Springbok and Toulon lock Bakkies Botha has spoken about life in France, the final 18 months of his career and what he has planned after rugby.
After his successful run with the Springboks in June against the World XV and Wales, the My Players website caught up with the 35-year-old during his off time in the South African bush.
The Cheetahs have found a replacement for flyhalf Johan Goosen who will leave them to further his career in France.
According to reports, former Stormers back Joe Pietersen will play for the Cheetahs in next year’s Super Rugby competition.
“A good big player is better than a good small player” is something we have heard before on the rugby landscape in South Africa. Unfortunately, these type of utterances has been heard coming from the National coach, Heyneke Meyer, as well.
Is rugby not supposed to be the one game that people of every shape and size can partake and excell in? Remember when we were young kids, standing around with bare feet all excited about our very first rugby practice? Dividing the players into positions seemed like such a simple task…the fat kids were props, the tall kids were locks, the fast kids were wings. There seemed to be a position suited to every size and shape.
Professional rugby as we know it now has put paid to that philosophy, 15 supreme athletes seem to be the target for coaches. Centers weigh in at the 100kg mark or more, which is bigger and heavier than some of legendary Bok forwards of previous eras. Just this week the Under 18 Academy week was played in Worcester. One of the stand out players for the victorious Western Province Academy team was prop Carlu Sadie who weighs in at 122kg. The fact is, he is not judged on his size or weight, but on his playing ability and it would seem like this youngster has a bright rugby future ahead of him. Obviously when it comes to the position of front row, size is a huge asset, but what about the other positions?
Rugby, or particularly junior rugby, is alive and well in the Western Cape. It is no surprise that they rule the roost in the under age groups, it’s a phenomena that we have come to expect and sometimes take for granted.
The challenge for the men in the board rooms of WP Rugby Union is how to hang onto all the talent. They are lambasted on an annual basis for those that they “let slip away” and credit for those they managed to secure is few and far between. Are we, as supporters, always fair in our criticism of our respective unions? How can anybody be 100% sure that a player will make the step up.
Tim Swiel is a good case in point, when news broke that he signed at the Sharks social network went into overdrive with unhappy Western Province supporters taking shots at Allister Coetzee, Rob Wagner and Thelo Wakefield. This was a kid who showed immense talent while playing for Bishops and then went on to help Western Province win the Under 21 Currie Cup.
Yet, hardly 6 months later he is being lambasted on rugby sites by Shark supporters who blame him for their loss against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein a week ago. Jake White, after losing Pat Lambie to injury in March, placed his faith in young Swiel, but that seems to also now be misplaced. Swiel has been dropped from the match 23 a week after he was the starting fly half.
The Lions have announced their side to take on the Toyota Cheetahs in their final Round 19 Super Rugby match.
Elton Jantjies is selected at flyhalf and Franco van der Merwe gets given a fitting farewell as he runs out for the last time for the Lions before heading overseas.
The Toyota Cheetahs continued to replenish their player cabinet as it has emerged that they are close to completing the signing of Lions ‘wildman’, Willie Britz for the coming season.
This comes after the Bloemfontein side confirmed the signings of three other Lions players – prop Bees Roux, flyhalf Willie du Plessis and utility back Coenie van Wyk for the coming season.
The Cheetahs have also signed Montpellier midfielder JP du Plessis and have an agreement for SA Under 20 winger Sergeal Peterson to represent them at Super Rugby level this year.
Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder has made just one change to his team to face the Highlanders this Saturday night in a battle for the New Zealand Conference.
Sam Whitelock, who was a late withdrawal from last week’s team, has returned to the starting line-up, which means Jimmy Tupou is on the bench. The remainder of the line-up is the same as the one that defeated the Blues last weekend.
Eighteen weeks of competition culminates in this southern derby. It is the final round of pool play and will determine log placings and qualifiers for the Super Rugby Finals Series.
Reds flanker Liam Gill stands to earn his 50th cap from the bench this weekend, after being released from Australian Sevens camp to take on the Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium.
If he takes the field, Gill will become the fifth player to reach his 50th Queensland cap this season, along with the 100-cap milestones achieved by captain James Horwill, vice-captain Will Genia and playmaker Quade Cooper.
Gill has been training with the Australian Sevens squad in preparation for the Commonwealth Games, but has been named in the Reds’ reserves after dialogue between head coach Richard Graham and Sevens coach Geraint John.
Graham welcomed Gill’s return to the Reds for their final match of the season, which promises to be an engaging clash between the two oldest rivals in Australian Rugby.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has made only one change to his starting line-up for Friday’s Super Rugby crunch encounter with the Blues in Auckland.
The change is injury enforced – with Bundee Aki starting at inside centre in place of Charlie Ngatai, who left the field late in the 24-16 win over the Hurricanes last week.
He has failed to recover from the shoulder injury that forced him off the field.
There are two changes to the replacement bench.
The Toyota Cheetahs have made another signing, luring former Melbourne Rebels and Stormers midfielder JP du Plessis back to South Africa from Montpellier.
Du Plessis, one of the most promising midfielders to emerge from Paul Roos, had a stint in rugby league with the Sydney Roosters after school before returning to Rugby Union with the Melbourne Rebels.
He made his Vodacom Super Rugby debut against the Hurricanes in the same year but returned to South Africa in 2012 and signed with the DHL Stormers.
The Vodacom Bulls have already lost their chance to bring Jacques Potgieter back, and now it seems they’re likely to lose another tussle with the Lions for the services of promising winger Luther Obi.
Obi has been seen as the long-term replacement at the Pretoria union for veteran winger Akona Ndungane, whose contract runs out at the end of the season.
But the Bulls were negotiating with Obi anyway, until they were told to stop by the Leopards Rugby Union as he still has a year to run on his contract.
The Leopards have made it clear that they will entertain a move for Obi for Vodacom Super Rugby if the Bulls want him, but that this will be subject to a transfer fee negotiation.
Frans Steyn has moved into the flyhalf position with Paul Jordaan recovering from injury to take his No 12 jersey in a strong Sharks team.
Director of Rugby Jake White has named a strong side for this derby game, opting to start with a formidable side that has been the hallmark of this team throughout the competition.
Of the injured trio of Paul Jordaan, Pat Lambie and Beast Mtawarira all receiving scans this week to confirm or deny a return to rugby, it was only Jordaan who was passed fit.
He has been included alongside JP Pietersen in the midfield. Steyn takes over from Tim Swiel at flyhalf and Fred Zeilinga has been named as back-up off the bench.
Ryan Kankowski is back at No 8 after withdrawing from last week’s game with a groin strain, and White has bolstered the starting line-up with three Boks who played off the bench last week, Willem Alberts, Jannie du Plessis and brother and captain Bismarck du Plessis.
All Black flyhalf Beauden Barrett has ended speculation surrounding his playing future by signing with the Hurricanes for the next two years.
The 23-year-old from coastal Taranaki had been linked with a move to the Blues but said he had enjoyed the supportive environment at the Hurricanes, and looked forward to working with the new coaching staff next year.
“We have a relatively young team here, and I really enjoy the role I play within the squad – it’s been great for my overall rugby development.”
“While some of our results this year have been a bit up and down, I feel as a team we have improved in what has been a really tight competition, and hopefully we have some luck this weekend so we are still in with a chance of making the playoffs.”
The Super Rugby table topping Waratahs will travel to Suncorp Stadium without their talisman Israel Folau.
The Wallabies try-machine is suffering from a corked thigh and will be replaced by Cam Crawford, who makes his fourth start for the season.
The remainder of the backline is unchanged.
In the pack, Will Skelton has been recalled to the starting lineup at lock ahead of Jacques Potgieter, alongside Kane Douglas, while has held his spot at blindside flanker.
The Blues will be without veteran All Blacks prop Tony Woodcock and captain Luke Braid for their crunch Super Rugby match against the Chiefs at Eden Park on Friday.
Woodcock suffered a shoulder injury during last week’s loss to the Crusaders and with a six day turnaround coach John Kirwan felt he would not be fully fit and it was not worth risking him.
“Woody’s had a great season for us so it’s a big loss. He’s been quite outstanding really and one of our best players since he’s been back,” Kirwan said.
Waratahs and Wallabies back Kurtley Beale says that a decision on where he will play next year is “just around the corner”.
Beale has offers from Europe, Japan and the NRL and comes out of contract with the Australian Rugby Union and New South Wales Rugby at the end of the season.
The Waratahs back is a core member of the team that will finish the Super Rugby in first place on the standings but was a replacement on the bench for the Wallabies in their three-Test series against France.
The ARU has a banding system which could make it difficult for a player on the Wallabies bench to negotiate a big top-up to his Super Rugby contract.
London Welsh are today expected to announce the signing of Piri Weepu from the Auckland Blues, according to reliable sources.
It marks another huge signing in their already impressive recruitment drive, with the 71-cap All Black set to bring real experience of rugby at the very top level. He will join the likes of Olly Barkley and Tim Molenaar in what is starting to look like a very useful back line.
Weepu’s career is yet to take him outside of New Zealand, beginning his career in Wellington both for the ITM Cup side and the Hurricanes, before moving to Auckland and the Blues. It is understood that he has expressed a desire to play in the Aviva Premiership.
Any hopes of a dramatic return for Heinrich Brüssow have been squashed, meaning the Cheetahs will retain their winning formula for the last match of the season.
The men from Bloemfontein head to Johannesburg on Saturday to take on the resurgent Lions – a team looking to end their season with a three-match winning streak.
However, the Cheetahs will be without star the Springbok flank, Brüssow, who also missed last weekend’s 27-20 win over the Sharks due a groin injury.
“Heins will undergo groin surgery and will not play,” Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské said, ahead of his team’s trip to Ellis Park.
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke handed flanker Roelof Smit a first time starting berth in announcing his team to play the Melbourne Rebels at Loftus Versfeld on Friday. Smit debuted for the Vodacom Bulls from the bench against the DHL Stormers last weekend and now start in the number six jersey in one of seven changes to the starting line-up.
Jurgen Visser is back at fullback, having recovered from an abductor strain that kept him out of the Newlands clash and replace Ulrich Beyers. Francois Hougaard will play on the wing, replacing the injured Akona Ndungane, with Piet van Zyl starting at scrumhalf. With Grant Hattingh injured, Jacques Engelbrecht will move back to No 8, Jono Ross moves to 7 and Smit slots in at 6.
Cell C Sharks director of rugby Jake White will know later on Tuesday whether he will have the services of the injured trio of Tendai Mtawarira, Patrick Lambie and Paul Jordaan for Saturday’s all important final Vodacom Super Rugby league match against the DHL Stormers at Newlands.
All three players are heading back from injury and are said to now be recovered and rehabilitated, White just has to find out whether they are ready yet to take the field in a big match like the clash with the Stormers is shaping up to be. The status of flyhalf Lambie in particular will be eagerly awaited by not only White but also fans of the Durban franchise, for pivot has been problematic for the Sharks since the Springbok was injured playing against the Bulls in Pretoria in March.
As it is, Lambie has made an excellent recovery, as the initial prognosis was that his torn bicep would keep him out of the rest of the Super Rugby season. However, regardless of whether he is ready for the Newlands clash, it appears he may be ready to play a part in the knock-out games that follow.
The Waratahs used the power of the Australian dollar to kill off any hopes that the Vodacom Bulls may have had of luring utility forward Jacques Potgieter back to South Africa.
Potgieter is currently having a superb season with the Vodacom Super Rugby log leaders and has been one of the reasons Michael Cheika’s side has been doing so well, using his skills to good effect to provide more than just a traditional forward role with the Sydney-based franchise.
The Bulls had opened negotiations with Potgieter to return for next year’s Super Rugby tournament after he left them a year ago, but these were snubbed out by the Waratahs, who made a significant counter offer to keep him in Sydney.
It is understood that Potgieter wanted to return to try and make the squad for the Rugby World Cup after being in the Springbok set-up in 2012.
Highlanders and All Blacks fullback Ben Smith remains in a Sydney hospital while recovering from a leg infection.
A statement released by the team on Tuesdays said they believed the infection was caused by a “supercicial graze” sustained by the player in Sunday’s loss to the Waratahs at Allianz Stadium.
Highlanders doctor Greg Macleod has remained in Sydney with Smith and says he is responding well to treatment.
Melbourne Rebels outside back Tom Kingston has been ruled out of his team’s final regular Super Rugby season match against the Bulls in Pretoria afetr succumbing to an ongoing chronic knee injury.
Kingston, who has flown home from South Africa and has been battling Patella Tendinopathy throughout the duration of the season, started on the wing against the Lions on the weekend however will now head back to Melbourne to undergo further assessment before the Club are able to decide what course of action to take to repair his knee.
Young flyhalf Bryce Hegarty remains in South Africa undergoing further assessment to a shoulder injury sustained against the Lions, and remains in doubt for the season-ending clash against the Bulls.
Scott Higginbotham meanwhile was suspended for a week after receiving his 3rd Yellow Card of the season.
Reds scrumhalf Nick Frisby will miss his team’s final match of the 2014 Super Rugby season against the Waratahs after he suffered a broken jaw in his team’s loss to the Force.
Frisby will be out for six weeks after copping a knock to the jaw early in the second half during Saturday’s game in Perth.
Initial hopes were that he would be able to take the field this weekend, but scans late Monday revealed the fracture, which will require surgery.
Reds head coach Richard Graham said, “It is disappointing to lose Pickle (Nick Frisby).
“He has played some good rugby for us recently and it would have been beneficial to continue his partnership with Benny Lucas this weekend. Following surgery tonight he’ll be out for at approximately six weeks.”
Frisby’s injury adds to a long list of squad members currently unavailable for selection, along with Quade Cooper (shoulder/hip), Blake Enever (bicep), Anthony Fainga’a (calf), Chris Feauai-Sautia (shoulder), Will Genia (ankle), Liam Gill (Australian Sevens duties), Eddie Quirk (knee), Dom Shipperley (ankle) and Aidan Toua (pectoral).
The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nicholas Davidson QC has accepted a guilty plea from Hugh McMeniman of the Force for contravening Law 10.4 (a) Punching or Striking, after he was cited during a Super Rugby match at the weekend.
McMeniman has been suspended from all forms of the game for one week up to and including 12 July 2014.
The incident occurred in the 29th minute of the match between the Force and Reds at nib Stadium in Perth on Saturday 5 July 2014.
SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nicholas Davidson QC assessed the case.