The latest news regarding Player Movements, the appointment of coaches and player movement miths set straight.
Some players are definately moving, some are extending their stay, some refute rumours of possible movement, whilst on the coaching side of things the John Mitchell saga carries on. The Crusaders also appoint 2 vital Assistant coaches for 2013.
You will find the news, item by item below:
Northampton Saints and former Springbok tighthead Brian Mujati will leave for French Top 14 club Racing Metro at the end of the season.
According to the BBC website, Mujati, 28, is eager for a new challenge and has decided not to take the option of a third year on his Saints contract.
Saints director of rugby Jim Mallinder said: “We will be disappointed if he goes but you can’t blame him.”
“If teams come in from France who’ve got a bottomless pit (of money), and want to buy a front row, that’s what they’re doing.”
Zimbabwe-born Mujati, has 12 caps for the Springboks after making his debut on June 7, 2008 against Wales in Bloemfontein. He has scored three tries in the Green and Gold.
Springbok lock Bakkies Botha will see out his career in France after extending his contract at Toulon until June 2015.
The 33-year-old has impressed since he arrived at the Stade Mayol last December with the side soaring to the summit of the Top 14 standings.
Botha played for the Springboks at last year’s World Cup in New Zealand, but he was not included in new coach Heyneke Meyer’s touring squad for November’s Test matches in Europe, although he was put on stand-by.
Botha’s heir apparent to the Springbok No.4 jersey Eben Etzebeth enjoyed a meteoric rise to Test rugby this season and was named the South African Rugby Union Young Player of the Year.
The 21-year-old’s physicality has drawn comparisons to the abrasive Botha, who played 76 Tests for the Springboks and holds the world record with fellow World Cup winner Victor Matfield for most Tests as a starting lock (62).
Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn says reports linking him with a move to French club Stade Francais are premature.
Reports on Tuesday revealed that Steyn had met with Stade Francais officials in London last Saturday to negotiate a possible deal.
The 28-year-old flyhalf endured a disappointing season that saw him lose his grip on the Springbok No.10 jersey and ultimately a place in the South African matchday squad, leading to speculation that he would become the latest player to head abroad.
Steyn, however, said on social network Twitter that media linking him with an imminent move to France had jumped the gun.
He tweeted: “And the media is running with a story again……I am with the Bulls till end 2013, it’s maybe just a few options for the future!”
Bulls management confirmed that Steyn is contracted until the end of 2013. Despite having signed Baby Bok flyhalf Handré Pollard and having Louis Fouche on their books, it’s improbable that the Pretoria-based franchise would grant Steyn an early release.
Former All Blacks and Golden Lions coach has rejoined Aviva Premiership Rugby club Sale Sharks where first started coaching in 1996 and has already started coaching the players.
Mitchell explained that Sale CEO Steve Diamond contacted whilst he was still coaching in South Africa but said that before he could join Sale he had to clear his name with the Lions.
“Well, Dimes sort of gave me an SOS call to see what was happening. At that particular time I was in suspension and had to go through a process. I’m thrilled to have got through that process to be found innocent of all allegations.
“The next thing was to be reinstated in my position and then at that point I mutually agreed with the Golden Lions that they have moved on and emotionally I have moved on. That’s what I had to get done. ”
Mitchell joined the Lions in 2010 as Currie Cup coach with a year to run on his Western Force contract but after a short time in South Africa he had his Force contract cancelled in order for him to join the Lions.
The 2003 All Black Rugby World Cup coach’s time with the Force was not an entirely happy affair as the players objected to his style of coaching and his powers had to be cut back.
Ironically earlier this year the Lions players made almost identical objections to Mitchell’s coaching style which led to him being suspended by the Lions for almost six months but was eventually cleared of all charges.
“It’s taken a lot longer than I would have hoped. It’s been six months and five days of a hearing,” Mitchell told the Manchester Evening News.
“So it’s been an arduous process but I had to get everything cleared so that I could move on. My reputation is still very much intact and also my brand. ”
When Mitchell was cleared by the Lions last month he said in a statement, “I want my head coach position back at the Lions.”
“There is some unfinished business to do with the Lions.”
“Furthermore, I am determined that my future will be in South Africa”.
However Mitchell revealed that he had no intention of staying in South Africa and had committed to the Sale Sharks who had appointed him on their Rugby Strategy Management Board.
“I was always committed to coming back. I said to Steve that I wouldn’t let him down. I would have liked to have been here sooner but obviously I was still employed by the Lions. There was a lot of speculation but I was always coming back.
“To come over and have a look was quite refreshing as I was able to understand what was happening at Sale and see why the team are in this position and then look at bringing some solutions. (Mitchell watched the games against Cardiff Blues, Montpellier and Worcester Warriors).”
Mitchell came to terms with the Golden Lions last week on Friday and wil continue to work with them as a technical consultant.
While Mitchell’s arrival at Sale took longer than expected the club need him now more than ever as they have only won one match in the Premiership and on the weekend lost 29-3 to Gloucester and Mitchell wants the Sharks to change the way they are playing.
“The reality is that we are ‘bottom of the log’. It’s not going to be an easy job but I think there are a couple of immediate issues. I think some players need to increase their desire and their performance within the group. They need to have a far greater collective desire to change this and we need to play more pressure football.
“If there is one thing I’ve noticed, it’s probably that were playing at the wrong end of the field and we need to create more pressure as a team. We seem to be quite comfortable and enjoy playing with the ball but I’d like to see us get a little more excited without the ball and create more pressure at the right end of the field.
“At Sale we have always prided ourselves on playing an attractive style of rugby but also been a very hungry side. And when we’re hungry were pretty hard to stop.
“So I’d like to see a lot more hunger. You don’t necessarily need to be the best football side around but you do need that hunger.
“It’s easy to come back. I didn’t play too many games back then but we often talk about our moments in that 1996-97 season and the good times and the tough times. We weren’t a great rugby team back then and we didn’t have a lot of big names, but we dug deep for each other and that’s all we’re asking of the group right now. Just to dig deep for each other and care for each other a little bit more.
“If as a result of that we become hungrier and start playing pressure football, we’re going to be a difficult side to encounter.
“I think there has been an improvement in the scrum, There was youthful referee at Gloucester and it’s unusual to have so many penalties at the scrum but certainly at Worcester and against London Irish the scrum had made huge improvements.
“I’m a futurist and one of my strengths is that I do focus on the present.”
Crusaders appoint Aaron Mauger & Tabai Matson as assistants:
The Crusaders have announced a new Super Rugby coaching line up which includes two new assistant coaches for the 2013 season – Tabai Matson and Aaron Mauger – who will be focussing on the backs and will join Todd Blackadder as the Head Coach and Dave Hewett as Assistant Forwards Coach.
A new Head Strength and Conditioning Coach has also been appointed, with Mark Drury taking on the lead physical trainer role.
Crusaders CEO Hamish Riach said that following a thorough recruitment process, the Crusaders are thrilled with the new coaching team.
“These new appointments complete what is an exciting Crusaders team for 2013. We believe we have the right people to give the Crusaders their best chance of success next season.
“All three new appointments were involved with the Canterbury team that took out its fifth consecutive Premiership ITM Cup title recently – Tabai as Head Coach, Aaron as Attack Coach and Mark as Head Trainer – so they will bring to the Crusaders their experiences and learnings from that successful season. ”
“Many of the Crusaders squad were also involved in the Canterbury team so will be familiar with these coaches already, which will help to make the transition as seamless as possible,” Mr Riach said.
Tabai Matson took over as the head coach of the Canterbury ITM Cup team when Rob Penney moved to Ireland to coach Munster midway through this year. He formerly worked as the Assistant Coach since 2009. He is a former All Blacks, Canterbury and Crusaders centre who played five games for the All Blacks in 1995-1996, played 58 times for Canterbury and earned 25 caps for the Crusaders.
“Matson also played two tests for Fiji at the 1999 World Cup, played for Brive in France in 1998-2000, London Irish in 2000-2001, and Yamaha in Japan in 2001-2006. His other coaching roles have included head coach at Yamaha, head coach with the Gold Coast Breakers, and an assistant role with the University of Queensland.
Aaron Mauger is another former Canterbury, Crusaders and All Blacks star. He debuted for Canterbury in 1999, for the Crusaders in 2000 and for the All Blacks in 2001.
Throughout his entire career with the Crusaders he managed to rack up over 150 points, scoring 22 tries, an additional 10 conversions, two penalties and six drop goals. He is best remembered as a second five but at various times filled the fullback, centre and first five roles.”
“Before taking on the Attack Coach role with Canterbury, he worked as a resource coach with the team and as their Professional Development Manager. He has also been co-coaching High School Old Boys with old friend and teammate Reuben Thorne, leading them to the Metropolitan Trophy in their first year coaching in 2011.
Mark Drury replaces former Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Carl Jennings, who has taken up a position as head trainer to the NZ Warriors. Drury has been the Head Trainer for the Canterbury team since 2010.
He has formerly worked as Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Scottish Rugby Union National Academy; Edinburgh Rugby and the Hawkes Bay Rugby Union.
Crusaders Head Coach Todd Blackadder said the new coaching team was already into preparations for the players’ arrivals starting next week.
“There is a real buzz of excitement around the management team and we are literally rearing to go. The new appointments bring so much enthusiasm, positivity and valuable skills and experience with them, I am really excited about working with them over the coming season to make this Crusaders team the best it can be.
“Bringing our coaching resource up to four dedicated coaches to allow a more specialised focus on our defence and attack play was one of the key requirements we identified in our review of the 2012 season.”
“With this coaching team I believe that we have the right mix of experience in the different facets of play to perfectly complement our players and bring out the best in each of them,” Blackadder said.