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SA Rugby

Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

Willie le Roux

Springbok fullback Willie le Roux and No 8 Duane Vermeulen on Wednesday were named among five candidates for the IRB World Rugby Player of the year.

The other nominees were Irish flyhalf Jonathan Sexton, New Zealand lock Brodie Retallick and wing Julian Savea. The winner will be revealed at his team’s final match of the season.

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Kings ParkThe three men acquitted of murder in connection with the fatal beating of a former Royal Marine will not be allowed to watch rugby matches at Kings Park.

Novashni Chetty, public relations manager for the Sharks, said in a statement on Wednesday that Kyle Shepard, Andries van der Merwe and Dustin van Wyk would not be allowed to attend matches despite the fact that they were allowed to walk free from the Durban Regional Court on Friday last week.

“The Sharks reserve the right of admission to our stadium.

“There is no clear indication that any one of the three men made any attempt to stop the fight. For that reason, they will not be welcome into our family environment at Kings Park,” said Chetty in her statement, issued in response to a query as to whether the three would be allowed to attend.

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Marland Yarde

Marland Yarde

Semesa Rokoduguni is out of England’s international against South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday, with Marland Yarde replacing the Bath wing in the squad, head coach Stuart Lancaster announced on Tuesday.

Rokoduguni, who made his debut in last week’s 24-21 defeat by New Zealand, injured his thigh and Lancaster believes there is not enough time for him to recover to face the Springboks.

That is the only change to the 23 players selected to face the All Blacks, although James Haskell is added to the squad as cover for Tom Wood, who was unable to take a full part in Tuesday’s training.

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Jono Ross

Jono Ross

The Blue Bulls Company has granted Vodacom Blue Bulls loose forward Jono Ross an early release from his contract to allow the player the opportunity to join the French club, Stade Francais.

Ross will join the Paris-based club on 1 December 2014.

Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke admitted that it was a set-back losing a former captain and versatile loose forward, but pointed to the huge stock of talented players that will still be available to the Blue Bulls Company in 2015.

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Johann van Graan

Johann van Graan

South Africa, after a solid session of introspection, realised they need to do what works for them and not worry too much about the opposition.

Springbok assistant coach Johann van Graan, speaking ahead of the Springboks’ trip to Twickenham and an encounter with England on Saturday, made it clear that they are rapidly moving on from their disappointing 15-29 loss to Ireland at the weekend.

Having done the necessary soul-searching and pin-pointed their mistakes in Dublin, Van Graan said they are “very excited” about the next match on their year-end tour.

“Pretty good,” was his blunt assessment of an England team that ran New Zealand very close (losing just 21-24) and even scoring a penalty try with their powerful scrum.

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Joe Marler

England prop Joe Marler has urged the 2015 World Cup hosts to channel the frustration, following their defeat by New Zealand, when they face South Africa in the second of four November internationals at Twickenham on Saturday.

England established a 14-11 half-time lead against World Cup champions New Zealand, but the All Blacks won 24-21 as they beat Stuart Lancaster’s side for the fifth successive match.

“Our levels of frustration are high and the game review was very honest. I can’t really use the words that I’d like to use!” Marler said.

“We knew what we had to do in that second half. We spoke about it at half-time. And then we came out and did the opposite. Now we expect a reaction from ourselves,” the Harlequins captain added.

“We’ll take the frustration into this weekend. From a personal point of view it’s important to use that frustration to spur you on that little bit more.”

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

This coming weekend’s trip to Twickenham will determine whether Saturday’s unexpected defeat to Ireland was just a small bump for the Springboks on their rise to the top of world rugby, or whether it was a significant setback to the progress that has been made by Heyneke Meyer’s team since 2012.

The England game was always going to be the one that would define the four-match tour. As the 2010 team discovered, when they suffered the ignominy of losing to Scotland but still returned home as heroes because they beat England in the last game. If you win at Twickenham your tour is seen as a success.

But after the Dublin defeat there is a lot more on the line than just passing this immediate examination. The work they have done and the progress they have made through the entire year is now at stake, with the words of skipper Jean de Villiers ahead of the tour during a training session in Stellenbosch sure to be repeated in the build-up week: “This tour will decide if we’ve had a good year or not.”

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Steve Walsh

Steve Walsh

While Springboks fans will be relieved to see the back of French referee Romain Poite, Steve Walsh lies in wait at Twickenham next Saturday…

Poite raised the ire of several Bok fans during Saturday’s 29-15 defeat to Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, although it must be said, the Boks were the masters of their own demise.

Australian Walsh will handle matters in Saturday’s Test against an England side which went down 24-21 to the All Blacks.

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Chris Robshaw

Chris Robshaw

England captain Chris Robshaw said his team will look to take their frustrations out on South Africa, after a narrow defeat to New Zealand.

Robshaw was frustrated after England let a winning position ebb away against the All Blacks, losing 21-24.

England led 11-5 in the first half and 14-11 at half-time, a display of intensity and control by the forwards – illuminated by Jonny May’s stunning try, when he weaved past Conrad Smith and Israel Dagg with immaculate balance and searing pace.

Despite a disappointing second-half display in which they allowed the Kiwis to race into a 24-14 lead, before a late rally, Robshaw refused to be downcast.

He said they will target the three remaining Tests on their year-end campaign, starting with the Springboks at Twickenham this coming Saturday.

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John Mitchell

John Mitchell

South Africa meet England for the first time in two years in a suddenly critical Test match at Twickenham on Saturday … but respected New Zealand-born critic and coach John Mitchell advocates more regular, guaranteed annual clashes between the two in a reworked Six Nations.

The Springboks tackle these old enemies while reeling to some extent from a slightly unexpected 29-15 defeat to Ireland in Dublin in the first game of their four-match northern hemisphere agenda, whilst the hosts also enter the fixture on the back foot having been beaten at home by the world champion All Blacks rather more convincingly than the 24-21 score-line suggests.

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Pat Howard

Pat Howard

Western Province centre Pat Howard is set to join Munster Rugby on a three-month contract.

The 22-year-old will join the Irish club later in the month, subject to passing the normal medical procedures.

Howard made his Western Province Currie Cup debut against Free State Cheetahs in August 2012 and has made 11 appearances in the competition.

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Heyneke Meyer & Jean de Villiers

Heyneke Meyer & Jean de Villiers

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said that his team’s defeat to Ireland taught them some valuable lessons about what it takes to win in Europe.

Despite dominating the set-pieces, the Boks could not find a way to turn that pressure into points as a stream of basic errors saw them slump to a 29-15 defeat in Dublin on Saturday.

It was their first defeat in the Northern Hemisphere since going down to Scotland in 2010, and although he was disappointed with the result, Meyer said that there were some positives for his team to take from the match a year out from the World Cup.

“We are sorry that we let our country and our supporters down with that performance. Every single defeat hurts.

“However, I’d rather lose one now and see where we’re at for the World Cup next year than it to happen then because now I can see where we can adapt and improve,” he said.

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Gilbert Rugby BallNine International Test matches as well as the cross-hemisphere club / provincial match between Saracens and DHL Western Province, took place this weekend.

Well, it was not a good weekend for South African interests in these games, as both the Springboks and Western Province were compprehensively beaten in the space of 2 days.

In addition South African neighbours, Namibia, probably put up the best fight amongst the Southern African sides, but still going down to Canada, by 17 / 13.

On Saturday the Springboks came tumbling down to earth after a few weeks ago beating the New Zealand All Blacks, when they fell havily against Ireland, by 29 / 15 and on Sunday the Currie Cup champions, DHL Western Province was outplayed and put to the sword by Saracens in Londen, badly beaten by 6 tries to 3 and a total score of 46 / 22.

It appears that the Northern Hemisphere rugby countries have all crept closer to the Southern Hemisphere rivals, as the Wallabies barely won against Wales and the All Blacks only scraped home against England by a measly 3 points.

Scotland beat Argentina and France romped over Fiji, whilst Italy beat Samoa.

 

The results of the weekend are as follows:

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Stephan Coetzee

Stephan Coetzee

Michael van der Spuy

Michael van der Spuy

Griquas have secured the services of two promising Western Province players for next season.

Centre Michael van der Spuy and hooker Stephan Coetzee – who both showed promise for WP this season – have signed with Griquas until the end of the 2015 season.

It will also be a boost for the men from Kimberley who recently lost the services of hooker Ryno Barnes (Free State) and centres Howards Mnisi (Lions) and Doppies la Grange (retirement).

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Siyabonga "Scarra" Ntubeni

Siyabonga “Scarra” Ntubeni

Western Province hooker Siyabonga “Scarra” Ntubeni has been called up to the South African touring squad in place of the injured Robbie Coetzee.

It will be Ntubeni’s second stint withy the natiobnal team, as he was a Springbok tourist in November last year – without getting a cap.

Ntubeni, who is currently in London with Province, will join the Bok squad in the English capital after their match against Saracens on Sunday.

Coetzee will return to South Africa in the coming days.

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SpringboksSpringbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Wednesday named the same starting line-up that beat New Zealand a month ago to face Ireland in the opening Test of the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour on Dublin on Saturday.

The only change to the match-day squad is at replacement prop, where the injured Marcel van der Merwe is replaced by Coenie Oosthuizen.

“Although Julian Redelinghuys was also considered, he’s still new in the team and not familiar with our patterns of play and especially the line-out calls, while Coenie knows the way we play well,” said Meyer.

“Coenie is also in great shape and we know what he can do, especially if he has to make an impact off the bench. It’s good to have him back.”

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WhistleSouth African referees Craig Joubert, Stuart Berry and Jaco Peyper will be on international duty this weekend as the northern hemisphere rugby season takes centre stage.

Joubert, who took charge of the Currie Cup final two weekends ago as well as the USA v All Blacks Test last weekend, will officiate the Test between Wales and Australia at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday, with Peyper serving as an assistant referee, while Berry has been tasked with refereeing the clash between Canada and Namibia at Parc Eiras Stadium in Wales on Friday.

Frenchman Romain Poite will referee the Test between Ireland and the Springboks in Dublin on Saturday.

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SteroidsSports medicine experts, school heads and sports administrators are hailing a breakthrough week in their battle against school pupils using steroids and illegal performance enhancing drugs after Parliament discussed key draft amendments that will pave the way for improved testing and sanctions.

Representatives from the Basic Education Department joined forces with the Department of Sport and Recreation to brief Parliament on draft changes to the South African Schools Act that will facilitate random drug testing at schools, with recommended sanctions for those caught using steroids and banned stimulants.

South Africa will become the first country in the world where random steroids testing of minors in schools is allowed.

“These proposed changes to the current legislation are essential,” said Glen Hagemann, the director of the Discovery SharkSmart program that has driven a strong anti-steroid message into its 23 partner high schools in KwaZulu-Natal for more than a decade, under the mantra ‘Play Safe Play Fair’.

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SaracensSaracens have named a powerful 23-man squad for the north-south clash against Western Province at Allianz Park on Sunday.

Alistair Hargreaves will lead the side, as Saracens face the recently crowned South African Currie Cup champions.

“Western Province are one of the strongest sides in South Africa, and we’re really looking forward to the challenge,” Sarries Director of Rugby Mark McCall said.

“We will field our strongest possible side.”

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EP KingsThe Eastern Province Kings have announced their pre-season training squad following their return to training after a lackluster 2014 Currie Cup campaign.

They have managed to retain a number of their current senior players, as well as seeing numerous younger players making the step-up from the junior competitions.

EP Rugby CEO, Charl Crous, said he was positive about the season ahead.

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IrelandThe Ireland Coaching team have selected a strong side to face the Springboks at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday for the first game of the 2014 Guinness Series.

There is one new cap in the match day 23, with Ulster’s Jared Payne set to make his debut alongside Robbie Henshaw in an exciting new centre partnership.

Paul O’Connell captains the side and is joined in the engine room by Devin Toner. The backrow is made up of Jamie Heaslip, Chris Henry and Peter O’Mahony while the front row sees Jack McGrath and Mike Ross pack down either side of their provincial teammate Sean Cronin.

Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton are re-united at half-back and Tommy Bowe returns to the back three for the first time since last year’s Guinness Series and lines out alongside Simon Zebo and Rob Kearney.

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Victor Matfield

Victor Matfield

Francois Hougaard

Francois Hougaard

Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

With the first game of the Springboks End Of Year Tour (Castle Lager Outgoing Tour as it is also known as) looming large this weekend against the Northern Hemisphere’s SIX Nations champions, Ireland, at 19:30 SA Time on Saturday, the war of words are now surfacing.

Victor Matfield describes Paul O’Connell as his toughest lock opponent out there and says O’Connell knows how Matfield runs the lineouts.

From the Irish side, Ireland’s scrumhalf, Conor Murray, believes the Springboks are better than in previous years and is weary of the threat Handré Pollard and Francois Hougaard presents on the weekend.

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FranceHostility in France towards the number of foreign-born players lining up to play for Les Bleus is “deeply troubling”, French Federation President Pierre Camou said.

Bayonne’s 28-year-old South African-born fullback Scott Spedding became the latest foreigner to join up with the France squad ahead of their November international Tests, replacing the injured Brice Dulin.

Also in the 30-strong squad are already-capped flank Bernard Le Roux and scrumhalf Rory Kockott, both also born in South Africa, as well as New Zealand-born prop Uini Atonio.

Kockott’s inclusion in particular comes at the expense of veteran Morgan Parra and the promising Maxime Machenaud.

“I find it deeply troubling,” Camou said, with France due to play Fiji in Marseille on Saturday before going on to play Australia and Argentina.

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BlitzbokkeThe Springbok Sevens’ preparation plans for the next two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series have received a boost with the news that Springbok centre JJ Engelbrecht and Junior Springbok fullback Cheslin Kolbe will join the training group from Monday in Stellenbosch.

Successful talks between SARU and several provincial unions have paved the way for a number of Absa Currie Cup players to be released for Springbok Sevens training duty.

Engelbrecht, a contracted Springbok with 12 Test caps, played for the Vodacom Blue Bulls during the recently concluded Absa Currie Cup while Kolbe starred for the DHL Western Province during their successful campaign.

Three more Vodacom Blue Bulls players, Jesse Kriel, Warrick Gelant and Duncan Matthews (all utility backs), will join the training on Monday.

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Lindsay Mould

Lindsay Mould

The nominations for the presidency of the Free State Rugby Union as well as for the directors of the Free State Cheetahs (Pty) Ltd. concluded on Tuesday.

No new nominations were received.

Lindsay Mould was therefore re-appointed as president for a term of another three years.

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Varsity CupThe fixtures for the 2015 FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International have been released, with a replay of the epic 2014 final between FNB UCT and FNB NWU-Pukke on the Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds in Potchefstroom lined up.

Ikeys snatched victory from the jaws of defeat on the same field in the final last season with a last gasp, injury time converted try that came after a drop kick charge down on the stroke of full time. The Ikeys counter attack and try that followed will long live on in Varsity Cup folklore as one of the tournament’s enduring moments – the comeback of all comebacks.

The two sides will face each other again in Round Five which will take place on Monday 9 March.

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Jano Vermaak

Jano Vermaak

Ruan Pienaar has been ruled out of the year-end tour because of a knee ligament injury and he will be replaced by Jano Vermaak.

Pienaar picked up the injury in the Springboks’ Test against New Zealand in Wellington in September and has been out of action since then.

“Ruan was re-assessed on Tuesday following the on-field fitness tests from Monday, and unfortunately he has developed some swelling and puffiness around the knee, indicating that he is not yet ready to partake in full training and playing in a match,” said Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts.

“He needs a few more weeks of rehabilitation before he’ll be ready to return to play and hence we’ve taken the decision to rule him out of the tour.”

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Ruan Pienaar

Ruan Pienaar

Eben Etzebeth

Eben Etzebeth

A bright sunshiny but chilly day greeted the Springboks when they arrived in Dublin on Sunday, where they kick off the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour against Ireland this weekend.

The South Africans left Johannesburg last night and travelled via London Heathrow to the Irish capital for their first visit to this part of the world in two years.

Eben Etzebeth stayed behind in South Africa and will join the squad on Tuesday following a family bereavement, while there will be more clarity on Ruan Pienaar’s fitness situation in the week.

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DHL WPA 24-man DHL Western Province squad will leave Cape Town for London on Thursday, as the 2014 ABSA Currie Cup champions get set to take on top English club Saracens in the Sanlam Private Investments Challenge this coming weekend.

DHL WP won their second ABSA Currie Cup title in three years less than two weeks ago and they are now preparing to face up to last season’s European Cup and Premiership runners-up on their home turf at Allianz Park in North London on Sunday.

Sixteen members of the victorious DHL WP matchday squad from two Saturdays ago will make the trip to take on Saracens, with new forward signings Bongi Mbonambi, Vincent Koch and Wilco Louw joining the likes of Oli Kebble, Jurie van Vuuren, Dillyn Leyds, Pat Howard and EW Viljoen in the selection mix.

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Bryan & Bernie Habana

Bryan & Bernie Habana

Bernie Habana, the father of Springbok wing Bryan, is reported to be causing his landlord problems by not paying his rent.

According to the Times Live website, Habana snr has not paid his rent for months and is now refusing to leave the R2.4m house he is occupying in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs, according to his landlord, Thorsten Weiss.

Weiss is taking Habana to the Gauteng Rental Housing Tribunal this week to get an eviction order.

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John McFarand

John McFarand

Conditions in the Northern Hemisphere may differ significantly from those at home but Springbok assistant coach John McFarland believed they favoured the South African players.

“Ellis Park is obviously much quicker and there’s a fatigue factor that always kicks in, whereas in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s a little bit slower and you need bigger guys in terms of the hitting,” McFarland said in Johannesburg on Friday.

“South African players are very successful in the Premiership under those conditions and if you look at how many are playing well in the European clubs, and are valued highly, it’s certainly because those conditions suit us.”

The Springbok squad departs for Dublin on Saturday ahead of their four-Test outgoing tour starting with a clash against Six Nations champions Ireland.

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