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Player Movements

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Ian Prior

Ian Prior

The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nigel Hampton QC has accepted a guilty plea from Ian Prior of the Force for contravening Law 10.4 (j) Lifting Tackle, after he was sent off following a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

Prior has been suspended from all forms of the game for 3 weeks up to and including Sunday 17 May 2015.

The incident occurred in the 28th minute of the match between the Chiefs and Force at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on 24 April 2015.

SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nigel Hampton QC assessed the case.

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Richie McCaw, struggling to get up

Richie McCaw, struggling to get up

All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw is “unlikely” to feature for the Crusaders in Saturday’s Super Rugby show down with the Hurricanes.

The Crusaders flanker was concussed in his team’s 14-point win over the Blues in Round 11 and will undergo tests over the coming days to determine his availability for the game against the competition leaders.

But Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said no risks would be taken, and with the World Cup 4 months away, McCaw is likely to be given a week off.

“If he’s not right, there’s no way he will play, Richie,” Blackadder said.

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Ian Prior

Ian Prior

Ian Prior of the Western Force received a Red Card for a tip-tackle on Tim Nanai-Williams during a Super Rugby match against the Chiefs on Friday.

Prior dumped Nanai-Williams in a tackle that saw the Chiefs wing land on his neck and head, in an incident that occurred in the 28th minute of the match at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.

He is alleged to have contravened Law 10.4 (j) Lifting a player from the ground and dropping or driving that player into the ground whilst that player’s feet are still off the ground such that the player’s head and / or upper body come into contact with the ground.

The case is to be ruled by SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nigel Hampton.

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Gary Gold

Gary Gold

The Sharks Director of Rugby, Gary Gold has selected a 27-member squad that departs, this Saturday, for the Australasian leg of Vodacom Super Rugby tournament.

Commenting on the squad selected and the tour, Gary Gold said: “I have gone for 15 forwards and 12 backs, my selection was based on who is fit and healthy, but the nice thing is that there are a lot of guys who can play in different positions.

“We are looking forward to this tour. Tours are funny things, I’ve seen teams in far worse positions than us fight to get back and we not giving up the fight. I believe in this group of guys and I am keen to work with them in adverse times – that’s when you see true warriors come out.

“That’s our challenge: we are down but we’re not out and now is the time to stand up and fight back. If we come back fighting in the last six games, we’ll salvage a lot of respect”, he added.

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Rob Simmons

Rob Simmons

James Slipper

James Slipper

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has locked away 2 key members of the Wallabies’ forward pack – re-signing the experienced Reds duo James Slipper and Rob Simmons.

The signatures of the 2 talented tight forwards are significant for the future of Australia.

Slipper agreed to a new 3-year deal, through until the end of 2018, while Simmons has also inked a multi-year extension – through until the end of 2017.

Despite his young age of just 25, Slipper and Simmons, 27, have already accumulated a combined 113 Tests between them for Australia.

Both also hold leadership positions at either the Wallabies or Reds.

Slipper and Simmons, who were announced earlier this year as the captain and vice-captain of the Reds, grew up playing together on the Gold Coast at the Southport School.

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Piet van Zyl

Piet van Zyl

Jan Serfontein

Jan Serfontein

Springbok halfback Piet van Zyl will earn a 3rd start for the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday when the Pretoria franchise play the DHL Stormers in Cape Town in a crucial Vodacom Super Rugby clash.

Van Zyl, who started against the coastal side in the season’s opener in February, comes in for injured Rudy Paige, while coach Frans Ludeke added another Springbok, midfielder Jan Serfontein, to his starting team at DHL Newlands.

The incumbent Springbok centre is fit again after a hip flexor injury and will start in place of Burger Odendaal, who deputised for Serfontein the last 4 Rounds.

The rest of the match day squad is the same one which conquered the Cell C Sharks in Durban last weekend, bar Akona Ndungane, who will take up Van Zyl’s spot on the bench.

The centurion winger will make a 1st appearance in this year’s competition if called into action from the bench. He earned his last and 108th cap in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition in the final pool match of the 2014 competition against the same opponent and at the same venue.

Ludeke is well aware of the massive challenge that awaits his side against the Stormers, who are just 2 points behind the Vodacom Bulls on the Combined Log and South African Conference Points Log.

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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen returns to lead the DHL Stormers in Saturday’s tantalising derby clash against the Vodacom Bulls, at DHL Newlands, Cape Town.

Vermeulen missed the final 2 weeks of the Stormers’ Super Rugby tour as part of the SA franchises’ rest agreement with SA Rugby, but his return marks 1 of 4 changes to the starting line-up that defeated the Western Force in Perth last Saturday.

2 Of the 4 changes are injury enforced, with Johnny Kotze and Pat Howard replacing the injured wing duo of Kobus van Wyk (knee – 6 weeks) and Dillyn Leyds (shoulder – 1 week), respectively. Howard will make his Super Rugby debut, with Kotze set to win his 6th cap.

Nizaam Carr moves to the bench to make way for Vermeulen’s expected return to action, whilst the 4th and final change sees Nic Groom take over at scrumhalf from Louis Schreuder, who, like Carr, reverts to the bench.

Joining Carr and Schreuder amongst the replacements is prop Oli Kebble, with Alistair Vermaak and Sikhumbuzo Notshe out of the matchday 23 and back to doing duty for the Western Province Vodacom Cup team this weekend.

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Derick MinnieEmirates Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has announced his team for Saturday’s clash against the Toyota Cheetahs at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.

Ackermann has made just 3 changes to the starting side which beat the Cell C Sharks a fortnight ago.

In the forwards, Armand “Akker” van der Merwe will start at hooker while Ruan Dreyer has been drafted in at tighthead prop.

The backline sees just 1 change, with Courtnall Skosan starting at left wing, having recovered from injury.

On the bench, MB Lusaseni also moves into the match day 23, having recovered from his long-term injury. This is his 1st inclusion in the 2015 competition.

Unfortunately Derick Minnie drops out of the match day 23 as a result of an injury he sustained during Tuesday’s training session. Minnie has undergone surgery on his knee and will unfortunately be out of action for the remainder of the season.

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Dom Shipperley

Dom Shipperley

Melbourne Rebels head coach Tony McGahan has re-introduced Sam Jeffries and Dom Shipperley into the squad, as he named his team to face the Waratahs at ANZ Stadium on Saturday in a clash which will commemorate the centenary of the Anzac landing.

Wallaby Shipperley returns to the starting line-up, while his Melbourne University teammate in second rower Sam Jeffries replacing Luke Jones in the squad, with Cadeyrn Neville elevated to start.

Jones developed concussion symptoms after the win in Canberra against the Brumbies last weekend, and the Rebels have opted to leave him out of the team as a precautionary method.

McGahan said that it was pleasing to be able to draw upon players with match fitness and form when changes were made.

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Sam Carter

Sam Carter

Brumbies lock Sam Carter will miss this weekend’s clash with the Highlanders following the death of a close family friend who tragically passed away last weekend playing for the Quirindi Lions.

The Wallaby lock’s family are still based in Quirindi and he will be allowed to return home for the funeral and for as long as he needs.

“At a time like this, rugby takes a back seat. From our point of view family is extremely important,” said Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham told the Canberra Times.

“Player welfare is extremely important and it’s right for Sam and his family to be up there with the current situation.”

Blake Enever will replace Carter in the second row in Canberra.

2 South African brothers start for the Brumbies on the weekend, JP & Ruan Smith.

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Steve Tew

Steve Tew

The New Zealand Rugby Union said Thursday they had no plans to emulate Australia and relax eligibility rules so overseas-based players can represent the All Blacks.

The Australian Rugby Union announced the move on Wednesday in response to a host of top players taking up lucrative club contracts after this year’s September and October World Cup in England.

Defending World Cup champions New Zealand face a similar post-tournament exodus, with at least 10 All Blacks heading offshore – including Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith and Colin Slade.

But NZRU Chief Executive Steve Tew said his organisation still believed that the only players allowed to pull on the hallowed All Black jersey should be based in New Zealand.

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Lee Byrne

Lee Byrne

Newport Gwent Dragons’ former Wales fullback Lee Byrne has been forced to retire due to a shoulder injury, the 34-year-old announced on Thursday.

The former British and Irish Lion, who also played for Scarlets, Ospreys and Clermont, made his international debut in 2005 and went on to make 46 appearances for Wales, with whom he won the Six Nations Grand Slam in 2008.

He joined the Dragons last year and was subsequently appointed captain, but after undergoing shoulder surgery in November, he has been obliged to call time on his career.

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Brad Barritt

Brad Barritt

Saracens and England centre Brad Barritt has committed his future to the club signing a long-term deal at Allianz Park.

The 28-year old is the latest Saracen to commit his future to the north Londoners, following the likes of Marcelo Bosch, Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and George Kruis in signing contract extensions.

On signing his new deal, Barritt said: “I’m absolutely delighted to stay a part of the Saracens family. I consider this place home and I’m really looking forward to the years ahead with this fantastic club.

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Marty McKenzie

Marty McKenzie

Marty McKenzie has got the nod to replace Aaron Cruden at flyhalf for the Chiefs, beating out younger brother Damian for a starting berth against the Western Force.

Cruden was ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL earlier this week, dealing a major blow to the Chiefs’ Super Rugby hopes as well as ending his own World Cup dream.

The elder McKenzie will get the 1st chance to replace him as the Chiefs look to pile more misery on the Force.

There are 4 other changes, with Bryce Heem replacing James Lowe on the wing, while up front Siate Tokolahi and Johan Bardoul all to start.

Liam Messam is rested as part of the agreement with New Zealand Rugby, so Matt Symons will take over the captaincy for the Chiefs, who are currently just a point behind Super Rugby leaders the Hurricanes.

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Kobus van Wyk

Kobus van Wyk

Hard-running Stormers wing Kobus van Wyk has been ruled out of action for 6 weeks, after picking up a patella injury against the Force last weekend.

Van Wyk limped off the field in the 29th minute of Saturday’s hard-fought clash in Perth and he will be unavailable until June.

Fellow wing Dillyn Leyds sat out training on Tuesday, but squad captain Duane Vermeulen – fresh off his 2-week rest period – rejoined squad training at the Stormers’ High Performance Centre in Bellville.

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Dave Dennis

Dave Dennis

Waratahs captain Dave Dennis has signed a new contract with the ARU keeping him in Australia for at least 2 more years.

The 31-year-old who can play in both the 2nd row and the back row, has signed up through to 2017 as he looks to help the Waratahs retain their Super Rugby title.

Injury kept him out of the knockout stages of last year’s win, but Dennis has been in good form so far this season.

The fact he is staying will be a welcome boost for Daryl Gibson, who will replace Michael Cheika as Waratahs boss at the end of the season.

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AustraliaThe Australian Rugby Union relaxed eligibility rules to allow senior players at overseas franchises and clubs to represent the Wallabies.

The move, which is effective immediately, follows in the wake of recent revelations that Australia faces a mass exodus of stars after this year’s World Cup.

A host of players – such as Adam Ashley-Cooper, former skipper James Horwill, Will Genia and Sekope Kepu – are among those lured abroad by lucrative contracts in Europe and due to leave Australia after the World Cup in England in September and October.

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Quade Cooper

Quade Cooper

Toulon have quashed rumours that they have signed Irish captain Paul O’Connell, but it is believed that the Reds & Wallaby flyhalf Quade Cooper has made the move.

It was reported that the French giants were chasing another Galácticos signing for the second row, with current legends Bakkies Botha and Ali WIlliams set to retire at the end of the season.

O’Connell’s contract with the IRFU expires in June of 2016, but it was speculated that Toulon were eager for him to be released from his contract to join them after the World Cup.

Since then, a strong statement has been released insisting ‘any alleged contacts between the player and the french club are pure speculation’.
Meanwhile, French paper L’Equipe has said that Toulon have captured the signature of the mercurial Cooper on a 2-year deal.

Cooper, if reports are to be believed, would join a burgeoning Australian contingent at Toulon with Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell already there.

Toulon have already brought in All Black Ma’a Nonu ahead of next season with Samu Manoa, Salesi Ma’afu and Napolioni Nalaga also joining the reigning European champions.

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Mike Fitzgerald

Mike Fitzgerald

Leicester Tigers have agreed a move for lock forward Mike Fitzgerald, who will join them from Super Rugby outfit the Chiefs in New Zealand.

Auckland-born second row Fitzgerald, 28, has won 2 Super Rugby titles with the Chiefs as well as playing ITM Cup rugby with the Manawatu Turbos.

At six-foot-five and 18 stone, he is noted for his hard work as well as a strong set-piece.

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Willie le Roux

Willie le Roux

The Cheetahs have been dealt another blow with the news that Willie le Roux could face an extended period on the sidelines.

The Springbok fullback is suffering from an ankle injury, and it is reported that he could be out for up to 5 weeks.

Le Roux didn’t feature against the Reds last weekend as he was being rested, so it’s unclear when he suffered the injury.

His absence would be a major blow for the Bloemfontein outfit, which has already lost Heinrich Brüssow for the season to a broken arm.

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Jason Woodward

Jason Woodward

After suffering their 1st defeat of the campaign, the Hurricanes have taken a 2nd blow as Jason Woodward’s season was prematurely ended by a broken ankle.

The outside back suffered the injury playing club rugby for Upper Hutt against Oriental Rongotai in Wellington over the weekend.

While the former Rebel has just 3 Super Rugby appearances to his name this year, his loss will be a blow to the depth of the Hurricanes’ formidable backline that has set the competition alight in the 1st half of the season.

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Jerome Kaino

Jerome Kaino

Blues coach John Kirwan is set to give his most prolific player, captain Jerome Kaino, a break when they head to Christchurch this week.

The Blues, with just 1 win from 9 starts, are 2nd from last on the Combined Log.

However, they have build some great momentum in recent weeks – their maiden season win (16 / 14) over the Brumbies was followed by a close loss (24 / 30) against Highlanders in Dunedin at the weekend.

It was the Blues’ 5th losing bonus point – for finishing within 7 points or less of the opposition – and indication that they are much better than their lowly position on the table suggest.

However, Kirwan won’t be tempted to push the All Black loose forward, Kaino, in another game – despite the desperate need or another win.

He knows they are faced with a massive hurdle in the form of an equally desperate Crusaders team in Christchurch on Saturday.

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Peter Betham

Peter Betham

Australia and Waratahs wing Peter Betham has agreed a move to join Leicester Tigers at the end of the Super Rugby Season.

The 26-year-old is currently playing Super Rugby with defending champions the Waratahs and on Saturday he scored 2 tries in Wellington as they became the 1st team to defeat the Hurricanes this season.

Born in Wellington, New Zealand, Betham was brought up in Sydney and had spells with the Brumbies and Melbourne Rebels as well as with the Waratahs.

He made his Wallabies debut in a Bledisloe Cup fixture against the All Blacks in 2013.

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Rudy Paige

Rudy Paige

Vodacom Bulls halfbacks Rudy Paige and Jacques-Louis Potgieter will not be considered for Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against the DHL Stormers in Cape Town due to injury.

Paige has a grade 1 medial ligament tear and will be out of action for at least 2 weeks, whilst Potgieter have a grade 1 hamstring tear and will be ready to return to action on 4 May, team doctor Org Strauss confirmed on Monday.

Burger Odendaal (hamstring), Bjorn Basson (knee), Flip van der Merwe (knee) and Arno van Wyk (bronchitis) sat out in training on Monday, with Odendaal only returning Thursday.

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Emirates LionsThe Golden Lions Rugby Union medical staff have released a medical report, ahead of the Emirates Lions’ match against the Toyota Cheetahs and the Xerox Golden Lions’ Vodacom Cup clash with the Leopards on Saturday.

Unfortunately Malcolm Marx (ankle), Steph de Wit (shoulder), Rohan Janse van Rensburg (ankle) and Martin Muller (calf) are all unavailable for selection this week but are still involved in intensive recovery programmes and are making progress.

On a positive note, Mark Richards (concussion), Courtnall Skosan (ankle), Sampie Mastriet (ankle) and Stokkies Hanekom (knee) have all been cleared and are available for selection for either the Emirates Lions or Xerox Golden Lions teams.

Kobus van Wyk

Kobus van Wyk

Right wing Kobus van Wyk is the only Stormers injury worry after Saturday’s Super Rugby win over the Force, having twisted his knee.

“Kobus went over his knee, it was an awkward sort of twist on his knee… but we will know more over the next 24 hours and will be able to say for sure when we get home,” said coach Allister Coetzee.

Accoridng to the Stormers’ website, the Stormers left Perth for South Africa on Sunday evening (local time). They arrived in Cape Town, via Johannesburg, on Monday morning (local time).

The players did not train on Monday, before starting preparations for next weekend’s home Bulls match (kick-off 19:10 SA Time) on Tuesday.

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Gary Gold

Gary Gold

Coach Gary Gold, Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby, has said his suspended players owe the team a lot when they return from their respective bans on the Sharks’ overseas tour.

Captain Bismarck du Plessis has officially served out his 4-week ban as of 18 April. His final suspension weekend was against the Bulls last Saturday.

Du Plessis will be available for the 1st game against the Highlanders in a fortnight, after the Sharks BYE this week.

Centre Frans Steyn’s ban comes to an end on 3 May, which would mean that the Springbok would be unavailable for the 1st tour match.

Coach Gold, looking ahead to their tour after a loss to the Bulls on the weekend, was hopeful that the return of his 2 super stars would allow them a chance to right the wrongs they have caused the team.

“I certainly hope that it will be a shot at redemption for those guys coming back,” Gold said of both Du Plessis and Steyn.

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Heinrich Brüssow

Heinrich Brüssow

The Toyota Cheetahs suffered a massive blow when flank Heinrich Brüssow suffered an arm injury in their defeat to the Reds in Bloemfontein at the weekend.

The openside flank left the field in the 14th minute of the match at the Free State Stadium, and coach Naka Drotske has since confirmed that the Springbok has broken his arm.

More clarity about the severity of the injury will be known on Monday, but Brüssow will in all likelihood sit out the rest of the competition.

Fullback Coenie van Wyk also suffered an ankle injury and according to reports, is likely to be ruled out for about 6 weeks.

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Aaron Cruden, injured on the weekend and out for the season

Aaron Cruden, injured on the weekend and out for the season

The Chiefs and All Blacks were delivered devastating news in the context of their 2015 campaigns on Monday when it was confirmed Aaron Cruden had ruptured his left anterior cruciate ligament.

The star playmaker will visit a surgeon on Wednesday to arrange a knee re-construction which is expected to keep him sidelined for 6 months.

In a brief statement issued on Monday afternoon, the Chiefs confirmed that Cruden would undergo traditional surgery “given Aaron’s young age and long-term career prospects.”

Cruden’s Super Rugby season is definitely over and his Rugby World Cup has been thrown into doubt as even a best-case recovery within that 6 month window would only see him fit in the final fortnight of the tournament.

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Kurtley Beale

Kurtley Beale

Wallabies and Waratahs centre Kurtley Beale admits contract talks have been playing on his mind.

Beale’s current deal expires at the end of this season and he said on Monday he aimed to reach a decision on his playing future before the end of the Super Rugby tournament.

“It’s always going to be there isn’t it,” Beale said.

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James Broadhurst

James Broadhurst

James Broadhurst has decided he likes what’s going on at the Hurricanes and is keen to stay put.

The 27-year-old Taranaki lock has re-signed with the club for another 2 seasons and said there was no team he’d rather be with until the end of 2017.

“I love this team, I love being a Hurricane, and in a way I see the next couple of years as a real opportunity to step up.

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Matt Hodgson

Matt Hodgson

Captain Matt Hodgson is set to make his return to Super Rugby after being named in the Force’s 25-man travelling squad for its 2-match New Zealand tour.

Hodgson sustained a hamstring injury in the Force’s final pre-season fixture against the Asia Pacific Dragons, and has been unavailable through the 1st half of the competition.

The 33-year-old will resume the captaincy of the squad, coinciding with the news that interim captain Sam Wykes will be unable to travel with the team after succumbing to a foot injury suffered in Saturday night’s match against the Stormers.

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Nicolás Sánchez

Nicolás Sánchez

Pumas flyhalf Nicolás Sánchez is the latest player to sign with the Argentina Rugby Union ahead of their entry into Super Rugby next year.

The 26-year-old former Bordeaux Begles and Toulon playmaker has signed a 3-year contract starting on 1 January and making him available until at least the end of 2018.

The deal was sealed at Sánchez’s current club, Tucuman Lawn Tennis Club, which is celebrating it’s centenary year.

Sánchez joins fellow Pumas Joaquín Tuculet and Agustín Creevy in committing to their national union despite having enjoyed successful and lucrative stints in Europe.

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WP Nel

WP Nel

At the end of a trying season of provincial rugby under the sweltering South African sun, Willem Petrus Nel trudged exhausted from the field.

He turned to his coach and mentor, Pierre Ribbens, a distinguished ex-prop for the Bulls in what is now the Super 15 competition, the cream of the Southern Hemisphere game.

“I think I’m done with rugby – I don’t want to play anymore,” he said.

In late 2008, the 22-year-old tight-head had completed his agricultural studies, his certificate signed and stamped. From university some 250 miles to the south, the pull of home, the sheep farm he had been raised tending and the rolling mountains of the Northern Cape was strong.

“Give me a week,” replied Ribbens.

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