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EdinburghEdinburgh Rugby secured their second successive victory in the European Rugby Challenge Cup, beating Lyon 25-17 at BT Murrayfield, after numerous injury setbacks and losing five players in the opening quarter.

Coach Alan Solomons afterwards praised the character of his Edinburgh side, who came through adversity to record a morale-boosting victory.

“This actually tops it [last week’s win at Bordeaux]. To lose five players like that – in 37 years, I’ve never seen anything like it – speaks volumes for the strength of character of this side.”

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The Springboks concluded a week of intense training at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport on Friday as their preparations for the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour to Ireland, England, Italy and Wales stepped up a gear.

A total of 31 players took part in the training camp after prop Marcel van der Merwe withdrew due to injury.

Amongst the squad were four uncapped players in Lizo Gqoboka (prop), Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), Boela Abrahams (scrumhalf) and Rudy Paige (scrumhalf), who were invited to get a taste of what Springbok rugby is all about after impressive performances for their provinces in the Absa Currie Cup.

“We had a good week and the players really worked very hard on the field and in the gym,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“The emphasis was on conditioning and we also paid a lot of attention to detail on and off the field. It was great to have time to work on these things before we embark on what will be a very tough tour.

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Israel Folau

Israel Folau

Wallabies and Waratahs fullback Israel Folau has been handed the ultimate honour in Australian rugby after being named the John Eales Medallist for 2014.

At Australian rugby’s night of nights, the ARU celebrated and acknowledged the men and women in the Australian rugby community – fans, players, coaches, match officials and administrators – for their dedication, commitment and outstanding performance.

The 2014 ceremony was the first time performances in Super Rugby competition were incorporated into the event, while it was the first opportunity to recognise the best performers from the inaugural National Rugby Championship.

The John Eales Medallist is voted for by Wallabies players on a 3-2-1 basis after each Test. The winner is the player that has accumulated the most points over the past 12 months from the 2013 Spring Tour to the third Bledisloe Cup Test against New Zealand earlier this month.

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Kurtley Beale

Kurtley Beale

Disgraced utility back Kurtley Beale has been fined, but will rejoin the Wallaby team at the weekend.

He will board a flight on Saturday to rejoin the Wallabies on their year-end European tour.

It followed his in-flight confrontation with former Wallabies business and logistics manager Di Patston and subsequent revelations that he sent lewd text messages to teammates about the former staffer.

A tribunal on Friday found Beale guilty of a serious violation of the Australian Rugby Union code of conduct, and handed down a AU$ 45 000 (about US$ 40 000) fine, for sending an offensive photograph to an ARU employee.

The charge related to an image Beale admitted to sending on 9 June.

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ScrumAfter the Xerox Golden Lions demolition of the Cell C Sharks scrum in the Currie Cup Semi-Final last weekend and the average performance of DHL Western Province in the scrums against the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the other Semi-Final, this week’s hottest debates has raged about what will happen in the scrums in the Final and how the referee, Craig Joubert, will officiate this aspect of the game.

Balie Swart, adviser to SARU and to the Referees on scrumming in South Africa, came under heavy bombardment from DHL Western Province and in particular Gert Smal and Allister Coetzee. They are unhappy that SARU’s man is not impartial, when he declared that the Golden Lions scrum is ahead of all other South African scrumming units.

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Brendan Venter

Brendan Venter

Gary Gold

Gary Gold

The Cell C Sharks have made two key appointments – Gary Gold as Director of Rugby and Brendan Venter as Technical Director.

Cell C Sharks Chief Executive Officer, John Smit, confirmed the appointment of former the Springbok assistant coach, Gold, as the Sharks’ new Director of Rugby.

However, the appointment of Venter – who guided the Sharks to the Currie Cup title in 2013 – is the more interesting addition to their backroom staff.

The 47-year-old Gold, who is currently coach of Japanese Top League club Kobelco Steelers, has signed a three-year contract – from 2015 to 2017.

“Gary is an experienced coach who brings a wealth of knowledge and an impressive level of commitment to his new role,” the Sharks CEO, Smit said.

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Greg Peters

Greg Peters

Japan has beaten out Singapore as the preferred host for the 18th team in the expanded Super Rugby competition, governing body Sanzar said on Friday.

The southern hemisphere provincial competition will increase from 15 to 18 teams in 2016, with one team from South Africa and another from Argentina already awarded places.

Japan and Singapore were vying against each other for the last available spot with Japan getting the vote after a meeting of the South African, New Zealand and Australian Rugby (Sanzar) executive board.

“Compelling proposals were put forth by Japan and Singapore in what was a very competitive tender process and we thank both parties for their passion in sharing our vision to expand the competition to new fans, territories and commercial markets,” Sanzar chief executive Greg Peters said in a statement.

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Singapore National Stadium

Singapore Sports Hub – National Stadium

Singapore has effectively conceded it has lost out to Japan to become the 18th Super Rugby side.

Although the South African, New Zealand and Australian Rugby (Sanzar) has not officially announced which Asian country would host the new team in an expanded competition, it has already been widely reported that Japan has won the bid ahead of Singapore.

Singapore’s bidders released a statement on Thursday, seemingly acknowledging that Japan had been selected as the winner.

“Clearly Japan is a mature, established rugby market, while Singapore is new to the global rugby scene,” said Eric Series, the financial backer of the proposed Singapore bid.

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NamibiaThree new caps have been included in the Namibian national side to face Germany in Windhoek on 29 October.

The side will be captained by Western Province loose forward Rohan Kitshoff, who will make his 17th test appearance for his country.

Coach Danie Vermeulen on Thursday included Free State Cheetahs hooker and captain Torsten van Jaarsveld, Brive’s Tjuee Uanive and JC Greyling from Old Wesley RFC (Dublin, Ireland) in his squad of 23 for the once-off Test match.

Van Jaarsveld and Uanive are in the starting line-up, while Greyling is expected to earn his first cap coming off the bench.

The 27-year-old Van Jaarsveld was outstanding for the Free State Cheetahs this year and will start in his first Test for the Welwitchias.

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DHL WPDHL Western Province coach Allister Coetzee has kept the changes to a minimum for Saturday’s 2014 ABSA Currie Cup Final clash against the Xerox Golden Lions at DHL Newlands (kick-off 17:00 SA Time).

In the only change to the starting XV that beat the Blue Bulls by 31-23 last weekend, fit-again centre Jaco Taute returns in the No 12 jersey to resume his partnership with skipper Juan de Jongh, who will be playing in his 50th match in the Blue & White hoops of DHL Western Province.

Michael van der Spuy reverts to the bench for Saturday’s final, where he is joined by lock Gerbrandt Grobler, who comes into the matchday squad at the expense of prop Oli Kebble, who came off the bench last weekend.

No 8 Nizaam Carr, who left the field in the first half of last week’s semifinal, has been passed fit for the final, with coach Coetzee praising the consistency in selection during the business-end of the 2014 ABSA Currie Cup.

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Xerox Golden LionsXerox Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann left his starting line-up unchanged and added Jacques van Rooyen on the substitutes bench for Saturday’s ABSA Currie Cup final against Western Province at Newlands in Cape Town.

The last time Western Province and the Lions met in a Currie Cup final was way back in 1986, when the hosts beat the then Transvaal 22-9 at Newlands.

Kick-off for Saturday’s clash is scheduled for 17:00 SA Time (15:00 GMT).

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ItalyItaly captain Sergio Parisse believes winning the first of a three-match Test series, against Samoa next month, is “crucial” if the Azzurri are to build confidence ahead of the tougher challenge of Argentina and South Africa.

“It’s crucial for us to start this Test series off on a positive note with a win,” Parisse told reporters in Rome.

Italy head into the November Test series looking for massive improvements after finishing with the Six Nations wooden spoon and returning from a mid-year tour of the south Pacific winless.

Coach Jacques Brunel has welcomed several players back from injury, including Francesco Minto, Luca Morisi, Simone Favaro and scrumhalf Edoardo Gori.

New Zealand-born Kelly Haimona and Fijian Samuela Vunisa are also among three squad debutants alongside Simone Ragusi for November’s Tests.

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USAThirty-five players have been chosen for the United States national team’s tour next month – which starts with a 1 November Test against New Zealand in Chicago.

Coach Mike Tolkin will not have all of the players will available for every match.

The US Eagles management and European officials recently reached an agreement to allow leading American players based in Britain, France and Japan to play against the All Blacks at Soldier Field.

Among them are Cameron Dolan and Samu Manoa of Northampton Saints, Newcastle Falcons’ Eric Fry, Leicester Tigers’ Blaine Scully, as well as Hayden Smith and Chris Wyles of Saracens.

Thretton Palamon will be able to leave Saracens to play against Tonga in Gloucester, England, on 15 November, and Fiji in Vannes, France, on 22 November.

The Eagles also will play Romania in Bucharest on 8 November.

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EnglandSaracens wing Chris Ashton has been dropped from Stuart Lancaster’s England squad for the End Of Year Tours (November Internationals).

Ashton has been replaced in the squad by Bath wing Semesa Rokoduguni, one of three uncapped players named in the 33-man squad on Wednesday.

England play against New Zealand ( 8November), South Africa (15 November), Samoa (22 November) and Australia (29 November).

Chris Robshaw will captain the side in the four-game series at Twickenham.

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Vodacom Blue BullsThe Blue Bulls Company have released the team sheets for the Under 19 and Under 21 teams for the ABSA Currie Cup Finals at Newlands, Cape Town against the age group sides of DHL Western Province.

Some of the Blue Bulls senior Currie Cup players have been added to the Vodacom Blue Bulls Under 21 team, with Jesse Kriel starting at Centre, Jacques du Plessis at Blindside flank and with Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg on the bench.

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ABSA Currie CupABSA Currie Cup Final ticket sales was moving along swiftly ahead of Saturday’s 2014 final at Newlands, with just 1300 seating and 2000 standing room tickets available by close of business on Monday after public sales went live – online, at the box office and at selected PostNet outlets.

Season tickets are not valid for the Final Saturday, but season ticket holders had until 12:00 SA Time on Wednesday 22 October to purchase their seats for the Final which are being held by Western Province Rugby. Scholars’ season tickets are, however, valid for the Final.

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Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

DHL Western Province’s injury concerns have improved ahead of their Currie Cup Final against the Xerox Golden Lions at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.

Eighthman Nizaam Carr, who cried off with a hip injury midway through the first half of the Semi-Final clash against the Vodacom Blue Bulls last Saturday was walking comfortably on Monday afternoon.

Centre / fullback Jaco Taute was running without discomfort after he was forced to miss the Semi-Final because of a rib injury and was tested in a contact session on Tuesday.

Western Province coach Allister Coetzee said it was pleasing to read the team’s latest medical report because the wider training squad had been given a clean bill of health.

“Nemo (Carr) is feeling much better and is walking with ease,” Coetzee said.

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ArgentinaArgentina head coach Daniel Hourcade has added 5 new players to the squad that will be touring the Northern Hemisphere in November.

Matías Moroni, Santiago Cordero, Juan Cruz Guillemain, Santiago Iglesias Valdez and Guido Petti have been brought in after not playing any part in the Rugby Championship while Mariano Galarza and Bruno Postiglioni have not been included due to injury.

With lock Mariano Galarza injured, Hourcade has brought 2 second row forwards into a 30-man squad, Juan Cruz Guillemain of Stade Francais and Guido Petti of local side SIC.

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WhistleCraig Joubert is one of 26 referees to referee a Currie Cup Final since the first one in 1939.

South Africa’s provincial teams first played in a competition in 1889. The Currie Cup was added in 1892 but played mostly as centralised tournaments. There was not a Final till 1939 and then Finals were sporadic till 1968 since when there has been a Final each year.

Refereeing the Currie Cup Final is cherished by referees as it is cherished by players who play in it. After all there is only one a year.

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WhistleCraig Joubert will take charge of the ABSA Currie Cup final between DHL Western Province and the Xerox Golden Lions at Newlands on Saturday, with Jaco Peyper and Pro Legoete named as the Assistant Referees.

Legoete has also been tasked with handling the ABSA Under 21 A Division final between DHL Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls, while Rodney Boneparte will officiate the ABSA Under 19 A Division final also between DHL Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls.

The referee appointments for the provincial play-off matches this weekend were made by the South African Rugby Union on Monday.

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South AfricaSpringbok captain Jean de Villiers spoke about Monday afternoon’s start to the national training camp in Stellenbosch as the beginning of the build-up to next year’s World Cup, and if that was so, where it all began should end up being like chalk and cheese to where it will surely end.

Twickenham next November is what the Boks are aiming for, and it will doubtless be chilly and probably a little gloomy, as it so often is in London at that time of year.

On Monday though a burning sun beat down as the Cape spring continues to play more like a summer, with sweltering conditions adding to the discomfort levels even after 5pm as the players ended their session with a grueling crawling drill directed by conditioning coach Basil Carzis.

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Schalk Brits

Schalk Brits

Marcel van der Merwe

Marcel van der Merwe

The Springboks were dealt a double blow on Monday, when first Saracens hooker Schalk Brits and then Blue Bulls tighthead prop Marcel van der Merwe was ruled out of the End Of Year Tour (November Internationals) with a knee injury.

Van der Merwe was supposed to join up with the Bok training camp this week but hurt himself in the dying minutes of the Vodacom Blue Bulls loss in the ABSA Currie Cup semifinal against DHL Western Province on Saturday, and will miss the next four to six weeks of rugby with a medial knee ligament injury.

“He fell awkwardly in the last few minutes of the game,” Blue Bulls doctor Org Strauss said, “He has a grade 2 medial ligament tear, luckily not the same knee that has given him problems in the past, I expect him to be out for anywhere between four and six weeks.”

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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks are expected to name their new Super Rugby coach and successor to Jake White within the next two weeks.

White left the Sharks in mysterious circumstances last month with reports indicating there was growing discord between himself and management, as well as with the players.

Brad Mac­Leod-Henderson took charge of the Cell C Sharks during the Currie Cup, but it’s unlikely that he’ll be the head coach during Super Rugby.

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Grant Hattingh

Grant Hattingh

Callie Visagie

Callie Visagie

The Vodacom Bulls are likely to lose the services of hooker Callie Visagie for the first few weeks of the 2015 season as he underwent shoulder surgery Tuesday in Pretoria.

With the 2014 season having come to an end, Visagie and lock Grant Hattingh are the two medical headaches for the Bulls. The surgery, in both cases is to rectify injuries that have plagued them the entire season.

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WalesWales Head Coach Warren Gatland has named a 34 man squad to play in the upcoming End Of Year Tours (November Internationals) which features just one uncapped player but no place for Adam Jones and James Hook.

Instead of British & Irish Lions prop Jones, 20-year-old Ospreys prop Nicky Smith has been called into the squad for the first time and features alongside 12 players who return to International duty after missing the summer tour to South Africa.

Gatland’s side take on Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa on consecutive weekends in November as the countdown begins to next year’s Rugby World Cup.

In the front-row, former Wales Under 20 prop Smith, who has started all seven of the Ospreys’ encounters this season, joins the experienced Gethin Jenkins and Paul James.

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Manu Tuilagi

Manu Tuilagi

England centre Manu Tuilagi will miss the End Of Year Tours (November Internationals) after suffering a groin injury during Leicester Tigers’ first match in the new European Champions Cup, the Premiership club said on Tuesday.

The Samoa-born player hobbled off the field after 15 minutes of the 25-18 win over Ulster on Saturday.

Tuilagi was making only his second start after three weeks out with a groin problem but Leicester said it was not a recurrence of the same injury.

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Barbarians RugbyThe Barbarians completed their squad with the addition of 11 more players including the South African duo of Juan de Jongh and Sarel Pretorius.

The Barbarians are set to take on the Wallabies at Twickenham on 1 November under the guidance of Blues coach John Kirwan.

Of the 11 new players added on Tuesday, the majority (5 of them) are from New Zealand with a further 3 Argentineans and a Scot to go along with the 2 South Africans.

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AustraliaNew Wallabies coach Michael Cheika included five debutants in his first squad unveiled on Wednesday for the End Of Year Tour in England, France, Ireland and Wales.

The 33-man Australia squad, led by 22-year-old Michael Hooper, includes three changes to the group that lost 29-28 to the All Blacks last Saturday.

The tour sees the return of injured duo Matt Toomua and Ben McCalman and the inclusion of uncapped Melbourne Rebels back-row forward Sean McMahon.

He is one of five uncapped players alongside Western Force pair Tetera Faulkner (prop) and Kyle Godwin (centre), and wingers Henry Speight (Brumbies) and Tom English (Rebels).

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AustraliaMichael CheikaThe Australian Rugby Union on Wednesday confirmed that Michael Cheika is the new Wallaby coach, ahead of a tough End Of Year European tour.

He has been appointed on a three-year contract, coming in the wake of the controversial departure of Ewen McKenzie as a result of the fall-out over the Kurtley Beale saga.

ARU Chief Executive Officer Bill Pulver said Michael Cheika was the outstanding candidate for the role.

“Central to our decision was selecting a world-class coach who can lead us to victory in next year’s World Cup and a person who represents the game’s core values,” Pulver said.

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Stephen Larkham

Stephen Larkham

Brumbies head coach Stephen Larkham turned down the opportunity to help coach the Wallabies on their End Of Year Tour.

The Rugby World Cup winning Wallabies playmaker Larkham has tipped to be the attack coach working as an assistant to Michael Cheika.

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika was confirmed as replacement Wallabies coach on Wednesday.

Larkham said that he was honoured to be considered but would prefer to concentrate on preparing for the Brumbies upcoming Super Rugby season.

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Recent Comments

  • Nama 26 Oct 2014, 00:57 SAST - And apparently Herr Heyneke will announce the Bok squad tomorrow without some of the Lions or WP players ever having...
  • Nama 26 Oct 2014, 00:38 SAST - What this final REALLY proved is that Jaco Taute should never ever have been Bok. But I guess, he had...
  • Nama 25 Oct 2014, 22:23 SAST - So, Gunther was one of a few "neutral" supporters who decided to support WP today. I bet he is getting...
  • Nama 25 Oct 2014, 22:13 SAST - Nou't ek vir Hondo ook weggeja. :Amazed:
  • Nama 25 Oct 2014, 22:10 SAST - Laat my wonder wat verlede jaar kon gebeur het as AC nie so vokken dom was om vir Schreuder in...
  • Nama 25 Oct 2014, 22:05 SAST - A SA final is about the final score. What happens in between is secondary.

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