The Eastern Province Kings will field a team against the Xerox Golden Lions at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.
However, it does not resemble their 1st-choice 15 in any way.
It was confirmed late on Thursday that the Currie Cup Round 5 encounter in Johannesburg will go ahead, after several days of uncertainty – the result of EP Kings players going on strike over non-payment of salaries.
The South African Rugby Players Association (SARPA), when they arrived in Port Elizabeth on Thursday afternoon, were informed that the outstanding salaries had been paid.
However, the veil of secrecy remained over the entire saga, as nobody was prepared to comment.
EP Kings coach Brent Janse van Rensburg named a team that showed 10 changes from the side which lost to the Cell C Sharks last week, but he was “unavailable” to comment on the changes.
Ireland have left out prop Cian Healy and fullback Rob Kearney from the side to play England in their final World Cup warm-up match.
The 2 sides will go head-to-head at Twickenham on Saturday.
Joe Schmidt, the Ireland coach, has decided to give Healy more time to recover following the loosehead’s long-standing neck problems.
Healy only returned to full training this week, following neck surgery in May, and at one stage, was doubtful even to make Ireland’s final 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup.
Jack McGrath starts in his place.
South Africa could be asked to be on standby to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup following a series of setbacks to current hosts Japan.
According to 2 high-placed sources, SARU chief executive Jurie Roux this week held secretive meetings with World Rugby – formerly the IRB – to ascertain South Africa’s readiness to step in at the last minute should the Japanese not be able to meet their obligations to host the tournament.
World Rugby has criticised the Japanese Rugby Union, with some “fearing” they have given them an “ultimatum” regarding assurances that the stadiums are up to standard after it was revealed last week that the tournament would not be able to use the National Stadium.
This has led World Rugby to look elsewhere, with South Africa – who are already bidding for the 2023 tournament – being sounded out as to their readiness in case the Japanese are unable to meet their obligations.
While neither party is likely to admit to the meetings, 2 separate sources have confirmed that they have taken place and that SARU have indicated a willingness to help out if needed.
But for World Rugby to take the step to take the showpiece tournament away from the Japanese would be the last resort, especially as it forms a massive part of the global expansion plans of rugby to take it into new territories.
Former Springboks Pierre Spies and Wynand Olivier will start for the Barbarians when they tackle English club Worcester Warriors this weekend.
World Cup winner Ali Williams has been named captain of the BaaBaas, replacing South African Bakkies Botha who led the team against Samoa last week.
The former New Zealand lock leads a cosmopolitan team with internationals from 8 different nations at Sixways on Saturday.
The famous invitation side made 6 changes to the team that beat Samoa at the former Olympic Stadium last weekend.
Australia flyhalf Mike Harris and wing Dom Shipperley come into the backline alongside veteran Italy scrumhalf Paul Griffen.
Up front, Williams, Tolu Latu (Waratahs) and former USA captain Todd Clever all step into the starting line-up.
Recently added to this week’s squad is Aled Brew (Dragons & Wales) who takes over from Stade Francais fullback Paul Williams.
Wales captain Sam Warburton is set to make his 1st appearance of the Rugby World Cup warm-up campaign.
He was named to lead the side in Saturday’s match against Italy at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
The openside flank suffered a shoulder injury in training last month and was rested from Wales’ 16 / 10 win away to Six Nations champions Ireland in Dublin last weekend.
Wales coach Warren Gatland has named a strong side for Wales’ final World Cup tune-up fixture.
Warburton is part of a new look back row – alongside James King at flank and Taulupe Faletau at No 8.
The same front row which faced Ireland in Dublin last weekend will start against Italy – with the World’s most capped prop Gethin Jenkins packing down with Ken Owens and Tomas Francis, who will make his 1st appearance at the Millennium Stadium.
Jake Ball and Dominic Day are named in the 2nd row.
Halfbacks Rhys Webb and Dan Biggar continue their partnership, whilst there is a new look midfield with Scott Williams lining up alongside Cory Allen.
The back 3 from Dublin also remains unchanged with George North and Alex Cuthbert on the wings and Leigh Halfpenny at fullback.
Springbok training squad members Scarra Ntubeni and Steven Kitshoff will both start in the front row for DHL Western Province in Saturday’s ABSA Currie Cup clash against ORC Griquas at DHL Newlands.
Ntubeni replaces Bongi Mbonambi at hooker, whilst Kitshoff comes in for Ali Vermaak at loosehead prop, with coach John Dobson making a total of 5 personnel changes to the starting line-up that went down 21 / 28 to the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last Friday.
The other changes to the DHL WP starting 15 sees Nic Groom and Kurt Coleman team up as halfback pairing, whilst livewire flanker Chris Cloete will start in the No 6 jersey with Rynhardt Elstadt filling in for Sikhumbuzo Notshe (shoulder) in the No 7 shirt.
On the bench, meanwhile, Chris van Zyl is over his knee injury to slot in as the lock replacement, fit-again Jurie van Vuuren will provide loose forward cover and inside back Robert du Preez is set for his 1st taste of ABSA Currie Cup action this season.
Xerox Golden Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named his team to face the Eastern Province Kings at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday.
Ackermann has followed through with his rotation policy, making wholesale changes to the side which downed the Steval Pumas in Nelspruit last weekend.
In the forwards, Malcolm Marx and Julian Redelinghuys will start in the front row. MB Lusaseni is included at lock.
Most notably, Warren Whiteley was supposed to return at No 8 to captain the side but he pulled his calf at Thursday training. As a result, Fabian Booysen is retained at No 8.
Howard Mnisi has been selected to captain the side from the centre berth.
Additionally, there have been 5 personnel changes to the Xerox Golden Lions backline. Lohan Jacobs will start at scrumhalf, while Jaco van der Walt has been given an opportunity to start at flyhalf.
Anthony Volmink will start at left wing, while Ruan Combrinck shifts to right wing to make space for Andries Coetzee who returns from injury this week, at fullback. Additionally, Stokkies Hanekom will start at outside centre.
The Cell C Sharks host the Steval Pumas in their return leg ABSA Currie Cup match at Growthpoint Kings Park on Saturday, looking to use a number of factors to their advantage to reverse the 1st Round result.
Although that victory was something of a shock, the Pumas are a tough prospect at home and in the 1st Round, were able to use continuity following their Vodacom Cup success to overcome a new-look Cell C Sharks side, missing many players.
But that was a month ago and the team have been able to build continuity and develop partnerships and combinations and they will be looking for a growth in improvement as well as home ground advantage to see off the visitors from Mpumalanga.
Odwa Ndungane has been ruled out of the match with a rib joint sprain and has been joined on the sidelines by Michael Claassens who suffered a lower back contusion in last week’s clash with the EP Kings.
ORC Griquas coach Hawies Fourie has made several changes to his team as they prepare to face DHL Western Province in a Currie Cup clash at Newlands on Saturday.
Flank Hilton Lobberts is back in the starting team to replace Johan Wessels, after the Springbok was dropped to the bench for last weekend’s clash against the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
RJ Liebenberg moves to No 7 flank, with the loose trio completed by Carel Greeff at No 8.
Fourie also made 2 changes to his front row, with Stephan Kotze coming in at tighthead prop, while Martin Bezuidenhout replaces AJ le Roux at hooker.
In the backline, Springbok Sevens player Ruhan Nel starts at left wing, while Jonathan Francke replaces Michael van der Spuy in midfield.
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) may have to bail out the Eastern Province Rugby Union to end a player strike.
An ongoing stand-off between EP Rugby and the players, over the non-payment of salaries, has put in jeopardy the Currie Cup match between the Xerox Golden Lions and EP Kings in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The latest controversy follows a similar dispute in July, when New Zealander Carlos Spencer – then a member of the coaching panel – walked away from the team over non-payment of salaries.
The players were eventually paid at the end of July, with some reports claiming that it was the result of a SARU intervention.
Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU) President Cheeky Watson responded with a terse “no comment”, when approached over the ongoing financial crisis at the Port Elizabeth-based union.
The South African Rugby Players Association (SARPA) confirmed they will meet with the players on Thursday, as the latest stand-off drags into a 3rd day.
Influential French captain Thierry Dusautoir returns to action for his team’s final warm-up game against Scotland at Stade de France on Saturday.
The 33-year-old flank, who skippered France into the Rugby World Cup final in New Zealand 4 years ago, has been sidelined for a month with a knee injury and missed the 1st 2 preparation games against England.
But with the Rugby World Cup opener against Italy looming on 19 September, coach Philippe Saint-Andre deemed it appropriate to recall his right-hand man on the pitch.
James Slipper will become the 83rd player to captain the Wallabies in a Test match.
He will lead Australia in Saturday’s historic clash with the United States Eagles at Soldier Field, Chicago.
Debuting for the Wallabies in 2010, Slipper will lead his country in his 68th Test, making the 26-year-old the 1st prop to captain the Wallabies since part-time front row forward John Thornett did so during the 1966 – 1967 Tour of Britain, Ireland and France.
Slipper will take over the reins from Stephen Moore, who has been rested alongside several Wallabies players – including vice-captains Michael Hooper and Adam Ashley-Cooper.
Heyneke Meyer’s Springbok squad will have the 2nd-most Test caps at this year’s Rugby World Cup in England and Wales.
According to the NZ Herald website, analysis of all 20 of the Rugby World Cup squads has revealed that defending champions and the world’s No 1 side, the All Blacks, have by far the most experience, with the squad combining for 1 484 Test caps – 187 more than the next best side – South Africa.
Led by Richie McCaw (142 caps), Keven Mealamu (126), Tony Woodcock (115) and Dan Carter (106), the defending champions have an added 345 Test caps from their triumph in 2011, where they came into the tournament with the 2nd most caps behind the Springboks.
Victor Matfield (123), Bryan Habana (110) and Jean de Villiers (107) are the 3 Springbok centurions, with Ruan Pienaar next best on 84.
Controvertial New Zealand and anti-South African journalist, Chris Rattue, spilled his guts about removal of the Springbok name.
Here’s a muppit who knows sweet blue buggerall about South Africa, using the last of very few brain cells to write tripe of the highest order!
It is not his 1st ever controvertial gig either, the same twerp called the Welsh “Village Idiots” in August 2011, sparking fierce debate about it.
Simple message to this “Village Idiot” – Go concern yourself with yourself, fool!
Here’s what he had to write in the New Zealand Herald:
The High Court bid to stop the Springboks from competing in the Rugby World Cup was merely meant to draw attention to the need for transformation, the man behind it said on Wednesday.
“The move was tactical. We managed to draw the attention of this country and of the Courts to the need for transformation,” the leader of the Agency for New Agenda (ANA) party, Tshidiso Mokhoanatse, told reporters in Pretoria.
The intention was to move the responsibility for transformation in sport away from the South African Rugby Union and government, to the Courts. He said he had succeeded in this.
He was speaking after he abandoned his bid for an order seeking to prevent the Springboks from going to England and Wales to compete in the World Cup, which starts on 18 September.
Judge Ntendeya Mavundla stood the matter down in the High Court in Pretoria earlier.
The Toyota Free State Cheetahs will play Springbok Teboho Mohojé off the bench when they take on the Vodacom Blue Bulls on Friday.
The Currie Cup Round 5 match in Pretoria will see Mohojé rejoin the Free State Cheetahs after failing to make the cut for the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup squad.
Free State Cheetahs coach Franco Smith made just 1 change to the starting 15 for the trip to Loftus Versfeld.
Jacques du Toit and Elandre Hugget switch places at hooker, with Huggett starting and Du Toit on the bench.
While Mohoje found a spot on the Free State Cheetahs bench, there was no place in the matchday 22 for the Free State Cheetahs’ other discarded Springbok, wing Cornal Hendricks.
The man trying to stop the Springboks from leaving South Africa needs to find a lawyer, a judge cautioned him on Wednesday, as he is jumping into waters where there are “fish that bite”.
“You may find that you are traversing an area which is like a pond on the surface. It looks calm, but underneath the waters flow with tremendous force, if you are not familiar with that terrain,” Judge Ntendeya Mavundla cautioned Tshidiso Mokhoanatse.
He was referring to the debate about transformation in sport, and society in general.
The leader of the Agency for New Agenda party was about to jump into the deep end and tackle the case on his own, when Mavundla advised him it would be best to get a “scuba diver” to help him.
Mavundla stood the matter down until 14:00 SA Time for a lawyer from the Bar Council or Law Society to help him.
Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais named Springbok prop Marcel van der Merwe in his starting front-row and added Springbok midfielder Jan Serfontein to his bench for Friday’s ABSA Currie Cup match against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld.
Marais also has Francois Hougaard back in the starting team after the scrumhalf missed last week’s win over the ORC Griquas due to personal reasons. He replaces Ivan van Zyl who moves back to the bench.
Hougaard’s return is the only change in the backline, but Marais made 3 changes in the pack. Van der Merwe comes in for Werner Kruger, who is rested and a fit-again Roelof Smit comes in for Jannes Kirsten at flank, with the latter moving to the bench. In the other change, Dean Greyling will be replaced by Pierre Schoeman. Greyling has a knee strain and with Schoeman fit and ready to go following a long injury lay-off, Marais decided to give Greyling a break.
Under 21 regular Schoeman will make his debut in the competition, but has played for the Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup.
Serfontein comes in for Dan Kriel, who will return to the Under 21 team.
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Blue Bulls & Springbok lock Flip van der Merwe has been released from his contract at the Vodacom Blue Bulls with immediate effect.
While the Blue Bulls initially decided that Van der Merwe was necessary for their ABSA Currie Cup campaign, his call-up to the Springboks a few weeks ago negated this and they had to find a way to do without him.
The Blue Bulls initially were worried about a lack of experience in the team but their good start to the Currie Cup season, where they are still unbeaten after 4 Rounds has led them to back their youngsters.
When Van der Merwe didn’t make the cut for the Springbok squad to the Rugby World Cup, it was decided to release him from his contract so that he could further his career in France.
Van der Merwe signed with French Top 14 club Clermont Auvergne during this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby season, at the same time as another Bulls lock, Jacques du Plessis, signed with Montpellier.
Juan Manuel Leguizamon is set to return to his homeland to represent Argentina’s new Super Rugby franchise after a decade in Europe.
The veteran, who has represented London Irish, Stade Francais and Lyon, signed his contract on Tuesday in the presence of UAR President, Carlos Araujo and Secretary of the Union, Fernando Rizzi.
“This is another important day for Argentine rugby,” Araujo said.
“Juan Manuel has been a strength of the Pumas and 1 of the pillars of a process that has been underway for years and that will peak in 2016 with the inclusion of Argentina in the Super Rugby competition.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Tuesday applauded the work done by the national team’s medical, strength and conditioning staff to get the squad fit and ready for the Rugby World Cup.
Each member of the 31-man squad took part in most of the field sessions on Monday and Tuesday in Durban, including Duane Vermeulen, Jean de Villiers, Jannie du Plessis, Fourie du Preez and Francois Louw.
The training camp in Durban concludes on Wednesday and the players and management will get together again in Johannesburg on Sunday afternoon. The squad departs for England on Friday 11 September.
“We’re confident that all of the players will be fit to be considered for selection for our opening match against Japan in Brighton on 19 September,” said Meyer.
EP Kings players and the union’s management are again at loggerheads over apparent delays in player payments.
The cash-strapped union was unable to pay players for several months earlier in the season, but the issue was thought to be resolved last month when EP president Cheeky Watson announced that the players were compensated up until the end of July.
However, similar issues appear to have risen again with regards to August’s salaries, and according to CEO Charl Crous they are working at “resolving the matter”.
There is believed to be a threat of a player strike, although Crous said he received no communication in that regard.
International rugby’s ruling body, World Rugby, are expected to sanction an experiment in Wales that will see 6 points being awarded for tries and 2 points for all kicks…
The sports governing body are constantly reviewing the rules in rugby and looking at ways to improve the game and this experiment is expected to promote scoring tries instead taking kicks for points.
The experiement is expected to go ahead in Wales’ 2nd-tier Premiership which is made up of semi-professional teams and includes some of the biggest clubs in the history of the Welsh game and includes Pontypridd, Llanelli, Cardiff and Newport.
The Wallabies have called Taqele Naiyaravoro, Sam Carter and James Hanson into a 34-man squad in the USA for their upcoming Test against USA Eagles at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Hanson and Carter will link with the squad in Indiana following solid performances during the opening rounds of the National Rugby Championship, while Naiyaravoro arrived at the team’s camp at Notre Dame University from London this afternoon after playing in the Barbarians’ 27 / 24 win over Samoa.
All 3 players were involved in last week’s camp in Sydney as part of the wider Wallabies training squad and will continue to play a role in the team’s preparation for the USA match.
Most coaches wouldn’t see it as a problem, but Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais has a welcome headache this week when he makes his selection for Friday night’s ABSA Currie Cup game against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld.
As 1 of the unluckiest players not to be selected for the Springboks, midfielder Jan Serfontein has returned to Loftus this week to continue in the Currie Cup, and his return coincides with his SA Under 20 midfield partner William Small-Smith also being declared fit from injury.
But it isn’t as if the Blue Bulls are seriously short of midfielders as they continue their unbeaten start to the Currie Cup season either. The current duo of Burger Odendaal and Dries Swanepoel have been exceptional in their play of late and Swanepoel scored twice in the big win over Griquas on the weekend.
So Marais now sits with the headache of how to make 4 go into 3 – with 1 unlucky player likely to lose out on 1 of the 2 starting berths and a place on the bench this weekend when they host the Toyota Free State Cheetahs.
There were no surprises when the 31-man United States of America (USA Eagles) squad for the Rugby World Cup in England was announced on Tuesday.
Captain Chris Wyles will lead the USA in Pool B where they face Japan, Samoa, Scotland, and South Africa.
The USA team will feature 20 Rugby World Cup debutants.
The squad selected for the Rugby World Cup is the same as the 1 chosen for the 3 World Cup warm-up matches, which included a 3rd-consecutive victory over Canada.
Additionally, 13 players have professional contracts overseas.
As the Rugby World Cup looms, the Springboks this week remain 4th on World Rugby’s official rankings.
Heyneke Meyer’s charges currently boast 85.15 ratings points, trailing Ireland Australia and New Zealand.
Ireland’s 16 / 10 home loss to Wales at the weekend saw them slip to 3rd, with Australia moving into 2nd spot.
Ireland’s defeat cost them 1.7 ratings points, leaving them on 85.19 points, 1.48 adrift of the Wallabies.
The All Blacks (92.89) remain comfortably atop the rankings – a position they have occupied since November 2009.
The All Blacks played down injury concerns over Colin Slade on Tuesday after the flyhalf went down with a knee problem at training.
Slade received medical attention after slipping over in Wellington, an incident which revived memories of New Zealand’s injury woes at the last tournament in 2011.
“He slipped over during training and landed awkwardly on his knee and gave it a bit of a tweak,” assistant coach Ian Foster said.
“He was walking around the shed afterwards. He’s fine.”
Slade was 1 of 3 flyhalves sidelined with injury during the 2011 World Cup, almost derailing New Zealand’s bid to win the tournament on home soil.
Ireland’s 2014 Player of the Year Andrew Trimble has been omitted from coach Joe Schmidt’s 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup, announced on Tuesday.
The 30-year-old had missed this years’ Six Nations through injury but had returned to action this year and was available for the global showpiece.
Trimble has played just once for Ireland in the past 12 months, in a 35 / 12 victory over Wales in a World Cup warm-up match on 8 August, but a flare-up of his toe injury meant he played only 33 minutes of that game.
Wings Keith Earls and Luke Fitzgerald, who were injured during Saturday’s Dublin defeat by Wales, are included the squad.
Trimble, Gordan D’Arcy, Kieran Marmion were notably the most high profile players to miss out on the plane.
D’Arcy’s omission could signal the end of his illustrious international career.
The squad is made up of 17 Forwards and 14 Backs and will be captained by Paul O’Connell who is the most capped player in the Ireland group with 103 caps.
DHL Western Province flank Sikhumbuzo Notshe will miss this Saturday’s Currie Cup clash against ORC Griquas with an AC Joint injury.
The impressive Notshe is not expected to be out for longer than a week, but coach John Dobson does have some loose forward options to replace him.
“Jurie van Vuuren is back to full fitness and someone like Chris Cloete deserves an opportunity, after coming off the bench so far,” coach John Dobson said.
“Chris starting would mean Rynhardt Elstadt moving back to No 7, but we’re comfortable either way in our players.”
In other news, Springbok squad member Steven Kitshoff (loosehead prop) and Barbarians representative Nic Groom (scrumhalf) are both available for selection this week.
The Waratahs have confirmed the re-signing of Assistant Coach Nathan Grey, finalising the coaching structure ahead of the 2016 Super Rugby season.
Grey, who began his coaching role at the Waratahs ahead of their title-winning season in 2014, said he was excited at the prospect of continuing his work with the team, and shaping the next generation of incoming players.
“We’ve got a really exciting group of young players on board for next season who have an opportunity here to contribute to the team right from the start,” Grey said.
2 Players with a big future in Super Rugby have re-signed with the Brumbies.
Former Australian Sevens representative Lausii Taliauli has signed a new 1-year deal with the club while tighthead prop Ruan Smith has signed a new 2-year deal.
Taliauli has been earmarked as 1 of Australia’s top wing prospects following his debut for the Brumbies in Round 1 of the 2015 Super Rugby Season. He made 7 appearances for the side this year and crossed for 1 try.
Brumbies Head Coach Stephen Larkham showed faith in the former Gold Coast Titans NRL winger, by selecting Taliauli to start on the wing in the Brumbies Super Rugby Semi-Final loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington.
Scotland’s 31-man Rugby World Cup squad has been named, the players have been told, and it was publicly announced this afternoon at Edinburgh University.
After almost 3 months of hard training and 2 wins out of 3 in the warm-up games, Vern Cotter has made his decision and the paperwork has been delivered to the tournament organisers. Supporters were treated at the Old College Quad to see today’s announcement, which was made at 14:30 BST (15:30 SA Time), and supporters had a chance to mingle with the players afterwards.
Following Saturday’s 48 / 7 win over Italy at BT Murrayfield, Cotter and his coaching staff met for final discussions and assessments of the medical reports before confirming the squad and informing the players of the decision.
Players who failed to make the final 31-man Springbok Rugby World Cup squad have rejoined their respective provinces for ABSA Currie Cup duty.
Out of the original 49 players named prior to this year’s Rugby Championship, 18 will either be available for their South African provinces or jet off to rejoin their overseas clubs.
This means Warren Whiteley (Xerox Golden Lions), Vincent Koch (Steval Pumas), Lionel Mapoe (Xerox Golden Lions), Cornal Hendricks (Toyota Free State Cheetahs), Marcell Coetzee (Cell C Sharks), Cobus Reinach (Cell C Sharks), Scarra Ntubeni (DHL Western Province), Oupa Mohoje (Toyota Free State Cheetahs), Franco Mostert (Xerox Golden Lions), Marcel van der Merwe (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Jan Serfontein (Vodacom Blue Bulls), Steven Kitshoff (DHL Western Province) and Frans Steyn (Cell C Sharks) can be considered for Currie Cup duty from this weekend.
Players like Heinrich Brussow (Docomo Red Hurricanes, Japan), Elton Jantjies (NTT Shining Arcs, Japan), Jaque Fourie (Kobelco Steelers) and Heinke van der Merwe (Stade Francais, France) will head for their overseas clubs.