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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gloucester make three changes to the side that won their European Challenge Cup semi-final at La Rochelle as they face Stade Francais in Friday’s final.
Centre Matt Scott, wing Charlie Sharples and back row Lewis Ludlow come in for Henry Trinder, David Halaifonua and Jacob Rowan respectively.
But they change six from Saturday’s loss to Exeter in their final Premiership game of the season.
Victory would see the Cherry and Whites lift the trophy for the third time.
Success at Murrayfield would also keep Gloucester’s hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions Cup alive, after their ninth-placed finish in the Premiership ruled out automatic qualification.
An English winner of the Challenge Cup would go forward to May’s Champions Cup play-offs instead of the side seventh in the league, Northampton Saints.
The Springboks have been drawn alongside the All Blacks in Pool B for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan following Tuesday’s draw in Kyoto.
The Boks will also play against Italy in the pool stages, as well as a yet-to-be-determined Africa 1 team and the Repechage winner.
The final eight teams will only be confirmed following the continental qualification process, which will only be fully completed in November 2018.
It will be the first World Cup hosted by Japan and it will be the first time that the All Blacks and the Boks will meet in the pool stages of a World Cup.
Head Coach Gregor Townsend named three uncapped players in a 34-man Scotland squad for next month’s three-test summer tour, the first under his stewardship.
The national team will face their opponents on consecutive Saturdays, starting with an historic test match against Italy in Singapore (10 June), followed by Australia in Sydney (17 June) and Fiji in Suva (24 June).
Glasgow Warriors’ centre Nick Grigg, prop D’Arcy Rae and Edinburgh Rugby hooker George Turner are the uncapped men to tour and will look to add international honours to their senior club careers.
Johan ‘Rassie’ Erasmus was named Pro12′ Coach of the Season after guiding Munster to the semifinals of the Celtic League.
Erasmus, who is in his first season in charge of the Irish province, also had six of his Munster players named in the Pro12 Dream Team during the Pro12 Awards, which took place in Dublin on Sunday.
Erasmus recently confirmed that he will see out his contract with Munster after rumours circulated earlier this this year that he was going to return to South Africa to link up with the Springboks.
Meanwhile, Fellow South Africans Jaco Taute and Ruan Pienaar were included in the Dream Team.
England scrum-half Ben Youngs has withdrawn from the Lions tour to New Zealand after the wife of his brother Tom learned that she is terminally ill.
Ben, 27, is a team-mate of hooker and captain Tom, 30, at Leicester Tigers and the pair will play in the remainder of the Premiership season for the club.
Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw replaces Ben Youngs on the Lions tour.
“We are a very close family and, as I am sure everyone can respect, time is now precious together,” said Ben.
“The most important thing for me at this difficult time is to be able to offer as much support as I can to Tom and his family in the remaining time we all have together.”
Ulster gave club legend Ruan Pienaar a winning send off at Kingspan with a 17-13 victory over Leinster but it wasn’t enough for them to sneak into the Guinness PRO12 semi-finals.
The home side needed a bonus point victory at least but were unable to get the four-tries against a Leinster side who slipped to second after Munster’s victory.
Roger Wilson, on his 221nd and last Ulster appearance, and Andrew Trimble got the vital scores for Ulster while Leinster responded with a penalty try.
An emotional Pienaar led out the Ulster side with his son Jean Luc at the Kingspan Stadium in what was in final appearance for the club.
Irish-born Ian McKinley has been called into Italy’s squad for their summer Tests six years after losing his sight in his left eye.
McKinley, now 27, was on Leinster’s books when he suffered the serious injury after sustaining an accidental boot to his eye.
The Dubliner was forced to retire but made a playing return in Italy thanks to special protective goggles.
His form has led Italy coach, former Ireland international Conor O’Shea, to name the fly-half in a 44-man squad for the Tests against Scotland, Fiji and Australia.
Ireland Under-20 international McKinley now qualifies for the Azzurri under the residency rule.
Premiership Rugby is investigating the possibility of introducing South African teams into the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
The competition currently features the 12 English Premiership clubs and the 4 Welsh regions.
But changes to rugby’s calendar post-2019 would offer English rugby bosses the chance to invite Currie Cup teams into the developmental tournament.
The prospective competition would run during the international windows in November and February / March.
The Currie Cup is the second tier of professional rugby in South Africa.
Currently, club tournaments are split into hemispheres but it is understood there is now a more open-minded approach to arranging them by time-zones.
Lock Joe Launchbury and centre Jonathan Joseph are set to lead a list of shock English exclusions from the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand. Both men, who starred in England’s Six Nations triumph, face being left out of Warren Gatland’s squad, which will be named at 12:00 BST (13:00 SA Time) on Wednesday.
About 14 Englishmen are expected to be in the 37-39-man party, including prop Kyle Sinckler and centre Ben Te’o.
But England captain Dylan Hartley’s chances are rated as 50-50.
Other stalwarts of Eddie Jones’ side, such as flankers James Haskell and Chris Robshaw, and fly-half George Ford, are also thought to be unlikely to force their way into Gatland’s plans at this stage.
Despite finishing fifth in the Six Nations, Wales are still set for a strong contingent of up to 11 players, with the likes of Alun Wyn Jones, prospective captain Sam Warburton, Taulupe Faletau, Rhys Webb, Jonathan Davies and George North among those highly likely to be included.
Conversely, winning three of their five matches in the Championship seems unlikely to have helped Scotland’s representatives, with full-back Stuart Hogg the only selection certainty.
Former All-Blacks fly-half Nick Evans is to retire at the end of the season, once his commitments with Premiership side Harlequins come to an end.
Evans, 36, won 16 caps for New Zealand and has been one of the most successful overseas imports to the Premiership since moving to the Stoop in 2008.
He won a Premiership title in 2011-12 and holds Quins’ scoring record, having amassed 2,217 points in 206 games.
“I couldn’t think of a better place to finish my career,” Evans said.
“This game has taught me everything, showed me things I could never imagine and introduced me to people that are not team-mates but family.
“I need to thank the clubs I have represented, the coaches – who have helped shape the player I am today – and the fans, both in New Zealand where it all started, and here in the UK, for their support and cheers.”
Grayson Hart is set to become the second player to join Ealing Trailfinders from Glasgow Warriors this year when the international scrum-half signs on in time for pre-season.
Hart has won three caps for Scotland and follows the route paved by fly-half Rory Clegg who arrived from Glasgow Warriors in February.
“It is such an exciting time to be joining the Ealing Trailfinders as they are playing some excellent rugby and I want to help the club continue to grow.
“I want to contribute to the club on and off the field as best as I possibly can and keep developing as a player and a person.”
The 28-year-old Hart hails from Kaitaia in New Zealand and helped their U20 side win the 2008 U20 World Championship with a 38-3 win over England in the final.
However, he qualified to play for Scotland through his maternal grandmother and won his first cap away to Canada on Scotland’s 2016 summer tour. He then won a further two against Argentina and South Africa.
Oli Kebble will join the Warriors next season and the South African-born prop says he has ambitions to play international rugby for Scotland.
Oli will join Glasgow Warriors from the Cape Town-based Stormers after his Super Rugby commitments and will qualify for Scotland honours after completing three years of residency under World Rugby’s eligibility criteria.
He could follow in the footsteps of fellow-prop WP Nel who qualified for Scotland during his time with Edinburgh.
Oli said: “That’s definitely a goal of mine. I’d love to play international rugby and to play for Scotland would be a great honour. I know there’s a three-year waiting period and we’ll see how far I come, but it would definitely be a great thing if I could represent Scotland one day.
“For any rugby player, the ultimate goal would be to play international rugby, so I definitely considered that when talking to the Scottish Rugby Union, and that’s why I chose Glasgow in the end.”
Edinburgh Rugby lock Lewis Carmichael has joined Australian Super Rugby outfit Western Force on a short-term loan as part of his personal player development plan.
Carmichael – a first year pro who also plays for Melrose in the BT Premiership – will be available for the Perth based side until the end of the current Super Rugby campaign.
The agreement was brokered by Scottish Rugby’s Director of Rugby, Scott Johnson, and Edinburgh Rugby’s Managing Director, Jonny Petrie, and is designed to help players gain experience in a different training and cultural environment.
Carmichael, who progressed through the Scotland age-grade system, said: “I’m really excited to get out to Australia and it was an offer that I jumped to take.
A Welsh rugby coach has posted photographs on social media of burns his players received playing on an artificial pitch.
Merthyr RFC coach Lee Jarvis said seven players suffered the friction burns to their legs and arms after their match at Sardis Road, Pontypridd.
Merthyr were playing RGC 1404 in the National Cup semi-final on Sunday.
A spokesman for Pontypridd RFC said the club had no comment to make.
Merthyr RFC posted photos of the injuries on Twitter.
“With the weather being dry, they do say you need to water the pitch.”
He said the players would be assessed later to see if they are fit to play their fixture against Pontypridd on Saturday.
Edinburgh Rugby today announced the re-signing of Scotland international tighthead prop Willem ‘WP’ Nel on a three-year deal.
The highly sought-after front-row’s contract extension will keep him at the capital club until at least May 2020.
Nel joined Edinburgh Rugby in 2012 on a three-year deal, which was subsequently extended, and has made 102 appearances in the black and red since debuting against Munster the same year.
Renowned primarily for his world-class scrummaging, Nel has many strings to his bow and has crossed the whitewash on 15 occasions, scoring 75 points for the capital club.
Nel qualified to play for Scotland through residency in 2015 and went on to make his international debut later that year against Italy in Turin.
He has since been awarded 15 Scotland caps – including appearances in all of the national side’s Rugby World Cup 2015 and 2016 RBS 6 Nations matches – scoring two tries in the process.
Eddie Jones says the British and Irish Lions should name four captains for the tour of New Zealand – one from each of their four national teams.
Lions head coach Warren Gatland has said “half-a-dozen players are in contention” to lead his squad.
England’s Dylan Hartley, Ireland’s Rory Best, Wales’ Alun Wyn Jones and Greig Laidlaw of Scotland are among those.
“I would take those four captains and make that the leadership group,” England coach Jones said.
“Then after the warm-up games, whoever was the leading player I would make captain for the first Test,” added the Australian.
“You look at the last Lions tour and Sam Warburton captained the first two and Alun Wyn Jones captained the third, so I think you can separate it.
“It would be different but I would reckon you would get a great result, with those four captains running the team for you and making sure they set the standards on and off the field.”
Head Coach Vern Cotter has made one change to the starting Scotland side to face England at Twickenham Stadium this Saturday in the RBS 6 Nations (kick-off 4pm UK time, 6pm SA time).
Edinburgh Rugby back-row Hamish Watson returns to the front-line having started the opening two rounds of the Championship. He takes the place of the injured John Hardie (knee), whom he replaced in the 25th minute of the last round’s win over Wales.
Uncapped clubmate Cornell Du Preez takes Watson’s vacated place on the bench and will make his debut if called upon.
The Scots are seeking a first win in English headquarters since 1983 and a first Triple Crown since 1990, while England aim to equal New Zealand’s record of 18-straight Test wins for a tier-one nation.
Owen Farrell should be fit for England’s Calcutta Cup meeting with Scotland at Twickenham on Saturday despite injuring his leg in training.
The 25-year-old centre left training early on Thursday, but is expected to feature in Friday’s captains’ run.
“He ran into someone at training, simple as that,” said head coach Eddie Jones, who initially joked Farrell had collided with the Australian’s dog.
“He’s in doubt but we will see. He should be right.”
Victory for England over Scotland would give the defending Six Nations champions a record-equalling 18th consecutive win and put them one win away from a second straight Grand Slam.