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Bismarck du Plessis

Bismarck du Plessis

The Cell C Sharks third round Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld proved to be a very physical encounter that was contested passionately by the respective teams on the day.

During the match there was an off the ball incident that took place involving Bismarck du Plessis and Victor Matfield. On reflection after the match, Bismarck realised that he acted inappropriately with his choice of language used and would like to apologise for his behaviour.

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Keven Mealamu

Keven Mealamu

Inspirational Blues and All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu will establish a new Super Rugby record in Saturday’s clash with the Lions in Albany.

Mealamu has been named in the Auckland-based team’s starting line-up which will be his 163rd appearance in Super Rugby. This will make him the all-time leader in Super Rugby, a mark he currently shares with retired former Reds, Force and Wallabies lock Nathan Sharpe.

It is the first game of the season for Mealamu who made his debut in 2000.

“Congratulations on becoming the most experienced player in Super Rugby history,” said SANZAR Chief Executive, Greg Peters.

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Karmichael Hunt

Karmichael Hunt

Karmichael Hunt today pleaded guilty at Southport Magistrates Court to four counts of possession of a prohibited drug. He was fined $ 2 500.00 and no conviction was recorded.

As a result, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) today suspended Karmichael Hunt for six weeks and fined him $ 30 000.00.

Karmichael has accepted these penalties despite being contracted to another code during the time in question.

As such, the ARU, QRU and the Rugby Union Players’ Association (RUPA) have determined that in accordance with the ARU’s Illicit Drugs Policy, he will also undergo a drug treatment and rehabilitation program and will be placed on a monitored and targeted drug testing program.

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Rugby World Cup 2023The South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Wednesday confirmed its interest in bidding for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, following the announcement of the tender process by World Rugby.

Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU, reaffirmed the union’s commitment to bring the tournament back to South Africa, on the proviso of the approval of SASCOC – SA’s national Olympic Committee – and support of national government.

“We definitely expect to be bidding to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup – as we have for the past 3 tournaments,” said Roux.

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Danie Poolman

Danie Poolman

Connacht and the Irish Rugby Football Union revealed that 25-year-old back Danie Poolman has signed a new deal that will keep him at the Sportsground until at least 2017.

Poolman joined Connacht in 2012 from South African franchise the Stormers and since then the former Paul Roos schoolboy from Pretoria has established himself as a key component in Connacht’s backline.

Poolman’s attacking prowess has come to the fore again this season with seven tries making him the province’s top try scorer so far this season.

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Rory Kockott

Rory Kockott

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre on Thursday called up prop Nicolas Mas, scrumhalf Rory Kockott and centre Maxime Mermoz for his 30-strong squad to prepare for the Six Nations match against Italy.

The French were left reeling last weekend when they lost 13 / 20 to Wales at the Stade de France – ending any hopes they had of winning this year’s tournament.

Saint-Andre subsequently launched a bitter attack on his players saying that some of them were “prima-donnas” who failed to live up to their responsibilities on the field.

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Schalk Burger

Schalk Burger

Eben Etzebeth and Schalk Burger have both been named in the DHL Stormers’ 23-man squad for Saturday’s all-South African Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Sharks at DHL Newlands (kick-off 19:10 SA Time, 17:10 GMT).

Etzebeth picked up a chest injury during pre-season action in late January and will make his first competitive appearance for the DHL Stormers since July 2013, whilst Burger, named on the bench, is back in the selection mix after returning from his club rugby commitments in Japan.

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Johannes 'Boom' Prinsloo

Johannes ‘Boom’ Prinsloo

The Cheetahs have made 1 change to the team that beat the Blues last weekend with Springbok Sevens star Johannes Prinsloo starting on the flank against the Bulls.

Prinsloo, who has made a big impact coming off the bench in the Cheetahs’ 2 games against the Sharks and Blues thus far, gets his shot due to an injury to No 8 Willie Britz.

Coach Naka Drotske has moved Jean Cook into the vancant No 8 position and put Prinsloo onto the side of the scrum.

The only other change comes on the bench where former Sharks and Southern Kings lock Steven Sykes enters the matchday-23.

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Willem Alberts

Willem Alberts

JP Pietersen

JP Pietersen

Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn

 

The Cell C Sharks have been boosted by the return of Springboks Frans Steyn and JP Pietersen from Japan, as well as flank Willem Alberts from a hamstring injury.

Both Japanese-based backs were spotted training with the Sharks on Monday after their respective teams were eliminated from the league in Japan.

Meanwhile, barn-storming loose forward Alberts has been training with the squad for sometime now and is finally in contention for selection as the Sharks prepare to travel to Cape Town to take on the undefeated Stormers.

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Martin Castrogiovanni

Martin Castrogiovanni

Prop Martin Castrogiovanni, ruled out of Italy’s win over Scotland at the weekend because of a dog bite, has been dropped for the Six Nations matches against France and Wales.

Castrogiovanni, who needed 14 stitches after being bitten on the nose by a friend’s dog, was not in the 30-man squad named by coach Jacques Brunel on Tuesday and did not figure among the players who were listed as excluded through injury.

Versatile back Andrea Masi, who missed the Scotland game, and lock Quintin Geldenhuys, still to make his first appearance in the championship because of a knee injury, were recalled.

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Arno Botha

Arno Botha

Vodacom Bulls loose forward Arno Botha will return to training next week after recovering well from a pectoral muscle tear, but flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter could be on the side-lines for another week.

According to Vodacom Bulls team doctor Org Strauss, Botha will train next Monday and Potgieter, who picked up a hamstring injury last week, will be assessed then. Potgieter was a late withdrawal from the Bulls team that won against the Cell C Sharks on the weekend and could be out of action for 2 weeks.

No one picked up any injuries in that win, although Francois Hougaard, Deon Stegmann and Lappies Labuschagne only trained on Tuesday, due to light niggles.

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Rene Ranger

Rene Ranger

Explosive attacking back Rene Ranger is to return to the Blues next season and will be available to play for North Harbour in the ITM Cup this year.

The 28-year-old has gained an early release from his contract with French club Montpellier after 2 seasons.

Ranger scored 25 tries in his 65 Super Rugby caps for the Blues, enjoying 6 caps for the All Blacks. He has become a fan favourite with Jake White’s Montpellier side, scoring 6 tries in his first 15 games and helping the team enjoy a strong season in the European Club Championships this year.

He said his return to New Zealand is primarily for family reasons.

“Family comes first and that is the big motivator to return. I want to be able to help my mom more,” Ranger said.

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Robbie Fruean

Robbie Fruean

Robbie Fruean’s Super Rugby campaign is almost certainly over folliwing surgery on Monday to have a steel plate inserted in his fractured arm after injuring it in his side’s loss to the Chiefs last weekend.

The timeframe for recovery from this type of injury is usually around 4 – 5 months, which would mean an early July return in a best-case scenario.

Crusaders Head Coach Todd Blackadder said the entire team was feeling for Robbie and sending him their best wishes for a speedy recovery.

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Super RugbyThe Toyota Cheetahs, Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers were victorious in 3 terrific Vodacom Super Rugby matches, as the competition really took off in the 3rd Round.

On Friday evening, the Toyota Cheetahs sneaked home against the Blues in Bloemfontein, winning their 2nd match of the season by 25 / 24 to remain 1 of only 4 unbeaten teams in 2015.

Saturday saw 2 local derbies of the highest calibre, with Test-like intensity. Mirrroing the encounter in Bloemfontein, the results of both these matches were in the balance right until the end.

The Vodacom Bulls prodcued their maiden win of the season when they beat the Cell C Sharks by 43 / 35 in a superb match in Pretoria. Then the DHL Stormers clocked their 3rd win from 3 matches when they beat the Emirates Lions by 22 / 19 in Johannesburg.

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Varsity CupA 21 / 16 victory over FNB Maties in Bloemfontein saw FNB UFS-Shimlas move to the Top of the FNB Varsity Cup standings on Monday.

The Free State side is the only team in the tournament still unbeaten after 4 Rounds of action, while 3-time champions Maties is still looking for their 1st win.

The match was deadlocked at 16 / 16 at halftime, and UFS-Shimlas replacement Daniel Maartens scored the only try of the 2nd half to secure a tough win for the home team and pile more misery on Maties who find themselves in unfamiliar territory in 6th place.

FNB UP-Tuks suffered their 1st defeat of the season against FNB NWU-Pukke in Potchefstroom, but secured 2 bonus points which sees them hold on to 2nd place ahead of FNB UJ who notched an impressive 42 / 13 win against FNB NMMU in Port Elizabeth.

The dramatic 42 / 37 win over UP-Tuks saw NWU-Pukke claim 4th place, just 1 Log point ahead of FNB UCT who scored 12 tries on their way to a 90 / 8 victory over newcomers FNB UCT.

Both teams scored 5 tries in a pulsating game in Potchefstroom, which went right down to the wire before being clinched in the dying stages with a try from NWU-Pukke flank Marno Redelinghuys, who had claimed a clever cross-kick from flyhalf Jonny Welthagen.

In Port Elizabeth UJ ran away with it in the 2nd half, eventually outscoring the Madibaz by 6 tries to 2, while it was one-way traffic from start to finish on the Green Mile where defending champions UCT were merciless in their demolition of the CUT Ixias.

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Wiaan Liebenberg

Wiaan Liebenberg

Montpellier coach Jake White has his sights set on luring young Blue Bulls loose forward Wiaan Liebenberg to France.

The 22-year-old former Baby Bok captain is currently not in the Bulls’ Super Rugby plans – which makes a move to France very likely.

Loose forwards like Lappies Labuschagne, Pierre Spies, Arno Botha, Deon Stegmann and his brother Hanro are ahead of Liebenberg in the pecking order at the Bulls.

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Os du Randt

Os du Randt

Japanese club Toyota Verblitz is believed to be after the services Cheetahs forwards coach Os du Randt.

According to reports, there’s already been informal talks between the club and Du Randt but no contract has been discussed.

New Zealander Filo Tiatia coached Toyota Verblitz this past season, while Springbok and Sharks flank Jean Deysel also plays for them.

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Brent Janse van Rensburg

Brent Janse van Rensburg

The EP Kings have lured Brent Janse van Rensburg from the Golden Lions to replace Omar Mouneimne, as defense coach in Port Elizabeth.

Janse van Rensburg, a former NMMU Madibaz head coach, was released from his current contract by the GLRU following personal reasons.

“Brent approached us and asked us if he could be released from his contract for personal reasons, and he wished to return to Nelson Mandela Bay,” said CEO of the Golden Lions, Rudolf Straeuli.

Straeuli said he wished Janse van Rensburg all the best for his future.

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Tom Taylor

Tom Taylor

Canterbury and Crusaders back, Tom Taylor, has announced he will move to France to play for the Bayonne Club at the end of this year.

Taylor says it’s been a tough decision to leave, but it is a great opportunity for him and he is looking forward to the next chapter of his career.

“I have absolutely loved my time here at Canterbury and the Crusaders, especially being a Christchurch boy.

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Morgan Parra

Morgan Parra

France have been hit by an injury crisis with scrumhalf Morgan Parra and backs Wesley Fofana and Remi Lamerat ruled out Monday for the rest of the Six Nations campaign.

Parra will miss the rest of the Six Nations after being ruled out for at least 10 weeks with a knee injury.

Parra, who plays for Clermont in the Top 14, suffered a tear to the posterior ligament in his right knee during France’s 13 / 20 defeat to Wales at the Stade de France on Saturday.

The 26-year-old’s knee will be immobilised for 4 weeks and according to a Clermont statement: “his return to competition won’t be possible before 10 weeks”.

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Ireland’s victory over England in the Six Nations means they are once again the leading northern hemisphere nation in the latest World Rankings.

Ireland reclaimed the mantle after a 19 / 9 victory, in the battle of the unbeaten sides in Dublin on Sunday.

The victory turns what was a 0.17 rating point deficit into a 1.27 cushion for Ireland over the 2015 World Cup hosts. Joe Schmidt’s side are now less than 2 rating points behind South Africa in 2nd spot.

Wales have increased their margin over France to almost 4 points after a 20 / 13 victory over Les Bleus at the Stade de France on Saturday, although the margin was not enough to improve their position of 6th.

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Varsity CupThe table-topping FNB UP-Tuks will be looking for their 1st away win of the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International when they travel to Potchefstroom to face FNB NWU-Pukke on Monday.

The 2-time champions have 2 home wins and a draw, having been held in the opening round in Bloemfontein by FNB UFS-Shimlas who are the only other team left unbeaten in the competition heading into Round 4.

UP-Tuks will be up against a NWU-Pukke side smarting from their 1st loss of the season against FNB UJ in Johannesburg last week, while UFS-Shimlas host a desperate Maties team still looking for their 1st win.

3-Time-champions Maties find themselves in unfamiliar territory in 7th place on the standings, and things do not get much easier after their drubbing by UP-Tuks in Pretoria last week with an impressive UFS-Shimlas side waiting for them.

The 2 games to be televised live on Supersport 1 will be coastal clashes, with defending champions FNB UCT hosting newcomers FNB CUT on the Green Mile, and UJ travelling down to Port Elizabeth to face the FNB NMMU Madibaz.

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FranceWalesGeorge North will make his 50th international appearance, in record time, against France on Saturday, and will be looking to continue his purple patch against Les Bleus.

At just 22-years-old, North will become the youngest international player ever to reach the milestone – it will be his 47th cap for Wales, added to three for the British and Irish Lions.

The towering Northampton wing scored tries against France in each of the 2 previous matches and will be looking to continue that form as Wales seek a 4th straight win over Philippe Saint-Andre’s side.

North will make his comeback for Wales having sat out the 26 / 23 win over Scotland 2 weeks ago due to a pair of concussions suffered against England the week before.

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ScotlandItalyScotland head coach Vern Cotter is wary of a physical Italian test as he welcomes the Azzurri to Murrayfield in search of a maiden Six Nations victory.

Cotter has charged Peter Horne with the task of filling Finn Russell’s No 10 shirt – one of 4 changes from the side that lost 23 / 26 to Wales 2 weeks ago.

And he expects the Glasgow Warriors utility man to step up to the plate and help an ever-improving Scotland side turn promising performances into a result.

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