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SA Rugby

ABSA Currie CupDHL Western Province will host the Xerox Golden Lions in Cape Town in the ABSA Currie Cup final after the teams won their respective semifinals on Saturday to remain the last teams standing in the competition.

DHL Western Province defeated the Vodacom Blue Bulls 31-23 in a physical encounter in Cape Town, while the Xerox Golden Lions delivered a fine performance against the Cell C Sharks in Johannesburg to register a convincing 50-20 victory.

DHL Western Province were quick on their feet throughout the clash and supported this with good decision-making on attack and a solid defensive effort. In stark contrast, the Vodacom Blue Bulls made mistakes at crucial times and missed three penalties, which cost them.

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South AfricaFollowing the elimination of the Cell C Sharks and the Vodacom Blue Bulls from the ABSA Currie Cup and the conclusion of the First Division, 8 more players have been invited to the Springboks’ training camp in Stellenbosch.

The Springbok selectors have invited Lwazi Mvovo, Cobus Reinach, Lourens Adriaanse (all Cell C Sharks), Handré Pollard, Rudy Paige, Marcel van der Merwe, Bongi Mbonambi (all Vodacom Blue Bulls) and Boela Abrahams, who starred for the Down Touch Griffons in their ABSA Currie Cup First Division final victory on Friday, to join 20 nationally contracted players and 4 others as the team start their preparations for what will be an arduous Castle Lager Outgoing Tour.

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Rory Kockott

Rory Kockott

Scrumhalf Rory Kockott was called into the France squad to face Fiji, Australia and Argentina next month after the South African qualified to play for his adopted nation through residency rules, the French federation said on Sunday.

Castres Olympique player Kockott has been on Philippe Saint-Andre’s radar for some time as the France coach regularly tinkers with his halfback line.

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DHL WPVodacom Blue BullsThe DHL Western Province Under 21 and Under 19 teams and their counterparts from the Vodacom Blue Bulls will contest Saturday’s ABSA Under 21 and ABSA Under 19 Provincial finals at DHL Newlands.

The Blue Bulls teams booked their trip by beating the Cell C Sharks 43-20 (Under 19) and Xerox Golden Lions 23-19 (Under 21) in their semi-finals played at Loftus Versfeld.

The WP Under 21 side had too much class for the Toyota Free State Under 21’s at DHL Newlands, winning 41-17, while the WP Under 19 side won 29-22 against the Free State Under 19’s in Bloemfontein.

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 Leigh Heard

Leigh Heard, Sharks chief operations officer, has been dismissed for gross misconduct.

A disciplinary hearing into allegations of “serious misconduct” by a senior staff member of the KZN Sharks rugby administration has exposed a number of alleged breaches in the financial management of the globally revered sport franchise.

A 47-page report described as “highly sensitive” and leaked to the Tribune this week details a litany of apparent unethical financial practice, spanning more than a decade.

Claims of irregular payments for “deserving” staff members, gifts and bonuses, free luxury stadium suites, inflated bonuses, free cars, nepotism, poor accounting and large unauthorised handouts were all part of the mix.

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This week Fox HQ brings you the best of 2014, from bloopers to tries and much more.

 

 

Ryno Barnes

Ryno Barnes

Griquas hooker Ryno Barnes on Friday was cleared of wrongdoing after receiving a red card in their Absa Currie Cup clash against the Blue Bulls last weekend for allegedly verbally abusing the referee.

Barnes appeared before a SARU disciplinary committee in Kimberley on Thursday after being cited for breaching Law 10.4 (m) and (s).

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Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard will play at inside centre when the Vodacom Blue Bulls take on DHL Western Province in the semi-finals of the Absa Currie Cup in Cape Town on Saturday.

Pollard will replace injured Burger Odendaal for the match at DHL Newlands in one of two backline changes made by coach Frans Ludeke. In the other, Rudy Paige will start at scrumhalf, with Piet van Zyl playing off the bench.

Pollard came off the bench in the final Absa Currie Cup league match against GWK Griquas last weekend and his place amongst the reserves will be taken by Sampie Mastriet.

In the pack, Ludeke rotated Marcel van der Merwe and Werner Kruger, with the latter starting at Newlands.

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DHL WPDHL Western Province coach Allister Coetzee has recalled all his big guns for Saturday’s 2014 Absa Currie Cup semifinal against the Vodacom Blue Bulls at DHL Newlands (kick-off 17:00 SA Time).

Flanker Rynhardt Elstadt is the only starting survivor from last week’s experimental line-up that took on a full-strength Sharks team at DHL Newlands.

Amongst the players recalled by coach Coetzee this week are skipper and centre Juan de Jongh (the team’s leading try-scorer this season), vice-captain and tighthead prop Pat Cilliers, the fit-again pairing of fullback Cheslin Kolbe and lock Jean Kleyn and SA Sevens speedster Seabelo Senatla.

Flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis will play his 50th match for DHL WP this weekend, with Nic Groom partnering him at halfback.

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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks have named a strong lineup for the Currie Cup Premier Division Semi-Final against the Xerox Golden Lions on the weekend.

“We weren’t happy with our first half performance against Western Province but it was great to see us come out in the second half and play some nice rugby and get quite a few points on the board. Hopefully the continuity continues against the Golden Lions. It’s going to be a huge task going up to Ellis Park, but a challenge we’re looking forward to. We will have to play for the full 80 minutes, defensively we need to be strong and our set-piece needs to function well.

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SpringboksFour additional players, Trevor Nyakane, Lood de Jager, Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje and Lizo Gqoboka, have been invited to the Springboks’ training camp in Stellenbosch next week.

The three Toyota Free State Cheetahs forwards and the EP Kings prop are not nationally contracted but as their teams did not qualify for the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division semi-finals, their unions had been requested to release them for the training camp.

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Jacques-Louis Potgieter

Jacques-Louis Potgieter

Vodacom Blue Bulls pivot Jacques-Louis Potgieter is confident his team has the right game plan to win playoffs as they prepare for their Absa Currie Cup semifinal against DHL Western Province at Newlands on Saturday.

Potgieter believes the momentum the Bulls have built up, coupled with their game plan will be enough to get his side over the semifinal hurdle against their old rivals.

The Bulls will head down to Cape Town as massive underdogs this weekend, having lost both their league games against Province this year and having very little to counter the Cape side’s expansive game when the teams have met.

But the turnaround came precisely after the Bulls lost their game against Province at Loftus Versfeld and despite a stutter against the Sharks, the Bulls have been steadily building after a poor start to the season to find themselves sneaking into the semifinals and now believe they can go the whole way.

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Robbie Fleck

Robbie Fleck

Western Province backline coach Robbie Fleck says they are well aware of the threat Handré Pollard could pose in their Currie Cup semi-final at Newlands on Saturday.

Pollard, who starred at flyhalf for the Springboks in the recent Rugby Championship, is allowed to play in the Currie Cup because he is not a contracted Bok.

“Handre is playing with a lot of confidence and brings his team-mates into play. We’ll have to be aware of that,” Fleck said. “He is an exceptional player having a stellar season.”

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GriffonsValkeThere will be a lot more than prize money and bragging rights at stake for the Down Touch Griffons and Valke in the Absa Currie Cup First Division final in Welkom on Friday as the teams meet in the final for the first time in the competition’s history.

The Down Touch Griffons have won the title only once since the competition’s inception in 2000, and that was against the Leopards in 2008, while the Valke, Vodacom Cup champions in 2006, will make history if they were to emerge victorious as it would mark their maiden First Division title.

The winner will walk away with R1,054m, while the runner up will receive a cheque of R527000 for their efforts this season. The First Division final will be preceded by the Absa Under-19 B Division final between the Valke and Boland and the Absa Under-21 B Division final between the EP Kings and SWD respectively.

In the main game, the teams will be careful to underestimate one another as they will enter the final with a win a piece in their round-robin matches this season. In their first meeting in July, the Down Touch Griffons registered a 29-20 victory against the Valke in Welkom, while the Valke won the second match 36-27 in Kempton Park last month.

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CheetahsCheetahs coach Naka Drotske has named a larger training group ahead of next year’s Super Rugby competition.

According to reports, there are nine new recruits and two Under 21 players in the squad.

Wing Sergeal Petersen, utility back Joe Pietersen, No 8 Willie Britz, centre JW Jonker, prop BG Uys, flank Devin Oosthuizen, utility back Coenie van Wyk, prop Danie Mienie and flyhalf Clinton Swart are the newcomers in the 55-man squad.

Youngsters Nico Lee (centre) and Tienie Burger (flank) were also added as newcomers.

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Siya Kolisi

Fuelled by the enjoyment factor having returned to his game, Springbok flank Siya Kolisi has listed regaining his Stormers starting berth as first target for 2015.

This was among the 23-year-old’s revelations.

The current year has been an awkward one for Kolisi, marked first by a loss of form in the Super Rugby season and then a new injury midway through the Currie Cup just as he was regaining his zest and best form.

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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen and the Commonwealth Games gold medal winning Springbok Sevens team have been nominated for South African Sports Awards, the Department of Sport and Recreation South African (SRSA) announced on Wednesday.

Vermeulen has been nominated in the category of Sports Star of the Year. He will be up against Ernst van Dyk (wheelchair marathon athlete), Chad le Clos (swimming), Portia Modise (soccer), Khotso Mokoena (track & field) and AB de Villiers (cricket).

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Marnitz Boshoff

Marnitz Boshoff

Springbok flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff is set to join the Barbarians when they take on the Wallabies at Twickenham on 1 November.

Boshoff joins a list of New Zelanders who were added to the squad on Monday along side a large South African contingent that were added earlier in the month.

All Blacks Adam Thomson, Francis Saili and Frank Halai have all been added to the squad to facing Australia and Leicester Tigers in November.

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Thelo WakefieldThe Western Province Rugby Union wants to persuade the South African Rugby Union to hand Newlands the Springboks / All Blacks Rugby Championship Test next year.

This comes after SANZAR on Monday issued a release revealing that the Springboks will tackle the All Blacks at a South African venue to be decided on Saturday, 25 July.

It will be part of a curtailed, single-round Rugby Championship for the first time since its inception in 2012, a situation brought about by the priority given to next year’s World Cup in England and Wales from September.

The Boks play both the defending champion All Blacks and Argentina (Saturday, 8 August) at home, with their only overseas obligation being against Australia in Brisbane (Saturday, 18 July).

WP president Thelo Wakefield said that they will send a letter to SARU president Oregan Hoskins to consider handing the All Blacks Test to Newlands.

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Elton Jantjies

Elton Jantjies

Flyhalf Elton Jantjies is enjoying life on and off the field at Japanese club NTT Shining Arcs.

The Lions flyhalf headed to the Far East after Super Rugby and has settled in nicely at his new team.

At the Shining Arcs, he features alongside former All Blacks lock Isaac Ross and former Lions team-mate and USA captain Todd Clever, while he has developed a great relationship with the local players.

Jantjies has also emerged as a pivotal player for the club. He has featured in all their games this season, helping them to four wins from six as they aim to qualify for the league playoffs and All-Japan Championship knockouts.

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Currie CupDHL Western Province will host the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Cape Town and the Xerox Golden Lions will face the Cell C Sharks in Johannesburg in the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division semifinals next weekend.

Log-leaders DHL Western Province were assured of their home semifinal and the top spot on the log before entering the final round of pool matches this weekend, while the Xerox Golden Lions sealed their home semifinal by thumping the Toyota Free State Cheetahs. The victory for the Johannesburg team was enough to cancel out any efforts by the Cell C Sharks for the second spot on the log.

In the weekend’s matches, the EP Kings registered their first victory of the season as they pipped the Steval Pumas 26-25 in Port Elizabeth, while the Xerox Golden Lions thumped the Toyota Free State Cheetahs 47-7 at Ellis Park, the Cell C Sharks defeated DHL Western Province 28-20 in Cape Town and the Vodacom Blue Bulls beat GWK Griquas 46-12 in Pretoria.

The Xerox Golden Lions will meet the Cell C Sharks in the first semifinal on Saturday, October 18, at 14:30 SA Time and DHL Western Province will go up against the Vodacom Blue Bulls at 17:00 SA Time.

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WP coach Allister Coetzee says that his team wont be changing their attacking gameplan for the Currie Cup semi-final against the Blue Bulls.

Western Province beat the Blue Bulls in both league games this season, and that is why coach Allister Coetzee says that his team won’t be changing their attacking gameplan for a more conservative one in Saturday’s Currie Cup semi-final at Newlands.

In fact, since Coetzee took over the WP Currie Cup team in 2008, they have lost only once to the Blue Bulls at Newlands, although it was a big one – the 2009 semi-final, when Morné Steyn slotted a late penalty for a 21-19 win.

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WhistleThe two REFEREES for the Currie Cup Premier Division Semi-Finals of 2014 have been revealed.

Jaco van Heerden will take charge of the first Semi-Final between the Xerox Golden Lions and Cell C Sharks at Ellis Park (kick-off at 14:30 SA Time).

Van Heerden will be assisted by Ben Crouse and Sieg van Staden, while Johan Greeff will be the TMO.

Pro Legoete will handle duties in the second Semi-Final at Newlands between DHL Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls (kick-off at 17:00 SA Time).

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New Zealand

New Zealand will head into next year’s Rugby Championship as title-holders

Australia will play New Zealand twice in a week as part of their preparation for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The draw for the condensed 2015 Rugby Championship sees champions New Zealand host Argentina in Christchurch but travelling to South Africa and Australia.

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South AfricaIt is unlikely that the Springboks will rest a few key forwards for their year-end tour to Europe.

According to reports on Sunday, there will be no respite for stalwarts like Jannie du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira, Adriaan Strauss, Bismarck du Plessis and Duane Vermeulen as Boks aim to pick their best possible team for the tour.

The Boks play four Tests back-to-back against Ireland (Dublin, 8 November), England (London, 15 November), Italy (Padova, 22 November) and Wales (Cardiff, 29 November).

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Barbarians RugbyJohn Kirwan will give his international recruits the opportunity to stake their claim for Test places when the Barbarians take on Australia next month.

The former World Cup winner takes charge of the famous invitation side for the Killik Cup match at Twickenham on 1 November.

Already recruited are Wallabies wing Nick Cummins, former England prop Matt Stevens and a hard-edged group of South African forwards which include CJ Van der Linde, Heinrich Brussow, Coenie Oosthuizen, Thomas du Toit, Jacques Botes and Michael Rhodes.

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Jake White

Jake White

Tonga have added former Springboks coach Jake White to their backroom staff for the year-end tour to Asia and Europe.

White will serve as a technical advisor to head coach Mana Otai when Tonga plays Georgia, the United States and Scotland next month it was reported by TVNZ.

“Through some mutual acquaintances we got in touch with Jake and he was extremely keen to come on board,” Tonga high performance manager Peter Harding told ONE News.

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Morné Steyn

Morné Steyn

Flyhalf Morne Steyn will not tour with the Springboks on their upcoming trip to Europe, a report on Sunday suggested.

According to the report, only two flyhalves – Handré Pollard and Pat Lambie – will be picked for the tour which includes Tests against Ireland (Dublin, 8 November), England (London, 15 November), Italy (Padova, 22 November) and Wales (Cardiff, 29 November).

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Burger Odendaal

Burger Odendaal

The Bulls suffered a serious injury blow in the first half of their 46-12 victory over the Griquas with inside centre Burger Odendaal – possibly the find of the season for the Bulls – leaving the field clutching his arm.

Ludeke said Odendaal possibly suffered a fracture which would rule him out for the playoffs and leave a dent in the midfield.

The Blue Bulls may have made a stuttering start to their season, but they finished the Currie Cup round-robin stage with a flourish against the Griquas in their at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.

Their performance may suggest the Light Blues were peaking at the right time, though they still had two more hurdles to overcome to claim the coveted title for the first time in four years starting with their semifinal clash against Western Province in Cape Town next Saturday.

“We feel things are starting to come together, and we would like to make sure that we put everything together next week with a good performance there,” Ludke said.

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Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

It’s a sort of homecoming, with apologies to U2, as Handre Pollard returns to his Western Cape roots for an Absa Currie Cup semi-final on Saturday.

The former Paarl Gym flyhalf, born in Somerset West but shrewdly snapped up as a teenager by the Blue Bulls in 2012 despite Western Province insisting they did everything they could to hold onto the wunderkind, seems a betting certainty to start for his adopted province in a classic “South v North” derby at Newlands (17:00).

Pollard, who has supposedly been nursing a niggle or two from his often heroic exertions in the Castle Rugby Championship, only underlined in a few late minutes off the bench against Griquas at Loftus on Saturday just what a tremendous prospect he is at the still pretty tender age of 20.

Not only did he register a try of his own against the predictably outmuscled visitors with a sizzling inside step and then power surge over the line, but the exciting new Springbok also produced two cunning chips in attacking play – one of which directly led to a touchdown by veteran wing Akona Ndungane.

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