ORC Griquas coach Hawies Fourie has made a number of changes to his team that will face the Eastern Province Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Fourie has looked to freshen up his team, who’s last victory came against the EP Kings in Kimberely, in a bid to put one over the inconsistent Kings.
He will be happy to see that Michael van der Spuy has recovered from injury – he will replace Jonathan Franke at outside centre.
Gouws Prinsloo comes in at fullback in the place of Riaan Viljoen.
Last week’s star performer Ruan Nel has been called up to the Springbok Sevens academy team and he will be replaced by Danie Dames on the right wing.
Ntabeni Dukisa will once again take his place on the left wing after Jacquin Jansen had a rather quiet match last week against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs.
Jonathan Adendorf will move from No 7, back to his more familiar lock position – incumbent No 7 Jonathan Janse van Rensburg makes his way back, at the expence of lock Jaco Nepgen.
Ewald van der Westerhuizen comes into the team in place of Stephan Kotze who moves down to the bench.
At hooker, Martin Bezuidenhout will replace Abraham le Roux.
Sias Ebersohn will make his 1st start for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs at the pivotal role of flyhalf since his return home from down-under.
Ebersohn, who played at the Western Force in Perth from 2013 to 2015, takes over the reins from in-form flyhalf Fred Zeilinga among many other changes coach Franco Smith has made for the Currie Cup clash with the Xerox Golden Lions in Bloemfontein.
In the backline Tertius Kruger replaces Rayno Benjamin at inside centre while Zee Mkhabela starts at scrumhalf and Shaun Venter drops to the bench.
In the forwards Gerhard Olivier moves to No 8 and Niell Jordaan switches to the side of the scrum. Vincent Jobo completes the looseforward trio at openside flank.
In the engine room Freddy Ngoza replaces Armandt Koster who is sidelined due to a knee injury while Willem Serfontein and De Wet Kruger are new on the bench.
Springbok prop Vincent Koch will make his 50th Steval Pumas appearance when they face an in-form DHL Western Province at Newlands on Saturday.
The powerful Koch just missed out on a place in the South African Rugby World Cup squad – but his return to the Pumas has already given them a huge boost in the Currie Cup.
They still have a chance to qualify for the semifinals of the competition if a few results go their way.
Koch will be hoping to celebrate this milestone with a victory over the defending champions.
Faf de Klerk will take over as captain since incumbent Stefan Watermeyer has not been declared fit to play.
Wilmaure Louw will move to inside centre for the injured Watermeyer and Jerome Pretorius moving from wing to take his place at outside centre.
Bernardo Botha comes back into the team at right wing.
Springbok No 8 Warren Whiteley will wear the Xerox Golden Lions No 8 jumper against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday but Jaco Kriel will still lead the team on the field.
Steph de Wit will be the 3rd member of the loose-trio with Kwagga Smith moving to the bench.
The 3rd change to the starting line-up is the inclusion of Jacques van Rooyen in the front row.
Lourens Erasmus retains his place at lock after a sterling performance last weekend.
DHL Western Province head coach John Dobson has made 6 changes to his starting team for Saturday’s ABSA Currie Cup clash against the Steval Pumas at DHL Newlands.
As expected, Dillyn Leyds will start at fullback – in place of the injured Cheslin Kolbe – with Kobus van Wyk moving up from the bench to start in the No 14 jersey.
In the final change to the DHL WP backline this week, Springbok scrumhalf Jano Vermaak will make his 1st start in Blue & White Hoops, having come off the bench last week to score a valuable try for his new team.
Up front, meanwhile, loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff has not recovered from his chest niggle, handing Oli Kebble a start in the No 1 jersey.
In the 2nd row, Jan de Klerk will make a 1st start at this level, with Jean Kleyn getting a deserved rest on the bench, and skipper Nizaam Carr returns to assume the team captaincy and the No 8 jersey.
Sikhumbuzo Notshe, who started at No 8 last week, will pack down on the side of the scrum – at No 7 – with Jurie van Vuuren, a last-minute starter last weekend, reverting to the bench. The hard-hitting Rynhardt Elstadt is still unavailable with a thigh injury.
The new faces on the bench this week are fit-again hooker Michael Willemse (in for the injured Scarra Ntubeni), prop Ali Vermaak and utility back Jaco Taute.
Born in Middelburg (Eastern Cape) on 5 August 1984, 31-year-old Steven Robert Sykes will play his 100th Currie Cup game when the EP Kings take on ORC Griquas at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday 26 September.
Sykes attended Cradock Primary School and Marlow Agricultural, and represented EP at various age-group levels, including the EP Under 13 team in 1997 and the Under 18 EP Craven Week team in 2002.
In 2003, Sykes linked up with the Sharks Academy in Durban and that year he also represented South Africa at the World Under 19 Championship.
Philip van der Walt, a man who’s actions speak louder than words has been entrusted with the captaincy for the Cell C Sharks Currie Cup clash with the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
The leadership change comes after head coach Gary Gold has made a rotational switch in the locks, Australian David McDuling coming in for Marco Wentzel who gets a much-needed break after starting every match this season.
Flank Christiaan de Bruin gets his 1st start in a Sharks jersey after making his debut off the bench against DHL Western Province. He replaces Jean-Luc du Preez in the only other change to the starting line-up.
Springbok and injury-prone Jean Deysel returns to action on the bench after injuring himself in the Round 2 victory over the EP Kings.
Lappies Labuschagne will on Friday play in his 50th ABSA Currie Cup match when he leads the Vodacom Blue Bulls on the field in Durban for their clash against the Cell C Sharks.
The flanker reverts back to the side of the scrum due to the wrist injury to Roelof Smit (see below), with Arno Botha, who started on the bench against DHL WP last week, back in the No 8 jersey.
This is the only change to the pack made by Vodacom Blue Bulls coach, Nollis Marais, with 2 rotational switches in the backline made for the Durban clash.
Tian Schoeman and Jan Serfontein will start at flyhalf and centre respectively, switching places with Louis Fouché and Dries Swanepoel, who both move to the bench for this clash.
Ruan Steenkamp is on the bench for Botha, in what could be a Vodacom Blue Bulls and ABSA Currie Cup debut, should the former Junior Springboks captain take to the field.
SARU says that it was with great sadness that they learnt on 21 September of the passing of Mike Stofile, a former deputy president of the South African Rugby Union (SARU). Mr Oregan Hoskins said he contacted him recently to tell him he was Hoskin’ brother and that he was in his heart.
Mike was a proud man who had clear views on rugby and sport and he unflinchingly stood for what he believed in his time at SARU. He was vice-president for 2 years and deputy president for a further 2 until 2008 after holding the presidency of the Border Rugby Union.
He publicly fought with his own president of the time – Brian van Rooyen – when he believed the game was being led astray but there were good times as well and he is remembered celebrating winning the Rugby World Cup with the Springboks in Paris in 2007.
Xerox Golden Lions centre Alwyn Hollenbach has been forced to retire from rugby with immediate effect, due to an recurring shoulder injury.
The 30-year-old Hollenbach joined the Lions rugby family in 2009 and has since represented the union 37 times in the Currie Cup, 24 times in Super Rugby and 19 times in the Vodacom Cup.
The centre has been struggling with the same shoulder injury for quite some time and in 2014 it worsened during Super Rugby against the Brumbies. It is the same shoulder that he injured this year in the Currie Cup against the Pumas.
Decorated international rugby coach, Eddie Jones, will take over the role as head coach of the DHL Stormers at the start of the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby season.
The former Wallabies head coach and 2007 World Cup-winning Springbok technical advisor will assume the DHL Stormers coaching reins from Allister Coetzee, who moved to Japan after the DHL Stormers’ SA Conference-winning 2015 Super Rugby campaign.
“Our Director of Rugby, Mr Gert Smal, always promised that he would deliver the best and in Eddie Jones I am more than satisfied that we have appointed the best coach to take over the reins of the DHL Stormers,” said WPRFU President, Mr Thelo Wakefield.
“Eddie is no stranger to South African Rugby and we look forward to making him feel welcome and ensuring that he brings more silverware to DHL Newlands.”
Having guided the Brumbies to Super Rugby success back in 2001, Jones coached the Wallabies between 2001 and 2005 – delivering Tri-Nations and Bledisloe Cup success, as well as taking them to the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final on home soil.
English Premiership side Worcester Warriors have captured the signing of Springbok Wynand Olivier as their latest import.
The powerful centre joins up with his new teammates immediately ahead of Warriors’ clash with Wasps this Saturday 26 September.
Olivier has represented South Africa 38 times with his last appearance coming in June 2014 in a win over Wales.
Twenty-five greats of the game whose careers spanned 3 centuries have been inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in a ceremony at Wembley on Sunday at 18:00 SA Time (17:00 BST, 16:00 GMT)
Players from 7 different countries and a wide array of backgrounds were honoured at a special presentation in the Spirit of Rugby lounge at Wembley Stadium before the eagerly awaited Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool C match between New Zealand and Argentina.
From the pioneering 19th century Welsh tactician Gwyn Nichols to Rugby World Cup winners in Australian centre Tim Horan and South African scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen, the latest induction list reads like a ‘who’s who’ of rugby.
18 Captains of their countries are included. Irishman Fergus Slattery and Mervyn Davies are 2 of the names that ‘The voice of rugby’ Bill McLaren, the only non-international to feature in the latest Round of inductions, once reeled off in his unforgettable BBC commentaries.
Twice-capped coaching guru Carwyn James is 1 of 7 Welshmen to be inducted, while South Africa have 5 representatives. England, Ireland and Scotland have 3 apiece and 2 each from France and Australia make up the 25.
Eastern Province Kings flank Luke Watson will have an operation for a knee contusion, with a cartilage flap on Wednesday.
The inspirational leader has been a peripheral figure for the past 2 seasons because of injury.
The EP Kings have been struggling to build momentum and Watson’s presence would have been a huge lift for the men from the windy city.
The EP Kings released their latest injury report on Monday.
Wing Siyanda Grey is the only new injury concern after the weekend’s 9 / 20 loss to the Steval Pumas in Nelspruit.
Stefan Watermeyer’s return to the Pumas team over the past 2 weeks has immediately made a positive impact to the team’s fortunes.
They put in a spirited performance against the Cell C Sharks in Durban a fortnight ago, and they managed to squeeze out a victory over the Eastern Province Kings over the weekend.
However, the inspirational captain might be out for this week’s clash against an in-form DHL Western Province at Newlands.
Watermeyer will be rested for the week with a grade 1 tear to his hamstring – he will have a final medical clearance done later this week.
Fullback Hoffmann Maritz will also wait for a medical clearance this week after he sustained a grade 1 tear of his anckle ligament.
The Xerox Golden Lions scored 2 tries in the 2nd half to secure a 26 / 18 win against the Cell C Sharks at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday afternoon. The win kept the Lions’ unbeaten status intact and they now have an 8-point lead over the Vodacom Blue Bulls on the Log.
Also on Saturday, former Junior Springbok wing Sergeal Petersen ran in a brace of tries as the Toyota Free State Cheetahs completed a 44 / 24 bonus-point home win over the ORC Griquas.
The win saw the Free State Cheetahs leapfrog the Cell C Sharks and the Steval Pumas to move into 4th place on the Log and keep their semifinal chances alive while the Griquas remain rooted to the bottom of the table after just 1 win from their 7 matches.
DHL Western Province gained sweet revenge against the Vodacom Blue Bulls at DHL Newlands with a 29 / 14 victory in Cape Town on Friday evening. The Pretoria side will rue a string of missed opportunities that cost them the chance of closing the gap on the log leaders as handling errors and strong defence from WP meant they suffered their 2nd loss of the campaign.
The Steval Pumas kept their slim semifinal hopes alive with a gritty 20 / 9 win over the Eastern Province Kings in their fixture at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday.
The Pumas had come into the game off the back of 2 consecutive losses and were desperate to get back to winning ways. The victory has kept them in distant touch with the front-runners and was just enough to make them outside contenders for the playoffs. They did not collect a bonus point but the win could prove crucial at the end of the round-robin stage.
After 7 Rounds, the Xerox Golden Lions are out in front on 33 points, followed by the Vodacom Blue Bulls on 25 points. Last year’s winners, DHL Western Province, are currently 3rd on 24 points, followed by the Toyota Free State Cheetahs on 17 points. The Cell C Sharks (13) and Pumas (also 13) follow next, then the Kings in 7th place (7) and Griquas (6).
Japan (10) 34 / 32 (12) Springboks (Final Score)
Japan and the South African Springboks did battle in the Rugby World Cup at
The Brighton Community Stadium, Brighton at 17:45 SA Time (16:45 BST, 15:45 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 on TV in SA.
Golden Lions (6) 26 / 18 (3) Cell C Sharks (Final Score)
The Cell C Sharks and Xerox Golden Lions did battle in the ABSA Currie Cup at
Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg at 14:15 SA Time (12:15 GMT).
This was the live match discussion article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 2 on TV in SA.
Day 2 of Rugby World Cup 2015 is here. The opening ceremony is done and dusted and England have won the very 1st game of the tournament, with what could turn out to be a handy bonus point.
Crowds from Brighton to Gloucester will be gearing up to go to the games today with 4 matches in total to be played. The local broadcaster of the World Cup advertised that there would be 11 hours of coverage across their channels today.
The big game of the day for Springbok supporters takes place late this afternoon just outside Brighton as they face Japan in a stadium that for the World Cup is known as Brighton Community Stadium. It is normally a football ground, the home of Brighton and Hove Albion a Championship team who are top of that table at the moment.
The 1st match of the day, between Georgia and Tonga, kicks off at 15:30 SA Time (12:30 BST) and the last tonight at 20:00 BST (21:00 SA Time) when France and Italy meet.
It is tough to imagine that the big north-south derby has become a sideshow, despite being a crucial match for both teams.
While the World Cup continues to hog the limelight, South Africa’s Currie Cup competition is moving towards the home stretch – Round Seven of 10.
And the match of the weekend is between the two most successful Currie Cup teams, Western Province and the Blue Bulls, will resume their fierce rivalry in Cape Town on Friday.
They are second, the Bulls, and third, WP, on the standings.
With just three rounds remaining, Province can ill afford another defeat – while the Bulls will be equally desperate after having suffered their first loss last week.
Japan have rung the changes and announced the eldest side in their Test history for their opening RWC 2015 match against South Africa on Saturday.
Head coach Eddie Jones makes five changes from the side that beat Georgia 13-10 in Gloucester on 5 September 2015, the side’s last Test match.
Akihito Yamada replaces Yoshikazu Fujita on the wing and Hendrik Tui moves from the wing to number eight. Fly-half Harumichi Tatekawa drops to the bench in place of Kosei Ono, and Kensuke Hatakeyama replaces Hiroshi Yamashita, who is named as a replacement. Tui’s move to number eight means there is no place for Koliniashi Holani, who is in the squad but not named in the match-day 23.
Only seven players in the 23 were in the match-day 22 for Japan’s last RWC match, the 23-23 draw against Canada on 27 September 2011.
The starting 15 for Saturday has an average age of 29 years and 310 days, eclipsing the side who played in the 13-10 win over Georgia on 5 September 2015, whose average was 29 years and 299 days.
South Africa’s head coach Heyneke Meyer has named a strong team to play Japan in their Rugby World Cup opening match in Brighton with Jean de Villiers as captain.
The Springboks starting team boasts a combined total of 880 Test caps and eclipses the previous most experienced South African side at 836 caps which played in the last Rugby World Cup match against Australia at the quarter final stage.
Meyer has opted to start with Patrick Lambie with Handre Pollard on the replacements bench. One surprise ommission from the line up is Damien de Allende who has made way for De Villiers but also possibly fallen out of favour as he is not named on the replacements bench.
In all the team has six changes from the side that beat Argentina in Buenos Aires a month ago. De Villiers’ inclusion at inside centre is the only change to the backline, while Francois Louw returns at the side of the scrum.
The tight five has been reshuffled, with Lood de Jager and Jannie du Plessis both back from injury, while Bismarck du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira will start yet again.
On the bench, Coenie Oosthuizen, Fourie du Preez and JP Pietersen return from injury, while Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane and Siya Kolisi have also been included amongst the substitutes.
The Springboks were given a vibrant and rousing reception at their official Rugby World Cup Welcoming Ceremony, held at the iconic Winter Gardens in Eastbourne on Sunday afternoon.
Hundreds of rugby fans lined the street and packed the venue as the Springboks, led out by coach Heyneke Meyer, entered the theatre to the sounds of well-known British hard rock band Led Zeppelin.
All the players received their Rugby World Cup caps and participation medals, while the team management were also awarded medals.
The Springboks and gathered crowd were addressed by Mr Oregan Hoskins, President of the South African Rugby Union and Deputy President of World Rugby, Mr Ian Richie, CEO of the Rugby Football Union and the Worshipful the Mayor of Eastbourne, Councillor Janet Coles.
Meyer and Springbok captain Jean de Villiers spoke on behalf of the team and thanked all the Springboks’ bases for the duration of the tournament for their efforts, as well as the throngs of fans who made the team feel welcome in England.
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers stole the show. Master statesman and ambassador that he is, that had the crowd baying for more as he opened by turning his back on the audience to take a crowd selfie, encouraging them to participate in the background and gave a fabulous speech to underline his worth to the team off the field.
A popular topic of debate heading into the Rugby World Cup is that of eligibility, particularly that resulting from the residency method. We take a look at the foreign-born players in each squad, where they were born and how they are eligible.
An interesting fact – only Argentina can claim that all 31 players in their squad are native to their country. The other 19 teams all have players born abroad, including significant numbers in some of rugby’s most powerful nations.
All told, Rugby World Cup 2015 will have a grand total of 33 countries involved in the tournament. Players born in various African countries – Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and Zimbabwe join the participating Namibia and South Africa. Zimbabwe has players representing 4 countries, more than any other non-competitor.
Spain is another country not present at the Rugby World Cup who have players representing multiple countries while other countries include Belgium, Israel, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, and the Netherlands are also all represented.
Australia, England, New Zealand and South Africa lead the way in terms of players representing others at the Rugby World Cup.
Eben Etzebeth remains the only worry for the Springboks as they head into their opening week of this year’s Rugby World Cup.
While the Springboks have been trying to downplay the extent of the big lock’s calf injury ahead of Saturday’s opening game against Japan in Brighton, Dr Craig Roberts confirmed that he is still on track to make a comeback against the Japanese squad, but that a decision would only be taken later in the week.
Etzebeth remains the only injury worry in the 31-man squad and has had injury problems before, but while the medical team has ruled this a grade 1 injury, and therefore not too serious, the question will remain as to how fit he is at the moment.
Dr Roberts believes he should be ready, but the question remains, if he cannot take part in training on Monday and Tuesday, whether he should be risked in the opening game?
A lot of that will come down to what coach Heyneke Meyer wants, especially after he indicated that there are 1 or 2 players “who need a little bit more work” and therefore might not play this coming week.
Mastery of scrums, line drives and the breakdown will win the Rugby World Cup, South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer said after his 31-man squad arrived in England for the tournament on Saturday.
“These are 3 areas that will determine the outcome of the tournament and we have spent a lot of time working on them,” Meyer said.
Meyer also said winning the Rugby World Cup, which South Africa achieved in 1995 and 2007, would require playing “7 cup finals” over the next 2 months.
“All the opponents will be difficult and you have to approach each game as if it were a final. The challenge is to play 7 great games in a row.”
The Springboks, who are based on the South Coast of England in the little hamlet of Eastbourne, start their campaign next Saturday against Japan at Brighton in Pool B, with the coach suggesting it was an opportunity to give game time to players who have been working their way back to fitness after injury.
The Xerox Golden Lions reigned over the Vodacom Blue Bulls in their ABSA Currie Cup derby on Saturday evening at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria thanks to a thrilling 36 / 28 win in their Top of the Table clash.
Johan Ackermann’s outfit consolidated their position on the Top of the Premier Division standings and at the same time opened up a 4 point lead over their Northern neighbours, who suffered their 1st defeat of the campaign.
Last year’s winners, DHL Western Province, strengthened their grip on 3rd place with a gritty 37 / 27 away win over the Cell C Sharks in Durban. Elsewhere, the ORC Griquas and the Eastern Province Kings scored their 1st wins of the competition.
In Kimberley, the Griquas prevailed 32 / 15 over the Steval Pumas while a 14-man EP Kings side defeated the Toyota Free State Cheetahs by 32 / 24 at home in Port Elizabeth.
With just 4 Rounds of ordinary league action remaining before the play-off’s, the Xerox Golden Lions are leading the race for semi-final places. They have 29 Log points, followed by the Vodacom Blue Bulls (25), DHL Western Province (20), Cell C Sharks (13), Toyota Free State Cheetahs (12), Steval Pumas (9), Eastern Province Kings (7) and ORC Griquas (6).
The SA Under 18 Sevens team emulated the senior Springbok Sevens Blitzbokke when they also clinched the gold medal at the Youth Commonwealth Games in Samoa in the early hours of Friday morning.
The South African boys won gold after their 31 / 20 defeat of Australia in the final, played in simmering heat on the South Pacific Island of Samoa. They finished the Games unbeaten after wins over Singapore (61 / 0), Namibia (46 / 0), England (19 / 14) and hosts Samoa (29 / 0).
The Springbok Sevens are the reigning Commonwealth Games champions after their gold medal success in Glasgow last year.
Blue Bulls (7) 28 / 36 (30) Golden Lions (Final Score)
The Vodacom Blue Bulls and Xerox Golden Lions did battle in the ABSA Currie Cup at
Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria at 19:10 SA Time (17:10 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.
Sharks (17) 27 / 37 (10) WP (Final Score)
The Cell C Sharks and DHL Western Province did battle in the ABSA Currie Cup at
Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban at 17:05 SA Time (15:05 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer and captain Jean de Villiers on Friday said they were emotionally overwhelmed by the wonderful farewell to the national team on Friday afternoon at Montecasino in Johannesburg.
Supporters packed the Piazza at Montecasino on a warm and sunny afternoon to bid farewell to the 31-man squad and management before they departed to England on Friday evening for the Rugby World Cup.
The Minister for Sport and Recreation South Africa, Mr Fikile A Mbalula, MP, closed the occasion by wishing the team well.
The Springboks spent an hour and a half with the public before they boarded the team bus for OR Tambo International Airport, where more fans arrived at to say good-bye. They are scheduled to land at Heathrow early on Saturday morning.
“We’ve not yet won anything, but we were treated like champions and it was really humbling to see this amazing support,” said Meyer.
EP Kings (16) 32 / 24 (19) FS Cheetahs (Final Score)
The Eastern Province Kings and Toyota Free State Cheetahs did battle in the ABSA Currie Cup at
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth at 19:10 SA Time (17:10 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.
The Trans-Jukskei derby is the highlight of Round 6 and a sneak preview of a possible Currie Cup Final.
The undefeated neighbours, the Vodacom Blue Bulls and the Xerox Golden Lions, have been the standout teams and also the 2 most entertaining sides.
Johan Ackermann’s Golden Lions are leading the standings on 25 Log points – having collected a full-house 5 points in all 5 their outings this season.
The Blue Bulls are a solitary point behind, also winning 5 from 5 but won the last Round’s game without a bonus point.
The weekend’s action starts in Port Elizabeth on Friday where the winless Eastern Province Kings host a vastly-improved Toyota Free State Cheetahs team.
Saturday’s early match will see another winless team, ORC Griquas, host a struggling Steval Pumas outfit in Kimberley. Although the Pumas have 2 wins to their credit, including beating the Cell C Sharks in Round 1, they have struggled to maintain their early momentum.
The 3rd-placed DHL Western Province, who are a full 9 points behind the Golden Lions, face the Cell C Sharks in Durban in Round 6 – both desperate for some consistency in a season where promising victories have been soured by disappointing defeats.
Then, of course, we head to Pretoria for what may well be 1 of the best matches of the season.
Japan’s hopes of playing in the 2016 Super Rugby tournament still appear to be doomed but their exit could also force the Southern Kings out of the expanded tournament.
The Japanese Rugby Union formed the Japan Super Rugby Association (JSRA) to run the new Super Rugby team but the JSRA has struggled to sign players for the new team.
Their expectation was that the Japanese Top League teams would release players to the Super Rugby team but they don’t want to do that and instead they want the Top League to be considered at a higher level than Super Rugby.
SANZAR are believed to be so concerned about the situation in Japan that they have started discussing alternate tournament models for the 2016 season and possibly beyond.
Tournament organizers SANZAR gave Japan a deadline on 31 August last month to show a list of 20 contracted players but reports suggest that the standard of players is not at a level that will make the new Asian team competitive.
Reports in Australia say that SANZAR are now considering taking the Super Rugby licence away from Japan indefinitely.
The writing appeared to be on the wall early last month when Japan coach Eddie Jones announced that he would not be re-signing with the national side and he would not be available as the new Japanese team’s Director of Rugby.
While the Japan team’s inclusion seems unlikely it is understood that the 6th South African side, the Southern Kings are also struggling to sign a full squad and in recent months there have been financial problems and player strikes due to wages not being paid.
Jan Serfontein will start at inside centre for the Vodacom Blue Bulls when they take on the Xerox Golden Lions in an ABSA Currie Cup match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Serfontein earns a 1st start in the competition and teams up with Dries Swanepoel in the midfield, swopping places with Burger Odendaal, who moves to the bench.
Prop Dean Greyling is also fit again following a knee strain and he slots back into the starting line-up, replacing Pierre Schoeman, who swings back into Under 21 action. It will be Greyling’s 50th appearance for the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the ABSA Currie Cup competition.
Another player returning is Werner Kruger, who will play off the bench and replaces Dayan van der Westhuizen, with the young prop also moving back to the Vodacom Blue Bulls Under 21’s.
In the 3rd change to the squad that fronted up against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs last weekend, Deon Stegmann returns from a cheekbone injury in place of Jannes Kirsten.