Super Rugby

Home Super Rugby

Playing smart and some advice for the Beast


SARugby Player profile

Passing and how the forwards take up the ball- the art of passing. Either players in South Africa have been instructed not to pass or they find the art pointless is debateable. Countless times this weekend players and more worryingly midfielders (12 & 13) have the option to pass when there are players on the outside but instead looking to take the contact and bump off the man.

This is an ancient way of playing the game. Attacking the man instead of space has also proven to be another trend within our game. The most expansive centres for the South African franchise belonged to the Bulls duo of Jan Serfontein and Jesse Kriel this weekend. A very big improvement from the duo who have seldom pass in the previous 6 rounds.

Both had a combined total of 13 passes and three offloads. In comparison to a Rene Ranger for example who made a mammoth 15 passes on his own.

Majority of the South African centres will not throw the ball often instead looking to hit it up every time and this makes it easier to defend. When the majority of players have the ball tucked in their options are limited to an audacious ‘out the back door’ pass to hitting it up.

Strength and brains could be a formidable combination if some of our midfielders or loose forwards attempted it. Watching the Stormers game could have left a few Stormers fans frustrated in how John ben Kotze blew two try scoring opportunities by tucking the ball in and taking contact instead of passing. The pass requires timing and thought. A skill we need to make more use of. Loose forwards always taking it up leaves the defence with so little to do.

When forwards are in a stagnant position and receive the ball with no momentum. The reliance to make it over the gain line is lowered. Imagine the difference when a forward comes at pace, taking the ball up with momentum into space. What would prove more efficient for a side moving forward? The tweaking of small things could improve the South African side’s attacks massively. What we saw from some of the sides this weekend, while marginally effective was a trademark of stone-age rugby.

Be smart- The officiating of Angus Gardner will leave a lot to be desired and it will be yet another puzzling official in not just round 7 but in the entire tournament. Over the years one has seen how great captains have handled matches and interaction with referees. Richie McCaw, John Smit and Jean de Villiers some of the best in my era.

The conduct of Sharks captain Tendai Mtawarira was not acceptable. The frustration was evident. The Sharks lost key player Marcel Coetzee, they got penalised at a rate of knots at the scrum and their general standard of play was below average. In fact it was poor.

The Sharks looked like a side that was already off on tour. It will be an uphill from here for the men in black and white to make the play offs.

Beast was at the tip of his boiling point and like his coach a few weeks ago was having another argument with the official. A referee in this occasion who also got frustrated. It was very frustrating for the Beast. His choice of words though not offensive managed to lack any respect for the official and in some perspective cost the Sharks 50/50 calls.

The Springbok loose head muttering ‘….it’s not fair….’ in the middle of several arguments with Gardner.  The Sharks camp may be feeling frustrated with the recent officiating in the last few weeks.

A Springbok with over 100 games for the Sharks should know better. Young players are watching and they will follow in their role models’ example. If he was to throw around his toys in that manner. There will be no respect shown to referees in our future generations.

Yes, they are some poor calls from the officials but rugby must maintain its standards of respect. The game can’t become like football otherwise it will spiral to an abyss of no return.

Considering Gary Gold just got punished for his lack of respect towards the officials. It was as if the Sharks as a group did not learn from the incident. A captain must keep his cool, even in the heat of the battle. When he loses it, the side will end up in no man’s land.

Lessons from Lions v Crusaders



crusaders lions

The Lions will look back a rue a few errors that they created on their own. It was end to end stuff and it will take some performance from the teams that today to beat the show the Crusaders and the Lions put on yesterday. With Johann Ackermann admitting the side just have to deal with bruises and niggles the match up against the Sharks next week will definitely be one to look out for.  The replacement will receive the most praise from me. They not only swung the momentum in favor of the Lions but they brought the fighting chance back for the Lions. Hooker Armand ‘Akkers’ van der Merwe was massive showing brute strength, a turn of pace and a hunger like no player out there. Not that the players lacked hunger, but Akkers was on fire. The determination within the squad saw the Lions not give up, but they kept fighting to the end. The Lions discipline during the game was exceptional. Conceding just 6 penalties all game compared to the Crusaders’ 12.

I will query two things from the referee; how have the Crusaders conceded 5 penalties in the 22, including 3 in a row in one passage of play and escape without a single card? This is in the red zone. Of the five conceded; 4 between the 5 meter and the try line.

The officiating at the mauls and breakdown looked sketchy and unconvincing with the Crusaders getting away with several offside breaches and some questionable entries.

However, like any team you must be able to adapt and deal with the controllable variables that you can control.

There were a few notables when it comes to the Lions performance that will need to improve in the games ahead:

Territory- The Lions won the territory and possession battle during the game with both aspects being an average of 62%. The inability to maximize on these opportunities will hurt the team and coaching stuff. The Lions also managed to beat 29 defenders in an attacking master class at times. A few key players had a difficult game and will be the first to admit when they look at the game again. Faf de Klerk had a game to forget, as did Howard Mnisi who will be out to fix the wrongs in the game against the Sharks. Playing in the right areas and picking moments when to risk it will be key. The Lions are bold and at some point they over did which resulted in an aimless kick by Faf de Klerk that ended in a try. The territory game & the decision making will need to sharpen up ahead of more testing clashes.

Breakdown- The crusaders dominated the breakdown. They managed to win 97% of their rucks and with the two Lions rucks they won (turnovers) in the first half managed to score two tries in the 1st minute and in the 17th minute. A similar tale to that of the Highlanders match. The New Zealand side looked to keep the ball alive and when possible avoided the rucks. They lost the solitary ruck and defended for the most part of the game.

Defensive effort- Despite missing a mammoth 29 tackles compared to the Lions 17. Howard Mnisi’s two missed tackles led to Crusaders breaching the try line twice off the movement. How tight the inches were. The Crusaders managed to concede just 4 tries compared to the Lions’ 6. It was a combination of the Lions’ inability to finish off chances and impressive scramble defense that helped the Canterbury side.Both sides will realise to be champions a lot of work will need to be done on their defensive efforts and they can’t afford to concede so many points despite creating a spectacle of a match.

Do officials crave the limelight too?




Officials are starting to act like neglected kids who have always sought attention with atrocious calls and decisions every week. It is as if they want to be in the headlines every week and for all the wrong reasons. Some may call the criticism unfair but its warranted with the number of high profile howlers growing by the week. Soon the question of match fixing will become part of the rugby conversation.  Instead of focusing on the rugby, most press conferences, around the world have resulted in talk of the referee decisions. Blues coach Tana Umaga the latest to highlight some inconsistencies. There were many a dubious call that are yet to be put to the fore.

  1. The neck roll on Schalk Ferreira by Sam Whitelock has yet to be cited and one has to wonder what the problem is. A result of the Southern Kings front row heading back home.
  2. It was almost the howler of the year for me, Jaco Peyper was about to send the Brumbies to the bin instead of the shower for punches. Had sanity not prevailed the Brumbies could have got away with that one.
  3. The punch by Nizaam Carr was missed amidst the punching row.
  4. Dillyn Lleyds’ try was actually inconclusive. There is a grey area on this one and I await an explanation from the South African referees on how this was a try.

Law 22.1 & 22.2 state- There are two ways a player can ground the ball:

(a) Player touches the ground with the ball. A player grounds the ball by holding the ball and touching the ground with it, in in-goal. ‘Holding’ means holding in the hand or hands, or in the arm or arms. No downward pressure is required.

(b) Player presses down on the ball. A player grounds the ball when it is on the ground in the in-goal and the player presses down on it with a hand or hands, arm or arms, or the front of the player’s body from waist to neck inclusive.

The list will go on, unless teams adapt on a game to game basis they will struggle. What you will be penalised for in one week, you will be allowed in another. The Reds-Blues clash was an example of an official not sure about the breakdown /scrum laws with some contentious calls. Surely there can be ways in which the officials fix this trend before it gets worse.

The use of neutral officials in clashes could be of help. Watching the Jaguares game against the Chiefs; one has to wonder what SANZAAR are a aiming at with the officials finding themselves making some rather one sided calls on occasion. One has to feel for the Argentinians who have had to face this all season.

All attack, no defence

The Lions managed to put the Cheetahs to the sword and further exposed the Bloemfontein side’s inability to tackle, cover the support runners and read the play of the opposition. The Cheetahs have a tournament high of 116 tackles. A further 38 more than the beleaguered Kings who show some bright sparks but lack the nous to dominate an 80 minute game. The Bloemfontein side is still in rebuilding but would have done well to focus on defence first this season to heal an Achilles heel that has derailed them in the last decade. The chances are looking good that South Africa will harbour at least two of the worst sides in the competition. While most sides will battle with balance the Cheetahs just seem to forget the entire aspect that is defence.

Team of the week:

My team of the week this weekend features a few surprise players and the top performers in:

Warrick Gelant (Blue Bulls); Ruan Combrinck (Lions); Johnny-Ben Kotze (Stormers); Howard Mnisi (Lions); Nemani Nadolo (Crusaders); Elton Jantjes (Lions); Faf de Klerk (Lions); Jed Holloway (Waratahs); Sean McMahon (Rebels); Elliot Dixon (Highlanders); Pieter-Steph du Toit (Stormers); Blade Thomson (Hurricanes); Marcel van der Merwe (Blue Bulls); Malcolm Marx (Lions);  Sef Faagase (Reds)

Who was that Cyle Brink?


Position Flanker

Date of Birth 16/01/1994 (22 years)

Place of Birth Johannesburg, RSA

Height: 190cm

Weight: 118kg


Credit: Willem Loock Photography

A lot of fans were wondering who he was. Some Lions fans looked so disappointed in the injury to Jaco Kriel they felt the side would drop off in standards just a bit. How wrong they were. The flanker came on and was like a possessed man. He was mammoth in all facets from carrying the ball to smashing the Cheetahs behind the gain line.

Some fans in the stadium who read the reports in the media this week could not believe his impact. Some even suggesting amongst themselves he was out to prove a point after the Ruan Ackermann stories.

I just saw a future star who got a chance and was eager to prove he can cut it at the highest level. He excelled in all areas. He was by miles the best loose forward in South Africa this weekend. Setting such a standard only means he will be expected to live up to it.

Brink played like it was his last game, yet it was his chance in Super rugby and in so many ways the missing Jaco Kriel was not missed. He poses more problems for Johan Ackermann who will have more loose forward selection issues when his array of stars return.

A wealth of choice in Ruan Ackermann, Derrick Minnie, Warwick Tecklenburg, Cyle Brink, Stephan de Wit, Fabian Booysen and the list goes on. Cyle Brink was one of the stand-out performers at the 2014 Junior World Championships in New Zealand, representing the Junior Springboks who returned home with a silver medal.

He represented the Lions at the 2012 Craven week and has continued to develop. What we have here, is yet another ex-King Edwards School boy; is on the verge of a glittering career.

A view from the couch..




The Sunwolves have bite

For a team that had under two weeks in pre-season the Wolves managed to play a brave, exciting game The Cheetahs should have been worried at some stage and if it wasn’t for the replacements early on from Franco Smith they could have lost.

The Cheetahs will take pride in the character they showed and will look back and take a few lessons from this match. No one will under estimate the Sunwolves and if you willing to field an under strength side against them- at your own peril.

The Wolves showed some great innovation, speed and resilience. Their addition is becoming more of a positive addition and they are well placed to leave a mark on this tournament.

Akihito Yamada was exceptional in scoring a hat trick that lit up the round. #Awooo

Lions still in good stead

A loss to the champions the Highlanders saw the Lions end their overseas tour with two wins in three. The performance was not as bad if you look at the numbers and game a second time.

The Lions may need to adopt a few options if they look to be an all-round game. They will need to at their kicking game. The Lions kicking was out of touch in Dunedin and may need to refine it a bit.

They showed a lot more one dimensional play this weekend as well, playing off the second receiver so often the Highlanders had it covered. The Highlanders offered an impressive rush defense that capitalized on long, cut-out passes and this resulted in smothering tackles, intercepts to mention a few.

What will be key is how close the Lions came to scoring in the last minute when there was a chip over the defence and they regathered.

Attacking variations will be important going forward. Bar a game in Argentina, the Lions have majority of their games in South Africa and should be poised to finish top in their group.

We also learned that what you do with possession is very important as the Lions dominated possession & territory (71% and 70 % respectively).

The Lions at some point looked to have run out of ideas and could be their biggest downfall if they do not vary their game. Their depth looks much better than most sides in the competition.

The Sharks are better than last year

They Sharks have looked good over the weeks. Slowly showing a vast improvement on the past season.

They have looked good in the set-piece and have a great blend between experience and youth. The side that took to field on Saturday averaged just 25 years. Forget the contentious decision to award the penalty try which I think was completely wrong and bonkers.

The credibility to match officials needs to seriously be looked at. The Sharks played what was in front of them and they dominated. Both Stormers packs got pummelled at the scrum bar one or two when Scarra and the less fancied Oli Kebble felt like scrumming.

The Beast had one of his best games and destroyed both Springbok incumbents. The line out was much improved even pipping a Stormers throw. The tactical nous of Gary Gold has to be lauded.

There is a tour ahead but for now the Sharks can be hopeful of a strong season. The thought of Pat Lambie, Chilliboy Ralepelle, Francois Kleinhans, Renaldo Bothma, Jacques Potgieter, Lwazi Mvovo, Ruan Botha among many who will boost the squad.

To Gary Gold, unleash S’bura Sithole. He will add some variety to a backline that could derail the Sharks attack. The Stormers will need to go to the drawing board because the next two clashes are as tough as they get.

The Brumbies who look flawless and a trip to Argentina against the Jaguares could define their season.

Sharks name squad for coastal battle




Last week’s match against a Jaguares team filled with Internationals was billed as a clash of near Test match proportions and this weekend is no different when the Cell C Sharks take on the Stormers in a round three Vodacom Super Rugby clash of huge proportions at Newlands in Cape Town.

Director of Rugby Gary Gold has stuck with the same team that defeated the Jaguares at Growthpoint KINGS PARK last week.

There is little reason to tamper with a winning side and Gold ‘ain’t fixing what ain’t broke’, to use an old idiom.

Saturday’s clash against the Stormers is likely to mirror the Jaguares game to a greater degree than the opening match of the Vodacom Super Rugby Tournament against the Kings which was more about attack and scoring tries.

Against the Jaguares – and indeed the Stormers – defence needed to be, and will again be called upon to be, top notch. Keeping the Argentinians scoreless in the second half, as was the case against the Kings, showed that this is a side ruthless on attack but also able to show character on defence.

A much anticipated battle of brothers between the loose-forward twins Jean-Luc and Daniel representing the Cell C Sharks, and their older brother, flyhalf Robert for the Stormers, will not materialise after the latter picked up an injury in his team’s defeat of the Cheetahs last week.

But there will be battles aplenty in this much-anticipated clash between two sides who have won their opening fixtures and are currently fighting it out for top honours.

The Cell C Sharks

15. Willie Le Roux Replacements:
14. Odwa Ndungane 16. Kyle Cooper
13. Paul Jordaan 17. Juan Schoeman
12. Andre Esterhuizen 18. Lourens Adriaanse
11. JP Pietersen 19. Hyron Andrews
10. Joe Pietersen 20. Philip van der Walt
9. Cobus Reinach 21. Michael Claassens
8. Daniel du Preez 22. Garth April
7. Jean-Luc du Preez 23. S’bura Sithole
6. Marcell Coetzee
5. Stephan Lewies
4. Etienne Oosthuizen
3. Coenie Oosthuizen
2. Franco Marais
1. Tendai Mtawarira (Captain)

Janse van Rensburg pick of Lions team






The Lions have managed to make five changes to the squad that beat the Chiefs in Hamilton. Rohan Janse van Rensburg will get to line up opposite All Black Malakai Fekitoa, Robbie Coetzee returns in place of Malcolm Marx while young Jaco van der Walt will start at fullback in place of Andries Coetzee who drops to the bench.

Ackermann was forced to make a host of changes after his side got injuries. Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Howard Mnisi start in tandem in the absence of Lionel Mapoe and Harold Vorster, who both returned to South Africa. A new centre pairing that will need to adapt fast and be ready for a busy 80 minutes.

 Ruan Dreyer and Jacques van Rooyen start in place of Julian Redelinghuys and Dylan Smith respectively, a sign of the Lions depth. Jacques Nel, who joined the squad earlier this week, and Dillon Smit are on the bench.

The Lions are set to play the Highlanders at 08:35 (SA time) on Saturday morning, but are still in Christchurch after their aircraft was forced to turn around due to bad weather en route to Dunedin.

Lions – 15 Jaco van der Walt, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Warwick Tecklenberg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Subs: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Julian Redelinghuys, 19 Robert Kruger, 20 Ruan Ackermann, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Jacques Nel, 23 Andries Coetzee.

Lions name 23 to face SunWolves


Super Rugby Preview – Emirates Lions


The Lions have named a strong side to take on the SunWolves in Tokyo and this side has the perfect balance between brute force, skill and speed. This will be a historic clash as the SunWolves take on the Currie Cup champions of South Africa.


  1. Ruan Dreyer
  2. Robbie Coetzee
  3. Julian Redelinghuys
  4. Andries Ferreira
  5. Franco Mostert
  6. Jaco Kriel
  7. Warwick Tecklenburg
  8. Warren Whitely (C)
  9. Francois de Klerk
  10. Elton Jantjes
  11. Courtnall Skosan
  12. Howard Mnisi
  13. Lionel Mapoe
  14. Ruan Combrink
  15. Andries Coetzee


16. Malcolm Marx    17. Dylan Smith   18. Jacques van Rooyen   19.  Robert Kruger   20. Ruan Ackermann  21. Jaco van der walt   22. Harold Vorster   23. Rohan Janse van Rensburg


Kings team to play Cheetahs




The Southern Kings team will run out against the Toyota Cheetahs on Friday under the leadership of Steven Sykes.

Announcing his extended 26-man squad for the game at a press conference this afternoon, head coach Deon Davids said he was looking forward to the Kings first game against another Vodacom Super Rugby side this season.

Up front, Davids has replaced hooker Edgar Marutlulle, who is out with an injury to his ear, with Martin Bezuidenhout, while prop Jacobie Adriaanse, who is out due to a concussion, is replaced by Tom Botha.

Captain of the team Sykes partners with JC Astle at lock, who steps in for Schalk Oelofse who is out with a tight calf muscle.

The loose trio once again consists of Chris Cloete, Thembelani Bholi and Jacques Engelbrecht.

Ntando Kebe and Elgar Watts are again at scrumhalf and flyhalf respectively. Malcolm Jaer moves onto left wing, in place of Michael Makase, with Shane Gates moving up from the bench to inside centre and Stefan Watermeyer moving to outside centre.

Luzuko Vulundlu  returns to right wing, while Jurgen Visser remains at fullback.

Davids said he was looking forward to the game against the Cheetahs.

“This is our first Super Rugby team that we are playing against, and we want to see how the team performs against a super rugby side,” he said.

Davids said the game against the SWD Eagles on Friday last week had been beneficial in testing a few combinations and seeing some of the players that were coming back from injury on the field.

“It is always nice to win, but for us it was good to get the match exercise under our belt and also see guys who haven’t played in a while come through,” he said.

Davids said the team would be focusing on their set pieces, and would be looking at retaining possession from set pieces through the phases.

He said the team would also be looking at how to capitalise on opportunities and convert them into points.

The Southern Kings will play against the Toyota Cheetahs at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday, 17 February 2016. Kickoff is at 7pm.

The Southern Kings Team:

15           Jurgen Visser

14           Luzuko Vulundlu

13           Stefan Watermeyer

12           Shane Gates

11           Malcolm Jaer

10           Elgar Watts

9              Ntando Kebe

8              Jacques Engelbrecht

7              Thembelani Bholi

6              Chris Cloete

5              JC Astle

4              Steven Sykes ©

3              Tom Botha

2              Martin Bezuidenhout

1              Schalk Ferreira


16           Sti Sithole

17           Martin Ferreira

18           Vukile Sofisa

19           Cornell Hess

20           CJ Velleman

21           Stephan Willemse

22           Junior Pokomela

23           Leighton Eksteen

24           Theuns Kotze

25           JP du Plessis

26           Siyanda Grey

Cheetahs 2016 home and away kit


2016 Toyota Cheetahs Kit

The Cheetahs have unveiled their new kit for the 2016 Super Rugby season, with a return to a traditional all-white home strip and an all-orange away strip.

The design celebrates the 2016 season being the first time the Free State Cheetahs will play as the sole custodians of the Cheetahs Super Rugby franchise, having shared the franchise with the Griquas and the Griffons for nine years.

The design celebrates the 2016 season being the first time the Toyota Free State Cheetahs will play as the sole custodians of the Toyota Cheetahs Super Rugby franchise, having shared the franchise with the Griquas and the Griffons for nine years.

The jersey sports a new logo of a sprinting Cheetah on the upper left chest and is further enhanced with a modern Cheetah watermark symbolising a new generation Cheetah player that has all the traditions associated with Free State rugby, but possesses skills, power and agility required by modern Super Rugby.

“PUMA has once again delivered an outstanding jersey, that brings together the traditions of the Toyota Cheetahs and the modern outlook on the game of rugby. We look forward to seeing the new generation Cheetah players make their mark in this year’s SupeRugby competition,” said Cheetah’s Managing Director, Harold Verster.

Cheetahs name side for Bulls clash




Coach Franco Smith announced his team to take on the Vodacom Bulls in a Super Rugby warm-up match in Harare, Zimbabwe on Saturday, 6 February at 15:00.                                             


2 HOOKER Jacques du Toit
3 TIGHTHEAD PROP Luan de Bruin
4 LEFT LOCK Armandt Koster
5 RIGHT LOCK Reniel Hugo ( c )
6 LEFT FLANKER Paul Schoeman
7 RIGHT FLANKER Tienie Burger
8 NUMBER EIGHT Henco Venter
9 SCRUMHALF Tian Meyer ( vc )
10 FLYHALF Niel Marais
11 LEFT WING Clayton Blommetjies
12 INSIDE CENTRE Michael van der Spuy
13 OUTSIDE CENTRE Reinhardt Erwee
14 RIGHT WING Ruan van Rensburg
15 FULLBACK Gerrie Labuschagne
16. RESERVE Torsten van Jaarsveld
17. RESERVE (FR) Charles Marais
18. RESERVE (FR) Maks van Dyk
19. RESERVE Hilton Lobberts
20. RESERVE Carl Wegner
21. RESERVE Niell Jordaan
22. RESERVE Shaun Venter
23. RESERVE Fred Zeilinga
24. RESERVE Francois Venter
25. RESERVE Raymond Rhule

Coach:  Franco Smith

Assistant Coaches:  Corniel van Zyl (Forwards), Daan Human (Scrum), Charl Strydom (Defence)

Team Manager:  Ashwell Rafferty

Force keep Hurricanes pointless in warm-up match


Force Primary1Peter Grant had the perfect start with his new franchise when they played a pre-season match against the Hurricanes on Wednesday.

The Force scored a convincing 29-0 victory over the Hurricanes which will not be feeling to great not scoring one point during the match. It took the Force only five minutes to get on the board thorugh Coleman.

The Hurricanes did put some solid phases together but the Force was great in defense and kept them out.

With the match being played in 20-minute quarters, the Force went into the sheds at halftime still with a 7-0 lead.

In the second half, the Force made multiple changes to their 15, with Semisi Masirewa, Heath Tessmann, Ross Haylett-Petty and Kane Koteka all injected.

The home side had Mafi sent to the bin after repeat offences, followed by young flanker Kane Koteka, leaving them with 13 men on the pitch.

When Mafi came back on, he had an immediate impact, scoring off the back of a lineout on the stoke of three-quarter time. Jono Lance converted and the Force took a 14-point lead into the last quarter.

Four minutes into the last quarter and after a poor pass from the Hurricanes, Chris Alcock pounced on the loose ball and shot down the field. After an offload to first gamer Richard Hardwick, the Force flicked a pass wide to Masirewa, who stepped three Hurricanes players and crossed for a great team try and a 21-0 lead with 15 minutes to play.

The Force struck again in the 75th minute, after a strong line break from Alcock, who ran the ball very close to the line. The ball was quickly pushed out to the left and, after a superb offload from Lance to Ammon Matuauto, the Force went over for their fourth try.

The Western Force’s final pre-season match is on Saturday, February 13 against the Asia Pacific Dragons at McGillivray Oval.

Force – Tries: Adam Coleman, Steve Mafi, Semisi Masirewa, Ammon Matuauto. Conversions: Peter Grant, Jono Lance (3).

Gold side to take on Toulon in friendly


Gary_Gold_close_up_Sharks_SR_2015_Sabelo_Mngoma_BackpagePix_620_395_s_c1_top_topThe Cell C Sharks Director of rugby, Gary Gold has named his team to face Toulon on Friday.

Gold will put almost a full strength side out on the park with Esterhuizen and Jordaan running in the midfield. He has also opted to start with Mvovo, Ndungane and Pietersen at the with Lambie and Reinach forming the halfback combination.

In the forwards Oosthuizen will get his first start for his new franchise alongside Cooper and Beast. In the second row former Stormers lock Ruan Botha will pair up with Etienne Oostuizen. Gold opted to start with the two Du Preez bothers in the loose with Kleinhans at open side flank.

‘This weekend’s game is a nice opportunity to test ourselves and see how far we’ve come, with what’s been quite a lengthy pre-season,’ Gold said. ‘We’ve selected a strong side against what should be a good Toulon team.

‘It’s a great opportunity for youngsters such as Jean-Luc and Daniel du Preez to get their first start in the Super Rugby squad. The guys are really excited and I know that we will be a bit rusty in comparison to a Toulon team that are mid-season and have been playing together for a few months, but that’s the type of challenge we wanted.’

The match, which kicks off at 9:30pm SA time, will not be broadcast on SuperSport.

Sharks – 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Lwazi Mvovo, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Odwa Ndungane, 10 Pat Lambie (c), 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez , 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Giant Mtyanda, 20 Dave McDuling, 21 Hyron Andrews, 22 Stefan Ungerer, 23 Michael Claassens, 24 Garth April, 25 Heimar Williams, 26 Johan Deysel, 27 Wandile Mjekevu, 28 S’bura Sithole.

Nollis pick his team to face Cheetahs


home5Vodacom Bulls coach Nollis Marais named a number of young stars in his team to play the Toyota Cheetahs in Harare on Saturday at 15h00 in a Super Rugby warm-up match.

The likes of Divan Rossouw, Dan Kriel, Jason Jenkins and Hanro Liebenberg all played age group rugby in 2015 and now gets the chance to show their mettle in the senior ranks.

The team will be lead by calm-collected lock Marvin Orie, with Springbok scrumhalf Piet van Zyl deputising. Marais opted for youth, but also picked experienced stalwarts in vital positions.

Prop Werner Kruger has played in more than 100 Vodacom Super Rugby matches and hooker Callie Visagie in more than 50, whilst former Springbok scrumhalf Piet van Zyl will provide solid directionfrom behind the pack of forwards that also include Lizo Gqoboka, the new signing from the EP Kings.

Francois Brummer, who last played for the Bulls in 2010 and who is on loan from the Steval Pumas, was named on the bench. Brummer has played for the Cheetahs in recent years, as did flanker Freddy Ngoza, who played Currie Cup rugby in Bloemfontein last year.

“We had a good camp here in Zimbabwe and I am pretty excited to see this team play,” Marais said. “Obviously we are not playing the likes of Adriaan Strauss, Handre Pollard, Jan Serfontein and Jesse Kriel, to name a few, but the guys starting have shown in training that they have the desire and commitment to play for the Vodacom Bulls. I’ve always firmly believed that any member of the squad should be able to start at any time, and we’ll be putting this to the test over the next 2 weekends.”

The fact that he coached most of the players at age group level did help in preparing for the match, Marais said.

“These guys have played for our junior teams in the recent past and are familiar with our objectives and desired way of play. I hope we can find our rhythm and structure early on in the match, as this will help us trying out the things we want to do. That said, it is the first match of a long season, so there will be mistakes. That is fine and the guys know they can go out and play.”

The team is: Divan Rossouw, Kefentse Mahlo, Dries Swanepoel, Dan Kriel, Jade Stighling, Tian Schoeman, Piet van Zyl, Hanro Liebenberg, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Freddy Ngoza, Marvin Orie, Jason Jenkins, Werner Kruger, Callie Visagie, Lizo Gqoboka.

Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Pierre Schoeman, Nqoba Mxoli, Irne Herbst, Riekert Hattingh, Ivan van Zyl, Francois Brummer, JT Jackson, Jamba Ulengo.

Crusaders team to face Reds in pre-season friendly


canty-crusaders-logo-webThe BNZ Crusaders will kick their pre-season off with a game against the Queensland Reds this Saturday. A raft of players are set to pull on the BNZ Crusaders strip for the first time, and a new captain will lead the team onto Ballymore Stadium.

Fourth season Crusader Jimmy Tupou will step into the captaincy role for the first time, leading a squad of 28 that includes 8 uncapped Super Rugby players and a further 5 players who are yet to earn a BNZ Crusaders cap.

In the front row, Alex Hodgman will pack down with new squad member Mike Alaalatoa, and Ged Robinson brings a wealth of experience to the hooker role. A hugely experienced pack including Codie Taylor, Ben Funnell and Joe Moody will be waiting on the bench, and young prop Oliver Jager may also get his chance to test himself out at Super Rugby level.

Luke Romano and Scott Barrett pair up at lock, with Sam Whitelock and Mitchell Dunshea providing cover. Tim Boys and Jordan Taufua join Jimmy Tupou in the loose forwards, and Reed Prinsep will be looking for a run off the bench.

Leon Fukofuka will make his debut at halfback, with Mitchell Drummond ready to take the reins from the reserves. Ben Volavola and Richie Mo’unga will both get a chance to play at first five, with Volavola in the starting spot and Mo’unga in the reserves. Marty McKenzie, meanwhile, will bring some useful experience to the fullback position.

The remainder of the backline will be made up of Jone Macilai and the uncapped Sione Fifita on the wings, plus David Havili and debutant Sean Wainui in the midfield. Kieron Fonotia, Mitchell Hunt, Johnny McNicholl and Nemani Nadolo will all be preparing to add some firepower from the bench.

Kick-off is at 10:30pm NZT (7:30pm local time), Saturday 6 February, and the BNZ Crusaders leave for Brisbane on Friday morning.

BNZ Crusaders team to play the Queensland Reds:

Alex Hodgman

Ged Robinson *

Mike Alaalatoa *

Luke Romano

Scott Barrett

Jimmy Tupou (c)

Tim Boys *

Jordan Taufua

Leon Fukofuka **

Ben Volavola *

Sione Fifita **

David Havili

Sean Wainui **

Jone Macilai

Marty McKenzie *


Codie Taylor

Ben Funnell

Joe Moody

Oliver Jager **

Samuel Whitelock

Mitchell Dunshea **

Reed Prinsep **

Mitchell Drummond

Richie Mo’unga **

Kieron Fonotia

Mitchell Hunt **

Johnny McNicholl

Nemani Nadolo

* indicates no BNZ Crusaders caps

** indicates no Super Rugby caps

Vodacom Bulls ready to face Cheetahs in pre-season


home5The Vodacom Bulls have a full squad available for their pre-season clash with the Toyota Cheetahs this Friday in Harare Zimbabwe.

The Bulls will have a training camp ahead of this years Super Rugby tournament in Zimbabwe which please new head coach Nollis Marais. “We are taking a fairly big squad, as we want to involve a couple of younger players to our team culture and expose them to our patterns,” Marais said.

“This is a great opportunity for us to really focus on our rugby objectives and I am keen to get started. The match against this Cheetahs next week will be a good opportunity for us to get the season started.”

The High Performance Manager of the Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd, Xander Janse van Rensburg, said the decision to have the training camp and match in Zimbabwe is part of a broader strategy.
“We want to grow the game of rugby and extend our footprint into Africa. This trip is the ideal opportunity to do that,” Janse van Rensburg said.

The Bulls are the only South African team who have manage to win the competition before and with a lot of young players coming through last year in the Currie Cup many supporters are optimistic about the season lying ahead.

The Bulls first match will be against the Stormers in round one of this years Super Rugby competition.

The training squad is: 

Bjorn Basson, Arno Botha, Francois Brummer, Nic De Jager, Warrick Gelant, Lizo Gqoboka, Riekert Hattingh, Grant Hattingh, Chris Hefer, Irne Herbst, Travis Ismaiel, JT Jackson, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Jason Jenkins, Jannes Kirsten, Jesse Kriel, Dan Kriel, Werner Kruger, Lappies Labuschagne, Hanro Liebenberg, Kefentse Mahlo, Bandise Maku, Nqobisiizwe Mxoli, Freddy Ngoza, Trevor Nyakane, Burger Odendaal, Marvin Orie. Rudy Paige, Handre Pollard, Divan Rossouw, Tian Schoeman, Pierre Schoeman, Jan Serfontein, Jade Stighling, RG Snyman, Adriaan Strauss, Dries Swanepoel, Jamba Ulengo, Callie Visagie, Jaco Visagie, Ivan Van Zyl, Piet Van Zyl, Marcel van der Merwe

Smith take 33 men to face Bulls in Zimbabwe


Cheetahs LogoFranco Smith and his Cheetahs side have gone through the pre-season quietly and doing in preparing them for the Super Rugby.

There first challenge will come this weekend as they take on the Bulls in a pre-season friendly in Zimbabwe on Saturday. Smith has named a 33-man squad which will be given him an good idea of where his players at and how the combinations will work.

The Cheetahs have been concentrating on fitness a lot in the pre-season so far and have put in the hard work to be in the right frame of mind not just on there fitness but also the mental aspect that needs to be right for this competition.

The side will be captained for the first time by the man Smith put his faith in for this year, Francois Venter.

The Cheetahs start their Super Rugby campaign at home to the Jaguares on February 26.

Cheetahs touring squad:

Forwards – Tienie Burger, Uzair Cassiem, Luan de Bruin, Lood de Jager, Jacques du Toit, Reniel Hugo, Niell Jordaan, Armandt Koster, Hilton Lobberts, Charles Marais, Danie Mienie, Boom Prinsloo, Neil Rautenbach, Paul Schoeman, Maks van Dyk, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Henco Venter, Carl Wegner

Backs – Clayton Blommetjies, Maphutha Dolo, Reinhardt Erwee, Gerrie Labuschagne, Niel Marais, Tian Meyer, Sergeal Petersen, Raymond Rhule, William Small-Smith, JP Smith, Michael van der Spuy, Ruan van Rensburg, Francois Venter, Shaun Venter, Fred Zeilinga

Fleck’s Stormers on back foot before they even start


545px-Logo_Stormers_Rugby.svgThe season have not even started for the newly appointed Stormers coach and he is already in crisis mode.

In December last year already the Stormers learned that the Springbok Damien De Allende will be out for the first part of the season as he picked up and injury while playing in Japan. De Allende is one of the new exciting young players that have a bright future not just for there franchises but also Springbok rugby. Jean De Villiers also announced that he will be playing his club rugby in England which leaved a massive hole for the Stormers in the midfield.

De Jong has been forming part of the Springbok Sevens group preparing this year for the Olympics in Rio and his availability for the Stormers through the season is still a bit unclear.

Now we have Jaco Taute set to go for an operation after the Stormers first warm-up game against SWD last week and will miss the start of the Super Rugby as well. Although coach Fleck is making it that this is not a problem for the Stormers, one do not want to start a competition with young inexperience players or making flyhalf’s play in the midfield.

With De Allende only expected back in April Fleck will have to find the correct combination to get the season of to a good start.

England coach Eddie Jones has offered to help out his former side, the Stormers well that is the word from Stormers coach Robbie Fleck who said Jones, who left the Cape Town-based franchise less than two weeks into his job to take over the reins at England, is keen to help the Super Rugby side on an informal basis.

“He sent me a message through his agent the other day to say he is available at any stage though obviously he is pretty hectic at the moment,” Fleck told Reuters. “He said when he left here that the option was there and he has backed up on his word. I am really grateful for that. “I certainly will send him some footage and give him an update of where we are.”

Despite his short spell in charge of the Stormers, Jones made a favourable impression on the team and they would adopt some of his ideas during their upcoming Super Rugby campaign.

“The brilliant thing when Eddie was here was that we had all this knowledge and ways we wanted to play but he just simplified things,” added Fleck. “At the end of the day his big message was the fundamentals of rugby have not changed over the years, it’s just having the confidence to go forward and do it.”

The Stormers’ next pre-season match is against the Jaguars at Newlands on 13 February.

Referees prepare for law variations in Super Rugby


super-rugbySANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos today confirmed that the Super Rugby referees, under the guidance of Game Manager Lyndon Bray, gathered in Sydney for their annual training camp while the Executive Committee had approved a series of law variations as the countdown continues to kick-off on February 27.

“The 2016 referee squad contains 22 members, of which nine are in line to make their first appearance at this level, including Federico Anselmi and Shuhei Kubo of Argentina and Japan respectively,” said Marinos.

The group met at the International College of Management in Manly for a five-day camp that included rigorous physical training, refinement of mental skills and a comprehensive briefing around a number of variations that are set to be introduced for the 2016 season.

“It was an interesting day of events,” said Marinos who attended a full day session with the referees along with SANZAAR’s Head of Operations, Brendan Morris. “It was important for me to meet with the men who play a big role in the product that Super Rugby is and to share with them the business and rugby imperatives that we have.” Law variations and game innovations for 2016 will include:

  • Four-try bonus point to be replaced by a bonus point that is awarded for finishing three or more tries ahead of your opponent (bonus point for losing by 7 or fewer points remains unchanged) and;
  • Penalty options after time has expired to now include playing a lineout.

“These law amendments, while subtle in nature, will help Super Rugby’s continuing evolution as the best provincial competition in the world,” Marinos added. “The change to the bonus point, which has been widely discussed throughout the past week as one potential innovation, has now been formally approved by the ExCo for the 2016 season.

“By implementing this change, we expect to see more attacking and competitive rugby as teams will be asked to keep their foot down for the full 80 in order to claim the try-scoring bonus point, which we have seen used to great effect in France over the past few years.

“In addition to this, permitting teams to opt for a lineout after time has expired serves to disincentive opponents from infringing and aims to reward sides that are particularly strong set-piece exponents which, when coupled with the previously mentioned changes, encourages more attacking and competitive rugby.” These law variations and game innovations were tabled in October 2015 for SANZAAR’s National Unions to consult with and brief their franchises.

“It has not gone unnoticed the number of key stakeholders that have felt the need to publicly criticise SANZAAR for initiatives that were floated months ago and heavily canvassed throughout each National Union,” Marinos added. “We would never impose such fundamental changes to Super Rugby without proper consultation with stakeholders but will nevertheless continue to engage our member unions and franchises and work with all teams to continue striving for Super Rugby’s ongoing improvement.”

“It was also considered whether to adopt pre-2013 television match official protocol whereby the TMO could only rule on try scoring, in-goal and foul play, however following consultation with World Rugby, where we were informed they would be conducting a TMO review this year, we have decided to retain ‘status quo’ for 2016 and will participate fully with the review in an effort to ensure that this area of the game gets the focus and attention it deserves.

” Also emanating from the recent ExCo meeting was the decision to refer to the organisation as SANZAAR (previously SANZAR) to formally recognise Argentina’s participation in the joint venture. “Their top-four finish at the Rugby World Cup and now full participation in Super Rugby adds further strength and prestige to the existing competition structures. As the top four international teams from RWC 2015 look to further grow and establish Southern Hemisphere as a dominant force in world rugby, we are all very excited to see what lies in store in the coming year,” Marinos concluded.

The next chapter of the toughest and most exciting provincial rugby competition on earth begins with a double-header on Friday February 26 as the Highlanders begin their title defence against the Blues in Auckland before the Brumbies host the Hurricanes to cap an enormous opening night involving three of last year’s four semi-finalists.

Fans don’t have long to wait before the action continues with the Lions travelling to Tokyo for a historic afternoon clash at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium; the first Super Rugby match to be played in Japan.

The Jaguares get their maiden Super Rugby campaign underway in Bloemfontein against the Cheetahs while the Port-Elizabeth-based Kings re-enter the competition with a clash against the Sharks at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Round 1 (all times local, full draw at Fri 26 Feb: Blues v Highlanders @ Eden Park (19:35) Fri 26 Feb: Brumbies v Highlanders @ GIO Stadium (19:40) Fri 26 Feb: Cheetahs v Jaguares @ Free State Stadium (19:00) Sat 27 Feb: Sunwolves v Lions @ Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium (13:15) Sat 27 Feb: Crusaders v Chiefs @ AMI Stadium (19:35) Sat 27 Feb: Waratahs v Reds @ Allianz Stadium (19:40) Sat 27 Feb: Force v Rebels @ nib Stadium (18:50) Sat 27 Feb: Kings v Sharks @ Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (15:00) Sat 27 Feb: Stormers v Bulls @ DHL Newlands (17:05)

2016 Super Rugby Referees Federico Anselmi (Argentina – 0 Super Rugby, 7 Tests)* Nic Berry (Australia – 0 Super Rugby, 0 Tests)* Stuart Berry (South Africa – 21 Super Rugby, 5 Tests) Nick Briant (New Zealand – 25 Super Rugby, 2 Tests) Mike Fraser (New Zealand – 23 Super Rugby, 4 Tests) Angus Gardner (Australia – 26 Super Rugby, 5 Tests) Rohan Hoffmann (Australia – 26 Super Rugby, 3 Tests) William Houston (Australia – 0 Super Rugby, 0 Tests)* Quinton Immelman (South Africa – 0 Super Rugby, 0 Tests)* Glen Jackson (New Zealand – 41 Super Rugby, 16 Tests) Craig Joubert (South Africa – 93 Super Rugby, 64 Tests) Shuhei Kubo (Japan – 0 Super Rugby, 6 Tests)* Andrew Lees (Australia – 22 Super Rugby, 2 Tests) Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand – 0 Super Rugby, 0 Tests)* Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand – 5 Super Rugby, 0 Tests) Jaco Peyper (South Africa – 59 Super Rugby, 29 Tests) Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand – 0 Super Rugby, 0 Tests)* Chris Pollock (New Zealand – 70 Super Rugby, 22 Tests) Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa – 0 Super Rugby, 0 Tests)* Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa – 9 Super Rugby, 1 Test) Jaco van Heerden (South Africa – 6 Super Rugby, 0 Tests) Paul Williams (New Zealand – 0 Super Rugby, 0 Tests)* * Denotes a new squad member in 2016

Rebels name team for trail against Blues


Rebels Alternate1The Melbourne Rebels kick off the 2016 season with their first trial match against the Blues in Auckland on Thursday 4 February. Rebels Head Coach Tony McGahan has named 11 uncapped players for the team’s first competitive fixture of 2016.

The 24-player team includes a combination of Rebels, extended squad players, Under-20’s and local Melbourne players. “We want to test our extended squad members in a competitive environment, so this trial against the Blues will give these players a chance to put into practice our last eight weeks of pre-season training,” McGahan said.

“These players have all earned their opportunity through hard work during pre-season so I want them to back themselves and their decision making under pressure in a game situation.” New recruits James Hanson and Reece Hodge, along with Melbourne Rising player Sione Taufa and Under-20’s member Ta Hosea, will pull on a Rebels jersey for the first time after being named in the starting line-up.

The Rebels team for the first trial will feature 12 players returning from last season and 603 Super Rugby games of experience, led by foundation team members Laurie Weeks and Luke Jones. The backs will feature some familiar faces with Jack Debreczeni, Tom English, Mike Harris, Mitch Inman and Dom Shipperley, who were all in the starting line-up in the Rebels 42-22 victory over the Blues the last time these two sides met at AAMI Park in 2015.

“At this stage of pre-season there’s bound to be a few bumps and bruises in our squad,” McGahan said. “We’re not prepared to take risk any with three weeks until the start of the season but we expect to have a near full strength team available for our trial against Samoa.”

The Melbourne Rebels travel to Auckland on Wednesday ahead of the trial match against the Blues at Pakuranga Rugby Club on Thursday from 3.30pm (AEDT).

Melbourne Rebels team for trial v Blues: Starting line up: 1. Toby Smith, 2. James Hanson, 3. Laurie Weeks, 4. Steve Cummins, 5. Luke Jones, 6. Jordy Reid, 7. Sione Taufa, 8. Ta Hosea, 9. Ben Meehan, 10. Jack Debreczeni, 11. Tom English, 12. Mike Harris, 13. Mitch Inman, 14. Dom Shipperley, 15. Reece Hodge Reserves:   16. Jordon Uelese, 17. Cruze Ah Nau, 18. Ryan Cocker, 19. Murray Douglas, 20. Pom Simona, 21. Angus Fowler, 22. Dan Hawkins, 23. Paul Asquith, 24. Tom Moloney

2016 Melbourne Rebels Trial Match Schedule: Auckland Blues v Melbourne Rebels Thursday 4 February 2016 Pakuranga Rugby Club, Auckland Kick off: 5.30pm (NZ) / 3.30pm (AEDT)  Melbourne Rebels v Manu Samoa Thursday 18 February 2016, AAMI Park, Melbourne Kick off: 6.30pm (AEDT)

Ticket prices start from just $12.00 for adults and $6.00 for kids

Force squad to take on Hurricanes in pre-season clash


Force Primary1The Western Force will return to the field this Wednesday, 3 February, when they take on 2015 Asteron Life Super Rugby grand finalists the Hurricanes in the first of their two pre-season matches.

The Force have travelled to Gosford on the Central Coast to take on the ‘Canes’, in what should be a high quality fixture, with a strong 28-man squad named for the clash.

New recruits Jono Lance, Peter Grant and Semisi Masirewa are all set to play in Force blue for the first time, while Brynard Stander (shoulder) and Ammon Matuauto (knee) will make their returns from long-term injuries.

The pre-season match will also be the first in blue for young up-an-coming players Jermaine Ainsley (Nedlands), Richard Hardwick (UWA) and Maalonga Konelio (Joondalup Brothers). All three players coming through the ranks after strong seasons for the Perth Spirit in the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC) last year.

The squad once again boasts a number of locally-produced players in Dane and Ross Haylett-Petty, Kyle Godwin, scrumhalf Ryan Louwrens, flanker Kane Koteka and back rower Richard Hardwick.

Club stalwart Pek Cowan will captain the side, with Matt Hodgson unavailable to play and Heath Tessmann will take over the captaincy if and when Cowan is substituted.

The Hurricanes squad will also host a large number of debutants, with nine players pulling on the Hurricanes jersey for the very first time. Loose forward Brad Shields will captain the side in the absence of Dane Coles and TJ Perenara, as the 26-man squad look to get their season off to a good start.

The match will kick off at 6:50pm AEST (3:50pm AWST), and will be live streamed from the official Western Force website. Click here to watch the live stream:

2016 Asteron Life Super Rugby – Pre-Season
Western Force v Wellington Hurricanes
Central Coast Stadium, Gosford
Wednesday, 3 February 2016
Kick-off: 6.50pm (AEST)

Western Force (Team):

1. Pek Cowan (C)

2. Nathan Charles

3. Guy Millar

4. Steve Mafi

5. Adam Coleman

6. Brynard Stander

7. Chris Alcock

8. Angus Cottrell

9. Ian Prior

10. Peter Grant

11. Albert Nikoro

12. Kyle Godwin

13. Marcel Brache

14. Luke Morahan

15. Dane Haylett-Petty


16. Heath Tessmann

17. Chris Heiberg

18. Jermaine Ainsley

19. Rory Walton

20. Ross Haylett-Petty

21. Richard Hardwick

22. Kane Koteka

23. Ryan Louwrens

24. Jono Lance

25. Onehunga Havili

26. Ammon Matuauto

27. Semisi Masirewa

28. Maalonga Konelio

Hurricanes (Squad): Jason Woodward, Matt Proctor, Pita Ahki, Willis Halaholo, Wes Goosen, Otere Black, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Blade Thomson, Callum Gibbins, Brad Shields (c), Mark Abbott, Vaea Fifita, Jeff Toomaga-Allen,Motu Matu’u, Reg Goodes, Leni Apisai, Loni Uhila, Ben May, Hisa Sasagi, Chris Eves, Michael Fatialofa, James Blackwell, Tony Lamborn, Frae Wilson, Malo Tuitama, Peter Umaga-Jensen.



Fleck encouraged by George display


Robbie_Fleck_Stormers_Carl_Fourie_Gallo_Images_620_395_s_c1_top_topDHL Stormers Head Coach Robbie Fleck was encouraged by his team’s performance in their 40-15 victory over the South Western Districts Eagles in George on Saturday.

In what was their first pre-season friendly of the year the DHL Stormers outscored their hosts by six tries to two in an entertaining match in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Outeniqua Park.

Although the DHL Stormers coach acknowledged that there are still some areas to work on ahead of the 2016 Vodacom SupeRugby season, he was especially pleased with the positive attacking intent shown by his young squad.

“I was very pleased with the performance, it was our first game and everything we have been working on came through, so it was a step in right direction and everyone got a decent amount of game time.

“There is still plenty to work on and there were mistakes, but credit to SWD, they put us under pressure at the breakdown and tested our contact skills. It is never easy to play there and they contributed towards a good game.

“At this stage I don’t mind mistakes, I just wanted to see intent and we certainly showed that,” he told

Having had a defensive session against UCT the week before, the focus for the clash with the Eagles was to sharpen the DHL Stormers’ attacking game and they showed some impressive finishing with Kurt Coleman, Nizaam Carr and Khanyo Ngcukana all crossing for tries whilst the speedy Leolin Zas grabbed a hat-trick.

“We were focused on attack, and the goals we set ourselves we achieved in terms of a good ball in hand approach and conditioning wise.

“We left a few tries out there, but we didn’t go for the corner or use our maul. We took 10 quick taps which showed the intent of the team in their general attacking game,” Fleck added.

Although they conceded two tries early in the second half, Fleck was pleased with the way his relatively inexperienced team responded to secure a comfortable victory in the end.

“I was happy with the defence as well, but there is still lots to work on and we are still evolving and improving as a team,” he said.

Super Rugby going downhill?



Picture by Rebel Army

What is missing in the South African challenge to the Super Rugby of 2016?

Well we already have only two coaches out of the six that have done it before, but for the other four coaches it will become real on the weekend of 26th of February. The Stormers have at least a coach that have been involved with the Super Rugby team for the last couple of years as an assistant but being head coach will be a different monster to handle.

With the extra sixth team (Southern Kings) this year the pool of players for all teams to have good quality backup will be a problem. Super Rugby is not a sprint but a marathon with a squad that can keep momentum with the injuries that will come to every team during the season.

To add to the limited players pool that teams can pick from, SARU have change the Currie Cup this year as well where the Super Rugby franchise will automatically have a spot in the second round of the competition and the rest of the 14 unions will have to fight it out for the last three spots.

This have made the so-called smaller unions reluctant to release their players for Super Rugby franchises on loan, which is understandable for their survival in this professional era of the game.

Getting down to the players that all the franchises have available one can see gaps in all of the teams with maybe the exception of the Lions and that is exactly where the starting problems begin with the ever expanding of a competition that has always been the premiere tournament in the world.

Super Rugby from the start did not just showcase the best the south could offer the world but show of the exceptional skills of the top players in each country and the evolvement of the game which every other country and team in the world wanted to follow.

Sadly, I do not believe we have that place in the world rugby anymore. Plenty have been said by old and current players, coaches and administrators about this new expansion of the competition and yes it has its positives and negatives.

What we have really is an Australasian Super 9 and a Currie Cup Premiere  competition which include a Japanese and Puma team. Let’s be honest, the ultimate is to play the best teams week in and week out which include playing the best in the world, which are New Zealand teams. For half of the South African franchises that will not happen every year and our rugby will be poorer for that.

So what can we expect?

SANZAR that believe that they are doing what is great for the future of the organisation and we will have New Zealand still dominating, Australia that will get better for they will play every year against the best players and teams, which leave South African teams that will be poorer for it with a misconception even for the teams that top their groups.

***What is your expectations of the new expanded Super Rugby?


 By: Jacques Nortier



Southern Kings unaffected by EP Rugby liquidations application


kingsSA Rugby confirmed on Thursday that the operations and participation of the Southern Kings in Vodacom Super Rugby would be unaffected by an application to liquidate EP Rugby (Pty) Ltd.

The action was brought by the South African Rugby Players’ Association (SARPA) on behalf of a number of players over unpaid salaries. The application was triggered by what SARPA described as the recent “preferential treatment of creditors” by EP Rugby (Pty) Ltd.

“This action has no implications for the preparations or participation of the Southern Kings in Vodacom Super Rugby,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.

“That entity is wholly owned by the South African Rugby Union and the players, coaches and management team will continue with their work as has been planned. They kick off against the Cell C Sharks at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on 27 February and that, and the rest of their fixtures, are unaffected.”

Roux said that the court action could have implications for domestic rugby in the Eastern Province however.

“There will be questions about what this means for the EP Kings in the Currie Cup and for the administration of amateur rugby in the Eastern Province,” said Roux. “We have also been asked if SA Rugby will be ‘taking over’.

“Constitutionally, SA Rugby can only become involved in the administration of a union if it is invited in, or if a union fails to put in place recommended corrective measures.

“But, in the first instance, the Eastern Province Rugby Union, as the sole shareholder in EP Rugby (Pty) Ltd, will have to address the court action before anything else can happen.”

Stormers squad to face SWD Eagles


Robbie_Fleck_Stormers_Carl_Fourie_Gallo_Images_620_395_s_c1_top_topDHL Stormers Head Coach Robbie Fleck has named a 30-man squad for their pre-season friendly against the South Western Districts Eagles in George on Saturday.

Following their successful pre-season match against the Eagles at Outeniqua Park in 2015, Fleck said that the team are keen to return to George where they always enjoy good support.

“We are really looking forward to the game, there was a huge crowd there last year and the people were fantastic. We have always enjoyed playing in George, especially as there are a lot of Stormers fans there.

“Going on last year, the Eagles were great opponents, and it was a game that was played at a high tempo, which is exactly what we are looking for,” Fleck told

The DHL Stormers coach explained that his aim over all the pre-season preparations is to ensure that each player gets enough game-time before they face the Vodacom Bulls in their Vodacom SupeRugby opener at DHL Newlands on February 27.

This started with a defensive session against UCT last week, and includes another similar session after the Eagles fixture, with the final friendly against Argentina’s Jaguares at DHL Newlands, a fortnight before they take on the Vodacom Bulls.

“The idea is that we need to give the majority of the players between 80 and 90 minutes before the Vodacom Bulls game.

“We had that defensive hit-out against UCT, we have got this SWD game, we will have another defensive hit-out next week and then we have the home game against Jaguares on February 13,” Fleck added.

The match against the South Western District Eagles will kick-off at 16.00 on Saturday, January 30 at Outeniqua Park in George and will not be televised.

Tickets to the pre-season friendly against the Jaguares at DHL Newlands on Saturday, February 13 at 16.00 go on sale on Tuesday, February 2 at 12.00.

DHL Stormers squad: Nizaam Carr, Kurt Coleman, Jan de Klerk, Jean-Luc du Pleassis, Robert du Preez, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Rynhardt Elstadt, Huw Jones, Oliver Kebble, Jean Kleyn, Frans Malherbe, Godlen Masimla, Bongi Mbonambi, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Khanyo Ncgukana, Justin Phillips, JD Schickerling, Louis Schreuder, Sti Sithole, JP Smith, Jaco Taute, Brandon Thompson, Kobus van Wyk, JC Janse van Rensburg, Jurie van Vuuren, Alistair Vermaak, Jano Vermaak, Jacques Vermeulen, Michael Willemse, Leolin Zas.

Whiteley confirmed as Lions captain for SR


Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Lions coach have confirmed in a press conference that Warren Whiteley will lead the Emirates Lions again this year in Super Rugby.

Whiteley was captain of the team in the 2015 Super Rugby season , but due to a call-up to the Springbok group  before the World Cup, Whiteley was replaced as captain for the Currie Cup side by Jaco Kriel. Whiteley may be one of the players that could also later this year lead his country when the new Bok coach is appointed by SARU.

Kriel did a successful job with the Lions Currie Cup side as they went unbeaten throughout the season and winning the final against Western Province last year.

The Lions campaign for this years Super Rugby kicks off against the Sunwolves in February with games against Chiefs and Highlanders away the follow weeks.


Super Rugby Preview – Emirates Lions


LionsLions coach Johan Ackermann will be the first one to tell you that winning the Currie Cup last year does not guarantee success in Super Rugby.

The Emirates Lions however are going into this year’s Super Rugby as a team which many South African will be hoping can do one better than last year and make the play-offs this time around. A lot of buzz are around this team and it’s coaching staff as many supporters believe that they have found the “Blue Print” for South African teams in how to take our game to the next level.

Exciting youngsters with a few older hands make this team a well balance side going into this year’s competition.

Last year Ackermann’s players won nine out of 13 matches and draw one after the first three losses in the beginning of the season.

This Lions group are going into their third year together as a squad and since day one the team have been on an upward curve which their supporters will hope continue as they start 2016 season.

There are a few players to watch from this Lions side and no one more than Jaco Kriel who has shown over the past two years that he is one of the brilliant players South African rugby need to go forward. Kriel captained the Lions last year to an unbeaten season in the Currie Cup and have shown that apart from his play that he is a great leader who players look up to.

Kriel has also been included in the extended Springbok Sevens squad this season as they prepare to go to Rio.

Kriel stats also confirm that he is one of the outstanding players in South Africa as he ended the season as the best raked player in terms of turnovers and defenders beaten. Kriel is no sludge in the try scoring department either.

Another player that will be crucial to the Lions cause is their regular captain Warren Whitely. Whiteley was rewarded last year with a call-up to the Springboks as he is a hard working player that leads from the front.

The Lions captain have bragging rights of over 227 tackles last season, the most by far by any player. With Kriel and Whiteley the Lions have two great players and leaders that can pick a team up when needed.

One of the major concerns of Super Rugby has always been the length of the season and the toll injuries play on a squad. Fitness have been one of the major focus points for the top teams and this is where we have seen a massive improvement from the Lions over the last couple of years.

The Lions have a great balance in their squad and if they can build on their success of last year’s Currie Cup and the momentum they had in Super Rugby they will be one of the teams from South Africa that can make the play-offs.

Emirates Lions Squad:

New Players in:

JW Bell (Pumas)

The squad:

Andries Coetzee, JW Bell, Ruan Combrinck, Lloyd Greeff, Courtnall Skosan, Sampie Mastriet, Anthony Volmink, Koch Marx, Selom Gavor, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Stokkies Hanekom, Howard Mnisi, Harold Vorster, Lionel Mapoe, Jacques Nel, Gerdus van der Walt, Marnitz Boshoff, Jako van der Walt, Elton Jantjes, Ashlon Davids, Ross Cronjé, Faf de Klerk, Ricky Schroeder, Dillon Smit, Marco van Vuren, Warren Whiteley, Fabian Booysen, Ruaan Lerm, Jano Venter, Steph de Wit, Jaco Kriel, Derick Minnie, Warrick Tecklenburg, Ruan Ackermann, Cyle Brink, Victor Sekekete, Robert Kruger, Lourens Erasmus, MB Lusaseni, Franco Mostert, Martin Muller, JP du Preez, Andries Ferreira, Bobby de Wee, Robbie Coetzee, Malcolm Marx, Akker van der Merwe, Ramone Samuels, Jacques van Rooyen, Dylan Smith, Corné Fourie, Julian Redelinghuys, Ruan Dreyer, Justin Ackerman, Pieter Scholtz

Players no longer with Lions:

Alwyn Hollenbach (retired) Lohan Jacobs (released) Mark Pretorius (released) Mark Richards (Kings) Schalk van der Merwe (Montpellier)

2016 Fixtures for Lions:

27 February: Sunwolves (a) 5 March: Chiefs (a) 12 March: Highlanders (a) 19 March: Cheetahs (h) 25-27 March: BYE 1 April: Crusaders (h) 9 April: Sharks (a) 16 April: Stormers (h) 23 April: Kings (a) 30 April: Hurricanes (h) 6-7 May: BYE 14 May: Blues (h) 21 May: Jaguars (h) 28 May: Bulls (a) BREAK FOR JUNE TESTS 2 July: Sharks (h) 8 July: Kings (h) 16 July: Jaguars (a)




BrightRock announces DHL Stormers and WP Rugby sponsorship




Fast-growing life insurance player BrightRock today announced the signing of a three-year Official Associate Sponsorship agreement with the DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province, effective from January 2016.

The deal signals a major milestone for the company, which launched its unique needs-matched life insurance offering in 2012. BrightRock has rapidly established itself as one of the fastest-growing players in the intermediated individual life market in South Africa. The company recently announced that premium growth had grown by 80% year on year, with cover in force now exceeding the R114 billion mark and claims to the value of over R155 million paid to date. According to BrightRock executive director Suzanne Stevens, the partnership reflects the company’s strong performance to date and will help fuel the growing awareness of its brand among consumers in its target market.

Stevens commented: “We’re thrilled to be involved with two of South Africa’s most beloved rugby properties and helping to bring top-class rugby action to such a large, diverse and passionate fan base across South Africa”.

BrightRock’s involvement as a business sponsor for the DHL Western Province and DHL Stormers teams will be visible in stadium, with its logo appearing on the back of all match-day jerseys. “It’s a privilege to join head sponsor DHL and associate sponsors Land Rover and adidas on the blue-and-white jersey”.

According to Stevens, BrightRock sees the partnership as a perfect platform for its “Love Change” brand philosophy, because of the ever-changing, unpredictable nature of the game. She says that the concept of change is central to the BrightRock needs-matched insurance offering, which is dynamically able to change with clients as their needs change over their lifetime.

“Rugby, like life, is a game where the unpredictable is always a play away and can challenge even the best skill and preparation. A lucky bounce of the ball, or one critical call, can swing the game for or against you. We believe in not fearing these game-changing moments, but embracing them. By welcoming Change – in rugby or in life – we’re able to find the opportunities that it presents.”

“Our product is designed to precisely match your risk needs upfront and then it can change with you as your financial interests shift at major, life changing moments. Rugby with its odd-shaped ball that delivers that unpredictable bounce, gives us a platform to highlight the unique value BrightRock’s needs-matched life insurance has to offer with its world-first ability to adapt to our clients’ dynamic, changing lives.”

President of the Western Province Rugby Football Union Mr Thelo Wakefield added: “We are very excited to welcome BrightRock into the Western Province Rugby family. We look forward to working closely with their team and providing BrightRock with value whilst drawing on their expertise to grow and develop the game and our brands for all.”

Q&A with Robbie Coetzee


Robbie_Coetzee51Kirsty du Toit recently caught up with Professional Rugby Player, Robbie Coetzee, ahead of the much anticipated Super Rugby season.

The Lions hooker who is known for his strong ball carrying abilities, his on-field dedication and his stamina. There is no doubt that this talented player has a promising year ahead of him.

The Lions man was at hand to share about the pre-season, the season ahead and touring with the squad.

KT – Firstly, compliments of the season. Did you have a good break and what did you get up to?

RC – Thank you. I had a really good break and managed to get away Cape Town with my girlfriend .We really soaked up the amazing weather, went fishing and did the typical wine routes. During this time we were also fortunate enough to attend Marnitz Boshoff’s wedding, but mostly just enjoyed the sea and sun.

KT – Describe your pre-season preparation thus far?

RC – I must be honest in saying that pre-season is always difficult for me, and for any sportsman for that matter. It has been a good one thus far and I have put in the necessary time and effort to hopefully become the best and be in top form.

KT – How important is brotherhood within the team, and forming a close bond with your teammates?

RC – It’s always important, on and off the field. As a sportsman you spend more time with your teammates than you do with your family. This means, building that bond is vital and they become a part of your family. On the field we always have each-others’ backs and will always support one another through thick and thin.

KT – Who do you look up to most within the team, and why?

RC – It has to be Warren Whitely. He is so incredibly hard working and overall one of the most dedicated players I know. He also has such admirable leadership skills and for that, I admire him.

KT – Going forward into the new season, are you personally feeling ready and in top-shape?

RC – I don’t think I will ever be in better shape. I personally feel that there is always room for improvement, but in saying that, I am feeling really good and well rested.

KT – Travelling becomes a very tough component of your Super Rugby campaign, as you often travel for two or more weeks at a time. How do you physically and mentally prepare for that?

RC – I always focus on the goal and the task at hand. I know what is expected of me on tour and I try get as much rest as possible. I also use that time to clear my head, we also have very dedicated medical staff that look after us and gives us advice.

KT – How do you, as a player, remain positive and ensure that you always ‘back yourself’?

RC – I feel there is healthy competition, constant challenges and I always make sure that I am on the peak of my game and give off my best.

KT – What message of encouragement will you give yourself ahead of the season?

RC – Do everything you do just 1% better than last time!




Author: Kirsty du Toit is a celebrity publicist, model and rugby fan. Dabbing in writing occasionally when she is not in front of the camera or looking after our rugby stars. She is a proud Stormers and Springbok fan!

Stormers ready for Jaguares in warmup games


super-rugbyThe DHL Stormers are looking forward to testing themselves against Vodacom SupeRugby newcomers, the Jaguares, in their pre-season friendly at DHL Newlands on February 13.

The team from Argentina boasts a formidable squad which features a large number of the Pumas’ 2015 World Cup stars, and should prove a stern test for the DHL Stormers.

Tickets for the match go on sale from 12.00 on February 2, at a cost of R50 each on a first-come first-serve basis, and with the season ticket renewal process still underway season tickets will not be valid for the friendly – the first opportunity for the DHL Newlands Faithful to see their favourite players, and new signings, in action this season.

The DHL Stormers’ first pre-season friendly will be against the South Western District Eagles in George on Saturday, January 30.

DHL Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck said that the two pre-season fixtures should give the squad a good opportunity to execute what they have been working on in training.

“It has been a tough pre-season conditioning phase, so it will be good to see what sort of progress we have made when we face the Eagles and the Jaguares.

“After these two games we hope to have a clear idea of where we are, so that come the start of Vodacom SupeRugby we have a squad who are match ready.

“It will be good to go back to George where we enjoyed great support from the public on our training camp, before facing a potent Jaguares side back home at DHL Newlands.

“The Jaguares have the potential to surprise a lot of people this season, so it will be a great test for us to ensure we are ready to make a strong start to the competition,” said Fleck.

DHL Stormers fans can renew or buy new season tickets now for what will be a bumper year in 2016 with Vodacom SupeRugby, Currie Cup and a Springbok Test against Ireland to look forward to.

Season tickets can be purchased at

Q&A with RJ Liebenberg


maxresdefaultBorn in Bethlehem, educated at Truida Kestell Primary School and to Bethlehem Voortrekker High School. RJ Liebenberg takes pride in both schools for how they shaped him to be the man he is now.

They will always form part of who I am. The Friends I made and memories will always be with me. I grew up in Bethlehem, the place where my foundation was laid to who I am today.

A family man who lives close to his family. Siblings studying in Bethlehem and Bloemfontein, while parents are still at home. Engaged in December to the woman of his dreams Dane Visagie the devout Christian and now Griquas captain looks towards the new Currie Cup season as Griquas look to re-emerge as a force in South African rugby.


BC –  RJ, how are you?

RJ –  I am very well thank you. Very excited that the season will be starting soon. I have high hopes for Griquas to do well and believe in the boys and the structures we have placed here.

BC – How is pre-season going?

RJ – Pre-Season has been hard, but the atmosphere and vision the guys have is exceptional. I believe in hard work, and that is what we do here at Griquas. We work hard. We have a goal and that is what we are working towards. Conditioning wise; the guys are in great shape. Our conditioning coach Neil Murphy has been pushing the boy and putting us through our paces.

BC – You are going into a new era with the Griquas. A few years of struggle and rebuilding have ensued. How are you guys approaching the new season?

RJ – Look last year was very tough. Our focus is on the new challenges we have for 2016. Of course we have noticed mistakes we made last season and we have learned from them. We want something new, we want to create something new. As a group, moving into a new era is what excites me. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I am greatly excited about the change set to happen.

BC – What are the Griquas aiming to achieve this year as a side?

RJ – I believe it’s important to align our values and beliefs as a team. Creating our own idea of progress. We want to win, we want to be successful. And also bring pride back to Griquas Jersey. Win people’s hearts and to receive exciting and passionate support.

BC – What are your goals as a player personally?

RJ – My goals are simple. To improve from last season. To be more accurate in my decision making and in performances. My goal is to be successful in what we as a team want to achieve and move forward towards a higher standard.

BC – You played Varsity Cup Rugby a few years ago. It has evolved over the years as well. What is your take on the 9 point try experiment? Do you think initiatives like this would help sides score tries or it’s not going to develop or impact the game that much?

RJ – The initiative of creating the 9 point scoring system is definitely to challenge teams to score more tries. I think it’s great, as a younger player at Varsity Cup level I believed it should be more about enjoying and developing. It should remain the same now. Scoring tries is enjoying the game.

Just on Varsity Cup, it’s a great platform for South African rugby. I enjoyed playing there. The fact that they put so much emphasis on studying is the biggest benefit to the players.

BC – Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

RJ – Retired probably. I will be married, a father and I will likely be a working man, great father and husband.

BC – You are going to be part of an expanded Currie Cup. Do you feel it will be of any benefit to the smaller unions? What are your thoughts on the format?

RJ – Yes the expanded Currie Cup gives everyone a fair chance. Competition brings the best out of everyone. The new format basically just replaced the Vodacom Cup. There are definitely more games, translating to the season being long. The managing of players is going to be important.

BC – Tell us about the impact of Coach Peter Engeldow on the side? What type of coach is he?

RJ – Coach Peet is someone that wants to invest into the players lives not just as a rugby player but also as people.  A head coach has a huge impact just because of his title and Coach Peet believes in being positive. He has clear goals for the team and often shares them with us. He wants us to work together as a unit.

If the team does well, he does well. We are all together and that is what he stands for. I believe in our coaching staff. They have passion, vision, understanding and values.

BC – Favourite brand?

RJ – Adidas.

BC – Favourite car?

RJ – Any Ford. I work with Human Auto Ford in Kimberley and would like to give them acknowledgment. They have been good to me and the service was by far the best I have ever had.

SANZAR continues to confuse


Super Rugby

The timing of Sanzar’s proposal to change the bonus-point system as well as the proposal itself makes no rugby sense, writes JON CARDINELLI for

The new Super Rugby format stinks. Most are in agreement on that point. Indeed, if a coach as calm and level-headed as Gary Gold is publicly denouncing the new structure as absurd, what are the other bosses saying behind closed doors? If the soft-spoken Pat Lambie is having a crack at the convoluted format and nonsensical fixture list, one can only imagine how the rest of the playing fraternity feels about it.

The problems with the new format were evident from the day it was announced. As more teams have been added to the roster, there has been a move away from a structure that sees everybody playing each other once during the league phase. The latest version of Super Rugby has taken it one giant step further: half of the South African teams won’t play the New Zealand franchises during the regular season.

That alone should be reason to cry foul, to denounce this tournament as a competition without integrity. And yet a lot has transpired over the past year or so, events which suggest the new 18-team competition could be an even bigger mess and failure than anyone predicted.

The Southern Kings have been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Their financial plight has limited their development, and they have lost a number of top players. The brand-new franchise in Japan, the Sunwolves, only recently confirmed their coaching staff and playing squad.

These two teams will take a pounding in 2016. The Kings and Sunwolves’ opponents during the league stage – their group opponents in particular – will be at a considerable advantage compared to those who won’t play these teams at all. One would expect opponents to bank maximum log points against the Kings and Sunwolves.

But it doesn’t end there. Sanzar, in all its wisdom, is now pushing for a change to the bonus-point system. It’s claimed that the change will encourage more attacking rugby, as dominant teams will be motivated to play positively for 80 minutes so as to maintain a three-try gap between themselves and opponents.

However, when one looks at the proposed change closely, it’s clear that teams with a good defence will benefit. For example, if Team A can prevent Team B from scoring a single try, then they will only need to score three tries themselves in order to claim the bonus point.

The timing of the proposal is outrageous. Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has confirmed that he and his colleagues received nothing more than an email to advise them of the change. We’re just a month away from the start of the tournament, and Sanzar is proposing a change that could demand a profound shift in strategy and tactics.

Blackadder said that his team will simply ‘adapt and get on with it’. He was kind when he described the decision and process as ‘bizarre’.

Sanzar has done the teams no favours with the timing of this proposal. It will compromise the approach of those teams that have been preparing in earnest since November.

In the end, it should also impact on the quality of rugby on display, or what marketing types call ‘the product’. In 2016, the product is going to be nothing to shout about. It will be at odds with the name of the tournament.

Until such time when Sanzar comes to its senses and makes changes to strengthen rather than weaken the competition, until it moves to restore the tournament’s integrity, we may have to live with rugby that’s anything but super.


Kings signs more players


Southern-Kings-logo-whiteThe Southern Kings have confirmed a number of new signings following a week of intensive training with the SA rugby Mobi Unit…reports Sprot24

Chief Operating Officer, Charl Crous, confirmed that Pumas flank Chris Cloete, (24) and Sharks Lock John-Charles (JC) Astle (25) had been secured on loan for the season.

Following initial trials, Crous also confirmed the Southern Kings have also retained the talent of SWD utility back Leighton Eksteen (21) who has played at scrumhalf, flyhalf and fullback, as well as SWD’s Luzuko Vulindlu (28) who has played at centre and wing. Both have been secured on loan from SWD for the season.

Sharks centre Lukhanyo Am (22) has also secured a position in the squad on loan.

Crous said Sharks hooker Monde Hadebe (25) would be returning to the Sharks for rehab following a slight back sprain that will see him out of action for between four to five weeks.

Crous also confirmed hooker Martin Ferreira (26) and lock, Tazz Fuzani (25) had been secured on contract for the Southern Kings season for 2016.

“We are thankful for the support that we have received from the respective unions in making their players available to us. We are still in the process of securing additional players and will be making a few more announcements in the coming weeks,” he said.

Current Kings squad to date:

Aidon Davis, 21, No 8

Chris Cloete, 24, Flank

Cornell Hess, 26, Lock

Cyril-John Velleman, 20, Flank

Edgar Marutlulle, 27, Hooker

Elgar Watts, 30, Flyhalf

Jacobie Adriaanse, 30, Tighthead Prop

Jacques (Vleis) Engelbrecht,30, No 8

James Hall, 19, Scrumhalf

John-Charles (JC) Astle, 25, Lock

JP du Plessis, 24, Centre

Kevin Luiters, 23, Scrumhalf

Leighton Eksteen,21, Scrumhalf, Flyhalf, Fullback

Louis Fouche, 25, Flyhalf

Lukhanyo Am, 22, Centre

Luzuko Vulindlu, 28, Centre/Wing

Malcolm Jaer, 20, Fullback

Martin Ferreira, 26, Hooker

Schalk Ferreira, 31, Prop

Schalk Oelofse, 27, Lock

Shane Gates, 23, Flyhalf

Sipato Junior Pokomela, 19, No 8

Siyanda Grey, 26, Wing/Centre

Stefan Watermeyer, 27, Centre

Stefan Willemse, 23, Flank

Steven Sykes, 31, Lock

Tazz Fuzani, 25, Lock

Thembelani Bholi, 25, Flank

Tom Botha, 25, Prop

Tyler Paul, 20, Lock/Flank

New bonus point system for Super Rugby


Referee - Cartoon 2There are a few new regulations this year for Super Rugby teams to adapt to0, and one of the most significant changes comes with the bonus point system.

SANZAR will use a different try-scoring bonus point system for the 2016 season of Super Rugby which will see a team to have scored more than three tries to get a try-scoring bonus point. The system is also being used in the Top 14 already.

So, if a team score two tries, the other team will have to score five tries to earn a bonus point where in the past teams just had to score four tries to earn this try-scoring bonus point. In some other changes for 2016, the referee’s microphone will be connected to the stadium sound system, so that that supporters in the stadium can hear his explanations for his decisions.

Referees will also not be allowed to use TMO for forward passes and knock-ons and can only use the TMO for acts of scoring a try and foul play


Super Rugby Preview – DHL Stormers


Stormers-with-DHLThe DHL Stormers will be looking to prove a point during the 2016 Super Rugby competition.

The Cape franchise is still wiping egg from its face after the Eddie Jones debacle, Jones was announced as head coach with much fanfare and backslapping only to vacate his office after spending two weeks in Cape Town. Gert Smal, with a grand vision for his team then tried to secure the services of John Mitchell only to be blocked by the infamous Cape Administration and Robbie Fleck now has the hot seat although it is on an interim basis.

The Stormers management team, and squad as a whole has a largely inexperienced feel to it, Fleck has been making the right noises about playing style and ambition but whether the group has the ability to execute remains to be seen. The playing group has lost the massively influential figures of Duane Vermuelen and Jean de Villiers , while exciting backs Juan de Jongh and Cheslyn Kolbe will be away on 7’s duty.

Smal has managed to bolster his sides ranks with some quality , notable signings are the exciting (albeit injury prone) Pieter Steph du Toit and JC Janse van Rensburg while Jano Vermaak will be looked at to bring some experience to the  9 position and Cornal Hendricks will be expected to score a few tries.

Damian de Allende will be looking to build on an impressive 2015, there has been some mutterings of an injury sustained while plying his trade in Japan,  news on this front hasn’t been forthcoming and it is likely he will be missing at least 4 of the seasons opening fixtures, Robbie Fleck will then have to call on Jaco Taute to plug that gap as his other options are extremely shy on top flight midfield experience, allowing Jean de Villiers to leave for Leicester may not have been the best of ideas when looking at the backline roster.

Robbie Fleck has been talking about an inclusive coaching culture at the Stormers , and a successful season will depend a lot on all coaches performing at an optimum for the duration of the season. Much is made of the coaching trio’s lack of experience (Fleck has only held head coaching reigns at U21 level, Winter , Vodacom Cup and Treu comes from a 7’s background) but Gert Smal is looming large in the background and will no doubt have more influence than is being admitted to the media. The Cape side has a favourable draw for a side so clearly going through a transition from Allister Coetzee’s defence based game to the proposed “WP Rugby”  game plan, they do not face any New Zealand sides in the pool stages and will hope to capitalise on this bit of good fortune.

Get all the Super Rugby Fixtures here

If you still wonderi9ng how the new format is going to work, look here to see who the Stormers will play in the new Super Rugby format

Written by: Clayton Saville


Another Springbok comes back injured from Japan


Handre_Pollard_Bulls_SR_training_2014_Lee_Warren_Gallo_Images_620_395_s_c1_top_topNot too long ago we heard that Western Province and Stormers star Damien De Allende got injured while playing in Japan, and news broke this week that another Springbok youngster is also on the side-line.

Bulls and Springbok fly-half Handre Pollard is now likely also going to miss the start of the Super Rugby season after returning from his short stint in Japan. The Springbok sustained the problem while playing for Japanese club NTT Doccomo, and now it is a waiting game for Bulls coach Nollis to see how serious the injury is.

The fact remains that players and coaches are complaining time and time again of the amount of rugby they play during the year, especially the top players in your country, but then clubs and unions allow players like De Allende and Pollard to go after a World Cup and play in Japan. Surely our unions and SARU needs to start looking after our young top players as the norm these days are burnout players.

Clearly Nollis are a worried man at this stage, “Handré is a bit of a concern at the moment, we will have a discussion with his specialist and see what the route forward is,” he told Supersport. We need to decide how serious it is – is it only a two week rehab or is it more serious. I’m waiting for Thys de Beer to give me a call regarding the shoulder.”

He added on his back-up options: “It is a major concern for us, but luckily we brought in Francois Brummer last year because I knew if something like this happens, we will have a bit of a problem. “Tiaan (Schoeman) is also coming back from injury, he will be on the field next week. He had that meniscus injury so it just basically a last week of rehab that is left before he can play again.”

The Bulls begin their Super Rugby campaign on Saturday, February 27 against the Stormers at Newlands

Lancaster at Stormers training


Stuart-LancasterspeaksRumors started this morning that former England coach Stuart Lancaster could be heading to the Stormers after local media spotted the English coach at a Stormers training session.

It seems that supporters and media in the province are almost desperate to find a international coach after first, Eddie Jones resigned after just a week at the Stormers last year to take over the England job and then the highly rated John Mitchell was overlooked by Western Province President, before announcing that inexperience Fleck will take charge of the Stormers this year.

Mitchell have taken up the position and head coach for the USA in the meantime.

Some supporters are very unhappy about the way the Mitchell debacle was handled by not just Wakefield, but also the interference of Hoskins and De Klerk in the decision not to appoint the New Zealand coach to replace Jones, left a sour taste for some fans.

The Stormers confirmed that Lancaster did spend the day at WP Rugby High Performance Centre (HPC) in Bellville on Monday, but only came to look at the setup on his own request and would is going to Australia and New Zealand to do the same.

Lancaster has made known his interest of working in Super Rugby after stepping down as England boss last year following the Rugby World Cup, so Stormers fans can still hope if any.




Shocking development as SA Rugby’s turkeys again vote against Christmas




Written by Rob Otto (robdylan) 


DHL Stormers getting things done in Wilderness


Robbie_Fleck_Stormers_Carl_Fourie_Gallo_Images_620_395_s_c1_top_topThe DHL Stormers have been gearing up for the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby season on a training camp in Wilderness and George this week.

The 38-man training squad travelled from Cape Town on Tuesday, and embarked on a teambuilding exercise on Wednesday that saw them kloofing down the Kaaiman’s Gorge for six hours before ending on Wilderness beach.

On Thursday it was down to business as the squad trained at a wet Outeniqua Park in George, with plenty of local supporters turning up despite the weather to watch the coaching staff put the players through their paces.

Friday will see the players train at Outeniqua Park again before returning to Cape Town on Saturday morning.

Head Coach Robbie Fleck said that it has been good to change things up after a number of successful pre-season camps in Hermanus.

“We wanted to come to Wilderness for a bit of a change of scenery, we felt that it was a new team, new management and a new campaign.

“Hermanus was really good to us and we had some good campaigns in the past, but we felt we needed a change of scenery so we moved on to Wilderness,” he told

Fleck explained that on top of the important work the squad has put in to build on what they achieved in the off-season, the camp has been crucial in developing a positive team culture.

“The purpose of the camp has been to build on what we started in November, we have put a major focus on our conditioning and the way we want to play but it also gives us an opportunity to build on our culture and a bit of teambuilding as well.

“The guys went up in the mountains and down the river on a few teambuilding exercises and it was fantastic,” he said.

Another positive from the camp has been that it has given the new coaching group a chance to make their mark as a collective under Fleck’s guidance.

“It is a new coaching group and we have had to knuckle down fairly quickly and get stuck into it.

“We really want to embark on a coaching collective where we spread the workload. It allows the senior coaches to focus on certain areas that we need to get done immediately.

“There is a large group of 38 players here, and there are about eight coaches who are continously working with them on a one-on-one, a unit and a team basis,” said Fleck.

The DHL Stormers head coach added that he is relishing the challenge of taking the reins in the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby season, with the full support of both the players and the coaching staff for his vision for the team.

“We are into the thick of things and it has been great, the support of the rest of the coaches and the players has been fantastic and the guys are keen so I am really enjoying it.

“The coaching collective has made a huge difference and has made my job easier, and so has the buy-in from the players,” he said.

Gold Slams new Super Rugby format


Gary-gold-251x300Sharks Director of Rugby Gary Gold has slammed the 18 team Super Rugby format saying that it is not an even playing field for teams.

Gold’s Sharks team have been drawn in the Africa 2 Conference in the South African Group so they will play all of the New Zealand teams but none of the Australian teams.

In comparison the Stormers are in Africa 1 and they will play all of the Australian teams but none of the New Zealand teams.

If the New Zealand teams retain their form from 2015 the Sharks be in for a tough time. On the positive side the Sharks do get play two (Kings and Jaguars) of the three new teams while the Stormers get to play one (Sunwolves).

Super Rugby’s organizers does not look fondly on team officials knocking their tournament so Gold was careful with his words but while some parts of the format are “absurd” they will just have to accept the format.

“The only thing I will say about it is that when you play sports at the highest level, all you really want is a level playing field and this competition does not provide you with that,” said Gold

“It is a little bit absurd, but in saying that it is what it is and there are some exciting things.”

Gold is also not terribly fond of the Sharks’ draw in the middle of the season as the Sharks will tour New Zealand and play the Blues, Highlanders and Chiefs and then jump back on the plane to Durban where they will host the Hurricanes. Once that group of New Zealand teams has been completed the Sharks fly out to Argentina to play the Jaguars – all without a bye.

“I don’t think you understand the toll it has on the bodies when you fly east to west, recover from jet-lag, play a game and then fly east to west again for another game.

“We have to plan for that and we are going to plan for that. It’s a big challenge, but next year will be a different kettle of fish. “

“Next year we will play the Australian group and we will have eight games at home and seven games away – next year we will be sitting where the other guys are,” Gold told Rugby365.

If history repeats itself the three new teams will struggle in their debut season but Gold says that the Jaguars could challenge for the title this year.

“The Japanese team is going to be slightly different because it is not going to be their full national team,” said Gold.

“The Argentinian team I think will have about 12 guys who played in the World Cup. They are going to be ferocious. That is going to be a proper rugby team. “

“They are well-drilled and Augustin Creevy is a fantastic captain and they got a good coaching staff. They are going to be formidable. They are going to shock some people and I think they are going to be potential contenders.

“I’m not sure the Sunwolves are going to be that formidable at this moment in time, only because of the lateness of the planning, but we will see how the competition progress.”

The Sharks begin their Super Rugby season on Saturday 27 February in Port Elizabeth against the Southern Kings.


Waratahs looking at signing Japan-based flyhalf


Waratahs_logo.svgThe Waratahs are understood to be close to signing another fly-half as cover for Wallabies playmaker Bernard Foley.

Foley is currently playing in Japan for the Ricoh Black Rams which is permitted under his current flexible ARU contract and has missed the Waratahs pre-season.

While 26-year-old Foley is expected to re-join the Waratahs next month former Melbourne Rebels fly-half Bryce Hegarty is understood to be the favourite is available to join the Waratahs once his commitments in Japan are complete.

Hegarty has already signed to play for Norths in the Shute Shield competition so he will return to Australia later this year anyway and is familiar with Super Rugby.

The Waratahs announced on Monday that No 8 Wycliff Palu will play for them again this season and his return means that there is just one place left in the squad.

New Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson told FoxSports that he expects to name the new Number 10 next week,.

“Without our two fly-halves, Bernard Foley and another returning from Japan, we’re without a real playmaker there and so we’re filling in at the moment. Once Bernard comes back we’ll be a far more complete side,” Gibson said.

“Given the make-up of our squad we’re really quite short of an understudy to Bernard Foley and we’re looking at a number of options.

“Hopefully that will be named in the next week.

“Internationally, we really want someone who’s just a solid, good all-rounder.”

Another potential candidate is former Waratah Berrick Barnes, who left the side in 2013 and at just 29 years old he could still re-ignite his Test career and add to his 51 Wallabies test caps.

Sam Norton-Knight and former NRL star Craig Wing are also being considered.

The need for a back up 10 comes as Foley played a full Super Rugby season and then went on to the Rugby Championship and the World Cup.

After that he has been playing in Japan so has had little rest time and players who fail to take a break often break down mi-season.

The Japanese season ends almost a month before Super Rugby starts but the Waratahs have a tough pre-season planned and Gibson is concerned about Foley playing back-to-back seasons without a break.

“It’s a concern,” Gibson said.

“Anyone who plays season-to-season will know that it is difficult.

“Certainly it’s something that I’m very mindful of. The fact that he has to go another 12 months of playing, and until he gets back we won’t know what sort of condition he is in and it would be nice to have a luxury where we could actually pull him out of rugby for a little bit.”

In other news Wallabies fullback Israel Folau has had surgery in the off-season on his ankle and will return to running next week and appears to be on track for the opening weekend of Super Rugby.

Jaguares ready to go….




With so much expectations surrounding the Argentina Super Rugby team the Jaguares, coach Raul Perez and his team cannot wait to get it all started.

With a most successful 2015 for the National team, Argentina announced there new Super Rugby teams name and logo in December which showcase an impressive squad of international players. The coach and players alike are glad to finally get the chance to work together and build up to the Super Rugby season.

We’ve been anxious to get started,” Pérez told the UAR website.”We’re with a group that know each other well, who have been working together for two years. Just like with the beginning of any process there’s a lot of expectation, especially when you think about the size of the tournament and how us joining Super Rugby has given us the level of competition we wanted.”

The players ended last year on a real high so there’s also a lot of expectation.”

Pérez revealed that closer attention on the side’s structures would come after the end of their physical preparations, which are well underway.

In the first few weeks there will be a lot of physical work, but not without working on in-game situations so that when it comes down to it the players are ready for anything,” he said. “Then we’ll have more of a chance to work together on our structures in attack and defence.”

Super Rugby’s played at a much higher intensity than at other levels and we’re prepared for that. We have an excellent staff to help us prepare for it in the best way.”

The Jaguares will make their debut in the Southern Hemisphere elite competition this year along with a team from Japan, The Sunwolves.


Mark Hammett confirmed as Sunwolves coach


Mark Hammett is confirmed to be making a return to Super Rugby.

Mark Hammett, pictured in his role with the Cardiff Blues. Photo / Getty

Mark Hammett, pictured in his role with the Cardiff Blues. Photo / Getty

The former Hurricanes coach has this afternoon been unveiled as the head coach for the new Japanese Super Rugby side, the Sunwolves.

The 43 year-old will take the reigns of a squad of 34 players that includes 15 with Test experience and 10 of the Japan squad that took the world by storm at the recent Rugby World Cup.

The debut Sunwolves squad also includes former Hurricanes first-five and Samoan standout Tusi Pusi and ex-Blues lock Liaki Moli, as well as Bay Of Plenty lock Tim Bond and former Northland centre Derek Carpenter.

Hammett coached the Hurricanes from 2011-2014, compiling a record of 29 wins, two draws and 33 losses, before joining the Cardiff Blues as their Director of Rugby.

However, six months into a three year contract, he was released at his request to return home to New Zealand.

The former All Blacks hooker has also signed on as an assistant coach for the Tasman Makos in the 2016 National Provincial Championship – a role which is unlikely to clash with the Sunwolves role, as the Sunwolves are a big outside shot to make the Super Rugby playoffs.

Meanwhile, Super Rugby title-winning coach Jamie Joseph is reported to have agreed to coach the Japan national side, replacing new England boss Eddie Jones.

His hiring is expected to be officially revealed later in the week.


NZ Herald

Only ONE change to Lions SR squad from 2016


If continuity is important the Lions ha’ goddit for 2016.


WP Rugby confirm Jones departure


Western Province Rugby has agreed terms with the Rugby Football Union which will see Eddie Jones depart to take on an international coaching post with England.


SANZAR asks Japan for assurances on Super team


Melbourne – SANZAR has written to the Japan Rugby Football Union seeking clarity about the players signed to the new Super Rugby franchise amid concerns about the team’s participation in the southern hemisphere provincial competition….By: Sport24


Japan beat off a bid from Singapore to enter a team into the expanded 18-side tournament next year but local media have cast doubts on the side’s ability to compete.

JRFU general secretary Noriyuki Sakamoto shot down reports over the weekend that only a handful of players had been signed, saying the team had already met the quota given to them by SANZAR.

But Brendan Morris, acting chief executive of SANZAR, the tournament’s governing body, said he had asked for more details.

“We’re proposing they compete in the toughest rugby competition in the world so I’ve written to them asking for clarification of who they’ve signed,” Morris told The Australian newspaper.

Japan are yet to name a coach or even pick a name for the team some six months out from the new Super Rugby season, which will also field an Argentine side for the first time.

Sakamoto told Kyodo News on Saturday that the search for a coach had been delayed by the need to find a new national coach, with Australian Eddie Jones to step down after the World Cup.

Lima Sopoaga to debut for All blacks


All Blacks_1


The team is:

1. Tony Woodcock (112)
2. Dane Coles (27)
3. Owen Franks (69)
4. Brodie Retallick (38)
5. James Broadhurst
6. Liam Messam (41)
7. Richie McCaw – captain (139)
8. Kieran Read (74)
9. Aaron Smith (38)
10. Lima Sopoaga
11. Charles Piutau (16)
12. Ma’a Nonu (95)
13. Conrad Smith (85)
14. Ben Smith (38)
15. Israel Dagg (48)


16. Codie Taylor (1)
17. Wyatt Crockett (38)
18. Ben Franks (41)
19. Samuel Whitelock (63)
20. Victor Vito (26)
21. TJ Perenara (12)
22. Beauden Barrett (28)
23. Malakai Fekitoa (8)

Sopoaga comes in for Daniel Carter at first five-eighths and Broadhurst takes over from Luke Romano. In other changes in the starting XV, Dane Coles comes in at hooker with Liam Messam at blindside flanker. In the backs, Aaron Smith returns to the starting halfback position, while the world-record midfield combo of Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith is back. As well, with a desire to continue to give Israel Dagg more game time, Ben Smith is named on the right wing.
Ben Smith has shown his potency anywhere in the back three with an impressive stint at win two season ago when he was top try scorer. There is no doubt his best position is full back but such is the mix and quality the New Zealanders have.

On the bench, Ben Franks comes in as reserve prop alongside Wyatt Crockett, Codie Taylor retains the reserve hooker jersey, Sam Whitelock is reserve lock, with Victor Vito covering the loose forwards. TJ Perenara is reserve halfback, with Beauden Barrett and Malakai Fekitoa the other back reserves.

Broadhurst and Sopoaga will be surrounded by a wealth of not just quality but experience. The two impressed in the Super Rugby and will be surrounded by a total of 500 caps. (327- starting XV and 217 on the bench). It is a moment of not just opportunity for Lima Sopoaga who made the squad not just because of his quality but the injury to Aaron Cruden made it the more easier.

Wallabies down to 31!



Michael Cheika has cut down his squad to 31 players. The Wallabies had assembled as a 40 man squad but with a clash against the Springboks coming up the squad has been trimmed. While the players will remain in the group it sees some surprise omissions including Christian Leali’ifano and Wycliff Palu. Dave Dennis, Samu Kerevi, James Hanson, Tetera Faulkner, Toby Smith, Henry Speight and Nic White have been omitted.

Cheika did mention that it was tough making the calls and stressed that he was looking to manage the squad’s workload. Drew Mitchell and Matt Giteau have made the squad and you will likely see Rory Arnold and Taqele Naiyaravoro make their debuts against the Springboks.

The squad: Rory Arnold (Brumbies)*
Adam Ashley-Cooper (Waratahs)
Kurtley Beale (Waratahs)
Quade Cooper (Reds)
Scott Fardy (Brumbies)
Israel Folau (Waratahs)
Bernard Foley (Waratahs)
Will Genia (Reds)
Matt Giteau (Toulon)
Scott Higginbotham (Rebels)
Greg Holmes (Reds)
Michael Hooper (Waratahs)
Rob Horne (Waratahs)
James Horwill (Reds)
Sekope Kepu (Waratahs)
Tevita Kuridrani (Brumbies)
Stephen Moore – Captain (Brumbies)
Drew Mitchell (Toulon)
Ben McCalman (Force)
Sean McMahon (Rebels)
Dean Mumm (Waratahs)
Taqele Naiyaravoro (Waratahs)*
Nick Phipps (Waratahs)
David Pocock (Brumbies)
Tatafu Polota-Nau (Waratahs)
Scott Sio (Brumbies)
Rob Simmons (Reds)
Will Skelton (Waratahs)
James Slipper (Reds)
Matt Toomua (Brumbies)
Joe Tomane (Brumbies)

*denotes new cap

Highlanders Champions 2015 Super Rugby


The curtain of the 2015 Super Rugby season ended with one of the best finals we ever witness with the Highlanders crowed the Champions after beating the highly rated Hurricanes 21-14.



By: Jacques Nortier



Any person not sitting on the edge of their seats during the 80 min of this final have no idea of what this game is all about. If any team needs to want to know how this game is supposed to be played at this level then just watch this final.

Photo /Getty
Photo /Getty

The game started and ended with the same insane speed and commitment from both teams as it ended 80 minutes later. The ability from all players on attack and defense was just plain brilliant. In the first half there was only about 4 scrums which tells you a lot on the handling from both teams.

The game was up for grabs up and until the final minute with both teams giving it all.

One need to give a lot of credit to referee Jaco Peyper for the way he allow this to be one of the most exciting and special finals we have seen for a long time. He allowed the players to play there advantage and kept the game flowing throughout the game.

There was not one incident in the match which you can point a finger at the referee, which was a lovely change with all the horrible referee and TMO decisions we had to witness this season.

The second half try by Naholo helped the Highlanders win there maiden Super Rugby title and they were the team of the day and deserve everything after such a performance.

The Hurricanes will have nightmares of the ball that was spilled by Savea over the line which would have change the flow of the game.

Elliot Dixon deserve the man of the match as he was all over the field and his powerful runs put the Highlanders on the front foot for most of the game. His try on the stroke of halftime must have been the moment of the match and gave the Highlanders the space to play in the second half and kept the Hurricanes to chase the game.

The turnaround of the Highlanders is actually an amazing story as they ended 13th in the competition two years back to come and win one of the most exciting championships we have seen for a long time.

This was the first all-New Zealand final since 2006 and maybe a good omen for All Black rugby as 4 of their five teams actually were in the top six after the regular season if one look at the log points gathered during the season.

Both teams can be happy with the season and it was one of those games that you feel sorry that there can only be one winner, but at the end the Hurricanes had to end their brilliant season with looking at the Highlanders lifting the trophy.

This will be a final that will be remembered and one that will not be easily surpassed by any team soon.

Highlanders are the 2015 Super Rugby Champions and deservedly so.

Photo /Getty
Photo /Getty


For the Hurricanes:
Pens: Barrett 3

For the Highlanders:
Dixon, Naholo
Con: Sopoaga
Pens: Sopoaga 2
Drop Goal: Banks


Can we put another team in Super Rugby?


Super Rugby 2015 is nearing the end of yet another season which will also see the end of the current structure with three more teams added in next year’s competition.



By: Jacques Nortier



Supporters are worried about the extra team that will be competing next year from South Africa and with so many players leaving South Africa to play in Europe or Japan many are worried that we will not be able to field a strong enough team with the Kings next year.

The first the question we need to ask though are South African teams (who failed to get a team into the semi and only on in the top 6) really that poor, or are we just seeing a competition where the top 8 teams are close together when it comes to form?

Let’s look at the final stand of teams on the table after sixteen rounds.

Only the Hurricanes from New Zealand stand out from the rest of the teams on winning and losing games during the season, with fourteen wins and only two losses. The Waratahs who ended second overall and the Highlanders who ended fourth both had 11 wins with 5 losses.

The Stormers finish third ended up with ten wins five loses and one draw. The Chiefs had also ten wins with 6 losses and ended fifth on the log. The last team that qualified for the play-offs ended with nine wins and seven loses, this was the same as the Crusaders and the Lions who missed out on a play-off spot with the only difference of the Lions having only had six losses with one draw.

The Bulls, Rebels and Sharks all had seven wins and nine losses in their regular season.

Between the second team on the log (Waratahs) and the eighth team (Lions) there is only a difference of two extra losses by the Lions. The difference of course between any team’s position on the log have been the bonus points that they got for either four tries scored or losing within seven points.

Except for the Hurricanes who was by far the best team in the competition, any team from second on the log to eleventh could have been playing in the play-offs which means they are actually closer than many would want to believe.

Now looking towards next year were the Kings will join the likes of the Stormers, Lions, Bulls, Sharks and Cheetahs in the competition we started to think if we have enough players to supply these teams?

The answer is yes we do, if one look at the structures that we have in place and the feeding competitions we have that supply South African teams with new young talent. With the constant supply of players from the Varsity Cup and the great support SARU has put on our club system we have so many undiscovered talent in our country that just need the opportunity to show that they can make the step-up.

Supporters are quick to point to New Zealand and Australians who give many of their youngster’s opportunities in Super Rugby and it is about time we change our own conservative approach and see what these guys can do at the top level.

We are hearing great noises being made about our club system and developing the talent in our so called smaller unions who are playing in the Currie Cup first division. A healthy junior and club structure will ensure a constant supply of talented players to the unions and give them the opportunity for the step up to professional rugby.

Another aspect that has been working in the past few years which many of the Super Rugby franchises have used is the loaned player system from non-Super Rugby teams. A greater working relationship between all the unions in South Africa will ensure that we can tap more into this pool of players that can develop in superstars if given the change.

The success of six competitive teams in South African conference will depend on the cooperation between all our unions clubs and SARU which is possible if we all work towards the same goal in making South African rugby strong.