Former Stormers and Sharks flyhalf, Tim Swiel has signed a full-time contract with Premiership club Harlequins after a highly successful 4 month loan deal in October 2014.
The 21-year-old English-qualified pivot returned to the Sharks academy in February 2015 but will rejoin the English club for the 2015 / 2016 season.
During his short, but memorable time at The Stoop, Somerset-born Swiel made 10 senior appearances across the Cup, Premiership and European Rugby Champions Cup – which included impressive performances in the back-to-back fixtures against Leinster and Big Game 7 at Twickenham Stadium in December.
The Cell C Sharks have been boosted by the news that Springbok loose forward Willem Alberts has returned to training and will be available for selection this weekend.
Alberts missed the 1st few matches of the Super Rugby season with injury and returned to action in the game against the DHL Stormers on 7 March. He then suffered another injury setback in the game at Newlands which saw him spend more time on the sidelines.
However, according to the Sharks’ official website, Alberts has now recovered sufficiently and will be available to face the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg this weekend.
Outstanding loose forward Steven Luatua has pledged his allegiance to the Blues and New Zealand Rugby for a further 2 years.
The burly flank has re-signed through to the end of the 2017 season.
Luatua defies his 23 years, having already played 14 Tests for the All Blacks and 43 Super Rugby caps for the Blues.
He has a rich pedigree as a former New Zealand school representative and played in successive Junior World Championship-winning New Zealand Under 20 teams – in 2010 and 2011.
He made his provincial debut as a teenager in 2010, his debut for the Blues in 2012 and his All Blacks debut the following year in the 24 / 9 victory over France in New Zealand.
The Toyota Cheetahs have named live-wire scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius in the starting 15 for their match against the Western Force in Perth on Saturday.
There are only 2 changes to the Cheetahs team, namely up front where BG Uys starts and Danie Mienie moving to the bench and at the back with Sarel Pretorius back in the starting line-up and Tian Meyer on the bench.
This will mark the 9th Super Rugby encounter between the 2 teams.
The Western Force is leading with 5 wins to the 3 wins of the Cheetahs.
He has been keeping a low public profile during the 1st half of Super Rugby’s ordinary season … and it is probably just as well.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer must be scratching his head worriedly already over how to construct his national side for the 1st assignment of the 2015 Test season, against Australia in Brisbane on 18 July as part of a condensed Rugby Championship.
Presently several Boks are either injured, suspended or undergoing rest periods (the sudden pulling of Duane Vermeulen from the Stormers’ overseas tour after only 1 match has tongues wagging despite official statements that it was “always planned”), whilst other staple characters have suffered form dips in line with the general struggles of their sides in the local conference and overall.
It is difficult to envisage any SA team actually winning Super Rugby at this point – not the ideal state of affairs in a World Cup year, even if it is not always proved to be relevant — just as it is hazardous to predict which franchise will eventually top the ho-hum domestic pile.
It is true that a few additional players like overseas-based Bryan Habana, Fourie du Preez and Francois Louw and a rehabilitating Pieter-Steph du Toit should brighten the Bok equation, fitness permitting, nearer the Test roster itself, and 1 or 2 outsiders like Stormers tighthead strongman Vincent Koch and some surprise-package Lions personnel have stuck up their hands.
Yet a look at the last Springbok line-up for a Test – the unpalatable 12 / 6 loss to Wales in Cardiff on 29 November9 last year – gives you an idea of Meyer’s quandary; things look considerably more unsettled than he would like.
The Vodacom Bulls medical staff on Tuesday confirmed that lock Victor Matfield will undergo surgery on his injured knee (right) and will be out of action for 3 to 4 weeks.
According to Vodacom Bulls doctor Org Strauss, Matfield is going into surgery tomorrow (Wednesday) for an arthroscopy on the knee to fix up damaged cartilage.
Matfield could have played the season without undergoing the procedure, but the decision was made as a precautionary measure building towards the World Cup.
Cell C Sharks and Springbok flyhalf Patrick Lambie has been ruled out for 6 weeks, following a neck injury sustained against the Crusaders in their humiliating defeat by the Crusaders in Durban during Round 8 of Super Rugby.
Lambie has suffered a neck vertebrae injury, which saw him leave the field and replaced by Fred Zeilinga during the game on the weekend.
The Sharks have now lost no less than 4 leaders, with regular skipper Bismark Du Plessis still suspended, as is Frans Steyn.
Jean Deysel has received a hefty 7 week suspension for his deliberate knee to the head of Crusaders flank Matt Todd, and now the crucial blow of Lambie.
The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nicholas Davidson QC has accepted a guilty plea from Jean Deysel of the Sharks for contravening Law 10.4 (a) Punching or striking, after he was sent off following a Super Rugby match at the weekend.
Deysel has been suspended from all forms of the game for 7 weeks up to and including Saturday 23 May 2015.
The incident occurred in the 42nd minute of the match between the Sharks and Crusaders played at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban on 4 April 2015.
SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nicholas Davidson QC assessed the case.
The Vodacom Bulls will get a number of Springboks back this week, but there is growing concern over the knee injury of veteran lock Victor Matfield.
Matfield will only know on Tuesday when he will play again.
He was originally listed as being ‘rested’ for the encounter with the Lions last week, but it has since emerged that the knee injury was the real problem.
Pumas captain, Agustín Creevy, has become the 1st player based outside of Argentina to commit to the country’s Super Rugby franchise which will join the competition next year.
Creevy, 30, currently plays for Worcester in the United Kingdom but has signalled his intention to return home and play for the new franchise, bringing the number of contracted players to 22.
Making the announcement via videoconference on Monday evening, Creevy said, “It makes me very happy to confirm this agreement with the UAR. It’s a big step. I have played for Argentina from a young age and was always proud to defend the Argentina shirt. I never hesitated to go back home.
“This is a very important year. The World Cup is the main aim for this 2015, but then comes the moment to join Super Rugby which is a historic dream for everyone.”
Springboks Flip van der Merwe and Arno Botha have returned to full training following a pectoral and hamstring injury respectively and will be considered for Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Reds at Loftus Versfeld.
They will join the likes of Jan Serfontein and Handré Pollard, who missed last weekend’s clash against the Emirates Lions, but Victor Matfield will only know on Tuesday when he will play again. The lock, who has a meniscal knee strain, will see knee specialist Dr Daan du Plessis on Tuesday to determine how long he will be out of action.
Jesse Kriel (ribs), Burger Odendaal (arm), JJ Engelbrecht (pectoral), Trevor Nyakane (shoulder) and Jacques du Plessis (muscle spasm) all picked up light niggles on the weekend and sat out training on Monday, team doctor Org Strauss said.
All of them will be back in action on Tuesday, as well as Basil Short, who recovered from concussion.
A bumper weekend of European cup action saw the semifinalists for the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup decided across 3 days.
After an enthralling set of games on Sunday, we now know that Clermont will play Saracens in Saint-Etienne, while Toulon will face Leinster in Marseille in what are set to be 2 titanic battles.
Champions Toulon remain in the hunt for what would be a 3rd successive European title. No side has ever achieved that before but Toulon unquestionably have the players to do so.
They were too smart and too strong for a stubborn Wasps outfit at the Stade Mayol on Sunday, winning with Juan Smith and Bryan Habana watching on from the stands due to injuries. Both are expected however to be in contention for the semifinals.
Bakkies Botha did start in the second row as Toulon won 14 out of 15 lineouts, contributing to their success. Another trophy or 2 for the cabinet remain on the horizon for the Springbok legend ahead of his retirement. Michael Claassens was on the bench.
Defeat for Wasps of course also meant defeat for Ashley Johnson, as the former Cheetahs back rower’s side fell short despite a late rally in the 2nd half. Twice European champions in the past, Wasps are certainly on the up again.
Toulon will face Leinster in the semifinals after Zane Kirchner’s side knocked out Francois Louw’s Bath in Dublin. The former Bulls back was called from the bench early on at the Aviva Stadium and nearly scored a try in the corner not long after his arrival.
All Black Mils Muliaina is “distressed” and in shock over a sexual assault allegation levelled against him in Wales, his agent says.
The 34-year-old spent about 20 hours at Cardiff Bay Police station after being taken away by officers following a rugby game at Kingsholm Stadium. Police had 24 hours to charge him.
His agent, Simon Porter, says the arrest came as a “complete shock”.
Muliaina thought he was being taken in for random drug testing, Porter says.
“He had a night in the police cells, he’s pretty distressed, trying to deal with it, and it came as an absolute shock to him.”
Porter says Muliani will fight to clear his name.
Australian veteran hooker Stephan Moore, has backed the trend of foreign league sabbaticals as a way of keeping the Wallabies’s best talent in the country.
With the Australian Rugby Union allowing some Wallabies to take overseas sabbaticals, it could see some international players enjoying an almost constant season – playing Super Rugby, then playing for Australia, then heading to a foreign league like Japan before returning for the next Super Rugby season.
The Brumbies skipper said it was then up to the player himself to ensure he is not indulging in too much rugby, running the risk of burning-out in a long-winded never-ending season.
He had confidence it was something Wallabies coach Michael Cheika would keep an eye on.
Munster confirmed today the signing of Blues centre Francis Saili on a 2-year contract.
The 24 year-old has made 33 Super Rugby appearances for the Blues, scoring 5 tries, and represented Auckland in the NPC on 31 occasions.
Saili made his debut for the All Blacks against Argentina in September 2013 at Hamilton, and was part of the New Zealand Under 20 team that won the Junior World Championship in Italy in 2011.
Last November the Auckland native also featured for the Barbarians, scoring a try against Australia in Twickenham.
The struggling Reds have left former Australian skipper James Horwill behind as they departed for South Africa on Sunday, following his 2nd Red Card of the Super Rugby season.
Horwill received a 1-match suspension after being sent off in the 21st minute of the Reds match against the Melbourne Rebels in Melbourne on Friday, and he would have been ineligible for the 1st of the Reds’ 2 games in South Africa.
The Reds play the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday and the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein a week later.
Horwill’s Red Card for striking Melbourne Rebels prop Paul Alo-Emile with a swinging arm in a maul proved costly as the 14-man Reds gave up a 12 / 3 lead to lose 23 / 15.
The beleaguered Reds have now lost 6 of their opening 7 games, and their woes have been compounded by the loss of Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper for another 2 months after he fractured his right shoulder blade against the Rebels.
Cell C Sharks flank Jean Deysel has been cited after receiving a Red Card against the Crusaders on Saturday, as the Sharks prepare to again tussle with SANZAR.
Deysel is alleged to have contravened Law 10.4 (a) Punching or striking, in an incident that occurred in the 42nd minute of the match between the Sharks and Crusaders at Kings Park in Durban.
The Crusaders ran out comfortable 52 / 10 winners.
The case is to be considered in the first instance by SANZAR judicial officer Nicholas Davidson QC.
Influential DHL Stormers captain Duane Vermeulen will return to Cape Town for a further 2-week rest period.
The hard-working No 8 has been in outstanding form for the DHL Stormers in 2015, but he will head home from Sydney on Sunday as part of the agreed SA Rugby rest period, which affects the top Springboks in this, a Rugby World Cup season.
“It’s a big one for us… it was a big decision to make,” explained DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee.
“However, it is something we discussed and have been planning since the start of the season,” he added, “the intention was always for Duane to spend the 1st 2 weeks on tour and then to head home and be ready for the final part of our season.
“We will of course miss him against the Waratahs and the Force but when we get home his rest period will be over and we will have him back in tow for a crucial part of the season.”
The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nicholas Davidson QC has accepted a guilty plea from James Horwill of the Reds for contravening Law 10.4 (a) Punching or striking, after he was sent off in a Super Rugby match at the weekend.
Horwill has been suspended from all forms of the game for one week up to and including 11 April 2015.
The incident occurred in the 21st minute of the match between the Rebels and Reds at AAMI Park in Melbourne on 3 April 2015.
SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nicholas Davidson QC assessed the case.
Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper and No 8 Jake Schatz have been ruled out of the side’s 2-week tour of South Africa, after suffering injuries in Friday night’s loss to the Melbourne Rebels in Melbourne.
Cooper fractured his scapula making a tackle, while Schatz ruptured a tendon in his elbow after his arm was caught in an awkward position in a ruck. Cooper will be sidelined for up to 8 weeks, while Schatz will be reviewed in 4 weeks.
The Reds head to Johannesburg this Sunday and head coach Richard Graham said he would take the next 24 hours to make a decision as to who would join the 27-man squad for the tour.
Former All Black fullback and Rugby World Cup winner Mils Muliaina’s future hangs in the balance after he was arrested by the South Wales Police on suspicion of sexual assault.
Muliaina’s Irish club Connacht confirmed that the former All Black was assisting the Police with enquiries relating to an alleged incident in Cardiff in March of this year.
He was pictured on television being led away by police officers following his Irish club’s 14 / 7 loss at Gloucester in the European Challenge Cup quarter-finals on Friday.
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made 2 changes to his starting pack for Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg and also had to replace pivot Handré Pollard, who did not recover in time from a knee contusion.
Jacques-Louis Potgieter will start at No 10 and is the only change to the backline that ran on against the Crusaders last week. Potgieter is returning to action following a hamstring strain that kept him out for 3 weeks.
Grant Hattingh (for Victor Matfield) and Dean Greyling (for Morné Mellett) will start in the pack.
Both played off the bench last weekend.
Hattingh’s spot on the bench will be taken by Roelof Smit and Greyling swops places with Mellett, who will play of the bench. Matfield is rested (as is Jan Serfontein).
Callie Visagie makes his return to the squad following a back injury.
Springboks Marcell Coetzee, Cobus Reinach and Patrick Lambie will all start for the Sharks when they face the Crusaders in Durban on Saturday.
Lambie and Reinach are straight swaps for Frans Steyn and Conrad Hoffmann, with Lambie also taking over the captaincy.
Back-row forward Renaldo Bothma gets a deserved rest after starting all but one match so far this season.
He will take great comfort from his man of the match award against the Force last week and will provide ample firepower off the bench, with Coetzee taking his place after enjoying a week’s rest.
Kyle Cooper continues at hooker in the absence of the suspended Bismarck du Plessis.
3-Times capped Springbok Jano Vermaak is returning home to South Africa with a World Cup dream.
The 30-year-old, who has been a shining star for the revitalised French giants Toulouse in the Top 14, spoke from the city in the southwest of France.
He was quite open about his goals, although there remains some uncertainty about which team he will use as – hopefully – as a springboard to a World Cup spot.
“I am coming back to South Africa with the goal of giving myself a chance of possibly getting into the World Cup squad,” the 30-year-old scrumhalf said.
“At this stage I do not yet know which team I will be playing for in South Africa,” Vermaak said, adding: “I have a few options, but we’ll make that call in the next month or so.”
He said he simply can’t wait to be back in SA and will arrive after the completion of the French Top 14 season in May, or June if Toulouse make the play-offs.
That will give him 3 or 4 weeks of Super Rugby to have a crack at a World Cup spot.
Western Force fullback Dane Haylett-Petty has extended his stay with the Western Australian franchise for a further 2 seasons – through to the end of 2017.
The 25-year-old Durban-born back returned to the Western Force for the 2014 season, after 3 seasons playing in France and Japan.
He has since re-established himself as a key member of the Western Australian backline.
Haylett-Petty, who started the season at fullback, returned to the Western Force line-up in last weekend’s match against the Cell C Sharks, after being sidelined for 5 matches with a foot injury.
Haylett-Petty’s re-signing coincides with the confirmation that lock Sam Wykes will depart the club at the end of the 2015 season to take up an opportunity in Japan.
Wykes, who made his debut for the Force in 2008, has amassed 81 matches for the Force over 8 seasons.
Australia and Reds scrumhalf Will Genia has signed a 3-year contract to join Top 14 club Stade Francais after this year’s Rugby World Cup.
“We can confirm that Will Genia will be part of our squad after the World Cup (which ends 31 October). It’s a great signing and one which will strengthen our squad in a vital position,” Stade Francais president Thomas Savare said on radio France Bleu 107.1.
The Papua New Guinea-born Wallaby had been linked with a move to Europe for months but Bath were firm favourites to sign the 27-year-old, who even signed a pre-contract with the English Premiership side.
Italian Rugby club Zebre have signed New Zealand All Blacks Rugby World Cup winner Mils Muliaina for the 2015 / 2016 season from Irish province Connacht.
The 2015 / 2016 Rugby season will be the Italian Northwest franchise’s 4th season in the PRO12 League and the European Cups.
100-Cap All Black Muliaina joined Connacht from Super Rugby side the Chiefs in 2014 having retired from playing international rugby at the end of the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Zebre have announced that they will be led by a new coaching team that will be announced later in the year.
It is Round 8 of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.
There are 2 games on Friday 3 April and 4 games on Saturday 4 April.
The Western Force, Highlanders & Waratahs have a BYE weekend.
There is 1 South African derby on the weekend, between the Emirates Lions and Vodacom Bulls, with 2 SA sides currently on tour and the Cell C Sharks also play inside South Africa on the weekend.
Only 1 undefeated team still remains prior to the start of the weekend, the Hurricanes, and they will be up against the touring DHL Stormers, at home, in the 1st game of the weekend (08:35 SA Time on Friday 3 April).
The struggling Melbourne Rebels host the struggling Reds in Melbourne, at 10:40 SA Time on Friday.
On Saturday morning the Chiefs host the struggling Blues at 08:35 SA Time, whereafter the Brumbies host the Toyota Cheetahs in their 3rd game on tour, in Canberra, at 10:40 SA Time.
Next up, at 15:00 SA Time, the Cell C Sharks host the Crusaders in their 2nd and last game on South African soil, in Durban. The Sharks have their rested Springboks back, bar Francois Steyn who is suspended from taking part for 5 weeks, after a sucessful SANZAR appeal.
The Emirates Lions, back from a very successful tour of 3 wins out of 4 games, host the Vodacom Bulls at 17:05 SA Time, in Johannesburg in the last game of the Round.
The Hurricanes should encounter strong opposition from the Stormers in the first Friday game and the second Friday game between the Melbourne Rebels and Reds is also a difficult one to pick a winner.
The Chiefs should easily dispense with the Blues early on Saturday, and the Brumbies should have too much to offer against the Toyota Cheetahs.
The Durban game between the Cell C Sharks and Crusaders should be a cracker and the local derby between the Emirates Lions and Vodacom Bulls could easily be the game of the weekend.
Hurricanes midfielder Ma’a Nonu will join an elite club of 4 when he runs on against the DHL Stormers at Westpac Stadium this Friday.
The match will be his 150th Super Rugby game, with 114 of those being played as a member of the Hurricanes.
During his time with the ‘Canes from 2003 – 2011, and again this year, he has accumulated 215 points for the team, made up of 43 tries.
The 32-year-old joins Keven Mealamu, Corey Flynn, and Nathan Sharpe in the 150 club.
Glasgow Warriors captain Al Kellock will retire from rugby at the end of the season.
Kellock, who has been the Warriors captain for the past nine seasons, has played 154 games for the club and captained the team for the 150th time in the 34-34 draw with Leinster in Dublin on Friday.
The 33-year-old has led the club to the PRO12 Play-Offs four times since they were introduced in the 2009/10 campaign and last year skippered the team to the PRO12 Final for the first time.
At the end of the season Kellock will take up an ambassadorial role with Scottish Rugby, as well as helping to continue the development of Glasgow Warriors. The main focus of his role will be engaging with the rugby and business communities and learning more about the commercial aspect of sport, enabling him to stay connected with the Warriors.
Toyota Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské has named his team to take on Australian conference leaders the Brumbies in the Super Rugby clash in the Canberra on Saturday.
Drotské has made no less than 8 changes to the starting line-up, as well as positional shifts to his loose forward trio.
Fullback Willie le Roux, centres Johann Sadie and Francois Venter, scrumhalf Tian Meyer, lock Carl Wegner, hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld, and props Coenie Oosthuizen and Danie Minnie are all new faces in the starting team from the one which lost 37 / 27 to the Chiefs in Hamilton last weekend.
The Emirates Lions were dealt a setback when it was revealed that lock Martin Muller has been ruled out of Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash with the Vodacom Bulls at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.
Muller sustained a calf tear during his team’s win over the Reds in Brisbane and will be out of the side for Saturday’s clash.
The news has been tempered with MB Lusaseni’s return to action, while Andries Ferreira is also available.
Also ruled out of the clash is winger Courtnall Skosan, with an ankle injury whilst flyhalf / fullback Jaco van der Walt has a fractured cheekbone.
The Injury list as updated on 30 March 2015, accross all Super Rugby franchises looks like this… but it must be noted that some players are close or have just returned to playing again.
Return dates are best estimates and subject to change.
Vodacom Bulls Springboks Victor Matfield and Jan Serfontein will both be rested against the Emirates Lions this week, in accordance with the franchises’ agreement with SARU.
Matfield has started every match for the Bulls this season, bar 1 game where he came off the bench against the Western Force a fortnight ago. Matfield is however nursing a knee injury and might be out for longer than 1 week, maybe even up to a month. Team doctor, Org Strauss confirmed that Victor Matfield is stuggling with the knee, but also said no decision has been made about Matfield’s fitness.
“He has a stiff knee, nothing too serious but we will make a decision later on in the week,” Dr Strauss replied to queries about Matfield’s fitness.
Meanwhile, Serfontein, who was named to play against the Crusaders last week even though he did not train due to a stiff hip flexor, will also earn a ‘rest’.
The Springbok centre failed to pass a late fitness test before the match and was replaced by Burger Odendaal at the 11th hour.
Odendaal was initially set to start his 1st game only for the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup after a lengthy injury lay-off for a knee ligament injury, but was thrust straight into Super Rugby in stead.
Odendaal had an impressive return to competitive rugby and it should be expected that he will again take up the No 12 spot, with Serfontein rested.
Meanwhile, another 11th-hour replacement that stepped up to make an indelible impression, Hanro Liebenberg, could again find himself in the starting 15.
Crusaders and All Black No 10 Dan Carter has returned home from South Africa on paternity leave to await the birth of his 2nd child.
This means Carter will miss the Crusaders’ Super Rugby clash against the Cell C Sharks in Durban this Saturday (15:00 SA Time kick-off).