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Nollis Marais

Nollis Marais

Positive news for a change from the Vodacom Blue Bulls, as Nollis Marais, the new Head Coach for the Currie Cup season gets into gear.

He promises change and that the Blue Bulls will play in a system which suits their player strenghts and it looks like one of the 1st key things he has achieved is to convince all the key youngsters left at the Union since the recent exodus (before his appointment), have decided to stay and sign on to help ressurrect the proud Union.

The 2nd immediate positive is that former Bulls and Springbok hooker, Gary Botha has been signed as Technical Forwards Consultant with the Blue Bulls.

The 3rd aspect of positive and upbuilding news is that the vibe in the newly released Currie Cup squad is positive and excited… and eager.

The 4th aspect, something I have wanted to hear for a very, very long time… and that is that Nollis Marais will give special attention to skills training. It has been something severely lacking in both the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup and the Bulls in Super Rugby and it’s been permitted to rot in the background for far too long during Frans Ludeke’s tenure, and lately shaky reign. It is music to my ears and should be music to the ears of most South Africans, as skills is one critical aspect where we feel South Africa is lacking behind Australia and New Zealand… well specially New Zealand!

Then there is the pleasant news that it appears that Francois Hougaard, who would have left for Japan prior to the advent of the Currie Cup, will now stay at the Blue Bulls, in an attempt to shine in the Currie Cup, and thus maybe elevate his chances of re-entering the Springbok Squad.

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Springboks

With the International Test window just around the corner (11 July), the Rugby news in South Africa is being dominated by Springbok preparations for what lies ahead in 2015… The World XV game, the abbreviated Rugby Championship and 1 further match against Los Pumas and of course the Rugby World Cup from 18 September to 31 October 2015.

Of course, it could also be argued that we do not have anything else to talk about, because South African sides have all been done and dusted with Super Rugby for a couple of weeks already, whilst 2 New Zealand sides are still contesting it… on their ownsome lonesome!

Maybe it is a blessing in disguise though, for overall Springbok preparations, as they now have much more time to get their ducks in a row for the international scene, and to re-introduce the injured and rehabilitating players…

BUT, and it’s a big BUT… the injury list seems almost as long as the list of fighting fit candidates and that is a big concern.

In this article, we focus on what Heyneke Meyer says and feels about his chosen Springbok squad, and we have a good look at the fitness and injury update from the Springbok camp.

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Jaco Peyper

Jaco Peyper

Jaco Peyper of South Africa has been appointed to referee the Final of Super Rugby 2015. He will thus be heading for Wellington, New Zealand for this great match.

When he heard of the appointment on Sunday, Peyper was understandably excited, as was André Watson, South Africa’s refereeing boss.

Peyper, a Bloemfontein lawyer, is no stranger to finals. On his way up the refereeing ladder, when he was doing mainly Under 19 matches, he refereed the provincial Under 19 Final. When he was further up the ladder, he refereed the Under 21 Final. Then higher still, he refereed the Vodacom Cup Final. Then in 2012 he refereed the Currie Cup Final and now the Super Rugby Final.

It is the 23rd Super Rugby Final since the 1st one in 1993. Of the 22 finals already refereed South African referees have refereed 14 – André Watson (5), Jonathan Kaplan (3), Craig Joubert (3) and Freek Burger, Tappe Henning and Mark Lawrence (1 each). Peyper will be the 6th South African referee to referee a Final.

Peyper is now on the way to being a vastly experienced referee – after 22 Tests, 60 Super Rugby matches and 55 Currie Cup matches.

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Late Brett Williams

Late Brett Williams

The lone remaining accused, Blayne Shepard, was found guilty of culpable homicide for the incident which took place after a Super Rugby match between the Sharks and the Melbourne Rebels, where Mr Brett Williams died after assault.

 

The Sharks Media Release Reads as follows:

The Sharks welcome the judgment delivered yesterday in the Brett Williams murder case, which tragically occurred on the outer-fields at Growthpoint Kings Park in 2013.

We thrive on creating a family environment at the stadium where all ages can enjoy a wonderful matchday experience in a safe and secure environment. We have a zero tolerance policy with regard to untoward behaviour at the stadium and we don’t condone this in the strictest terms.

In the last year, we have focussed extensively from moving away from a club culture within the stadium to a more family orientated focus with the implementation of an outer-field market, a supervised kids dugout area, the Mangwanani Spa offering on matchday as well as many other exciting initiatives, which is aimed at providing world-class entertainment for our patrons.

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HSBC Sevens World SeriesThe Cape Town Sevens rugby tournament will take place on the weekend of 12 and 13 December, World Rugby announced in Paris on Tuesday when it confirmed the new schedule for the 2015 / 2016 season.

  • Round 2 of global Series set for 12 to 13 December in Mother City
  • New schedule revealed and popular Series extended to 10 iconic cities
  • Tickets to go on sale on 4 August for Cape Town date

At a major announcement in the French capital, World Rugby confirmed the Cape Town dates in a schedule featuring iconic locations which now also includes Sydney, Paris, Singapore and Vancouver as other new venues on the circuit.

The Cape Town Sevens will be the 2nd leg of the global tour – filling its traditional slot in early December, a week after the Series opener in Dubai.

SARU announced that tickets for the event would go on sale on Tuesday 4 August, through Computicket outlets. Details of prices and initiatives such as a family stand will be released at a ticket launch in due course.

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WhistleFormer rugby players, Monty Dumond, Egon Seconds, Jacques Nieuwenhuis and Mpho Matsaung will take to the field as referees in the Coca-Cola Academy Week at the Isak Steyl Stadium in Vanderbiljpark from 6 to 9 July.

Dumond played provincial rugby for the Sharks, Eastern Province, Griquas and Boland, while Seconds represented Western Province and Griquas; Matsaung and Nieuwenhuis played for the Valke. Nieuwenhuis also played international rugby for Namibia, which included appearances at the 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups in France and New Zealand.

Dumond and Nieuwenhuis also made their mark in the Cell C Community Cup, where Dumond represented GAP Management Despatch up until this year’s Easter Playoffs in Rustenburg, while Nieuwenhuis played for GS Metals Brakpan last season.

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Fourie du Preez

Fourie du Preez

Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez will be sidelined for an extended period with a medial knee ligament injury.

When Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer unveiled a 49-strong squad on Saturday, a paragraph in the official media release revealed that “He suffered a knee injury while training with his Japanese club earlier this week”.

More clarity regarding Du Preez’s injury was given in Johannesburg on Monday, where it was determined that the 33-year-old former Loftus-based favourite, now contracted to Suntory Goliath in Japan, will be sidelined for between 4 to 8 weeks.

The other scrumhalves picked in the Springbok squad are Ruan Pienaar, Cobus Reinach, Faf de Klerk and Rudy Paige.

Another serious injury concern is prop Coenie Oosthuizen who had a neck operation today and will miss the Castle Rugby Championship.

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Sias Ebersohn

Sias Ebersohn

The Western Force has released flyhalf Sias Ebersohn from his contract, allowing him to return to his native South Africa.

The 26-year-old, who joined the Force from the Bloemfontein-based Toyota Cheetahs ahead of the 2013 Super Rugby season, has played 43 matches – scoring 212 points – across his 3 seasons for the Western Australian club.

Ebersohn has made a strong contribution to the club over the past 3 seasons, including playing a key role during the club’s most successful season in 2014.

However, leading into the 2016 season, the club identified the need to inject additional experience into its young backline, which coincided with an opportunity for Ebersohn to return to South Africa.

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ABSA Currie CupThe ORC Griquas ran in 8 tries to beat Leopards 48 / 21 on Saturday in their ABSA Currie Cup qualifier at Profert Olën Park in Potchefstroom. The result moved the Kimberley side to the Top team on the Log standings with 11 point from 3 matches.

The Leopards, who have occupied the Top spot the previous 2 weeks thanks to 2 bonus point wins, slipped down to 2nd while the Border Bulldogs jumped to 3rd following their 2nd win of the campaign.

Border made it 2 from 2 with a 22 / 15 victory over the Boland Cavaliers at the Boland Stadium in Wellington, following their 20 / 13 win over ORC Griquas in East London 3 weeks ago. In the remaining clash the Hino Valke scored 3 tries to register their 1st win in 2 attempts. They beat the SWD Eagles 22 / 15 at the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park. The SWD Eagles, meanwhile, are winless after 3 outings.

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SpringboksThe selection of 8 uncapped players and the return of a further 6 are the features of the Springbok squad named on Saturday for the 5 matches leading up to the Rugby World Cup later this season.

In addition to the 36 squad members, the national selectors have identified 13 players who are currently injured or will be in rehabilitation, but will form part of an extended squad for the matches against the World XV, Castle Lager Rugby Championship and the Test against Argentina in Buenos Aires.

The uncapped players in the squad are Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Rudy Paige, Faf de Klerk, Jesse Kriel, Franco Mostert and Lionel Mapoe.

Back in the Springbok fold after not featuring in any Springbok Tests last year, are Elton Jantjies, Frans Steyn, Jaque Fourie, Heinrich Brüssow, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Heinke van der Merwe.

The currently injured players included in the squad are Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, Lionel Mapoe, Heinrich Brüssow, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Frans Steyn, Coenie Oosthuizen, Lood de Jager, Duane Vermeulen, Cobus Reinach, Pat Lambie, Jaque Fourie, Jan Serfontein and Fourie du Preez. The latter suffered a knee injury while training with his Japanese club earlier this week.

“It’s a long list of injured players but all of them are in the selection frame and we’d like to work with them to assist with their rehabilitation,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

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Coaching 101South African rugby is heading towards a coaching crisis and needs to be addressed as soon as possible, various experts have warned this week.

Former Bulls coach Chris Buitendach added his voice to the growing wave of concern over the state and depth of quality coaching in the country.

“It is a huge concern. 20 Years back we had a coaching conference and I said if we are not proactive in the training of coaches we won’t have quality coaches left,” Buitendach said at the launch of an international coaching conference in Pretoria on Friday.

“The biggest problem we have in South Africa is we don’t have a pathway where we identify coaches like we do with players.”

Buitendach said the country had a wealth of players but there were few coaches that could boast with a ‘CV of success’ while there was no formal plan to bring coaches through the ranks.

“At the moment we are in trouble, we have Franco Smith and Johan Ackermann, who else?” he asked.

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Schalk Ferreira

Schalk Ferreira

The Southern Kings continued their recruitment drive ahead of their re-entry into Super Rugby next year.

Veteran prop Schalk Ferreira, who played Super Rugby for the Kings in 2013, is the latest recruit for the Port Elizabeth-based franchise.

He will be returning to PE on a 2-year contract and will join them ahead of the Eastern Province Kings’ Currie Cup campaign that gets underway in August.

The 31-year-old Ferreira – who also played for the DHL Stormers before moving to PE – has been playing for Toulouse in France since 2013.

The have recently also confirmed the signing of centre JP du Plessis and prop Basil Short.

This also follows the announcement of a loan agreement with the Blue Bulls for the services of Jacques “Vleis” Engelbrecht to join the squad for the Currie Cup season, as well as the signing until 2016 of young prop Nicolaas van Dyk.

Du Plessis and Short are already taking part in a training.

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Cell C SharksThe Sharks Director of Rugby, Gary Gold, will be heading-up the Cell C Sharks coaching team for this year’s ABSA Currie Cup campaign. He will be ably supported by the experienced backline coach Sean Everitt and Ryan Strudwick who will look after the forwards.

The Sharks report that Sean has worked with many of the players in their current squad through the various age-group ranks and has enjoyed great success and has a fantastic rapport with them. Ryan recently won the Varsity Shield trophy with the UKZN Impi’s and has also been involved in their coaching set-up for a few years.

Gold said: “For the first time since I arrived, I am satisfied that there is continuity and clarity amongst the various age-groups and this has been achieved through the redeployment of the coaching structures. The historic structure lacked the necessary focus throughout the age-groups. We had approached and considered a replacement for Brad. However, we have after consultation with all stakeholders including the team, decided within this new framework, that it will be in the best interest of the team and for continuity for me to oversee the campaign with the assistance of Sean and Ryan.”

To this end, Michael Horak, who enjoyed great success with Varsity Cup side UFS Shimlas will head up the Cell C Sharks Under 21 campaign and will be assisted by AB Zondagh.

The Under 19 team will be headed-up by Paul Anthony who brings with him a wealth of experience as well as success having won the competition twice with the Blue Bulls. His deputy will be Andre Barnard.

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Coenie Oosthuizen

Coenie Oosthuizen

The Sharks took delight in announcing the signing of Springbok loosehead prop, Coenie Oosthuizen, on a 4-year deal.

Oosthuizen made his Springbok debut in 2012 and has since amassed 21 caps in the green and gold jersey. He is a versatile prop that is able to play on both sides of the scrum and is a welcome addition to the Cell C Sharks family.

Commenting on his signing, The Sharks Director of Rugby, Gary Gold said: “I am pleased that Coenie has taken up our offer to play his rugby in Durban. He is an exceptional player who boasts surprising pace and is known for his strong runs and work rate around the park.

“His experience will prove invaluable to our team ambitions going forward.”

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Barend van Graan

CEO Barend van Graan

The Vodacom Bulls are totally mum as to who could possibly succeed Frans Ludeke as their new Super Rugby head coach.

Media speculation has been rife about possible candidates for the new post in Pretoria.

Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron is being mentioned as a possible successor to Ludeke, who was stood down despite having another year left on his contract.

Despite the Theron rumours, the Bulls insist no decision has been made yet.

“The Blue Bulls Company (BBC) will not comment about rumours about possible coaches mentioned in the media,” CEO Barend van Graan said.

Springbok lock Victor Matfield has also been touted as a possible head coach, as well as current Springbok assistant coach Johann van Graan.

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Eben Etzebeth

Eben Etzebeth

Damian de Allende

Damian de Allende

The Japanese Yen’s pulling power continues to lure Springboks to Japan for brief off-season stints.

Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth is reported to have signed for the Red Hurricanes and is set to join Springbok teammate Handré Pollard for a stint in Japan.

As is the case with Pollard, Etzebeth’s contract with the Japanese club will only be for 3 months and commence after the World Cup.

That would see him return to play for the DHL Stormers in next year’s Super Rugby competition.

Etzebeth’s contract with Western Province expires at the end of the 2016 season.

The 2nd Springbok that will travel to Asia, is Super Rugby sensation Damien de Allende who has, according to japanrugby.net, signed with the Liners.

De Allende will depart for Japan after the World Cup and return in time for the Super Rugby season in 2016.

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Pat Lambie

Pat Lambie

The Springboks will welcome the news that flyhalf Pat Lambie has been declared fit for action.

The Cell C Sharks pivot visited a specialist on Thursday to determine the extent of the neck injury which sidelined him for the past 3 months.

The Sharks on Thursday announced that the 24-year-old was fit to play.

He is expected to be included in Heyneke Meyer’s Springbok squad on Saturday.

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Johan Goosen

Johan Goosen

Johan Goosen’s kicking coach has confirmed Western Province’s interest in the Springbok pivot and says the player is ‘considering’ all possible options.

Media reports earlier this month indicated that the Capetonians were interested in signing Goosen as a replacement for Demetri Catrakilis, who will join Montpellier in France after this year’s Currie Cup.

Bertus Pretorius, who is Goosen’s kicking coach in Bloemfontein, confirmed the interest in his player.

Goosen though still has 2 seasons left on his contract with Racing Metro in France and WP would have to fork out a lot of money to sign him.

“Any player will always consider possibilities (to move) and it’s not necessarily only WP. But Goose has a 3-year contract with Racing (should WP fail in their quest to lure him) and he’ll honour it, like he did with the Cheetahs,” Pretorius said.

Goosen though appears not to be a happy camper in France, with Racing coach Laurent Labit recently accusing the Springbok pivot of not attending French classes as well as not taking things serious enough at practice.

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Super RugbyIt is the Semi-Final Round of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.

There are only 2 matches in the Round, 1 in New Zealand and 1 in Australia.

1St Place on the Combined Log, the Hurricanes hosts the lowest Qualifier, the Brumbies. In the other match 2nd on the Log, the Waratahs hosts the other qualifier from last weekend, the Highlanders.

The 2 Franchises who finished in the No 1 and No 2 spots on the Combined Log, the Hurricanes and Waratahs respectively, have had wonderful rest weekends, as they sat out during the Top 6 Qualification Round last weekend.

The action is kicked off by the Hurricanes vs Brumbies who do battle in Wellington at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT) on Saturday 27 June.

A little later, over in Sydney, Australia, the Waratahs plays the Highlanders at 11:55 SA Time (19:55 AEST, 21:55 NZ Time, 09:55 GMT).

After this Round only 2 Teams remain to contest the Final next weekend.

The Hurricanes vs Brumbies game should be an absolute cracker after the Brumbies’ massive win over the DHL Stormers last weekend, but one would have to give a nod to the most consistent team of this year’s series, the Hurricanes, who have stood out head and shoulders above all comers in 2015.

Both teams sport great backlines but I am of the opinion that the Hurricanes are punching at the weight they should always punch at in 2015, and I give the win to them, but not by a large margin.

As far as the other match is concerned, do we give home ground advantage enough weight to speculate that the Waratahs will overcome the staunch Highlanders in Sydney… even though their regular league season was not as brilliant as last season, OR do we say that the Highlander’s faerie tale will continue in 2015?

It is a difficult call to make and I’m leaning towards the Waratahs making it at home in Sydney!

Meanwhile 11Teams are already lounging around, no longer part of the race to the finish line.

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ABSA Currie CupThe 2 early pacesetters in the race for the vital Currie Cup Qualifier top spot, the Leopards and ORC Griquas, will meet on Saturday at Profert Olën Park in Potchefstroom in 1 of the main matches this weekend.

The Leopards are at top of the standings after collecting 10 points from 2 bonus-point wins. Last weekend they were in fine form in their clash against the Hino Valke and dominated proceedings to secure a 53 / 7 victory at home.

The men from Kimberley, on the other hand, scored a bonus-point win over the Boland Cavaliers to shoot up to 2nd place on the standings.

The Leopards have shown a healthy appetite so far this season to run with the ball and the rewards have followed. However, the Potchefstroom team will again be looking to their pack to provide a good platform so that they can bring their speedy backline into play. In-form wing Adri Jacobs is their danger man out wide with 2 hat-tricks already under his belt in the campaign.

After suffering a defeat in Round 1, Griquas bounced back to form to beat Boland 48 / 17 in Kimberley last week. Much will depend on the form of their No 8 Carel Greeff, who scored 4 tries against the Bolanders last week.

In the other 14:30 SA Time encounter on Saturday at the Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park, hosts the Hino Valke entertain the SWD Eagles.

Both teams will be eager to find their rhythm after losing last weekend and since they have both yet to win a match, which could result in a hard-fought encounter.

In the other match-up, the Boland Cavaliers play host to the Border Bulldogs in Wellington. The East London team secured a surprise 1st-round win over Griquas 2 weeks ago and after their BYE of last weekend, they will be keen to maintain their good start to the qualifying campaign.

The Down Touch Griffons have a BYE this weekend.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

On Saturday Heyneke Meyer will give the 1st indication of which foreign-based players will feature in the World Cup.

Meyer is set to name his squad to play a World XV at Newlands on 11 July – with Jean de Villiers set to make his comeback from injury, most likely off the bench.

But it will also be the 1st opportunity for the foreign-based players to re-introduce themselves to the local lads.

The incumbent Springbok captain, De Villiers, dislocated his patella in the South Africa’s 6 / 12 loss to Wales in Cardiff at the end of November last year and had to undergo reconstructive knee surgery.

If his rehabilitation goes according to schedule, the Springbok captain will play his 1st proper match in 8 months in a Currie Cup warm-up clash for Western Province against the Pumas in Franschoek on 18 July.

Province then travel to Port Elizabeth a week later for another friendly against the EP Kings, where De Villiers is also expected to feature.

However, before that De Villiers is set to play for the Springboks in the World XV clash at Newlands for a few minutes.

There are plenty of South Africans plying their trade overseas and of course some of them could and will be selected in the 31-man squad come Saturday.

However, none of them have featured at the recent Springbok training camps.

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Dick Muir

Dick Muir

Former Springbok and Sharks legend Mark Andrews says the Sharks need a coach who understands their culture.

Gary Gold took charge of the Sharks in Super Rugby, but it was recently announced that Gold would not coach the team in future and instead focus on his Director of Rugby role.

Andrews feels former Sharks centre Dick Muir would be the ideal candidate to take the coaching reins in Durban.

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Johann van Graan

Johann van Graan

Rugby consultant Brendan Venter believes current Springbok assistant coach Johann van Graan will take charge of the Bulls next year with Victor Matfield and Fourie du Preez appointed as his assistants.

A vacancy opened up a fortnight ago when long-time mentor Frans Ludeke resigned a year before his contract was set to expire.

Van Graan is widely regarded for his technical expertise and has cut his teeth at Loftus Versfeld where he played a vital role for the Bulls during their Super Rugby supremacy between 2007 and 2010 as forwards and attack coach.

His contract with the SA Rugby Union is set to expire at the end of this year which could see him return to the Bulls as head coach.

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Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe

JJ Engelbrecht

JJ Engelbrecht

Gurthrö Steenkamp

Gurthrö Steenkamp

Bakkies Botha

Bakkies Botha

Bakkies Botha will be joined by 3 South African Test players and 1 Ex-Sharks player who has formed part of the Springbok squad in the confirmed World XV squad for their match on Saturday 11 July at DHL Newlands in Cape Town against the Springboks.

The World XV squad boasts a combined total of 460 Test caps and represents 6 nations.

Rugby World Cup winning forwards Bakkies Botha (Toulon) and Gurthrö Steenkamp (Toulouse) will be joined by the Vodacom Blue Bulls’ JJ Engelbrecht and Flip Van der Merwe, as well as former Cell C Sharks hooker Craig Burden (Toulon), a Springbok tourist in 2012, in the 23-man squad which will be coached by former Wallaby and Crusaders mentor Robbie Deans.

The match will be the Springboks’ 1st of the 2015 season before a shortened Castle Later Rugby Championship. It will be a stern test for Heyneke Meyer’s team as they start their preparations for the Rugby World Cup later this year in England.

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Nelson Mandela & Francois Pienaar in 1995 with the World Cup trophy.

Nelson Mandela & Francois Pienaar in 1995 with the World Cup trophy.

 

South African Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins on Wednesday congratulated and thanked the Springbok squad involved in the 1995 Rugby World Cup as they celebrated the 20th anniversary of their epic World Cup final win in Johannesburg.

The Springboks won their 1st Rugby World Cup on 24 June 1995, beating New Zealand, 15 / 12, in a memorable final played at Ellis Park. The result unleashed a tide of goodwill and nation-building across South Africa, which a year earlier had celebrated democracy after decades of racial segregation.

“We proudly celebrate this day as a rugby family, because this team helped Nelson Mandela unite a country,” said Mr Hoskins. “It was a moment that astonished a nation and provided one of the foundation stones for the country we were to become. It was arguably the greatest day in our rugby history.

“Mr Mandela together with that Springbok team pointed the way to a new future for our people and 20 years later that day still has a massive resonance.

“We continue to salute the 1995’ers for what they achieved as a rugby team and what they meant to a nation.”

Mr Hoskins said it was also a day to remember and honour the legacy of the fallen heroes from that day, President Mandela, the Springbok coach Kitch Christie and flanker Ruben Kruger.

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Frans Ludeke

Frans Ludeke

Following Frans Ludeke’s decision to step down as Head Coach of the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls respectively, the Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd confirmed that they have reached a full and final settlement with Ludeke.

Ludeke most recently led the team to a home semi-final of the Super Rugby competition, as well as South African conference winners during 2013, prior to this he also won the Vodacom Super Rugby title twice, the first of those titles in 2009, coupled with being crowned as the Currie Cup Champions.

Barend van Graan, BBC CEO said “Frans and I have known each other a long time and we shared special memories both on and off the field of play, he is a remarkable man and in his 8 year tenure as Head Coach of the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls we have achieved many successes, which I believe our supporters, shareholders and players will cherish forever. Our staff and players have gained a huge amount from him.”

Ludeke said that although he was leaving the Blue Bulls Company sooner than anticipated, he was satisfied that his goals had been achieved and that he is able to end his tenure after sharing the joy the game brings with players, management, supporters and shareholders.

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Francois Louw

Francois Louw

Francois Louw is determined to keep hold of his Springbok jersey despite being based overseas in Bath.

Louw is 1 of the overseas-based players expected to make the Springbok squad to be announced later this week. However other contenders for the openside role are the likes of Heinrich Brussow, Marcell Coetzee, Siya Kolisi and Jaco Kriel who have all been in the Super Rugby spotlight this year.

Louw is the incumbent Springbok flank and has been Heyneke Meyer’s 1st choice for some time though he acknowledges the challenge of cracking the Springbok squad from the northern hemisphere.

“When I 1st signed for Bath, I knew it would be more challenging making the Springbok squad. But it was a move I needed to make at that stage of my career as I needed a fresh challenge, on and off the field,” Louw said.

“So when Heyneke Meyer gave me my opportunity in 2012, I was delighted and made the most of it. I’m glad that I’ve been able to play an extended role for South Africa over the years, and I want to continue giving my best to the team.”

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Andries Bekker

Andries Bekker

Jaque Fourie

Jaque Fourie

New Kobe Steelers’ coach Allister Coetzee has said that Springbok centre Jaque Fourie is available and keen to play for South Africa at the World Cup.

Fourie had previously announced his retirement from international rugby in November 2014 which came as a surprise to Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

Coetzee however, in his final Stormers press conference, said that Kobe Steelers’ centre Fourie is keen to play at the World Cup but Springbok lock Andries Bekker is not available.

According to Coetzee the Japanese club have made it clear to SARU that Bekker will not be an option for the Boks.

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Pat Lambie

Pat Lambie

Springbok flyhalf Pat Lambie will see a specialist in Durban on Thursday to determine his availability.

A neck injury saw the Sharks pivot miss the latter half of the Super Rugby competition and there is uncertainty regarding his availability for the Springboks’ 1st game against a World XV at DHL Newlands on 11 July.

“I’m going to see the doctor for a final examination,” Lambie said. “I hope to be fit and available for the World XV match as well as The Rugby Championship.”

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Heinrich Brüssow

Heinrich Brüssow

Flank Heinrich Brüssow could be a surprise inclusion when Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer names a 40-man squad for the upcoming Rugby Championship.

Despite currently being laid low by an arm injury, Brüssow could be included when Meyer names his squad on Sunday.

Despite being invited to various Bok training camps in recent years, Brüssow has never played a Test under Meyer as coach, with the last of his 20 internationals coming against Australia at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

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Wandile Mjekevu

Wandile Mjekevu

The Cell C Sharks have announced the signing of utility back Wandile Mjekevu on a 2-year deal effective from July this year.

After having spent time with the Lions and the Sharks, the former junior Springbok joined French Top 14 club Perpignan in 2013 where he gained some valuable experience at the club and got the opportunity to further develop his game.

Commenting on Mjekevu’s signing, the Sharks Director of Rugby, Gary Gold, said they were delighted to bring the once promising young talent to Durban.

“We are delighted that Wandile has decided to return to the Sharks,” said Gold.

“He had a great stint in France and he is an unbelievable prospect. His strength and agility around the park will most certainly bolster our backline and we look forward to him progressing at the franchise.”

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Allister Coetzee

Allister Coetzee

It may come in the form of another franchise gig, but there are a number of critics who feel that Allister Coetzee’s return to South Africa will be as Springbok coach.

Coetzee jets off to Japan on 5 July where he will take charge of the Kobe Kobelco Steelers, but he has not ruled out a move back to South Africa at a later stage, saying that he was “far from done” with his coaching career.

Current Bok coach Heyneke Meyer is out of contract at the end of the year after completing what would have been four full international season, and whether or not he gets another 4 years will be largely determined by how the men in green and gold go at this year’s World Cup.

Coetzee said on Tuesday that the opportunity to coach his country was something that he had always thought about.

“I would love to do it,” Coetzee said.

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Vleis EngelbrechtLoose forward Jacques “Vleis” Engelbrecht says signing with the Bulls was the biggest mistake of his rugby career.

The 30-year-old was a star for the Kings when they played Super Rugby in 2013 before joining the Bulls later that year.

His career nosedived in Pretoria though, where a lack of game time left him frustrated.

Engelbrecht mainly played Vodacom Cup rugby for the Blue Bulls this year and has been loaned to the EP Kings for this year’s Currie Cup.

Engelbrecht’s contract with the Bulls only expires next year, but he is hoping to impress for the Kings in the Currie Cup in order for them to try sign him for next year’s Super Rugby competition.

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Tony Jantjies

Tony Jantjies

The Eastern Province Kings on Wednesday announced the termination of the contract of flyhalf Tony Jantjies with immediate effect.

In making the announcement on Wednesday, EP Kings chief executive officer Charl Crous said Jantjies’ contract had been terminated due to a breach of team protocol.

The 23-year-old Jantjies joined the EP Kings this year after representing the Blue Bulls from 2012 to 2014.

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Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Tuesday confirmed that flyhalf Handré Pollard has been given permission to join Japanese outfit NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes for a 3 month spell at the end of the year.

Pollard will join the club in November 2015 and will return to Loftus Versfeld at the end of January 2016, in good time for the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby season that starts in mid-February.

“Handré is contracted to the Bulls till the end of 2017 and we are already in talks, with assistance from SARU, to extend that to 2019,” said Blue Bulls Company High Performance Manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg.

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  • grootblousmile 1 Jul 2015, 23:01 SAST - 24 @ Victoriabok: You forget their brilliant outside centre, JJ Engelbrecht... and hooker Callie Visagie finding all his jumpers... and...
  • Victoriabok 1 Jul 2015, 21:48 SAST - Nama wrote: and …wait for it… Frans Ludeke. Stormers supporters with Ludeke at the helm: Imagine halfway through the 2016...
  • MacroPolo 1 Jul 2015, 20:09 SAST - nortie wrote: 19 @ Nama: Great news, the next time we have to hear about how the Bulls have 3...
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