Veteran Argentina back rowers Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe and Juan Manuel Leguizamon were named in a 28-man squad for next week’s Rugby Championship clash with New Zealand.
2 Other survivors from the 2007 and 2011 World Cups, wing Horacio Agulla and prop Marcos Ayerza, were also selected on Thursday for their 17 July tournament opener in Christchurch.
The squad will fly from Sydney on Saturday, where a pre-tournament squad of 36 were training with this year’s World Cup in England also in mind, the Argentine Rugby Union (UAR) said.
The squad is dominated by players, including captain Agustin Creevy, contracted to the UAR for the Argentine franchise that will compete in Super Rugby next year.
7, Including former captain Fernandez Lobbe of Toulon, are part of the dwindling contingent of European-based players included.
Wallaby coach Michael Cheika started to show his World Cup hand when he reduced his squad to just 31 players on Friday.
Cheika cut 9 players from the extended squad ahead of the opening Round of The Rugby Championship – when Australia play South Africa in Brisbane on 18 July.
Christian Lealiifano and Wycliff Palu were 2 of the high-profile casualties of the Wallaby cull.
The other 7 players left out from the initial 40-man train-on squad are Dave Dennis, James Hanson, Tetera Faulkner, Samu Kerevi, Toby Smith, Henry Speight and Nic White.
Following a gruelling 5-day camp at Sunshine Coast Stadium, the squad will assemble in Brisbane this Sunday 12 July.
The 31-man squad, captained by hooker Stephen Moore, boasts 2 non-capped players – with Rory Arnold and Taqele Naiyaravoro both closing in on their 1st Wallaby appearance.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster has culled 5 players from his original wider squad for their next training camp in Denver.
The unlucky soles are Elliot Daly, Maro Itoje, Stephen Myler, Nick Easter and Ed Slater.
Daly, Slater, Itoje and Myler will return to their clubs to be on standby, while Easter is suffering from a back injury and will return to Harlequins for treatment, before rejoining the squad on 2 August following their post-Denver break.
Bad boy Danny Cipriani is still in the mix as Lancaster is waiting on the outcome of the drink-driving case before he makes a decision on the flyhalf.
Flip van der Merwe is 1 South African who might have a point to prove when he takes to the field in a World XV jersey against the Springboks at Newlands on Saturday.
The towering lock is not in Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s preliminary Rugby World Cup squad, and the coach went on record in May announcing that Van der Merwe was unavailable for international rugby.
After that it was reported that a ‘contract dispute’ may be the reason behind the drama, but Van der Merwe revealed in Cape Town on Thursday that there had been communication issues surrounding his availability.
“I’m not selected, it’s as easy as that,” Van der Merwe, who has been named on the World XV bench for Saturday, said.
Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen said he is feeling positive after undergoing surgery on his neck in Durban on Wednesday.
Vermeulen, the South African Rugby Player of the Year in 2014, will take a few days off to recuperate before starting with his rehabilitation process.
“I’m feeling good and positive and can’t wait to start my rehabilitation,” said Vermeulen.
“All the staff at the hospital made things so easy for me and I would really like to thank them for their effort – I really was in great hands.”
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said the national side’s medical team will work tirelessly to get Vermeulen ready to be considered for Rugby World Cup selection.
“Duane is mentally very tough and he is a warrior who has always bled for his country and I’m expecting exactly the same attitude from him towards his rehabilitation,” said Meyer.
The Crusaders have signed Chiefs flyhalf Marty McKenzie to fill the gap left by the departing Dan Carter, Colin Slade and Tom Taylor.
McKenzie will compete with Ben Volavola and Richie Mo’unga, who have also signed with the franchise ahead of the 2016 season.
Maori All Black McKenzie will move south from the Chiefs, returning to the city where he spent the final 2 years of secondary school. Born and raised in Southland, McKenzie moved from Gore High School to Christchurch’s Christ’s College for his final school years playing in their 1st XV for both seasons.
Jean de Villiers will make an inspirational comeback to top-level rugby from the bench for the Springboks, almost 8 months after suffering a horrific knee injury, when they take on the World XV at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.
Victor Matfield will captain the Springboks, with Warren Whiteley making his 1st start in the Green and Gold at No 8, while 2 uncapped players, Jesse Kriel and Vincent Koch, have been included in the match-23.
If De Villiers makes an appearance it will be his 1st rugby since suffering a dislocated knee and ligament damage in the final match of 2014, against Wales in Cardiff.
De Villiers has gone through more than 7 months of rigorous rehabilitation and is now completing a remarkable recovery.
“Jean is a massive asset to South African rugby and it’s wonderful to know his return to play is progressing so well that we can give him some game time from the bench on Saturday,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
“The mere fact that he is back in shape and ready to play is testament to his incredible work-ethic and his professional approach to the game. Jean has really put in hours and hours of extra work to get here and he is a great example for any player on how to put yourself in the best possible position to recover.
“We will still manage how he is used against the World XV and afterwards we’d like him to return to Western Province, where he will be available for their ABSA Currie Cup warm-ups.”
Meyer said the decision to hand the captaincy to Victor Matfield for the time being was not a difficult one. Ruan Pienaar has been given the Vice-captaincy.
Argentina and Saracens prop Juan Figallo has been ruled out of the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England after undergoing surgery.
Figallo was with Argentina training for The Rugby Championship in Sydney last Thursday and he turned in a tackle and injured his knee.
The prop flew back to London after the injury and has already undergone surgery and will work his way back to fitness with Saracens.
Vodacom Bulls centre William Small-Smith will further his career at the Toyota Cheetahs from next season.
The 23-year-old will represent the Vodacom Blue Bulls in this year’s Currie Cup before heading for Bloemfontein in time for next year’s Super Rugby competition.
Small-Smith was schooled at Grey College in Bloemfontein where he represented Free State in the Craven Week.
After school, he represented teams like the Junior Springboks, Blitzbokke, UP-Tuks and the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
It is believed that Small-Smith wanted out at the Bulls and asked to join the Cheetahs.
Just a couple of days after being declared fully fit and available for the Springboks, Pat Lambie was back in hospital.
Fortunately for Lambie, the news this time around was nowhere near as serious as the neck injury that ruled him out of the remainder of Super Rugby in April.
Still, Lambie was taken straight to hospital from Cape Town Stadium after he picked up a knock to the head that left a cut.
Talented young Vodacom Bulls utility back Jessie Kriel looks set to be the 1st player to be given an opportunity to wear the problematic Springbok No 13 jersey at the start of the international season building up to the Rugby World Cup.
Kriel played most of his Super Rugby season at fullback, but he has played a lot of his rugby at outside centre.
The former SA under 20 star switched with regular captain Jean de Villiers in joining Stormers star Damian de Allende in the Bok shadow team’s midfield during the open training session at Cape Town Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.
De Villiers is unlikely to start the match as it will be his 1st appearance on the playing field since undergoing reconstructive knee surgery after being struck down by injury in the final Test of 2014 against Wales in Cardiff.
So Kriel, who did most of the training in that position on Monday, can be considered a near certainty to make his debut in the season pipe-opener.
Obviously Springbok assistant coach Johan van Graan was not in a position to divulge whether the team that trained was the team that will play when he was questioned by media following the training session, but he didn’t contain his excitement at what Kriel could bring to the position if he does play.
Bakkies Botha says that he is not waiting for a phone call from Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer as preparations for the Rugby World Cup in September continue.
Botha, who has just ended a 4-year stint in France with Toulon, says that he was aware of the speculation linking him with a surprise call-up to the Springbok World Cup squad but firmly denied his participation in the tournament.
On Tuesday last week, Meyer was quoted as saying on SuperSport’s Boots & All that Botha had popped into the Springboks training session and was “in good shape”. Meyer confirmed he’d asked Botha to “stay in shape” in case he was required for duty in England in September and October.
“Definitely not,” Botha, who is in Cape Town with the World XV preparing for Saturday’s clash against the Springboks, said however.
“There was speculation that I need to keep the door open for the World Cup. There were a lot of people who said that I have another World Cup in me and I truly believe I do have.
“But I think I called it a day because I know that my last game was when I came from the bench against England at Twickenham (the Springboks won 31 / 28 in November 2014) and I think that peace of mind, that inner peace in me, was the main reason I set a date to retire.
The Sharks have released 2 Media Releases today, with the 1st 1 bearing the news that Pieter-Steph du Toit is leaving the Union. The 2nd Media release focusses on Marcell Coetzee re-signing with the Sharks and also reveals the other candidates who have chosen to continue to ply their trade at the Sharks.
Pieter-Steph du Toit:
Springbok lock Pieter-Steph du Toit, today confirmed his departure from the Cell C Sharks at the end of his contract, which expires in October 2015.
Having made his debut for The Sharks in 2012, du Toit with his strong physicality and presence has become an influential player for the franchise with strong performances that earned him Springbok colours in 2013.
Commenting on his departure, The Sharks CEO John Smit said: “We are terribly disappointed to lose a player of the calibre of Pieter-Steph du Toit. Despite our best efforts to keep him in the province, he has chosen to move on.
Leinster have confirmed that they have received a request from the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) to release Kane Douglas, under World Rugby Regulation 9.
Leinster team manager Guy Easterby told the club’s website that a formal request had been received last Friday.
“We are delighted for Kane and wish him well as he seeks the form and fitness required for selection for The Rugby Championship and, of course, the World Cup after that,” Easterby said.
Douglas isn’t the only foreign Leinster player affected by a Rugby World Cup call up.
“Zane Kirchner is also in the initial South African squad and likewise we wish him well,” Easterby said.
Queensland Rugby Union has re-signed Reds young guns Curtis Browning and Chris Feauai-Sautia ahead of the 2016 Super Rugby season.
Feauai-Sautia has inked a 2-year deal with the club, while Browning has signed a contract extension for 1 year.
Both players are in the early stages of their careers, are just 21 years old and have been with the Reds since they graduated from Brisbane State High School.
Feauai-Sautia famously joined the club as a teenager, signing when he was just 17 years old – following impressive performances in schoolboy rugby. He made his Queensland debut in 2012 as an 18-year-old and made his Wallabies debut the following year, scoring 2 tries in as many Tests.
While his early career was troubled with constant hamstring injuries, the power winger had arguably his most consistent season in 2015. He featured in all but 1 of the Reds’ games this season and sits in the top 5 for the team in run metres (715m), broken tackles (31), line breaks (13) and offloads (9). He has played a total 38 times for Queensland and scored 8 tries.
Elusive back Pita Ahki will be 1 player to fill the Hurricanes’ midfield following the departure of Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu and Rey Lee-Lo.
Nonu has signed for French giants Toulon while centre partner Smith has joined Pau, who have been promoted to the French Top 14 next season.
Capable to play at No 12 or No 13, Ahki has signed a 2-year deal with the club, having been with the Blues since 2013.
The Western Force will inject additional experience into its young backline with the recruitment of Reds centre Ben Tapuai for the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Tapuai will join the Force having played 66 Super Rugby matches across 7 seasons for the Reds, including starting at inside centre for the Queenslanders in their title-winning team in 2011.
The 26-year-old, who previously represented the Australian Schoolboys in 2006 and 2007, and Australian Under 20 (2008), has played Sevens Tests for the Wallabies, starting in 6 of them during the 2012 Rugby Championship and Spring Tour.
Head coach Michael Foley says Tapuai will bring further experience to his young midfield.
The Hurricanes have put the Super Rugby Final behind them and started to build for 2016 by announcing the re-signing of talented New Zealand Under 20 and Maori All Black flyhalf, Otere Black.
The 20-year-old Manawatu Turbo was part of the club’s wider training group this year and ended up playing 4 matches in his 1st season, scoring 17 points.
Despite fielding significant interest from at least 3 other New Zealand Super Rugby teams, Black said it was at the Hurricanes where he wanted to continue developing his game.
The Chiefs have responded to their lock exodus with the signing of 2nd row Dominic Bird from the Crusaders for 2 years.
The Chiefs have lost the services of Matt Symons and Michael Fitzgerald from the engine room – Symons is heading to London Irish while Fitzgerald will become a Leicester Tiger.
Bird will thus be a relieving signature for the Hamilton side and at 206cm tall, he is set to become the tallest member in the Chiefs squad.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie believes the 120kg player will complement his forward pack well.
The Melbourne Rebels’ retention program continues to reap dividends, with front rowers Pat Leafa (2017) and Tim Metcher (2016) re-committing to the club on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old hooker has made 34 appearances for the team in his 3 seasons in Melbourne, not missing a Super Rugby match in the last 2 seasons, while Metcher joined the Rebels in 2015 and made his Super Rugby debut against the Waratahs in Sydney. He also came off the bench as the Rebels earned a bonus point victory over the Blues in Round 13 at AAMI Park.
For Leafa, who was already contracted for the 2016 season, being offered an early extension showed the club’s faith in him, his continued development and his positive influence on the team as a member of the leadership group.
Springbok No 8 and South Africa’s Rugby Player of the Year in 2014, Duane Vermeulen, is in a race against time to be fit for the Rugby World Cup after it was revealed that he has to undergo surgery on a neck injury, but national skipper Jean de Villiers has been cleared to return to the game this weekend.
De Villiers, who had a full knee reconstruction towards the end of 2014, is 1 of 6 injured players who were given the all clear from the Springbok medical team to be considered for selection against the World XV at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday. The others are Pat Lambie, Cobus Reinach, Lionel Mapoe, Schalk Burger and Lood de Jager.
Although Jan Serfontein (hip and knee) is recovering well from his injury, he will not be considered for selection this week. Furthermore, Scarra Ntubeni and Faf de Klerk are over their ankle niggles from late last week and took full part in training on Monday, while Heinrich Brüssow (broken arm) has recovered well, but is still a week or 2 away from playing.
“Our medical team worked very hard on the injured players and it’s a great positive to see the guys return,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Monday.
Springbok No 8 and South Africa’s Rugby Player of the Year in 2014, Duane Vermeulen, is in a race against time to be fit for the Rugby World Cup following a diagnosis that he will require surgery on a neck injury.
The 29-year-old Vermeulen, who was also the SARPA Players’ Player of the Year and the Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year in 2014, consulted a specialist in Durban on the recommendation of the Springbok medical team.
The need for surgery was identified to give him the best possible chance to recover in time for the global rugby showpiece in England in September and October. The operation is scheduled for Wednesday.
Samoa have called veteran prop Census Johnston out of retirement to bolster their pack in Wednesday’s historic 1-off Test against the All Blacks in Apia.
“We simply couldn’t leave him out,” coach Stephan Betham said when naming his team on Monday.
The 34-year-old Toulouse prop, who has played 47 Tests for Samoa since 2005, had announced his retirement in April – but has been training with the Samoa squad in recent weeks.
Chiefs fullback Tim Nanai Williams is the only uncapped player in the starting 15.
Outside back Faialaga Afamasaga, the only Samoa-based member of the squad, is set to make his debut off the bench.
New Zealand-born Nanai Williams, a cousin of All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams, has previously represented New Zealand as a Sevens player, but switched allegiance to his parents’ home country last year to boost his World Cup and Olympic prospects.
All but 5 members of the 23-man Samoa squad are based in Europe – including captain and back row forward Ofisa Treviranus, who plays for London Irish.
The match will be the 1st appearance in Samoa by the All Blacks, who have won all 5 previous Tests between the 2 countries played in New Zealand.
Chiefs utility back Andrew Horrell has been called up to the World XV squad for their match against the Springboks in Cape Town next Saturday.
Horrell, a 2-time Vodacom Super Rugby champion with the Waikato-based team, replaces Crusaders flyhalf Tom Taylor, who has been called into the New Zealand training squad for their Test against Samoa.
He is the 6th New Zealander to be included in the World XV squad, which also includes Springbok legend Bakkies Botha, All Blacks tight forwards Carl Hayman and Ali Williams, and 10 players from 3-time European champions Toulon.
The squad, coached by Robbie Deans and Bernard Laporte, assembles in Cape Town on Monday and they take on South Africa at DHL Newlands on Saturday 11 July at 17:00 SA Time (15:00 GMT).
A niggling hip flexor injury may have kept Springbok centre Jan Serfontein sidelined for parts of the Super Rugby season, but he is hopeful to soon stake a claim for a place in this year’s Rugby World Cup squad.
“Injuries have been a bit of a setback for me this year, but I’m on my way back. Maybe the fitness is a bit down, but it’s something you can work on, on your own,” Serfontein said at the Springbok camp in Johannesburg this week.
“I’m just hoping to get some game time for the World XV and in The Rugby Championship coming up.
The Golden Lions Rugby Union have announced the signing for the 2016 season of 2 of their Emirates Lions franchise partners, the Steval Pumas’ players, Faf de Klerk and Corné Fourie.
The Media Release reads as follows:
Lions Rugby (Pty) Ltd is pleased to announce the contracting of Pumas duo Faf de Klerk and Corné Fourie for the 2016 season.
Both De Klerk and Fourie, who have played Vodacom Super Rugby for the Emirates Lions through loan agreements over the past 2 seasons, will return to Johannesburg under permanent contracts in November 2015.
The pair has signed 1-year contracts with Lions Rugby and will thus be involved in both the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby and ABSA Currie Cup campaigns.
The Cell C Sharks have announced the signing of Reds lock, David McDuling, ahead of the ABSA Currie Cup season.
The Sharks press release reads as follows:
We are pleased to announce the signing of Reds lock, David McDuling, who will join the Cell C Sharks until the end of 2016.
Known for his never-give-up attitude and athleticism around the park, McDuling made his Super Rugby debut in 2014 against the Crusaders and has since amassed a total of 12 Super Rugby caps for the Reds. He also won the inaugural season of the National Rugby Championship with Brisbane City and had the most carries and run metres of any 2nd rower in the competition.
Two injured players in the Springbok training squad, Frans Steyn and Pieter-Steph du Toit, have been temporarily released from the squad to continue their rehabilitation in Durban for the next few weeks.
Neither of them are expected to be fit for the Springboks’ 1st 2 matches of the season, next Saturday against the World XV in Cape Town and a week later against Australia in Brisbane. Steyn has a pectoral muscle tear, while Du Toit is recovering from a knee injury.
According to Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer the decision to send Steyn and Du Toit home was taken with the best interests of the players in mind.
“We’ve discussed the way forward with the players, and all of us agreed that the best way forward at this stage is for them to get full-time rehabilitation at their home province, while our own medical team will keep very close tabs on their progress,” said Meyer.
“Both of them are still firmly in our plans going forward for the season and I really hope they can get back onto the field sooner rather than later. I’m confident the individual attention they will receive in Durban will be a massive benefit to them in the long run.
“We won’t be taking Frans or Pieter-Steph with us to Australia and will reassess their situation when we return from Brisbane.”
James O’Connor and Karmichael Hunt were among the big losers when Australian coach Michael Cheika named an extended 40-man squad.
The Wallaby squad will be reduced closer to the Rugby Championship opener against South Africa on 18 July.
Apart from the absence of O’Connor and Hunt, Nick Cummins, along with veteran props Benn Robinson and Ben Alexander also paid the price for poor form.
The big winners were the Toulon-based duo of Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell.
Mitchell and Giteau have been included in the squad under the new foreign policy rule, while Waratahs and Exeter lock Dean Mumm returns to the Wallabies for the first time since 2012.
Four uncapped players made the squad – Samu Kerevi, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Rory Arnold and Toby Smith.
New Zealand All Blacks coach Steve Hansen brought in some reinforcements as his team gears up for a brutal Test against Samoa in Apia next week Wednesday.
With a number of key All Blacks involved in the Super Rugby Final between the Hurricanes and Highlanders, Hansen wanted to add some depth to the squad training in Auckland this week.
17 Members of Hansen’s 41-player squad were ruled out because of their involvement in Saturday’s Super Rugby decider.
3 More players – uncapped Chiefs midfield backs Charlie Ngatai and Seta Tamanivalu, as well as Crusaders utility Tom Taylor – have been brought into the New Zealand camp in Auckland.
With injury issues surrounding some others, Hansen initially announced 2 stand-by players – scrumhalf Andy Ellis and uncapped prop Nepo Laulala.
He had already boosted numbers last week when 3 uncapped players joined a training camp in Auckland – midfield back George Moala, scrumhalf Brad Weber and prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi.
Ex-Springbok flyhalf Peter Grant is set to join the Western Force ahead of next year’s Super Rugby season.
Grant, who was released with a season to run on his contract at French club La Rochelle, looks a likely replacement for South African compatriot Sias Ebersohn, who has already been released.
According to The West Australian, Grant’s potential return to Super Rugby was opened due Wilhelm Steenkamp’s imminent signing for French club Brive for next season.
Steenkamp had limited game time last season and failed to impress the Force’s coaching staff at his time with the team.
The Force are allowed 3 overseas Test players and Grant would join former All Black scrumhalf Alby Mathewson and Tongan forward Steve Mafi.
Stade Français have confirmed the signing of Springbok back row Willem Alberts who will join the club after the Rugby World Cup.
The Top 14 champions have not brought in many players this off-season, generally prioritising quality over quantity, as Alberts joins Will Genia in the French capital.
Alberts arrives from the Cell C Sharks on a 3-year deal and will join a back row which already features Sergio Parisse, Raphaël Lakafia and Antoine Burban, while promising youngster Sekou Macalou also arrived over the off-season from Massy.
The 31-year-old made his Springbok debut back in 2010 and has scored 7 tries in 32 tests.
The Emirates Lions have lost another key player ahead of their Currie Cup campaign.
Hooker Armand “Akker”van der Merwe or “The Angry Warthog” as he is sometimes referred to, has signed a deal with Racing Metro, which will see him play in France for the remainder of the 2015 season.
Lions Rugby (Pty) Ltd revealed that they agreed to release 4 players to clubs abroad for the duration of the Currie Cup tournament.
As was previously reported Elton Jantjies (Shining Arcs), Lionel Mapoe (Spears) and Warwick Tecklenburg (Kamaishi) have all signed agreements in Japan until February 2016.
Along with Van der Merwe, all the players will return ahead of the 2016 Super Rugby tournament and will represent the Lions in next year’s competition. The players have all committed to Lions Rugby until the end of 2016.
Lionel Mapoe, Renaldo Bothma, Bjorn Basson and Warwick Tecklenburg have added their names to growing list of Super Rugby players heading to The Land of the Rising Sun.
Emirates Lions centre, Mapoe will join Vodacom Bulls lock Grant Hattingh at the Spears while his Lions team mate, flank Warwick Tecklenburg heads to the Kamaishi Seawaves.
Cell C Sharks and Namibia International loose forward, Renaldo Bothma will join Verblitz after the World Cup while Vodacom Bulls and Ex-Springbok wing Bjorn Basson will join Lomano Lemeki and Digby Ioane at the Heat.
Another high profile player who will be heading East is Wallaby fullback Israel Folau who will link up with Springboks Handré Pollard and Eben Etzebeth at the Docomo Red Hurricanes. Folau just put pen to paper on a new flexible contract with the Australian Rugby Union.
Tighthead prop Vincent Koch has confirmed that he will return to the DHL Stormers for next year’s Super Rugby competition.
Koch, 25, was loaned from the Pumas for this year’s Super Rugby competition and was one of the Cape franchise’s standout performers.
His performances also earned him a call-up to Heyneke Meyer’s Springbok squad named at the weekend.
There was confusion regarding Koch’s availability for the Stormers because his province – the Steval Pumas – form part of the Emirates Lions franchise and the men from Johannesburg could have requested the player to feature for them.