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Bulls, Bokke and Scottish supporter, living in the UK.

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Assistant coach Mike Blair shrugged off comments by one the greatest All Blacks of all time, who had predicted New Zealand will “whack” Scotland by what would be a record 60 points at BT Murrayfield on Saturday evening.

Zinzan Brooke, the legendary No 8 who won 58 caps between 1987 and 1997, also used his column on the official All Blacks website to blast the Scots’ performance against Samoa last weekend, which saw them concede five tries in a 44-38 win. “If conditions are firm this weekend at Murrayfield, they could completely run Scotland ragged and whack them by 50 to 60 points,” wrote Brooke.

Scotland’s record defeat by New Zealand was a 69-20 loss in Dunedin 17 years ago, with the 49-3 defeat in 2010 the heaviest at Murrayfield.

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France will host the 2023 Rugby World Cup after beating rival bids from South Africa and Ireland.

South Africa had been expected to win the vote after an independent review recommended they stage the tournament.

However, at a World Rugby Council meeting in London on Wednesday, France was chosen to hold the 10th event.

France has staged the competition twice before – in 1991 and 2007 – and won in the second round of voting, with 24 votes compared to 15 for South Africa.

Ireland, one of five joint hosts in 1991, was eliminated after getting eight of the 39 votes in the first round – France picked up 18 and South Africa 13.

South Africa hosted the World Cup in 1995, when the Springboks beat New Zealand 15-12 in the final.

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Edinburgh prop Darryl Marfo will make his Scotland debut in Saturday’s autumn Test against Samoa at Murrayfield.

Hooker Stuart McInally makes only his fourth Test start in the absence of the injured Fraser Brown and Ross Ford.

Ben Toolis joins Jonny Gray in the second row, with fit-again Alex Dunbar and Huw Jones resuming at centre.

Three more players – Glasgow duo George Turner and Jamie Bhatti, and Newcastle centre Chris Harris – could make their Test debuts off the bench.

With Brown and Ford on a lengthy injury list, McInally makes his first appearance since the summer tour of Japan in 2016, with WP Nel getting the nod at tight-head over Zander Fagerson.

Three loose-head props – Alasdair Dickinson, Allan Dell and Gordon Reid – are are all missing, while new head coach Gregor Townsend must also do without Greig Laidlaw, Richie Gray, Sean Maitland, Duncan Taylor, Matt Scott and Adam Ashe for his first Test on home soil.

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Wing Anthony Volmink will be joining the Southern Kings on loan with immediate effect from the Golden Lions whilst centre Jarryd Sage will leave the Port Elizabeth side.

 “Jarryd [Sage] has decided to take up an offer from rival Pro14 championship outfit the Dragons and will further his rugby career with them,” said Southern Kings Chief Operating Officer Charl Crous.

“We are extremely grateful for the contribution that he made to the Southern Kings during his time here and we wish him only the best going forward.

Sage, 22, who formed part of a quartet of players who joined the Kings from the Golden Lions earlier this season, found opportunities at the local franchise hard to come by as coach Deon Davids opted for a first-choice pairing of vice-captain Luzuko Vulindlu and Berton Klaasen in midfield with Jacques Nel as occasional back-up.

Sage joins the Dragons with effect from December 1.

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Being in a Scotland international camp is always a pleasure and a privilege and, in the case of this autumn, a mighty relief.

I should go back a few months to explain what’s been going on with me this past while, to the 25th minute of a Scarlets game against Edinburgh on 23 September.

That’s when I went low in a tackle on Magnus Bradbury and caught his hip on my head. It was an innocuous collision. Looking at it, you wouldn’t have said there was any great force in it. You wouldn’t have called it a big hit.

I’ve been knocked unconscious before playing rugby, but this was different. When I was 20 and playing for the Scotland Under-21s against Wales I was out cold for about five minutes and then spent an hour in an ambulance not knowing where I was, before doing a night in hospital while my head cleared.

This time, I was out for about 10 or 15 seconds. I woke up to the sound of my own snoring. The minute I came around, I knew what had happened. The medics were tending to my neck, doing all the things they needed to do to make sure I was OK, but my neck was fine. I told them, ‘You can let go of my neck, boys, there’s nothing wrong with it’. But that’s procedure in these cases.

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PRO14 Rugby will introduce an exciting change to its Champions Cup qualification process that will see the 7th ranked team decided by a Play-Off match that will form part of the Guinness PRO14 Final Series.

This fresh addition to the Championship has been warmly welcomed by the Guinness PRO14 clubs and will see the two fourth-placed teams from each Conference face off in a winner-takes-all clash to qualify for the Champions Cup.

The fixture will take place on the first weekend of May and home advantage will be awarded to the team who has finished the regular season with the highest match-points total. This move is designed to ensure competitive balance between both Conferences in order to award the final Champions Cup qualification place.

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We look ahead to Glasgow’s historic PRO14 meeting with Cheetahs tonight in Bloemfontein. (Kick Off 7.35pm UK time, 8.35pm SA time at Toyota Stadium, Friday 6th October)
The Cheetahs are unbeaten at home this season. Glasgow Warriors have yet to taste defeat on their travels. Something has to give in Bloemfontein on Friday night.

 

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For someone who is both a Blue Bulls and Glasgow Warriors Fan there will be fewer places in the world to rather be than in Bloemfontein on Friday night. Unfortunately though this will not be possible, but the action will still be followed with much interest from many miles away.

Glasgow Warriors face the Toyota Cheetahs in their first trip to South Africa in the Guinness PRO14 while the Blue Bulls travel to Bloemfontein to take on the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in a must win Currie Cup game. It feels quite odd though that the once mighty Blue Bulls who would normally take centre stage will be playing in the curtain raiser to the BIG GAME – the PRO14 one.

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“When you put your hand in a fence where there is a lion, you will get bitten.”

For most people that’s good advice. Unfortunately for Wales and Ospreys hooker Scott Baldwin the advice came a little too late.

That’s because they are the wise words of Baldwin’s boss Steve Tandy, after the 29-year-old missed his team’s latest Pro14 fixture because he had been bitten by a lion. While trying to pet it.

“There was an incident with a lion, but in fairness it was nothing to do with the lion,” Tandy said, clearly keen to absolve the big cat of any blame.

The incident happened during a team trip to Weltevrede Game Lodge on the outskirts of Bloemfontein, before the Ospreys’ Pro14 match against their appropriately named hosts, the Cheetahs.

Everyone present on the visit was, according to Tandy, given plenty of warning not to stick their hand into the lion’s den.

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Hotly-tipped Dave Wessels has taken up a position with Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby.

The Springboks’ assistant coach Johann van Graan will succeed Rassie Erasmus as the Munster Director of Rugby. The Irish Times has learned that van Graan, who formerly worked with the Bulls and is currently coaching the Springboks’ forwards, will link up with Munster after the conclusion of the Rugby Championships.

With Erasmus set to stay on until the end of the calendar year, this will enable van Graan to work alongside Erasmus for a while so as to ensure as smooth as possible. Van Graan was last year linked with Bath and more recently was supposedly on the Bulls’ short list, along with John Mitchell, to replace Nollis Marais as head coach.

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Six Nations executives have been given until the end of the month to find new sponsors for the biggest annual tournament in world rugby after struggling to find a replacement for RBS, which ended its backing last season after 14 years. The Six Nations had been looking for a six-year, £100m deal, but having spent the past 12 months talking to a number of potential backers, there is only one firm offer on the table. That is understood to be less than the £11m a year paid by RBS at the end of its contract as the economic uncertainty blown up by Brexit deters sponsors.

The championship starts in February and the tournament committee, which met last week, told its executives that a deal had to be agreed within a fortnight.

While there has been interest from potential sponsors, no one has come anywhere near the asking price and there is concern that further delay could lead to the one offer being withdrawn. That would mean the championship lacking a backer in 2018 and that would blow a significant hole in the finances of the three Celtic unions, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

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Harlequins’ Demetri Catrakilis being stretchered off on Sunday

Harlequins fly-half Demetri Catrakilis will miss time after suffering a “small fracture” to a bone in his throat in the win over Gloucester on Sunday.

Catrakilis stopped breathing for several seconds and was taken to hospital after suffering the injury 12 minutes into the game.

Harlequins have not said how long the 28-year-old will be out for, but the injury will not require surgery.

Catrakilis was making his first start since joining Quins in the summer.

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Southern Kings head coach, Deon Davids, named a strong side on Thursday that will take on the Scarlets in the opening match of the Guinness PRO14 Championship.

The Southern Kings will face the defending Guinness PRO14 champions at Parc y Scarlets in Llanelli on Saturday when they play in their first match of the 2017/18 season.

Davids will field an experienced team which includes players who have plied their trade in the Guinness PRO14 previously as well as the Vodacom Super Rugby competition. The side will be led by captain, Michael Willemse.

“We have some exciting players in the backline and we also have some talent in the forwards. I would like to see a good balance between the backs and forwards,” Davids said.

“I will encourage the guys to play the way we are used to playing – that is playing towards where our pace is, making good decisions and recognising and using areas of space.

“We also need to be wary of the fact that games are not only won with ball in hand, our biggest challenge will be our work rate, intensity and physicality without the ball. That will be a big ask for us.”

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The Toyota Cheetahs will become the first southern hemisphere side ever to take part in the Guinness PRO14 championship.

The side from Bloemfontein will be making history when they take on Ulster Rugby on Friday evening at 20:35 (SA time) at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast, Ireland.

“The Toyota Cheetah players are extremely excited to join this world class championship”, said Toyota Cheetah captain, Neill Jordaan after arriving in Belfast on Wednesday.

Guinness PRO14 will for the first time play under the new Conference format which sees each team play home and away against clubs in their own Conference and then home or away against the other Conference before two more rounds that ensure all derby games are played, which formed an important part the competition up till now.

South Africans who previously played for Ulster are Johann Muller, Ruan Pienaar and Franco van der Merwe.

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A truly historic chapter will be written this weekend when the first-ever Guinness PRO14 season kicks off after the addition of the Toyota Cheetahs and the Southern Kings from South Africa.

As this world class Championship continues to raise the bar, the introduction of the Cheetahs and the Kings makes the Guinness PRO14 a global tournament. Round 1 also marks the first games played under the new Conference format which sees each team play home and away against clubs in their own Conference and then home OR away against the other Conference before two more rounds that ensure all derby games are played.

The Cheetahs will be the first team from South Africa to go up against ‘northern’ opposition when they travel to Kingspan Stadium on Friday night to face Ulster while the Kings face a daunting trip to Parc Y Scarlets where the men from Llanelli will play their first Championship game since winning the title at Aviva Stadium last May.

 
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Premiership and Championship players will take part this season in the development of a new pitch-side test to diagnose concussion and brain injuries.

Saliva and urine samples will be collected during the new campaign, after studies showed they could provide swift indicators of head injuries.

It could lead to a handheld device to assess if a player is fit to play on.

 “We are keen to give it our full support,” Premiership Rugby’s Corin Palmer said.

During matches in 2017-18, players with confirmed or suspected concussion will provide saliva samples immediately following the injury and will give follow-up samples as they go through the return-to-play protocol.

These will be compared to players from the same game who did not suffer head injuries and those who had other injuries.

The study will run alongside the existing Head Injury Assessments, but if the results support those found in laboratory tests, it could eventually see tests being carried out pitch-side on a device.

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Captains from the PRO14 teams posing in Dublin

The Guinness PRO14 official launch gave a sneak peek of this year’s final venue as media gathered at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

After the Scarlets claimed the 2016/17 title in style last year in the Irish capital, the first-ever Guinness PRO14 final will take place at the same ground.

For Guinness PRO14 Chief Executive Officer Martin Anayi, it offers the championship some stability at a time of expansion with the introduction of two South African teams, the Southern Kings and the Toyota Cheetahs, as well as a conference system.

And Anayi believes using the Aviva Stadium will pay dividends for the clubs in the long-term, while offering a top class stadium for the showpiece final.

He said: “It’s an amazing facility, it’s an iconic venue and we do great business here. That’s important when you understand our model. Our model is to give revenue back to the clubs to be competitive on the pitch.

“The final from last season and this final coming up in 2018 will allow us to deliver as much revenue as we can in this season of great change for the good. A little bit of stability goes a long way.”

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While all eyes will be on the semi-finals as New Zealand take on USA and France tackle defending champions England, there is still plenty for the other eight teams to play for on the penultimate day of Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 in Belfast.

The Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 semi-finals have a sense of déjà vu about them as they are a repeat of those from the inaugural tournament back in 1991.

On that occasion in Wales, USA edged past New Zealand 7-0 and England overcame France 13-0. Four-time champions New Zealand and France, bidding to reach their first final, will hope that history does not repeat itself to end their title dreams prematurely in Ireland.

The attention inevitably will be on the two semi-finals at Kingspan Stadium, but there is still plenty for the other eight teams to play for on the penultimate match day of Ireland 2017, be it automatic qualification for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021 or simply to achieve the best ranking they can.

The top seven teams will secure direct passage to WRWC 2021 and avoid the global qualification process. For hosts Ireland, Australia, Canada and Wales that means if they can taste victory on Tuesday they will confirm their place and avoid the winner-takes-all seventh place play-off on Saturday.

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Promising young flyhalf Curwin Bosch, No 8 Dan du Preez and fullback Warrick Gelant were on Saturday included in the 34-man Springbok squad for the start of the 2017 Rugby Championship campaign.

The 22-year old Du Preez is the twin brother of Springbok loose forward Jean-Luc du Preez.

Springbok coach, Allister Coetzee, said he is pleased with the largely unchanged squad, which allows for greater continuity and consistency.

“Our players must be well-conditioned, match-fit and also be able to make good on-field decisions. We are also looking for continuity, experience and combinations – all elements which I believe are reflected in the current squad selection,” said Coetzee.

The Springbok group gets together on Tuesday, 8 August in Port Elizabeth to start their preparations for the 2017 campaign, which kicks off their on 19 August against Argentina at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

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The Cheetahs will face a tough start to life in the Guinness Pro14 as they kick off with two games against Irish opposition in Ireland. They are due to play their opening fixture on Friday the 1st of September against Ulster in Belfast and then play last season’s finalists Munster the following weekend.

The Kings start their PRO14 journey on the road in Wales against reigning Champions Scarlets during the weekend of 1st to 2nd September and then make the short hop to Gallway in Ireland to face Connacht the following weekend.

Both teams return home for the matches during the weekend of 15th to 16th September with the Cheetahs getting a bit of a reprieve as they host Italian team Zebre while things get tougher for the Kings as they play against Leinster in their first home game of the tournament.

The last weekend of September will see Bloemfontein play host to the Ospreys who will be the first Welsh team to make the overnight flight to South Africa in the PRO14. This is all if the scoop from a local publication ahead of the official fixture announcement next week is accurate.

 

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Celtic Rugby and the South African Rugby Union have today confirmed that the Toyota Cheetahs and the Southern Kings will join an expanded Guinness PRO14 tournament in time for the upcoming 2017/18 season.

A long-term strategic agreement has been signed by both parties which will allow the participation of two South African franchises in the renamed Guinness PRO14 Championship.

The agreement means that the Championship will take place across the northern and southern hemispheres and marks the first phase of expansion as the Guinness PRO14 becomes a truly global tournament.

This move will contribute to the drive for ever higher standards that we demand across the tournament and provide greater resources to our clubs who will compete in the most testing environment the Championship has ever created.

We can also reassure supporters across the Championship that all current home and away Derby games have been protected – these fixtures are sacrosanct to the tournament and those tribal rivalries are just one element of what makes the Guinness PRO14 so special.

With a new format, new teams and new audiences the Guinness PRO14 – which leads World Rugby statistics for Positive Play – will hit even greater heights in 2017/18.

 
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Scottish Rugby is developing a performance pathway with French club Stade Nicois to provide wider opportunities for Scottish players.

For the coming season five players will be based in Nice and will provide playing and coaching resources for the Federale 2 team.

Former Glasgow Warrior centurion Peter Murchie ended his association with the Scotstoun based club at the end of last season and will be developing his coaching with Stade Nicois.

Joining him is former Glasgow Warrior Tyrone Holmes who will be starting a new career path in strength and conditioning with the French club.

On the playing front Scotland U20 players Josh Henderson and Bruce Flockhart are currently in pre-season training with Stade Nicois with a view to playing there in the forthcoming season. Former London Scottish hooker David Cherry has also signed for the club.

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The shadow sports minister has urged the Rugby Football Union to reconsider its decision not to renew the contracts of England’s women’s XV players.

In a letter Dr Rosena Allin-Khan tells chief executive Ian Ritchie of her “deep concern”.

Despite England preparing to defend the World Cup next month, the RFU said its focus will switch to the sevens game after the tournament.

“To make this decision is deeply disappointing,” wrote Allin-Khan.

“Asking players to pause and resume their professions every two years puts their futures at considerable risk.”

The RFU, which announced record revenues last year of more than £400m, said its priorities shift between the XVs and sevens programmes, with the World Cup Sevens and Commonwealth Games taking place next year.

It said the England XV side will continue to take part in competitions, and that it has invested millions of pounds in the women’s game, including £800,000 annually on a new domestic competition aimed at increasing and improving the talent pool available for selection for England.

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Scotland Women 7s squad got off to a flying start under new Head Coach Scott Wight. Not only did they win the Rugby Europe Women’s Sevens Trophy, they also gained promotion to the Grand Prix competition next season.

They were unbeaten in both rounds in the Czech Republic and Hungary and cruised past the opposition to score 485 points in 12 games, while conceding just 12 points.

Wight said: “At the first tournament I started the same seven but after Hungary it showed where they are as a squad because I didn’t have the same starting seven once showing the depth of the squad.

“Before the Czech Republic I was probably more nervous than I was at the final at Twickenham. When you’re playing you’re in total control, you can make the calls, you know you’re fit whereas with coaching you’ve done all the work beforehand.”

Wight, who started working with the squad in April as Scotland 7s season came to and end, selected a mix of youth and experience for the first outing and kept the same 12 for the second round.

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Nigel Owens

Rugby union referee Nigel Owens reveals his struggle with eating disorder bulimia nervosa is not over and remains an ongoing battle.

There have been a number of ‘firsts’ in my life.

As a referee in world-class rugby, one of the most macho sports on the planet, I was the first in the sport to come out as being gay.

In the hope of reaching out to other young people struggling with mental health, I was also one of the first sportsmen to speak openly about the biggest regret of my life – a suicide attempt.

Early one morning at the age of 26, I left a note for my mum and dad, both of whom had been hugely supportive of me, explaining I couldn’t carry on, that I desperately wanted to bring it all to an end.

I took an overdose, laid down on a Welsh mountainside and waited to die. Doctors later told me I was just 20 minutes from death when I was airlifted to hospital by a police helicopter.

So I got a second chance. I was determined not to waste it and using my experience to help someone else is a pretty good way of ensuring that.

Which brings me onto another ‘first’; I’ve spoken about dealing with bulimia in the past but have never before revealed that to this day I continue to struggle with an eating disorder.

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Southern Kings and Toyota Cheetahs are set for September start up north

It is understood a deal to expand the Pro12 to 14 teams from next season has been agreed.

The South African sides Toyota Cheetahs and Southern Kings will join the league after losing their Super Rugby status.

The 6-year deal is likely to benefit the league to the tune of an extra £6m per season from the South African Rugby Union and additional television income.

All elements of the deal have been agreed and, once legally ratified, could be formally announced next week.

The new Pro14 league will kick-off in the first week of September and will comprise 2 conferences of 7 teams. Each conference will have 1 Scottish side, 1 South African side, 1 Italian side and 2 each from Wales and Ireland.

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As they prepared to do battle against South Africa in 1997, Jim Telfer told his pack of forwards that very few players get to “reach for the top of Everest” by winning a Lions Test series. The number of Scots to sample that rarefied atmosphere in the two decades since is significantly fewer still.

On the most iconic tour of the professional era, the Lions tamed an almighty Springboks outfit, with Scottish stalwarts Tom Smith, Rob Wainwright, Gregor Townsend and Alan Tait all starting Tests as the world champions were handed a 2-1 series defeat.

Four years later Smith started all three Tests in Australia – as he had in South Africa – but was the only Scot to make the starting XV during the series. If that was bad, worse was to follow.

On the tours to New Zealand in 2005, South Africa in 2009 and Australia in 2013, not a single Scot started a Test. Indeed, only three players appeared off the bench in those series.

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The Cheetahs and the Kings will not play Super Rugby in 2018. SA Rugby confirmed the news on Friday, with the Cheetahs having agreed to a settlement.

Both the Kings and the Cheetahs agreed that they would be seeking other international opportunities, with a move to the Pro12 in Europe reportedly an option.

The Cheetahs had an agreement in place to play Super Rugby until 2020, but the board of the franchise decided on an amicable settlement with SA Rugby.

“The board of the Cheetahs has reviewed the team’s future and is extremely positive about the prospect of appearing in alternative international competitions,” Cheetahs CEO Harold Verster said.

“It will be an exciting challenge for our players, supporters and commercial partners and will be the start of a new chapter for rugby both in our region and in South Africa. Also, it will allow the Cheetahs to carve out a new and prominent place on the rugby map in South Africa as well as internationally.”

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Brandon Thomson to return to Scotstoun

Stormers fly-half Brandon Thomson will return to Glasgow Warriors on a permanent contract ahead of the 2017/18 season, subject to medical.

The 22-year-old impressed during a short loan spell earlier this year and will return to Scotstoun on a two-year deal within the next couple of months.

Thomson played three times for Glasgow and scored a try on his debut against Ulster.

He can play at fly-half and full-back and has scored 26 points for the Stormers in seven Super Rugby appearances.

Thomson has also represented South Africa U20 at the Junior World Rugby Championship and has played for Western Province in the Provincial Cup and Currie Cup.

His current Stormers teammates Huw Jones and Oli Kebble will also join this summer and other additions to the squad include Adam Hastings from Bath, Callum Gibbins from the Hurricanes, Lelia Masaga from the Chiefs and Samuela Vunisa from Saracens.

Brandon Thomson said: “I’m very excited to be heading back to Scotstoun. I really enjoyed my short stint there earlier in the year and I’m looking forward to many more good times.

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Scotland’s Autumn Test match against current World Champions, the All Blacks, has sold out in record time, Scottish Rugby has announced.

The match against New Zealand is part of new Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend’s first home series and the match at BT Murrayfield is only the second ever sell-out for an Autumn Test game, with the previous one also featuring the All Blacks back in 2012.

As they prepare to face the British & Irish Lions in the final decider this weekend, the All Blacks will return to Scotland on Saturday 18 November for the first time since 2014, when they narrowly beat their hosts 24-16.

BT Murrayfield, which has a capacity of 67,144, will also see Scotland play Samoa on 11 November and recent rivals Australia on 25 November in the three match series.

Following the success of the Scotland Season Pass and Autumn Test Packages, sales of which have broken all records over the last few weeks, the remaining individual seats for all three 2017 Autumn Tests went on sale yesterday – Monday 3 July – and the New Zealand game sold out before the close of business, making it the fastest selling game in recent history.

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South African teams Cheetahs and Southern Kings are set to join the Pro12 as early as September 2017.

The two sides are expected to be cut by South African rugby union authorities from Super Rugby on Friday, 7 July as the southern hemisphere competition is reduced from 18 to 15 teams.

That will pave the way for them to join teams from Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Italy in a 14-team league.

The new format is set to start for the 2017-18 season.

Celtic Rugby Limited – which governs the Pro12 – Cheetahs, Southern Kings and the South African Rugby Union have all been contacted by BBC Wales Sport but declined to comment.

Teams will play on a home and away basis but what has yet to be agreed is the format of the competition, whether it will be played as one 14-team league or more likely two conferences of seven.

There has been speculation the South African sides could play some of their home matches in the United Kingdom, with Saracens’ Allianz Arena mooted as a potential venue.

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The Vodacom Blue Bulls added more silverware to their impressive trophy cabinet with overall victory at the Beachcomber World Club 10s in Mauritius on Sunday.

The Beachcomber 10s trophy will sit proudly alongside three Super Rugby trophies and 23 Currie Cup winners’ medals at Loftus Versfeld after some excellent play from the Blue Bulls.

In the final, the Pretoria based franchise beat the Toyota Cheetahs 26-7, using smothering defence and good options from turnover ball to create opportunities and frustrate their opponents in a hugely physical contest.

Fullback Duncan Matthews opened the scoring in the final when he ran on to a well-weighted grubber by scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl.

After the halftime hooter sounded, it was the Bulls who kept probing. Wing Sibhale Mxwane made a good break from deep and produced a deft offload to the supporting Shaun Adendorff, who went in for the score.

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Springbok coach Allister Coetzee on Tuesday named a 31-man squad for a three-Test series against France in June.

Warren Whiteley was named as the 58th Springbok captain and will get his first opportunity to lead the team when a much-changed squad, which includes eight uncapped players, gets together for the series at a training camp in Plettenberg Bay next week.

The national selectors also recalled six experienced players to the squad. They are Rugby World Cup winner Frans Steyn, Jan Serfontein, Francois Hougaard, Duane Vermeulen, Coenie Oosthuizen and Chiliboy Ralepelle. They have more than 200 Test caps of experience between them.

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Josh Bassett scored a try two minutes from time as Wasps reached their first Premiership final in nine years with a thrilling victory over Leicester.

Kurtley Beale helped Wasps build a 10-point lead but Peter Betham’s try saw Tigers three points down at half-time.

Leicester led when Telusa Veainu dived over, and Freddie Burns’ kick had them four points up and defending bravely.

Thomas Young spurned a chance as Wasps pressed but Bassett scored in the corner to set up a final with Exeter.

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Munster will take on Scarlets for the 2016-17 Pro12 title in next Saturday’s final after seeing off Ospreys at Thomond Park.

The win denied the lacklustre visitors an all-Welsh final against their closest rivals in Dublin.

But they could have no complaints on a day when only Munster touched down.

Francis Saili, Simon Zebo and Andrew Conway went over for the clinical hosts while Dan Biggar kicked Ospreys’ sole penalty.

Scarlets had stunned Leinster 27-15 in Dublin a day earlier and will meet Munster at the city’s Aviva Stadium on Saturday 27 May (18:15 BST) in the final.

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