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Straeuli joins Golden Lions

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f05400063fc249faa87d11bd670ecdeeFormer Springbok coach Rudolf Straeuli has joined the management team of Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU), the union said in a statement on Friday.

By: Sport24

Straeuli’s appointment as general manager of professional rugby and commercial, would begin with immediate effect and involve the recruitment and contracting of all senior players.

He would oversee all professional rugby operations and manage medical and technical staff.

“Administrators with the same set of skills, accomplishments and qualifications are hard to come by in this industry,” GLRU CEO Mani Booysen said.

“So we are very happy to welcome Rudolf on board and we believe he will contribute a great deal to the Union – especially now that the Lions will return to Super Rugby,”

Straeuli, who represented the Golden Lions from 1993 to 1996, was looking forward to re-joining his previous union after a lengthy tenure in a similar role at the Sharks.

“I have a great deal of respect for the Lions and their strong brand and I am glad I can further my career with them,” Straeuli said.

“I am also incredibly proud of the union for the challenges that they were able to overcome in 2013.”

He said one of his goals for the future was to establish a strong relationship between his previous franchise, the Durban-based Sharks, and the GLRU.

“I feel that synergy in the rugby industry is important and I believe that two rugby unions working in tandem can only benefit and grow the game as a whole,” he said.

“I see my new position as a unique opportunity for both the Sharks and the Lions to work closely together in future.”

Bulls mum on Matfield return

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James Horwill, Victor MatfieldThe Bulls are looking back in time to secure their Super Rugby future as two of their legendary stalwarts are set to return to the field for a comeback in the 2014 season.

By: Brenden Nel, SuperSport

According to the supersport.com website, both Springbok Victor Matfield and Loftus’ ‘liefling’ Derick Hougaard are training hard in Pretoria as they attempt to return to the field after a lengthy absence from the game.

Both comebacks have been privately confirmed by those close to the Bulls team, but no official comment has been received about Matfield and Hougaard returning to the field.

The Bulls officials have kept mum on the prospects of any comeback while both players are also keeping quiet about their movements.

But with the Bulls facing a tough Super Rugby tournament with an extremely young side and very little experience left in the camp after the mass exodus of Springbok players earlier this year, Matfield and Hougaard would be welcomed back into the fold, even though both currently hold coaching positions at the Bulls.

Matfield went as far as to hint at returning in a recent column for sponsor BMW, where he said if Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer asked him to return it would be a very difficult decision indeed.

“With Fourie returning, and Jaque Fourie also getting a lot of media coverage for a possible return, I’ve been asked the same question, particularly with a World Cup just two years away: if the Bok coach asks me to play again, and he thinks I am still good enough, will I accept?

“If he does – and that’s a big ‘if’ – then it would be a very tough decision,” Matfield wrote recently in his column.

It was widely believed that Matfield was tipped to take over the Currie Cup coaching reigns at the Bulls from incumbent Pine Pienaar, but his decision to return to the field will ultimately affect that, and could well see someone like Pote Human – who recently returned to Tuks to coach them in the Varsity Cup, return to a role he occupied a few years ago.

As for Hougaard – the popular flyhalf returned from Saracens under an injury cloud and has been seen more in social media pages than on the rugby field as he turned to a new role of kicking coach for the juniors at Loftus Versfeld.

But since then his Achilles has healed and Hougaard is positive that the medical news is enough to allow him a chance of trying to make it back onto the field, something he has desperately wanted for a while now and has often spoken about.

If both players return, it will be seen as a short term solution for the Bulls as they try and see their way through the next Super Rugby season while their young crop of players continue to develop.

But if things go well, don’t be surprised if both players then opt to try and make the Rugby World Cup squad in 2015, although at the moment that is far in the future.

Matfield, who was first a SuperSport commentator when he retired after the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and then took up a position as forwards and attack coach for the Blue Bulls, is attempting to become the second oldest Springbok player if he makes it back so far at the ripe age of 36.

Johan Ackermann holds that record when he appeared in 2007 at the age of 37 when the Boks faced the Barbarians.

Matfield has been seen training with Springbok fitness coach Basil Carzils in Pretoria in an attempt to get back to a fitness level that will be good enough for Super Rugby.

Since his time off the game the Bok lock has been very active in cycling but has not had the same physical activity as in his rugby days.

He was rumoured to return last year when coach Meyer was actively looking for experience, but decided rather to stick to his coaching role. Since then, a dearth of candidates in the No 5 jersey has given him much food for thought – and there is a belief at Loftus that Matfield still has a season in him at least.

Hougaard has also been very active at Loftus, and could be seen as a mentor for a young player like Handre Pollard, who has been tipped to make it to the top despite being only a year out of school.

And with the likes of Arno Botha, Pierre Spies, Deon Stegmann, Francois Hougaard all returning and Piet van Zyl heading to Loftus to join the Bulls, the addition of the two stalwarts will certainly give them more depth.

Who can stop the All Blacks?

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All BlacksA familiar question hangs in the air ahead of the start of this year’s November internationals – who can defeat New Zealand?

By: Sport24

The world champions have been in especially scintillating form of late, winning all six of their matches in the southern hemisphere rugby championship.

Even South Africa had to give second best to their arch-rivals with the Springboks suffering a 38-27 loss to their arch-rivals at their Ellis Park stronghold in Johannesburg.

And the worry for the rest, two years out from the 2015 World Cup in England, is that New Zealand coach Steve Hansen expects further improvement during a four-match tour featuring Tests against Japan, France, England and Ireland.

“We will be looking to use the tour to take ourselves beyond where we are at the moment,” Hansen said.

If this has been a year to remember for New Zealand, so far it’s been to one forget for Australia.

Heading into Saturday’s Twickenham Test against England, the Wallabies have won just three of 10 internationals in 2013

New Zealand’s Robbie Deans was sacked as Wallaby boss after the 2-1 series defeat by the British and Irish and his replacement, Ewen McKenzie, has since won just two of his seven games in charge.

But a year ago, having been thrashed 33-6 by France in Paris, Australia promptly beat 2015 pool rivals England 20-14 at Twickenham.

“As much as everyone talks about us, they (England) are under pressure themselves,” McKenzie said.

England will try to recapture the form that saw them stun New Zealand 38-21 this time last year with the kind of running rugby they are likely to require if they are to win the next World Cup.

But injuries mean they will be without centres Manu Tuilagi and Brad Barritt, who both starred against the All Blacks last year, and midfield, long a problem area for England, is again posing difficulties for coach Stuart Lancaster.

“We believe we have a great attacking team,” Lancaster said on Monday. “We want to hit the ground running.”

For Six Nations champions Wales this November offers a chance to improve upon a dreadful record against the Tri-Nations of one win and 20 defeats since New Zealand’s Warren Gatland, the victorious Lions chief, became their coach in 2008.

“Hopefully, there is enough experience now so that we can make an impact against the southern hemisphere sides over the next couple of years, Gatland said.

As former Wales international Eddie Butler pointed out, Scotland, especially if it rains at Murrayfield, “usually beat somebody big, usually by something like 9-6”, so South Africa and Australia will be on their guard in Edinburgh.

Meanwhile Ireland, in Brian O’Driscoll’s final season before retirement, would love nothing more than to notch up a first win over the All Blacks.

On their day, France can play a brand of rugby even the All Blacks can struggle to contain.

The challenge, as it so often has been for France, three-times losing World Cup finalists, is to make sure those good days happen more often.

Sharks to ‘dominate with Jake’

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JakeFormer Springbok and Blue Bulls hooker Gary Botha believes the Sharks – with Jake White as coach – will be the top team in South Africa over the next few years.

By: Sport24

The Sharks won the Currie Cup when they beat Western Province 33-19 at Newlands over the weekend. It was sweet revenge for the men from Durban after they unexpectedly lost to the Cape side in the 2012 final in Durban.

They also did it with a new coaching staff in Brendan Venter (Director of Rugby), Brad Macleod-Henderson (forwards coach) and Sean Everitt (backline coach).

However, Venter’s tenure in Durban has come to an end, with White taking over his role from next month. It remains to be seen if White will utilise Macleod-Henderson and Everitt as his assistants.

White has a track-record for taking teams from precarious positions and turning them into world-class outfits, as was evident during his time with the Springboks and Brumbies.

Botha was part of White’s victorious Bok World Cup winning squad in 2007 and also won the Junior World Cup with White as coach in 2002.

And he expects his former mentor to keep the Sharks at the top of the local rugby pile.

“I believe Jake will take the Sharks to unparalleled heights. Questions are asked if he will be just as successful inheriting a team at the peak of its powers instead of one that is struggling. But I believe Jake is such a good coach that he will make a success of any team, no matter what level they’re at,” Botha told the Beeld website.

“Jake will only make minor changes at the Sharks and make sure he brings in the right people to assist him.

“He and Smittie (John Smit – Sharks CEO) will form an outstanding partnership. With their reputations they’ll be able to lure some big names to Durban to play there rugby there in the next few years,” continued Botha.

The 32-year-old Botha, who played 12 Tests for the Boks, currently plies his trade at French club, Toulouse.

O’Connor to join London Irish

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James O'ConnorControversial Australia back James O’Connor is set to be announced as a London Irish player on Tuesday.

by: Sport24

“London Irish will hold a special press conference at 10:00am tomorrow (12:00 SA time) (Tuesday)… A significant player signing will be announced at the conference,” said a London Irish statement issued Monday.

Although there was no official statement on the player concerned, a source close to the club, who did not wish to be identified, told AFP it was O’Connor whose signing the Exiles would be announcing.

London Irish’s statement came just a day after director of rugby Brian Smith said O’Connor would make a decision on his future in the “next 24 or 48 hours”.

O’Connor has been linked with a move to the English Premiership side after the Australian Rugby Union terminated his contract following a string of embarrassing off-the-field incidents earlier this month, culminating with the talented 23-year-old being escorted from Perth airport for drunken behaviour.

But Smith, himself a former Australia and Ireland playmaker, was in no doubt regarding the rugby talent of O’Connor, who can play at fly-half, centre, wing or full-back.

“He’s a world-class player, he’s a terrific kid and I’m sure that will all be unveiled at the front end of this week,” Smith said Sunday.

“Any team in England or in France would be lucky to have him. I would imagine in the next 24 or 48 hours he will play his cards and all will be revealed.”

London Irish are currently 10th in the 12-team Premiership but they are also eight points clear of bottom-of-the-table Worcester, who currently occupy the lone relegation place.

O’Connor’s former international team-mates are about to embark on a tour of Europe, with the Wallabies playing England at Twickenham on Saturday as they bid to complete a Grand Slam (beating England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales all on the one tour) on a trip that also includes a Test against Italy.

NZRU: You Tube Test successful

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livewebcasts

Their was a lot of discussions on showing matches live over the internet free of charge to countries which do not have bought the rights to matches.

New Zeeland Rugby Union have experiment with broadcasting between the All Blacks and Australia last weekend on You Tube. They have reach 22 000 viewers on the match which was a great step in the right direction in bringing the game to all people. The Dunedin Test was made available free to viewers in 45 countries in which it had not already been sold to broadcasters, including the United States and Italy.

The viewership was impacted by only go ahead with the decision to broadcast on the Friday before the game.

Tew said “technically it worked very well. The quality was really good and it was an opportunity to test a different way to deliver our top product.”

Let’s hope that this is the way Rugby Unions will look in expanding the game in the future to all walks of live.

 

Oz welcome break from Boks

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Ewen MckenzieAustralia are looking forward to a break from playing New Zealand and South Africa as well as a chance to put together back-to-back wins for the first time this year on their tour of Europe, coach Ewen McKenzie said on Friday.

By: News24

The Wallabies suffered three heavy defeats to the All Blacks and two to the Springboks in the southern hemisphere test season and last won consecutive matches when they beat Italy and Wales to end last year’s tour.

McKenzie, who took the reins in July after the 2-1 British and Irish Lions series defeat, is convinced his team are on an upward trajectory and sees the matches against England, Italy, Ireland, Scotland and Wales as a chance to prove it.

“Obviously, we’ve played the All Blacks and South Africa a bunch of times and I think we’re looking forward to the challenge of playing five different teams, five different types of football,” he told reporters at Sydney airport.

“The last couple of weeks, there’s a feeling there’s a real momentum starting to build, I think the players are starting to feel that.

“There’s a lot of positive things going on behind the scenes and this tour will be a great opportunity for us to work hard and get some results.

“We’re out there to win and obviously build some consistency, winning one game here and there is not enough, we want to be able to win consistently.”

The Wallabies, whose three wins this year have come in the second Lions Test and twice against Argentina, took some encouragement from scoring three tries in their 41-33 defeat to the All Blacks in Dunedin last weekend.

“There’s been encouragement in all of the games, but ultimately you can only talk about the scoreboards,” McKenzie added. “The scoreboards haven’t been kind to us.

“In the end, we’ve got to tie up a few things and this will be a good chance to do that.”

The tour starts with the match against England at Twickenham and Australia will take confidence from the fact they won the corresponding fixture last year.

“It’s a great one, I have great memories from last year,” said openside flank Michael Hooper, who was Man of the Match in last year’s encounter and won the John Eales Medal as Australia’s outstanding player of the year on Thursday.

“We’re starting to put things together, our backs are starting to fire and we’ve come out with some good results on the back of not our best performances. I think we can do a lot better.”

McKenzie said he hoped to have all his players available for the Twickenham match, although lock Rob Simmons suffered a “minor” medial ligament injury to his knee in the Dunedin defeat – one of his better performances in a Wallabies shirt.

After two wins and five defeats in his first seven matches in charge, a first Grand Slam tour since Mark Ella inspired the   1984 Wallabies to the feat looks unlikely.

McKenzie, though, is coach of Australia and so beating all four “home” nations as well as downing the Italians in Milan had to be top of his list of objectives.

“Five wins, confidence, we want to keep expressing ourselves as a team, I think the guys are really enjoying the spirit we’re trying to play with,” McKenzie said.

“We’ve just got to tidy up bits and pieces, that’s narrowing down, we’ve got a lot of specific things we can work on in training so if we can use to focus on that, that’ll be a good base for next year.”

Why Louw turned down WP offer

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FloEuropean packs will have to deal with Springbok openside flank Francois Louw for a few more years to come.

By: Rugby365

This comes after he opted to turn down an offer to return to South Africa with Western Province to re-sign with Bath.

Despite a big Rugby Championship with the Boks, Louw has decided to see out his club career in England with the former European Cup and Challenge Cup winners.

His commitment to the club was exemplified when he played in the opening round of this season’s Challenge Cup games a week after facing the All Blacks.

“Bath is my club and having re-signed means a lot to me,” Louw explained to the Rugby Paper.

“During the off-season I was deciding where to go and what to do with my career.

“After two fantastic years at Bath I was coming into my third season, and I was making the decision whether to go back home or not.

“I’m very excited to have signed on here and it’s what I’d always wanted.

“Bath’s really grown on me, not just the city and the fans but the team.

“It’s a great team to play for and I really think it’s going places.

“It’s sometimes a difficult thing to make that mental transition from country to club – a new team, a new set of moves, a new set of team ethics, a new everything really.

“But it is important to make that adjustment and coming to a side like Bath makes it quite easy for me. We are a tight group and a very open group.

“The guys have been very accepting with a few foreigners coming back from the Rugby Championship.

“They make you feel very welcome, and everyone – the coaches and the players – get you straight back into the game. I’m just taking it from where I left off last time.”

Louw’s return from the Rugby Championship certainly provided Bath with a boost ahead of the kick-off in Pool Two of the Challenge Cup.

He helped the English Premiership outfit to beat Bordeaux-Begles 15-6 in France and after two rounds they are unbeaten at the top of their Pool.

Bad boy O’Connor heads to England

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4d2ac21202b741e69661391e213d6c0cFallen Wallaby James O’Connor said he plans to play in England and not take up a Super Rugby contract with Perth-based Western Force.

O’Connor, one of the sport’s top talents, was dumped from the national team in September and had his contract torn up by the Australian Rugby Union earlier this month for repeated discipline breaches.

These culminated in the player being preventing from taking a flight because he was allegedly drunk, hours after Australia beat Argentina in a Rugby Championship match in Perth. Despite Wallaby coach Ewen McKenzie saying he was willing to help O’Connor rehabilitate his career and Western Force offering him a lifeline when no other franchises were interested, the 23-year-old utility back has opted to move overseas.

“We have been informed by James directly that he intends to continue his playing career in Europe for the time being,” RugbyWA chief Mark Sinderberry said in a statement. “The Western Force has laid strong foundations of standards and values – particularly around earning respect – and our discussions with James included on-and off-field programmes that we believed could assist him in becoming the player he aspires to be and to develop himself as a person.

“James has made the decision that is right for him at this point in his playing career and the franchise remains open to recommencing these discussions again in the future if James wishes to return to Australian rugby.” O’Connor, who has played 44 Tests, admitted this month that he “needs to earn back a lot of respect”. He said Wednesday he was in talks with several English franchises about a move “for a few months”, but was eyeing a return to Western Force in the future.

“I am in final discussions with several franchises and will announce the new partnership in coming days,” he told reporters.

“I believe the move, for a few months, will be beneficial for me to develop in a different environment and help me be the best rugby player and person that I can be.” O’Connor said his management was continuing discussions with the Western Force about a future deal. “Both [coach] Michael Foley and [chief executive] Mark Sinderberry have been great supporters of mine and I greatly appreciate it,” he said. “The past few weeks have given me an opportunity to look at all aspects of my life both professionally and personally,” he said. “I want to give myself every opportunity to get back into the Wallabies side and to represent Australia in the 2015 World Cup.

” Western Force statement: The Western Force’s discussions with James O’Connor on a possible return to the franchise in 2014 have come to an end following his decision to take up a playing opportunity in Europe. The Force had been in talks with O’Connor with the possibility of the utility back returning to the franchise in accordance with the non-negotiable standards and values the franchise has worked hard to put in place.

Following the Australian Rugby Union’s decision to not offer him a contract in 2014, the Force encouraged him to take time away from rugby to consider his playing future and to assess if he felt his development would be best achieved in Australian rugby. “We have been informed by James directly that he intends to continue his playing career in Europe for the time being, The Western Force and RugbyWA wish him well in these endeavours,” RugbyWA CEO Mark Sinderberry said.

“The Western Force has laid strong foundations of standards and values – particularly around earning respect – and our discussions with James included on- and off-field programs that we believed could assist him in becoming the player he aspires to be and to develop himself as a person. “James has made the decision that is right for him at this point in his playing career and the franchise remains open to recommencing these discussions again in the future if James wishes to return to Australian rugby.”

Phelan quits as Pumas coach

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Santiago Phelan resigned as coach of the Argentinian team with immediate effect on Monday ending a five year spell in charge, the Argentinian Rugby Federation (UAR) announced.

The 39-year-old – who guided the Pumas to the 2011 Rugby World Cup quarter-finals after succeeding Marcello Loffreda – had been widely expected to step down when his contract came to an end in December.

Rafael Laria, the UAR spokesperson, said that Phelan would not take charge of Argentina’s November Test matches which sees them play England at Twickenham on November 9, Wales a week later at the Millennium Stadium and Italy in Rome on November 23.

Phelan, who is due to give a press conference on Tuesday, has just come off the Rugby Championship where the Pumas lost all six of their games to the southern hemisphere heavyweights New Zealand, South Africa and Australia in what was their second participation.

Phelan enjoyed success as a player, being capped 44 times at flank and played all his club rugby for Club Athletico San Isidro.

Lionel Cronjé and Hoffmann to join Brumbies(Update)

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Golden Lions utility back Lionel Cronjé is off to Canberra to join the Brumbies for next year’s Super Rugby competition.

Cronjé, who can play flyhalf, fullback and centre, joined the Lions this year after previously representing the Blue Bulls and Western Province.

The 24-year-old announced the news of his departure via his official Twitter account on Monday.

He tweeted:

(sic) Fotos done!sad to say cheers to all the lads today…as my stay at lions..is over..short lived but great experience!

Exciting new and exciting challenge..off to @s14_brumbies

Update:

South African scrumhalf, Conrad Hoffmann, will join compatriot Lionel Cronjé at Australian Super Rugby franchise, the Brumbies, next year.
And according to the Volksblad website, Hoffmann will join Cronjé in the Australian capital. Both have signed contracts until the end of the 2015 season.

The players’ agent, BC du Plessis, said the duo will join the Brumbies on November 1 this year. They would become eligible to play for Australia in three years’ time.

Hoffmann, 25, was a regular in the Stormers and WP squads a few seasons back before joining the Sharks at the end of 2010.

However, injuries hampered his progress, which saw him return to Cape Town earlier this year to play for local club Hamiltons.

By: Sport24

Venter staying put at Sharks

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Brendan VenterOne of Sharks Director of Rugby Brendan Venter’s greatest goals is to leave a lasting legacy at a place he has come to love and for a union and its players who he has come to greatly respect, according to Sharks website editor, Michael Marnewick.

By: Sport24

Some people want to achieve tangible success, others want to be remembered for leaving a legacy, but right now, Sharks Director of Rugby Brendan Venter is in the process of building that legacy.

While The Sharks might be top of the log right now, their position doesn’t excite him as much as the talent he has and the scope for growth embracing his own coaching philosophy which is about unleashing the true potential of these elite athletes.

“Losing 12 players to injury and the Springboks meant we had to use the Currie Cup tournament to develop our youngsters and create culture where the youngsters understand what is required of them if they want to play professional rugby,” he explains.

His philosophies on coaching, on rugby and on developing people display not only a level of commitment to achievement, but also a deeply-rooted desire to make a positive contribution, a difference, in people’s lives.

“If you ask what I believe, I feel that people have immense potential and if you support and back them, and if you explain what is expected of them, people will live up to that potential. That’s my coaching philosophy.

“But you need to be able to work hard and understand that. And if you do that, you will be successful. I believe that the quality of player at The Sharks, with hard work, means they will be very successful.”

He has been very impressed with that quality, and expects it to pay off.

“I’ve been quite outspoken about this: The Sharks are a really good team. They have good individuals and it’s a pleasure working with them and they have very good juniors as well. I believe that The Shark team can potentially kick on and become very good.”

Current CEO John Smit invited Venter to play a similar role at The Sharks to the one Smit had, as a player, encountered at Saracens in the UK. The coach’s involvement produced outstanding – and very quick – results, not only in terms of on-field success but also personal growth for the players.

“The reason John Smit asked me to come in was because he wanted an environment much like that at Saracens,” Venter explains. “We call it a ‘principle-driven environment’. We run it by principles and if we all adhere to those principles, we will be successful. If we get good people and treat them very well, they will be successful for us.”

His goal when he started, and which will continue to be a clear aim throughout his involvement with The Sharks, is to promote and build steady progress.

“The main thing for me, my biggest objective, is to leave The Sharks better than when I first arrived. So that when I go away, I’ve added enough value, so that we can all look back and say ‘that was a good time in our lives; that we learned certain things, we did certain things and we explored our own abilities as human beings’.

“I am not really trophy-driven, I’m more performance and individual driven. I want people to become as good as they can be. Winning is nice, but I believe success is a consequence of these things.

“Yes, we will be judged by people on the outside in terms of trophies, but that is not how I judge myself and my players. I have various, quite rigid and difficult measurements and standards that I want the players to live up to. I can measure them and if they deliver those things but we get beaten on the day, then the opposition was just better than us.

“But those things are closely linked to our values as a team.”

Very much a fan of ‘controlling the controllables’, he sees his role as facilitator and driver of people taking responsibility so that they may enjoy development and personal growth.

“I can’t decide who I play against, nor can I determine how well they play against us, I can only control those things I am in control of.

“The ball can bounce badly, a decision can go against you – would it be a disaster if we lost? In my opinion no. For me, it’s about installing these values and developing people, developing an organisation that is better than it was yesterday, and tomorrow will be better than today.”

It appears that it’s not so much a job as a passion for him. And what better place to be doing it?

“I love it here, I must admit, I’m very impressed with Durban. “It’s a wonderful place with great people. The Sharks have a great environment and potentially it could go really, really well here. It’s the little things like the quality of the people at the union, the friendliness and the goodness – it’s a good place.”

And sometimes when you give, you receive in turn and he admits that has been the case.

“Our lives are enriched by relationships, that’s the bottom line, and my being at The Sharks has enriched my life. I’ve met people I would never have met before, I’ve learned things. The Sharks Union is a really nice place to spend time.

“One of the points of difference – for me – about Durban, is that it can’t be difficult for us to recruit, because Durban is an unbelievable place and we must leverage that situation.

“There are few places in the world nicer to spend your time than in Durban.”

Henry goes ref-bashing again

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Graham HenryWorld Cup-winning coach Graham Henry could find himself in hot water once again for disparaging remarks he has made about match officials.

By: Rugby365

The former All Blacks boss who is now a technical advisor for the Pumas, had some choice words to say about the standards of refereeing in the Rugby Championship, saying that referees and the judicial panel have been “totally inconsistent” and are “a weakness in the game.”

He was speaking in a panel show which aired in New Zealand, and commenting on the citing of Springbok lock Flip van der Merwe during last weekend’s Test against Australia, Henry said the judiciary is “totally inconsistent just like the refereeing.”

Henry said a decision to issue a yellow card to Wallabies flank Michael Hooper for a tip tackle in the same match was “madness” and referees appeared to be looking for excuses to award yellow cards beyond “the obvious.” “I just can’t understand what they are seeing because everyone else doesn’t agree,” he said.

Henry agreed with another panelist, former All Blacks scrumhalf Justin Marshall, that referees were awarding red and yellow cards too quickly and it was affecting the outcome of matches. “I think that is a weakness in the game at the moment,” he said. “We need totally transparency.”

This comes months after Henry found himself in hot water with SANZAR after comments he made regarding a Super Rugby game between the Blues and the Crusaders. Henry was working as a consultant with the Blues at the time and suggested that the TMO was ‘blind’ after disallowing a Blues try. “It was obvious to me, I don’t know, he was probably a blind TMO was he? It’s an obvious try,” he said.

However, despite a misconduct charge he was let off with a reprimand and an agreement to issue a public apology.

SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters is aware of Henry’s comments and said the matter would be investigated.

Jake not going to WP?

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Jake
Western Province have confirmed that they are not in talks with former Springbok coach Jake White about a possible position at the union.

Media reports from Australia on Wednesday indicated that White has stepped down from his role with Super Rugby franchise, the Brumbies, but the Cape-based union said suggestions that he will be taking up a job at Western Province are off the mark.

Western Province Rugby CEO Rob Wagner said: “News of Jake White’s resignation was just that to us today – news.

“We are aware that top-class coaches – and players – will always be linked to jobs or opportunities at the Stormers or Western Province, but we have not had any talks or negotiations with Jake White.”

Confirmed: Jake leaves Brumbies(Update)

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JakeAustralians are shocked following the news that former Springbok coach Jake White quit his job as coach of the Brumbies, merely two months after leading the team to the Super Rugby final.

By: Sport24

According to Sydney Morning Herald’s website, the Brumbies bowed to White’s demands they release him from the last two years of his contract, with White citing his lack of desire to coach the team as an overriding reason for his resignation.

Pundits have installed assistant coaches Stephen Larkham and Laurie Fisher as the initial favourites to replace White as the Brumbies now go in search for a new coach.

White also revealed that his disappointment at missing out on the Wallabies coaching job after former coach, Robbie Deans was relieved of his duties and subsequently replaced by former Reds coach, Ewen McKenzie.

The Brumbies have said that they hope to replace White within the next fortnight in time for pre-season preparations.

White, currently in South Africa, approached Brumbies management last week and requested to be released, citing personal reasons.

Brumbies chief executive Fagan and Brumbies captain Ben Mowen tried to pursuade White to retract his request and coax him into coming back to Australia, but the World Cup-winning coach with the Springboks already had his mind made up about staying.

The Springboks take on the Wallabies at Newlands on Saturday, and with White in attendance, Australian media house, Fairfax media, reckons that White may probably make his stay in the Cape a longer one as they have him linked with a job at the Stormers for next season’s Super Rugby competition.

The Sharks are also said to be linked with a move for White, with his former Springbok captain, John Smit, now CEO of the franchise, eager to rekindle their relationship.

The ARU overlooked White’s World Cup-winning credentials to instead appoint Ewen McKenzie as the new Wallabies coach because of his vision to play “the Australian way”, a reference to attacking rugby.

It’s understood White met with Brumbies captain Ben Mowen in Cape Town on Wednesday to inform him of his decision.

Global season ‘step closer’

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5107ae48e33941dfbb4af3b762a66a09 A willingness in both the southern and northern hemispheres to “make sacrifices” means a global season for rugby is inching closer to fruition, says SARU CEO Jurie Roux.

By:Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Speaking during a wide-ranging interview with Sport24 a few days ago, Roux said a wholly compatible world season would not simply take shape immediately – it would begin with small but important shifts in itineraries.

His views come at a time when South African rugby is potentially teetering over renewed commitment to SANZAR at franchise level (Super Rugby) from 2016, when a fresh model takes shape, or throwing in their lot with currently disenchanted, powerful English and French clubs who want a bigger stake-holding in the northern equivalent Heineken Cup.

It is known that contact has been made between SARU bosses and representatives of some of those clubs, although the structure of any breakaway competition along such lines would be problematic given rival seasonal rosters.

Rebellious moves may only become more tempting after weekend suggestions in Rapport newspaper that a sixth South African team in Super Rugby – initially thought to have been green-lighted by the various SANZAR partners – is no longer a cut and dried affair because of the huge structural snags it creates in unbalancing the conferences.

South Africa insists a sixth franchise – thus allowing both the Lions and Kings to be safely accommodated – is a non-negotiable aspect of a future Super Rugby deal.

Amidst such turbulence, Roux says that a global season – which would probably created a more settled environment universally at all levels of competition – is considered a “paramount issue” at International Rugby Board level at present.

“It’s on the agenda for the next executive council meeting — and has been on the agenda for a long time.

“Now they’ve actually got schedules for the first time, they’re talking about it, there’s a willingness from both parties (hemispheres) to make sacrifices because that’s the real thing: somebody’s got to make a paradigm shift.

“We don’t play rugby in December here; we’re all off to the beach or on farms or somewhere other than a rugby field. And even if you do organise games at that time of the year in Durban, Cape Town or Port Elizabeth, people aren’t going to them because they’ve sacrificed the whole year for that specific family holiday time and they’ll just have too much trouble (going to rugby).

“But there’s a willingness to at least have that first shift, possibly moving the (mid-year Test window), so I think it’s a lot closer than people think it is. You won’t see a complete global season immediately where we all play at exactly the same time, but it will be a step closer.

“We would play a July window (instead of from early June), and then go straight into Rugby Championship. It would also leave us time to finish off Super Rugby, so you don’t have the break in that competition.

“You have to sell Super Rugby, and from a commercial and marketing point of view (the interruption) is a bit of a nightmare.

“And if we can successfully negotiate that first step, because people are fearful of change, then they’ll realise the (benefits of deepening the process).”

Roux said he believed the particularly harsh winters experienced in Europe recently were making people in the northern hemisphere think more positively about possible alterations to the roster there.

“I remember former Lions captain Paul O’Connell telling me once ‘never mind the currency or anything else, why would anybody want to come and play in the middle of the Irish winter when they can play more in South African sunshine?’”.

Given the delicacy and fluidity of the matter at present, Roux was understandably cagey over the possibility of South Africa going into franchise partnership with European outfits.

“The season is always going to be an issue; getting the season structured. It seems from the public there’s kind of an appetite (for a wholesale shift of allegiance) … but at the moment we are dealing with SANZAR in good faith.”

IRB statement following NZ v SA match

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International-Rugby-Board-IRB-logo1
Following an initial review, the IRB confirms that it was incorrect for referee Romain Poite to issue a yellow card to Bismarck du Plessis in the 17th minute of The Rugby Championship match between New Zealand and South Africa in Auckland on Saturday.

By: www.irb.com

Just as players and coaches make mistakes, the decision was an unfortunate case of human error by the match officials, who, having reviewed the match, fully recognise and accept that they made a mistake in the application of law.

All match official performances are thoroughly reviewed and assessed by the IRB and are considered when appointments are made for future test matches.

“Live” Commentary on Ruggaworld

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Catch all the Currie Cup and Castle Rugby Championship games over the weekend “Live” here on Ruggaworld and Twitter.

www.ruggaworld.com and www.twitter.com/ruggaworld

New global tournament in the works

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heineken-cup_2582489b
English and French clubs plan to form a new competition that will be “open to teams from other countries” from next season.

By: Rugby365

Premiership Rugby on Tuesday said discussions over the restructuring and revenue distribution of European competitions “have now ended” and that English and French clubs plan to break away from the European Cup at the end of the season.

“The 2013/14 Premiership Rugby season kicked off this weekend with our clubs having no clear view of new European competitions from next season onwards,” a statement from Premiership Rugby read.

“The current European Rugby Cup (ERC) competitions terminate at the end of this season after notice was served by the English and French clubs in June 2012.

“Despite numerous meetings between the stakeholders over the last year, the last of which was in May, discussions have been unsuccessful and the clubs can only conclude that negotiations on any new European agreement have now ended.

“The English and French clubs have proposed the formation of two new, stronger competitions of 20 teams each, based on the principles of qualification on merit from each league, the inclusion of teams from all six existing countries and the expansion into new markets. These proposals could form the basis of future competitions.

“However, given the importance and urgency of the current position, and the reconfirmation that the French clubs will not participate in any competition unless it includes the English clubs, the clubs have now asked Premiership Rugby to take immediate action to put in place a competition for 2014/15 to include the French and English clubs but which will also be open to teams from other countries.”

Wales and British and Irish Lions centre Jamie Roberts responded to the news on Twitter, saying: “If this is the end of the H.Cup then it’s a very sad day…Best club tournament in our game…some incredible memories for fans and players.”

Spies support global season

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More players are getting behind the idea of a global rugby season, Bulls captain Pierre Spies support the idea and he would also like to see the Currie Cup expand back to eight teams in the Premiere League.

The subject has been the focus of much speculation with the current SANZAR agreement set to expire in 2015, and Spies added his voice to the calls for the entire season to be restructured.

“I would like the competition (Super Rugby) to finish before the start of the international season,” Spies said in Midrand on Thursday. “If you can put all your focus into the Super Rugby season, and get it done with, then have four weeks of preparations to start with your Test season and finish around the end of October.” The national teams would then go straight into their preparations for the year-end Test matches, he said.

“There has been talk of a global schedule, and I am in favour of it.” Spies’ comments followed reports about proposed changes to the Super Rugby format for 2016.

A suggested change from the current three-conference format, splitting it into a two-conference model, had been mooted. The two conferences would consist of Australia and New Zealand in one, with South Africa and possibly Argentina in the other. This proposal would accommodate both the Lions’ and the Southern Kings’ inclusion in the competition.

The Kings’ entry into the 2013 Super Rugby season, at the expense of the Lions, was a controversial solution to incorporating the Eastern Cape into top-flight rugby. Following the two-leg, promotion-relegation matches, the Lions will be included in the 2014 season with the Kings missing out.

Spies said there was a case for two separate teams to play in Super Rugby and Currie Cup.

“The reality is that your Springbok players aren’t playing in Currie Cup, even though it is South Africa’s flagship competition. It is becoming more of a talent developer,” he said. “The focus should go more into Super Rugby and you should have two squads again.”

The Springbok No.8 said he would also be in favour of suggestions to expand the Currie Cup back to an eight-team competition. The Currie Cup changed to a six-team format in 2012 and, reverting back to the previous model could be a solution to incorporating the Kings into a top-tier competition.

“It is a great competition for your youngsters to play and that is the way it should be,” Spies said. “It wouldn’t affect the top players and expanding it may give more players the opportunity at a higher level.”

Spies had some encouraging words for the Blue Bulls, who suffered a 62-23 defeat by the Lions over the weekend. “The Bulls have to look deep within themselves to get a good result,” said Spies, who has been sidelined since he tore his biceps against Samoa in June. “They can turn it around if they can beat the Sharks and get back on track.”

The Pretoria side drew their first-round Currie Cup match against Western Province in Cape Town and narrowly beat Griquas the following week, before the Lions’ demolition.

“We got the draw at Newlands, which showed we have a young team, but we are talented and we can do it,” he said. “It showed that we can win away from home. The players should bank on their talent and the structures at the Bulls.”

Source: Rugby365

Juan Smith in French return?

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Rugby News
Springbok flank Juan Smith has left the country to undergo medical tests at French club Toulon, which could see him make a return to rugby.

Smith, 32, earlier this year retired from rugby after an ongoing Achilles injury which plagued him since the start of 2011.

According to the Volksblad website, Smith and his agent Stephan Weyers was spotted at OR Tambo airport on Sunday where they boarded for Toulon.

The 69-Test veteran, who underwent several operations since 2011, retired after playing only two warm-up games against the Bulls and Stormers earlier this year.

It is not known if he has since gone under the knife again but he has reportedly been working hard in the gymnasium and is not suffering any discomfort.

Smith will undergo medical tests at Toulon on Monday, and should he pass them, he could sign a deal with the French side by Wednesday.

There he will join up with fellow South Africans Bakkies Botha (lock), Bryan Habana (wing), Joe van Niekerk (loose forward), Danie Rossouw (utility forward) and Michael Claassens (scrumhalf).

Source: News24

Waratahs snap up Potgieter

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Pretoria – News24

Springbok and Bulls flank Jacques Potgieter will not return to Pretoria after his Japanese sojourn, signing a two-year deal with the Waratahs.

According to Rugby365’s website, Potgieter will join Japanese outfit Fukuoka Sanix Blues this week on a six-month sabbatical, but was expected to return to the Pretoria-based franchise for next year’s Super Rugby tournament.

Potgieter’s agent James Adams confirmed the news on Twitter on Monday that he will continue his career in Sydney following his stint in Japan.

“(sic)I can confirm that @JacquePotgieter has signed a 2yr contract with @NSWWaratahs to play 2014 & 2015 #Super15 @InTouchSports @BlueBullsRugby,” Adams announced on Twitter.

Potgieter was one of eight Springboks who exited Loftus Versfeld after the Super Rugby season.

Lock Juandré Kruger (Racing Metro), fellow flank Dewald Potgieter (Yamaha RFC), hooker Chilliboy Ralepelle (Toulouse), scrumhalf Jano Vermaak (Toulouse), flyhalf Morné Steyn (Stade Francais), fullback Zane Kirchner (Leinster) and centre Wynand Olivier (Montpellier) have all joined overseas clubs.

Adams, who’s also the agent of Waylon Murray, confirmed on Sunday that the Springbok and Southern Kings centre will join the Bulls.

“I can officially confirm that @waylonmurray will be joining @BlueBullsRugby for #2013CurrieCup and has signed till 31 Oct 2015 @InTouchSports,” Adams tweeted on Sunday.

It was widely reported on Friday that four Kings players – Murray, loose forward Jacques Engelbrecht, lock David Bulbring and Bok hooker Bandise Maku – had put to paper to join the Bulls.

However, only Murray’s move has been confirmed.

The Bulls also recently announced the signing of Cheetahs scrumhalf Piet van Zyl, with the Springbok No.9 set to link up with the squad at the start of November, and the contract extensions of youngsters Jacques Rossouw (fullback), Travis Ismaiel (wing), Ulrich Beyers (utility back), Irné Herbst (lock), Dennis Visser (lock), Jacques du Plessis (No.8), Schalk van Heerden (lock), Paul Willemse (lock), Lodewyk de Jager (centre, not the Cheetahs lock) and Dries Swanepoel (centre).

Lions name squad to take on Kings

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MTN Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has announced his side to face the Kings, in the first leg of the Super Rugby promotion/relegation series, this Friday evening in Port Elizabeth. The match gets under way at 19h10.

Integrated Global Rugby Season is a possibility

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Rugby players are calling on the Game’s leaders to renew efforts to develop an integrated global rugby season that addresses long standing player welfare and competition challenges.

Chiefs sign Marshall

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Chiefs Media Release:

Defending Investec Super Rugby Champions, the Chiefs have confirmed they have signed utility back Tom Marshall for two years.
Chiefs’ coach Dave Rennie said “I had the pleasure of working with Tom in 2010. He is a quality man and a quality player and we are rapt to welcome him to the Chiefs family.”

Twenty-three year old Marshall said “I was coached by Dave in the NZU20 side so I was keen to reunite with him. I am keen to push for more starting opportunities in my preferred position so the change was appealing, but I have really enjoyed my time at the Crusaders.”

The 1.83m, 96kg utility back will move to Hamilton at the conclusion of his ITM Cup campaign with Tasman.

Marshall has played 40 matches for the Crusaders, 26 for the Tasman ITM Cup side and was part of the winning 2010 Junior World Champion New Zealand U20 side.

Statement Regarding DIGBY IOANE

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In relation to media reports surrounding Digby Ioane Australian Rugby Union wishes to make the following statement.

ARU was only made aware late this afternoon of the issue involving Digby Ioane.

Since being made aware through media reports, ARU has worked expeditiously with Digby Ioane and Victorian Police to attend to this matter.

Digby will report to Victorian Police and will be issued with a revised court date.

No further comment will be made at this time.

Global season is coming

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World rugby will get its integrated season after the next World Cup. Super Rugby will shift to a March start and won’t break for test matches, the June window will be shifted to July and all players will have a 14 to 16-week off-season.

McCaw becoming too big for the game?

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It has been my view since December last year that the NZ Rugby Union are making the same mistakes the Boks did in 2009. Chris Rattue in NZ seems to agree.

Jake White Scholarship announced

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A high-performing South African student will receive a chance to study in Australia under a new scholarship announced today.

By Brumbies Media Unit

Jake White chats with a fellow former South African representative, Clyde Rathbone.

The University of Canberra Brumbies Scholarship for General Excellence, known as the ‘Jake White Scholarship’, includes University of Canberra tuition fees, subsidised accommodation and an internship with the University of Canberra Brumbies Super Rugby side.

Students who are South African citizens with a strong academic and sporting records are eligible for the scholarship.

University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen Parker joined Jake White to launch the scholarship after the University of Canberra Brumbies Captain’s Run in Durban.

“An international outlook and sports teaching and research are major parts of life at the University of Canberra,” Professor Parker said.

“South Africans and Australians have a lot in common: we both love rugby and we both value education. I hope by giving a young South African rugby player an opportunity to study in Australia we can strengthen the links between our nations.

“University of Canberra is proud of its professional education, applied research and community links in all areas, but especially in sport. Our partnership with the Brumbies is innovative and unlike any other sponsorship arrangement in professional sport, the mutual benefits are significant and the potential is huge.”

The Brumbies will soon relocate to the University of Canberra campus as part of a unique multimillion dollar ‘sports hub’.

Jake White, who is an adjunct professor with the University, welcomed the Scholarship.

“For many students, this scholarship will be 100 per cent life changing. UC has a proven track record of placing students in good jobs and it’s exciting to think that South Africans are now able to enjoy that system too,” he said.

“I’m constantly amazed at the amount of South Africans who ask me about how they can get their own children into the University of Canberra once they’ve finished school. Emails, phone calls and letters, you name it, people are contacting me saying that they want their children to be given the best education possible.

“It’s fantastic to be making the announcement of the Jake White Scholarship today and I look forward to seeing plenty of South African students take on the challenge of living and studying in Canberra in the future.”

About the scholarship

Selection will be based on a written statement which outlines the applicant’s academic and sporting achievements.
The scholarship includes

• A fully funded full-time degree at the University of Canberra (up to a maximum of three years).
• A one-off reimbursement of $1,500 to assist with relocation costs.
• Subsidised on campus accommodation at the University of Canberra
• Access to internship opportunities with Brumbies Rugby. (of at least 10 hours per week during semester)

More information is online at: www.canberra.edu.au/jakewhite

Habana confirms Toulon move

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After news broke earlier in the week that Springbok and Stormers wing, Bryan Habana is negotiating with French club Toulon, the winger confirmed that he has signed a pre-contract agreement.

It is Ellis Park again

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Things appear to be going from bad to worse for the beleaguered Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU) with the news that stadium sponsors Coca-Cola have opted not to renew their sponsorship in 2013.