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SA Rugby

Schalk Burger

Schalk Burger

Centre Juan de Jongh will captain the DHL Stormers in their 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby tour-opener against the Highlanders at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.

De Jongh takes over the leadership reins from No 8 Duane Vermeulen, who is being rested as per the franchise agreement with SA Rugby, whilst Schalk Burger comes in for his first start of 2015 and will take over the vice-captaincy.

Aside from backing up De Jongh in the leadership department, Burger will also be making his 100th appearance in a DHL Stormers jersey – having made his debut against the Waratahs in Cape Town on 13 March 2004.

The 31-year-old Springbok star joins Andries Bekker (2013) and Jean de Villiers and Peter Grant (both 2014) in reaching this impressive landmark for the men from the Cape and DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee paid tribute to the team’s “ultimate warrior”.

“I don’t think people realise exactly what Schalk went through in 2012 and 2013, first with his knee injury and then his illness,” Coetzee said.

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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks team to take on the Western Force on Saturday at Growthpoint Kings Park sees a number of changes to the side that defeated the Chiefs at the same venue last weekend.

Due to the suspension of Bismarck du Plessis, Jean Deysel who returns to the side in the absence of Marcell Coetzee who is being rested, will captain the team for this match. The good news is that Mouritz Botha and Beast Mtawarira, both of whom took heavy blows from the Chiefs, have been passed fit to play.  Kyle Cooper taking over at hooker is the only other change amongst the forwards.

Backline changes have been made in the midfield, the resting of Springboks Cobus Reinach and Pat Lambie have necessitated a new halfback pairing for the first time this season, Conrad Hoffmann taking over at scrumhalf and Frans Steyn shifting from centre to flyhalf.  Andre Esterhuizen earns his second start, he will partner JP Pietersen from inside centre.

These 2 teams have met on 8 occasions, but it is the Sharks who hold the upper hand, having won 7 of them, including a 6 match winning streak stretching back to 2007.

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Arno Botha

Arno Botha

Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke restored props Morné Mellett and Trevor Nyakane to the starting line-up for their Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Crusaders at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Both props played off the bench in last weekend’s win against the Force and swop places with Dean Greyling and Marcel van der Merwe in 2 of the 4 changes to the pack. In the other changes to the pack and team, Victor Matfield returns to the No 5 lock position, swopping places with Grant Hattingh, who returns to his regular role as impact player.

Lappies Labuschagne also did not recover from a chest injury sustained against the Force and will sit out. He will be replaced by Arno Botha, who moves up from the bench. Hanro Liebenberg takes over from Botha on the bench.

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Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn

The hearing date for SANZAR’s appeal against the decision to rescind Frans Steyn’s Red Card has been postponed until next week.

The Sharks centre was sent off after performing a tip-tackle on Chiefs flyhalf Aaron Cruden in their Super Rugby clash in Durban last Saturday.

Steyn was cited following the game, but was then found not guilty at a subsequent hearing, with the Red Card expunged from his record.

However, SANZAR felt justice was not served and appealed the decision on Wednesday.

The initial date for the appeal was set for Friday, but has now been extended until next Tuesday.

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HSBC Sevens World SeriesThere will be additional prestige on offer when 16 of the world’s leading nations gather in Hong Kong to contest Round 6 of the HSBC Sevens World Series.

This weekend will be the 40th Hong Kong Sevens, as New Zealand look to overhaul arch rivals and World Series leaders South Africa at the top of the standings.

Scott Hastings, one of the many legends in attendance in Hong Kong this weekend, spoke to the significance of winning at the iconic stadium.

“Hong Kong is a fantastic tournament, the Mecca of Sevens, and so many world renowned players came to prominence playing for their teams here in Hong Kong,” Hastings said.

For teams like South Africa, New Zealand and Fiji there as the additional significance of World Series points.

The Blitzbokke lead the World Series with 93 points, including 2 tournaments wins, from the 1st 5 Rounds. New Zealand (1 win, 88 points) and Fiji (2 wins, 86 points) are hot on their heels.

Of course there is also the race for a Top-4 finish – and automatic qualification for the 2016 Olympics – where teams like Australia (71), England (68), Argentina (54) and the United States (51) are in the running.

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Olympics Rio 2016Rugby Sevens will make its Olympic Games debut on 6 August 2016 after the Rio 2016 Organising Committee released the daily competition schedule on Wednesday to mark 500 days to go.

The Rugby Sevens competitions at the Deodoro Sports Complex will be played over 6 days between 6 – 11 August 2016 with 2 sessions per day. The session times will be announced in due course.

The world’s top women will be the 1st rugby players to compete for an Olympic Games medal for 92 years, with 12 teams competing over 3 days with the 12-team men’s competition following over the next 3 days.

The 4 top teams on the World Rugby Sevens Series log at the end of the current season will qualify automatically for Rio. With just 4 more Rounds remaining, South Africa (93 points) have a slender lead at the top of the series standings over rivals New Zealand (88). They are closely followed by Fiji (86) and Australia (71).

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Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn

SANZAR has lodged an appeal against the outcome of a judicial hearing held on Monday 23 March that found Francois Steyn of the Sharks not guilty of contravening Law 10.4 (j).

A SANZAR Appeals Committee, chaired by Terry Willis, with Nigel Hampton QC and Robert Stelzner SC as members, will hear the appeal via videoconference on Friday 27 March 2015 at 08:00 SA Time (17:00 AEDT, 19:00 NZ Time).

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Schalk Burger

Schalk Burger

DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has hinted that veteran Schalk Burger could be in line for a return to the openside flank role that he filled for so long for the Springboks, but it would require a big shift in emphasis for the 2004 winner of the IRB World Rugby Player of the Year Award.

Coetzee finds himself faced with a difficult balancing act as he considers his loose-forward options of Saturday’s opening Vodacom Super Rugby tour match against the Highlanders in Dunedin. Duane Vermeulen, who brings so much of the necessary drive and physicality to the back row, is being rested as per the agreement with Saru geared towards effective management of Springboks.

That means that Nizaam Carr will move from openside flank to No 8, something that Coetzee confirmed in an interview with the Cape media from the team hotel in Dunedin. Carr played for the Boks in that position last year and was 1 of the form players in the Currie Cup for the title winning Western Province team, but having him at the back of the scrum does bring a different dynamic to the back row.

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Vodacom CupThe Vodacom Cup is now fully underway across the length and breadth of South Africa and Namibia and sparks are set to fly in George, Cape Town and Pretoria this weekend.

At picturesque Outeniqua Park, the SWD Eagles have a great opportunity to win their 2nd successive home game when they host the defending champions from Kimberley, GWK Griquas, on Friday evening. It’s a replay of last year’s quarter-final.

There is another top-of-the-table clash in the South Section on Saturday afternoon when DHL Western Province, Vodacom Cup champions in 2012, host the Cell C Sharks XV in Athlone, Cape Town. Both these teams lost in the quarter-finals last season.

In the North Section, the Vodacom Blue Bulls will want to get back to winning ways when they host the high-flying Steval Pumas in Pretoria. The side from the Lowveld top the Log, with 3 wins from 3 and have been impressive this season, amassing 170 points at an average of almost 57 per match.

This week we feature 1 of the best young tight forwards in the country as well as 1 of the top try-scorers from 2014 in Toyota Free State XV hooker Joseph Dweba and Boland Cavaliers wing Harlon Klaasen, who will face off against each other in Heidedal, Bloemfontein on Saturday afternoon.

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Dawie Theron

Dawie Theron

The South African Rugby Union on Wednesday announced a large group of players to participate in the Junior Springbok trials camp early next month in Stellenbosch. The trials will kick-start the process to select the Junior Springbok squad of 28 players for the upcoming World Rugby Under 20 Championship in Italy in June.

The best local Under 20 players will assemble on Sunday 30 March at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport (SAS) and will remain in camp until 2 April. This will be followed by a break for the Easter holidays. The camp will feature 2 trial matches on Tuesday 31 March and Thursday 2 April respectively at the Paul Roos Markottër Stadium.

Players such as Thomas du Toit, Dan du Preez (both, Cell C Sharks), RG Snyman and Warrick Gelant (both, Vodacom Blue Bulls) who are currently busy with Vodacom Super Rugby commitments, were excluded from the trials squad. Duhan van der Merwe (Vodacom Blue Bulls) and Rikus Bothma (DHL Western Province) are currently injured and were not considered.

Following the trials, a smaller group of 34 players will return to SAS on 6 April for the Junior Springbok training camp. This training camp will include the following activities:

  • Training exercises against the DHL Western Province Rugby Institute
  • A match against a Varsity Cup select XV
  • And a short tour of Argentina featuring two matches against the Los Pumitas

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Willie le Roux

Willie le Roux

Coenie Oosthuizen

Coenie Oosthuizen

A number of changes have been made to the Toyota Cheetahs team to play the Chiefs in a Super Rugby match in Hamilton on Saturday.

There are no less than 6 changes to the starting line-up, including a rest for Springbok duo Coenie Oosthuizen and Willie Le Roux.

Springbok flank Teboho Mohoje is already on his way back home, suffering an injury to his groin in last week’s tough encounter against the Crusaders. Mohoje is expected to be sidelined for 8 / 12 weeks, and Tienie Burger will be flying to Hamilton as cover for the Cheetahs, with Johannes ‘Boom’ Prinsloo slotting into the starting line-up.

As per agreement with SA Rugby, Willie le Roux and Coenie Oosthuizen are being rested. Nicholas ‘Maks’ van Dyk moves into the front row to replace the Springbok tighthead, with Clayton Blommetjies shifting to fullback to allow the return of Cornal Hendricks on the right wing.

Centre Francois Venter sits this one out, and Michael van der Spuy comes off the bench to play in the midfield.

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Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan

Prominent ex-Test referee Jonathan Kaplan has joined the chorus calling for scrutiny of the Crusaders scrumming action after their win over the Toyota Cheetahs last weekend.

The Crusaders scrum has dominated in their contests against both the Emirates Lions and Cheetahs in their 2 Vodacom Super Rugby games over the past fortnight, and in both cases it seems as if the scrum – and All Black prop Wyatt Crockett in particular – have gotten away with murder.

Crockett’s supposed dominance in the scrum has seen both Julian Redelinghuys and Coenie Oosthuizen, both Springbok props, being sin-binned during the game and a plethora of penalties given against their teams by referees who believe the tighthead can’t handle the pressure when the loosehead packs down.

But on a number of occasions – and ironically picked up by both former All Blacks Jeff Wilson and Justin Marshall – the scrum has never packed down straight.

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Heyneke Meyer - BokSmart

Heyneke Meyer – BokSmart

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer and his SA Under 20 counterpart Dawie Theron recently renewed their BokSmart certification for a further 2 years.

Meyer renewed his certification in Pretoria last week, while Theron was joined by 3 members of the South African Rugby Union’s High Performance Mobi-Unit and Springbok coaching consultants, Pieter de Villiers, Louis Koen and Chean Roux, as well as Jacques Nienaber, High Performance Manager in the Rugby Department, in Cape Town earlier this month.

The biennial BokSmart certification is compulsory for anybody who wants to coach or referee rugby in South Africa at any level. The 3 Springbok assistant coaches, Johann van Graan, Ricardo Loubscher and John McFarland, are certified until 2016 while Springbok consultant Richie Gray will renew his certification later this year.

BokSmart provides coaches and referees with the knowledge and skills to apply safe rugby techniques and basic medical and injury prevention practices.

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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

Regular captain and No 8 Duane Vermeulen is the only member of the DHL Stormers touring squad that will not be available for selection for Saturday’s opening game of the 4 day trip against the Highlanders at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has reported to the Cape rugby media via telephone conference hook-up that the squad has settled down well on the South Island in New Zealand – they are actually in the resort town of Queenstown currently – and that every player in the 27 man squad is fully fit and ready to play.

That means that Louis Schreuder, who was concussed against the Chiefs in the last match, has passed his cognitive tests, while big lock Eben Etzebeth and the inform blindside flank Michael Rhodes have both recovered from the injuries that have kept them out of the last few Stormers games.

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Oregan Hoskins

Oregan Hoskins

Race has become another sore point for the South African Rugby Union (SARU) when transformation in rugby was discussed in Parliament on Tuesday, according to reports.

Some MPs complained about the “white faces” in SARU’s delegation that presented to the portfolio committee on sport and recreation.

EFF MP Pebane Moteka asked: “If you do not even your leadership can transform, how are you transforming the sport?”

Solly Malatsi from the DA then tweeted that Saru’s presentation reminded him of “the unbearable whiteness of the state of South African rugby “.

SARU president Oregan Hoskins, who led the delegation, asked MPs to confirm that he was not white.

“Honourable members, look at us and say we are all white men.

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Teboho Mohoje

Teboho Mohoje

The Toyota Cheetahs were given a massive setback Wednesday when their worst fears about the injury to Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje filtered through.

Mohoje tore his groin muscle in the big loss in Christchurch against the Crusaders on Saturday and will need surgery as soon as possible.

The big Springbok flanker has already left the side en route back to Bloemfontein to see a specialist and prepare for the surgery, but the initial diagnosis is that he will be out for at least 8 to 12 weeks.

The Cheetahs have called up Shimlas flanker Tienie Burger to join the side but it is clear Mohoje’s injury has hit them hard.

The Bok is unlikely to play again in this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby competition, although depending on his rehabilitation there is a slight chance he could return to the field for the last 2 games of their campaign… all of which creates another headache for Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

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WhistleSANZAR has announced the appointments of the Match Officials for Round 7 of the 2015 Super Rugby season.

The Brumbies have a BYE weekend.

There are 7 Super Rugby games this weekend, 2 on Friday and 5 games on Saturday.

The weekend’s action is kicked off by Stuart Berry in the game between the Hurricans vs Melbourne Rebels at 08:35 SA Time. Thereafter also on Friday the Reds host the Emirates Lions at 11:00 SA Time, where Glen Jackson will be the man with the whistle.

On Saturday the action starts early, at 05:30 SA Time, when the Chiefs host the Toyota Cheetahs in Hamilton, controlled by Craig Joubert in the middle. Thereafter it is the Highlanders vs DHL Stormers in Dunedin at 08:35, where Rohan Hoffman will be in charge. Next up, at 10:40 SA Time in Sydney, the Waratahs host the Blues where Jaco Peyper will preside.

On Saturday afternoon and evening in South Africa, the Cell C Sharks host the Western Force in Durban at 17:05 SA Time, with Nick Briant in charge. The Last game of the weekend sees the Vodacom Bulls take on the Crusaders in Pretoria at 19:10 SA Time, where Angus Gardner will be the man in the middle.

Considering the shenannigans last weekend in the game between the Cell C Sharks and the Chiefs, where 3 Red cards were dished out and a further player cited after the game, here’s hoping that the Match Officials are impartial and sees themselves as facilitators of the game and not controllers and here’s hoping that player-dicipline is markedly better than in Round 6!

All we can and should ask for is even-handed application of the Laws and rules.

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Varsity CupTwo late bonus points saw FNB NWU-Pukke sneak into the FNB Varsity Cup semi-finals ahead of FNB Maties, on points difference.

Last year’s beaten finalists will face table-toppers FNB UP-Tuks in Pretoria next week, while defending champions FNB UCT will travel to Bloemfontein to take on the unbeaten FNB UFS-Shimlas in the other semi-final.

Three-time champions Maties romped to a comprehensive 53 / 8 victory over winless FNB CUT in Bloemfontein, but it was not enough in the end as they miss the play-offs for just the 2nd time in the history of the competition.

Although NWU-Pukke went down 29 / 26 to UFS-Shimlas in Bloemfontein, 2 late tries saw them pick up 2 vital bonus points to knock Maties out on points difference.

UFS-Shimlas are the only team that have not lost this season, but they ended in 2nd place to UP-Tuks, who were far too strong for FNB NMMU.

The Pretoria outfit outscored the Madibaz by 5 tries to 1 in Port Elizabeth to seal Top Spot ahead of UFS-Shimlas, on points difference.

UFS-Shimlas will host their 1st-ever semi-final against UCT who battled to a tough 8 / 0 victory over FNB UJ on a windy Green Mile in Cape Town, to secure their spot in the play-offs.

Ikeys flank Jason Klaasen scored the only try of the match in a tight encounter, which saw UJ end the season in 6th place ahead of NMMU and CUT – who finished their debut season without a single Log Point.

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Burger Odendaal

Burger Odendaal

Vodacom Bulls midfielder Burger Odendaal will return to training today after a successful rehabilitation phase on a meniscal knee injury which saw him miss the opening part of the Vodacom Super Rugby season.

Odendaal will find a number of team mates missing on Monday though, as Jan Serfontein (stiff hip flexor), Marcel van der Merwe (contusion)and Dean Greyling (neck) will only return to the training field on Tuesday and Roelof Smit (ankle) and Lappies Labuschagne (nasal fracture) only on Thursday.

Amongst the longer term injuries, Jacques-Louis Potgieter (1 week, hamstring), Flip van der Merwe (pectoral, 2 weeks) and Akona Ndungane (hand, 3 weeks) are a week closer to returning to the fold.

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Emirates LionsEmirates Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has announced his side to face the Reds in Brisbane on Friday.

In the forwards, Ackermann has made just 1 change for the game, as Robbie Coetzee starts at hooker.

Meanwhile, in the backline, Ross Cronje returns to the starting 15 at scrumhalf. He pairs up with Elton Jantjies who shifts back to flyhalf. Sampie Mastriet shifts to left wing, making way for Ruan Combrinck who starts at right wing.

Harold Vorster returns to the starting line-up at inside centre, while Andries Coetzee starts at fullback.

Kick-Off is at 11:00 SA Time on Friday.

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Cobus Reinach

Cobus Reinach

Marcell Coetzee

Marcell Coetzee

Patrick Lambie

Patrick Lambie

The Springbok trio of Cobus Reinach, Marcell Coetzee and Patrick Lambie are all expected to be rested for the Cell C Sharks’ showdown with the Western Force, in line with the agreement with SA Rugby over player management.

The 3 have earned the break after influential performances during the competition, and the good news that Frans Steyn was cleared to play means he may well take over the flyhalf position from Lambie, although the coaches may not want to break up his midfield partnership with JP Pietersen.

If the pair remain at No 12 and No 13 respectively, either Fred Zeilinga or Lionel Cronje will step into the number No 10 jersey, after solid performances for the Sharks XV in their Vodacom Cup clash on Saturday.

“It’s a huge boost that we will have Frans available, it provides massive stability to the team, especially due to the changes we will have with the resting of the Springboks,” said assistant coach Paul Anthony.

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Liam Messam

Liam Messam

Chiefs captain Liam Messam’s citing has been upheld after the charge was amended to an act contrary to good sportsmanship.

However, there has been no sanction placed on the All Black flank.

Messam was cited, along with teammate Hika Elliot, Sharks captain Bismarck du Plessis and centre Frans Steyn, after a spiteful game in Durban last weekend.

The Chiefs captain was cited after the match for tackling and gripping Sharks flank Renaldo Bothma around the neck in a ruck – the incident went unnoticed by the match officials on the day.

A SANZAR judicial hearing has found Messam guilty of contravening Law 10.4 (m) Acts contrary to good sportsmanship.

No sanction has been imposed on the player.

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Bees RouxFormer Bulls prop Bees Roux has signed for Oyonnax as medical cover for Antoine Guillamon, the Top 14 side announced on Monday.

The 33-year-old Roux played this season with the Lions, having previously lined out for the Leopards (2002 – 2006), the Griquas (2007 – 2008) and Cheetahs (2007).

He also played for French clubs Clermont (2008 – 2009) and Begles-Bordeaux (2011 – 2012) and Italian club Benetton (2012 – 2013).

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NMMUTuksNMMU (0) 8 / 40 (8) Tuks (Final Score)

FNB NMMU (Nelson Bay Metropolitan University) and FNB UP-Tuks (University of Pretoria) did

battle in the Varsity Cup at the Madibaz Stadium, Port Elizabeth at 16:45 SA Time (14:45 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

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

*******************

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Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn

Frans Steyn has been found not guilty by a SANZAR judicial hearing on Monday.

This follows after the Springbok midfielder was Red-Carded for an alleged spear tackle in the Sharks’ 12 / 11 Super Rugby win over the Chiefs at the weekend.

Frans Steyn has been found not guilty of disobeying Law 10.4 (j) Lifting Tackling, during a SANZAR Judicial hearing, after he was carded with a Red in a Super Rugby match against the Chiefs at the weekend.

The tip tackle, which was double teamed with Cobus Reinach, took place after 28 minutes had passed between the Sharks and the Chiefs at Kings Park, Durban, on 21 March.

It was a controversial moment, after TMO Marius Jonker recommended a Yellow Card to referee Angus Gardner after reviewing the incident. The on-field officials also had the benefit of watching the dangerous tackle on the big screen. Nevertheless, it was a Red Card.

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Bismarck du Plessis

Bismarck du Plessis

The Cell C Sharks issued a Media Release today, regarding Bismarck du Plessis 4 week suspension for kicking an opponent in the face on Saturday, in the ill-tempered game between the Cell C Sharks and the Chiefs, in Durban.

It reads as follows:

Bismarck du Plessis today appeared in a SANZAR judicial hearing, following him being issued with a red card for foul play in the 18th minute of yesterday’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Chiefs at Growthpoint KINGS PARK.

Upon pleading guilty to the charge, SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Adam Casselden, handed du Plessis a four-week suspension.

In acceptance of the punishment handed to him by SANZAR, Bismarck du Plessis said: “I want to unreservedly apologise for my behaviour both as captain and a senior player. My actions were unacceptable and I fully accept the punishment handed down to me by SANZAR.

“I will use these four-weeks off the field to reflect on my actions as both a leader and role-model in the game. I am painfully aware that people have lost faith in my character and the values I claim to stand for. I intend to rectify that through actions going forward and not merely words.”

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Frans Ludeke

Frans Ludeke

The Vodacom Bulls fully support the South African Rugby Union’s plan to rest key Springboks, but there won’t be a mass withdrawal of players at any stage.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said the next 5 weeks will see the Bulls rotate the players in a calculated move that is in line with the SARU plan.

In a meeting between SARU, the national body’s CEO, Jurie Roux, Bok coach Heyneke Meyer, the various franchise CEOs and coaching representatives it was agreed that franchise coaches – as far as possible – would rest key Springboks at various stages in the season.

Two principles were identified as being ideal:

  1. That players should not play more than 5 consecutive weeks.
  2. That certain Springbok players should have a number of weeks of rest during the tournament (2 to 4 weeks depending on each player’s personal needs and position and the franchise’s playing resources). Bye weeks are not considered as a rest week (although they do trigger a restart of the count of consecutive weeks), while injury weeks are ‘invisible’ (i.e. a player injured for 2 weeks during the 1st 7 weeks of the tournament would be regarded as having played 5 consecutive weeks at the end of week 7).

However, the Sharks have already bucked the system – with coach Gary Gold having said his outfit is in a different position to other SA outfits.

The Bulls have opted to take a different stance.

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Varsity CupThere will be 4 teams fighting it out over the 2 remaining play-offs spots in the final round of the FNB Varsity Cup on Monday.

With FNB UP-Tuks and FNB UFS-Shimlas having secured home semi-finals with big wins in the penultimate Round last week, it is down to which teams will join them in the knockout phase of the competition.

Just 4 log points separate the next four sides, who will all be desperate to ensure they will be travelling to either Pretoria or Bloemfontein for a semi-final next week.

In the early match on Monday, 2-time champions UP-Tuks will be looking to maintain their place at the top of the standings when they travel to Port Elizabeth to face FNB NMMU Madibaz, hoping to end a disappointing campaign on a high.

In Cape Town defending champions FNB UCT will know that a win will see them stay in the competition, but their opponents FNB UJ will need more than that as their outside chance of making the semi-finals rests on other results going their way as well.

3-Time champions FNB Maties face winless newcomers FNB CUT in Bloemfontein, and they will need a full 5 Log points and a favour from either UJ or FNB UFS-Shimlas if they are to avoid missing the play-off’s for just the 2nd time in the history of the competition.

UFS-Shimlas are the only team that has yet to lose this season, and they host FNB NWU-Pukke in what could be a make-or-break game for the visitors.

Last year’s beaten finalists know that a win will be enough to go through, but if they do not manage to topple coach Franco Smith’s impressive UFS-Shimlas outfit then they will have to rely on results elsewhere going their way to make the cut.

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Super RugbyThe Emirates Lions won their 2nd tour match as the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks had to dig deep to win at home in an interesting 6th Round of Vodacom Super Rugby.

The men from Johannesburg weathered an early storm and clinched their 3rd successive win over the Melbourne Rebels, by 20 / 16, courtesy of a late try by Lionel Mapoe on Friday in Melbourne. With this victory, the Emirates Lions emulated their feats in 2007 and 2011, when they also won 2 tour matches.

On Saturday, the Toyota Cheetahs started well and were in front at the break against the Crusaders in Christchurch, but the home team took proper advantage of 2 second-half Yellow Cards against the visitors from Bloemfontein to win comfortably by 57 / 14.

2 Matches were played in South Africa on Saturday afternoon, both in less-than-perfect conditions.

First up, the Vodacom Bulls had to rely on a late penalty goal by Handré Pollard to pip the Force by 25 / 24 in Pretoria before the Cell C Sharks, playing for more than 50 minutes with 13 men against 14, following 3 Red Cards, had to dig deep to beat the Chiefs by 12 / 11 in Durban.

The DHL Stormers had a BYE.

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Vodacom CupThe South Section of the Vodacom Cup kicked off on Friday evening with a resounding victory for the SWD Eagles, while the Cell C Sharks XV and Steval Pumas got 50-pointers without conceding a point on Saturday.

Apart from these 3 matches, the 4 others played this weekend were much closer affairs.

On Friday, the Xerox Golden Lions remained unbeaten when they beat northern neighbours the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Johannesburg.

Saturday’s other matches saw wins for DHL Western Province in Caledon, where loose forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe scored 4 tries, GWK Griquas in Port Elizabeth and the Leopards XV in Lichtenburg.

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Gary Gold

Gary Gold

Sharks coach Gary Gold has not condoned Bismark du Plessis’s Red Card offence but he has come to the support of his physical captain’s firey nature.

The Sharks captain was shown a Red Card in his team’s 1 point victory against the Chiefs in Durban on Saturday for kicking Michael Leitch’s head.

This came only a few minutes after the opposition hooker, Hika Elliot, was sent for an early shower for an illegal clean-out on Tendai Mtawarira in the 1st half.

Du Plessis is already well known as an incredibly abrasive and physical character on the field, but more and more it seems that teams are figuring out he has a short fuse.

Gold made it clear that what Du Plessis did to earn his Red Card was silly and he did not justify the foul play.

“I am not going to justify foul play, it is silly to do that,” Gold said after the match.

“I feel it was a silly thing for Bismarck to do, he lashed out from trying to free his foot – but you cannot make contact with someone’s head.

“For what it is worth, he has apologized to the group, and in his words he said he is ashamed by his behaviour.”

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The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Adam Casselden has accepted a guilty plea from Bismarck du Plessis of the Sharks for contravening Law 10.4 (c) A player must not kick an opponent, after he was sent off following a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

Du Plessis has been suspended from all forms of the game for 4 weeks up to and including 18 April 2015.

The incident occurred in the 18th minute of the match between the Sharks and Chiefs played at Kings Park in Durban.

SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Adam Casselden assessed the case.

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BullsThe Vodacom Bulls left it late, beating the Force 25 / 24 with a late penalty.

Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard kicked 20 points as his Vodacom Bulls side sneaked home against the Western Force in their Vodacom Super Rugby match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Marcel van der Merwe scored a try but his team were outscored 3 to 1 in the try-scoring stakes, as the Force’s spoiling game worked exceptionally well on their opponents. The Bulls failed to capitalise on the Force being down to 13 men at one stage.

The Bulls, who had just returned from a BYE week, were poor and out-of-sorts, and for large periods of time it looked as if it was the Force who were the home side with the way they played.

But thanks to Pollard they managed to sneak home through a penalty in the last minute, shortly after Sias Ebersohn kicked a 59-metre bomb that gave the Force the lead.

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Cell C SharksChiefsSharks (9) 12 / 11 (11) Chiefs (Final Score)

The Cell C Sharks and Chiefs did battle in Super Rugby at

Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban at 19:10 SA Time (17:10 GMT, Sunday 06:10 NZ Time).

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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