SA Rugby

Bismarck du PlessisJannie du PlessisCell C SharksThey are strong, generally popular characters of the international rugby landscape and that is never a bad thing … but do brothers Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis take interaction with referees a bit too far?

The voices of the two Sharks front-rankers have been among the most consistently audible to mass audiences this season as far as spirited dialogue with Super Rugby officials is concerned.

Shrinks (and may I cheekily add, at the risk of generalisation, wives and girlfriends?) will tell you that communication is healthy.

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Vodacom CupWhile the four teams who will contest the Vodacom Cup quarter-finals from the South Section have been decided, the race to get into the playoffs in the North Section is not over yet after the penultimate round of pool action.

And to add some spice, in the final round (in two weeks’ time) four of the top five teams in the North Section take on each other in two highly anticipated clashes. The defending champion Golden Lions (currently fourth on the log) host 2013’s runners-up the Steval Pumas (first), while GWK Griquas (second) have to travel to North West province to take on the Leopards XV (fifth).

The Vodacom Blue Bulls (third) host their neighbours to the north, the Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls, in Pretoria and a likely win should cement their place in the quarter-finals.

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Fikile MbalulaThe South African Rugby Union will on Monday get a better idea of the government’s new ‘adapt or die’ transformation policy.

Speaking at a general meeting of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee recently Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula revealed that the minimum requirement for the number of blacks in teams have been increased to 60 percent.

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Johan AckermannLionsThe Lions don’t learn from their mistakes they will be doomed to repeat them.

This was the harsh message from coach Johan Ackermann after his side held the Cell C Sharks for 65 minutes, before allowing them a turnover inside the Lions’ own half and watched as the game slipped away from them through an excellent Lwazi Mvovo try to lose 25-12 in their Vodacom Super Rugby match on Saturday.

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Super RugbyEvery time the Cell C Sharks score a win there are mutters in the background that they still have to travel overseas, but the rate they are going they will leave for Australasia needing to do very little to confirm themselves as the winners of the South African conference in Vodacom Super Rugby.

It has been written that the Sharks, in beating the Lions at Ellis Park this past weekend, showed that they are not as commanding away from home as they are at Growthpoint Kings Park. But that should surely be a given in a season where until the past two weeks home ground advantage was so important, and these days a win over the Lions in Johannesburg is not something you just accept as an expected event. You have to work for it.

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Francois SteynHeyneke MeyerJust how will Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer go into any international this year without the boot of Frans Steyn?

The big midfielder underlined his importance with four massive penalties and a conversion for a total of 14 points as the Cell C Sharks returned to the top of the Vodocom Super Rugby table with a 25-12 win over the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.

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Super RugbyIt is Round 9 of Super Rugby 2014 this weekend! We have 6 games in Round 9, with 2 games on Friday and 4 games on Saturday.

The Blues, Hurricanes & DHL Stormers have bye weekends.

In June / July 2014 the Antipodian teams will catch up in played games with the South African counterparts, when the South African sides sit out for 1 Round.

The Combined Log will therefore be skewed for the majority of the competition and one has to question why individual countries are allowed to start such a long competition ahead of it’s rivals. In 2013 the Australian sides started a week early, but at least they had the excuse that they needed an extra week in the middle of the year to prepare for the British & Irish Lions series, which they lost.

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Fikile MbalulaDear Minister,

Please allow me to introduce myself.

I am a middle-aged male of European descent living in the Ekhuruleni area, for most of my life.

In that time I’ve seen and experienced MANY changes in the daily lives of both my immediate family and my fellow South African citizens.

For me personally, one of the biggest changes in my life occurred when I discovered that my “local” Rugby Club was just a few kilometres from my house, and was situated in the “previously disadvantaged” area of Edenpark.

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Cell C SharksOdwa NdunganeThe Cell C Sharks starting line-up remains unchanged for this Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash with the Lions from the team named by Director of Rugby Jake White for the Waratahs a fortnight ago.

This means that Odwa Ndungane will run out for his 100th Super Rugby cap.

Paul Jordaan is over his injury and returns to the match 23, replacing Heimar Williams on the bench in the only change White has made. Despite the physical nature of the battle against the Waratahs, the Cell C Sharks had the good fortune of being able to keep the squad intact.

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