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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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Cheetahs (17) 26 / 29 (10) Glasgow Warriors (Final Score)

The Toyota Cheetahs and Glasgow Warriors did battle in the Guinness PRO14 2017 at

Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa at 20:35 SA Time (19:35 UK Time, 18:35 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.

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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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Guinness PRO14 – Rugby-Talk PRO14 2017

 

Hi,

We have 1 NEW SuperBru Pool for all to join!

  • The Guinness PRO14 2017 starts on 1 September 2017, so hurry up and join up for the competition where the Toyota Cheetahs and Southern Kings now form part of this vital Northern Hemisphere tournament. Immediately also make your picks for Round 1!

As of 2016 we have been doing it a bit differently and opened our Pools up to all readers of Rugby-Talk.com, but we encourage you to register as a subsciber on Rugby-Talk.com anyway, as our banter and commenting about our Pools will mostly take place here on the website and not on the SuperBru banter boards! It is so easy to register and such fun to discuss rugby here.

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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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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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All Blacks (12) 15 / 15 (6) B & I Lions (Final Score)

The New Zealand All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions did battle in the Lions Tour of 2017 at

Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 08:35 UK Time, 07:35 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.

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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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  • grootblousmile 14 Oct 2017, 19:13 SAST - So, the 4 traditional BIG Unions are the semi-finalists! But credit to the Toyota Free State Cheetahs for almost making...
  • grootblousmile 14 Oct 2017, 19:10 SAST - By no means easy semi-finals coming up!! With the Vodacom Blue Bulls finally starting to understand and play according to...
  • grootblousmile 14 Oct 2017, 19:05 SAST - Xerox Golden Lions (13) 44 / 17 (10) Toyota Free State Cheetahs (Final Score)
  • grootblousmile 14 Oct 2017, 19:03 SAST - Still the game continues... Robert Kruger intercepts and scores for the Golden Lions!
  • grootblousmile 14 Oct 2017, 19:01 SAST - Cheetahs penalty, high tackle...
  • grootblousmile 14 Oct 2017, 19:00 SAST - Time is now up on the clock, as the last restart kick is taken.


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