The Springbok Sevens have called up uncapped Carel du Preez to replace injured forward Philip Snyman for the Tokyo Sevens tournament which take place this coming weekend.
The versatile Snyman sustained a knee ligament injury while playing for the Springbok Sevens on Saturday in Hong Kong.
Du Preez is currently contracted to the SA Sevens Academy and he has already played a couple of times for the Academy at tournaments in George, Dubai and Harare.
The tall loose forward represented DHL Western Province in the Under 21 ABSA Currie Cup competition last year and he has impressed the SA Sevens coaching staff since his fulltime switch to the shorter code at the end of last year.
South Africa collected 17 valuable World Series log points on Sunday after they defeated Samoa 26 / 5 to finish 3rd at the popular Hong Kong Sevens tournament.
The Blitzboks now have a 2 point lead (110 points) at the top of the standings after Fiji outplayed New Zealand by 33 / 19 to lift the Cup.
The tournament win moved Fiji into 2nd spot, just 1 point ahead of 3rd-placed NZ. The top 4 teams on the league table at the end of the season qualifies for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. The teams will be in action in Japan next weekend where they will play in the Tokyo Sevens on 4 and 5 April.
The Springbok Sevens staged a magnificent comeback in their Cup semi-final against Fiji. Unfortunately for them, that was not good enough and they suffered a heart-breaking 21 / 15 loss against the Pacific islanders.
There 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.
Rugby 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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
- That players should not play more than 5 consecutive weeks.
- 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.
After 5 games in a row for the Cell C Sharks’ Springboks, questions are being asked about the SARU player rest initiative and when the Durban-based team will buy in.
Gary Gold however has said the Sharks are in a different position to other teams in South Africa and as such have an alternative to it .
The Sharks have a core group of Springboks that play an integral part to both the union and the national team.
Players such as Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis, Cobus Reinach, Marcell Coetzee and Pat Lambie to name a few.
However, with Super Rugby now reaching Round 6, and a large percentage of those Springboks being named to play their 6 game in a row against the Chiefs this Saturday, questions are being asked of the Sharks management.
Coach Gold explained his selection, and subsequent breaking of the SARU initiative, by stating the Sharks are facing a challenging schedule with regards to BYE-weeks.
The Springbok Sevens rugby squad announced on Thursday for the next 2 rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Hong Kong and Tokyo shows 2 changes from the squad that played in New Zealand and the USA.
Justin Geduld and Stephan Dippenaar return to the 12-man squad in place of Rayno Benjamin and Warrick Gelant, who have returned to the Toyota Cheetahs and Vodacom Blue Bulls respectively to resume their provincial duties.
Geduld, a Commonwealth Games gold medalist with the Blitzboks last year, shrugged off the hamstring injury he picked up in Wellington, which ruled him out of the Las Vegas Sevens.
Dippenaar returns to the Springbok Sevens squad for the 1st time since the opening round last October, when he sustained a hamstring injury at the Gold Coast Sevens in Australia.
The rest of the squad is unchanged from the outfit that finished 3rd in Wellington and Las Vegas. Kyle Brown leads a Blitzboks squad that is very experienced, and has in Frankie Horne a stalwart forward who will play in his 64th consecutive World Series tournament.
Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett says Duane Vermeulen should be the Springbok captain at this year’s Rugby World Cup if Jean de Villiers fails to recover in time.
De Villiers, the current Springbok leader, is in a race against time to be fit for the 18 September to 31 October event.
De Villiers suffered an horrific knee injury in South Africa’s final Test of last year – against Wales in Cardiff – and it remains uncertain if he’ll recover sufficiently for the tournament in England and Wales.
“Duane should lead the Springboks at the World Cup if Jean de Villiers is not ready,” Mallett said.
The understanding reached between SARU and the participating franchises in Vodacom Super Rugby are as follows:
At a pre-season meeting between SARU’s CEO, the Springbok Coach and Rugby Department staff, with union CEOs and coaching representatives the desirability of managing the playing time of an identified group of Springbok players was agreed.
Two principles were identified as being ideal:
- That players should not play more than 5 consecutive weeks.
- 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).
Note: 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).
If there was ever a good time for Stormers coach Allister Coetzee to rest captain Duane Vermeulen it is now.
The SA Player of the Year was always going to have to miss the 1st game of the Stormers tour against the Highlanders, having played 5 straight games at the start of the season, but having 4 wins under the belt and plenty of loose forward depth at his disposal does make it easier for Coetzee to give him the time off.
The plan was always to give Vermeulen an extended break with the BYE this week followed by a week off in Dunedin, as part of SARU’s request that top Springboks be given regular games off to manage their workload this season ahead of the World Cup.
Coetzee admitted that it may be tougher to rest Vermeulen when there is more pressure on later in the season, but for now he is happy to stick to the plan.
Stormers captain Duane Vermeulen will not play in the team’s next Super Rugby match, against the Highlanders in Dunedin on 28 March.
Vermeulen played his 5th consecutive match for the Stormers when they hosted the Chiefs at Newlands this past weekend.
According an agreement between the SA Rugby Union and the Super Rugby franchises, key Springboks will not be allowed to play more than 5 games on the trot in this year’s competition, in order to keep them fresh for the Rugby World Cup later in the year.
This means centre Juan de Jongh will take over the captaincy for the game against the Highlanders, with Schalk Burger likely to be included in the starting team.
Springbok prop Gurthrö Steenkamp has announced his retirement from international rugby, stating his wish to focus his career at Toulouse.
Steenkamp, many would feel, was still heavily in contention to make the Springbok World Cup squad after featuring through 2014. His retirement may well cause Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer some headaches.
The 33-year-old loosehead prop began his career at the Cheetahs in 2002 and then the Cats in 2004 before moving to the Bulls where he played the bulk of his rugby from 2005 – 2011.
Steenkamp was also selected for the Springboks from 2004 and made 53 appearances, scoring 6 tries.
The burley prop has been a part of the Toulouse setup since 2011 and has made 76 appearances for the French Giants.
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Wednesday confirmed its interest in bidding for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, following the announcement of the tender process by World Rugby.
Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU, reaffirmed the union’s commitment to bring the tournament back to South Africa, on the proviso of the approval of SASCOC – SA’s national Olympic Committee – and support of national government.
“We definitely expect to be bidding to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup – as we have for the past 3 tournaments,” said Roux.
Ireland’s victory over England in the Six Nations means they are once again the leading northern hemisphere nation in the latest World Rankings.
Ireland reclaimed the mantle after a 19 / 9 victory, in the battle of the unbeaten sides in Dublin on Sunday.
The victory turns what was a 0.17 rating point deficit into a 1.27 cushion for Ireland over the 2015 World Cup hosts. Joe Schmidt’s side are now less than 2 rating points behind South Africa in 2nd spot.
Wales have increased their margin over France to almost 4 points after a 20 / 13 victory over Les Bleus at the Stade de France on Saturday, although the margin was not enough to improve their position of 6th.
Springbok scrumhalf Jano Vermaak is set to join the Stormers at the end of the season after 2 years with Toulouse.
The former Lions and Bulls scrumhalf joined the 4-time European champions in 2013, and featured regularly in his 1st season in the Top 14.
He has fallen down the pecking order this season however, with Sébastien Bezy and Jean-Marc Doussain both ahead of him, making just 2 starts so far.
We are just 1 week into the Super Rugby season and there is already a lengthy list of Springboks sidelined by injury.
With captain Jean de Villiers a non-starter thanks to a knee injury which has put a question mark over his availability for the World Cup, he has been joined by Eben Etzebeth, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Lodewyk de Jager amd Julian Redelinghuys.
Etzebeth hurt his chest in a warm-up game against the Cheetahs at Newlands, and is only expected back in the 3rd round – the 3rd consecutive year he has missed the start of the competition.
It has become a familiar refrain, a cliché. However, it will never be boring, as the Olympic dream is as much a driving force as overall victory in the Sevens World Series.
New Zealand, who recorded their first Cup win of the season by beating England in the Final in Wellington last week, gave notice yet again of their class and determination to be among the top four (automatic qualifiers) when the Olympic dream is realised in May.
Fiji However won the Las Vegas Sevens, with New Zealand ending 2nd, South Africa;s Blitzbokke 3rd and USA 4th.
Many had put a question mark on whether the All Blacks would be able to defend their title in Wellington, especially after the late withdrawal of former Sevens player of the year Tim Mikkelson, and the result even exceeded coach Gordon Tietjens’ expectations.
Former Springbok scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen was honoured for his contribution to South African sport at an awards ceremony in Johannesburg on Thursday night.
Van der Westhuizen, who suffers from Motor Neuron Disease, received an award for his Outstanding Contribution to South African Sport at the 2015 Sport Industry Awards held at Sandton Convention Centre.
Van der Westhuizen received a standing ovation when he received his award from former Springbok captain Morne du Plessis. Several well-known sports personalities attended the event.
Cell C Sharks flyhalf Pat Lambie feels that SARU’s initiative to rest Springboks during the Super Rugby campaign will benefit both the national team and the bigger franchises.
SARU announced Monday that they would manage the game time of a number of key Springboks throughout the Super Rugby series following an agreement between the national board and the franchises.
It stated that players’ game time will be handled on an individual basis depending on their work load in the last year as well as injuries, in an effort to ensure the Springboks are managed as well as possible in the build-up to the World Cup in September and October.
Although not focusing on the World Cup directly, Lambie feels that enforced rest and subsequent squad rotation will benefit a bigger union such as the Sharks.
Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen was the star of the annual South African Rugby Union Player of the Year Awards when he walked off with 3 awards, including the main award of the season.
Vermeulen was named SARU Rugby Player of the Year after an extensive voting process, which included the country’s rugby media and the public through SARU’s online and social media platforms.
The 28-year-old Vermeulen, who will captain the DHL Stormers this year, also won the coveted SARPA Players’ Player of the Year and Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year Awards for 2014.
“Duane has been outstanding in 2014 and these awards are just reward for the excellent form he showed last year, as one of the Springboks’ key performers and for the DHL Stormers,” said SARU President, Mr Oregan Hoskins.
Hot on Vermeulen’s heels, with two awards, was young Springbok flyhalf and Junior Springbok captain Handré Pollard.
The game time of a number of key Springboks will be managed throughout the Vodacom Super Rugby series in the coming months, following an agreement between the South African Rugby Union and the franchises.
These players’ game time will be handled on an individual basis depending on their work load in the last year as well as injuries, in an effort to ensure the Springboks are managed as well as possible in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup in September and October.
“We are extremely grateful to the Vodacom Super Rugby franchises for agreeing to assist in ensuring our key players’ game time is managed in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux.
“It’s wonderful to know we have the support and cooperation of the franchises as the Springboks prepare for the Rugby World Cup and we’d like to wish them all the best for the forthcoming months of Vodacom Super Rugby.
The 2015 edition of the South African Rugby Annul goes on sale nationwide today after being launched at Sunday’s South African Rugby Union Awards in Johannesburg.
In keeping with tradition, the 44th edition of the ‘bible’ of the game once again features South Africa’s player of the year on the cover, with the newly-crowned Duane Vermeulen following in the footsteps of the likes of Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana and Schalk Burger in recent years.
“Even in this digital age, it’s vitally important to retain a physical document of record for future generations,” said SARU CEO, Jurie Roux. “SARU strives to be a world leader in the game both on and off the field and when it comes to the Annual, we are immensely proud of the quality of the book we continue to produce year in and year out.
“We like to believe that we have an outstanding yearbook but that hasn’t stopped us from raising the bar even further with this new-look, Rugby World Cup-themed edition. We’ve made it a more user-friendly size, refreshed the layout and added a depth to the statistical records that surpasses anything we’ve done before,” Roux added.
The Springbok Sevens have called up wing Rosko Specman in place of the injured Justin Geduld for the next leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Las Vegas.
The 3-day USA rugby event kicks off this coming Friday and South Africa are the defending champions.
Geduld suffered a hamstring injury over the weekend at the Wellington Sevens, where the Springbok Sevens claimed 3rd spot after a strong finish in their playoff match against Scotland. Specman (Steval Pumas) has 1 World Series tournament under his belt.
South Africa head the log with 76 points halfway through the 9-tournament World Series and are 7 points clear of New Zealand, who moved into 2nd place. The top 4 sides on the final standings in May will gain automatic entry into the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Monday confirmed that the Springboks will get their season underway against a World XV in Cape Town on 11 July, a week after the Super Rugby final.
The match was initially scheduled for late August.
The Springboks also got their 2014 season under way with a clash against the World XV at Newlands, with the South Africans running out 47 / 13 victors on that occasion.
A strong second half saw Rugby World Cup 2015 hosts England storm back to beat Wales 21 / 16 in their Six Nations opener in Cardiff, a result which lifted them above Ireland back to 3rd in the latest World Rugby rankings.
According to the World Rugby (previously IRB), the victory sees England regain the mantle as the leading northern hemisphere nation in the rankings behind New Zealand and South Africa and they now sit 0.35 points above Ireland after their 26 / 3 victory over Italy in Rome had no impact due to the 11 places separating the teams.
The first Sevens Tournament in the 2015 calendar year for the HSBC Sevens World Series of 2014 / 2015 took place in Wellington, New Zealand at the Westpac Stadium.
The New Zealand Sevens tournament was played over 2 Days, Friday 6 and Saturday 7 February 2015.
Play started in the very early, small hours of the night / morning of 6 & 7 February (01:00 SA Time), with the opening game between the Blitzbokke from South Africa pitted against France.
South Africa’s Blitzbokke survived a scare to eventually progress to the quarters when France beat them 22 / 5 in the first game of the tournament and eventually finished in 3rd spot,beating Scotland by 40 / 7 and keeping their Top of the Log position after the early Rounds.
New Zealand won the Wellington Sevens in style, beating England in the final, by 27 / 21.
- Pool A: South Africa, United States, France, Japan
- Pool B: New Zealand, England, Canada, Papua New Guinea
- Pool C: Australia, Fiji, Wales, Portugal
- Pool D: Argentina, Scotland, Kenya, Samoa
Fixtures & Results:
A discernible changing of the guard in Springbok playing personnel after a World Cup is an established trend… but national captain Jean de Villiers has some special fears about the expected migration of several leading stars to overseas clubs later this year.
Interviewed while he goes about his rehabilitation from a serious knee injury to try to make the Rugby World Cup 2015 cut in the United Kingdom, De Villiers said the exodus was threatening to be more acute this time – and not just to feature players on the receding end of their careers, as has been the general norm before.
“It does seem that this time around, if you can believe the rumours floating around, that more players are looking to go abroad than after 2011 (the New Zealand-staged tournament).
“Whereas that year we had quite a few guys retiring, finishing up (at Bok level), there weren’t as many switching shores.
A critical element of Heyneke Meyer’s tight-forward plans for Rugby World Cup 2015, plus his unpredictable backline talisman… already under injury scares.
If you’d told Heyneke Meyer – presumably a long way from the untelevised encounter – before Friday’s Newlands friendly between the Stormers and Cheetahs that two players falling into those categories would pull up injured in it, the ever-animated Springbok head coach might have been excused for having kittens on the spot.
But that is precisely what occurred in the pre-season affair, won 39 / 31 by the hosts in an otherwise productive work-out for both teams, as Eben Etzebeth and Willie le Roux fell foul of the curse.
Oddly, the more alarming of the incidents, on initial viewing, appeared to affect fullback magician, Willie lLe Roux, during the 2nd half – and he had only got on the park off the bench for the start of it.
But with just 7 minutes remaining, the IRB Player of the Year nominee for 2014 collapsed in a writhing heap after being tackled, clutching the area around his left ankle. To watching spectators on the fairly sparsely-populated Railway Stand, it wouldn’t have looked good at all.
Chris Dry and Justin Geduld have returned to the Springbok Sevens squad and will travel with the Blitzboks for the next two HSBC Sevens World Series tournaments in New Zealand and the United States.
The Wellington Sevens takes place on 6 and 7 February in the New Zealand capital of Wellington and this will be followed by the Las Vegas Sevens a week later, from 13 to 15 14 February. The squad will depart to New Zealand on Friday 30 January.
South Africa will enter the Las Vegas tournament as the defending champions, and this followed on a successful 2013 season in the USA, meaning they will be hunting their 3rd back-to-back title in 4 years at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Nevada.
Most pundits would feel that expansive, all-out attacking play is what results in most tries. Or perhaps counter-attacking from turnovers.
However, in-depth analysis seems to suggest something very different.
Springbok Braam van Straaten says kicking for territory could become an even greater part of the game in this World Cup year.
Van Straaten, who played flyhalf and centre for the Springboks in 21 Tests from 1999 to 2001, said teams have done an enormous amount of analyses on where the most tries are being scored from.
Self-confessed sports nut Roger Federer goes to watch games whenever his schedule allows and is in no doubt who he’ll be cheering at this year’s Rugby World Cup – South Africa.
The tennis great’s mother Lynette is South African – she met his Swiss father Robert while he was working in Gauteng – and this is where his allegiances lie.
“I’ll be supporting South Africa, of course,” he said when asked who he will be cheering for.