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Toulon confirm Vermeulen leaving the club


Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal says Duane Vermeulen will leave the French club at the end of the season.

The Bok No 8 is set to rejoin the Stormers in Cape Town.

‘Vermeulen is leaving, he will be replaced by an international level player that we will announce in the next 48 hours,’ said Boudjellal.

Vermeulen’s replacement is reportedly All Blacks flank Jerome Kaino.

‘Duane is leaving because he wants to prepare for the World Cup [in Japan in 2019] – we had offered him a contract that corresponded to the amount of time he works,’ added Boudjellal, suggesting that had meant a pay cut.

‘We wouldn’t have had him for half the year – over 24 months he would have been at the club for 11 months.

‘We made him a great offer but he wants to go home and his national team coach is relying on him.’

Reports suggest Vermeulen and Steyn to return to SA


All the starts are aligning for Duane Vermeulen to return to South Africa at the end of the current European season.

SARugbyMag reports that a respected French sports daily L’Equipe, reported that Vermeulen departure from Toulon has been made official, and he is now expected to return to the Stormers and Western Province.

Vermeulen will add value to the Springboks in the run-up to the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Vermeulen can even be considered as captain of the Springboks if he returns to South Africa as reported.

Vermeulen left Cape Town in 2015 to head to France.

Reports are also doing the rounds that Frans Steyn will also return to South Africa which will boost the Springboks in the midfield, fullback and fly half.


How Rassie plans to realign SA rugby


Lima Sopoaga’s departure to Wasps at the conclusion of this year’s Super Rugby season is another example that the overseas player drain is not exclusive to South African rugby writes Mark Keohane for Sport24

New Zealand manages the consequence of the player exodus better than the rest because of the national coaching structures and also the quality of those coaches.

Ireland’s very successful Kiwi coach Joe Schmidt was schooled in the New Zealand professional structures. He transferred that thinking to Ireland and implemented very similar structures and also forged a very strong working relationship with the four provinces.

It’s Ireland first now in Ireland and the four provinces place a premium on Schmidt’s input. The provinces have also aligned with Schmidt’s thinking when it comes to managing players who are nationally contracted, in terms of their game time and there is a two-way stream of communication.

Rassie Erasmus, as Director of Rugby for Munster, worked closely with Schmidt for the last two years and he experienced first hand the benefits of the Irish system, both for country and for province.

He knows this working system thinking can be transferred to South Africa’s four Super Rugby franchises and also the two PRO14 franchises. There are adaptations because South Africa is not Ireland; nor is it New Zealand.

The rugby coaching and management principles applied by Schmidt and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen are consistent with Erasmus’s and primary to those principles is that those involved with the national set-up from within the coaching and analytical structures work all-year round. Their roles are not restricted to the international season that starts mid-year. Their role is also not exclusive to working with the selected Springbok squad at camps and also during the international season.

Erasmus and those in the national coaching structure will be a presence all-year round on the South African professional rugby scene. Erasmus wants to get an understanding and appreciation of how each of the four Super Rugby and two PRO14 franchises function. He wants to contribute where needed or wanted and he wants to learn as much as he believes he can teach.

He coached the Cheetahs in the Currie Cup and also headed up the Stormers Super Rugby challenge. He had a stint at the Cats in Super Rugby early in his coaching career.

His journey as a coach has been longer than most think because he finished playing professionally before he turned 30 and he was a head coach of a professional team as a 30-year-old. He is now 45 and while many still think of him as a relatively recent Springbok, the reality is that Erasmus’s professional coaching career has been longer than his professional playing career.

He certainly has done his apprenticeship, from Johannesburg, to Bloemfontein, to Cape Town within the South African professional structures, and most recently in Ireland as Munster’s head of rugby.

Erasmus accepts the realities of drain on player resources because of the lucrative lure to players of going to Europe, the United Kingdom, Ireland and Japan. It is never going to change and the increasing strength of the Euro and Pound in relation to the rand means it is delusional to think there will be a decrease in player departures.

What has hurt South African rugby the most is how the player drain has weakened the Super Rugby franchises. The Test team should be able to survive, as New Zealand has shown in refusing to select overseas-based players for the All Blacks.

The underbelly of the All Blacks, the Super Rugby franchises, have been vulnerable at times over the last decade but excellent coaching and player identification has ensured that New Zealand has still continued its dominance of the competition despite losing close to 150 players, which if you do the math translates to five Super Rugby squads

New Zealand, in the time of losing those players, have continued to win the title and all five franchises have won Super Rugby at least once.

Erasmus believes that there has to be greater alignment with his national set up and the six main professional coaches in the country. There needs to be a vision around how best to improve South African rugby as a collective and this doesn’t mean every team playing a similar pattern or being a clone of the other.

The collective he talks about is intellectually, where coaches brainstorm and strategise together and where the four Super Rugby and two PRO14 coaches actively and operationally are a part of that bigger South African picture.

He doesn’t see it as a justification that because South Africa loses players to overseas clubs then the natural knock on effect is South African teams must be expected to lose.

New Zealand has 31 All Blacks among the 147 players overseas and they have lost 12 of their last 52 capped Test players. There are also 15 others who left who now play for other countries internationally. But their domestic product remains strong.

South Africa’s domestic game, according to Erasmus, can also be strong but it has to be a collective, in which he wears those franchise caps as much as he wants the franchise coaches to wear the national cap.

The South African Rugby Union offices reopen on January 15, but Erasmus and those coaches already contracted to his new national structure (Jacques Nienaber and Pieter de Villiers) started working on January 3. They’ve already started engaging and interacting with the franchises, in some instances purely as observers.

Erasmus appreciates, having been that franchise coach, that no one knows the player better than the franchise coach, who spends most of the year with the player. He also knows that a national squad is only as strong as the competition structure and franchise environment from which those players are chosen.

If he can contribute to a making the franchise environment stronger from a rugby intellectual position, then those six franchise coaches will naturally make his national environment stronger.

It’s a win-win situation and while most of the media attention this week has been on where England coach Eddie Jones has been spotted visiting South Africa’s franchises in preparation for England’s three Test series later this year, the most significant visits have been the ones by Erasmus and his team.

They’ve been on the road from January 8 and will be for most of the next six months as Erasmus actively works an on-field player blueprint that finally speaks to the collective of South African rugby.

Munster’s Jones turns down Rassie


Munster skills coach Felix Jones has rejected an offer from South African director of rugby Rassie Munster to join the Springboks’ back-room staff.

Having already secured the services of former Munster coach in fitness guru Aled Walters, Erasmus has, according to the Irish Independent, reportedly been unsuccessful in recruiting another former colleague in Jones.

Erasmus’ hopes of keeping the same coaching group together that saw Munster finish top of the PRO12 log in 2016/2017 have been dashed by Jones, who comes highly-rated.

Jones is seen as a central part of Irish Rugby’s plans going forward having been recommended for the Munster head coaching position by Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, whom he helped on Ireland’s tour of Japan last June.

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Here’s how to pick a captain – Woodward


The Springboks are expected to unveil a new coach in the coming weeks, and one of his first tasks will be to decide on a captain, presumably to lead South Africa to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Allister Coetzee went with Warren Whiteley after Adriaan Strauss retired from Test rugby in the wake of the worst season in team history. And when the Lions greyhound broke down, Eben Etzebeth was promoted.

Siya Kolisi was a fan-favourite for the job in 2017 and the peerless pedigree of Malcolm Marx makes him an obvious candidate.

Duane Vermeulen has been linked with a return to the Stormers and, if Rassie Erasmus has the final say on the matter, the bruising No 8 will be on the shortlist to run Friday sessions.

While the Boks have lost their spring under Coetzee, England have rebounded spectacularly under Eddie Jones. The former Australia and Japan coach has, to the consternation of some, been unwavering in his choice of captain, abrasive hooker Dylan Hartley.

Sunday Times rugby scribe Stephen Jones has accused the England coach of “having tunnel vision”. England have won 22 of 23 Tests since 2016.

Clive Woodward, who knows a thing or two about winning, having guided England to a world title in 2003, likes the call to back Hartley, despite a track record of disciplinary issues.

“Eddie Jones was unambiguous in his backing of captain Dylan Hartley earlier this week… and rightly so,” Woodward wrote in his Daily Mail column.

“The relationship between an international coach and his captain, like any selection issue, is an art not a science. Jones and Hartley clearly works, as their record of just one defeat in two years testifies. I like Hartley as a player and a captain and I say that as one who has backed him all the way since his controversial appointment two years ago. It has worked and both Jones and Hartley should be applauded.

“Hartley is Eddie’s man, a player who has never once let him down either as a captain or as hooker.”

During his term, Woodward picked Lawrence Dallaglio and then Martin Johnson to lead England, and he did so based on the following weighted, five-point checklist:

1) 50 percent weighting: Is the player an automatic first choice who will play every minute and get into any team in the world?

2) 20%: Do I trust the player to deliver what my team will represent on and off the pitch. When I am not in the room, what will he be saying?

3) 10%: Does he have the unequivocal respect of the team in how he operates as a professional?

4) 10%: Does he have the ability to perform under pressure and make the big decisions at critical moments? Is he prepared to learn this skill? Ideally, he will also captain his club side successfully.

5) 10%: Do I enjoy his company? We do not need to be mates but we do need to have an ongoing relationship and consistent dialogue on everything to do with the team.

The Bok coach will have his own checklist, but if Woodward’s five points are applied to South Africa’s leading candidates, who comes out on top?

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No Christmas present from SARU


The way the cookie crumbles at SA Rugby is not the way fans and the media would want to but that is the way it goes.

If you are one of the people that expected an early Christmas present from SARU in axing Coetzee you will have to settle for a late Christmas present as they will only announce the decision of SA Rugby future in the new year.

With polls being run by most media the last couple of weeks we know that the supporters out their had enough of Coetzee, the question now is if SA Rugby and Rassie Erasmus had enough of Coetzee and his team?

Apart from being the silly season with so many speculations normally going on in December when South African media has nothing better to report on than rumors we can be assured that Coetzee would be fired, re-hired and fired again before the clock strike twelve on the 31 December.

SA Rugby statement reads:” “To assist media in their reporting and in light of considerable speculation, please be advised that SA Rugby will not be in a position to respond to questions regarding that speculation on the coaching of the national team until the New Year,” the statement read.

“A number of meetings and reviews are in progress on all national teams after which plans for all teams in 2018 will be confirmed.”

It is believed that Coetzee have met with Springbok Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus and we can expect two scenarios to play out next year.

With Erasmus new role, he will have full control on selections and game plans and Coetzee could stay on as mere a coach that does what he is told which many believe is not the way Coetzee operates.

Although they have worked together at WP Rugby before on has to think that Coetzee would not want to work as mere number in the Springbok setup.

The other scenario will be Coetzee takes his bags and leave and although this would please most of teh South African public it may not be the best solution right now.

This will leave Erasmus either as the Director of Rugby and head coach or he will have to bring in a new coach who will do as he say.


Defence guru Jacques Nienaber will be part of the coaching team, while former France prop Pieter de Villiers has been mentioned as a scrum coach.

Coetzee has won only 11 out of 25 Tests in charge of the Boks which gives him a meagre 44% win-record, well below his 65% mandate.

So if you wanted a present from SARU this Christmas, I would rather suggest you go and buy on to put under the tree


Vermeulen may be coming back to SA


We could be seeing Duane Vermeulen back in South Africa sooner than we thought which could also sort out the problem we have with captaincy in the Springbok team.

Vermeulen currently play for Toulon and it seems that he could be playing his last season in France this year. A new salary cap in the Top 14 could see the French club losing Vermeulen service.

Rassie Erasmus wants Vermeulen back in SA and he could get a dual contract with SA Rugby and the Stormers if Erasmus gets his way.

As it seems that Erasmus will have a hands on roll with the Springboks going forward, one can understand that he would want a strong leader in his team and Vermeulen fits that perfectly.




Meanwhile, according to French rugby publication, Midi Olympique, Toulon have identified 81 Test capped All Black Jerome Kaino as their front-runner to replace Vermeulen.

Toulon are believed to be close to finalising a deal with the star New Zealander.

Coetzee take Boks from No3 to No6 in 21 months


As it is not enough that we had to endure another dismal season from Coetzee Springboks we have to see that the Springboks have now slipped to No 6 on the World Rugby rankings as well.

Coetzee have managed to take the Springboks from No3 in the world when he took over to Nr 6 within 21 months. This came after another lost this past Saturday against a second string Wales team in Cardiff.

They can be lucky not to have drop below Wales who is at No7 at this stage but surely after the Six Nations we could see the Springboks sitting at number 7 or 8 depending what France also do.

Wales have also received an improved rating from 80.98 to 81.76, but remain seventh.

World Rugby rankings (Top 20):

1. New Zealand 93.99
2. England 90.87
3. Ireland 86.39
4. Australia 85.49
5. Scotland 84.11
6. South Africa 83.80
7. Wales 82.08
8. Argentina 78.22
9. France 78.09
10. Fiji 77.93
11. Japan 75.66
12. Georgia 73.46
13. Tonga 71.87
14. Italy 71.25
15. Romania 69.58
16. Samoa 69.03
17. USA 66.87
18.  Uruguay 65.63
19. Russia  64.45
20. Spain 61.68

Nabetragting – Springboks are an embarrassment


Really hard to see the same problem week after week with the Springboks as we had to endure another poor performance on Saturday when they played a second string Wales side.

The first forty was one of the worst we saw from the Boks this year and they would have always struggled to come back from that.

As per norm our backline was beyond useless, we could not handle the high ball and our defence was absolutly shocking.

A few jokes did the rounds as well on social media.

Our defensive plan let through two tries in the first half as the Welsh explored the fact that we had another outside back playing out of position because the coach kept on picking an out of form Coetzee at fullback and then selected the young and excited Bulls fullback Gelant on the wing.

The third try against us was also the result of Coetzee kicking away turnover ball which was charged down.

As good as Coetzee has been all year with the Lions as poor he has been for the Boks. Write it off against the poor coaching and gameplan from Coetzee and his team or lost of form but Gelant should have been given a change to get into the side from the French game atleast.

Pollard also did not start well but atleast got back into his game as the game progress. Cronje is still not doing anything for me at nine and a huge difference in the team came when Louis Schreuder came on. Again do not understand the mindset of Coetzee not giving Schreuder the chance to start with Paige on the bench if you want.

Cronje has played all the Lions matches this year and almost every test for the Boks.

The midfield still have problems not just on defence but also on attack with not enough straight running. At one stage the forwards run the ball and made more meters in one move than the backs in the whole first half.

Upfront we again stood strong and another great test from Marx, Kolisi and the props. If only we had fifteen Springboks with the heart and abilities like Marx.

Apart from Coetzee poor gameplan, defensive structures and selections he had to go one step further and totally screw up the subs as well. Only he knows why he replaced Pollard for Jantjies, his front row and given Am 4 minutes.

He yet again showed that apart from not being able to understand the game at test level and find a proper gameplan he can also not read the game to see what is need to win a test.

You do not sub a player just because you planned that before the game, you sub a player to make the team better in the second half and all he did was to take the sting and the lead out of the test with his subs.

The worst is that he will go on TV after the game with a smug on his face and tell the world that the Boks improved this year and that they have again taken plenty of positive out of another lost.

I have never seen Naas Botha as upset in the Super Sport studio as on Saturday night and for once I agree with everything he had to say about how poor Coetzee selections and gameplan were.

All we can hope for now is that SARU have the balls to show him the door and get proper coaches in to try and fixed what Coetzee and his team have screwed up the past two years.

Atleast we do not have to see another Springboks lost again this year, so just maybe we can have a good Christmas after next week review from SARU on Coetzee.

Du Toit and Mbonambi starts for Boks


Bongi Mbonambi will make his first start for the Springboks against Italy in Padova, while Pieter-Steph du Toit returns to the starting team for Saturday’s third Test in the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour.Furthermore, the uncapped Warrick Gelant has been included on the bench and will make his Springbok debut should he go onto the field of play during the match.

The Springbok management decided not to risk Malcolm Marx for this weekend’s match, following the shoulder injury he sustained last week against France. This means Mbonambi, who has 12 Test caps to his name, will earn his first start on Saturday. Chiliboy Ralepelle will join Gelant on the bench.

Du Toit is fit again and picked at flank, where he replaces Siya Kolisi, who is not available for this match because of the birth of his second child. The versatile Du Toit suffered concussion two weeks ago against Ireland and as a result, he missed the Springbok victory over France in Paris.

The rest of the team that edged the French in the Stade de France in the previous outing is retained.

“We decided not to risk Malcolm, which means Bongi will get a well-deserved first start in the No 2 jersey,” said Springbok coach Allister Coetzee.

“Bongi has worked hard and I have no doubt he will grab this opportunity with both hands, as will Chiliboy, should he get a run.

“Warrick is in good form and his work-rate during training has been impressive. I know he will add value and I am very excited about the possibility of seeing him in action.”

Coetzee said the Italians will pose a difficult challenge at home: “We respect the Italian side, they are well coached and I know they will be up for the challenge. However, we focus on ourselves and a disciplined and clinical performance is what is needed this weekend.

“It would be important for our pack to again create a good platform of which to play from and therefore our set piece will be key in the expected wet conditions,” said Coetzee.

Eben Etzebeth will again lead the Springboks after the big lock has shrugged off a lower leg injury, which he suffered in Paris.

The Springbok team to play against Italy in Padova:

15. Andries Coetzee, Emirates Lions – 11 caps, 0 points
14. Dillyn Leyds, DHL Stormers – 7 caps, 5 points (1 try)
13. Jesse Kriel, Vodacom Bulls – 27 caps, 35 points (7 tries)
12. Francois Venter, Toyota Cheetahs – 5 caps, 0 points
11. Courtnall Skosan, Emirates Lions – 11 caps, 10 points (2 tries)
10. Handré Pollard, Vodacom Bulls – 24 caps, 198 points (2 tries, 31 con, 39 penalties, 3 drops goals)
9. Ross Cronje, Emirates Lions – 8 caps, 10 points (1 tries)
8. Duane Vermeulen, Toulon (France) – 38 caps, 10 points (2 tries)
7. Pieter-Steph du Toit, DHL Stormers – 30 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
6. Francois Louw, Bath (England) – 56 caps, 40 points (8 tries)
5. Lood de Jager, Vodacom Bulls – 34 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
4. Eben Etzebeth (captain), DHL Stormers – 65 caps, 15 points (3 tries)
3. Wilco Louw, DHL Stormers – 3 caps, 0 points
2. Bongi Mbonambi, DHL Stormers – 12 caps, 0 points
1. Tendai Mtawarira, Cell C Sharks – 97 caps, 10 points (2 tries)
16. Chiliboy Ralepelle, Cell C Sharks – 22 caps, 0 points
17. Steven Kitshoff, DHL Stormers – 21 caps, 0 points
18. Trevor Nyakane, Vodacom Bulls – 35 caps, 5 points (1 try)
19. Franco Mostert, Emirates Lions/Ricoh Black Rams (Japan) – 17 caps, 0 points
20. Dan du Preez, Cell C Sharks – 1 cap, 0 points
21. Rudy Paige, Vodacom Bulls – 12 caps, 5 points (1 try)
22. Elton Jantjies, Emirates Lions/NTT Shining Arcs (Japan) – 21 caps, 201 points (2 tries, 37 conversions, 39 penalties)
23. Warrick Gelant, Vodacom Bulls – 0 caps, 0 points

Byrne debut for Ireland


Adam Byrne will win his first cap for Ireland on the right wing on Saturday after Joe Schmidt named his side that will take on Argentina.

Joining Byrne in the back-three will be Rob Kearney at full-back and Jacob Stockdale on the other wing.

Chris Farrell, who made his debut last week, is paired in the centre with Bundee Aki, who got his first start against South Africa in the opneing game of the Guinness Series.

Jonathan Sexton and Conor Murray resume their partnership in the half-backs.

Rory Best returns to captain the team and is joined in the front-row by Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong while James Ryan starts in the second-row with Iain Henderson.

Peter O’Mahony, Sean O’Brien and CJ Stander return to the back-row.

The replacements are James Tracy, Dave Kilcoyne, John Ryan, Devin Toner, Rhys Ruddock, Luke McGrath, Ian Keatley and Andrew Conway.

Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 Iain Henderson, 4 James Ryan, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rory Best (c), 1 Cian Healy
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 John Ryan, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Andrew Conway

Date: Saturday, November 25
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Marius Mitrea (Italy), Mike Adamson (Scotland)
TMO: David Grashoff (England)

Why Rassie is the man to take Boks forward


Rassie Erasmus will have enough time to make the Springboks contenders at the 2019 World Cup, writes Mark Keohane

I am not saying he can build a Bok team that will beat the All Blacks in pool play but he certainly can identify a group of players good enough to make the playoffs, and once there it becomes a new tournament within a tournament.

The draw also is the best one possible for the Springboks because they get a first up crack at the world champions and then avoid playing them until a possible final, should both teams make it that far.

The 2019 World Cup grouping is a positive for South African rugby, and so is Erasmus’s return.

He must be entrusted with the responsibility of beating Eddie Jones’s England in 2018.

The Springboks play England in three Tests in South Africa and one at Twickenham. They also play the All Blacks twice and the Wallabies twice. Those eight Tests will tell you more about the Springboks 2019 prospects than the past 22 Tests under Allister Coetzee.

Coetzee’s two seasons have shown he isn’t the man to take the Springboks to the World Cup. Erasmus started this week as SA Rugby’s newly created director of rugby for national teams, including the Springboks.

Erasmus occupied a similar role at Munster and ended up being head coach and director of rugby. He proved very successful in both roles and there is no reason he can’t marry the two roles at SA Rugby.

I don’t see the point of having Erasmus back and not giving him total command of the Springboks. It would ensure that the rugby philosophy of the Springboks filters down to the other national teams, which are a part of Erasmus’s portfolio.

Erasmus, before he left for Munster, was the head of high performance in South African Rugby, with a portfolio that didn’t include the Springboks.

Erasmus worked closely with the junior national teams and Blitzboks coach Neil Powell.

He was influential in the appointment of Powell, who has enjoyed unprecedented success in the role.

Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber, who specialises in defence, have a long association dating back more than a decade. The two have operated as a team and Nienaber was part of the Munster deal. He was also part of the deal for Erasmus to return to South Africa.

Erasmus historically has always preferred working with a smaller coaching management team, in which those identified fulfil multiple roles.

Coetzee’s management teams have been excessive in numbers and the current Bok coach has introduced three different defence coaches in two seasons, two backline coaches and two forwards coaches.

Erasmus, when at the Cheetahs, Stormers and Munster, always employed a more streamlined approach to his coaching staff. He is of the belief that too many cooks spoil the broth.

Erasmus, in agreeing to return to South Africa, also embraced the transformation realities associated with Springbok selection. Like it or not, there is a commitment from SA Rugby to the South African government that the team that plays in Japan will be the most representative in the history of the Springboks at World Cups.

What constitutes merit is subjective and very skewed because it very much depends who is offering the view and opinion.

Historically black players have been tagged in this country as being quota players and development players, simply by definition of skin colour. It’s crass and distasteful because no white player, regardless of limitation or sub-standard performance, has ever been categorised with an insult of simply being there to make up numbers.

For too many – and for too long now – only white players have been viewed as merit selections. It’s another of those absurdities presented as fact because of the abnormality of South Africa’s apartheid sporting past, which is still entrenched in the thinking of so many.

I don’t believe that transformation ever weakens a team. What makes any team vulnerable and poorer on the day is when poor selections are presented as a commitment to transformation.

Any Springbok team can transform and win if the person picking that team actually gets it right when it comes to player identification.

The Blitzboks in the last three years are an example of winning, transforming and playing a uniquely South African brand of rugby.

Erasmus’s Springboks can achieve a similar integration and get results.

I’ve had enough discussions with Erasmus over the last two seasons to have belief in his approach, his philosophy and in the players he feels can combine to make the Springboks strong.

I never had a similar belief in Coetzee, and didn’t need the benefit of hindsight to be a non-believer. I wrote on his appointment that it was my view he wasn’t good enough and that he would not get results.

I don’t think Coetzee is a good selector and the players he has consistently picked as the best team have produced a 40 percent winning return.

Transformation can’t be blamed because in some of Coetzee’s biggest defeats there have been 12 white players in the on-field XV taking those beatings.

Erasmus inherited a similar results shambles at Munster, one of the traditional powerhouses of Irish and European rugby. The culture was foreign to him but almost immediately he created a winning environment that was sustained throughout his tenure.

He’ll do the same in a South African culture that isn’t foreign to him, but only if he is coaching the team.

Mark Keohane is a Cape-Town based award-winning rugby specialist and former Springbok Communications Manager. Follow him on Twitter 

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Vermeulen adds valuable experience – Smith


Springbok assistant coach Franco Smith has lauded the immediate impact of Duane Vermeulen, who has joined the squad in Paris as a replacement for the injured Coenie Oosthuizen.

The experienced No 8 joined the Springboks on Monday from French club side Toulon, and he had his first training session with the squad on Tuesday at the training grounds of Stade Francais.

Smith told the media on Tuesday that Vermeulen made an immediate impact on the squad.

“I think Duane’s experience is of enormous value to us,” said Smith.

“We believe the right process was followed with him, to allow him to get some game time for his club following an extended period out due to injury.

“Duane has a wealth of knowledge of the French game and it is good to have his calmness and considerable experience in our environment. We lacked a bit of experience and it’s great to welcome him at this stage of the tour.

“He was in our plans from the start but injury came at a wrong time for him,” said Smith.

Although the Springboks won the home series by 3-0 against France in June, Smith echoed the words of head coach Allister Coetzee, who said the French will be a very different side playing in Paris on Saturday.

“They played New Zealand last weekend and they are a much changed and more determined side,” explained Smith.

“Playing at night will definitely influence the match conditions, and I expect them to come really hard at us in front of their supporters. Our training has gone well so far this week and we know we have to front up to a great challenge against the French on Saturday.”

Coetzee will announce the Springbok match 23 on Thursday.

Toetie calls Thor up to Springbok squad


Experienced No 8 Duane Vermeulen has been called up to the Springbok squad as replacement for Coenie Oosthuizen who sustained a serious knee injury on Saturday in Dublin.

Oosthuizen underwent a scan before flying home from Dublin, and the results showed that he has sustained medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligament damage which will require surgery and an extended period of time of out of the game.

Vermeulen, who plays for French club Toulon, is set to join the Springbok squad on Monday at their base in Paris.

Meanwhile, it was confirmed that loose forward Pieter-Steph du Toit will miss Saturday’s Test against the French because of concussion he suffered against Ireland. He left the field in the closing minutes of play after receiving a blow to his head.

The Springboks started their preparations with a gym and field training session on Monday. The team to play against France at the Stade France will be confirmed on Thursday.

Nabetragting – Springboks reach new low


Had to really wait a good 24 hours before I had the will power to look at the Irish test again and try and find some answers on what happen again.

It is always easy to start blaming the players and yes they do have to answer for performances on the field and more so when you running out for your country.

To dish up a performance like on Saturday against Ireland is just not something we need to except from any Springbok team.

To look at Saturdays test and think we can find the answers for our poor performance is short sighted the Springboks problems are much deeper that one of two test.

The alarm bells was going off even before the tour started when Coetzee picked his squad of players.

His planning for the 2019 seems non existed in this current setup and even if we try very hard not to be to much emotional he does not have the ability to even come close to outsmart teams at this level.

We always measure our-self against the All Blacks and the test at Newlands which showed some guts from the Boks gave many of us false hope.

Measurement of a team should be the consistent improvement and ability to compete against the very best their teams their are, and we are not even close to do that.

Last year we heard that we need to blame the short time Coetzee had to prepare and this year we are being told that we must keep believing in the process of this team and be positives when we lose 57-0 against the All Blacks.

It should not have come as a surprise on the Springboks fall from grace when you look at Coetzee track record with Province and the Stormers.

I feel sorry for players like Jantjies and Cronje who has shown against the best of New Zealand and Australia the past three years that they are game breakers and now are being made the reason for our poor form.

I do not buy this. With a coach like Ackermann these two players have played a quick direct game putting their backline in space and created tries but on Saturday it was clear that they were again instructed to play a game they are not suited to and kick everything that came their way.

You can not make a dog fly no why would you want to take two of the attacking best halfbacks in South Africa and tell them to kick all day.

It was the same Coetzee, then at the Stormers that took a talented young Jantjies who perform outstanding for the Lions and killed his game with one season at the Stormers.

When you see stats of 61% territory, 54% possession, making 134 meters with ball in hand from 12 carriers with more good passes that the Irish then you know that you had the wrong plan against them.

We made all the play but at the end they scored 4 tries to our big fat zero.

In the midfield Coetzee thought that he could bring in a player in De Allende, who has not perform well in Super Rugby nor in the previous two years for the Springboks, and take on a world class team like Ireland.

How you sit with an exciting player like Am in your squad and do not even use him from the bench is just plain the logic the Springbok coach have shown since he started.

I am not even gong to touch on the fact that he sits with Pollard who could have added so much more than the poor De Allende and gave them a left and right foot combination next to Jantjies.

Coetzee also ignore the likes of Frans Steyn who plays in Europe.

Our backline was poor and our defence was even worst with no structure on attack.

Nick Mallet said it best after the game when you look at our midfield

“The midfield attack – the two centres [Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel] – showed absolutely no ability to straighten, catch or pass, which are the basics of international rugby.

‘You can play touch rugby against a player and within five minutes you can tell whether that player understands space, timing and depth, both when he has the ball in two hands and when he is a support runner.

I don’t think Damian de Allende or Jesse Kriel understand space or running straight or running lines. I think they are big, strong and powerful centres, who do not have a feel for the game of rugby.

‘Unfortunately, De Allende looked woefully out of form. He has been picked – and one wonders why – on reputation. He certainly hasn’t played enough games to warrant selection”

The only way Coetzee can rescue this tour is to get the right players involved. Time has come to call players like Vermeulen, Steyn and get players like Am and Gelant quicker in the system.

Upfront we need to pick players in their positions and have the best players starting the match. Sentiment must find a backseat and players not good enough needs to be shown the door.

The real sad part of Coetzee after this test was that he does not even know what is wrong. He could not even explained after the test what went wrong.

The Springboks are at a crossroad and SARU and Springbok management needs to make some hard decisions if they still want to safe the soon to be extinct Springbok rugby team.

As it stand now we will be lucky to come away from this tour with one win.


Coetzee: Record Irish defeat ‘difficult to explain


Under fire Springbok coach Allister Coetzeehas said the record defeat to Ireland at Lansdowne Road on Saturday was “difficult to explain”, writes Sport24

Coetzee, still looking for his first victory in charge on an end-of-year tour, oversaw yet another record defeat as the Boks bumbled their way to a 38-3 loss, the massive 35-point differential easily eclipsing the previous biggest defeat of 17 points – in both 2006 and 2014.

“It was disappointing and as a group we take full responsibility. Ireland were clinical,” Coetzee added.

Back in 2016 Coetzee set the first of several unwanted “records” when he took charge of the Springboks’ first ever home defeat to the Irish at Newlands.

The calls for Coetzee’s dismissal will no doubt grow as the team looks to regather and prepare to face France in Paris next Saturday.

Another huge lost for Springboks


Boks in limbo


The Springboks continue to be hamstrung by the bizarre decisions taken by the coaching staff and the SA Rugby administrators, writes JON CARDINELLI in Dublin for SARugbyMag.co.za

‘Hang on a minute,’ the Irish journalist pleaded. His expression belied feelings of confusion and disbelief. The information that I’d relayed clearly wasn’t computing.

‘So you’re telling me that Rassie Erasmus is still in Ireland. He’s been working here [with Munster] for more than a year and has a good knowledge of the local game.

‘He was recently named the South African director of rugby. The Boks are in Dublin this week, but Allister Coetzee won’t meet with him at all?’

We both attended the press conference in St Helens on Monday. Coetzee confirmed that he and Erasmus would not meet until early 2018.

How about making time for a phone call or a coffee to discuss strategy during a Test week? Apparently it’s impossible.

How about reaching out for any sort of help ahead of a Test that could render this tour a relative success? Coetzee gave those present at the media gathering the impression that the thought had never crossed his mind.

My new Irish friend kept trying to add up his South African rugby sum. I started to wonder how the international media and indeed the fans from other countries must view us a rugby community.

ALSO READ: Van Graan not done with Boks

‘[Assistant coach] Johann van Graan will replace Rassie at Munster, but he will leave in the middle of the Boks’ four-game tour? How does that work?’

Good question. The Boks will be without a lineout specialist ahead of the games against Italy and Wales, games in which the set pieces will be crucial.

‘[Defence coach] Brendan Venter is still contracted to Italy? What’s going to happen when the Boks go to Padua in two weeks?’

‘Brendan won’t coach against the Boks,’ I tell him.

He gives me a look. I raise my hands in surrender. ‘That’s the official line.’

‘What about this game in Dublin?’ he says, shaking his head. ‘This is South Africa. Who are they really missing in terms of injured players?’

‘They’re missing a full back row if you consider that Jaco Kriel, Jean-Luc du Preez and Warren Whiteley have all been ruled out for extended periods.

‘Duane Vermeulen has played a couple of games for Toulon since returning from injury, though. He declared himself fit and available for selection this past Sunday. The Boks aren’t interested.’


I shrug. Why indeed.

ALSO READ: Duane hopes for Bok recall

‘Who else is unavailable?’

‘Jan Serfontein will be missed,’ I offer. ‘He was one of the stars in the series against France; one of the Boks’ most influential players on defence. Apparently the Boks have granted him leave to settle at his club in France while the team tours Europe.’

‘Hang on, hang on,’ he says. The Irish newspapers have been up in arms over Simon Zebo’s defection to France. Forget the game against the Boks. This – along with the 2023 World Cup bid race – is the big issue in Irish rugby at present.

More than one media outlet has aligned the South African team’s results of the past two years with the number of players – over 300 – playing abroad. Will Ireland suffer the Boks’ fate? Clearly some feel that Zebo could be the first of many to seek fame and fortune in the French Top 14.

‘Elton Jantjies has started all nine games for the Boks this year,’ he says, trying to change the subject. ‘Why would Coetzee say that Handré Pollard now has the inside lane at flyhalf?’

‘Jantjies, Franco Mostert and Francois Louw won’t be available for the final tour match against Wales,’ I tell him. ‘Jantjies has also been with his Japanese club recently while Pollard has been in camp with the Boks.’

His eyes widen as if I’ve told him an incredible joke. He taps away on his laptop for two or three minutes and then turns to me again.

‘So, do you think the Boks have any chance this Saturday?’

COMMENT: Brains to trump brawn

Coetzee must back Pollard


Handré Pollard must be given an extended run at No 10 on the Springboks’ four-Test tour of Europe, writes JON CARDINELLI in Dublin for SARugbyMag

On Monday, Allister Coetzee told the media gathered at the team hotel in St Helens that Pollard was likely to start against Ireland.

‘Elton has been away recently [with his club in Japan] and so I have to decide whether to go with Elton or Pollard at No 10,’ the Bok coach said. ‘I have to weigh up how prepared Elton is going to be for that game versus how Pollard has been in camp with the team for the past three weeks.

Jantjies has started all nine of the Boks’ Tests in 2019. The Lions flyhalf impressed during the early stages of the season in games against France and Argentina. In the subsequent fixtures against Australia and New Zealand, however, Jantjies’ game management and option-taking left a lot to be desired.

Pollard was the Boks’ first-choice flyhalf at the 2015 World Cup. A series of injuries precluded him from selection in 2016 and in the early stages of the 2017 season. He made his comeback to Test rugby in the Rugby Championship, but was limited to a bench role.

This Saturday, Pollard could win his first start for the Boks in more than two years. What’s more, he may receive the opportunity to redeem himself after a poor showing against Ireland the last time the Boks were in Dublin.

In that 2014 fixture, Pollard and halfback partner Francois Hougaard had a night to forget. That said, Pollard and Hougaard weren’t helped by the fact that their forwards lost the collisions and breakdowns.

Will history repeat itself this Saturday? Even at this stage, Coetzee is still pondering his loose-forward options.

The Boks have travelled to Europe without Warren Whiteley, Jaco Kriel and Jean-Luc du Preez (all injured) while Duane Vermeulen has not been considered due to a lack of game time in the wake of his own long-term ailment.

Coetzee may be tempted to stick with the back row that fronted the All Blacks a month ago. Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Francois Louw certainly took the fight to the New Zealanders on that occasion.

On the other hand, Uzair Cassiem is back from injury. Going by how the Boks were running at training in Dublin on Monday, Oupa Mohoje may well be considered for a start at blindside flank.

Whatever the case may be, the Boks will go into Saturday’s clash as underdogs. While they may have the front and second rows to challenge Ireland at the set pieces, they lack the experience and the continuity in the loose trio to be considered as favourites at the breakdowns and collisions.

Ireland also have halfbacks that are capable of translating forward dominance into territory and attacking chances, as Coetzee pointed out.

‘The aerial game might not be as important in Super Rugby, but I know that in the northern hemisphere the aerial bombardment plays a big part,’ the Bok coach said. ‘Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton are great kickers of the ball. They see those kicks as an attacking opportunity as well.

‘Physicality is a given against a northern-hemisphere side. We’ve got to be smart with our detail this week. Ireland are quite innovative. They run good lines and defensively we will have to work at stopping their momentum.’

Three years ago, Pollard was dropped from the starting side in the wake of his poor showing against Ireland. Pat Lambie started the remaining Tests against England, Italy and Wales.

Does Pollard need to win the match single-handedly this weekend to guarantee a start in the following three Tests? Coetzee gave the impression that the Boks are looking to build some continuity on this tour. Jantjies, of course, will head back to his Japanese club ahead of the clash against Wales in Cardiff, a Test that falls outside of the World Rugby-sanctioned Test window.

Coetzee believes that the Boks’ kicking game has been on point this season. This Saturday, he will be looking to his flyhalf to translate forward dominance into territory and, when the situation presents itself, points.

‘You have to win the small battles in big Tests like these,’ he said. ‘There’s the battle at the scrum, the lineout, the battle for territory, the breakdown, and the kicking game. If you win three out of five you have a good chance of winning the game.

‘On top of all that, you have to build scoreboard pressure. You need a No 10 who can keep that scoreboard pressure going. You have to keep building through those three-pointers, especially in the northern hemisphere.’

Those scoring chances will, however, hinge on a competitive showing by the Boks up front. And if Coetzee is serious about building continuity on this tour he has to hand Pollard an extended run in that position of responsibility.

Eben fit to lead Boks


Springbok coach Allister Coetzee was in a happy mood when he confirmed the news that Etzebeth, Cassiem and Oosthuizen was fit to play against the Irish this weekend.

‘Eben did limited training with the team when they arrived in Dublin on Saturday,’ said the Bok coach.

‘He will be taking full part in training this afternoon. I have no concerns about him whatsoever and he will be fit to lead the team against Ireland.

‘Uzair Cassiem came through contact training without any problems,’ added Coetzee.

‘Coenie Oosthuizen is 100% ready. From a wellness point of view, we are in very good shape.’

Coetzee also explained the Springboks’ approach towards the coming month-long tour: “Our mindset is that it’s not the end of year tour – this tour is about making sure we improve as a group and keep on growing as a team, while also staying on course with our 2019 plan.

“This is an important tour for us and our standard of play has to be at the level of our last match against New Zealand in Cape Town,” said Coetzee.

The Bok coach also spoke very highly of the Irish side: “They are really a top-class side with an experienced coaching team and quality players. There is no doubt we have to be at our best on Saturday.

“Our ability to adapt to the conditions, and how we want to play, will be tested. I know that up here (northern hemisphere) there will be many contests, and the arial bombardment will be one it.

“In that respect Ireland have a great weapon in their halfback pair as both are prolific kickers, and as a combination, they are world-class. It will be important to win the many small battles and our focus will be to improve execution in all departments,” said the Springbok coach.

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Thor – I’m ready


Duane Vermeulen is disappointed he didn’t get a call-up for national duty as the Springboks prepare for a four-Test tour of Europe that begins against Ireland in Dublin this week.

“I want to get back into the mix as soon as possible. I’m ready and willing,” Vermeulen told sarugbymag.co.za after Toulon stumbled to a 26-24 reverse against Agen on Saturday, a match that doubled as his second appearance since a four-month injury layoff.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not at my absolute best after two games. But can I contribute to the Boks? I’m confident that I can add value in a side that is pretty thin in the back row at the moment.”

The Bok quest to redeem themselves from an abysmal 2016 tour of Europe – one that included a historic loss against Italy – was dealt a blow last week when Jean-Luc du Preez was ruled out with an ankle injury suffered during the Currie Cup final.

His place in the touring party was filled by lock Ruan Botha, leaving the Boks with an underwhelming posse of loose forwards that includes Siya Kolisi, Francois Louw, Uz Cassiem, Dan du Preez and Oupa Mohoje. Louw accounts for 54 of that group’s 102 Test caps which would grow to 139 if Vermeulen was called up.

“Some guys talk about finishing their career with 100 or more caps,” said the 31-year-old. “At this stage, I’m still looking to surpass 50. The next World Cup is in the back of my mind. I really want to be there in 2019.

“Right now I’m just waiting for an opportunity. I really want to play and be part of the Boks again. I will play tighthead prop if they need me to, but my goal is to push for that No 8 position and to compete against guys like Billy Vunipola and Kieran Read on the Test stage.

“I’m going back to South Africa for a few days now, but I will be ready – if there is another injury and the Boks need someone, perhaps I can step in.”

Thanks to

Springboks ready for European challenges – Coetzee


Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has highlighted several challenges facing his team over the next month in Europe, but believes his settled squad will be able to overcome the threats posed by Ireland, France, Italy and Wales.

The 34-man Bok squad leave South Africa in two groups to Europe on Friday and Saturday, with the first Test coming against Ireland in Dublin next Saturday.

It is a tour Coetzee will desperately want to do well in after the travails of a year ago, when the Boks failed to win in four outings.

“The end-of-year tour is always different, with its own challenges… one of those being trying to successfully follow up our performance at Newlands,” said Coetzee.

Last time out the Boks lost by a single point to the All Blacks in Cape Town, in a far better performance than their 57-0 hiding suffered at the hands of the same team in Albany a few weeks earlier.

“Of course, we’re also up against northern-hemisphere referees and their interpretation of the breakdowns especially is somewhat different,” said the Bok coach. “We’ve adapted well to their officiating though.

“Ireland first up will be a big test; scrumhalf Connor Murray is a world-class player whose box kicking is pin-point accurate, and that’s a big part of their game. They also compete well in the air, so it’s going to be an aerial game over there.”

Coetzee added that the weather conditions would also challenge his players, something the Boks would have to quickly adapt to, but the coach said the team’s planning and preparation was far better than it was a year ago when they got walloped by among others Italy.

But consistency in selection would also benefit the Boks abroad, said the coach.

“I’m really happy with the continuity in the group. Bar Lukhanyo Am, who was part of the planning for June already but missed out because of a cheekbone injury, everyone else has been part of our training camps,” said Coetzee.

“They all understand the team culture, the philosophy, and know the environment, so in that regard the continuity is a big plus for us. It’s the first time we’ve been able to have so much continuity, and it’s excellent for us when compared to last year when several new players came into the squad.”

Added to this, several Bok players were involved in a four-day condition and planning camp in Cape Town last week; their first bit of rugby action since the All Blacks Test last month. “I think the players are rejuvenated after last week’s camp. They’re fresh going on tour and trained with a lot of enthusiasm… and that’s a good sign.”

The Boks should have greater clarity on Thursday about the ankle injury suffered by team captain Eben Etzebeth at that camp. The second-row forward had been required to wear a moon boot to help stabilise the ankle and is expected to return to training on Thursday.

Besides Etzebeth, the Boks have four other locks in their squad, namely Lood de Jager, Franco Mostert, Pieter-Steph du Toit and now also Ruan Botha, who came into the squad on Tuesday as a replacement for injured flank Jean-Luc du Preez.

Thanks to

Gelant, Am named in Springboks sqaud


Exciting young backs Warrick Gelant and Lukhanyo Am, as well as Dan du Preez and Louis Schreuder are the four uncapped players in the Springbok squad of 34 players announced on Sunday for the 2017 Castle Lager Outgoing Tour.

Furthermore, experienced prop Coenie Oosthuizen has been recalled to the squad having successfully completed his rehabilitation from an arm injury, which meant he missed the Springboks’ recent home Tests against Australia and New Zealand.

Also included in the squad are loose forward Uzair Cassiem, who has recovered from the rib injury he sustained against the Wallabies in Bloemfontein, and the experienced Tendai Mtawarira, who missed the encounter against the All Blacks in Cape Town because of family reasons.

There are also recalls to the squad for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs duo of Francois Venter (centre) and Oupa Mohoje (loose forward).

Gelant, who played for the Junior Springboks and Springbok Sevens teams, will accompany the Boks on tour for the first time following impressive performances this year.

Am is back in the Springbok fold after his initial squad selection in June, which was thwarted by injury, while Du Preez and Schreuder were both part of the Springboks’ recent Castle Lager Rugby Championship squad.

With the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan in mind, the forthcoming tour will give Springbok coach Allister Coetzee the ideal opportunity to broaden his player base and expose more young talent to the Bok environment and the rigorous pressures of Test match rugby.

“This squad reflects consistency and continuity, while we also rewarded players who have constantly shown good form this season,” explained Coetzee.

“Warrick and Lukhanyo are two examples of players who have excelled in the season so far. It’s great to have them in the squad and I look forward to working with them, but at the same time I feel sorry for Sbu Nkosi in particular – he had an impressive debut senior season and it is unfortunate that he will miss the tour because of his elbow injury.

Flanker Jean-Luc du Preez, who sustained an ankle injury sustained in the Currie Cup final on Saturday, will undergo an MRI scan and Monday and his inclusion in the squad is subject to the results of the scan and the orthopaedic opinion. The decision to call for a possible replacement, if needed, will depend on the outcome of the scan and orthopaedic opinion.

“With the World Cup now less than two years away, this demanding tour gives us another very good opportunity to keep on building depth and experience.

“Eight new players were capped so far this season and a total of 19 new international players made their Springbok debuts since the 2015 Rugby World Cup, and we’ve also had a number of new Springbok captains since then. Our process to rebuild the Bok team and steadily working towards the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan is continuing at a good and satisfying pace.

Coetzee said he would also like to see continuous improvement and progress, building on the foundations laid so far this year.

“So far this season, this group has shown a genuine willingness to evolve and they continuously strive to be better players within our environment,” said Coetzee.

“Ireland, France, Italy and Wales will each be a huge contest, however, we are looking forward to the challenge in different conditions.”

Eben Etzebeth will continue to lead the side in the injury-absence of Warren Whiteley, but the squad will be without Jan Serfontein, who asked not to be considered for the tour as he wants to settle in at French club Montpellier, who he has joined recently.

Coetzee also announced that Siya Kolisi will return to Cape Town after the Test against France in Paris on 18 November as his wife, Rachel, is due to give birth the following week. He will not be available for the Test against Italy on 25 November in Padova, but will re-join the group for the final tour match in Cardiff against Wales.

Players who are contracted to overseas clubs – Franco Mostert, Francois Louw and Elton Jantjies – will not be considered for selection for the 2 December encounter against Wales, as this Test falls outside the international window.

Other players not considered for selection for the four-week tour because of injury or other reasons include amongst other: Warren Whiteley (No 8), Jaco Kriel (flank), Frans Malherbe (prop), Sbu Nkosi (wing), Ruan Combrinck (wing) and Jan Serfontein (centre).

The Springboks’ tour fixtures are:

11 November vs Ireland in Dublin
18 November vs France in Paris
25 November vs Italy in Padova
2 December vs Wales in Cardiff

The Springbok tour squad for the 2017 Castle Lager Outgoing Tour to Europe:

Forwards (in alphabetical order)

Uzair Cassiem (flank,Toyota Free State Cheetahs), 6 caps, 5 points (1 try)
Lood de Jager (lock, Vodacom Blue Bulls), 32 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
Ruan Dreyer (prop, Xerox Golden Lions), 4 caps, 5 points (1 try)
Dan du Preez (No 8, Cell C Sharks), 0 caps, 0 points
**Jean-Luc du Preez (loose forward, Cell C Sharks), 10 caps, 10 points (2 tries)
Pieter-Steph du Toit (lock/flank,DHL Western Province), 29 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
Eben Etzebeth (lock, DHL Western Province), 63 caps, 15 points (3 tries)
Steven Kitshoff (prop DHL Western Province), 19 caps, 0 points
Siya Kolisi (flank, DHL Western Province), 25 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
Francois Louw (loose forward, Bath, England), 54 caps, 40 points (8 tries)
Wilco Louw (prop, DHL Western Province), 1 cap, 0 points
Malcolm Marx (hooker, Xerox Golden Lions), 11 caps, 15 points (3 tries)
Bongi Mbonambi (hooker, DHL Western Province), 11 caps, 0 points
Oupa Mohojé (flank, Toyota Free State Cheetahs), 17 caps, 0 points
Franco Mostert (lock, Emirates Lions/Ricoh Black Rams, Japan), 15 caps, 0 points
Tendai Mtawarira (prop, Cell C Sharks), 95 caps, 10 points (2 tries)
Trevor Nyakane (prop,Vodacom Blue Bulls), 34 caps, 5 points (1 try)
Coenie Oosthuizen (prop, Cell C Sharks), 29 caps, 20 points (4 tries)
Chiliboy Ralepelle (hooker,Cell C Sharks), 22 caps, 5 points (1 try)


Lukhanyo Am (centre, Cell C Sharks), 0 caps, o points
Curwin Bosch (flyhalf, Cell C Sharks), 1 cap, 0 points
Andries Coetzee (fullback, Xerox Golden Lions), 9 caps, 0 points
Ross Cronjé (scrumhalf, Xerox Golden Lions), 6 caps, 10 points (2 tries)
Damian de Allende (centre, DHL Western Province), 27 caps, 15 points (3 tries)
Warrick Gelant (fullback, Vodacom Blue Bulls), 0 caps, 0 points
Elton Jantjies (flyhalf, Emirates Lions/NTT Shining Arcs, Japan), 20 caps, 198 points (2 tries, 37 conversions, 38 penalties)
Jesse Kriel (centre, Vodacom Blue Bulls), 25 caps, 30 points (6 tries)
Dillyn Leyds (wing, DHL Western Province), 5 caps, 0 points
Rudy Paige (scrumhalf, Vodacom Blue Bulls), 11 caps, 5 points (1 try)
Handré Pollard (flyhalf, Vodacom Blue Bulls), 22 caps, 190 points (2 tries, 30 conversions, 37 penalties, 3 drop goals)
Raymond Rhule (wing,Toyota Free State Cheetahs), 7 caps, 5 points (1 try)
Louis Schreuder (scrumhalf, Cell C Sharks), 0 caps, 0 points
Courtnall Skosan (wing, Xerox Golden Lions), 9 caps, 10 points (2 tries)
Francois Venter (centre, Toyota Free State Cheetahs), 3 caps, 0 points

Etzebeth to captain Boks for November test


Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has confirmed that Eben Etzebeth will retain the captaincy of the national side on the Outgoing Tour to the Northern Hemisphere in November and December.

Etzebeth will again lead the side in the continued injury absence of No 8 Warren Whiteley, who has been ruled out of the tour to Ireland, France, Italy and Wales and is expected to be out of action for two more months as a result of his groin injury.

The No 4 lock took over the leadership duties at the end of June when Whiteley was forced to withdraw on the eve of the third Test against France in Johannesburg. Etzebeth has subsequently led the Springboks in all six Castle Lager Rugby Championship Test matches.

Coetzee said Etzebeth has been impressive in the new leadership role so far this season: “Eben has really taken to his role as captain of the Springboks and it makes sense to retain him. I know he is well respected by talking to opposition coaches and referees, and he enjoys the respect of his peers.”

Coetzee also added that Etzebeth is supported by a strong leadership group.

“With Eben at the helm for the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour, we are looking forward to continue our process of building continuity, cohesion and experience within this team as we also start to build towards the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan,” according to Coetzee.

Meanwhile, it was confirmed on Thursday that the contracted group and identified Springboks will assemble in Stellenbosch from Monday, 23 October for a four-day training, assessment and conditioning camp in preparation of the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour.

The Springbok squad for the end of year tour will be confirmed on Sunday, 29 October – the day after the Currie Cup final – and the squad will assemble in Johannesburg on Tuesday, 31 October.

South Africa’s opponents during their month-long European tour are Ireland (11 November, Dublin), France (18 November, Paris), Italy (25 November, Padova) and Wales (2 December, Cardiff).

Van Graan leaves Springboks for Munster


Springboks forwards coach Johann van Graan has been released from his contract to join Munster as head coach, South Africa Rugby and the Irish province announced on Wednesday.


Van Graan has been part of the South Africa coaching set-up since 2012, working under head coaches Heyneke Meyer and Allister Coetzee.

“I was fortunate to be part of the Springboks set-up for six years and 69 tests and it was an incredible journey,” Van Graan said in a statement.

“Some of the words I associate with Munster Rugby are passion, excellence, ambition and integrity, and I feel very fortunate to be handed this opportunity.

Van Graan still needs to be given a work permit but this appointment had been widely expected.

“Rugby was the focal point of this process, and in Johann we are getting a recognised rugby intellectual with a proven track record and extensive experience working with a national side,” said Munster chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald.

The 37-year-old son of a Pretoria-based senior rugby official experienced highs and lows while part of the Springboks coaching staff.

South Africa lost by just two points to greatest rivals New Zealand in a 2015 Rugby World Cup semifinal thriller in London.

But the debut season of Coetzee last year was disastrous with eight losses in 12 tests — a calendar-year record for the Springboks.

“Johann is highly competent, extremely hard working and attention to detail is one of his great strengths,” said Coetzee.

SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux added: “The Munster appointment is an excellent opportunity for Johann to prove himself in a very competitive European environment.”

Van Graan moving to Munster continues a South African link with the Limerick-based team as Johan “Rassie” Erasmus is director of rugby there until December, when he returns home.

Munster have been European champions twice and runners-up twice and won the Pro12 (now Pro14) competition for Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh sides three times.

Venter to stay with Boks for EOY tour


It all looks like Brendon Venter will still be consulting for the Boks on their end of year tour with the exception of the Italian test.

The Springboks will play Ireland, Italy, France and Wales at the end of the year with Venter not being involved in either the Springbok or Italy in the lead-up to the two nations clash in November.

It all seems that Venter’s involvement with the Boks for the year end tour is more to do when Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus will return to SARU than him staying on longer.

Nienaber is one if not the best in the business when it comes to defence and he will surely take over that role from Venter once their contract ends with Munster.

Nienaber have worked with Coetzee before at WP Rugby and the Stormers as did Erasmus.

It is still unclear what the exact role of Nienaber will be in SARU upon his return as well as if SARU will still use the service of Venter.

Venter is a consultant for FIR till the World Cup in Japan and it is only logic that Nienaber will take over after November.

Stranger things have happened within SARU so time will tell what will happen to Venter after November.

Brendan Venter will remain with the Springboks as a defensive consultant until after their end-of-year tour of Europe.


Nabetragting – Newlands test


It normally takes a few days for anything to sink into my think skins and after a few days and watching the Newlands test three times over I realized that we do not have that much to be happy about apart from that players have given their all but still came up short.

Here is my ” Nabetragting”

Maybe it was the fact that the All Blacks did not put 50 points yet again pass us maybe it was the fact that we actually saw a Springbok side playing out of their skins for once in a Springbok jumper, but after a day or two one have to look at the Newlands test with the same perspective as we would look at a playoff test in the World Cup, we were still not good enough.

Let’s be honest it was a surprise and actually nice to see the passion and pride of those Boks on the field at Newlands. For once we have actually had players who played out of their skins putting everything on the line, but is that not what they suppose to do every time they pull that jersey over their head?

Was the previous three test not important enough to do the same?

Let’s face the facts, the Aussies have put one of the most inexperience and most properly their worst team to paper this Rugby Championship and to play to a draw against this Aussie sides was an embarrassment to say the least.

The Bloemfontein test was as poor as any of the mediocre test they played under Coetzee in 2016 not even going to the All Blacks test in Albany.

After the Rugby Championship we ended up 5th in the world on the rankings with New Zealand, England Australia and Ireland all higher ranked that the Springboks.

This is just not good enough and Coetzee can spin his story that the team has only been together since June but that is the worst BS you will hear all year.

Coetzee had the whole of 2016 which he choose to select players who was not on form. His gameplan came out of the 1900 and his management team had less experience than my bothers 4 year old twins.

This year, although early indications looked like he will pick players on form, went south very quickly.

Take this last test squad,  we had three locks, two loosies and no eighth-man in the starting line-up. We will be let know that it was to counter the lineouts problems from Albany.

Du Preez have impressed as a youngster all year from the bench and as a starting player but he was reduced to the bench as Coetzee decided to play Flo(who have never played their at test level) at the number eight position.

We do not have a world class combination at this stage on the side of the scrum and we will keep on struggling until we pick the right players in their correct positions.

In the front row Dreyer has been a penalty machine during the Championship but Coetzee and Proudfoot insist that he is the answer. Strange how we dominated as soon as he was replaced by Louw on Saturday.

Although I was a fan at Super Rugby, I was very not impress with Cronje at 9 on Saturday. I do not know if he are playing with a niggle but he was slow behind the pack, taking two to three steps every time he passes and he was sending invites out every time he kicked the ball.

His kicking was poor and with no plan or directions, if you cannot use the kick as an attacking option then you should leave it. Between Cronje and Jantjies we have seen enough poor kicking this year to last us a lifetime.

Jantjies has now been given plenty of time to develop and although I believe poor players and performances around him has been an influence, it is time to look at Pollard. Pollard made a huge impact from the time he came on till he left again.

His direct play and strong run with the passing skills he has is just what the Boks need to make the opposition guessing and give us the opportunity to get over the advantage line. With Jantjies we are using the forwards to much which never get over the advantage line and get tackled backwards.

We have seen so many forwards getting the ball as first receiver on Saturday standing still.

In the midfield we still have problems and I will stay with my opinion that Kriel is a Fullback or wing at best but he is not centre. We need to get Serfontein a partner that will complement his play in attack and defence, Kriel is not that player. Would love to see a guy like Am and Vorster get a change to go with at the end of the year.

Out wide I have my doubts if we have the best at the moment. Leyds have not impressed and not ready for test level. I would like Coetzee to bring in Senatla, Gelant, Nkosi and Van Wyk for the end of year tour and get opportunity.

It would be nice to have Whiteley back as captain, nothing against Etzebeth but he needs to be that player like he was on Saturday in team. Looking forward to see a combination of Whiteley, Kolisi and Du Preez being tried out later this year.

Winning test is everything, losing is the thing we do not want and should never want. Winning by one point or fifty does not matter, it is test rugby and at the end it is all that matters. I agree that we should not celebrate another loss against the All Blacks.

We can feel a bit better of the effort by the Springboks but we should have only one objective and that is to win every test, if we do not achieve that we have failed.


Marx at the center of Springbok turnaround


The only thing that was missing was 2 points to seal a memorable win against the World’s best team on Saturday at Newlands.

Will be the first to say I will eat my words of the past week and give credit to Coetzee and his staff for having almost the perfect game against the All Blacks.

If you think back to 2016 and look at Saturday test there are so many things that have changed, hell if you look at yesterday and Albany test their are so many things that changed.

That we still have plenty to work on is a fact and it will only come once we have people that can recognized these faults in our game.

Our defence was the best we have seen from any test side for years and the man at the centre of this was Kitshoff and Marx.

Marx was like a demon from the Supernatural TV series. He is one of the players with Kitshoff, Etzebeth, Kolisi that must get the most credit for what can only be describe as brilliant defence against a team who can score from anywhere.

Marx made 92 meters with the ball in hand yesterday, 13 ball carriers and have won four turnovers. Marx made the most turnovers in the Championship which shows the mark of the man.

Someone told me yesterday Marx is an Bismarck 2.1, better and improved version.

Du Toit and De Jager had mush to do with the go forward ball we got on Saturday. One cannot look pass Du Preez when he came on in the second half.

Du Preez will become a huge player for the Springboks. Everytime he come onto the field he makes a difference would have still wanted he to start with Du Toit or De Jager from the bench.

We still have problems on attack with forwards standing still when they receive the ball which put us under huge pressure.

Kicking is also still one of the major problems in this team. It is not so much that we kick to much but the quality of the kicks and the chase when we kick.

We gave two tries away again due to poor executed kicks and something we need to make right.

The first half we put ourselves under huge pressure with Cronje taking to much time to play the ball. He takes two to three steps everytime he has to pass the ball.

The bench was also great on Saturday and Coetzee changes came at the right time and made the necessary impact.

Pollard looked good for the time he was on the field with a brilliant break and pass to Marx that send Du Preez over for his try.

Pollard have taken the ball to the line brilliant in the second half which gave the Boks much better continuity and attacking opportunity.

What was the best to see from Saturday test was that we saw some good old Springbok rugby with forwards dominating and hitting the opposition over with attacking play which was a combination between forwards and backs.

We have said it so many times Springboks needs to play Springbok rugby with the flair on attack you need to score tries.

This test should not go to our heads but must be a reminder of what we can do when we play for that jersey and do it well.

I cannot remember when last a team forced the All Blacks to go for a drop goal. We had the All Blacks under pressure and not many teams have done that for years.

The next step is the most important part of the Springbok progress and that is the end of year tour. Nothing less than a 100% will be expected and they will have to come back from that with a 100% winning record.

Coetzee will have to touch right with selections on the end of year tour and an added bonus will be the hopefully return of Warren Whiteley.

What we don’t need is that this was just again a once off and we go back to our old ways on the end of year tour.

For now we can be proud of the Springboks again and look forward to how they will take the next step of restoring Springbok rugby.

Picture by (Gallo)

Get fundamentals right first


So having aligned my chakras, woosaad my woosaahs and had enough camomile tea to calm down to only a mild meltdown I feel I can rejoin the fray, writes Clayton Saville 

My initial anger was probably more to do with the coaches comments rather than the flagrant disregard for basics and common sense in the game. Also, that first Oz try was hella forward, we was robbed yo!

So I must admit that Oom has a good point( he always does, doesn’t he)on we must give Alister and his team a chance to develop as he believes they are moving in the right direction. What we can all agree on is  that with all the indaba’s last year and the new personal on board  that Springbok rugby is moving towards a new plan and rightly or wrongly it is better than what was dished up last year.

You can read Oom Rugby’s take on it here…

Boks close to rugby paradise!

What he is saying about that plan that Allister and his team have at the moment is all well and good but we need to remember that attack is something that will have a natural evolution but can only start with the basics of defence, breakdown and set pieces.

You do not try and create width on attack, width is created naturally when the basics are applied in the game of rugby.

A huge problem comes when using the player as a target when passing, they should be passing to the target for the receiving player. If you do not follow this basic you lose momentum every time and that was clear to see against the Aussies.

Our only saving grace was that the Aussies were bad in defence. If you force width, it is the easiest thing to read for the defending team and that the reason we get turned over so easily out wide .

On Saturday we had a total of 134 carriers which only resulted in 2(1%) line-breaks but what was more disturbing for me was the fact that we only crossed the advantage line 38%. It is very important to understand that we could not get over the advantage line 62% of the time.

Attack should create confusion in defensive structures which we fail to do with our attack. With the Springboks attack we can see both carriers and receivers shoulders are facing to the sidelines and it should be square because that is when you face defenders.

Looking and facing the sidelines you show exactly where you are looking to move the ball and defenders simply shift which makes it the easiest thing to do on defence.

The scrummie has two options with every move, a pod which carries, or the pod passing behind to the flyhalf who then goes wide – wide – fucking easiest thing in the world to defend – there is no inside threat to straighten – so on defence, number up on pod if they carry and don’t commit any players for the turn over – then fold because SA is a same-side team so 95% of the time they will go wide – wide to the same side – isolate the guy at the end, flood the breakdown, if you dont turn the ball over you will definitely slow it down.

Both Allister Coetzee and Brendan Venter have constantly mentioned that they are process driven and not strictly results oriented, the problem is the process is fundamentally flawed, and much as they will effectively be running more , more often than not they are going to end up running behind their posts for another huddle while waiting on a conversion to fly over the bar.

Boks close to rugby paradise!


Oom Rugby writes for AllOutRugby and here is his latest piece on the criticism the Springboks and coaches got after the draw against the Aussie this weekend  

Hi guys. There is a old familiar cycle in Bok rugby. Fans says the Boks is boring, so the coach begin the long journey to evolve, but then the team lose too many games, fans get angry, so the coach go back to simpler boring rugby again. Then he get fired. Repeat.

We at that point again after this weekend, and I want to make a case that even though Allister maybe been hopping around for the last year and a half, it is worth to let this group push forward with what they trying to achieve. I say it because for once let us just give the guys some space to change our game – it will take time, man! And also because we actually seeing some good signs in the Bok attack…

The picture above show the Bok approach in the nutshell. It is not a revolution, but it is the basis of how the Boks wants to move forward. It is called the 1-3-3-1 system and the name come from how the forwards is spread across the field. One flank out wide, three forwards together, another three forwards together, and then a flank wide on the other side.

This allows the Boks to keep width, and attack with width; it stretches the defence, creating opportunities in other places; it is a framework for attack with many different options with-in it.

The old Bok style is to use forwards closer together and just try smash it, but all nations is now big and conditioned and that tactic on its own don’t work anymore. So this system is a basis to try give Boks a different dimension.

Smashing it up is fine, but we must have another gear!

It works, as we see above in the Skosan try. Marx in the middle of the field as the system dictate, but he is a decision maker within it. He can carry, or pass to multiple options. We see the backs playing off this structure. Serfontein call for the ball because he can see forwards in the line, and so he make a great break and offload.

Kolisi is crucial because he keep width and draw the defence wider. This allow Skosan to come inside and hurt the stressed defence. This is not your grandpa’s rugby, this is rugby that expect every player to be good passer, runner, and decision maker. It is not rugby that every SA player can play yet but if we stick with it we will get there.

As we see, this type of play give the defence a hell of a lot more to think about. In the previous example Marx can still carry and play tight if he want – the defence have no clue what to expect. Suddenly we have a Bok team that is asking questions!

Look at this picture above. The Aussie wing come up to try to mirror the width that the Boks was showing and what happen – he leave space behind him and Coetzee kick beautifully to the corner. Now we talking!

It will take time to become 100% deadly because our players is not operating perfect in the system yet. Above we see again the Boks is causing trouble, but Kitshoff will carry here and not pass to Elton. I think you agree that Aussies is in trouble here if the ball go wide.

Do we want to throw away this kind of space the Boks is creating just because players is not executing properly yet? No we do not. Give the players time to become experts. The opportunities is there!

It is not always nice to put a spotlight on players, but you must make sure that you have guys in right positions who can make this system work.

In my couch opinion Jesse is a magnificent rugby player but maybe not a Test senter. I sometimes question his distribution skills, his depth, and also his ability to straighten, fix and pass. In example on the left in the picture above he delay too long and the pass get mess up and a try go to begging. On the right we see De Allende show much better hands to put Leyds in space.

Pity Leyds mess it up and is unable to release two guys outside, and another opportunity go to begging. Over time we will see players improve, or other guys will come in, and the system will get better.

Finally I want to make you rest assure that the Bok DNA is still there. In fact, we are seeing more and more our big men causing chaos in wider areas and it is devastating. First Eben run over Kuridrani before committing Hooper and the lock Tui.

He hold them up and offload to Jean-Luc, who run over the prop Robertson and then commit Alaalatoa and Genia. Pieter-Steph is in support but the offload get to Skosan who make many more meters. Aussies feel like they inside a pinball machine.

It was proof that Boks learning to see where the space is but they can still draw on that old power when they need it.

I know people is cynical and I know the Boks must work on many many things like defence and set piece and much more, but we must go one step in a time. I see the negatives, but I also see the positives, and I do not want us to throw the baby with bath water because things is not perfect right now.

Allister been quite frustrating at times, but as the public we ourselves have a role to play in the success of the Boks. If we can show patience and allow this group to keep building and growing then we will all be the winners.

And then maybe, for the first time, we can break out of the repeating cycle of Bok rugby!

Ireland move above Springboks on rankings


South Africa’s latest draw with Australia hands New Zealand the Rugby Championship title and Ireland third spot in the World Rugby Rankings. Ireland has moved up without even lifting a finger.

While there continues to be nothing between South Africa and Australia on the pitch, following a second consecutive draw in the Rugby Championship, the gap between the two in the World Rugby Rankings has closed to just 0.69 of a point.

Saturday’s 27-27 stalemate in Bloemfontein, three weeks after the sides had shared the spoils 23-23 in Perth, has resulted in the Springboks losing a fraction under half a rating point to drop to 85.35 points, putting them below Ireland, who take their place in third, by four-hundredths. Australia stay fifth but with an improved rating of 84.66 points.

The rankings are not affected by the outcome of the Argentina and New Zealand match given that there are nearly 18 rating points and nine places between the sides.

World Rugby Rankings
Previous position in brackets

1(1) New Zealand 95.21
2(2) England 90.14
3(4) Ireland 85.39
4(3) South Africa 85.35
5(5) Australia 84.66
6(6) Scotland 82.47
7(7) Wales 81.73
8(8) France 79.63
9(9) Fiji 79.48
10(10) Argentina 77.86

‘Boks deserve respect, not criticism’


Brendan Venter says Springbok supporters who only care about winning should stop watching the team play, reports SARugbyMag

The Bok defence coach took to Twitter after the Boks’ disappointing 27-27 draw with the Wallabies.

Venter, who had said the Boks’ record 57-0 loss to the All Blacks in Albany was not due to a lack of effort from the players, said the team had ‘played our hearts out’ in Bloemfontein.

He added that this Bok team had only been together for four months, and said the players deserved respect, not criticism.


Boks dropped the baton – Jake


Following the biggest defeat in Springbok history everyone wants to know how that happened. The answer is, it’s been coming for some time.

Jake White writes for Vodacom Rugby

Over the past four years we’ve won 24 of 43 matches and have suffered historic losses against Japan, Argentina, Italy and Wales. Like it or not, that’s where it started because if players play in a team that’s losing to those sorts of countries, the juniors at the coalface of those defeats never forget them.

When I coached at Jeppe High School, we used to play a local derby against KES once every season, and inevitably what would happen is that one school would have the edge on the other school. You could have a crackerjack side, and everyone thought this was going to be the year, and then the derby is your worst performance of the season and, after winning 21 of 23 matches, that loss is the one everyone remembers.

Then one year it was decided that there weren’t enough fixtures in the season among the big, boy schools so, instead of playing weaker schools, we started playing the bigger schools twice every season. That was a turning point for us.

After losing the first one against KES, we won the return match and when we beat them it was like the monkey was off our back.

Under the old schedule, that first loss would have meant that every matric boy in the team would never have got another crack at them, they would have had to live with their KES rivals holding the bragging rights forever, and the Standard 9s in that team would have taken that baggage with them into the following season.

That encapsulates everything that’s wrong with the Springboks. The term of reference that our young players have is of losing to Italy, Wales, Japan and Argentina for South Africa. So when the coach tells them that they’re good enough to beat the All Blacks, England and the Wallabies, as much as they want to believe it, that message doesn’t match their experience.

We’ve discarded all of the guys who have the experience of beating the world’s best teams.

Malcolm Marx is going to be a great Springbok, but he would get there much quicker if he was given the baton by Bismarck du Plessis. Bismarck got the baton from John Smit.

Duane Vermeulen should be playing to give stability to the team and make sure that the next Bok No 8 knows what to do to win the big games, and that applies across the team.

We’ve got Raymond Rhule, Andries Coetzee and Courtnall Skosan all playing in their first season as Springboks together. There’s no team in the world that will win like that.

As a schoolboy coach, if you played three Standard 9s in the back three you would get hammered – and you’d only do it because you’ve got nobody else. In South Africa, you can’t say we’ve got nobody else. Bryan Habana and Frans Steyn should be there handing over the baton to one of those players.

People have their favourites, but sometimes it’s not about what the public sees and perceives, it’s about what happens behind the scenes that is important for the development of the young players.

Ruan Pienaar is still firing on all cylinders in top-class rugby. Pundits in South Africa are saying we don’t have a halfback now that we’ve just dropped Francois Hougaard, but Pienaar has 88 Test caps and he’s still playing against the best players in the world.

Some will highlight times when he didn’t perform, but they don’t see what a player like that does for the youngsters in a squad, on and off the field, to help build for the future. And that’s what coaching is all about, the development of how you put a team together.

Everyone is searching for a reason why the Boks are struggling but the thing staring us in the face is that there’s no one handing over the baton.

At Jeppe, we had Founders Day where all the old boys playing provincial rugby would come and play against the first team. That meant that when there was a scrum, the Transvaal U20 loosehead would be coaching the first team tighthead about the tricks of the trade.

The old boys weren’t there to win, they were there to tell the first team guys what to expect. This is what is missing in South Africa, and it’s the reason we’re in a hole.

The All Blacks have put a premium on handing over the baton. Sam Cane had 30 Test caps under the belt when he took over from Richie McCaw. The Bulls got that right under Heyneke Meyer – Fourie du Preez learnt from Joost van der Westhuizen – and that’s part of the reason for their success.

There is no magic wand to fix it now because it’s not about who should be on the field, it’s about who should have been handing over the baton to make sure we were prepared.

Let’s not forget that we were world champions; we were the number one side in the world. But we won’t get back there until we come round to what is a fundamental theory of sport.

1937 Springboks become greatest side to ever leave New Zealand


It is 80 years since one of the most momentous matches in international rugby union history, the clash between New Zealand and South Africa at Eden Park, Auckland on Sept. 25, 1937.

It was the decider at the end of a three-match series, the third between the two great rivals of southern hemisphere rugby. Both previous series — in 1921 in New Zealand and 1928 in South Africa — had been drawn.

This series too stood at 1-1. The Boks, were led by Phil Nel, a veteran of the 1928 series whom Terry McLean recalled “was the slowest man in the pack, but that pack was never so efficient, so coordinated, as aware as when he played.” He had sworn to throw off the kicking-dominated shackles of the Bennie Osler era. Ten of the touring party, including prodigious kicker Gerry Brand, vice-captain and scrum-half Danie Craven and prop ‘Boy’ Louw had been on the 1931 tour of Britain, Ireland and France.

They came via Australia, winning both Tests — the second, in which the Bok pack took on such combative Aussies as Bill Cerutti and Aub Hodgson, ranks high on any shortlist for the roughest Test of all time. But their five-man selection committee, all players, suffered a collective loss of nerve before the first All Blacks clash at Wellington, dropping Nel, moving Craven to outside-half and deciding on a kicking game.

Craven, elevated to the captaincy, told Nel beforehand that South Africa would lose, and was proved right. New Zealand won 13-7 with 10 points from first-five Dave Trevathan, in spite of losing wing Don Cobden — less than three years later to become the first All Black to die in Second World War action — with more than three quarters of the match to go.

The Boks saw sense before the second Test at Christchurch. Nel was recalled, Tony Harris introduced at outside-half and Craven restored to what was generally recognised as his best position, an issue tested to destruction in an extraordinary period in which he had played three different positions [No. 8, outside-half and scrum-half] in consecutive Tests, as well as appearing at centre against Queensland.

New Zealand led 6-0, with two tries from centre Jack Sullivan, at half time. A try from wing Fred Turner, converted by Brand cut the gap to 6-5 soon after the break, but the All Blacks remained ahead with 10 minutes to go. Bok forwards Boy Louw and Ebbo Bastard were staggering around with concussion and the former, who giggled uncontrollably throughout the half, inflicted long-term injuries on All Black flanker Jack Rankin — McLean reported that he “never recovered” and suffered from memory loss and other symptoms for the rest of his life — with a punch landed on Craven’s orders.

With 10 minutes to go South Africa were awarded a penalty just inside their own half. Against most teams the All Blacks would have been safe, but the Boks had Brand, a kicker of monstrous distances who had landed a 78 metre drop goal at Twickenham in 1931. AC Parker recorded that “probably never before in South Africa’s Test history had so vital a kick been taken under such pressure.” The kick went over and South Africa’s triumph was sealed by a late try from the magnificently named Bastard.

Eden Park was packed to its 55,000 capacity for the decider, and this time it was the All Blacks selectors who panicked, to an extent that, McLean recorded in 1991, was still being thrown at Jim Burrows, the last survivor, more than half a century later.

‘Brushy’ Mitchell, patently unfit, was called up at centre and Pat Caughey, short of match-fitness, recalled on the wing. Sullivan, New Zealand’s most dangerous attacker, was exiled from centre to the wing. In front of them was a half-back pairing, Jack Taylor and Trevathan, recalled by McLean as “desperately slow.”

Yet New Zealand’s real problem was in the pack, with forwards still trying to adjust from the traditional 7-man formation to the 8-man scrum mandated by the International Rugby Board earlier in the decade. As Graeme Barrow has written, “the country which had invented and pioneered forward specialisation had to find new specialists.”

Scrummaging had been problematic enough in Britain and Ireland in 1935, but the Boks — giant men deploying the 3-4-1 formation — brought a different dimension to it. All Black hooker Artie Lambourn reckoned them “a scrummaging machine, very difficult to scrum against. First, they were all big men and strong. Secondly they all had absolute concentration. We had never come up against such big props before.”

While Brand’s penalty and the fisticuffs captured most attention after South Africa’s second-Test second-half comeback, the Boks had won nine out of 10 scrums after the interval. Among Nel’s pre-match mail was a telegram from patriarchal 1906 Bok captain Paul Roos. It said simply “scrum, scrum, scrum.”

When the All Blacks first put the ball out of play, Nel said to opposite number Ron King “we’ll scrum New Zealand,” something permitted under the rules of the time. South Africa won the first four scrums.

From the fourth Craven, pioneer of the dive-pass, threw out a giant pass which eluded Sullivan’s attempt at interception and launched debutant Bok centre Flappie Lochner into space. Outside him was Louis Babrow.

An observant Jew, Babrow had serious qualms about playing, since the match was on Yom Kippur, one of the most sacred Jewish holidays. He had resolved the conundrum with a fine example of Talmudic reasoning, arguing that because of the time difference Yom Kippur would not start in South Africa until after the match ended.

Babrow went over in the corner, then a few minutes later launched a cross-kick to set up a battle for possession near the All Black line, from which Ferdie Bergh emerged to crash over. South Africa led 8-0, but a Trevathan penalty had New Zealand back within a single score, 8-3 down, at half time.

“On the day they would have beaten any other team in the world”

New Zealand Truth

Early in the second half came the single most memorable moment of the match, a move planned by the South Africans. Craven called it near halfway, to the open disbelief of outside-half Harris who thought it should be used nearer the All Black line.

But he concurred and played along as Craven moved him wider and wider, leading the All Blacks — and in particular the cumbersome Trevathan — to anticipate an outsize dive-pass. Instead, when the ball reached Craven, Turner looped around him from the blind side to take a short pass, Lochner continued the move and Babrow went over for the second time to make it 11-3.

That, effectively was that with further tries from wing Dai Owen Williams and Turner, from a move initiated by Babrow, to a Trevathan penalty making the final score 17-6. The All Blacks had been strangled at the scrum, losing them to an extent variously reported as 37-20 and 38-26, with most of their own ball slow and under extreme pressure. Trevathan at first-five only handled 14 times, while Mitchell was a passenger after the first few minutes.

It was as well for the All Blacks that it was one of Brand’s less distinguished days with the boot, landing only one conversion out of five. So at first sight it lags well behind the 17-0 defeat inflicted by the Boks at Durban in 1928 and the 28-7 loss to Australia in 1999.

But, resounding as they were, those defeats were largely inflicted by the boot — 14 points from Osler at Durban, 23 from Matt Burke at Sydney in 1999 — with only a single try from each victor. The Boks margin of five tries to nil has no parallel in All Black history, and remains the most resounding defeat ever inflicted on rugby’s historically dominant nation, a hammering whose impact at least matched that of New Zealand’s 57-0 defeat of the Boks, nine days short of 80 years later.

By winning at Eden Park in 1937, the Boks took a 5-4 lead in the all-time head to head between the two countries, an advantage they would retain until 1996. And they remain to this day the only South African team to have won a series in New Zealand, a title they are likely to retain unless we see a return — perhaps likelier should the Boks shift their competitive focus from the southern hemisphere to Europe — to the traditional three-match series.

New Zealand responses were unequivocal. WR King wrote in the Standard that “the South African forwards were simply magnificent and the backs played with machine-line accuracy in every phase of the game.” New Zealand Truth recorded that “on the day they would have beaten any other team in the world,” while Arthur Carman said that they won “not with mere power, but by their superior brainpower.” To legendary first-five Bert Cooke they were “no doubt about it, a great team.”

Two Boks were missing when the Lions came visiting in 1938. Nel had buried his boots at sea on the boat home to South Africa while Babrow had started his medical training in London at Guy’s Hospital. Two more were destined for careers which stretched beyond the Second World War, Harris as a test cricketer capped three times in the late 1940s and Craven as the dominant figure in South African — and at times world — rugby from the mid-1950s until his death in 1993, only a few months before the Boks emerged from late-apartheid isolation.

Their team remains enshrined in history as the punchline to one of those historic arguments beloved of some rugby fans. Kiwis, with their rich history of All Black touring teams, are wont to debate which was the greatest team to leave New Zealand?. More than one such discussion has run through Gallaher’s Originals, the Invincibles of 1924, Brian Lochore’s 1967 team and other such juggernauts only to be brought short by the nomination of the 1937 Springboks.

Search for Bok identity continues



The message coming out of the Springbok camp is once again as clear mud, writes Jon Cardinelli for Vodacom Rugby

Two weeks ago, a defiant Allister Coetzee told everyone who would listen that one bad result – or more specifically the worst result in Springbok history – would not define this team.

No need to panic, Coetzee said. The Boks played well in the preceding six Tests. Neither the plan nor the selections were at fault in the Albany aberration. The bounce of the ball didn’t go South Africa’s way. Any team can leak eight tries and 57 points in those circumstances. Right?

At least that’s what Coetzee told us at the time. We shook our heads, lamented the state of South African rugby, and then resigned ourselves to the fact that the Boks would press on with their flawed approach for the foreseeable future.

Earlier this week, Coetzee spoke about the team’s ‘turnaround strategy’ ahead of the home Tests against Australia and New Zealand. After all that talk about sticking to a plan that worked against France, Argentina, and to lesser extent against Australia in Perth, the Boks look set to make another tactical shift.

Coetzee contradicted himself on almost a daily basis in 2016. Those mixed messages were reflected in the way the players performed over the course of a season that witnessed eight defeats in 12 Tests.

The decisions taken by the Bok coach these past two weeks, and indeed the comments made by Coetzee in the media, suggest that this Bok group is still searching for an identity more than nine months into the new season.

The management of Francois Hougaard makes no sense. The player has alternated between wing and scrumhalf over the course of his career. Last year, Coetzee used Hougaard four times on the wing. This season, Coetzee made it clear that Hougaard would focus on scrumhalf.

Hougaard’s struggles in that position are well documented. His technical limitations were certainly exposed when the Boks toured the northern hemisphere in 2014. Coetzee should have known about the player’s shortcomings before he selected him in this position in 2017.

Do the Boks need overseas-based players? Or is everyone still swallowing the lie that an all-local side is lekker?

Bath-based Francois Louw has been brought in to bolster the forwards in the lead-up to the next Test in Bloemfontein. Meanwhile, Bismarck du Plessis, Frans Steyn, JP Pietersen and other accomplished Test veterans continue to be ignored.

It’s equally hard to see where Coetzee stands with regards to the future of his back three.

S’bu Nkosi, an outside back with the size and skills to be a force at this level, received a national call-up, but has since been released to play Currie Cup, while Raymond Rhule – who missed nine tackles against the All Blacks – was defended, and then dropped.

At the same time, Coetzee has retained several backline players – Courtnall Skosan and Andries Coetzee to name a few – who are patently out of their depth.

Ruan Combrinck continues to be overlooked by Coetzee. Flyhalf Handré Pollard was rushed back into the Bok squad earlier this year despite a lack of game time. Combrinck, who played for the SA A side against the French Barbarians this June, and then for the Lions in the Super Rugby playoffs, still hasn’t played enough top-flight rugby to be considered for the Boks. Try and work that one out.

What can we expect from the Boks when they front the Wallabies and All Blacks over the next two weeks? It’s hard to say.

According to Coetzee, the group has learned from its poor performance in Albany, a statement that is at odds with his squad selections.

Whiteley to be ready for Year end Tour


Springbok captain Warren Whiteley is progressing well and on track to make his comeback from injury in their end-of-year Tests.

Whiteley hasn’t played since injuring his knee during the June Test series against France for which he subsequently underwent surgery.

And although the 30-year-old won’t be available for the Boks’ remaining Rugby Championship Test matches with Australia and New Zealand, he is on course to return for the November internationals in which the Springboks play Ireland, France and Italy.

“Warren Whiteley is on track. He is continuing with his rehab but obviously won’t be available for the Rugby Championship and we are looking more to the end of the year tour. The good news is Ross Cronje has recovered from his viral illness and has is taking part in training,” Dr Von Hagen told journalists at the team’s base.

Meanwhile, Jaco Kriel is expected to be sidelined for a further six months and Coenie Oosthuizen for six more weeks.

“The most recent one is Jaco Kriel. He had an operation last week, quite an extensive shoulder injury and he will be out for around six months. That is unfortunate for us, but he is being taken care of at the Lions, and is in rehab,” the Springbok team doctor said.

“Secondly Coenie – it is now two weeks after the fracture of his forearm, and he should be out for another six weeks. That is luckily not a really long-term injury.

“From the guys that are with the squad right now, we don’t have any fitness concerns, so we are happy we have a fit and healthy squad to choose from.”

When Van Hagen was asked whether that meant that Whiteley is ready for the next tour, the doctor smiled and said the affirmative.

“Yes, definitely. Luckily it is just now the final phase of his rehab and then it is just a matter of getting him fit.”

And Dr Von Hagen also expressed his delight with Handré Pollard’s progress.

“He has done really really well. We’ve put him through a number of paces during his last few weeks with us. He has done double and triple what everyone else has done, just to work on the fitness element. But from his injury, his ankle – we don’t even speak about it anymore and it is not a problem at all – the same with the other old injuries that he had. He is in a very good space.”

The Boks choose their side to face Australia on Thursday.

Coetzee release seven Boks for Currie Cup


Fly-half Handré Pollard and centre Damian de Allende are amongst seven Springboks released to play in the Currie Cup this coming weekend, it was confirmed on Monday.

The Springbok duo will join utility back Dillyn Leyds, prop Wilco Louw (both Western Province), hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle, loose forward Dan du Preez (both Sharks) and scrum-half Rudy Paige (Blue Bulls) in Currie Cup action for their respective provinces this weekend.

Pollard came on as a second-half replacement for the Springboks against the All Blacks on Saturday in Albany, his first Test appearance since the 2015 Rugby World Cup. He has struggled with an ankle injury for the most part of the season, which limited his playing time.

De Allende has been a member of the national squad this year but he too has seen limited action behind the Springboks’ preferred centre pairing of Jan Serfontein and Jesse Kriel.

Meanwhile, the Springboks arrived home on Sunday evening from their two away matches in Australia and New Zealand. The squad will reassemble on Sunday in Bloemfontein for their next home match, against the Wallabies, at Toyota Stadium on Saturday, 30 September.

The Boks will complete their 2017 Rugby Championship campaign on Saturday, 7 October with a rematch against the All Blacks at Newlands in Cape Town.

Coetzee deserve the credit


Ons gaan nou nie die wa voor die osse in span nie, but let’s give credit were credit is due.

Allister Coetzee have turned around the Springboks from a mediocre team in 2016 to a team that can compete and win test matches and he did this by only changing a few things.

  • More local players on form – Coetzee have picked more local on form players this year and went away from picking overseas players who’s conditioning could not be properly monitored.

Picking overseas players have always given national coaches a headache as these players normally get to the Springbok camps days after the group have assembled and most of the times they come back with niggles and injuries from their club commitments.

By the time we play our first test most these players had already had 10 months of championship rugby behind them which also brings the problem of conditioning. The coach can not really monitor or get involved with players conditioning and it has become a huge problem in our rugby these past few years.

Picking local players on form made the transition from Super Rugby to International rugby much easier for Coetzee and his assistants as they can monitor them throughout the season.

  • Coaching indaba and better working relationship between national coaches and franchise coaches.

It is something which most Springbok coaches have tried but could not get every bodies buy-in in the past.  This past year the national coaches and the franchise coaches have worked better together to get the national players group in better shape that what they where in years gone by.

Players were rested according to their agreements put in place which helped the players conditioning as well. One of the aspects that helped allot was the fact that all franchise coaches and national coaches had decided on their game and how they want to move forward together.

With Rassie Erasmus coming back in December it will help to even improve this aspect of our game in the whole South Africa even more.

  • Captain that earns his worth in the team.

In so many ways Coetzee captain last year was the wrong decision and nothing against Adriaan Strauss but one do not pick a captain if he is not an automatic first choice player in his position. Picking Warren Whiteley and now Eben Etzebeth with vise captains like Kolisi and Jantjies give the team the leadership they need and can look up to.

A captain is more than just a leader on the field and it starts with the players than have to respect him not just as a leader but also as a player within the group.

  • Picking assistant coaches

This maybe the biggest change that the Springboks needed from last year and we can see it all over this team. Their is daylight between the defence of this team compare to the crap they dished up last year and with Venter as a consultant in the team he adds more than just defence for the Springboks.

Him and Smith work on attack and defence have seen the most improvement yet with this Springboks of 2017.

Then we can add Proudfoot to the same regard as he has turned players and the set pieces around 100%. If we look back when Proudfoot joined the Stormers a few years ago their set pieces was poor and he did not just made it one of their strong aspects of their game but put the structures in place so that they still have one of the better set pieces in South Africa.

Proudfoot is worth real Gold to the Springboks and Coetzee.

No one is perfect and yes we will always disagree with players selection but Coetzee and his team have not lost a test yet this year and they are improving every test. The Aussies and the All Blacks lies ahead and it will be his biggest test yet.

No one surely expect him to beat the All Blacks yet but we need improve performances each test to stay believing in him and his team.



Pierre Spies retire from the game


Former Bulls and Springbok Pierre Spies has decided to retire from the game. He wrote this message on his facebook page.

Here’s my personal retirement message:

As a professional rugby player, I have thought a lot about this day. It is a moment every player is destined for, and yet you cannot control how and when you accommodate it in your life. Much speculation has been going around the past two months about my rugby career and the way forward.

This statement confirms my retirement from all forms of rugby. It has been a wonderful journey and one I will remember for the rest of my days, but it is the end of a chapter in my life.

It is impossible to give credit to all people who contributed towards my career and please do not see an omission of any name as an absence of gratefulness on my part.

I want to thank the following people:

My wife Juanné – you have been absolutely incredible from start to finish – with our kids, and our personal life, supporting me and praying for me through the good and bad times, the ups and downs. Rugby has shown us a lot and I can’t wait for our next chapter – I love you with my whole heart!

My dad who I lost at age 19, but he was my biggest mentor, supporter and motivator. His encouragement was always unconditional and constant, no matter the outcome of my efforts. He taught me a love for God, about greatness and to be different in the way I do things with a focus to hear God’s voice and do his will. My mother for her sheer determination and values on relationships and raising us through tough times. My sisters, Johanni who also worked with me and did an amazing job and Steffani who always supported me and encouraged me.

I have had so many great coaches in my life from primary schools at Laerskool Skuilkrans and then at high school at Affies: Karel Stander,Fanie Grobler, Dr Carel Kriek and Sakkie van der Walt.

All my years at the Bulls in Pretoria:
Ashley Evert, Nico Serfontein at junior level.
Heyneke Meyer who had huge faith in me as a youngster. John Mcfarland, Basil Carzis and a special word to Johan van Graan, a great friend to this day and an unbelievable coach and people’s person. Thank you!
Wynie Strydom our manager for his amazing commitment and Pieter Rossouw and Frans Ludeke, being a rock and a man I have huge respect for, still the only SA coach to win the Super Rugby twice.

The amazing honour it was to wear the Springbok jersey :
Jake White under whom I became a Bok, who brought back many traditions in the Bok environment. Peter de Villiers who did an amazing job in creating a team culture and again Heyneke Meyer under who I played my last test.
Annelee Murray at the Bok team, who was a rock and such an amazing person!

People that believed in me and made me believe in myself, I’d like to thank you for that.

All the amazing players I’ve shared locker rooms, hotel rooms, airplanes and dinner tables with – massive moments of joy, pure bliss and agony and disappointment – thank you for making my life richer and improving my life as a person and a player. I’m forever thankful!

I could’ve continued playing rugby but Ive decided to stop my career because I believe its the right time to start the next chapter of my life. There are many things which motivates me to make a decision like this – family, faith, future, and my purpose.

I believe I can make an impact in this world and have a passion for sharing my faith, encouraging youth and caring for the poor & broken in society.

I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life filled with excitement and wonder – and I believe the best is yet to come!

God bless you and thank you again!

Full name Pierre Johan Spies
Date of birth 8 June 1985 (age 32)
Place of birth PretoriaSouth Africa
Height 1.94 m (6 ft 4 12 in)
Weight 111 kg (17 st 7 lb; 245 lb)
School Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool
University University of Pretoria
Rugby union career
Position(s) Number 8
Current team Kintetsu Liners
Youth Career
2005 Blue Bulls
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)
2005–2010 Blue Bulls 17 (20)
2005–2015 Bulls 119 (145)
2015 Kintetsu Liners 8 (20)
2016–17 Montpellier 34 (37)
Correct as of 22 June 2017
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
2005 South Africa Students 1 (5)
2006 South Africa Under-21 4 (15)
2006–2013 South Africa 53 (35)

You think Springbok red jersey is bad?


The Springboks’ new one-off red jersey to take on Argentina has already received some hostile reaction writes NZHerald

 While a bold choice, it doesn’t quite crack the list of the worst jerseys of all time. Here’s some of the best of the worst from the Herald archives.

1) The court jesters

Perpignan’s attemped checkers design could have looked classy, but ended up looking more like the class clown with their jester-inspired design.

Perpignan's jersey. Photo / Getty

Perpignan’s jersey. Photo / Getty

2) England designers at sixes and sevens

English fans were blinded by designs for the sevens jerseys a couple of years ago that one newspaper described as “a psychedelic strip that resembles a 1980s arcade game”. In one of the great moments in jersey design, rugby officials reckoned pixelation had been used to “portray the DNA of the rose”.

English fans were blinded by designs for the sevens jerseys. Photo / Twitter.

English fans were blinded by designs for the sevens jerseys. Photo / Twitter.

3) Fitzy spews

Sydney Morning Herald columnist Peter FitzSimons, a former test forward, this week recalled getting an early peek at a new Wallaby jersey in 1997. He was immediately inspired to pen a column describing it as looking like “volcano vomit” amongst other things.

The 1997 Wallabies shirt.

The 1997 Wallabies shirt.

4) Not All Blacks

The All Blacks used a weird grey and black number to avoid a clash with France in THAT 2007 World Cup quarter final in Cardiff. The jerseys looked like the work of the people involve in creating New Zealand cricket one-day uniforms. At least that famous loss meant the jersey has never been seen again.

The 2007 All Blacks jersey.

The 2007 All Blacks jersey.

5) Brace yourself

Supporters of Austrian rugby – yes there is such a thing apparently – came up with a jersey design that included boring brown braces.

Braces anyone?

Braces anyone?

6) Stade but never staid

Stade Francais are the kings of weird rugby jersey designs. A typical effort came in 2008 which featured faces of Parisienne 13th-century heroine Blanche de Castille, the wife of Louis VIII, in a multi-coloured design “in the fashion of Andy Warhol”.

Etzebeth will lead Boks


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Springboks to play in red against Argentina


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Follow ASICS on twitter @ASICS_ZA

Issued by ASICS South Africa

Boks still at risk out wide


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to

Bosch make Bok Sqaud


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to

Former Springbok Buchler passes away


Former Springbok fullback Johnny Buchler passed away at the age of 87 on Tuesday.

Buchler was the last remaining member of the triumphant Springbok touring squad to Britain in 1951/52.

According to Netwerk24, Buchler died due to organ failure at the Life Flora Clinic in Roodepoort.

The former Transvaal fullback played 10 Tests for the Springboks between 1951 and 1956, ending on the winning side in nine of those games.

Johnny Buchler
Full names: John Ulrich
Date of birth: 7 Apr 1930
Place of birth: Johannesburg
School: Jan Viljoen
Springbok no: 287
Debut test province: Transvaal
Physical: 1.8m, 79.83kg
Date of death: 1 Aug 2017 (Age 87)
Test summary: Tests: 10 Tries: 0
First Test24 Nov 1951 Age:21 Full Back against Scotland at Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Last Test2 Jun 1956 Age:26 Full Back against Australia at Brisbane Exhibition Ground, Brisbane

Test history:

Date Age Position Opponent Result Score Venue Prov
24 Nov 1951 21 Full Back Scotland Win: 44-0 Murrayfield, Edinburgh Tvl
08 Dec 1951 21 Full Back Ireland Win: 17-5 Aviva Stadium (Lansdowne Road), Dublin Tvl
22 Dec 1951 21 Full Back Wales Win: 6-3 Millenium Stadium (Cardiff Arms Park), Cardiff Tvl
05 Jan 1952 21 Full Back England Win: 8-3 Twickenham, London Tvl
16 Feb 1952 21 Full Back France Win: 25-3 Stade Olympique, Colombes, Paris Tvl
22 Aug 1953 23 Full Back Australia Win: 25-3 1 conversion, 1 penalty Ellispark, Johannesburg Tvl
05 Sep 1953 23 Full Back Australia Lose: 14-18 Newlands, Cape Town Tvl
19 Sep 1953 23 Full Back Australia Win: 18-8 Kingsmead, Durban Tvl
26 Sep 1953 23 Full Back Australia Win: 22-9 1 dropgoal Crusaders (St George’s Park), Port Elizabeth Tvl
02 Jun 1956 26 Full Back Australia Win: 9-0 Brisbane Exhibition Ground, Brisbane Tvl


Johnny Buchler : Doc Craven
Johnny Buchler was a very religious man. When we flew to Australia in 1956, one of the aircraft’s engines conked out. The captain came to me and warned: “I’m afraid were losing height rather rapidly and we may have to dump some of the luggage, perhaps some of your team’s equipment.”

I was aghast. “That’s impossible. We are going to play six test matches and we need the togs. I suggest you rather dump a few of the journalists on board.”

Johnny was sitting a few seats away from me and I said to him, “Johnny, if ever there was a time to do some praying, its now.”

“Doc, I’ve already said a prayer” he replied.

“I don’t think any harm will be done if you say another,” I shot back – and meant it.

Buchler, a deeply religious man and one who, like Paul Roos, lived according to the demands of his belief. He was also a wonderfully steady fullback, solid as a rock on and off the field.

Rest in Peace 

Coetzee happy with players conditioning


Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has expressed his satisfaction at the outcome of the Springbok medical and conditioning assessment camp which was held over the past four days in Stellenbosch.

Coetzee described the camp a great benefit for the Boks’ upcoming Castle Lager Rugby Championship campaign.

“The camp was a very good exercise and I am very pleased that we have achieved all our goals,” said Coetzee.

“The intervention was important because some of our players would have been out of action for up to 35 days, which is not ideal. The time we spent together this week gave us ample time to focus on our core skills and also our technical approach. We want to ensure we are rugby ready, well-conditioned and in a good mental space when the group assembles in two weeks’ time in Port Elizabeth.

“The challenges of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship are completely different to what we faced against France in June and preparation is once again crucial to our campaign.”

According to Springbok team doctor, Dr Konrad von Hagen, the medical and conditioning team had plenty of opportunity to evaluate the medical, fitness and conditioning status of the group of 14 players during the camp.

“The get-together was an excellent opportunity for the Springbok medical and conditioning staff to assess the group of players first hand,” explained Dr Von Hagen.

The Bok team doctor confirmed that the groin injury of Springbok captain Warren Whiteley will not allow the No 8 to participate in the remainder of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition. The competition concludes next Saturday with the Final.

“Warren’s injury requires time to heal and he will hopefully recover in time for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, but at this stage we are taking it week for week in conjunction with the medical team of the Emirates Lions,” said Dr Von Hagen.

Handré Pollard, meanwhile, is making good progress following his recent minor ankle procedure.

“Handré has started with some running exercises and he will continue with his gradual loading programme,” said Dr Von Hagen.

“He took part in some training sessions and did extra rehabilitation and fitness exercises. We will continue to monitor his progress and his return to play, on a weekly basis. I am also happy with the condition of the overall group.”

Apart from Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers, who was not eligible for the Vodacom Super Rugby playoffs), no players from the Emirates Lions, DHL Stormers or Cell C Sharks, or players based abroad, were considered for the Stellenbosch camp. All the players were part of either the Springbok squad for the Castle Lager Incoming Series or the SA ‘A’ squad last month.

During their stay in Stellenbosch, the Bok coaches also received a presentation from World Rugby’s Alain Rolland on the global law trials. Rolland is currently attending a World Rugby High Performance conference at SAS, the venue of the Bok assessment camp.

The Bok coach also had some encouragement for the Emirates Lions, who face the Hurricanes in Johannesburg on Saturday in a Vodacom Super Rugby semi-final: “They did extremely well to finish in first place on the overall log and to overcome the mental challenge against the Cell C Sharks in the quarters. On Saturday, however, they will face another big challenge. I wish them well and know they are excited and well prepared for the semis.”

The following players attended the Springbok assessment camp in Stellenbosch: Handré Pollard, Lood de Jager, Jan Serfontein, Rudy Paige, Lizo Gqoboka, Jesse Kriel, Trevor Nyakane (all Vodacom Bulls), Uzair Cassiem, Ox Nché, Oupa Mohoje, Raymond Rhule, Francois Venter (all Toyota Cheetahs), Lionel Cronje (Southern Kings) and Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers).

Whiteley to be ready for Championship


Warren Whiteley are set to be available for the Springbok when they start for the Rugby Championship in August against Argentina.

He is recovering from a groin injury he picked up in the second test against the French. He did not play in the third test and was ruled out of the Lions Super Rugby matches but now may even play in the final if they Lions make it that far.

Bok team doctor Konrad von Hagen confirmed that the No 8 would not be able to play in next weekend’s Super Rugby final, should the Lions beat the Hurricanes on Saturday.

Warren’s injury requires time to heal and he will hopefully recover in time for the Rugby Championship, but at this stage, we are taking it week by week in conjunction with the medical team of the Lions,’ he said.

In other new Springbok and Bulls flyhalf Handre Pollard is making good progress following an ankle procedure

Handré has started with some running exercises and he will continue with his gradual loading programme,’ said Von Hagen.

He took part in some training sessions and did extra rehabilitation and fitness exercises. We will continue to monitor his progress and his return to play on a weekly basis. I am also happy with the condition of the overall group

Pollard, Cronjé invited to Bok assessment camp


Experienced flyhalves Handré Pollard and Lionel Cronjé are amongst 14 players invited to a Springbok medical and conditioning assessment camp, which will be held in Stellenbosch next week.

Thirteen of the 14 players are from the three South African franchises not involved in the Vodacom Super Rugby playoffs, while Steven Kitshoff of the DHL Stormers is also on the list, as he is not eligible for the knock-out stages of the competition.

Apart from Kitshoff, no players from the Emirates Lions, DHL Stormers or Cell C Sharks, or players based abroad, were considered for the camp.

All the players were part of either the Springbok squad for the Castle Lager Incoming Series or the SA ‘A’ squad last month. The camp will be held from Monday 24 July to Thursday 27 July 2017 at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport (SAS).

“The purpose of the camp is for medical updates and to ensure all the players who are in the frame for Springbok selection are well-conditioned and rugby ready when we assemble for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship on Tuesday 8 August 2017 in Port Elizabeth,” said Springbok coach Allister Coetzee.

“Apart from our players involved in the Vodacom Super Rugby playoffs, all of the players invited to the camp will have been out of action for more than a month when we face Argentina at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, so we need to keep on working with them.

“I was very encouraged by the performances of our players in the last few rounds of Vodacom Super Rugby – all of the Boks in action played very well and we’re hoping they will bring that form with them when we assemble for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship.

“Our depth will be tested in certain positions, one of which is flyhalf. With Pat Lambie out for at least the next three months, we have to ascertain what the progress is with Handré’s injury and what form he is in, while Lionel has grabbed his opportunities this year and is really playing very well,” added the Bok coach.

Players invited to Springbok assessement camp: Handré Pollard, Lood de Jager, Jan Serfontein, Rudy Paige, Lizo Gqoboka, Jesse Kriel, Trevor Nyakane (all Vodacom Bulls), Uzair Cassiem, Ox Nché, Oupa Mohoje, Raymond Rhule, Francois Venter (all Toyota Cheetahs), Lionel Cronje (Southern Kings) and Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers)

Vermeulen out of Rugby Championship


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

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

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

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

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

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

Coetzee have better pool to pick from


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Oom Rugby – Desire powers ever-ready Boks


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


Oom Rugby writes for All out Rugby 



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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