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WhistleRugby World Cup organisers have announced that Wayne Barnes, Nigel Owens, Jérôme Garcès and Craig Joubert will referee the Rugby World Cup 2015 quarterfinals this weekend.

England’s Wayne Barnes will take charge of the 1st match on Saturday between South Africa and Wales at Twickenham Stadium, London (Kick-Off 17:00 SA Time, 16:00 UK Time, 15:00 GMT) and will be joined by Assistant Referees George Clancy (Ireland) and JP Doyle (England) with the Television Match Official being Graham Hughes, also of England.

Later the same day, New Zealand take on France at the Millennium Stadium (Kick-Off 21:00 SA & French Time, 20:00 UK Time, 19:00 GMT) in a repeat of the Rugby World Cup 2011 final, with Nigel Owens of Wales refereeing the game at his union’s home ground. On the line will be Jaco Peyper of South Africa and John Lacey of Ireland while the Television Match Official will be South Africa’s Shaun Veldsman.

The 3rd quarterfinal between Ireland and Argentina in Cardiff (Kick-Off 14:00 SA Time, 13:00 UK Time, 12:00 GMT) on Sunday will be refereed by Jérôme Garcès of France with his countryman, Romain Poite, and New Zealand’s Chris Pollock as Assistant Referees. George Ayoub (Australia) will be the Television Match Official.

The final match of the stage will take place at Twickenham on Sunday (Kick-Off 17:00 SA Time, 16:00 UK Time, 15:00 GMT) between Australia and Scotland and will be refereed by Craig Joubert (South Africa). He will be assisted by Glen Jackson (New Zealand) and Pascal Gauzere (France) with Ben Skeen (New Zealand) the Television Match Official.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

His body language on match day is so often a dead giveaway, and Heyneke Meyer is the 1st to admit that he “stresses”.

So don’t expect the Springbok coach to be getting the best sleeps of his life in the build-up to Saturday’s Rugby World Cup quarterfinal against Wales at Twickenham (17:00 SA Time).

After all, he is facing arguably the most pivotal, “crossroads” game of his coaching career, when you think about it.

Not even the achievement of making the Bulls the 1st South African franchise to win Super Rugby in its properly pro-era incarnation in 2007 can be considered to rank as high in gravitas as this maiden knockout fixture at a Rugby World Cup for the very recently-turned 48-year-old from the Lowveld.

Unlike predecessor Peter de Villiers in 2009, Meyer has not had the opportunity to steer the Springboks through what might be considered next in line for heavyweight status after Rugby World Cup, a visit to our shores by the British & Irish Lions (next tour only due in 2021).

His tenure since 2012 has not yet brought the fruit of a Rugby Championship success, although he does warrant great credit for overseeing successive sweeps of European end-of-year tours in both 2012 and 2013, at a time of season when South African players are seriously vulnerable to fatigue.

Considering the unexpected degree of turbulence in the Springbok results column during the current season (including that Rugby World Cup-opening Japan shocker), reaching the semifinals of this tournament, all things considered, can probably be deemed as just about a “par” achievement for Meyer in his 1st exposure to a Rugby World Cup.

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Pennyhill Park Hotel

Pennyhill Park Hotel

The Springboks welcomed the chance to take over England’s posh base at Pennyhill Park this week, saying it would allow them to focus away from all the distractions of the Rugby World Cup.

The base, which is set in the Surrey countryside, feels like a continent away from the hustle and bustle of London, and requires most journalists 2 trains and a 20 minute cab ride to even get to the plush 120 acre estate.

But the base, even though it is in the middle of nowhere, has been set up perfectly for England’s ill-fated campaign, with an indoor pitch, training area and gym as well as a manicured outdoor pitch now at the beck and call of the Springboks for the remainder of the competition.

Ironically while England would have used the base for the entirety of the competition had they stayed in this year’s Rugby World Cup, but the team that was actually allocated the base because of the draw – Michael Cheika’s Australian team – turned it down and opted for the Springbok base last week at the Lensbury in Teddington.

The absolute difference in opulence is apparent when you arrive in Ascot to take the final steps towards the new Springbok base and one is greeted by a McLaren dealership, where prices resemble some of the most expensive houses in South Africa, not to mention the nearby famous Ascot racecourse.

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DHL WPDHL Western Province head coach John Dobson has announced his team for Friday’s 2015 ABSA Currie Cup semifinal clash against the Vodacom Blue Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

Fullback Cheslin Kolbe, winger Seabelo Senatla, centre Johnny Kotze, flanker Rynhardt Elstadt, lock Ruan Botha, prop Steven Kitshoff and hooker Bongi Mbonambi all return to the DHL WP starting 15 this week, hardman Elstadt’s return the big news after missing his team’s last 4 encounters with a thigh problem.

Skipper Juan de Jongh will lead the defending champions into battle in Pretoria, partnering Johnny Kotze in midfield, with Senatla, Dillyn Leyds and Kolbe forming a razor-sharp back 3.

Nic Groom and Robert du Preez will comebine at halfbacks, with experienced scrumhalf Jano Vermaak back on the bench after missing DHL WP’s last 2 matches with a groin strain.

Prop Oli Kebble has shaken off an ankle injury to be named on the bench, where he is joined by lock Chris van Zyl – who, like Kebble, started last Friday’s 45 / 14 win over the EP Kings at DHL Newlands.

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Rugby World Cup 2015The Rugby News Service stats team have been doing their sums during the Pool phase of Rugby World Cup 2015 and have come up some intriguing and illuminating figures.


8 741 – Days between Japan’s 1st World Cup victory and their 2nd, against South Africa in Pool B on the opening weekend. They waited only 14 days to achieve their 3rd against Samoa.

2 020 – Points scored in the Pool phase at Rugby World Cup 2015, the lowest since the Rugby World Cup’s Pool phase was extended to 40 matches in 2003, an indication of the improving competitiveness of the 20 teams at the Rugby World Cup.

1 013 – Caps in the starting 15 of New Zealand’s team against Argentina, a world record for a test.

231 – Tries scored so far at Rugby World Cup 2015 in England, the fewest since the Rugby World Cup’s Pool phase was extended to 40 matches in 2003.

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Rugby World Cup 2015The agony etched on the face of Ireland’s iconic captain Paul O’Connell said it all. Clutching a hamstring during the 24 / 9 win against France on Sunday, the giant lock’s pain was physical and emotional. The group stages were where his Rugby World Cup 2015 would end.

As bruised and battered players take a deep breath, head for the ice baths and prepare to go again in the quarterfinals, some of their less-fortunate teammates will be forced to watch those matches from the stands, or on television.

The withdrawal of O’Connell on Tuesday, hard on the heels of fellow Ireland players Jared Payne and Peter O’Mahony, means that all 8 teams left in the competition will enter the knockout stages depleted, in some way, by injuries.

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The Springboks are likely to be at full strength when coach Heyneke Meyer picks his team to face Wales in Saturday’s Rugby World Cup quarterfinal at Twickenham.

The Springboks reunited after going their separate ways for 4 days with their wives and girlfriends, exploring all parts of London – with 1 or 2 even heading across to France for their recess, and it was apparent that the Springboks would be able to select from all 31 in the squad when they make their team announcement on Wednesday.

While there were no new injuries, it seems Bok veterans JP Pietersen and Victor Matfield could also be fit for selection after overcoming their injuries that kept them out of the USA game.

Another player who missed that match, Jannie du Plessis, is also set to be fit for selection when the team is decided upon.

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World RugbyIreland have moved up 2 places to 3rd in the World Rugby Rankings after beating France in the Rugby World Cup Pool D decider on Sunday.

Joe Schmidt’s side, who topped the pool with their 24 / 9 win against Les Bleus, have leapfrogged Wales (4) and South Africa (5) in the rankings, which are published by World Rugby every Monday.

France dropped 1 place to 7th following Sunday’s defeat at the Millennium Stadium, swapping places with Ireland’s quarterfinal opponents Argentina, who rose to 6th.

7 Of the 8 Rugby World Cup 2015 quarter-finalists feature in the Top 8 of the rankings; the exception being Scotland, who remain 1 place below England in 9th position.

Under the points exchange system used to calculate rankings, sides take points off each other based on the match result; whatever 1 side gains, the other loses. Such points exchanges are doubled during the Rugby World Cup to recognise the unique importance of the event.

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ABSA Currie CupThe South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Monday confirmed the kick-off times and match officials for the semi-finals of the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division and the various junior competition playoff fixtures.

The Vodacom Blue Bulls host the DHL Western Province this coming Friday at Loftus Versfeld and the starting time for the 1st Premier Division Semi-final in Pretoria is 19:00 SA Time (17:00 GMT).

On Saturday, the Xerox Golden Lions host the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in the 2nd playoff match at the Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg. Kick-off time is 13:45 SA Time (11:45 GMT).

Referee Marius van der Westhuizen will take charge of the Pretoria encounter while Jaco van Heerden will referee the Johannesburg match.

Both ABSA Currie Cup Semi-finals clashes will be televised live on SuperSport 1.

The 2 ABSA Under 19 A-Division playoff matches are scheduled for this coming Friday, while the 2 playoff matches in the ABSA Under 21 A-Division are scheduled for Saturday.

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John Smit

John Smit

Cell C Sharks CEO, John Smit, has a message for disappointed Sharks fans after the team’s failure to reach the Currie Cup semifinals.

After playing to a 34 / 34 draw to the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein at the weekend, the Durbanites finished 5th on the overall Currie Cup Log, to miss out on a playoff spot.

The Cell C Sharks appeared to have the game in the bag, leading 34 / 20 with 4 minutes remaining, but 2 late converted tries gave the Toyota Free State Cheetahs a draw – and a place in the semifinals at the expense of the Cell C Sharks.

Smit wrote a message to fans on the Cell C Sharks’ official Facebook page.

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ABSA Currie CupThe Toyota Free State Cheetahs clinched a dramatic 34 / 34 draw on Saturday against the Cell C Sharks in Bloemfontein to finish 4th on the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division Log, and in doing so, they booked themselves a Semifinal clash against the Xerox Golden Lions next weekend in Johannesburg.

The Free State Cheetahs scored 2 converted tries in the in last 5 minutes at the Free State Stadium, while replacement fullback Neil Marais slotted the vital conversion after the final hooter to draw the 2 teams level in Bloemfontein and at the same time shatter the Cell C Sharks’ playoff hopes. The Free State Cheetahs finished 2 points above the Cel C Sharks on the final Log with 24 points.

The Vodacom Blue Bulls finished 2nd on the Log after they edged the Steval Pumas 25 / 24 in Nelspruit on Friday and they now meet 3rd-placed DHL Western Province in Pretoria in the playoffs. The Blue Bulls versus WP clash is set for this coming Friday evening at Loftus Versfeld.

In Cape Town, DHL Western Province finished their league commitments with a bonus-point 45 / 14 win over the Eastern Province Kings. Runaway Log leaders, the Xerox Golden Lions, completed the round-robin phase unbeaten with 10 wins after their much changed side defeated the ORC Griquas 29 / 19 in Johannesburg.

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Steval PumasVodacom Blue BullsSteval Pumas (7) 24 / 25 (13) Blue Bulls (Final Score)

The Steval Pumas and Vodacom Blue Bulls did battle in the ABSA Currie Cup at

Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit at 18:00 SA Time (16:00 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.


(We have given score updates of the DHL Western Province vs EP Kings clash, which took place at the same time!)

DHL WP 45 / 14 EP Kings (Final Score)

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Lwazi Mvovo, Greg Levendahl & Pat Lambie

Lwazi Mvovo, Greg Levendahl & Pat Lambie

After watching 2 of South Africa’s Rugby World Cup Pool B victories in England, Springbok bus driver Greg Levendahl, said he is leaving England knowing that Heyneke Meyer and his team will do well in the rest of the tournament.

The 62-year-old Levendahl, who has been driving the Springboks’ bus in South Africa for the last 8 seasons, supported the Springboks in their matches against Scotland in Newcastle and the USA in London.

It was his 1st trip abroad, made possible by the players, through their internal team fund, the South African Rugby Union and the Springbok team management, all of whom made contributions to pay for Levendahl to make the trip across to England.

Levendahl, whose nickname is ‘Getuie’ (Afrikaans for witness), is a firm favourite of all the players and he said it was wonderful to spend some time with them in England.

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Bryan Habana

Bryan Habana scoring his hat trick try (64th Test try, 15th RWC try) against USA at the Rugby World Cup 2015

Bryan Habana’s hat-trick against the USA in their Rugby World Cup clash in London on Wednesday saw him tie not 1, but 2 try scoring records.

Habana’s feat saw him not only join All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu atop the all-time World Cup try scoring charts – with 15 – but also moved him into a tie with former Wallaby David Campese for 2nd spot in the overall Test try list (64).

Habana now trails Japan’s Daisuke Ohata (69) by 5 tries in the all-time list.

But who did Habana score his very 1st Test try against? And his 50th?

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Lood de Jager... a truly smashing tournament for him!

Lood de Jager… a truly smashing tournament for him!

With the South African Springboks now confirmed as topping their Pool B in the Rugby World Cup and thus making the quarters, we take a general peek at the news from the camp.

Today allegations surfaced that tighthead prop Frans Malherbe was involved in a “biting incident” during the USA game on Wednesday evening, but those rumours have been dismissed by World Rugby as unfounded.

Lood de Jager ranks high in all facets of play, with a host of tackles, many ball carries, great lineout statistics and all round inspired play. He is having a whale of a tournament and is growing in stature with every subsequent game.

The Springboks know that they still have plenty to work on, despite rebounding nicely after their bomb-shell loss against Japan in their 1st Rugby World Cup encounter. They now end No 1 in Pool B, whether Scotland win with a bonus point or not against Samoa on the weekend and whether Japan beat USA on the weekend as well. They feel that all aspects of their play must and should still improve.

In the meantime Jean de Villiers has re-joined the Springbok squad, after an operation on his broken jaw in South Africa, as adviser and not as player and he was seen supporting the Springboks on Wednesday evening from the stands, next to his other Springbok compatriots.

With England leaving the Rugby World Cup scene after their last Pool game, against Uruguay on the weekend, the rumour is now that the Springboks will take over and occupy their posh preparation base for the rest of their Rugby World Cup participation.

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ABSA Currie CupThe final Round, Round 10, of league fixtures in the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division takes place this weekend and all eyes will be on the Free State Rugby Stadium in Bloemfontein, where the Toyota Free State Cheetahs and the Cell C Sharks will battle it out for the remaining Semifinal spot.

Unbeaten Log leaders, the Xerox Golden Lions, are already assured of a home Semifinal, while the Vodacom Blue Bulls and DHL Western Province are also through to the Semifinals.

However, with only 2 points separating the Free State Cheetahs and Cell C Sharks on the Log standings, the 2 teams have everything to play for in what is effectively a Quarterfinal in Bloemfontein on Saturday afternoon.

The Free State Cheetahs currently have 21 points and the Cell C Sharks 19, and both teams know that a victory will book a meeting with the competition’s in-form and most prolific team this season, the Golden Lions, in Johannesburg. The losing team, meanwhile, will crash out of the competition.

DHL Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls also have a lot to play for. Both teams are in action on Friday and their respective matches in Cape Town and Nelspruit kick off at the same time at 18:00 SA Time.

The Blue Bulls, 2nd on the Log with 34 points, face the Steval Pumas at the Mbombela Stadium and the Pretoria side knows that a win, even without a bonus point, will be enough to guarantee them a home Semifinal in the capital. Steval Pumas stalwart Marius Coetzer will deservedly earn his 100th cap when he takes to the field from the bench, while skipper Stefan Watermeyer will earn his 50th cap.

Western Province, in turn, face an injury-hit EP Kings side at DHL Newlands and the Capetonians will run out knowing that a bonus-point win is a must if they want to keep alive their slim hope of hosting a playoff match. However, for that to happen they must hope for a Blue Bulls defeat in Nelspruit.

Meanwhile, the free-scoring Golden Lions will round off their league commitments with a home clash against the bottom-of-the-log ORC Griquas in a 16:00 SA Time kick-off at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.

Interestingly, the Nel-brothers, Ruhan of ORC Griquas and Jacques of the Golden Lions, will line up opposite each other, with both playing in the No 13 jersey for their respective teams. Ruhan, a Springbok Sevens international, plays outside centre for Griquas after playing on the wing against the Cell C Sharks last weekend. The brothers played together for the Golden Lions in the Vodacom Cup, but this will be the 1st time they will play against each other.

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EP KingsHigh-level discussions between Eastern Province Rugby, the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and the South African Rugby Players’ Association (SARPA) took place in Port Elizabeth on Thursday to review the current and future financial stability of the union.

The talks stemmed from concerns over the recent delayed payments to EP Kings players.

SARU President, Mr Oregan Hoskins, SARU GM Operations and Finance, Basil Haddad, and SARPA CEO Piet Heymans met EP Rugby officials.

Mr Hoskins said he had full confidence in the current leadership under EP Rugby President Cheeky Watson.

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Xerox Golden LionsThe Van der Walt brothers, Jaco and Gerdus will run out together for the Xerox Golden Lions in their match-up against the ORC Griquas at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday 10 October 2015.

Jaco will don the No 10 jersey while Gerdus will be at inside centre, partnering with Jacques Nel in midfield.

The side will be lead on the field by No 8 Warren Whiteley, while a host of Under 21 players have been given the opportunity to taste Currie Cup rugby in this last game of the pool stages.

Up front Robbie Coetzee returns after a 2 week lay-off and is joined by Pieter Scholtz at tighthead. The locks are MB Lusaseni and Bobby de Wee (Martin Muller failed his late and final fitness test on Friday after limping off with an injury at Thursday training), while Kwagga Smith and Ruaan Lerm will complete the loose-trio with Warren Whiteley.

Mark Richards and Sampie Mastriet are the wings and Vainon Willis the fullback.

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Cell C SharksCell C Sharks Gary Gold has only made 1 change to his starting 15 which thrashed the ORC Griquas, for his side’s must win game against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs on Saturday.

The single change sees Garth April start at fullback for Odwa Ndungane, who shifts to the right wing in place of Wandile Mjekevu.

On the bench, Monde Hadebe replaces Kyle Cooper and veteran Waylon Murray comes in as cover for the backline.

It is do or die for both teams as the final pool clash between the Cell C Sharks and the Free State Cheetahs is effectively a quarterfinal game for both, chasing a Top 4 finish.

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Franco Smith

Franco Smith

Toyota Free State Cheetahs coach Franco Smith has named his team for their crucial Currie Cup clash against the Cell C Sharks in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Smith made changes to his pack from the team that drew 37 / 37 with the Steval Pumas in Nelspruit last weekend.

Loose forward Boom Prinsloo is fit again and replaces Gerhard Olivier in the No 6 jersey, with Olivier moving down to the bench in place of Ruan van Rensburg.

Neill Jordaan also replaces De Wet Kruger at No 8, while Armandt Koster replaces Reniel Hugo at lock, with the latter moving to the bench in the place of Willem Serfontein.

Jacques du Toit is also back at hooker, with Neil Rautenbach on the bench in place of Chase Morison.

BG Uys and Teunis Nieuwoudt also switch places at loosehead prop, with Uys in the starting line-up.

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Deon Stegmann

Deon Stegmann

Vodacom Blue Bulls openside flanker Deon Stegmann returns to the starting line-up to take on the Steval Pumas in the Mbombela Stadium on Friday.

Stegmann was a late withdrawal from the team that beat the EP Kings at Loftus Versfeld last weekend. That prompted the call-up of Clyde Davids to the bench and Jacques du Plessis moving to the flank, but with Stegmann fit again, it is back to the regular starting pack for the match in Nelspruit.

Du Plessis and Marvin Orie will start at lock, with RG Snyman dropping back to the bench in place of Davids.

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Steval PumasThe Steval Pumas have made 6 changes to their starting 15 for their clash with the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Nelspruit on Friday.

2 Of those changes to the team that held the Toyota Free State Cheetahs to a draw last week were injury-enforced with Marnus Schoeman coming in for Jaco Bouwer on the flank and Hoffman Maritz replacing JW Bell at fullback.

There are 2 more changes to the forward pack with hooker Francois du Toit coming in, with Frank Herne moving to the bench and Rudi Mathee replacing Marius Coetzer who also finds himself amongst the replacements.

In the backline there are 2 further changes with Jerome Pretorius moving from wing to outside centre to fill the gap left by Maritz and Bernardo Botha starting on the wing in place of Pretorius.

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South AfricaUSASpringboks (14) 64 / 0 (0) USA Eagles (Final Score)

The South African Springboks and United States Eagles did battle in the 2015 Rugby World Cup at

Olympic Park, London, England at 17:45 SA Time (16:45 BST, 15:45 GMT, 11:45 US EDT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.


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Barbarians RugbyThe Barbarians received a significant boost ahead of their match against Argentina at Twickenham on 21 November.

5 Australian Wallabies players have been added to the squad, which already includes a host of Springbok legends.

4 Of the Wallabies played a key role in last Saturday’s victory over England, which knocked the hosts out of the Rugby World Cup.

Wallaby captain Stephen Moore tops the list of Wallabies that will team up with their Springbok rivals.

Prop Greg Holmes, losse forward Scott Fardy and fellow loose forward Michael Hooper complete the list.

The team will be coached by Australian mentor Michael Cheika.

The list of South Africans already included is headed by lock legends Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha.

The international invitational side will also feature other Springboks like Jean de Villiers, Tendai Mtawarira and Patrick Lambie.

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Rayno Benjamin

Rayno Benjamin

Toyota Free State Cheetahs utility back Rayno Benjamin has escaped all sanction after he appeared before a SARU Judicial Hearing late on Monday afternoon.

According to the SARU Regulations, a player must appear before a judicial hearing after receiving 2 Yellow Cards in 1 match or 3 overall in a competition.

Benjamin was shown 2 Yellow Cards in their match against the Steval Pumas in Nelspruit in Round 9 of the Currie Cup – 1 for a dangerous tackle and another for a team offence, resulting in a Red Card.

He also received a Yellow Card against DHL Western Province earlier in the competition, to take his total tally to 3 in the competition.

His hearing was held late via teleconference before Duty Judicial Officer advocate Rob Stelzner, who decided not to impose any further sanction on the player.

Benjamin was therefore deemed available for selection for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs’ home fixture against the Cell C Sharks in Bloemfontein on Saturday.



Howard Mnisi

Howard Mnisi

There seems to be no stopping the Xerox Golden Lions on the field as well as off it, as injuries seems to be something they need not worry about.

Following their resounding 62 / 32 victory over DHL Western Province in Johannesburg, the Golden Lions only picked up 4 minor knocks but all the players are available for selection for their final Currie Cup round-robin fixture against ORC Griquas.

MB Lusaseni has recovered enough from a shoulder injury to be available for selection while hooker Mark Pretorius will also be available for selection after recovering from his knee niggle.

There is also good news in midfield for the Johannesburg side as centres Rohan Janse van Rensburg (shoulder) and Howard Mnisi (hamstring) have both recovered from slight knocks picked up against Western Province.

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Cheslin Kolbe

Cheslin Kolbe

3 DHL Western Province players have found themselves on the injury list following their massive defeat to the Xerox Golden Lions in Johannesburg.

Kobus van Wyk (hamstring contusion), Chris Cloete (calf muscle) and Cheslin Kolbe (bone bruising and a knock to shoulder) are all unavailable for selection for their final round-robin match against the Eastern Province Kings at Newlands on Friday.

The trio joins Scarra Ntubeni (calf muscle) and Rynhardt Elstadt (quadricep), who remains on the injured list and are also unavailable.

There is a silver lining for the Cape side though, as both Jano Vermaak and Dillyn Leyds have recovered from their groin strains and are available for selection.

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Schalk Burger

Schalk Burger

Schalk Burger is set to equal former captain John Smit’s South African record of 17 Rugby World Cup appearances, after retaining his starting place for the Pool B match against the United States on Wednesday.

Burger will start on the blindside flank in a forward pack containing just 1 change from the pack which beat Scotland on the weekend, with Frans Malherbe replacing Jannie du Plessis at tighthead prop for his 1st Test start of 2015.

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer made just 1 other change in his starting 15, with Lwazi Mvovo picked on the left wing for the injured JP Pietersen, with Bryan Habana switching over to the right wing.

(see full squad announcement article, placed earlier today)

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DopingRugby and athletics produced the most drug cheats over the last year, accounting for 20 of the 30 sportsmen and women caught doping in 2014 / 2015, according to the latest SA Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS) annual report.

Of the 30 adverse analytical findings (positive tests), 11 were from rugby, 9 from athletics, and 6 from cycling (4 road cyclists and 2 mountain bikers).

2 Powerlifters were found to have illicit products in their systems and 1 each from wrestling and judo.

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SunwolvesJapan’s Super Rugby side for the 2016 tournament will be known as the Sunwolves!

  • Japan’s new Super Rugby team formally revealed as the Sunwolves;
  • Designed to represent bravery, strength and an ethos of teamwork;
  • The Sunwolves to play historic 1st game against the Emirates Lions on Saturday afternoon 27 February in Tokyo;
  • Singapore National Stadium to host matches between the Sunwolves and the Toyota Cheetahs (Round 3), Vodacom Bulls (Round 5) and DHL Stormers (Round 12);
  • the Sunwolves Will feature in a conference alongside the Vodacom Bulls, Toyota Cheetahs and DHL Stormers

A new era of rugby has risen in Japan with confirmation that its new Super Rugby team will be known as the Sunwolves.

Today’s announcement by Yoshitaka Tashiro, Representative Director of the Japan Super Rugby Association (JRSA), is the product of an initiative that saw the JRSA engage fans from all over the world to help devise an identity for its new team.

The name is a hybrid comprising the blazing icon of the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ and a wolf which represents a pack hunting mentality and a dedicated team ethos of protecting one another.

The striking logo depicts the breaking of a new dawn for Japanese rugby and a fearsome representation of the team’s desired playing style as they seek to utilise speed, unity and a fearless spirit to face their challenges.

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Frans Malherbe

Frans Malherbe

Lwazi Mvovo

Lwazi Mvovo

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer decided to keep continuity for South Africa’s final Rugby World Cup Pool B match.

The Springboks face the United States at London’s Olympic Stadium on Wednesday.

The starting line-up shows only 2 changes from the team that recorded a 34 / 16 victory over Scotland in Newcastle last Saturday.

As a result Frans Malherbe will start his 1st match of the season for South Africa, while Rudy Paige could make his Test debut off the bench against the United States.

Malherbe comes in at tighthead prop for Jannie du Plessis, in the only change to the pack.

The backline shows only 1 personnel change as well – at wing, where Lwazi Mvovo takes over from JP Pietersen, with Bryan Habana moving over to the right wing.

Pietersen was not considered this week due to injury, while a decision was taken to give Du Plessis and Victor Matfield time to get over some niggles due to the short turn-around after the Scotland match.

Joining Paige on the bench is Morné Steyn, who both could get their 1st taste of Rugby World Cup action this year.

Schalk Brits and Coenie Oosthuizen are also back amongst the replacements this week.

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World RugbyEngland have dropped 2 places to 8th in the World Rugby rankings after their World Cup defeat to Australia at Twickenham.

Only once before, in 2009, have England been as low as 8 on the list. There were times in 2003 and 2004 when they were the No 1 team in the world.

If Scotland were to register 2 more victories at the Rugby World Cup, they could move up and push England even lower. Never, since the rankings began in 2003, have England been outside the top 8. Only 4 other teams – New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and France – have maintained a top-8 place since the rankings began.

8 Teams have moved up 1 place in the rankings, which are based on results and the level of opposition.

Under the points exchange system used to calculate rankings, sides take points off each other based on the match result – whatever 1 side gains, the other loses. Such points exchanges are doubled during Rugby World Cup to recognise the unique importance of this event.

4 Nations have dropped down: Wales by 1 place from 2 to 3, Ireland by 1 from 4 to 5, England by 2 from 6 to 8, and Samoa by 4 from 11 to 15.

The 8 risers, all by 1 place, are Australia to 2nd, South Africa to 4th, France to 6th, Argentina to 7th, Japan to 11th, Tonga to 12th, Italy to 13th and Georgia to 14th.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

South Africa’s Springboks have restored a semblance of order and normality again, after the shock loss in Round 1 against Japan, which was followed up by good wins over Samoa and Scotland on the weekend.

The Springboks now top their Rugby World Cup Pool (Pool B), leading Scotland by 1 Log Point (11 points to 10), after the same amount of games and with only 1 Round of Pool stage games left.

Japan is not out of the running in the Pool yet, a further 2 points adrift, but with their only remaining game the one against the USA Eagles and one they could well win as well.

The focus for the Springboks now shift to the game against the USA Eagles on Wednesday evening.

While there has been praise and some redemption for the Springboks and Heyneke Meyer, the job is not yet done.

The only injury concern is that of JP Pietersen, who suffered a knee injury on the weekend against Scotland.

There has been a lot of praise heaped on Handré Pollard for his performance against Scotland, playing next to the captain and general of the day, Fourie du Preez.

Lood de Jager, who was named Man Of The Match against Scotland deserves all the plaudits he is currently getting but he remains focussed and humble in the process, declaring that he’ll defend his country with everything he’s got.

In the meantime, speculation has been rife and a lot of opinion has been bandied about regarding the team selection for the game against USA on Wednesday and one of the 1st questions asked is if Rudy Paige will be drafted into the match-day 23 for the USA clash. Only 2 players have not had any game time yet, Paige and Morné Steyn.


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Steven Sykes

Steven Sykes

The Eastern Province Kings’ injury list just keeps on growing as a further 6 players have been added to the ‘already injured’ list.

Knee injuries seems to be common among the EP Kings players – 5 players have already undergone surgery and will be out for a number of weeks – and lock Steven Sykes has now added his name to that list.

Aidon Davis (6 months), Gary van Aswegen (2 weeks), George Whitehead (2 months), Cameron Lindsay (9 months) and Luke Watson (pre-season) have all already had knee surgery and a call on Sykes’ availability for the final Round clash with DHL Western Province will be decided later in the week.

Other than Sykes, there are a further 5 players who emerged with injuries following their 27 / 48 defeat at the hands of the Vodacom Blue Bulls.

Martin Ferreira (dead leg), Tom Botha (elbow), Dwayne Kelly (hamstring strain), Tim Whitehead (AC joint) and Luther Obi (ankle sprain) will all be treated and monitored during the week.

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