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PUMA the official technical and apparel partner of the Vodacom Bulls has unveiled 3 new Super Rugby kits, inspired by the stars.

Nicknamed the Stellar Kit, this season sees the introduction of a signature Black kit – brought to life with an orange and red ombrè effect across the front of the jersey, a traditional Blue kit and a re-appearance of the popular Pink kit. The Vodacom Bulls will take to the field in the specially designed pink kit for one of their home games to show their support of CANSA (Cancer Association of South Africa) and those persevering in the fight against cancer.

PUMA South Africa’s Marketing Director, Brett Bellinger says there is something for everyone in the new kits which feature a Bull imprinted across the front with reflective material embellishments.

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Francois Hougaard

Francois Hougaard

Juan de Jongh

Juan de Jongh

Springboks Francois Hougaard and Juan de Jongh were on Wednesday named in a strong Springbok Sevens (Blitzbokke) 12-man squad for the 1st 2 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments of the new season, in Dubai and Cape Town.

The season kicks off on 4 & 5 December with the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens, which is followed a week later by the inaugural HSBC Cape Town Sevens, on 12 & 13 December, at the Cape Town Stadium.

Hougaard has played in 35 Tests for the Springboks and recently joined the Sevens squad on a 1-year contract. He is set to make his World Series debut in Dubai, while DHL Western Province centre and skipper, Juan de Jongh (14 Tests), return to the Springbok Sevens fold for the 1st time since making his 1st and only appearance for the side in Wellington in 2008.

Werner Kok, the newly-crowned World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, Cheslin Kolbe (DHL Western Province) and last season’s top-try scorer on the World Series circuit, Seabelo Senatla, will combine with regular stalwarts Cecil Afrika, Justin Geduld and Rayno Benjamin (Toyota Free State Cheetahs) to form a potent Blitzbokke backline attack.

The tough-tackling Benjamin is set to make his 30th World Series appearance while skipper Kyle Brown is on course to play in his landmark 50th tournament in his hometown of Cape Town.

The durable Brown, Philip Snyman, Kwagga Smith and Chris Dry will provide the necessary steel upfront and complete a strong selection who will defend their crown in Dubai. The Springbok Sevens are also the current tournament champions in South Africa.

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John Mitchell

John Mitchell

John Mitchell appears the firm favourite to become the DHL Stormers head coach, after meeting with Western Province rugby bosses on Tuesday.

According to reports, Mitchell was in the Mother City to discuss details of what is believed to be a 4-year deal with the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) and the Stormers.

The former All Blacks, Western Force and Golden Lions coach earlier this year turned down a job offer from the DHL Stormers.

In June, Mitchell said: “An approach was made to me and there were negotiations, but unfortunately Gert Smal is only contracted as Western Province Director of Rugby for another 2 years, so there were no guarantees for me beyond that period.

“Had I been offered a 4-year deal, it would have been different. But I have travelled around the world a lot to pursue my career as a coach and didn’t want to uproot my family again for the promise of just 2 years. I didn’t want to commute either, as I believe you have to be fully immersed in a culture to be effective as a coach.”

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Allister CoetzeeAllister Coetzee looks set to be named the new Springbok coach in December.

It has reliably been learnt that Heyneke Meyer has lost the support of the majority of South Africa’s provincial unions and will be replaced at the General Council meeting of the South African Rugby Union on 11 December.

SARU has already postponed their General Council meeting by a week, to 11 December. It will be preceeded by a meeting of the Executive Council on 9 December.

Current team manager Ian Schwartz, who is employed as a permanent staff member of SARU, has apparently flown to Japan to speak to former Springbok Assistant Coach and DHL Stormers Head Coach, Allister Coetzee, to take over the national team.

Coetzee has an exit clause in his contract with Kobelco Steelers – the club he coaches in the Japanese Top League.

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James Small

James Small

Former Springbok wing James Small says Emirates Lions coach Johan Ackermann deserves to be considered for the Springbok head coaching role.

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) is set for its next General Council meeting on 11 December and it is at this meeting that the fate of under-fire Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer will be decided.

The latest mumblings are that Meyer could be offered a 1-year contract extension, but the possibility of Meyer being axed also exists.

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Andy Marinos

Andy Marinos

New SANZAR CEO Andy Marinos has backed South Africa’s Southern Kings and Japan’s Sunwolves to cause upsets in Super Rugby 2016.

The Southern Kings have at least played a season of Super Rugby before, while the Sunwolves are making their debut as the competition expands to accommodate a side each from Japan and Argentina as well as an extra South African side.

The EP Kings’ serious financial troubles over the past few months have raised questions over their fanchise participation in the competition, but the Sunwolves have not yet named a head coach for the season while they also do not have a full player roster.

But Marinos was a voice of calm on Wednesday morning, backing the Japanese franchise to get their ducks in a row before the tournament begins at the end of February.

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Emirates LionsAll the Lions’ Currie Cup heroes except for Kwagga Smith, who is contracted for National Sevens duty, have been retained for Super Rugby while 9 other stalwarts have strengthened the squad.

Flanker Derick Minnie returns after a long injury lay-off and winger Ruan Combrink and centre Harold Vorster have also been added to the Super Rugby group after missing some Currie Cup action due to injury.

Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies, centre Lionel Mapoe and hooker Akker van der Merwe, as well as Warrick Tecklenburg will return from overseas duty.

The new squad members are former Steval Pumas scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, Leopards No 9 Dillon Smit, Leopards lock Robert Kruger and Pumas prop Corné Fourie, who are all full-blooded Lions now.

Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk has signed a contract with the Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU) which will see him based permanently in Johannesburg. De Klerk, 24, was a shining light for the Emirates Lions during this year’s Super Rugby competition but because he was still contracted to the Steval Pumas, he had to return to Nelspruit for the Currie Cup season. However, the GLRU on Wednesday confirmed that the scrumhalf has signed a deal which means he will also be available for Currie Cup duty.

Steval Pumas fullback JW Bell is the only new face who hasn’t donned the Lions jersey yet.

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John Mitchell

John Mitchell

It looks like the DHL Stormers should soon be in position to unveil their new coach to replace England bound Eddie Jones, with John Mitchell reportedly having met with Western Province officials in Cape Town late on Tuesday.

The former All Black coach is the only person who fits the requirements laid out last week by WP director of rugby Gert Smal last week – namely that the new coach preferably have an overseas slant to his coaching, have coached international rugby, have coached Super Rugby for at least seven seasons and have experience and knowledge of the South African rugby culture.

When asked about the meeting on Wednesday morning, all Mitchell could say was that he’d had fruitful discussions and that WP had been very professional in the way they had formulated their approach. However Mitchell was not at liberty to divulge further details and he has not signed on the dotted line, so negotiations appear to be ongoing.

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SA Rugby LegendsIn the aftermath of the recent attacks in Paris, the SA Rugby Legends Association have joined forces with the large Gauteng-based French community to honour those fallen and to help raise funds to assist the families who lost loved ones in the attacks.

On Saturday 28 November, the Legends will do just that by playing a special match against the French community, comprising Frenchmen who have played rugby at various levels.

The event will take place at the French International School – Lycee Francais Jules Verne – in Morningside from 12:00 SA Time, with the match starting at 14:00 SA Time.

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Southern KingsThe South African Rugby Union (SARU) has established an operational implementation task group to oversee the running of the Southern Kings franchise in Vodacom Super Rugby, SARU announced on Monday.

The group will meet in Cape Town on Wednesday to put in place the structures and processes required to take control of the running of the Southern Kings.

“We will be leaning heavily on EPRU personnel in this implementation process in due course and they are providing us with certain documentation to determine the current landscape at the franchise,” said Jurie Roux, SARU CEO.

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Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones will most likely not be coming back to Cape Town to assist the DHL Stormers in their pre-season preparation work, but he will be in Los Angelos this week.

Newly appointed England coach Jones will be addressing a World Rugby workshop on the success of the Japan team at the Rugby World Cup, who won 3 games despite failing to make the play-offs under his guidance.

Jones was unveiled as the new DHL Stormers coach earlier this month, before being made an offer he could not refuse by the English RFU which saw him leave Cape Town after just 2 weeks.

Stormers director of rugby, Gert Smal, claimed that Jones would return to Cape Town in December to assist with the planning for next season, explaining that the experienced coach felt bad for the way things had transpired with the Stormers.

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Vodacom BullsThe Vodacom Bulls are hard at work in preparation for the Vodacom Super Rugby season next year, with some new faces amongst the regular squad members.

New Vodacom Bulls player Lizo Gqoboka has settled in well amongst his team mates and is working hard with the rest of the Vodacom Super Rugby squad assembled in Pretoria. Winger Luther Obi will join the squad on Wednesday as the Bulls step up preparations at Loftus Versfeld for next year’s extended Vodacom Super Rugby competition, where the Vodacom Bulls are working hard to achieve success in 2016.

A number of injured players will join the fray as they complete rehabilitation, while those playing club rugby in Japan will return during the course of January 2016. The 5 returning from Japan are Grant Hattingh, Handré Pollard, JJ Engelbrecht, Bjorn Basson and Jesse Kriel.

The injured players (with date of return in brackets) are Deon Stegmann, Jannes Kirsten, Nick de Jager and Travis Ismaiel (all December), Irne Herbst, Morné Mellett, Jaco Visagie, Roelof Smit, Ruan Steenkamp, Hanro Liebenberg, Piet van Zyl, Dries Swanepoel and Warrick Gelant (January) and Callie Visagie (February).

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BlitzbokkeThe Springbok Sevens team (Blitzbokke) scooped the Team of Year Award at the annual SA Sports Awards in Bloemfontein on Sunday.

The SA Sports Awards is annually hosted by the Department of Sport and Recreation of South Africa, recognising SA sports individuals and teams for their outstanding sporting contributions on and off the field.

Springbok Sevens pipped the South African Test Cricket team and the SA Lightweight Women’s Rowing team to claim the prestigious award.

Sunday evening’s accolade capped a successful 2014 / 2015 season for the Blitzbokke team. They were the 1st team to qualify automatically for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and finished 2nd to Fiji on the final standings of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

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Andy Marinos

Andy Marinos

SANZAR has appointed Andy Marinos as the organisation’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

His new job will formally commence on 1 January 2016 and he replaces Greg Peters – who is taking over as CEO of the new Argentina Super Rugby team.

The South African, who is no stranger to the position, having previously served as CEO between 2008 – 2010, brings a wealth of business and rugby experience to the role, both as an administrator and professional player.

Marinos re-joins SANZAR from SARU, where he has served as General Manager of Commercial & Marketing for the past 5 years, in addition to SARU Acting Managing Director and Board Member (2008 – 2010), Springbok Team Manager (2008), Manager of South African National Teams (2005 – 2010) and World Rugby Sevens Advisory Group (2008 – 2015).

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Steval PumasDie Pumas van Suid-Afrika het so byna by die Superrugby-agterdeur ingeglip, maar dié unie se plan om die OP-Kings se plek in volgende jaar se kompetisie te “kaap”, is ter elfder ure deur Cheeky Watson gefnuik.

Rapport het na bewering betroubaar verneem dat Hein Mentz, die Pumas se president, ’n volledige sakeplan aan die Suid-Afrikaanse Rugbyunie (SARU) voorgelê het, waarin hulle aanbied om die Oos-Kapenaars, wat reeds maande lank verlam is deur ’n geldkrisis, in 2016 se toernooi te vervang.

Dié plan sou die Kings “tyd gee om hul geldsake uit te sorteer” en dié franchise terug op die been te kry.

Dít het onder meer ’n groot borgskap en beloftes van geleenthede vir spesifiek swart spelers bevat en het glo die steun van die Mpumalanga-regering gehad.

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ABSA BankBMWThe South African Springboks have been stung by the loss of 2 key Sponsors, namely ABSA Bank and BMW!


ABSA Bank:

The Springboks are set to lose their jersey sponsor after ABSA Bank decided not to renew its contract with the South African Rugby Union (SARU).

According to the Sunday Times, the slow pace of transformation is one of the reasons for the decision.

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Barbarians Rugby - Victor Matfield & Bakkies Botha

The world’s most famous invitation club, the Barbarians, will aim to entertain when they celebrate their 125th year of existence.

The BaaBaas will host a strong Argentinean Los Pumas team at Twickenham on Saturday.

However, coach Michael Cheika’s message to his Barbarians team was simple.

“Keep it simple, have a go and back yourselves,” Cheika told the BaaBaas players.

Argentina have a slightly different focus.

Having finished 3rd in The Rugby Championship – the 1st time hey did not finish last – and 4th in the Rugby World Cup, they hope to finish their year on a winning note.

Wing Santiago Cordero, 1 of the sensations for the Pumas at the Rugby World up, said it is going to be a “pretty tough” game.

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Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones

It’s official, DHL Stormers head coach for an ever so brief spell, Eddie Jones (which included no games and lasted only from 1 November to 18 November 2015, after being introduced to the SA Media on 12 November) is now the new England head coach!

The RFU have revealed that they have appointed Eddie Jones on a 4-year contract, starting in December 2015 and he will take charge of his 1st international game with England when they meet Scotland in the RBS 6 Nations at Murrayfield on 6 February 2016.

The amount the RFU had to pay to Western Province for Eddie Jones’ release is still the subject of wild speculation and varies between rumours of £ 100 000.00 (R 2.1 Million) to £ 350 000.00 ( R 7.5 Million) and even up to £ 700 000.00 (R 15 Million).

Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) have issued the following media release:


Media Release:

WPRFU President Mr Thelo Wakefield and WP Director of Rugby Gert Smal will host a top table press conference at DHL NEWLANDS on Friday 20 November at 11:00 SA Time.

Western Province Rugby has agreed terms with the English Rugby Football Union (RFU) which will see Eddie Jones depart to take on an international coaching post with England.

There has been plenty of speculation about Jones’s future ever since his arrival in Cape Town earlier this month and he officially received an offer on Wednesday of this week which proved impossible to turn down.

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John Mitchell

John Mitchell

With Eddie Jones now in London and appointed as the new England coach, the DHL Stormers director of rugby Gert Smal needs to do what he failed to do earlier in the year by making John Mitchell a serious offer.

The former All Black coach was targeted by the Stormers earlier in the year, and the approach to him preceded that made to former Sharks coach and fellow Kiwi John Plumtree. However, Mitchell was only offered a 2 year deal and Mitchell said at the time that the figures didn’t turn his head either.

Mitchell, who has become a successful chief executive in the business world over the past 2 years, said he would have needed a longer contract, more like 4 years, in order to be interested. The negotiations broke down after he communicated that view to Smal.

Jones though was offered a 3 year contract with the option of a year extension, which effectively meant 4 years, so it is difficult to see any reason now why Smal can’t do the same for Mitchell, particularly as the pay-out from the RFU to Western Province should be a substantial one.

With Jones out of the picture, Mitchell says he would definitely be interested in working as Stormers head coach under Smal were the union to make him a realistic offer.

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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks on Thursday unveiled their provisional Super Rugby training squad ahead of the 2016 season.

As expected, lock Ruan Botha joins from the Stormers on a 2-year deal to soften the blow of Pieter-Steph du Toit moving the other way.

“Ruan is a young player with a bright future ahead of him. He was part of the SA Under 20 squad that won the IRB Junior Championship in 2012 and we look forward to his progress in the black and white jersey,” Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold told the franchise’s website.

“This squad will be re-looked at in the New Year, when our other squad members return.”

There are another 9 players currently undergoing rehab for various injuries, while 6 have been released including flyhalf Lionel Cronje, lock Marco Wentzel and centre Waylon Murray.

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Cheeky Watson

Cheeky Watson

EP Rugby President, Cheeky Watson, held a media conference at the EP Rugby offices on Wednesday afternoon as financial issues continue to plague the union.

“This has never been about Cheeky Watson, it is about the Kings, it has always been about the Kings,” said Watson.

Watson said it was important to take note of the press release from SA Rugby issued on Tuesday 17 November 2015.

“There has always been a Plan B; I put the call in to SARU to come and bring stability, so that we can stop hemorrhaging players and focus on our preparations for Super Rugby,” he said.

Watson said he was constantly engaging with SA Rugby, including Rugby boss, Oregan Hoskins, and that the details around the implementation of the assistance still needed to be fleshed out.

“The cash flow crisis we have experienced is like a Greek tragedy. We want to thank SARU for stepping in to assist and we welcome whatever contributions they bring,” he said.

Watson said part of the intervention envisioned was to have members of the SARU mobi-unit come down to assist in support roles and bolster the Southern Kings coaching staff.

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Ruan Botha

Ruan Botha

The Cell C Sharks are set to announce their pre-season Super Rugby squad on Thursday – and the name Ruan Botha will appear on that list.

The 23-year-old Stormers lock is set for a move to Durban, while Springbok Pieter-Steph du Toit has moved from the Sharks to Newlands.

A Sharks spokesperson on Wednesday said that the deal between the union and Botha could not yet be officially confirmed due to a contract that still had to be signed.

However, the indication was that all of the paperwork would be wrapped up by Thursday.

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Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones

UK bookmakers have stopped taking bets on newly appointed DHL Stormers coach Eddie Jones replacing fired Stuart Lancaster as supremo of the England rugby team. They are so convinced Jones will leave Newlands for Twickenham that betting on him doing so has been suspended.

But the Australian who guided Japan to rugby’s great giant killing act over the Springboks won’t come cheap. In the Times of London this morning, SA billionaire Johann Rupert says extracting Jones from his contract with the DHL Stormers will cost the English Rugby Football Union (RFU) R 15 Million (£ 700 000.00).

Richemont chairman Rupert, co-owner of the DHL Stormers through the 25% owned by 1 of his businesses, told the newspaper: “We have no influence” and confirmed the Cape-based franchise would not engage in a bidding war over the recently hired head coach.

In September, Eddie Jones signed a R 5 Million a year deal with the DHL Stormers which runs until the end of 2018. That made him the highest paid coach in South African rugby, ahead of Heyneke Meyer who guided the Springboks to 3rd in the recent Rugby World Cup.

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John Gainsford

John Gainsford

The South African Rugby Union extended its condolences to the family of legendary Springbok centre John Gainsford, who passed away on Wednesday morning following a long battle with cancer. He was 77.

Gainsford established himself as one of the greatest centres of his generation due to his powerful bursts and rock-solid defence.

He earned 33 Test caps and scored 8 tries during his Springbok career between 1960 and 1967, playing in 71 Springbok matches in total (including tour matches). He remained the most capped Springbok centre until as recently as 2001 when his record was finally overtaken by Japie Mulder.

Gainsford was a world-renowned player, who emerged from the Villagers Rugby Club in Cape Town. He made his Springbok debut on 30 April 1960 against Scotland at the young age of 21 and played his last Test at the age of 28.

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Southern KingsAustralian James Hilterbrand, a hooker currently playing for Edinburgh in European competitions, headlines a list of 9 new signings by the Southern Kings.

This was announced on Monday, a day that another 2 players – wing Luther Obi and utility back Sylvian Mahuza – have given notice of their intent to leave the Kings, the Port Elizabeth-based franchised announced the list of new recruits.

Apart from Hilterbrand, who played 2 games for the Western Force in 2013 and 14 games for Edinburgh since joining them for the 2013 / 2014 season, they have signed a number of high-profile players.

These include duo Jurgen Visser and Louis Fouché (Vodacom Bulls), Caylib Oosthuizen (Toyota Cheetahs), SP Marais (Cell C Sharks), Stefan Watermeyer and JC Roos (Steval Pumas), Mark Richards (Emirates Lions) and Carel Greeff (ORC Griquas).

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Oregan Hoskins

Oregan Hoskins

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Tuesday agreed to assist the Eastern Province Rugby Union by taking control of the Southern Kings franchise in Vodacom Super Rugby.

The action followed through a decision taken by the Executive Council of SARU some weeks ago to step into the Kings’ affairs if certain expectations were not realised.

The decision was actioned as a result of the on-going cash flow problems at the Union after the president of EP, Mr Cheeky Watson, contacted Mr Oregan Hoskins, the president of SARU, to ask him to assist.

“We gave the Kings as long as possible to resolve their issues through their own efforts but the point had been reached where they could wait no longer,” said Mr Oregan Hoskins, president of SARU.

“It is a decision we have had to take reluctantly but it is now 102 days until Vodacom Super Rugby moves into a new era with new teams and new nations taking part and we collectively agreed we could not allow South Africa’s new entrant to be under-prepared.”

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Gary Gold

Gary Gold

Cell C Sharks Director Of Rugby, Gary Gold, has announced the 4 coaches that will be assisting him in next year’s Super Rugby competition.

Former UKZN Impi coach Ryan Strudwick will be in charge of the forwards. Strudwick’s Impi side were crowned Varsity Shield champions earlier this year when they beat Wits in the Final. He also previously coached Maritzburg College.

Strudwick also assisted Gold during this year’s Currie Cup campaign. He has been involved with the Sharks at Under 19 and Under 20 level as well.

Former Springbok and Sharks scrumhalf Robert du Preez will be the team’s skills and attack coach – a role he shares with Sean Everitt. Du Preez also won the ABSA Currie Cup First Division trophy with the Leopards this year. The North West team went through the entire tournament unbeaten.

He also guided NWU-Pukke to two Varsity Cup finals – one of which was this year’s 33 / 63 loss to UFS Shimlas. Pukke lost to UCT in the final in 2014.

Du Preez will also be coaching his sons Dan and Jean-Luc who are part of the Cell C Sharks squad.

Omar Mouneimne joins from the Steval Pumas and will be the team’s defence coach. He was also part of the Eastern Province Kings coaching setup and also had coaching stints in Edinburgh and Italy.

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BlitzbokkeThe Springbok Sevens (Blitzbokke) were drawn with Scotland, Samoa and newly-promoted core team Russia for the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens on 4 & 5 December.

According to the draw announced by World Rugby last Friday, South Africa are the Top-seeds in Pool B for the opening Round of the bigger HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. The Blitzbokke are the defending Dubai champions.

With global excitement building ahead of Sevens’ biggest season, the world’s top players – representing 28 national teams – will compete in Dubai from 3 to 5 December. The 12-team women’s tournament will be played on 3 & 4 December and the 16-team men’s event on 4 & 5 December.

In the men’s competition, reigning series champions Fiji head Pool A and kick off proceedings against Canada with further ties against Japan and Argentina.

12-Time series champions New Zealand face matches against USA, as well as France and Portugal in Pool C, while in Pool D England will compete against Australia, Wales and Kenya.

The South Africans start their Dubai campaign against powerful Samoa. They then face Russia in the mid-afternoon, before tackling Scotland later in the evening on the opening day.

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Lizo Gqoboka

Lizo Gqoboka

The Vodacom Bulls have capitalised on the growing uncertainty surrounding the EP Kings as they signed impressive prop Lizo Gqoboka for the next few years to bolster their Super Rugby squad.

Gqoboka gave notice at the Kings after repeated non-payment of salaries at the franchise, and the Bulls swooped in to offer him a new home for the foreseeable future.

And there may well be more news in the next 48 hours as the Bulls are still after the signatures of 3 other EP Kings players – loose forwards Tim Agaba and Thembelani Bholi and winger Luther Obi. Some big decisions will be made as to their futures soon.

Gqoboka has been rated as 1 of the strongest props by the Springbok management team, who tried in vain to get him to play Super Rugby this year, after he was ignored by the franchises for the 2015 season.

But with SARU’s transformation action plan likely to be implemented much more stringently in the future, the Bulls have been pro-active in searching for good black talent to bolster their Super Rugby ranks for the coming year.

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EP KingsThe Eastern Province Rugby Union is working tirelessly behind the scenes to address the issue of non-payment of players.

The union on Thursday confirmed that neither of the Kings’ staff nor players have yet been paid their October salaries.

“The Eastern Province Rugby Union has noted that there have been a number of issues raised in the media over the past few days, and acknowledge and apologise for our lack of proper communication on these issues,” the union said via a press statement released late on Thursday.

The non-payment of players is due to cash flow problems, the union admitted.

“These cash flow problems can be attributed to significant delays in the release of funds from a sponsorship deal that was originally announced by EP Rugby President, Cheeky Watson.

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Steve Tew

Steve Tew

New Zealand Rugby chief Steve Tew said it was premature to speculate about Japan joining The Rugby Championship.

The sport is currently on a high in the Asian nation after the Brave Blossoms’ exploits at the Rugby World Cup, which included a stunning 34 / 32 win over South Africa, but there are already concerns about its preparations for the expanded Super Rugby competition next year.

With Japan set to host the next edition of the Rugby World Cup in 2019, World Rugby is keen to consolidate its popularity in a large and potentially lucrative market.

The governing body’s chairman Bernard Lapasset said on a trip to Tokyo this week that Japan should join The Rugby Championship, which currently comprises New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina.

But New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said a more immediate concern for Japanese rugby was fielding a competitive side in the Super Rugby competition in 2016.

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Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones

New DHL Stormers coach Eddie Jones says he wants them to play a brand of rugby that attracts people to come watch them.

After arriving in Cape Town last week, Jones held his 1st press-conference as DHL Stormers coach at Newlands on Thursday.

Speaking about the challenge ahead, Jones said: “It’s a fantastic city. Western Province is one of the most prestigious unions in the world – there is so much history here.

“When the opportunity came up to coach the Stormers – such a well-supported team, the best in the competition – it was simply too good to ignore. Of course, the ultimate aim is to produce a good team that attracts people to the stadium and, ultimately, challenges to win trophies.

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Tim WhiteheadCentre Tim Whitehead has become the 1st player to walk out on the EP Kings after the union’s failure to compensate players.

The 10-day deadline for paying the players’ October salaries expired at midnight on Tuesday without any action from the Kings’ management.

This means that from a legal perspective, the players can cancel existing contracts with the Eastern Province Rugby Union and take up matters elsewhere.

Whitehead on Thursday confirmed that he has decided to leave the Kings.

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SpringboksStrange as it may seem considering the hype beforehand over “emotional Springbok swansongs” in the bronze playoff match at Rugby World Cup 2015, only 1 member of the squad at the tournament, captain Jean de Villiers, has officially confirmed his Test retirement.

Several younger Springboks spoke beforehand of their desire to beat Argentina – a task duly achieved – as a fitting send-off for senior players bidding farewell to the green-and-gold cause.

Almost 2 weeks on from the end of the Rugby World Cup, however, it is still only the luckless Jean de Villiers, injured again in just the 2nd Rugby World Cup match against Samoa, who has definitely bowed out after 109 appearances since 2002.

Perhaps influenced by the state of flux surrounding embattled coach Heyneke Meyer, the likes of Victor Matfield, Fourie du Preez, Schalk Burger and Bryan Habana intriguingly haven’t yet pulled the plug publicly on their illustrious Springbok careers.

The majority of “older” Springboks who took part in their hot-and-cold Rugby World Cup 2015 campaign are now exclusively foreign-based and there have been some pleas back home for only locally-stationed players to be chosen for South Africa henceforth – a tricky matter considering the ever-shrinking strength of the Rand against other currencies, which hardly helps keeps the best players rooted here.

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