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Willie Britz will lead the Cheetah when they tackle the Stormers in a Super Rugby pre-season outing at Newlands on Friday (today).
Britz, recruited from the Lions in the off-season, takes over from Francois Uys – who was captain in the 13 / 30 loss to the Bulls last week – as the Cheetahs continue to rotate team leaders during the build-up to their season opener against the Sharks on 14 February.
The permanent Cheetahs captain for the 2015 Super Rugby competition will only be announced early February.
It is expected that Heinrich Brüssow will get the job once he returns from his Japanese club commitments.
The team that travels to Newlands shows 13 changes from that which lost to the Bulls in Polokwane.
Only loose forwards Britz and Jean Cook retained their places in the starting 15.
Vodacom Bulls utility back Ulrich Beyers will know in the next few days if he will join the exodus to France after joining Bordeaux on a trial basis.
Beyers, who represented the Blue Bulls in last season’s ABSA Currie Cup semifinal at fullback, didn’t feature in last Saturday’s pre-season opener for the Bulls against the Toyota Cheetahs and isn’t part of the squad that heads Wednesday to London to face Saracens this weekend.
It has emerged that Beyers has been offered a trial with Bordeaux, with the option of a long-term contract if it goes well and could feature in his first start this coming weekend for the club.
Flanker Deon Stegmann will lead the Vodacom Blue Bulls on Saturday when they take on Saracens in a friendly match outside London. The Blue Bulls named their final travelling squad on Wednesday, just before departure to England.
Regular captain Pierre Spies will only play off the bench in his return to first class rugby after more than 12 months on the sidelines; hence the decision to employ Stegmann’s proven leadership skills. The former Springbok flanker captained the Vodacom Blue Bulls with great success in the ABSA Currie Cup competition in the past.
Another former captain, Victor Matfield, will travel to London as part of the coaching team and not as a player and will not be in action over the weekend.
Emirates Lions Head Coach Johan Ackermann, and Lions (Vodacom Cup) Coach Russel Winter have named their respective extended squads for this weekend’s warm up matches against a NWU-Pukke XV and a Leopards XV respectively.
It appears that a “mix and match” approach has been taken as both squads include a mixture of both experienced Super Rugby, Currie Cup and junior players.
Glasgow Warriors forward Ryan Wilson has been suspended by the Scottish Rugby Union after being fined at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Tuesday for assaulting two men, including Ally Maclay of Glasgow Hawks, in a takeaway shop in the west end of the city in October 2013.
His co-accused Warriors team-mates, Ryan Grant and Rory Hughes, were cleared.
South Africa and the West Indies battled each other, with both innings reduced to 42 overs a side due to the inclement weather, in the 5th and last ODI of the Series, at SuperSport Park, Centurion.
The inclement weather and lots of rain during the night and morning already delayed the Toss and accordingly the match, which was due to start at 13:30 SA Time on Wednesday 28 January 2015, but started quite a while later.
Prior to the start of the game, South Africa had already won 3 of the ODI’s and the West Indies 1, in the series of 5 ODI’s.
The West Indies won the toss and elected to bowl first.
South Africa notched up a massive 361 runs for the loss of only 5 wickets, with both Rilee Rossouw and Hashim Amla getting their tons (Rossouw – 132, off 98 balls & Amla – 133, off 105 balls).
The West Indies never looked like getting to the target, with wickets falling regularly, Marlin Samuels top-scoring for them (50 runs, off 47 balls).
South Africa won the match by 131 runs, hauling the West Indies all out, after 37.4 overs.
South Africa took the Series by 4 games to 1.
South Africa: 361 / 5 (42 Overs)
West Indies: 227 / 9 (37 Overs)
A second week of pre-season games sees a much fuller schedule with the match of the weekend being the Bulls traveling to London to take on the Saracens.
During the week there is time for the Blues and the Chiefs to get their preparations underway in Whangarei on Thursday.
The weekend kicks off with the Cheetahs taking on another South African Conference rival in the Stormers at Newlands on Friday after they succumbed 13 / 30 to the Bulls in Polokwane last week.
The Cheetahs will also have a B-team at home in Bloemfontein getting ready to face the Griffons the following day.
On Saturday, the New Zealanders have a go at each other as the Hurricanes host the Crusaders in Manawatu before the champion Waratahs play a mixed club and University side.
The Western Force will be looking to back up their good showing against the Brumbies when they take on an Asia Pacific Dragons team.
Meanwhile, the Reds will look to unleash the likes of James O’Connor and Karmichael Hunt against the Melbourne Rebels.
The Brumbies then cross their conference to face the Highlanders as one of the New Zealanders 4 warm-up matches, this before the Lions test their squad in 2 games against the Leopards and the Pukke.
Finally, the big match sees the Vodacom Bulls at Allianz Park to take on Saracens, with the men from South Africa hoping to succeed where the Sharks and Western Province could not.
DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has announced a powerful line-up for Friday night’s friendly clash against the Cheetahs at DHL Newlands (Kick-Off 19:00 SA Time).
As expected, Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth will start in his first match of 2015, his first appearance in a DHL Stormers jersey since 2013, whilst talented youngster Huw Jones gets a run at inside centre – his first start for the DHL Stormers – after Damian de Allende was ruled out with a slight quadriceps tear.
“It’s a slight tear, so we could’ve pushed Damian if, say, we were playing in a final,” said Coetzee on the www.iamastormer.com website. “It’s not serious, but we didn’t want to risk him at this stage of our pre-season preparations.”
Demetri Catrakilis, after missing last weekend’s trip to George with a stomach ailment, will start at flyhalf, whilst ABSA Currie Cup-winning lock Jean Kleyn has been named amongst the replacements after recovering from a knee (meniscus) injury which delayed his start to his team’s pre-season programme.
Chris Dry and Justin Geduld have returned to the Springbok Sevens squad and will travel with the Blitzboks for the next two HSBC Sevens World Series tournaments in New Zealand and the United States.
The Wellington Sevens takes place on 6 and 7 February in the New Zealand capital of Wellington and this will be followed by the Las Vegas Sevens a week later, from 13 to 15 14 February. The squad will depart to New Zealand on Friday 30 January.
South Africa will enter the Las Vegas tournament as the defending champions, and this followed on a successful 2013 season in the USA, meaning they will be hunting their 3rd back-to-back title in 4 years at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Nevada.
The 8th edition of the Varsity Cup will bring with it another batch of intriguing innovations.
Now doubt the latest law trials will produce even more excitement to this year’s competition.
The 2015 season kicks off on 9 February, and among some of the exciting innovations, is the return of the WHITE CARD.
The WHITE CARD, which allows coaches and captains to refer decisions for review to TMO’s (Television Match Officials) during games, was first introduced during the inaugural Varsity Cup competition in 2008. The system makes a welcome return and is endorsed by SARU (South African Rugby Union).
The struggles the DHL Stormers have endured through the past 2 Vodacom Super Rugby seasons may well be ascribed to the limited appearances made in the jersey during that time by the powerful Springbok second row forward Eben Etzebeth.
It is normally considered a stretch to suggest that one man makes a team, and it would be if you said such a thing about Etzebeth with the Stormers and Western Province for it is true that Duane Vermeulen is at least as valuable and influential. However that missing Etzebeth is akin to going without a clutch of players rather than just one is undeniable.
The statistics will bear out that claim too – in 2013 the Stormers were struggling when Etzebeth returned from injury. They lost the first match they played with him back, one in which they were robbed by the TMO against the Rebels in Melbourne, but after that they won 6 in a row. Last year he was out for the entire season with an injury sustained in the last test match of the previous year, and the Stormers struggled.
The growing trend of other countries poaching South African rugby players at a young age was a worrying one, SA Rugby Union (SARU) chief executive Jurie Roux said in Pretoria on Monday.
Speaking at the launch of the 2015 Varsity Cup, Roux said while SARU could not stop the migration of players to overseas clubs, they had to keep young talent in the country.
“What is worrying is the targeting of our younger players – they are grabbing them at Under 20 and players that we foresee playing for us,” Roux said at the Copperleaf Golf Estate.
“We’ve now changed the rule so thae second qualifying is playing for the South African Under 20 side, so if you’ve played for the Junior Springboks since 2013 you cannot play for another country.”
Leicester Tigers flank Tom Croft and Northampton Saints lock Christian Day have been called up to the England training squad.
The reinforcements come as coach Stuart Lancaster assesses the impact of an injury-laden round of European action – ahead of the first round of Six nations action, when England face Wales in Cardiff on 6 February.
Two-time British and Irish Lion Croft and former age-grade star Day joined the squad on Monday – while Geoff Parling’s knee and Tom Wood’s ankle are fully assessed by the England medical team.
All Black flank Jerome Kaino is in the process of weighing up his post World Cup future and is looking to make a decision by the start of Super Rugby.
The Blues captain has confirmed that he has received a number of high profile offers from overseas, including a lucrative one from French club Toulouse.
Dan Carter has dismissed concerns about a calf strain and told the Crusaders coaches he wants to play the Super Rugby pre-season match against the Hurricanes in Eketahuna on Saturday.
Following the frustrations of last year, when he suffered a small fracture in his lower leg in the Super Rugby Final against the Waratahs and failed to reclaim his All Blacks flyhalf spot on the November tour of Chicago and Britain, Carter is eager to quickly get things going in World Cup year.
English Premiership Rugby club London Irish have announced that they have signed Waratahs 2014 Super Rugby No 9, Brendan McKibbin, on a two-year deal.
McKibbin was part of the Waratahs squad that were crowned Super Rugby Champions last season and has 63 Super Rugby caps to his name.
Formerly of the Queensland Reds, Scotland born McKibbin made his debut for the New South Wales outfit in 2011 and went on to become their first choice scrum half amassing 234 points for the side in 59 appearances.
The Rebels have named a 28 man travelling squad for this Saturday’s pre-season trial against the Reds in Cairns with a possible 7 debutants.
The Rebels take on the Reds at Barlow Park in Cairns in what will be the first opportunity for both Australian teams to see what they are working with.
The Reds will be looking to test out the likes of new recruit and Wallaby James O’Connor as well as the their 2 League converts in Karmichael Hunt and Duncan Paia’aua.
Injured Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper has backed rookie Duncan Paia’aua to fill in as his replacement over the few first few months of the new season.
Cooper is set to miss the first 3 months of Super Rugby after fracturing his collarbone in a “freak accident” during a training match against the Reds’ Under 20 side.
And although former Wallabies flyhalf James O’Connor is in the Brisbane-based franchise’s squad, 20-year-old Paia’aua is the favourite to take over from Cooper.
The Vodacom Bulls will be without Springbok hooker Bandise Maku for the Vodacom Super Rugby season after he tore his pectoral muscle in Saturday’s opening friendly match against the Toyota Cheetahs in Polokwane.
Maku will have surgery on 3 February and will be ruled out of action for between four and six months, Vodacom Bulls team doctor Org Strauss confirmed on Monday.
The Polokwane clash last year saw a season-ending injury to flanker Arno Botha, but the Springbok this time came through the match with only a tight hamstring. He will be able to train on Tuesday, but will not travel to London where the Bulls take on Saracens this weekend.
Akona Ndungane is another who will miss the London trip due to a calf strain. He will be out of action for two weeks. Dean Greyling suffered an ankle sprain and will be out for two weeks at least, Strauss said.
The DHL Stormers are slowly working towards full muster as the Vodacom Super Rugby season approaches, with another clutch of Springboks set to return to the team for Friday night’s warm-up fixture against the Toyota Cheetahs at Newlands.
The Stormers dispensed with the SWD Eagles 34 / 3 in their opening game in George at the weekend, but the Cheetahs, as fellow Super Rugby participants, are considered the toughest opponent of the pre-season phase. They are thus the ones the Cape side will consider to be the dress rehearsal for the real thing, which comes in the form of the opening clash with the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria on 14 February.
The Stormers will play the Boland Cavaliers in another warm-up game before the Super Rugby season starts. However, with the game taking place just one week before the trip to Loftus, the normal policy is to include fringe players for that fixture, plus maybe a top player or two who would only then be fully ready to play after coming back from injury.
Three-time Super Rugby champions the Bulls won’t find that their pre-season campaign gets any easier when they tackle English Premiership side Saracens at their Allianz Park, north London stronghold on Saturday.
The game (Kick-Off 17:15 SA Time, 15:15 BST & GMT) is due to be screened live on SuperSport 1 and CSN, after the Loftus-based side played out a 30 / 13 win minus the glare of television cameras against Super Rugby rivals the Cheetahs in Polokwane last Saturday.
There are few better ways to get European-stationed expatriate rugby players’ juices flowing than by pitting them against South African-based compatriots, and it seems Sarries – currently 3rd in the Premiership behind Northampton and Bath – will be in a position to field several against the presumably still rusty Bulls.
Pierre Spies may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but the Bulls believe in him as a player and leader.
There is no doubt the 29-year-old has all the physical attributes to be one of the best No 8’s in the world, even though his contribution sometimes disappoints and he will continue to have his detractors.
However, it is his value to the Bulls’ cause and the team that convinced coach Frans Ludeke to name him skipper ahead of esteemed players like Victor Matfield, Adriaan Strauss and Deon Stegmann.
Speaking ahead of their trip to London this week – for Saturday’s outing against Saracens at Allianz Park – Ludeke explained that Spies was the preferred captain for the past 2 years, a period during which major injuries limited his appearances.
New Sharks boss Gary Gold and Springbok Frans Steyn will both be back in Durban soon.
This follows after the semi-finals of the Japanese Top League – which will see the Wild Knights play Júbilo in the Final, after they defeated the Brave Lupus and Kobe Steelers respectively.
It means the Sharks Director of Rugby, Gold, and the Bok utility back, Steyn, among others, are heading home for Super Rugby.
In the first semi-final the Wild Knights ran in 4 first-half tries and added 1 more in the second stanza as they avenged 2 earlier defeats this season to the Toshiba Brave Lupus, winning 50 / 15.
Steyn’s Brave Lupus team suffering a heavy defeat means that the Sharks versatile back can return to his Durban franchise earlier than expected.
Steyn will be following his newly appointed coach Gary Gold home after the Kobe Steelers lost 12 / 41 in another hammering to Júbilo who reached their first ever Top League Final.
Katsuyuki Kiyomiya’s side ran in 2 tries in the first half and 4 in the second to upset the Steelers, who had finished the regular season on top of the Group A standings.
A fourth high profile South African rugby player, former Natal wing Danny Delport, has been struck down by the devastating Motor Neuron Disease (MND).
Delport played for Natal from 1973 – 1975 while studying at Maritzburg Varsity before returning to his home in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and representing the national team for 8 years.
Delport and his family settled in Perth in 2008, but late last year he was diagnosed with MND.
The disease attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord which control voluntary muscle activity including speaking, breathing, walking and swallowing. It causes progressive weakness and increasing disability, muscle wasting and, eventually, death.
SANZAR has announced its referee squad for the forthcoming Super Rugby season with Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand) and Jaco van Heerden (South Africa) promoted and in line for debut during 2015.
O’Keeffe started refereeing whilst at medical school in Dunedin and quickly progressed through the ranks. He has featured in the Heartland Championship, ITM Cup, as a Super Rugby assistant and at the 2014 Junior World Championship where he earned appointment to the final between England and South Africa.
His father Peter also refereed at provincial level and when he’s not in the middle, O’Keeffe practices as an eye doctor in Wellington, New Zealand.
Pretoria-born Van Heerden meanwhile is an Advocate to the High Court of South Africa and joins Super Rugby ranks having made rapid progress applying law on rugby fields throughout his home country.
The 32-year old handled himself with aplomb in his first Currie Cup match during the 2014 season and it was no surprise that he was awarded a semi final later in the year.
A University of Pretoria Law Graduate, Van Heerden played rugby for his university before later turning his attention to refereeing.
Capped Springboks Marnitz Boshoff and Julian Redelinghuys as well current captain Warren Whiteley, have all extended their contracts until 2016 with the Lions.
Additionally, Jaco Kriel and Ruan Dreyer – both who joined the Springbok squad for their 2014 year-end tour of the Northern Hemisphere – have also opted to renew their contracts.
This positive news comes just 3 weeks before the commencement of the 2015 season, providing the team with an added boost and additional consistency.
The Stormers recorded a 34 / 3 pre-season win over an SWD Eagles side in very humid conditions at George’s Outeniqua Park on Saturday.
The young Stormers outfit was playing in their first of 3 pre-season clashes ahead of the 2015 Super Rugby season and they were well tested by their hosts in front of a capacity crowd.
In the end, however, coach Allister Coetzee would have been pleased with his team’s 5 tries to 0 victory – mainly because the game gave him an opportunity to give some key men a run-out and test some new combinations in the process and, also, because there were no fresh injury concerns to report after the match.
New faces like Dillyn Leyds, Vincent Koch, Bongi Mbonambi, Wilco Louw, David Ribbans, Robert du Preez, Huw Jones and Neil Rautenbach all got game time, whilst skipper Duane Vermeulen got some minutes in his first match as full-time skipper of this side.
The Bulls overcame a slow start to finish strongly and post a 30-13 triumph over the Cheetahs in a Super Rugby pre-season friendly at Polokwane.
Scrumhalf Piet van Zyl bagged a second half double as the men from Pretoria ran away with the match which was separated by just 3 points midway through the second half.
Duncan Matthews also found the line thanks to a well-timed intercept while Jesse Kriel dictated the game from fullback, looking very much at home in the No 15 jersey.
New recruit, Trevor Nyakane, was a late withdrawal due to a strained neck muscle, but in more positive injury news, Arno Botha completed the match without incident in what was his first appearance since damaging his ACL a year ago.
The Toyota Cheetahs have been dealt their first massive injury blow of the season when news filtered through that former SA Under 20 winger Sergeal Pietersen broke his jaw during Saturday’s pre-season friendly against the Vodacom Bulls in Polokwane.
Pietersen, who transferred to Bloemfontein from the EP Kings at the end of last season, went off the field early after a clash with a defender and was replaced by Clayton Blommetjies.
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske confirmed that it would be a lengthy spell on the sidelines for Pietersen, who is a dynamite finisher.
“It looks like we’ve lost him for between 6 and 8 weeks,” Drotske said.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder will have to put his faith in some young and inexperienced scrumhalves for the start of the Super Rugby season with Andy Ellis involved in Japan and Willi Heinz out with a broken leg.
A season-ending leg injury to Willi Heinz has propelled former Hurricane Billy Guyton into the Super Rugby spotlight for the Canterbury team.
There was a collective groan around Timaru’s Alpine Energy Stadium as Heinz broke his left fibula attempting a tackle in the second quarter of the Crusaders pre-season hitout against the Highlanders on Saturday.
England flyhalf Owen Farrell will undergo tests after hobbling off with a knee injury during Saracens’ 6 / 18 European Champions Cup defeat at Clermont on Sunday.
Farrell was forced off in the 19th minute, after twisting his left knee in a collision with Clermont flank Julien Bardy.
Saracens Director of Rugby Mark McCall said the 23-year-old would now undergo further tests to see if he can compete in the Six Nations which gets underway on 6 February.
Wales and British and Irish Lions prop, Adam Jones, has retired from international rugby, he said.
The 33-year-old Cardiff Blues player featured 95 times for Wales and won 3 Grand Slams but was left out of their Six Nations squad having missed out on the 2014 autumn series.
“It’s obviously not the way I would want to finish, it’s not how I planned it in my head, and I hope no-one thinks I am simply quitting,” said Jones.
His last appearance for Wales was in the 38-16 defeat by South Africa in the first test of their June 2014 tour when he was substituted after half-an-hour.
Jake White’s Montpellier bounced back from their comprehensive loss away from home to Glasgow Warriors last week by beating fellow French team Toulouse in their final European Rugby Champions Pool 4 match on Sunday. Montpellier won a closely contested match by the narrowest of margins with a final score of 27 / 26 in their favour.
This victory for Montpellier meant that Saracens qualified for the last eight of the Cup in spite of losing their last Pool 1 match against pool winners Clermont Auvergne. The score in that match Clermont Auvergne 18 / 6 Saracens.
The 5 pool winners along with the 3 best second placed team advanced and Saracens made it through as the last qualifying with the lowest amount of points from their 6 matches (17). Had Toulouse won they would have qualified as Pool 4 winners along with Bath who won their Pool 4 match against Glasgow Warriors. Toulouse also ended the pool stage on 17 points but Saracens got through via a superior points difference, +14 versus Toulouse’s +2.
The Crusaders appear set to be without Willi Heinz for the Super Rugby season after the scrumhalf fractured his leg in a trial against the Highlanders on Saturday.
Last year’s beaten finallists fell 29-26 in Timaru, however the scoreboard will be of little concern to Todd Blackadder’s troops, whose depth will to be tested ahead of their season-opening clash against the Rebels on 14 February.