus Linee was part of the Western Province team that competed in the Super 12. Western Province failed to qualify for the 1997 Super 12 season and Linee was not part of the squad when the Stormers played in the 1998 Super 12 season. In 1999, he returned to the Cape Town based Super Rugby team’s squad, but failed to make the Stormers’ Super Rugby squads in 2000 and 2001.

South Africa

In 1993 Linee was picked for the Springboks on their tour to Australia. He made his debut for the Springboks in a tour match against Victoria in Melbourne on 21 July 1993. At the time, Heinrich Füls and Pieter Muller were the preferred centres for the test matches, so Linee only played in tour games and failed to make the team for the test matches.[4]

In 1994 Linee again made the Springbok squad for both the Argentinean tour to South Africa as well as the Springbok tour to Wales, Scotland and Ireland. He again did not feature in any of the test matches and on 22 November 1994, he played his last tour match for the Springboks against Pontypridd in Pontypridd, Wales.[5]

Linee was part of the South Africa A squad that traveled to the UK in 1996.

Newsflash (22Oct)

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All the news, all around the world

 

breaking-news-pic-1

Michael Cheika the new Australian Head Coach

Michael Cheika has accepted a three-year offer to take on the Wallabies coaching job left vacant by the resignation of Ewen McKenzie. A source close to Cheika confirmed he would take up the deal and was keen to bring in Stephen Larkham as an assistant coach and Michael Foley to work with the forwards.

A smiling Cheika, dressed in a Waratahs tracksuit top and black jeans, confirmed the offer when he spoke to the media out the front of Waratahs headquarters at Moore Park. “It’s  a pretty humbling experience to be asked to be involved in something like that, but we’ll see what happens,” Cheika  said….read more hereIncoming: Michael Cheika.

 

Paul Treu in the middle of Kenya doping scandal

Steroids have been found in supplements given to players on Kenya’s fast-improving rugby sevens team, according to a report that calls for disciplinary proceedings against head coach Paul Treu and five members of his staff.

The report by a task force set up by the government to investigate allegations of doping in Kenyan sport says there are “strong suggestions” that Treu of South Africa and his assistants have violated anti-doping rules after introducing the supplements to players…read more here

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Ruggaworld’s Newsflash

Tuesday 21 October 2014


Australia

  • Robbie Deans has backed Waratahs coach Michael Cheika to be the best option for the Wallabies’ hotseat, saying today he has the singlemindedness required to bind a disparate squad together and even win next year’s World Cup. Former Australia coach Deans, speaking only days after his successor Ewen McKenzie resigned as Australia coach following the fallout from the Kurtley Beale text scandal, said Cheika, a hard-nosed former No8, might have to change his ways slightly, but he had the ability to handle what appears to be one of the toughest jobs in rugby.

 

  • Happy Birthday to Rugby Hall of Fame and Australian great David Campese, David is turning 52 todaycampese-farr-jones
  • Despite speculation Larkham would tour as an Assistant Coach, his prior commitment to both the Brumbies and the ACT community will see him remain in Canberra during the next few months. “While I was honoured to be considered, I felt like taking five weeks out of my first solo preparation for a Super Rugby season wouldn’t be fair on the Brumbies, the local community or my family,” said Larkham…..read more here

 

 


 

South Africa

  • Former Springbok and Golden Lions hooker James Dalton believes the Golden Lions superior scrum will lay the foundation for a victory in the Absa Currie Cup against Western Province at Newlands on Saturday. “I am living in Cape Town now and when people hear this, they are perhaps going to throw stones and tins at me, but I believe it is going to be a Lions victory,” Dalton quipped in an exclusive interview on Monday.

 

  • South Africa began a week of intense preparation for their tour to Europe but captain Jean de Villiers said on Monday they already had an eye on next year’s World Cup. “We have only eight games left before the World Cup starts which is not a lot for whatever you want to work on,” he told reporters after the first day of a week-long training camp in the spiritual home of Springbok rugby in the Cape Winelands.

 

  • Jean de Villiers isn’t assuming that because South Africa defeated New Zealand at Ellis Park that they’re the finished article. The Boks are currently in Stellenbosch for a training camp ahead of the November Tests, when they will face Ireland, England, Italy and Wales in the space of four weeks. De Villiers knows his squad are in a race against time to fine-tune certain aspects of their game, with the captain adding that all areas can be improved. Counting down the matches to next year’s Rugby World Cup is inevitable with less than a year to go, when South Africa will be paired with Samoa, Scotland, USA and Japan….read more here….

  • Happy Birthday to one of South African’s great Morne Du Plessis who turns 65 today. Morne played 22 test for South Africa from 1971 to 1980. Morné du Plessis was one of South Africa’s greatest rugby players and leaders, and in both respects he followed in his father’s footsteps. Du Plessis senior led the Springboks to a four-nil whitewash of the much-vaunted All Blacks in 1949, and 37 years later Du Plessis junior led the ‘Boks to a three-one series triumph over New Zealand. They are the only father-son combination in Springbok history to captain the team.MorneDuPlessis

 

  • Tighthead prop Marcel van der Merwe has been ruled out of the end-of-year-tour to Europe with a knee injury.

 

  • Cheetahs scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius is the latest South African players added to the Barbarians squad to play Australia next month. Other South Africans already included in the squad are Marnitz Boshoff, Matt Stevens, CJ Van der Linde, Coenie Oosthuizen, Heinrich Brussow, Thomas du Toit, Jacques Botes and Michael Rhodes.

 

  • Claims by a former employee that the Sharks have bigger tax headaches than those which led to her dismissal have no basis, according to the chairman of the KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union, Stephen Saad. The Sunday Tribune reported that Leigh Heard, the Durban-based union’s former chief operations officer, had been fired for a host of misdemeanours following the outcome of a recent disciplinary hearing. It said that a 47-page report, which was leaked to them over the past week, detailed a litany of apparent unethical financial practices spanning more than a decade….read more here

New Zeeland

  • Eleven new caps have been named in the Maori All Blacks squad to take on Japan next month while the scheduled match in Singapore has been axed due to pitch issues. The team will be captained by Chiefs midfield back Charlie Ngatai with Tasman loose forward Shane Christie as vice-captain.

 

  • New Zealand’s last-gasp win over Australia in Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup match in Brisbane saw them improve their position at the top of the IRB world rankings by 0.55 of a point. According to the IRB website, the All Blacks are now on 93.15 points – 2.74 more than nearest rivals South Africa, with England third and Australia fourth.

IRB rankings:

1. New Zealand 93.15

2. South Africa 90.41
3. England 85.68
4. Australia 84.53
5. Ireland 83.44
6. Wales 80.70
7. France 80.01
8. Scotland 77.75
9. Samoa 76.35
10. Argentina 75.97


Wales

  • Wales and Lions pair Adam Jones and James Hook are major casualties in Warren Gatland’s squad for the November Tests. Uncapped prop Nicky Smith (Ospreys) is the only potential debutant named in the 34-man group group to face Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa. Other notable absentees from the squad include Rhys Patchell and Ian Evans….read more here


France

  • Toulon second row Jocelino Suta has revealed that he has signed a contract extension with the French and European champions. Fijian-born Suta revealed that he had signed a three-year contract extension with the club on Twitter. “I’m proud and happy to have extended my contract for three more years. Toulon today, Toulon always.”

 

  • The first group of players selected by the French Barbarians to play Namibia have been named, including Jules Plisson and James O’Connor. The invitational side will face the touring African country on November 14. A number of potential players for les Bleus have therefore been selected, including Plisson, Jean-Charles Orioli, Vincent Debaty, Julien Le Devedec and Benoît Paillaugue. The rest of the squad will be announced on October 29

England

  • England centre Manu Tuilagi will miss England’s November Test match series because of a groin injury, his club Leicester announced on Tuesday. Tuilagi came off after 15 minutes of Saturday’s 25-18 Champions Cup victory over Ulster and will now miss the games against New Zealand, South Africa, Samoa and Australia. “I’d be very surprised if Manu plays any part in the autumn. He’ll clearly be missing for a few weeks as a minimum,” Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill said.

 

 

 

Newsflash (21OCT)

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All the news, all around the world

 

breaking-news-pic-1

Michael Cheika has accepted a three-year offer to take on the Wallabies coaching job left vacant by the resignation of Ewen McKenzie. A source close to Cheika confirmed he would take up the deal and was keen to bring in Stephen Larkham as an assistant coach and Michael Foley to work with the forwards.

A smiling Cheika, dressed in a Waratahs tracksuit top and black jeans, confirmed the offer when he spoke to the media out the front of Waratahs headquarters at Moore Park. “It’s  a pretty humbling experience to be asked to be involved in something like that, but we’ll see what happens,” Cheika  said….read more hereIncoming: Michael Cheika.

All is set for scrumhalf Rory Kockott to make his dream come true and play international rugby as he was called into the France squad to face Fiji, Australia and Argentina next month after the South African qualified to play for his adopted nation through residency rules, the French federation said on Sunday…..read more here

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Lengthy lay-off for Brits

The Springboks won’t be able to call on the services of hooker Schalk Brits during their year-end tour to Europe next month. Brits sustained a knee ligament injury playing for his English club, Saracens, in their European Champions Cup game at home to Clermont Auvergne at the weekend.

“Schalk is due to have surgery tomorrow (Tuesday) and will then commence rehabilitation with the club’s medical staff,” Saracens’ Head of Medicine Joe Collins told the club’s official website.

Brits is not expected to return well into the New Year.

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Ruggaworld’s Newsflash

Monday 20 October 2014

**Scotland 

  • Scotland coach Vern Cotter named Edinburgh lock Grant Gilchrist as captain of a 33-man squad selected for the 2014 Autumn Tests. Cotter has sprung a surprise by leaving Saracens back-row, and former Scotland skipper Kelly Brown, out of his squad.


**England

  • Saracens winger David Strettle is both hopeful and realistic about his prospects of an England recall for the November Tests. “I feel I’m one of the best wings in England and have been playing consistently at this level for a number of seasons,” said Strettle. “So many wings come and go with England because Test rugby is such a bigger game that you have to have more of an all-round game.

Australia

  • Michael Cheika looks set to become the new Wallabies coach amid reports that he is in final negotiations with the ARU. NSW Waratahs coach Michael Cheika admits he is  edging closer to replacing Ewen McKenzie in charge of the Wallabies. ………read more here

 

  • Australian Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver has conceded his decision to make the Wallabies coach answerable only to the chief executive played a role in the crisis that ended with Ewen McKenzie’s stunning resignation in Brisbane on Saturday night.

New Zeeland

  • Sonny Bill Williams and Dan Carter have been recalled by Steve Hansen for New Zealand’s European tour this November…….read more here

 

  • Bledisloe Cup match winner Colin Slade has been left out of the All Blacks’ 34-man squad to tour the USA and Europe. With the return of Dan Carter, and Beauden Barrett and Aaron Cruden taking up the other two first-five spots, Slade’s last action of the 2014 season will be kicking the match-winning conversion to beat Australia on Saturday night.

 


European Champions Cup

  • Leinster were forced to overturn a 12-point deficit to beat Wasps 25-20 in a nail-biting European Champions Cup clash at the RDS on Sunday. Darragh Fanning score two tries of his teams three tries as the home side came back from trailing 8-20 late in the first half to open their European campaign with a hard-fought win.

French Rugby

  • France coach Philippe Saint-André has named an updated 30-man squad for a three-day training camp starting next Sunday. Uncapped Toulouse flank Yacouba Camara and Bordeaux-Bègles fly-half Pierre Bernard are amongst the new faces. Virgile Bruni (Toulon), Alexandre Dumoulin (Racing) and Maxime Medard (Toulouse) have also been recalled to the group.

South African Rugby

  • In the aftermath of their Currie Cup semi-final defeat to Western Province, Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has highlighted the positives they can take from the season. The Bulls season ended on a low note on Saturday when they were beaten 31-23 by their arch-rivals at Newlands. The men from Pretoria had gone into the game confident of causing an upset after they appeared to find momentum at the tail-end of the season.

 

  • Western Province are sweating over the availability of No 8 Nizaam Carr ahead of Saturday’s Currie Cup final against the Golden Lions at Newlands. Carr limped off with a hip injury in the 18th minute of last Saturday’s 31-23 semi-final win over the Blue Bulls. According to Die Burger, Carr underwent a scan on Sunday and the results came back positive.

 

  • Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann believes his team’s superior first-half performance and the impact his replacements had on the game resulted in their 50-20 semi-final victory over the Sharks at Ellis Park, Johannesburg, on Saturday. “When you are in a semi-final and you build up that kind of lead, it is always difficult to come back and we put a lot of faith in our bench to finish it off and that is exactly what happened,” Ackermann said.

 

  • Glenwood is proud to announce that the following 1st XV Rugby players will go on to play for the following teams:Kenny van Niekerk – Lions and UJ ,Percy Mngadi – Western Province, Koos Tredoux – Lions and UJ, Kevin du Randt – Lions and UJ, James Venter – Lions and UJ, McMillan Muller – Lions and UJ, Jaco Coetzee – Western Province, Kwazi Khanyile – Varsity College and Sharks Academy, Curtis Jonas – Lions an UJ, Philani Ngcobo – Leincster Tigers, Spamandla Ngcobo – SA 7s, Morné Joubert – Sharks and Sharks Academy

 

  • Coach Allister Coetzee told Die Burger he was pleased with Catrakilis’s performance. “Demetri was outstanding with his goal-kicking and that drop goal. His confidence levels are very high because he knows he is the first-choice flyhalf.”

 

  • Craig Joubert will take charge of the Absa Currie Cup final between DHL Western Province and the Xerox Golden Lions at DHL Newlands on Saturday, with Jaco Peyper and Pro Legoete named as the assistant referees…. read more here….

 

 

 

Interview with Jacques Potgieter

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Simon Hill from Ballz Radio talked to Springbok and Waratahs player, Jacques Potgieter all the way from Japan where he is representing the Japanese Top League side, Fukuoka Sanix Blues.

Jacques Potgieter had an unbelievable season with the Super Rugby Champions, the Waratahs and has made Japan and Sydney his home for now.

 

Jacques on Playing for Waratahs
Jacques on Playing for Waratahs

 

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika
Jacques on Waratahs coach Michael Cheika
Jacques on his team mates and living in Sydney
Jacques on his team mates fans and living in Sydney

 

Honey Badger spills the beans

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Moving to Japan for any rugby player will be a huge adjustment and more so for the Honey Badger(Nick Cummins), ESPNscrum did an exclusive with one of the most loved rugby players in the world.

Moving to Japan has not been without its challenges for Nick Cummins; ordering food has proved an ordeal. “I’m not so bad now compared to when I first turned up,” he told ESPN. “I was bloody flapping my wings to order some chicken and I was doing all sorts of things. I don’t want to go through how I ordered egg. That was a whole different story. They look at you like someone had asked them to clean the toilet. I will eventually get there.”

Then there is the issue of navigating Fukuoka by bicycle and the odd rented car. “I’ve been exploring. Each time we get a day off I hire a car and drive north or south and suss out some fishing spots. So I’ve been researching where I can get a boat and where I can launch it. There are a lot of rules over here so I need to make sure I’m covered in that regard. Other than that, I’ve been trying to learn the language and get to know town.”

Had you told the 10-year-old Cummins he would later in life be a Wallaby and be playing in Japan he would have laughed at the suggestion – “I’d have told them I wanted whatever they were having.”

Growing up in Logan City, the younger Cummins had three avenues in life. He was a promising rugby player so that was one option while the others would have seen him either join the army or going down the mine. He decided two years of mining may have seen him get comfortable so he gave rugby a go first. Now, as he sits talking in his apartment in Fukuoka, he is one of the game’s adored individuals and recognised as ‘The Honey Badger’.

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Tucking into some local cuisine © Nick Cummins

He first came across the creature watching Animal Planet and met one in South Africa. “You don’t give yourself a nickname unless you’re bloody struggling,” he says of his moniker. “I’m pretty fascinated by the natural world and I came across this thing and thought, that’s the sort of mindset you should approach rugby in, you don’t back him up against the wall. You’ll have nothing to lose and you’ll get your best results from it. So the boys started calling me it, it wasn’t self-named.”

‘The boys’ are his former team-mates at the Western Force. He is perhaps one of the most Australian individuals you will meet so it seemed inconceivable he would leave his cosy shores for a foreign adventure, especially with the World Cup a year away. But, as it came to light, the move to the Coca-Cola West Sparks, which saw him omitted from the Wallabies mix, would help him support his family – his father, who is battling prostate cancer, heads up Cummins and his seven siblings.

“Playing for your country is an awesome thing and a great feeling so it was a tough call. Everyone has their own mission in life and what they’ve got to do. You can’t knock them for it. There’s always a lot going in people’s lives. I’ve had a good run, a good stint and I’m grateful for that. You never say never. There’s always a chance to do things in the future just so long as you don’t hear any fat ladies.”

Since his move to Japan after the 2014 Super Rugby season, he has played four games for his new side. He is yet to “bag any meat” but has enjoyed running out alongside his new team-mates. “They’re funny little buggers, but the guys are legit.”

You can imagine Japan is not really too sure what to make of Cummins. They welcomed him in a magazine saying: ‘g’day Honey Budger!’ “Every bastard over here stares at you and looks at you up and down, trying to figure out what the hell you are,” Cummins said. “They are trying to figure out the whole ‘Honey Badger’ name and just the other day this bloke came up to me and said ‘bloody oph’ instead of ‘bloody oath’. When they speak in the Aussie accent it is funny. I don’t know if they know what a honey badger actually is, they probably think it’s my actual name.”

There has been one of his side’s supporters who has donned the familiar blonde wig and tape. When Cummins bid farewell to Perth, there was an abundance of curly blonde wigs in the crowd. They are now an expected feature of any match in which he plays but it was not the case a few years ago. The explosion of the Cummins lookalikes came to light in 2011. “I first of all thought ‘what the hell is wrong with that bastard’ then I realised, Jesus, they were being me.”

Adulation, impersonators and adoration is not something he sought. His family have always kept him grounded – “it is strange because I get called a bloody Sheila by my family” – and while his Pat Cash-esque appearance has drawn inevitable clones, a similar level of attention is paid to his wonderful vernacular. Any Cummins post-match interview will include a unique simile potentially involving a “one-armed bricklayer in Baghdad” or the “boys digging in like they were in Gallipoli” but it is not a charade from Cummins.

“It’s just a natural thing but people seem to be fascinated by it which worried me a bit. I felt a bit saddened that it became such a thing. It was sad because it must be dying out in Australia. It is sad it is a rare thing to hear that sort of chat. It just rattles off the tongue. Growing up through childhood it was how things were explained. I watch an interview and see that I have said something without realising it.”

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At the local market © Nick Cummins 

The Japanese television crews are yet to understand the Cummins dialect. “You’ve got your interpreter there and you can translate it all you want but they won’t understand it even if you do say it. The interviewer and interpreter kind of look at each other so I ask them ‘are we all done?’ They nod. ‘Righto, beauty’ and you are out of there.”

Come November 1 he will be in a more familiar clime. He will be part of the Barbarians squad who are taking on the Wallabies at Twickenham, the ground where he scored his first try for Australia. Part of the plans for the game are to have a record number of Honey Badger impersonators in the crowd. “It’ll be great to be back at Twickenham where I got my first meatie and it’ll be nice to run out against the boys and I’m sure there’ll be some banter and some carry on. I think it’d be outstanding if people dressed up. I’ll be over the fence, having a yarn and speak to as many as I can. If I see them make the effort then they bloody deserve a good yarn and a couple of frothies.”

As for facing his old team-mates, Cummins will embrace the situation. “The preparation week might be different but what a great experience to be on both sides of the pitch.”

That is just one of a number of events on Cummins’ horizon. There are hopes he will be loaned back to the Western Force for next season’s Super Rugby campaign but in the meantime he will continue to settle in to the Japanese lifestyle. The flapping of wings to order chicken will occur with less regularity as he becomes accustomed to the culture and language but he will still remain the wonderfully unique Honey Badger.

It seemed fitting to end on whether Cummins had any regrets over the move, he always appears to be a jovial figure. When you swap a familiar home for an adventure, the reality of what you are undertaking only really hits home when you are sitting alone in your “new high-rise shoebox” in an unfamiliar environment.

Surprisingly, he said there was one thing he regretted but of course the answer catches you off guard. “I didn’t bring the Shimano fishing reel I wanted to but I’m sure I can get it sent over.”

Read more at http://www.espnscrum.com/australia/rugby/story/243451.html#fs6oYdI2diAxP1qd.99

 

The gentleman’s game

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Rugby may be a hooligan’s game but the adage of the gentleman who play it has never been truer than after this weekend – especially in comparison to ‘that other sport.’  By: Darryn Pollock from Rugby365

springboks-jean-de-villiers-all-blacks-richie-mccaw--photosport

The rivalry between the All Blacks and the Springboks is one steeped in history, festooned with emotion and draped in glory. It is an occasion that all 46 players want to win, nay all 52.98 million South Africans and 4.47 million New Zealanders desperately want to win.

During the build-up week of such a momentous occasion it would be expected that emotions would rise and perhaps even tempers would flair. This coming together of two proud nations that was described in a message to the Springboks by Bombardier Boy Louw of the Sixth Division in 1949 thusly: ‘When South Africa plays New Zealand, consider your country at war.’

In these wars, there is blood, there is ferocity but there is no bitterness or sourness or even trivial bickering – that would be unbecoming of the spectacle. It was put best recently by Paul Dobson on this website: “… But it is war without hatred and when it is over the combatants are friends again, shaking hands, smiling and looking forward to a beer.”

Cast your mind back to the game between The All Blacks and the Springboks in Wellington. Jean de Villiers, a man who will go down in history as a humble and skilled player, was called up by the victorious captain Richie McCaw on the occasion of his 100th Test for his country, to accept a small token from the New Zealand team.

It did not stop there, Bryan Habana, another losing centurion (this time against Australia a week before), was also called up by the enemy captain to receive a similar ‘token’.

It is clear that during the 80 minutes on the field there is no love lost between the players, but prior to the game, and afterwards, there is the utmost respect and friendship between these titans. It does not stop with the infantry, the generals of these great nations have an incredible amount admiration and respect for each other.

Steve Hansen, the man in charge of the All Blacks, said ahead of the Test against South Africa in Wellington: “I myself have a huge amount of respect for their coach [Heyneke Meyer]. I think he’s a good man and a good coach.”

Meyer has extended a similar olive branch to his rival in times of peace with Hansen enjoying a Braai (barbecue) at Meyer’s house last year during the Rugby Championship.

“We had a barbecue… and if we were in Christchurch we’d be doing the same there. Probably not a barbecue, but we’d have a meal together and we do speak and, like I said, I’ve got a lot of respect for South African people,” Hansen added.

After the Springboks inflicted what must have been a hammer blow to the All Blacks by smashing their 22-match unbeaten streak, (one short of the world record 23-match unbeaten streak from 1987-1991, by the All Blacks again) it could be expected that Hansen would be bitter and disappointed.

On the contrary, Hansen was full of heartfelt admiration for the Boks: “They showed a lot of composure and heart,” said the coach when describing the second-half comeback in Johannesburg.

Now, let us compare the rivalry between Chelsea and Arsenal in the English Premier League and what happened on the same weekend. Chelsea boss Jose’ Mourinho and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, it seems, were eager to ‘discuss’ each other’s playing style.

When researching the famous ‘gentelman’s game’ quote it was not straight forward in its origins, but it seems that the quote may have come about as early as the 1890s.

Chancellor of Cambridge University said, at an unknown date: “It is clear that one is a gentleman’s game played by hooligans; the other a hooligan’s game played by gentlemen.” (c.1890s)

Now, in 2014, it seems that this idiom has never been truer.

By: Darryn Pollock

@Darrynjack365

 

Rugby unites to explore post-career player issues

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SARPA
SARPA

The South African rugby community is backing ground-breaking new research that might one day help players in coping with the stresses and emotional pressure of a professional rugby career.

The South African Rugby Players’ Association (SARPA) and South African Rugby Legends’ Association (SARLA), in collaboration with the Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine (University of Cape Town), and backed by the South African Rugby Union (SARU), have written to more than 500 former players appealing for their help in new research.

The idea is to get a better understanding of the consequences of the physical and mental demands faced by players during their careers, and what effect that has on their health and wellness following retirement.

“Professional rugby is relatively new and we are now beginning to see the impacts on former players who have dedicated a decade or more of their life to the sport and then have to cope with the post-career stresses without any kind of road map or role models,” said Stefan Terblanche, CEO of SARLA.

“Players can be on top of the world one minute and then have their careers ended seconds later; coping with the emotional and physical demands that entails are complicated – alongside the issue to having to find a new way to make a living.

“We are appealing to all former players to respond to the emails they will be receiving from SARLA and SARPA to provide us with a database of information that will allow us to understand their retirement world and its challenges.

SARPA CEO, Piet Heymans, said: “The results of the study will help us to comprehend the challenges retired players are facing and to review and possibly adjust our assistance provided to players exiting professional rugby. We want to support and promote sustainable health and wellness among professional rugby players, both during and after their careers.

“We’d very much like ex-professional players’ to support this research as their participation will ensure future players are aware of and are prepared for the challenges when retiring from professional rugby .”

The online survey is being run by the Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine at UCT in conjunction with FIFPro, the world professional footballers’ association, who have run similar studies with soccer federations around the world.

The project is being supported by SARU’s medical department.

“We’re really at ground zero in our understanding of what challenges our rugby players face when they retire from playing,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU.

“Rugby only turned professional in 1996 so we’re only now reaching the point where the first crop of fully professional players are reaching their 40s and facing life with the legacy of a professional sports career.

“It’s a few years yet before any of them will be reaching pensionable age but we need to understand the wellness and health challenges along the way so that, in due course, the sport can take a holistic view of their management.”

The results of the survey will be analysed by sports scientists before being published and shared with former players and rugby bodies

Robbie Deans breaks silence

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Not quite a golden run: Robbie Deans. 

It is 14 months since an ashen-faced Robbie Deans sat in front of the media at ANZ Stadium after the Wallabies fell apart to lose the third British and Irish Lions Test 41-16. By Paul Cully of Sydney Morning Herald

It was a different Deans on the other end of the phone from Japan last week, where he coaches Panasonic Wild Knights – relaxed, self-deprecating, engaging, and forward-looking and reflective.

The latter has been something of a necessity, as he acquiesced – with some cajoling – to an autobiography, Robbie Deans: Red Black and Gold which is released on Thursday with strong forewords from Dan Carter and, significantly from an Australian perspective, David Pocock.

Deans ended his time with a series loss to Warren Gatland and the British and Irish Lions.Deans ended his time with a series loss to Warren Gatland and the British and Irish Lions. Photo: Getty Images

“He [Pocock] would have made a huge difference against the Lions,” Deans tells Fairfax Media of the injured openside flanker, whose immense physicality at the contact area and authority is clearly still being missed by the Wallabies.

“We kept him in camp [during the Lions series] because I didn’t want to hinder his leadership development. And even in management meetings it was clear he was speaking on a higher plane.”

Regrets? There may be a few. Examine the biography’s pages on the Australia years and there are reservations about a lack of support from the ARU when it counted, perceptions of empire building by former high performance unit boss David Nucifora, a lack of control over player contracting, conditioning issues at the Super franchises, finding out after the event that winger Henry Speight had been allowed to go back and play in New Zealand, and a stinging detail about a Wallabies team meeting the day after the Lions loss – that the Wallabies leadership’s greatest concern was getting their Cabcharges sorted for the trip home from the airport.

Memories:  Deans endured a sometimes fractured relationship with Quade Cooper.Memories: Deans endured a sometimes fractured relationship with Quade Cooper. Photo: Getty Images

We explore the latter, because Wallabies fans who read the book will have questions for Bill Pulver, the players, and the ARU, about the build-up to the deciding Lions Test.

As Deans has come to learn, he was going to be replaced regardless of the result. Distractions about his replacement would hurt the Wallabies, and their supporters, more than him.

“It was never about me,” Deans says. “It was important to the group. The players will probably never get another shot [at the Lions].”

But linger on the topic and Deans’ words become scarcer. He is wary of this territory, for it is axe-grinding country, no place for a man who has too much respect for the game to think it owes him anything – in fact, the opposite.

Even questioned on whether the Cabcharge incident was a criticism of the ARU or the Wallabies leaders, he subtly but importantly changes the language. “It was an observation. My antenna went up when I saw it”.

“It would be disappointing for me if that chapter [on the Lions] was portrayed as my time in Australia,” he says. “I worked with a lot of great people and we did a lot of good things. No.2 in the world for three years … that’s no mean feat.”

In other words all experiences, regardless of their hue, are something to learn from. He takes pride in seeing some of the players he picked early for the Wallabies pushing on.

Even a coming short trip to Australia to talk about the book with the Australian media, with whom relations haven’t always been smooth, produces a sanguine response. “It’s all good. I have been privileged”.

And he has. Japanese culture, and even food, is broadening his horizons, (“But the weight is maintaining,” he says happily) and one daughter has just started at Yale.

This coaching lark has been good to him. But the desire to coach at the highest level still burns inside him, evident when enthusiastically discussing the subject that has always meant most to him – players, and the appreciation of players.

On Quade Cooper: “For the first time since his knee injury, he was playing with spontaneity [on last year’s spring tour]. He wasn’t thinking about what he could or couldn’t do.”

On new All Blacks midfielder Malakai Fekitoa: “He’s a fantastic talent. And the All Blacks have handled him really well by lowering expectations. Compare to that Australia, where [talking players up] would create a problem.”

As for All Black five-eighth Aaron Cruden’s recent slip-up on the demon drink, it was proof that coaches can’t hold players’ hands for 24 hours a day. “And it’s the same with playing,” Deans says. “We can help them but we can’t do it for them.”

There was a period after his dismissal when Deans was grateful for the chance to switch off. He describes driving down with friends from Queenstown to Dunedin for the third Bledisloe Test last year, uncertain where his emotions would take him.

“But it was fantastic,” he says. “The public were great, and it was an open, expansive game. But when it was over, I could just change the remote and plan the next week.”

But there is an itch to be at the elite level that still needs scratching. For any New Zealander that of course means the All Blacks.

“That will never go away,” Deans says. “I would do it all again. And I’m a better coach for it.”

Frans Steyn on his shock Bok exit – EWN

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Former Springbok centre Frans Steyn has spoken out for the first time since he controversially withdrew himself from the national team just days before a test against Wales, saying he wouldn’t “want the last six months of his life over again” as a result of the “fallout” between him and the South African Rugby Union (Saru).

Photo: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images
Photo: Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images

In an exclusive interview with EWN Sport, Steyn also says that he’s “made peace” with his decision and that while he hasn’t ruled it out completely, it’s unlikely he’ll play international rugby again.

The 27-year-old was a member of Springbok squad for the June incoming tests and played in their victory over a World XV in Cape Town.

He was due to start against Wales in Durban the following week, but in a sudden move, he decided to leave the squad on the Tuesday before the game, “at his own request”, asking for “some time to consider his international future”.

The root cause, it transpired, that there had been a long-running dispute between the player and Saru over mechanisms by which one element of his Springbok remuneration was to be paid.

Steyn had returned from playing club rugby in France in 2012, having being lured back by coach Heyneke Meyer with a lucrative Springbok contract, one of the only players to be offered a two-year deal at the time.

While abroad, however, his image rights were handled by a third party, which was disclosed to Saru, and it’s around payments in this regard that tensions were raised as far back as 2013.

“It was a rollercoaster ride for me,” Steyn said.

“We got together in Durban that one week, it had started way before then and it was always at the back of my mind but at the stage I was just concentrating on my job at the Sharks. [But] when it came to the Springboks it was difficult for me because of the situation, and stuff I had to deal with there.

“We had a fallout earlier and then I went to the camp and we played the World XV, and then on the Monday, I can’t say that there was a vibe, but it was just different for me.”

Steyn’s departure left the Boks and Meyer stunned, with Saru issuing a short release at the time saying via their Chief Executive Officer, Jurie Roux, “He has asked for some time to consider his international playing future and we must respect that.”

PERFORMANCE INTERRUPTED

The World Cup winner says that this ongoing issue cast a pall over his performance, which he felt was unfair on his teammates.

“When I started playing I told my agent Gerrie Swart that I won’t be a guy who’s just cruising along or enjoying the joyride. I want to be there and be happy, because this is my hobby and to give other guys a chance as well. When I was younger I wanted to play so badly and I can just imagine if there was somebody ahead of me that didn’t really want to be there. So, in that sense, I think it was just better for me to step out, my heart and soul wasn’t in it because I was disappointed at that stage and I think it was much better for Jan Serfontein and Damian de Allende to start.

“It was a feeling like I was letting myself down and letting my country down.”

Steyn says that he was in a difficult position.

“There weren’t a lot of options for me. Like any national side there’s only one way and that way didn’t suit me, so that’s what led to that (decision to leave the squad).”

He goes on to say that despite the drastic nature of his decision, on reflection, he still thinks it was the best thing to do.

“No, I wouldn’t change a thing. It was emotional at that stage but remember, just that situation, came from last year already, so it was a thing that was brewing for a long time.”

At the time, and without too much information forthcoming from Saru who maintained that their position as an employer forbid them from publicising details of what had transpired, the body was rounded on by the public for not doing enough to appease the player.

So, did Steyn feel that Saru had specifically reneged on a promise to him, or indeed had let him down?

“I can’t say they let me down because Jurie Roux went out of his way to talk to me and try and mend things, so from that side, I have the utmost respect for some of the guys still there. They, tried to move heaven and earth for me.”

Steyn confirms that he did consider delaying his decision to step down until after the final test in June against Scotland in Port Elizabeth but felt that would leave the national coach in an even more precarious situation.

“I wanted to but the main thing was I knew how Meyer was feeling and that’s one of the things, I thought I would pull out before the World XV game. And I knew that he had to prepare for the Rugby Championship. I think it would have been much worse pulling out after the ‘incoming’ tests before the Championship so that other guys can get a run and Meyer can see what he has in his players.

“I think I made the right call,” he says forcefully.
The Bok’s coach at the time was very complimentary of Steyn, saying that he respected his decision

Source: EWN

Ultimate Rugby App for the real fan

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In a world we everything is run from either our phones or tablets or computers, we do rely more and more on the Apps that brings us closer to the action in the world of Rugga’s. One of the best new Apps available on the Android and Apple stores is the new Ultimate Rugby App.

 

a

 

Ultimate Rugby is a dynamic rugby Website and Mobile App containing the latest news, real-time LIVE scores, videos, competitions, social media and player interaction for all tier-one Rugby worldwide. With this App you can follow any league, player or team all over the world. This is the one App that was develop for the real rugby fan.

App

You can get the APP for the following links :

Google App

 

 

Apple

 

Interview with Louis Ludik – Benedict Chanakira

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Benedict Chanakira spoke to Louis Ludik

Louis Ludik
Louis Ludik

BC- Hi Louis, how are you?

Im very good thanks and hope you are well Benedict. Enjoying the french lifestyle a lot.

BC- How are you settling in France? Is Ross Skeate helping?

Im settling in nicely thanks, yes skeato is helping a lot. His french is very good so he is translating for us almost the whole time.

BC- How is your french? Are you fluent yet?

Hahaha. No not yet. Learning everyday but its a tough language to learn. Enjoying it though. We have french classes twice a week.

BC- Have you managed to meet up with ex-Sharks players over there in France?

Yes we have hooked up with Rory in Castres, Jandre marais in Bordeaux and after games we eat with the other team so get a chance to talk to the other south africans then. There is a lot of us here…

BC- Who has been the toughest Team and player you have faced recently??

Lyon and la rochelle is very tough.
We played Aurillac this last weekend and played against a wing, valintin and he gave me a big handoff, very strong guy!!!

BC- What do you miss most about South Africa? 

I miss my family and friends and understanding what everyone say.

BC- You have thrived in the utility player role and was regarded as one of the most reliable players in South Africa. Are you in a similar role in France or are you finding
yourself in one position?

Yes also finding myself in a utility role at the moment. Playing 13 a lot at the moment but would like to play 15. The fullback at Agen is a very good young player and is doing well so its no use leaving him out.

BC- You currently play in Top 14 D2. How are your promotion hopes looking? 

Yea playing in the Pro D 2. We did very well a couple in the 1st half of the comp but had a couple of losses of late. We are 4th at the moment so going to very tough work going up.

BC- France, infact European countries are known for their great variety in fashion.  How is Chame enjoying it?

Chame is loving it. Everything is just extremely expensive in france and we are still converting everything from € to Rand. So we have to get use to everything being much more expensive that SA

BC- What destinations have you visited in your time there? What was the most appealing place?

Two weeks ago we drove to Monaco and saw a couple of place on the South-east coast. We loved Nice, Cassis and saw Aix- en Provence, saw freddy and his family in Toulon.
Stayed in Nimes and saw Arles as well. Unbelievable places. We are so blessed and thank full to see these place.

BC- How have you found French Rugby? How would you rank it against Southern Hemisphere rugby?

Im very impresses with the Pro D 2. I didnt think the level is going to be so high. There is a lot of talent in France. The professionalism just isn’t here in this level as in the south. A lot of players havent have that mindset yet.

BC- Away games in France have widely been rumored to be not as important.  As teams often send under strength teams. Is this the case? 

Yes normally they do send a ‘weaker’ team to play away, but its very important to rest the players as it is a very long season over here.

BC- Your friend Rory Kockott may well be a French Test player in a couple of months. Would you one day hope to use the residency rule to play Test Rugby?

Yes he is doing very very well over here. Im very happy for him. If it happen and if its what God wants for me i would be grateful but its not a thing about constantly thinking or dreaming about. Im just enjoying rugby and life at the moment and working hard to find my feet.

BC- Is Super Rugby watched in Europe? How big is its fan base?

Yes it is. Its not as big as I thought. Most of the players watch the Top 14. Which is the top french league. There are a lot of games and good quality.

BC- Do you have any plans in place after rugby? A return to South Africa?

Im still studying. I would like go into sport conditioning after rugby but im still doing my bcom accounting as well.

BC- As a former Sharks player, you have quite a fan base in Zimbabwe.  Would you consider an invitation for a visit to talk and inspire our future rugby stars?

Yes for sure it would be a great honor.

 

Kings blow Bulls second strings away

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EP Kings
A rousing 66-28 win over a Bulls XV got the Southern Kings back on the winning track in a Super Rugby friendly at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. I must say that this was almost a Bulls Vodacom Cup team…..
The runaway victory, which included 10 tries for the home side, was just the tonic the Kings needed ahead of their re-entry into the Currie Cup Premier Division in August.
After losing to the Cheetahs, Lions and Stormers in Super Rugby friendlies back in January and February, the new-look Kings produced a stunning display of running rugby.
It was also a pleasing comeback for Kings skipper Luke Watson, who scored his team’s second try in the ninth minute as the Kings dominated early possession.
The Kings made an energetic start and flank Paul Schoeman crashed over for the Kings’ first try after five minutes.
Watson scored his try three minutes later. Scrumhalf Jaco Grobler crashed through the Bulls’ defence for the Kings’ third try of the evening.
Former Sharks centre Tim Whitehead marked his debut with a try after some sparking play by the Kings’ backline.
The elusive Ntabeni Dukisa then slipped through the Bulls’ defence to score his team’s fifth try and give them a healthy 33-16 lead at the break.
The only try for the Bulls in first half came in the 36th minute when skipper Ruan Steenkamp powered his way over the tryline after solid forward play by the visitors.
After the break, Shane Gates and Tim Whitehead were over for tries in quick succession as the Kings ran riot against the outgunned Bulls.
Powerful Kings’ flank Thembelani Bholi took the tally to 50 points with his team’s eighth try.
Scott van Breda piled on the misery for the visitors with his team’s ninth try of the night.
Former Cheetahs’ scrumhalf Kevin Luiters showed good strength when he took the Kings’ score to 64 points with the home team’s tenth try.

Scorers:

EP Kings:
Tries: Schoeman, Watson, Grobler, Whitehead 2, Dukisa, Gates, Bholi, Van Breda, Luiters
Cons: Van Breda 8
Bulls XV:
Tries: Steenkamp 2, Tobias
Cons: Marais, Stander
Pens: Marais 3
Teams:

EP Kings: 15 Scott van Breda, 14 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Dwayne Jenner, 11 Ntabeni Dukisa, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Jaco Grobler, 8 Luke Watson (captain), 7 Paul Schoeman, 6 Thembelani Bholi, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Steven Cummins, 3 Simon Kerrod, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1BG Uys.

Replacements: 16 Dane van der Westhuizen, 17 Brenden Olivier, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Darron Nell, 20 Devin Oosthuizen, 21 Kevin Luiters, 22 Shane Gates, 23 Hansie Graaff.
Blue Bulls squad: Jacques Rossouw, Kefense Mahlo, Jade Stigling, Leighton van Wyk, Marquite September, Kobus Marais, Carlo Engelbrecht, Andrè Warner, Joshua Stander, Ganfried May, Ruan Steenkamp (captain), Corne Cooper, Chris Massyn, Irne Herbst, Schalk van Heerden, Neetling Fouchè, Jan Enslin, Justin Forwood, Sidney Tobias, Andrew Beerwinkel, Johan Bannink, Jason Jenkins, Carel Swart.

Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge

WP winding down with Sarries

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DHL WP Logo
Saracens have lured yet another South African opponent up to London to face them in November at Allianz Park, after the conclusion of the Currie Cup.
The Blues Bulls last week confirmed that they too would play Saracens in late January 2015.
This comes after the 2013/14 Premiership league winners, defeated the Sharks earlier this year.
The Saracens will be aiming to maintain their 100% record against top South African opposition.
Western Province Director of Rugby Gert Smal said: “To play Saracens in London will be a great experience for our players and coaches.
“While some of our players will be involved in the Springbok tour to Europe, we will field our strongest possible team at Allianz Park.”
Mark McCall, Saracens’ Director of Rugby, commented: “Western Province have long been one of the leading teams in the southern hemisphere, and it will be a great thrill for our players and supporters to welcome the Cape team to Allianz Park.”
Sarries topped the overall standings in the 2013/14 Premiership, losing just three times in 22 league matches, before going down narrowly to Northampton Saints in a dramatic final at Twickenham at the end of May.
Source: Rugby365

Elton Jantjies op pad na Japan

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Jantjies

Nie die Vrystaat-Cheetahs óf Oostelike Provinsie Kings óf Goue Leeus sal die Springbok-losskakel Elton Jantjies se dienste vir die komende Curriebeker-reeks kan benut nie.

Beeld het betroubaar verneem dat die 23-jarige Jantjies, ’n boorling van Graaff-Reinet, ’n kontrak met die Japanse klubspan NTT Shining Arcs gesluit het en hom eers vir volgende jaar se Superrugby-reeks weer in Johannesburg by die Leeus sal aanmeld.

Die onthulling bring ’n einde aan bespiegeling oor Jantjies se toekoms en laat die Kings en die Cheetahs opnuut kopkrap wat hul losskakel-diepte betref.

Daar is in die Baai vertel dat Jantjies die Kings in die Curriebeker-reeks sou versterk, terwyl sy naam in die wandelgange genoem is as een van die kandidate om Johan Goosen se vertrek by die Cheetahs te help teenwerk.

Daar is ook gedink dat hy as Marnitz Boshoff se adjudant vir die Leeus diepte kan verskaf, maar nou blyk dit dat die Bok-losskakel nie vir een van die drie beskore is nie.

Volgens ’n bron is dit juis Goosen se skuif na die Franse klubspan Racing Metro wat die deur vir Jantjies in Japan laat oopswaai het.

Goosen is ook deur die Japanse klubs geteiken, maar die keuse het op Jantjies geval toe eersgenoemde aangedui het hy gaan vir drie jaar Frankryk toe.

Jantjies sou ’n vars bries in Port Elizabeth gewees het, met die Kings wat naarstiglik ’n generaal soek wat saam met die Vodacombeker-losskakels George Whitehead en Ntabeni Dukisa die kitaar kan slaan.

Jantjies sou ook by die Cheetahs heelwat diepte verskaf het, met net Elgar Watts wat oorbly ná ’n uittog van no. 10’s wat verlede jaar by Sias Ebersohn begin het.

Intussen lyk dit of nog ’n Leeu-losskakel, Willie du Plessis, hom dalk nog in die Rosestad kan vestig.

Daar word ook betroubaar verneem dat Du Plessis, wat nog onlangs in die Vodacombeker-eindstryd teen Griekwas vir die Rooibontes diens gedoen het, dalk vir die Curriebeker-reeks na die Vrystaat kan kom.

Met Boshoff in die saal en Jantjies nou vort sal dit interessant wees om te sien of die Leeus wel hul ander losskakel aan hul buurman sal afstaan.

Deur: Beeld Webtuiste

Brumbies chase Jake White

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The Brumbies are chasing up to $25,000 from Sharks coach Jake White through the courts after the South African coach walked out on the club halfway through a four-year deal.

Jake

It is understood White was served papers in Canberra on the Friday before the Sharks’ clash with the Brumbies on May 10, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

According to documents lodged in the ACT Magistrates Court, the amount is understood to be the final portion of an estimated $200,000 White owed the Brumbies after violating a non-compete clause in his contract with the Australian province.

It is understood the balance of that amount was paid by the Sharks some time in late February or early March.

Under the terms of his agreement with the Brumbies, White was prohibited from coaching another Super Rugby side until the end of next year..

He announced his decision to leave the club last September, two seasons into his four-year deal, after missing out on the Wallabies head coaching role.

Less than a month later, the Durban-based Sharks announced White as their director of rugby. White, now in New Zealand with the squad, was contacted for comment.

”Yes, we are in dispute with Jake White but we cannot comment further as it’s a matter before the courts,” Brumbies chief executive Doug Edwards said.

White took the Brumbies to the Super Rugby final in his second year in charge and has taken the Sharks to the top of this year’s competition after less than eight months at the helm.

In a television interview three days before the Sharks’ dour 16-9 loss to the Brumbies, White said he took the Brumbies job in 2011 after then-ARU chief executive John O’Neill indicated the Wallabies coaching role could go to a another foreigner after Robbie Deans served out his two-year extension.

That same week he told Fairfax Media that ”the landscape changed” when he was overlooked by the new ARU administration.

”When I arrived in Australia three national team coaches were foreign coaches. When I decided to leave, there were none left,” he said. ”When I was living in Canberra, I bought a house, I moved to Australia. I’m the kind of guy who you’re either in or don’t do it.

”The Brumbies song goes: ‘Proud to be Australian with a Brumby on my chest.’

”I didn’t go quiet when that part of the song was sung. I’m an Aussie, mate. That’s why it was difficult to go back; my wife Lindy cried when I told her. In the past, coaching was the priority. But the landscape changed and, selfishly or unselfishly, going to back South Africa suited me.”

Hammett to take charge of Cardiff

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Welsh club Cardiff Blues have announced that current Hurricanes head coach Mark Hammett has been appointed as their new Director of Rugby at the region on a three-year deal.

Mark_Hammett51

The former All Blacks international will link up with the Blues following the completion of his Super Rugby season with the Hurricanes.

Hammett, 41, will front an exciting new-look coaching team at Cardiff Arms Park with Dale McIntosh and Paul John.

The Christchurch-born ex-hooker has carved out a reputation as one of the most exciting and leading coaches in the Super 15 following spells at the Crusaders and Hurricanes.

Hammett, who won 29 caps for New Zealand between 1999 and 2003, made his name during his playing career with the Crusaders, where he won four titles.

He retired in 2003 and joined the coaching staff at Crusaders while also working with Canterbury in the Air New Zealand Cup.

Hammett took over as Head Coach at the Wellington-based Hurricanes in 2011 and is currently leading the team as they push for the end of season play-offs.

Richard Holland, Chief Executive at Cardiff Blues, said,”We conducted an extensive worldwide search, with the help of Wales coach Warren Gatland and Gareth Edwards, and are absolutely delighted that Mark Hammett will be taking the role of Director of Rugby.

“Chief (Dale McIntosh) and Johnsy (Paul John) have done a terrific job over the last few months and I know they are looking forward to working with Mark. They will form a strong partnership and we are excited to see that take the region forward.

“I have met Mark and he was the outstanding coach and person for the role. We believe his long-term vision for the Blues with take us to the next level and achieve our ambitions.

“We’ve made strong signings with New Zealand international Jarrad Hoeata, Italian back row Manoa Vosawai, Craig Mitchell, Josh Turnbull, Tavis Knoyle, George Watkins and Ieuan Jones joining us. We’re working hard on more signings and are positive about the way they will work with our talented existing squad under the guidance of Mark Hammett.

“It has always been our commitment as a region to be sustainable off the field and a competitive and successful on it.

“We’ve made the business sustainable since the return to the Arms Park and now, under the leadership of Mark Hammett, we believe the Blues can start to once again look forward to a bright future.”

Source: www.superxv.com

Cheetahs in the dark over Goosen

2

The Cheetahs remain in the dark over the future of Springbok flyhalf Johan Goosen, amidst escalating rumours that he is to depart from the Cheetahs – By Rugby365


johan goosen
 The most recent dispatches from the Bloemfontein media suggest Goosen will make an announcement in the “next few days” – having been linked to French clubs Racing Metro and Toulon, as well as the Stormers.

However, Cheetahs assistant coach Hawies Fourie told rugby365 that they have not heard anything from the player or his agent.

“I have also seen the reports that he will make a call in the next few days, but more than that I don’t know,” Fourie told this website.

“We are also still waiting to hear what his decision is,” he added.

Goosen’s contract with the Cheetahs expire in October, at the conclusion of the Currie Cup season, and his agent has been in discussion with the Springbok and Cheetahs management over his future.

The 21-year-old flyhalf, who played all four his Tests in 2012 before injuries curtailed his career, visited France during the Cheetahs’ bye round in March – where he held discussions with both Racing and Toulon.

His decision, whether to stay in SA (where the Cheetahs and Stormers are his options) or move to France (Racing or Toulon), will depend on what comes out of the discussions with the national team management and whether he still features in the plans of Bok coach Heyneke Meyer.

The past two years a succession of should and knee injuries have reduced his playing time and his form this year has been patchy at best.

The Cheetahs have been dealt another blow, with the Bloemfontein-based Volksblad reporting Riaan Smit is also heading to France at the end of the season.

If Goosen departs, it will leave Elgar Watts as their only flyhalf option going forward.

According to the newspaper they have targeted Western Force flyhalf Sias Ebersohn to return to Bloemfontein as Goosen’s replacement. However, Ebersohn is apparently reluctant to make a commitment just yet, as he is looking to extend his stay in Perth – where he has been very happy since his acrimonious departure from Bloemfontein 18 months ago.

* Meanwhile it was also confirmed that the Cheetahs have agreed to release their backline coach, Fourie, to Griquas before the end of the Super Rugby season.

Retired Springbok Franco Smith, who recently returned to South African after seven seasons as Benetton Treviso coach in Italy, started helping out at Cheetahs training sessions this week.

Smith will formally take over as backline coach when Fourie departs after the Cheetahs’ Round 15 Super Rugby encounter with the Stormers in Cape Town later this month.

The reason for Fourie’s early departure is so that he can start working with Griquas ahead of their Currie Cup qualifying competition that gets underway early in June.

The Blue Bulls, Golden Lions, Western Province, Free State Cheetahs and defending champion Sharks will be joined by the Pumas – who won promotion by beating Griquas last year – and the EP Kings, who were given an armchair ride into the competition.

Griquas, who will play the Golden Lions in the Vodacom Cup Final on Saturday, will go up against six other teams for the right to play in the top flight.

The other teams in the qualifying competition are the Leopards, SWD Eagles, Griffons, Boland Cavaliers, Border Bulldogs and Falcons.

Fourie was appointed head coach of Griquas’ Currie Cup team, but must now first guide them into the top tier, hence his early departure from the Super Rugby franchise.

The argument is that Griquas, as a vital partner and feeder union for the Cheetahs’ Super Rugby team, must play in the Currie Cup competition to ensure their players compete at a high standard against top teams – as opposed to running around with the minnows in the suboptimal First Division.

By Jan de Koning

Form and experience for World XV

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Nick Mallett believes the players selected for his World XV squad are on top form for their match against South Africa in Cape Town – By: Rugby365

Schalk Brits1

The squad of 23 players, comprising of Test stars from New Zealand, France, Australia, Ireland, Samoa, Tonga, Georgia and South Africa, boasts a total of 707 caps between them.
“The group of players who have been selected for this match are not only very experienced, but are all in very good form at the moment,” said Mallett.
The latest additions to the squad of 23 include four All Blacks with 185 Tests worth of experience between them.
Experienced hooker Andrew Hore, who has 83 caps for New Zealand, heads the list of Kiwis, followed by scrumhalf Jimmy Cowan (51 Tests) and speedsters Sitiveni Sivivatu (45 caps) and Rene Ranger (6 caps).
French Test players Aurelien Rougerie ( 71 caps) and Alexandre Lapandry ( 6 caps) are included, as well as loose forwards Roger Wilson from Ireland  (1 cap) and Mamuka Gorgodze from Georgia (51 caps).
Samoan lock Joe Tekori (26 caps) and Tongan prop Sona Taumalolo (5 caps) will add a Pacific flavour to the team.
The only uncapped members of the squad are Rory Kockott and Schalk Ferreira.
The most experienced of the South African contingent in the squad is BJ Botha, who has 25 Springbok caps to his name, followed by Juandré Kruger (17 caps), Schalk Brits (5 caps) and Alistair Hargreaves (4 caps).
“I’m very happy that the final pieces of the jigsaw are now falling into place,” added Mallett.
“Despite the very short preparation time, I’m really looking forward to getting together with this group of very talented players and preparing them for this match.
“It promises to be a very exciting match, looking at the talent assembled in this strong squad.
“I’m sure they are all relishing the opportunity to play against the Springboks in South Africa.
“It’s also a rare chance to see a World XV-style team playing in South Africa, and where better than the oldest Test venue in the country?”
Unfortunately French loose forward Julien Bonnaire, who has 75 Test caps to his name, was forced to withdraw from the squad because of an injury.
World XV squad:  James O’Connor, Drew Mitchell, Hosea Gear, Sititiveni Sivivatu, Aurelien Rougerie, Rene Ranger, Matt Giteau, François Trinh-Duc, Rory Kockott, Jimmy Cowan, Steffon Armitage, Alexandre Lapandry, Roger Wilson, Mamuka Gorgodze, Alistair Hargreaves, Joe Tekori, Juandré Kruger, Schalk Brits, Andrew Hore, Schalk Ferreira, Sona Taumololo, BJ Botha Carl Hayman.

Home Unions causing Super break

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Rugby_wallpapers_63

The reluctance of the Home Unions to come to the party is what is preventing a more acceptable global season to be implemented.

It has long been suggested that the selfish nature of Home Union officials – those from England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland – has been at the heart of the troubled and scattered international and domestic calendars.

While their Southern hemisphere counterparts – South Africa, New Zealand and Australia – are keen to move their competitions around, the men from up north remain as stubborn as the proverbial mule.

Most officials south of the equator prefer a diplomatic approach when addressing the Gordian knot, but Bill Pulver – CEO of the Australian Rugby Union – has decided to air the sport’s dirty laundry in public.

In a recent media teleconference, when discussing the expansion of Super Rugby in 2016, Pulver said SANZAR would happily move their Test windows and other competitions, but have found their counterparts from the Home Unions unwilling to consider similar concessions.

SANZAR have been keen to move the June Test window to July to allow for Super Rugby to be completed before the international season starts.

It would avoid the current situation of a competition that is 80 percent complete and then breaks for a month, to be resumed after the mid-year Tests.

“There has been discussions,” Pulver said in the teleconference, adding: “But it will be a long, tough process.

“I am on an IRB committee with the CEOs of New Zealand and South Africa.

“From a Southern Hemisphere perspective there is an obvious preference to move that June window to July.

“Sadly, it is not a speedy process.

“You can imagine some of the barriers we’ve come up against from the Home Nations [England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland] in terms of their reluctance to change.”

Pulver said there is a concerted effort on SANZAR’s part to achieve that outcome, but it will take time.

“We do not like the fact that the Super Rugby competition is not continuous, so it is an outcome we are willing to push hard for.

“However, it is certainly not an easy fix.”

It is also a well-known fact the Home Unions’ unwillingness to move the Six Nations from its current February/March date is causing complication with other international dates and basically preventing a more acceptable global calendar that would give players a much longer break and moire time off.

By Rugby365

Du Preez pledges his allegiance to WP

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robert du preez

Exciting Maties flyhalf Robert du Preez has signed a contract with Western Province Rugby, which will see last year’s SA Under-20 pivot play his rugby in Cape Town until 2016 at least.

Du Preez had been on loan from the Sharks to the University of Stellenbosch for the duration of the 2014 Varsity Cup, but the tournament’s leading points-scorer has now chosen to remain in the Cape with immediate effect.

The son of former Springbok, Sharks and Blue Bulls scrumhalf Robert du Preez, who now coaches NWU-Pukke, Robert Junior has carved out his own reputation as a quality rugby player, having represented KZN and Natal at Under-16 and Under-18 level.

Robert du Preez Jr represented his country with distinction in the 2013 IRB Junior World Championships in France and this year his inspirational performances for the Maties in the Varsity Cup saw the strapping flyhalf nominated as one of the three finalists for the prestigious 2014 Player of the Tournament Award.

The former Kearsney College scholar is clearly one of the country’s most outstanding flyhalf talents and he will provide much-needed depth at Under-21 level for Western Province this year, with Ryno Eksteen out of action for some time with an injury. Du Preez, who turns 21 on July 30 of this year, stands 1,92 metres tall and weighs 95 kilograms.

Secret Mission for the Goose

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johan goosen

Springbok and Cheetahs flyhalf Johan Goosen has secretly flown to France to explore possible future career opportunities, the Volksblad website reports.

The Cheetahs have a bye weekend in Super Rugby which enabled the 21-year-old to head abroad.

The club Goosen went to visit is believed to be Top 14 side, Racing Metro, who reportedly see him as an ideal substitute for Irish flyhalf Jonny Sexton.

With the eye on next year’s Rugby World Cup, Ireland coach Joe Schmidt reportedly wants to lure Sexton back to Ireland as he feels he is being overplayed at Racing.

Earlier reports also linked Goosen to French big spenders Toulon, while South Africa’s Bulls and a few clubs from Japan are also interested.

Goosen’s contract with the Cheetahs expires on October 31 this year and it’s unlikely that coach Naka Drotské will allow him to leave before then.

Outside clubs are only allowed to officially negotiate with players 120 days (July 1) prior to the ending of their contract.

The Cheetahs’ next Super Rugby game is at home to the Blues on April 5.

3 New signings for Kings

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EP KingsThe EP Kings have confirmed three new signings today ahead of their preparations for the Currie Cup Premier Division.

EP Kings CEO, Charl Crous confirmed that Michael van Vuuren, Tim Whitehead and Hansie Graaff will all be joining the Kings over the coming months, along with Izak van der Westhuizen whose signing has already been announced. “We are very excited at these signings and are positive that these players will make a significant contribution in our Currie Cup endeavours as well as in our preparations for re-entry into Super Rugby in 2016,” said Crous.

Hooker Van Vuuren, who matriculated in 2009 from Grey High School in Port Elizabeth, will return home from France, where he has been playing for Stade Francais in the French Top 14, when his contract with them ends in June.  “I had a couple of options overseas which I had a good long hard look at, but when the Kings opportunity came along, I jumped at the offer. I felt that the time was right to come home.

 

“The Kings are a franchise with a tremendous desire to succeed and this was clearly apparent in their Super 15 campaign. Along with my team mates, helping my ‘home’ province reach great heights will be fantastic,” Van Vuuren said. After representing EP at Craven Week, Van Vuuren rose to prominence when he played for the South African Under-20 team in 2011.

Van Vuuren played in the Grey 1st XV in 2008 and 2009, alongside Springbok Siya Kolisi who is also an Old Grey. Van Vuuren has also played Varsity Cup rugby for UFS Shimlas in the 2012 Varsity Cup. He represented the Free State Cheetahs in the Currie Cup and Vodacom Cup in 2011 and 2012 seasons. At the age of 19 Van Vuuren made history at the Cheetahs when he became the youngest hooker to make his Currie Cup debut for the Cheetahs against the Leopards.

Versatile Sharks centre, Whitehead, will also be returning home to take up the Red and Black hoops. Whitehead was born in Port Elizabeth and, like Van Vuuren, attended Grey High before studying at the University of Cape Town and then playing Super Rugby for the Stormers and Sharks. While at Grey, Whitehead partnered explosive Springbok and Bulls star JJ Engelbrecht at centre.

He will be joined by fellow Sharks player, Graaff, who can play as a flyhalf, centre, wing or fullback.  Graaff, who originally hails from Pretoria, rose to prominence playing for a struggling TUT Vikings side in the Varsity Cup between 2010 and 2012 before joining the Griffons in 2012. He quickly establishing himself as a first-team regular and made several appearances for them in the Vodacom Cup and Currie Cup, earning the title of Currie Cup First Division player of the year in 2012.

He was then included in the final Cheetahs squad for the 2013 Super Rugby season, but failed to make any appearances for them. He subsequently moved to the Sharks for the Currie Cup Premier Division last year, but missed the entire competition because of a knee injury.

Now fit, Graaff will join the Kings when his contract with the Sharks ends in April.

Aussie get domestic series

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Australian-RugbyAustralian Rugby Union today announced nine teams will compete in the inaugural season of its new domestic rugby competition, the National Rugby Championship, which will kick off in August this year.

The competition will include two teams from Queensland, four from New South Wales and one each from, Victoria and Western Australia. Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver said he was delighted that the entire Australian Rugby community has come together to form teams to take part in this exciting new competition. “The National Rugby Championship is an important strategic development for the growth of Rugby in Australia.”

“For Rugby fans it will provide an opportunity to engage with an elite Rugby competition during the second half of the year, once the Super Rugby competition is completed. “For players it represents the missing link in their development pathway towards Super Rugby and ultimately Wallaby selection. “It will also support the ARU’s objective to create additional compelling content for broadcasters with a quality local competition to rival New Zealand’s ITM Cup and South Africa’s Currie Cup.

“Consistent with our commitment to continually enhance the entertainment experience from Rugby, the ARU plans to launch a social media competition inviting Rugby fans to suggest law changes and match day innovations that could form part of this new competition. “This is an opportunity for our supporters to have their say to create a more innovative and exciting game of Rugby,” Mr Pulver said.

Teams to compete in the 2014 season are:

Brisbane City
Queensland Country
North Harbour Rays
Sydney Stars
Greater Sydney Rams
NSW Country
University of Canberra Vikings
Melbourne Rising
Perth Spirit

The National Rugby Championship will kick off in late August following the State Premier Rugby Competitions and will run until the beginning of November. The competition will run for 11 weeks and include eight preliminary rounds, with each team playing four home and four away games, one bye week and finishing with semi-finals and finals. All Super Rugby players will be required to play in the National Rugby Championship, with a quota system in place to ensure each of the nine teams have a mixture of Super Rugby players and the best up and coming players from their local club competitions.

Wallabies players will be playing Tests while the National Rugby Championship is on, but each member of the Wallabies squad will be allocated across the nine teams and will play if they become available.

Kings to take on Wales in June

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EP Kings
The Eastern Province Kings will be going head to head against Wales ahead of their international Test matches against the Springboks in June.
EP Rugby CEO, Charl Crous confirmed the match would take place on Tuesday, the 10th of June, at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

“Wales are looking at bringing a wider squad down for the tour and are looking for a bit of game time ahead of their Test matches,” he said. “This is obviously a great opportunity for us in terms of preparing for our entry into Currie Cup Premier Division, with the chance to test ourselves against an internationally competitive team as highly rated as Wales,” he said.

Commenting on the mid week game, Crous said this was to fit in with Wales schedule, as they were playing their first Test match against South Africa in Durban on Saturday, 14 June before heading to Nelspruit a week later.

Crous said it also meant that rugby lovers from the region were in for a treat in June.

“June is going to be a festival of rugby in the Eastern Cape, with three international teams, the Springboks, Scotland and Wales, playing at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium,” he said.

South Africa will play against Scotland on Saturday, the 28th of June, 2014. Crous said the details of the Wales match, including kick off and ticket prices, would be confirmed at a later date.

Blou Bulle klub,skolerugby kry hupstoot

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Vodacom Blue Bulls Logo

 

Die Blou Bulle Rugby Unie en sy Skolevereniging, in samewerking met sportpromotor Willem Strauss en die koffiegroep Enrista, het Woensdag op Loftus Versfeld ‘n innoverende nuwe rugbyreeks bekend gestel wat skole en klubs kombineer en ‘n broodnodige inspuiting in die spel sal bring en nuwe lewe in klubrugby blaas.

 

Die Enrista Toekomstige Blou Bulle kompetisie gaan die agt Carltonligaklubs met skole in hul normale opvangsgebied kombineer en in ‘n nuwe kompetisie laat meeding waarin 46 skole in agt spanne sal speel.

 

Die Future Tuks, Future Polisie, Future Centurion, Future Oostelikes, Future Valke, Future Naka Bulle, Future Harlequins en Future Vikings sal almal o.19 spanne met slegs matriekleerders in die nuwe kompetisie inskryf.

 

Geen speler wat vir enige van die Blou Bulle Skolevereniging se verteenwoordigende spanne (Cravenweek ens.) gekies is, sal vir diè spanne kan speel nie.

 

“Dit sal nie net verseker dat ons die spelerbasis verbreed nie, maar ook aan spelers uit kleiner skole en diegene wat bietjie later ontluik, ‘n verhoog bied om hulle talente uit te stal,” het Strauss gesê.

 

“Spelers soos Marcel Coetzee en Juan Smith is sprekende voorbeelde van sulke spelers en ons hoop dat hierdie kompetisie soortgelyke talent sal oplewer.”

 

Die toernooi word tydens die Junie skolevakansie gespeel en elke span sal drie wedstryde speel. ‘n Soortgelyke reeds vir die Valke-streek vorder goed en Strauss hoop om die toernooie binnekort nasionaal uit te brei.

 

“Ons sien die skole/klubliga as die pad vorentoe om die spel op voetsoolvlak te groei,” glo Strauss.

 

Volgens die uitvoerende hoof van die Blou Bulle Rugbyunie, Dr. Eugene Hare, was dit maklik om die idee te ondersteun.

 

“Elke unie in die land ervaar druk met getalle wat afneem onder klubspelers en hierdie inisiatief kan beslis ‘n klomp nuwe spelers deurbring wat nà skool sal aanhou om rugby te speel. Ewe belangrik is die feit dat skolespelers nou die geleentheid sal kry om kennis te maak met die kultuur van klubrugby.”

 

Spelers sal ook kleure by die klubs verdien.

 

Ferdie Niemand, voorsitter van die Blou Bulle Skolerugbyvereniging, het gesê die kompetisie sal nie net ‘n klomp skolespelers aanwakker om by die klubs aan te sluit nie, maar hopelik ook erkenning gee aan verskuilde talent.

 

“Daar is net soveel seuns wat ons spanne vir die provinsiale toernooie kan haal en hierdie toernooi bied ‘n verdere geleentheid aan ons skolespelers om op ‘n hoëvlak mee te ding.”

 

Enrista se Andre van der Westhuizen het gesê dit was maklik vir hulle om by die projek betrokke te raak.

 

“Ons het aanvanklik die BBRU se skeidsregters geborg en toe verlede jaar die o.18 Cravenweekspan. Ons wou graag ons borgskap uitbrei om meer van ons tradisionele en getroue verbruikers te bevoordeel en te beloon en hierdie is so ‘n geleentheid. Dit is kommerwekkend hoeveel seuns nà skool ophou speel en en ons glo dat hierdie kompetisie hulle sal oorhaal om nà skool steeds by die betrokke klub aan te bly en rugby te speel. Ons is baie opgewonde oor die potensiaal en aard van die kompetisie. Die idee dat skole en klubs kombineer pas by ons visie van betrokkenheid op meer as een vlak.”

 

Vir meer inligting kan Ferdie Niemand by 084 548 1148 geskakel word.

 

 

 

Charl McLeod move to France

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2014 Super Rugby: Cell C Sharks v Vodacom Bulls

Top 14 play-off contenders Grenoble signed South African scrum-half Charl McLeod on Sunday on a two year contract from Super Rugby outfit the Sharks.

The 30-year-old, capped once by the Springboks, could be joined by compatriot international wing Gio Aplon, who was South African player of the year in 2010.

“We are simply awaiting him (Aplon) to send back a signed letter confirming his departure (from the Stormers),” the club said.

McLeod, who scored five tries in 52 appearances for the Sharks since he joined them in 2008, is a two-time Currie Cup winner with the Sharks.

Aplon, 31, has been capped 17 times by the Springboks and scored five tries.

McLeod is the latest in a series of high profile signings for next season with Racing-Metro’s highly-rated fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski, his clubmate Julien Brugnaut, Blues Jackson Willison and Dax’s Remy Hugues having committed themselves.

Grenoble are presently in the sixth and final spot for the post regular season play-offs, although they missed a chance to go at least four points clear of seventh-placed Toulouse when they suffered a surprising 22-20 defeat at home to bottom side Biarritz on Saturday.

Bok joins Solly at Edinburgh

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alan-solomonsAlan Solomons has lured former IRB Junior World Championship-winning Baby Bok prop Allan Dell to Edinburgh.

Educated at Queens College in Eastern Cape, the promising young prop, who can play on both sides of the scrum, qualifies for Scotland through his grandmother, Joan Carmichael, who was born in Paisley and brought up in Edinburgh.

He has made 13 senior appearances in the Vodacom and Currie Cup competitions for the Sharks alongside his selection for South Africa Schools and every South Africa age-grade en route to lifting the IRB Junior World Championship trophy with the Under-20 side in 2012.

Dell, who is expected to arrive in the coming weeks and will be immediately available for selection until 2016, said: “I’m really excited to get to Scotland and start the next chapter of my career.

“It’s a very exciting time at the club, who are building a good brand of rugby, so it’s great to be part of that.

“The whole opportunity is fantastic. Alan Solomons is an excellent coach so it’s great to get the chance to work under him, compete for the chance to play for the club and, longer-term, for the chance to represent Scotland.

“I can’t wait to get out there and start performing.”

Solomons said: “Allan is an outstanding talent. He is a good footballer, is very mobile, has good skills and a fantastic work rate.”

Solomons also signed prop Simon Berghan and utility back Nick McLennan, who will arrive in June on deals to 2015 and 2016 respectively

Born in Christchurch New Zealand, 23-year-old Berghan – who can play on both sides of the scrum but has a preference for the tighthead side – progressed from Shirley Boys High School to local club Sydenham, who he has captained for the past two seasons.

He earned selection for the provincial Canterbury Academy, B team and Crusader Knights, the development squad of the Super Rugby giants, before securing his one-year chance to prove himself in the capital.

He is eligible to represent Scotland through his grandfather, Andrew Davidson, from Stirling.

Berghan said: “I’m delighted to get an opportunity to prove myself at this level.

“It’s a professional contract at a great club that I just couldn’t say no to. Everything I’ve heard about the club and city has been good so I can’t wait to get out there, have a crack at it and put my hand up.

“I’ve enjoyed the leadership role I’ve had here as club captain but when I arrive in Edinburgh my priority is just to get my head down and start grafting.

“That’s how I like it. The ball’s in my court and it’s up to me to impress.”

Versatile back McLennan started his rugby development at Waitaki Boys’ High School and North Otago, before his induction into the Crusaders development squad in 2010.

Born in New Zealand, Nick qualifies for Scotland through his grandmother, Jean, from Balmoral and his grandfather Alexander McLennan, who was from Dunblain and served with the Gordon Highlanders.

Equally adept at flyhalf, centre and fullback, McLennan was the Canterbury Colts Player of the year in 2010 and, most recently, featured in the NPC for Hawke’s Bay.

The Lincoln University graduate was a constant feature in the New Zealand Universities XV during his undergraduate years and, after a short spell at Russian club Krasny Yar, is looking forward to plying his trade in Scotland.

He said: “I’m really excited to get this opportunity and can’t wait to get stuck in. June can’t come quickly enough.

“It’s a really proud moment for me and my family given my heritage. Having strong links with Scotland definitely made the move even more appealing, while the competitions the club plays in are world class. Being involved in that will be something special.

“I just want to get out there, get as much game time as possible and push for a starting spot, but I’m not getting ahead of myself, there’s a lot of work to do.”

Solomons said: “Simon is primarily a tighthead who has played for the Canterbury province in New Zealand’s rugby heartland.

“He’s a big strong boy who has every prospect of cutting it at a higher level.

“Finally, Nick is a guy who has played a lot of NPC rugby. He is a good footballer who is versatile, being equally at home at flyhalf, fullback and wing.”

Source: Rugby365

‘Pathetic’ officials blamed for mass brawl

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EP Kings

East Province authorities have launched an investigation into a mass brawl in a match played as a curtain-raiser to the Southern Kings-Lions Super Rugby friendly on Saturday.

The fight broke out near the end of the game between the Eastern Province Kings Vodacom Cup team and national Community Cup champions Despatch when Despatch scored a late try to level the scores.

The incident last several minutes and Despatch president Willem Oliphant went onto the field to try to calm his players down.

“What happened at the end was disgusting and I will be taking matters further,” acting Southern Kings coach and Eastern Province Academy manager Robbie Kempson told Business Day. “We have the incident on video.”

But former Springbok prop Kempton said the blame laid with the officials. “I think the referee and his adjudicators were pathetic. I don’t know why they are reffing. There should have been a red card for the punch on 18-year-old Kings player Tyler Paul.”

Oliphant took a different approach and tried to play things down saying there was no need to take things further. “It happened at the end of a good game and players from both sides were involved. These things happen in rugby. At the end there was a good vibe and all the players shook hands.”

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

Pumas ‘envy’ the Kings

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Pumas logoThe Pumas may have secured their place in the Currie Cup competition, but they are still worse of than the Eastern Province Kings.

This is the view of outspoken Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse, who told this website their newfound status as a Premier Division team has not brought them any more privileges than the Kings – a First Division outfit who will be given a free passage into Super Rugby in 2016 and may even be given a similar guarantee on the domestic stage if the South African Rugby Union can convince the province to vote for an expanded eight-team Currie Cup competition.

The lack of dept at the Nelspruit-based outfit was evident when they lost 6-31 to a near full-strength Cheetahs team in a pre-season outing last weekend.

Injuries and call-ups to the Lions Super Rugby team robbed Stonehouse of a sizable chunk of his frontline selections.

And there is no indication that he will be able to rush in some top-flight reinforcements ahead of the Currie Cup competition later this year.

“You still require money to get players and we don’t have the luxury of a lot of money,” Stonehouse told this website.

“People always think the moment you play [in the] Currie Cup [competition] the money automatically starts rolling in, but that is not true.”

He added that sponsors are often very cautious, worrying that new teams will suffer mostly big defeats in South Africa’s premier domestic competition – where the big guns have the luxury of Super Rugby experience to fall back on.

The Pumas may have been convincing winners in their two-match promotion-relegation series against Griquas last year, but that won’t guarantee them success against the big guns – the five Super Rugby franchises.

“I would have loved to have been in the Kings’ situation, knowing that come 2016 you will play Super Rugby,” he said of his struggles to lure some big names to Nelspruit.

“That gives you a long-term negotiating option, where you can get people to sponsor you,” Stonehouse said of the Kings’ ability to use the Super Rugby carrot.

“And not knowing if you are in or out [of the Currie Cup competition] every year makes it even more difficult [to get sponsors].

“That is why it is vital to ensure you finish in the top five and that is our goal [for the season].

“We realise it is a tall order, but that is what we are aiming for – if you achieve that, you know you have sponsors that will stand by you in the years to come.”

Stonehouse said they lost out in the recruitment race because the promotion-relegation games were so late in the year, which meant they missed the recruitment window and lost out on a number of big names.

“Griquas managed to get away with it for years, by playing in the Currie Cup [competition], which allowed them to lure players for less money.

“The Kings have the advantage that they can use the Super Rugby [in 2016] carrot.”

The Pumas mentor said players who are fourth and fifth in the pecking order at the big unions must realise that by playing at the Pumas they could get better exposure and a chance to improve their standing with bigger unions.

“If players come to us and we do well, the unions will lure those players [with more money].

“Players don’t realise that, they just want to say they are at the Bulls or Stormers, even though they don’t get game time.”

By Jan de Koning

Matfield’s high praise is premature

25

VicVictor Matfield made a bolt statement over the weekend when he proclaim his ambition to play for the Springboks again in next years World Cup, by saying this current team is the best Springbok group ever. 

JON CARDINELLI look into this statement that many believe is a bit unfair to previous Springbok teams.

Victor Matfield has been quoted widely over the past few days, declaring his intention to reclaim the Bok No 5 jersey and win the 2015 World Cup.

The decorated lock has never been afraid to express an opinion and his view has always carried considerable weight given his experience at the highest level and what he’s achieved in terms of opponents bested and tournaments won.

Matfield has gone so far as to publicly declare that the current Bok side is ‘the best ever and will take the trophy next year [at the World Cup in England]’.

His manner and record suggest he is a man to be taken seriously. However, this is an opinion that can’t be rooted in fact when you consider what the class of 2007 achieved, and what the class of 2014 has not.

The Boks made a statement during the group stages of the 2007 World Cup, smashing England 36-0 via a well-rounded performance. As the tournament progressed and the team continued to grow, it became evident that they possessed the best pack in the competition, as well as a versatile back division that was further complemented by a world-class goal-kicker in Percy Montgomery.

It was a team that boasted a perfect blend of veterans, established players in their prime, and several talented youngsters. It remains one of the most effective and successful outfits that South Africa has ever produced.

To compare the class of 2007 with the current Bok team is unfair and grossly premature. The former was a side at the peak of its evolution, the latter is a team still building towards this perfection.

The Boks finished the 2013 season with an 83% win record, having successfully implemented a more balanced game plan. The depth in the squad was improved via some savvy selections.

And yet the simple fact remains that they finished the season behind the All Blacks, and have not beaten the world’s top team over the past two years.

They have yet to win a Rugby Championship title, let alone a World Cup. So to reiterate, all comparisons to legendary sides of yore are premature.

To compare the class of 2007 with the current Bok team is unfair and grossly premature

It’s understandable why Matfield would make such a claim. The likes of Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Bakkies Botha, Schalk Burger, Ruan Pienaar, Fourie du Preez, Frans Steyn, Jean de Villiers, Jaque Fourie, Bryan Habana and JP Pietersen were all part of the 2007 World Cup squad, and have added to their respective games since that monumental tournament in France. These players are still in the mix, and could well add value in the next two years.

But it should be remembered that the World Cup-winning teams of the past have enjoyed a good balance between youth and experience. The Bok team that plays in 2015 must boast a blend of both the young and old. This is what Heyneke Meyer will need to be wary of in the coming season.

That said, Matfield is right to feel enthused about the current team, and how they continue to grow under Meyer. Matfield is right to feel more than a little excited about what the future may bring for this particular group of Boks.

Du Preez, Fourie and Botha were all brought back into the Bok set-up in 2013 after spending an extended period out of the international game. Upon their return, they told anybody who would listen that the Bok structures were better than ever, and that the team culture was stronger than it had ever been before. Tellingly, each of these players volunteered this information without having to be asked.

Perhaps Matfield’s comment should be put down to excitement more than anything else. The year 2014 will be an exciting one for Meyer’s Boks, and while there will be pressure to produce some big results, they are results well within reach.

As for greatness, all such talk will have to wait until the 2015 World Cup has reached its climax.

Bad boy returns down under

0

James-OConnor-001Wallaby utility back James O’Connor has confirmed that he will return to Australia to play Super Rugby in 2015.

London Irish revealed that the Australian International, O’Connor, will leave the club at the end of the season – after completing his six month contract.
O’Connor indicated that his wish is to play in the 2015 Super Rugby competition in the build up to the World Cup.
That schedule could only have allowed London Irish to sign another short-term deal which doesn’t fit with the club’s future plans.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at London Irish and I’m looking forward to the next few months,” O’Connor said.

“The club welcomed me in with open arms last year in what was a difficult time and have been brilliant to me during my time so far.

“I’ve learnt a great deal both on and off the field and will leave at the end of the season with great memories and mates too.

“I would particularly like to express my gratitude to the owners of the club, especially Mick Crossan who is a passionate Irishman with great visions for this special club. I will be following closely to see how the boys get on and who knows what might happen further down the line.”

London Irish Director of Rugby, Brian Smith said: “James is a world class player who has had a very positive impact on the team and I’m sure he’ll play his heart out for us until the end of the season.

“He will head back to Australia in 2015 to follow his World Cup dream and the Club wishes him well with that. If the opportunity ever arises in the future then he will always be welcome back at London Irish.”

Heyneke Meyer welcomes Victor return

13

Vic

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Friday welcomed Victor Matfield’s return after it was confirmed that the 110-times capped lock would be back on the playing field in Vodacom Super Rugby for the Vodacom Bulls this season.

Matfield, who played his last Test for the Springboks at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in 2011, captained the Pretoria-based franchise to all three their titles in Vodacom Super Rugby, in 2007, 2009 and 2010.

Meyer said he was very happy that Matfield had decided to make a return to playing the game after coaching at the Bulls last season.

“I have always maintained that we have a lack of depth at 5 lock and believed that Victor could still make a valuable contribution as a player,” said Meyer.

“I’m glad that Victor has decided to do put on his boots again and I’m looking forward to seeing him in action. He was not given any guarantees about Springbok selection. If he can show he still has what it takes to be a Springbok, he will be considered, along with every other player who is eligible to play for South Africa.

“Victor has put in a lot of hard work to get into playing shape again and I’m sure he will make a success of his return to the game. Our depth at lock in South Africa isn’t great. Experienced players such as Andries Bekker and Juandré Kruger are now playing abroad, while Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit have missed a fair amount of rugby in the last year because of injuries.

“Victor has always been a world-class rugby player and knows what it takes to succeed at the highest level – I’m sure he would not have made this decision had he known he would not be able to compete or believed he could be the best in his position again.

 “We’ve seen in the past that players can make a successful return to rugby after a lengthy period on the sidelines. Jake White successfully brought back Os du Randt and Bob Skinstad, who both played a vital role when the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup in 2007. More recently Schalk Burger and Juan Smith both made a successful return from career-threatening injuries.”

IRB boss takes on ref bashers

3

International-Rugby-Board-IRB-logo

International Rugby Board Chairman Bernard Lapasset has spoken out against the “increase” in public criticism of referees ahead of the start of this season’s Six Nations.

Rugby Union, in common with many sports, has long set great store by respect for match officials.

But in the high stakes professional era it has become increasingly common for officials to find their decisions called into question while some coaches, borrowing a tactic often deployed by former Manchester United football manager Alex Ferguson, try to influence referees publicly in the build-up to a match.

“Rugby values its culture of respect for the opposition and match officials, which is at the very heart of the game,” Lapasset said in a statement issued from the IRB’s Dublin headquarters.

“But there has been a slow increase in the level and intensity of public criticism of match officials and their performances from coaches and players,” the former French Rugby Federation President added.

This month Toulon coach Bernard Laporte labelled referee Laurent Cardona as “hopeless” and “completely incompetent” following the European champions’ 22-21 French Top 14 defeat by Grenoble.

Few team chiefs are quite as outspoken regarding referees as former France coach and French government minister Laporte, who faces a domestic league disciplinary hearing next month.

But the likes of Wales and British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland are rarely shy of offering a public opinion rather than relying solely on private IRB channels to communicate their concerns.

The global governing body said they’d reminded national unions that, under their code of conduct, “any published criticism of match officials or comments that demonstrate the potential to bring the game into disrepute will be investigated and addressed by the tournament organiser and, as appropriate, the IRB.”

Lapasset added: “Match officials, like players, do make mistakes, but it is important that we work with our unions to ensure that match official performance is discussed within the appropriate and established framework for feedback and appraisal that operates between coaches, match officials and the IRB.”

The 2014 edition of the Six Nations, the European game’s premier international tournament, starts this weekend.

Defending champions Wales are at home to Italy on Saturday, when France play England in Paris, with Ireland facing Scotland in Dublin on Sunday.

AFP

CJ accepts Irelands call

46

CJ-Stander-Munster-630Former Bulls flank CJ Stander has committed to a long-term goal of playing Test rugby for Ireland by signing a two-year contract extension with Munster that will see them stay with the province until June 2016.

Stander joined Munster in October 2012 from Super Rugby side the Bulls and made his debut as a substitute against Scarlets that November at Musgrave Park.

A week later, the powerful back row unit scored two tries on his first league start against Glasgow Warriors at Thomond Park.

The 23-year-old South African made his European Cup debut against Edinburgh in October 2013 in Murrayfield, and to date he has played 22 times for Munster, scoring six tries.

Duncan Casey also agreed a two-year contract extension. The Cork man is a product of the Munster Academy and is currently contracted as a development hooker.

The 23-year-old will move to a full senior contract at the end of this season on the back of impressive breakthrough performances this year.

He made his debut off the bench against Perpignan in the European Cup at Thomond Park in December and then made his first start against Scarlets in the league at Musgrave Park two weeks later. He has made three further appearances off the bench so far this season.

Commenting on the confirmed signings, head coach Rob Penney said, “We’ve had a really positive start to 2014 with players committing their future to Munster and I believe this spurs the younger lads on, knowing what is ahead of them and who will be leading the way.

“We are extremely pleased with CJ’s progress, it’s great that he has recommitted to Munster and that he believes this is the best place for his development.

“Similarly for Duncan, it bodes well for the future, and his progression is another example of the hard work that is being carried out at grassroots level.”

Source: Rugby365

Boks v World XV in Cape Town

2

Cape town stadiumThe Springboks are likely to play a game against a World XV at Cape Town Stadium later this year.

According to Die Burger’s website, the game is due to be played on June 7.

Mayoral committee member for tourism, events and marketing, Grant Pascoe, said they are in talks with the SA Rugby Union (SARU) and the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) about the possibility of hosting the game.

“They (SARU and WPRFU) have the Test at Newlands against Australia (September 27) and then they’re looking at another game (in Cape Town) against a World XV at Cape Town Stadium,” said Pascoe.

Pascoe added that all the rulings have not yet been finalised.

Executive director of tourism, events and marketing, Anton Groenewald, said they are waiting on a political decision on the matter after the proposal was brought to the attention of Western Cape premier Helen Zille and Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille.

With the upcoming elections top of the agenda at present, a final decision could be delayed for a short while.

WPRFU president Thelo Wakefield said they support the idea.

“SARU asked us if we’d like to come on board and we agreed. It’s a top-notch match coming here and it’s good for the fans,” said Wakefield.

Wakefield said the fact that it won’t be an official Test and the possibility of luring more than 48 000 fans to Cape Town Stadium make it appealing.

“The discussions around it are between the City Council and SARU. WP will act in an advisory capacity.”

It is well known that the City of Cape Town wants WP to move its headquarters away from Newlands.

Kings team for Lions

1

kings

Following a sterling performance against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs this past weekend, it is not surprising to see a fairly unchanged starting line up for the Southern Kings match against the Lions at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday.

Southern Kings caretaker coach Robbi Kempson made only two changes to his starting line up, with prop Charl du Plessis returning to the side after injury, and Shane Gates moving off the bench to centre. Darron Nell will captain the side.

Kempson said he was hoping that Du Plessis would bring experience to the scrums.

“Charl brings a bit more experience to the front row and more bulk,” he said.

“The scrums did not go as I would have liked against the Cheetahs,” Kempson said. “We were under pressure for the majority of our scrums, so we have worked on those issues today, with an extended session on the scrumming machine,” he said.

Gates takes his spot at inside centre in place of Dwayne Jenner, who moves to the bench.

Jenner, however, is on standby for outside centre Ronnie Cooke, who took a knock to the hip against the Cheetahs and will have a final fitness test on Thursday. If Cooke sits out, Brian Skosana will come in for Jenner among the reserves.

Kempson said he was looking forward to carry some of the Kings early momentum against the Cheetahs across to the Lions match.

“The Lions are a very different test, the tempo of their game is much higher and they tend to do things in explosive spurts, so it will be a different game,” he said.

Nell said the players would be looking for a win in their match against the Lions.

“The guys came out of the game against the Cheetahs with a lot more belief than what they went into the game with. That Cheetahs side played in the quarter finals of super rugby last year and the guys walked away from that game definitely knowing that they can play at that level and survive at that level,” he said.

“I think a win against the Lions will be great to build their confidence, that’s what we need to build. We have a lot of young guys in the team and what they need is to believe that they can compete at this level, and a win against the Lions will definitely go a long way to reinforce that,” he said.

The game will kick off at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium at 5pm on Saturday 1 February. Gates open at 1:30pm, with a curtain raiser between Cell C Community Cup team GAP Management Despatch and the EP Kings Vodacom Cup team, which will take place at 2:30.

Tickets are just R50, and are available at any Computicket outlet or at the stadium’s ticketing office. The match will not be televised.

The Southern Kings team:

  1. BG Uys,
  2. Dane van der Westhuysen
  3. Charl du Plessis
  4. Steven Sykes
  5. Rynier Bernado
  6. Paul Schoeman
  7. Darron Nel                          (Captain)
  8. Devon Oosthuizen
  9. Jaco Grobler
  10. George Whitehead
  11. Michael Killian
  12. Shane Gates
  13. Ronnie Cooke/ Dwayne Jenner
  14. Sergeal Petersen
  15. Siviwe Soyizwapi

Replacements:

JC Oberholzer, Lizo Gqboko, Vukile Sofisa, Stephan Zaayman, Stefan Greeff

Sharks team for Sarrie’s match

4

Sharks2014

The Cell C Sharks team has been announced for Saturday’s match against the English club Saracens.

Director of Rugby, Jake White believe this would be the best preparations for their first clash with the Bulls, “What I enjoy about this game is that it mimics a little bit of what we can expect from the Bulls. “Saracens play a little bit like the Bulls, they have a big pack of forwards, their set-piece is strong and they kick a lot. It gives me and the coaching staff an opportunity to see the things we want to do against the Bulls and to have an idea of whether or not we can play against the Bulls in a certain way.”

Captain du Plessis do respect the English side, “Saracens have been the form side in the English Premiership for the last few years. They are midway through their season so it’s going to be tough for us, but we are looking forward to it. We want to test some new combinations and tick a few boxes,” he said

 

Sharks Team:

15. Tyler Fisher
14. Odwa Ndungane
13. Paul Jordaan
12. Andre Esterhuizen
11. Lwazi Mvovo
10. Tim Swiel
9. Cobus Reinach
8. Willem Alberts
7. Jean Deysel
6. Tera Mtembu
5. Pieter–Steph du Toit
4. Etienne Oosthuizen
3. Jannie du Plessis
2. Bismarck du Plessis (C)
1. Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements
16. Kyle Cooper
17. Dale Chadwick
18. Lourens Adriaanse
19. Stephan Lewies
20. Jacques Botes
21. Charl McLeod
22. Heimar Williams
23. Jaco van Tonder

 

Aussies take on the Islanders

2

Aussies

Australia’s best emerging Super Rugby talent will compete against national representative teams from Fiji, Japan, Samoa, Tonga and Argentina in next month’s 2014 IRB Pacific Rugby Cup (PRC) to be held over five weeks across Australia.

The competition was established in 2006 to help develop Rugby in Pacific nations, but for the first time in 2014, it will include the Argentina Pampas and will be held entirely in Australia.

The tournament is organised by the IRB in partnership with Australian Rugby Union and will feature Australian Super Rugby ‘A’ sides made up of  development squad members as well as players from junior pathways including State under 20s teams.

NSW Waratahs coach Michael Cheika said it’s a valuable match program for players who are looking to make the step to Super Rugby and beyond.

“This tournament provides a great avenue for current and aspiring Waratahs players to stake their claim for a place in the New South Wales team in the Super Rugby competition. There is no better place for players to show their skills than in the match environment,” Cheika said.

“The timing is perfect as it parallels the start of our Super Rugby season and sits just before the start of our Shute Shield competition for the Sydney clubs so all players involved are preparing in a competitive match arena as opposed to training.”

Australian Rugby Union General Manager Development Pathways Ben Whitaker said involving Australian teams in the tournament is aimed at improving the pathway to develop more elite players across the country.

“This tournament will help bridge the gap between domestic and international Rugby for our best locally-based players who aren’t required at a Super Rugby level,” Mr Whitaker said.

“It also helps us forge strong relationships with developing Rugby nations and it forms an important step in the pathway players will take from the grassroots right through to elite and national representation. Ultimately, we’d love to see a player compete in this year’s Pacific Rugby Cup represent Australia at next year’s Rugby World Cup.

“We encourage Rugby fans to get out and support all teams competing in the competition, with free entry at all fixtures at matches to be held in Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth and the Gold Coast.”

Fiji is the reigning Pacific Rugby Cup champion, and is the only team to have successfully defended the title, having won the PRC every year since 2009.

Teams will be split into two pools and will play each team in their pool once, with the final to be played by the top-placed team from each pool. 

The 2014 IRB Pacific Rugby Cup starts on Friday 21 February with a match between Western Force A and Queensland Reds A in Perth. The final will be held in Sydney on Sunday 23 March.

 

Sharks training squad for Saracens

9

Sharks2014

The Sharks Director of Rugby, Jake White have named a strong touring squad to take part in the clash at Allianz Park against the English champions Saracens. The game will be played on the Saturday the 25th January 2014 in London.

White sees this match as one of the most important matches in the Sharks preparations for this years Super Rugby competition. He feels that this should give him and his team a good indications were they will be in there preparation.

The following players will form part of the touring squad to London:

Forwards Backs
Adriaanse Lourens Esterhuizen Andre
Alberts Willem Fisher Tyler
Chadwick Dale Jordaan Paul
Coetzee Marcell McLeod Charl
Cooper Kyle Mvovo Lwazi
Daniel Keegan Ndungane Odwa
Deysel Jean Reinach Cobus
du Plessis Bismarck Steyn Francois
du Plessis Jannie Swiel Timothy
du Toit Pieter-Steph van Tonder Jaco
Lewies Stephan Williams Heimar
Mtawarira Tendai Zeilinga Fred
Mtembu Tera
Oosthuizen Etienne

Jake White, The Sharks Director of Rugby said: “This match will provide us with the ideal opportunity to view the depth in our squad as we look to conclude our preparations ahead of the start of the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament.

“It is great to have our Springboks back and available for selection. We are expecting a highly competitive match against Saracens and are looking forward to the encounter.”

Matfield return to rugby

33

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Former Springbok lock Victor Matfield will make his return to the playing field for the Bulls in this year’s Super Rugby competition, a report in Saturday’s Die Burger indicates.

The newspaper was reliably informed by three credible sources that Matfield will play for the Bulls. playingfield

Matfield was unable to grant an interview on Friday, but confirmed that the Bulls and the Springboks will release a join press release in due course.

Matfield, 36, retired from all forms of rugby after the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

He was the Bulls’ lineout coach in recent years and has trained with the team in the last while.

He will use this year’s Super Rugby competition to try convince Bok coach Heyneke Meyer that he’s still good enough to play international rugby.

Matfield is eyeing the 2015 World Cup in England. He will by 38 years old by then.

Source: Sport24

Mowen to quit Wallabies

1

257041-ben-mowen

The ARU have announced that current Australia captain Ben Mowen will pursue his rugby career in France at the end of 2014.

Mowen has played 15 Tests for Australia after making his international debut in June 2013 against the British and Irish Lions, but will now miss the Rugby World Cup in England in 2015. The 29-year-old was appointed Captain during last season’s Rugby Championship when he led Australia to a one-point victory over Argentina in Perth. He was also Captain for the recent European Tour, overseeing victories in four of the five matches played.

Mowen said the decision is based on personal and family considerations. “I have loved the opportunity to play for the Qantas Wallabies and I have been fortunate to play alongside and be mentored by many incredible players, coaches and other members of the Australian Rugby community during my career,” said Mowen. “While my desire to play for Australia is still extremely strong, my priority is to spend more time with my wife and our daughter. “I would have loved my career to have lined up to help Australia win the next Rugby World Cup, but my priority at this stage in my life is my family. I will be cheering hard from a distance – we have the squad and coaching staff to achieve a Rugby World Cup win in 2015 and I wish them all the very best.

“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunities I have had throughout my career, but in the meantime, my focus will be on ensuring the Brumbies win the 2014 Super Rugby competition.”

Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver said Mowen will be missed.

“Ben has been an outstanding contributor to Australian Rugby and role model since he made his Super Rugby debut in 2006,” said Pulver

“Rugby is an business and while we’re disappointed to know Ben will be heading to France in 2015, we respect his decision. “On behalf of the Australian Rugby community, I want to thank him for his significant contribution and wish him all the best for the future on and off the field.”

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie said the decision means Mowen won’t be eligible for national selection in 2015, but the door will remain open for him if he wants to return to Australia. “I’ve known Ben throughout his career and I’ve enjoyed watching him reach the pinnacle of our sport by representing Australia and leading the national team as captain,” said McKenzie. “He has been in touch with me regularly throughout his decision-making process and he has approached this decision in his usual style – with professionalism and diligence.

“It’s obviously disappointing to lose a player of Ben’s calibre, but after speaking to him about his personal priorities, we appreciate that he is making this decision based on what is the right for him personally and professionally.

“I wish him every success and he knows he is always welcome in Australian Rugby in the future.”

Mowen will remain Captain of the Brumbies for the upcoming Super Rugby season.

Source: Planet Rugby

O’Connor to return next January

0

James O'ConnorWallaby James O’Connor is hot property in Europe at the moment, but it has been confirmed he will return home to Australia next January.

O’Connor went into a self-imposed exile last year after being dumped from the Wallaby squad by coach Ewen McKenzie and had his contract torn up by the Australian Rugby Union over his ongoing alcohol-related transgressions.

The 23-year-old, who has played 44 Tests for Australia, found a new home at English Premiership outfit London Irish and has been a regular feature since his Premiership debut against Northampton Saints on November 3.

London Irish Director of Rugby Brian Smith admitted he is doing all he can to keep hold of O’Connor, after the talented Wallaby back’s masterclass helped down Worcester Warriors on Saturday.

O’Connor scored his first Exiles try and kicked 17 points to pull his new side further clear of Worcester at the foot of the Premiership – extending the gap to 14 points and lifting them above Newcastle Falcons.

The 23-year-old arrived at the club in October on a deal until the end of the season and while he is already being linked with a host of European clubs, Smith hopes he will stay where he is.

“James is a world-class player and I think you saw that,” he said.

“He’ll go back [to Australia] in January 2015 and play in rugby in Australia and for the Wallabies in the build-up to the World Cup.

“He’s 23 years of age and he should be playing for his country.

“He put his hand up today and controlled the back-line. We knew they were going to pepper him with high balls and he also managed to score a try so we’re really happy with him.

“He’s fitting in well. He’s part of our strategy group that we have – he heads up the kick chase and counter-attack squad. He’s coming from the cutting edge of international rugby and he’s got some good ideas.

“We’re hoping to keep him until January 2015, but there are some French clubs throwing ridiculous money at players. For Toby Flood to leave Leicester, who are one of the wealthiest clubs in this league, shows a lot. The real big money is in Japan and France.

“These guys aren’t making decisions on a hundred pounds or even ten thousand pounds – French clubs are offering double what we can. We’ve put our best foot forward and the biggest deal that I’ve seen to try and look after him but France can blow us out of the water if they wanted to.

“It comes down to the player and what they want to do and James has his heart on playing for the Wallabies again. He’ll start that in Jan 2015 – we’ve got him for the rest of this season and, if we’re really fortunate, the start of next as well.”

The defeat left Worcester Warriors 11 points behind their nearest rivals, now Newcastle Falcons, at the foot of the table. And director of rugby Dean Ryan admitted he was expecting more from his side after their recent improvement.

“We didn’t manage the game well enough. With the weather conditions as they were we knew there wasn’t a huge amount of rugby to be played,” he said.

“We knew it was about managing field position and managing the set-pieces and we came second in both. We were driven in the lineout, which created pressure, and we lacked discipline which gave them field position.

“It’s really disappointing because that’s Worcester of six or seven weeks ago. I thought we had cleaned up our act but today that didn’t come through, which is really disappointing at such a crucial time.

“We knew how big today was and I don’t think we managed that very well and we can’t hide from the pressure that Irish put us under. There’s no point trying to dress it up, we didn’t cope well enough.

“With the weather how it was it puts a magnifying glass under three or four parts of your game and we probably lost two out of those three today, which effectively led to the result.

“We’re aware that the longer it [run of defeats] goes on the harder it gets but we’re not giving up.

“We’re pretty tight as a team and we’re really disappointed with that performance. We’re aware that we’ve got Leicester in the next Premiership game at Sixways and we’re going to give it a real crack.”

By: Rugby365

The bad boys XV

2

Jan de Koning reflects on some of the game’s more ignoble characters.

Australia, with the axing of James O’Connor and the ban of six other Wallabies on the year-end tour, dominated the ‘bad boy’ headlines this past year.

But is the off-field indiscretions really worse Down Under than anywhere in the world?

It took some digging, but I came up with a list of unsavoury characters that would make an interesting World XV!

Then there is an extensive list that came close, but just wasn’t bad enough.

The bad boys XV:

15 – Kurtley Beale (Australia):
He has been involved in quite a few drunken late night brawls – including hitting a security guard. But in his most recent he punched Gareth Delve, his Melbourne Rebels captain, on the team bus on a tour in Durban. he was forced into treatment for an alcohol-related behaviour disorder. Even when he was recalled, he was unable to avoid controversy and was pictured in a burger bar at 03.50 just days before the second Lions Test.

14 – Zac Guildford (New Zealand):
Another player who first hit rock bottom – including striking a patron in a bar on an alcohol-fuelled night out during the World Cup and then also took off all his clothes in public and was accused of sexually harassing a woman. Following another alcohol-fuelled series of incidents, he apologized for his actions and admitted to alcoholism. Like Beale, he received treatment.

13 – Mike Tindall (England):
He had some tough competition, but being married to a royal – Zara Phillips, the daughter of the Princess Royal and the eldest granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh – his drunken binge at the 2011 World Cup was inexcusable. It made a big contribution to England’s tarnished reputation – a drunken night out that included dwarf tossing and fondling a female friend in public. It ended his Test career.

12 – Gavin Henson (Wales):
Another position where the competition was tough. But they don’t get much worse than Henson, who got into fights with teammates on more than just one occasion. Controversy is never far for a player who admitted abusing two bouncers on a night out in 2005, was questioned by police for drunken behaviour on a train in 2007 and was warned about his future conduct after drunken antics on a night out in February 2009. Then there is the well-documented incident when he was punched, out cold, by a Bath teammate. And last year Henson apologised after being suspended by Cardiff Blues over an alcohol-fuelled incident on a plane as the team returned from a Pro12 match in Scotland.

11 – Wendell Sailor (Australia):
The code-hopper had a big price-tag and certainly lived up to his ‘bad boy’ image when he came from Rugby League. Apart from a litany of different indiscretions – ranging from public drunkenness to road rage and nightclub altercations with teammates – he edged all the other wingers when he tested positive for cocaine use in 2006 and was subsequently banned from playing for two years.

10 – Quade Cooper (Australia):
There was a reason why Robbie Deans dumped the ‘toxic’ – but insanely talented – flyhalf. His antics include smashing a taxi cab window and yelling abuse outside a nightclub, while in 2009 he was arrested and charged with burglary following a night out in which he robbed two laptops at a residence on Australia’s Gold Coast.

9 – Danny Care (England):
Again there were multiple and some very good options, but Care scored the worst hat-trick ever – arrested and cautioned for three drink-related offences in the space of three months in 2012. He was arrested first for being drunk and disorderly, then drunk driving and finally for relieving himself in public – all while he was involved in a court case for charges of sexual assault.

8 – Andy Powell (Wales):
Powell first hit the headlines in 2010 after taking a golf buggy from his team hotel, following a Six Nations match, and drunkenly driving it to an M4 services to get some snacks. Powell later left Wasps by mutual consent following an investigation into a bar brawl that left him bloodied and bruised in 2011.

7 – Jerry Collins (New Zealand):
He was arrested in August for disorderly behaviour in central Wellington, the same day he abused hospital staff, and a few months earlier he had been arrested in Japan for carrying a deadly weapon in public. Collins was arrested after he abused staff in a Courtenay Place takeaway bar and a drunken Collins threw a half-eaten kebab on the ground a couple of metres from the arresting officers. In March Collins was arrested in Japan after entering a department store carrying two 17cm knives. He later paid a fine and claimed he was running from the Japanese mafia.

6 – Trevor Brennan (Ireland):
He was slapped with a life ban, later reduced to five years, when he leapt into the stands and repeatedly struck Patrick Bamford in the face. Brennan claimed he had erupted after abuse towards his mother, although an investigation found no such abuse took place and that Brennan had been baited over the poor quality of the bar he owned in Toulouse.

5 – Justin Harrison (Australia):
He sparked the infamous Bath cocaine saga, when he made quips over the microphone of the team bus about taking Class A substances, following the team’s notorious end-of-season party in May 2009. Harrison admitted to taking cocaine, retired quickly after the incident and was banned for eight months. He also used racial slurs towards South African wing Chumani Booi in 2005, while playing for the Waratahs against the Cats. And then there was the well-documented running feud between him and the B&I Lions wing Austin Healey in 2001, after Healey called him an “ape”, a “plank” and a “plod”.

4 – Paddy Mayne (Ireland):
He’s the ‘enforcer’. He earned his reputation when, on the 1938 B&I Lions tour of South Africa, he repeatedly broke into teammates’ rooms in the middle of the night and destroyed their furniture. For added value, with Welsh hooker Bunner Travers, he used to head to the docks with the sole intention on picking a fight. His tour ended when he returned to the hotel with a dead antelope over his shoulder.

3 – Keith Murdoch (New Zealand):
He became the first All Black to be sent home from a tour, under controversial and mysterious circumstances. He scored the All Blacks’ only try in their 1972 win against Wales in Cardiff, but later the same night was involved in a fracas in which he punched security guard Peter Grant, knocking him to the ground, as he attempted to enter into the famous rugby watering hole, The Angel Hotel – which was closed at the time. He never returned home and disappeared into obscurity into the Australian Outback.

2 – Andrew Hore (New Zealand):
No, this is not for his penchant to have a few quiet beers the night before a game and also not for his cheap shot that hospitalised Welsh lock Bradley Davies. In 2005 his career was nearly ended, following a court case in which he was convicted and fined for shooting and killing protected fur seals. The Judge described the offence as a “grossly irresponsible, spontaneous act of hooliganism”.

1 – Matt Stevens (England):
Just months before the infamous Bath sage in 2009, Stevens produced a positive drugs test (the substance was, you guessed it, cocaine) and was subsequently banned from the game for two years. He admitted that he was hooked on a recreational drug and underwent counselling, returning to the game in 2011.

Replacements: We have a very lengthy bench, which includes many players ‘lucky’ not to have made the starting XV. We list them in no particular order.

* Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa): Was arrested at a routine police road block on suspicion that his blood alcohol content exceeded the legal limit. His case is pending.
* Ricky Januarie (South Africa): Was ordered to perform 20 hours of community service, following a plea bargain over his drunk driving charge. Januarie was ordered to coach rugby at schools selected by the National Institute for Crime Prevention and Re-integration of Offenders.
* James O’Connor (Australia): A drunken O’Connor appeared to have forgotten his name when he asked flight staff if they knew who he was at the Perth airport. That was after he had already been dumped by the Rebels over his booze binges and subsequently had his Wallaby contract torn up.
* Mike Phillips (Wales): Caught in a series of nightclub brawls and had to apologise to his team after a bust-up with cops outside a Cardiff burger bar.
* Mathieu Bastareaud (France): Claimed to have been beaten up by four or five men while in New Zealand. However, CCTV footage showed that was not the case and he later admitted he sustained the injuries after drunkenly falling over in his hotel room.
* Danny Cipriani (England): Accused of stealing booze from a Melbourne nightclub, then a few booze-tinged incidents later, he was hit by a London bus in 2013 while out on the lash.
* Julian Savea (New Zealand): Arrested and charged for domestic violence towards his girlfriend.
* Willie Anderson (Ireland): Caused a major diplomatic incident when the drunken Irishman decided it would be a good idea to steal an Argentinian flag from a Government building during a rugby tour there. He was charged and appeared in court.
* Digby Ioane (Australia): A warrant was issued for the arrest of the star wing, after he missed a date with a magistrate following a scuffle in a Melbourne hotel in March. A few days later he tweeted a gangster-style photo of himself posing in a spa with a group of players including, you guessed it, Beale, Cooper and O’Connor.
* Willie Ripia (New Zealand): Dumped by the Western Force after he was caught stealing from his own teammates in the dressing room to fuel his gambling habits.
* Sean Maitland (Scotland): Was charged with assault in Glasgow, relating to a late-night kebab shop brawl in which he put a man in hospital.
* Byron Kelleher (New Zealand): He was involved in a number of drink driving, booze-filled incidents in France. In the most recent incident he was stopped by police in Bordeaux after he was alleged to be driving on the wrong side of the road while four times over the legal alcohol limit.
* Manu Tuilagi (England): Jumped off a ferry into Auckland harbour after England’s World Cup exit.
* James Haskell (England): Made inappropriate comments to a female hotel worker in New Zealand, while making a video spoof.
* Chris Ashton: Like Haskell, he is accused of making inappropriate comments to a female hotel worker in New Zealand. Not sure who held the camera.
* Alex Crockett, Andrew Higgins and Michael Lipman terminated their own contracts with Bath in 2009 after allegedly refusing to take a drug test following allegations of drug-taking. They all received nine-month bans in the infamous Bath cocaine saga.
* Cory Jane (New Zealand): Went on a booze binge just 72 hours before the 2011 World Cup quarterfinal against Argentina.
* Jimmy Cowan (New Zealand): Several arrests for oafish behaviour while drunk in 2008 saw him slapped with a NZ$3000 fine by the NZRU.
* Six Wallabies made a late bid for inclusion after they were involved in a late-night drinking session. in November. Adam Ashley-Cooper, Nick Cummins, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson, Liam Gill and Paddy Ryan each sat out a one-match ban.

Referee – Steve Walsh (Australia):
Was kicked out by his own refereeing society in New Zealand, after a number of alcohol-fuelled incidents, including arriving at a morning session intoxicated. Resurrected his career in Australia.

Coach – Alex Wylie (New Zealand):
The Grizz arrived intoxicated at a Transvaal training session (when he coached the Johannesburg-based team briefly in 1996) and hurled abuse at the players.

Manager – Mathew Vaea (Samoa):
He tarnished his own chiefly title of “tuala” – that was bestowed on him by his village in Samoa – by excessive drinking while the Samoan team manager at the 2011 World Cup. Samoan leaders in the Leauva’a village ordered him to pay 100 pigs.

Stadium – Kings Park (South Africa)
No place for a post-match party like Durban and the outer fields at Kings Park. Cemented its place with a the death of former Royal Marine Brett Williams. Four men – brothers Blayne and Kyle Shepard, Andries van der Merwe, and Dustin van Wyk – each face one charge of murder, three of assault with intent to commit grievous bodily harm, and one of crimen injuria. Their case is scheduled for Match.

* Did we miss anybody? What changes would you make to our team?

Sharks Jersey for 2014

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International Sports Apparel Company BLK on Friday unveiled the Sharks’ home and away replica jerseys ahead of the 2014 Super Rugby season, reports Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick.

The playing and replica jersey design project commenced immediately following the announcement of a partnership between the Super Rugby franchise and the rapidly expanding BLK brand for the next five years.

The BLK design team, working in consultation with the Sharks, produced an array of concepts before deciding on the designs to be worn by fans throughout the 2014 season.

The new garments offer a contemporary twist to the Sharks signature black and white outfits of previous seasons, with a subtle geometric carbon fiber print featured on both the home and away jerseys.

BLK has created a collection of technically advanced sports apparel for players and supporters, whilst ensuring a modern look is applied to the classic Sharks brand.

Complimenting this modern design, the latest innovation in jersey research and design, Exotek fabric has been utilised for the on-field garments.

Exotek has been designed and developed exclusively by BLK and feels the Sharks will enter the Super Rugby season wearing the lightest, most breathable and strongest fabric available.

The new jerseys will be accessible through major South African retailers towards the end of January 2014, with the Shark Cage Megastore selling both jerseys from the 23rd of December for R 599.00.

BLK Marketing and Digital Director Jason Sintome said the jersey release is the first event in a series of exciting announcements and events planned between the two organisations.

“The Sharks have long since been celebrated as a key global rugby brand which is reflected in their relentless pursuit of success both on and off the field.

“At BLK we are determined to be leaders in jersey innovation and will ensure players and fans receive apparel created specifically to enhance the rich heritage of the franchise and assist in their pursuit of success.” said Sintome.

SBW to be reunited with Chiefs in 2015

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Rugby : Magazine Sonny Bill Williams pour Sky Televison - All BlacksThe New Zealand Rugby Union have confirmed that cross-code rugby star Sonny Bill Williams will return to rugby union in 2015.

Williams, who will continue in rugby league with the Sydney Roosters in 2014, has signed a two-year deal, meaning he could appear for the All Blacks at the 2015 World Cup.

He will return to the Chiefs, for whom he played in 2012, in the Super 15 competition.

New Zealand Rugby CEO Steve Tew said: “Sonny showed in his two years with New Zealand rugby that he is an outstanding talent and was a real asset to our game.

“We are delighted to have agreed terms which will see him return to rugby in 2015.”

Williams won the World Cup with New Zealand in 2011 on home soil even though he had been available to play for the All Blacks for less than a year.

He originally started out in rugby league, winning the NRL with the Bulldogs in 2004.

But he missed out on the 2008 World Cup because he moved to Toulon to play in the French Top 14, a decision that saw him pick up the moniker: “Money Bill”.

He returned to New Zealand in 2010 after signing a contract with New Zealand Rugby and played for Canterbury in the ITM Cup and Crusaders in the Super Rugby competition.

In 2012 he joined the Chiefs and went on to win the Super 15.

But he then opted to return to league and joined Sydney Roosters, winning another NRL, before bidding to become the first person to win a World Cup in both rugby codes.

That dream died in Manchester, England, last month when the Kiwis were crushed 34-2 by Australia in the final.

He had already committed to a second straight season with the Roosters but has now decided to go back to union in 2015.

Chiefs Coach Dave Rennie said: “We’re rapt. We made no secret that we were keen to get Sonny back in a Chiefs jersey. He’s not only a quality player but adds huge value to our environment off the field.”

Williams played 19 Tests for the All Blacks and also won the New Zealand heavyweight belt while boxing during his off-seasons, although he was stripped of the crown last week due to inactivity.

His last fight was a controversial 10-round points victory against former world title challenger Francois Botha of South Africa in February.

Big boost for Cape Town Tens

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The Cape Town Tens rugby event on Wednesday announced plans for a ground breaking sponsorship of the 2014 event.

Food Lover’s Market has become the exclusive food partner of the event and will be delivering a unique and premium food experience for players and spectators alike – including hot and cold food zones, buffet breakfasts and a sushi area.

Launched in 2009 by rugby legends, Bob Skinstad and Robbie Fleck, the Cape Town Tens is now the biggest ten-a-side tournament in world rugby. It’s a unique sports lifestyle event that provides a winning formula of rugby, sunshine, banter and live entertainment to more than 2 000 players and 12 000 spectators over two days. It was recently short-listed as a finalist in the Best Live Experience category of the upcoming Discovery Sports Industry Awards.

Brian Coppin, the MD of the Fruit and Veg City Group, said: “We see a great fit with the Cape Town Tens audience and are excited to deliver a world class food offering at one of South Africa’s fastest growing sports lifestyle events.”

“Under the auspices of the Food Lover’s Market Love Health initiative, we are encouraging consumers to live a healthy and active lifestyle and be conscious of their relationship with food  – and the Rugby Tens tournament is the perfect vehicle for us to share our message of nutrition and wellness. In the weeks leading up to the tournament we will be offering consumers and teams great nutritional and wellness advice via our digital platforms and media partners.”

Skinstad added: “The event experience is paramount at Tens and our exciting partnership with Food Lover’s Market takes this experience to a new level. Food Lover’s Market is one of the fastest growing brands in South Africa and we are delighted to have them on board. We are sure players and spectators alike will be delighted with the high quality food zone at our forthcoming event. ”

Now in its sixth year, Cape Town Tens will take place at Hamilton’s Rugby Club, on Friday 7 February and Saturday 8 February 2014, with more than 90 teams set to take part.

The event will also feature live entertainment, rugby development clinics, Springbok and international legends and South Africa’s biggest beer tent.

For further information about Cape Town Tens Rugby go to www.capetowntens.com, visit the Tens Facebook page, or follow on Twitter @tensrugby.

EP Rugby’s player of the year

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Ronnie Cook

Ronnie Cooke has been crowned Eastern Province Rugby’s Player of the Year for 2013, after what has undoubtedly been a very long rugby season.

“There can be no doubt that 2013 has been one of the most challenging as well as one of the most exciting years that EP Rugby has been through in recent history, and it would not have been possible without the courage, commitment and determination of the players,” said CEO Charl Crous.

Crous said that the awards, which were handed out yesterday at an informal players end of year function, were just a small way of recognising the players achievements and contributions over the year.

Starting with the U19 Player of the Year, Tyler Paul was the clear winner, while Aidon Davis walked away with the U21 Player of the Year award, as well as receiving an Achievement award for being selected to play for the SA U20 team in the 2013 IRB Junior World Championship.

The Most Promising Young Star of 2013 went to Siviwe “Shakes” Soyizwapi who, having made just four first-team appearances was called to the Super Rugby squad following an injury to Hadleigh Parkes, and made his Super Rugby debut in the 28–28 draw against the Brumbies. Soyizwapi went on to represent both the Currie Cup first division team as well as the U21s before being called up to represent the SA Sevens Academy squad in Dubai.

Tim Agaba, who played for the NMMU Madibaz in the 2012 and 2013Varsity Cup, as well as the  2013 Vodacom Cup and ABSA Currie Cup competitions, was named Rookie of the Year.

Best Try of the Year went to Sergeal Petersen for his first try against the Western Force in the debut game of the Southern Kings.

Scott van Breda was awarded a merit award for his contribution to the team in 2013, and was also named the Supporters Player of the Year, an award sponsored by the official supporters club, the Kings Army.

Ronnie Cooke received three awards in total. Aside from being elected as the Player of the Year for 2013, he was voted as the Players Player of the Year by his teammates, and was also elected the Most Valuable Player of the Year by team management. PlayerAwards047

 

Team of the Year: All stars (Rugby365)

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Following a memorable international season, we acknowledge the leading players of 2013 in our annual Team of the Year. Rugby365 gives us their teams

Although the British and Irish Lions secured their first series win in 16 years when they won the three-Test series against Australia 2-1, Southern Hemisphere sides again ruled the rugby landscape this season.

That superiority is reflected in our selection with just three Northern Hemisphere players – a trio of Lions no less – cracked the nod in our 2013 vintage.

The All Blacks, after becoming the first team to complete a perfect season in the professional era, provide the bulk of our team with six players selected.

The Springboks showed vast improvement in their second season under Heyneke Meyer and are rewarded with three players in the side while three Welshmen are included after playing integral roles in Wales’ Six Nations and the Lions’ series triumphs.

Only two Wallabies made the grade after a topsy-turvy season for the Australians while an Argentine adds some Puma flavour to our granite pack.

The bubbling under section has a good mix of Northern and Southern Hemisphere players with players from South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Wales, Argentina and France all in the mix.

Our Team of the Year:

15 Leigh Halfpenny (Wales)
The baby-faced assassin was the embodiment of a match winner this year and deservedly received the honour of being named the British and Irish Lions Player of the Series as well as the Six Nations Player of the Championship. He shattered records Down Under and proved he’s more than just a metronomic goal-kicker, the diminutive fullback rock solid on defence, dependable under the high ball and involved on attack.
Bubbling under: Willie le Roux (South Africa)

14 Ben Smith (New Zealand)
In many respects, 2013 was the year of  Ben Smith. The 27-year-old was the breakout backline star of the year, terrorising defences on the wing before moving into the midfield and making a strong case to inherit namesake Conrad Smith’s No.13 black jersey. The multi-talented utility back was the most lethal and elusive strike runner and the deadliest finisher of the year bar none.
Bubbling under: Israel Folau (Australia)

13 Conrad Smith (New Zealand)
The wily wizard consolidated his status as the world’s pre-eminent outside centre this year with vintage inventiveness and unrivalled defensive capabilities in midfield. He’s the brains of the All Black backline – a rugby genius – and one of the classiest and most respected players of all-time. He only enhanced his reputation in 2013.
Bubbling under: Jonathan Davies (Wales)

12 Jean de Villiers (South Africa)
With lingering doubts over his longevity, the 32-year-old made a definitive statement and produced consistently stellar performances that rivalled his 2008 form, when he won both the SARU Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year awards. The Springbok captaincy has reinvigorated and brought out the best in De Villiers, a natural leader, who led by example all year.
Bubbling under: Wesley Fofana (France)

11 George North (Wales)
Arguably the most prolific wing in the Northern Hemisphere, North starred for both Wales and the British and Irish Lions this season. He scored some sensational tries and etched his name in Lions history with a 60-metre gem of a try in the opening Test as well as with a unique feat of strength as he lifted Israel Folau while in possession of the ball.
Bubbling under: Julian Savea (New Zealand)

10 Quade Cooper (Australia)
Cooper’s resurgence was one of the comeback stories of the year. After a couple of indifferent seasons and a highly publicised spat with Robbie Deans, the outspoken flyhalf found himself in the wilderness at the start of the international season. Recalled by new coach Ewen McKenzie after the series loss to the British and Irish Lions and subsequent sacking of Deans, Cooper returned to his bamboozling best and thrived as newly appointed vice-captain. He’s a game changer for the Wallabies, who look lost without him.
Bubbling under: Aaron Cruden (New Zealand)

9 Aaron Smith (New Zealand)
The All Black scrumhalf started the Test season on a high with a string of spectacular performances against France and went on to make the No.9 black jersey his own. Fourie du Preez enjoyed a successful return to Test rugby, but the periodic nature of his Springbok comeback saw him lose out to Smith.
Bubbling under: Fourie du Preez (South Africa)

8 Kieran Read (New Zealand)
Already a virtuoso, Read lifted his game to even greater heights in 2013 and established himself as a true great. The 28-year-old is undoubtedly the best player in the world, thoroughly deserving of the IRB Player of the Year award, and is likely to go down in history as the most complete, well-rounded No.8 in history. Never before has an eighthman displayed such an astonishing array of skills – he’s the gold standard, be it his workrate, ball-carrying, defence, line-out and breakdown prowess, ability in the air, sublime offloading skills or knack of scoring tries. His man of the match performance in the epic Rugby Championship decider at Ellis Park was as good a No.8 outing as you’ll ever see.
Bubbling under: Duane Vermeulen (South Africa)

7 Michael Hooper (Australia)
Hooper was by some way the premier openside flank of 2013 and one of if not the most consistent player of the year. He made an absolute menace of himself at the breakdown which, coupled with his tireless workrate, could see him retain the Wallaby No.7 jersey when David Pocock returns from injury.
Bubbling under: Sam Warburton (Wales)

6 Liam Messam (New Zealand)
Messam’s trademark physicality and exemplary support play contributed to an influential individual campaign in 2013. His in-your-face style and aggressive defence make him the ideal man to have in the trenches, while he also possesses sublime ball skills and impressive pace, which saw him being included in Gordon Tietjens’ best New Zealand Sevens team of all-time.
Bubbling under: Juan Manual Leguizamón (Argentina)

5 Sam Whitelock (New Zealand)
Whitelock stood head and shoulders above the rest at No.5 this year and had no real rival to this distinction, which is a testament to his great talent. He ruled the skies and ran the All Black line-out with aplomb. He also hit the 50-Test milestone this year and, at 25 years of age, the best is yet to come.
Bubbling under: Alun Wyn Jones (Wales)

4 Eben Etzebeth (South Africa)
The South African prodigy grew in stature in his second international season. The hot-tempered rookie of 2012 was replaced by a mature, cerebral giant in 2013. His rapid development hints at further evolution – a daunting prospect for all who opposes him. Already the world’s apex enforcer, the 2.04m, 123kg behemoth became a force to be reckoned with at line-out time as well this year, his agility and timing proving he’s the full package.
Bubbling under: Rob Simmons (Australia)

3 Adam Jones (Wales)  
The Welsh warhorse was worth his considerable weight in gold for the British and Irish Lions and Six Nations champions in 2013. He was somewhat of an unsung hero as he anchored the scrum for both sides with his vast experience and scrummaging prowess. A real character of the game, the 32-year-old finished the year on 89 Tests.
Bubbling under: Juan Figallo (Argentina)

2 Bismarck du Plessis (South Africa)
Du Plessis was at his abrasive best as he made his return from injury. Although he rotated in and out of the Springbok starting line-up with Adriaan Strauss, he showed during his time on the pitch just why he is the world’s best hooker. His set-piece play was of the highest calibre, his bruising defence and powerful ball carries fierce and his ability to turnover possession unrivalled at No.2.
Bubbling under: Stephen Moore (Australia)

1 Marcos Ayerza (Argentina)
Ayerza spearheaded the Pumas’ scrum challenge both prior and after the implementation of the new scrum sequence this year. The 30-year-old used his brute strength and technique to turn the scrum into an attacking weapon, dishing out scrummaging lessons to the likes of the All Blacks, Springboks and Wallabies in the process.
Bubbling under: Alex Corbisiero (England)

Our individual selections:

Jan de Koning XV: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Israel Folau, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 George North, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Juan Manual Leguizamón, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Marcos Ayerza.

Quintin van Jaarsveld XV: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 George North, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read,7 Michael Hooper, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Alex Corbisiero.

Michael de Vries XV: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read,7 Michael Hooper, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Marcos Ayerza.

Paul Dobson XV: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 George North, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Alex Corbisiero.

By Quintin van Jaarsveld

Vermeulen’s pursuit of perfection

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VermeulenSpringbok No.8 Duane Vermeulen aims to elevate his game to even greater heights next season following a stellar 2013.

Vermeulen missed the June Tests due to a knee injury he sustained in the Stormers’ 15-21 loss to the Waratahs in Sydney in May but returned with a vengeance.

His form in the Rugby Championship, which saw him go blow for blow with All Black counterpart and IRB Player of the Year Kieran Read, and during the November internationals made him one of the standout Springboks of the season.

The 27-year-old’s consistently influential performances saw him make the green and gold No.8 jersey his own and landed him on the shortlist for the prestigious SARU Player of the Year award along with Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, Bismarck du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth and Willie le Roux.

Vermeulen said he’s pleased with his 2013 form and with the improvement and development of the Springboks, who won 10 of their 12 Tests over the course of the year and hopes to go from strength to strength next year.

“I really enjoyed the year. I had some good games and the end-of-year tour was very enjoyable,” said Vermeulen, who capped the year with a try-scoring performance for the Barbarians against Fiji at Twickenham.

“We achieved good things and grew as a team. We pulled in some youngsters, which was great for us on the end-of-year tour and helped make it a memorable year.

“I’m very happy with where I am personally and with my form and the focus now shifts to making sure I build on my 2013 performances when Super Rugby kicks off in February.”

Despite his physical and abrasive style, Vermeulen said he’s injury and niggle free but admitted he’s looking forward to a timely break.

“I actually just played half a year of rugby so I’m still good to go but it’s nice to get a break and I feel it’s come at the right time,” he said.

“It’s also good to know where you stand with the coaches and to just get away, rest and come back fresh for a full Super Rugby season.”

The Stormers eighthman said the loss of prodigious lock Etzebeth to an ankle injury was a major setback for the Cape franchise and their hopes of claiming a maiden Super Rugby title next year.

Etzebeth sustained the injury in the Springboks’ final Test of the year, a 19-10 win over France in Paris last month, and underwent surgery that will keep him on the sidelines for approximately six months.

Vermeulen said that while it’s disappointing to lose a key player for most or all of the Super Rugby season, it’s an opportunity for a young player to stake his claim and make his mark at Super Rugby level.

“It’s a massive blow for us. What Eben has done over the past two years and how he’s developed in that period is incredible, but it’s important to try to look past that,” said Vermeulen.

“Teams have to play without their Springboks all the time. For us, the Currie Cup is a stepping stone to Super Rugby so I’m looking forward to seeing a new face on the field and seeing that youngster coming through.

“Eben undoubtedly leaves big shoes to fill but hopefully we can get the player who fills that void up to speed with our structures and his role within those structures quickly.”

Vermeulen added he’s confident that the Stormers will bounce back next year after a disappointing 2013 campaign in which they failed to reach the play-offs (finishing seventh) and relinquished the South African Conference trophy they’d won in 2011 and 2012.

Vermeulen said the key for 2014 success is to set clear goals and to map out their journey with great detail.

“You have to set clear long and short-term goals for yourself,” he said.

“Everyone wants to win a trophy but there are steps to achieving that and we possibly didn’t outline our path that well this year.”

“We’ll brainstorm and discuss how we’re going to approach next season but we’ll be sure to take things step by step.”

By Quintin van Jaarsveld