SA Rugby on Monday acknowledged the findings of the Eminent Persons’ Group report on Transformation for 2014 / 2015 and the sanction imposed by Fikile Mbalula, Minister for Sports and Recreation.
SA Rugby, as well as Cricket South Africa, Netball SA and Athletics South Africa, had revoked their privilege of “hosting and bidding for major and mega international tournaments in South Africa as a consequence of… not meeting their own set transformation targets”, said the minister. The decision would be reconsidered at the next reporting of the EPG, which is expected in November.
“We understand and support the Minister’s urgency in addressing the issue of transformation,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.
Connacht’s South African lock Quinn Roux and trio of other South African players have been included in an Ireland squad which will meet for a training camp on Sunday.
The uncapped Roux is joined by loose forward CJ Stander, and hookers Richardt Strauss and Rob Herring who have all played for Ireland before. The quartet will be hoping to make it into Ireland’s final squad for their tour of South Africa in June.
However, Ireland flanker Chris Henry’s hopes of being selected for the summer tour of South Africa appear to have suffered a blow after he was left out of the squad for Sunday’s training camp.
Henry, who did not play in the Six Nations, is not among the 44 players who will meet up in county Meath.
Former DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province coach Allister Coetzee has been named as head coach of the Springboks for the next 4 years, ushering in an exciting new era for rugby in South Africa.
The 52-year-old former Springbok assistant coach succeeds Heyneke Meyer at a time when a number of veterans of the 2007 Rugby World Cup triumph have gone into retirement, including 3 of last year’s 4 captains.
“Allister’s appointment marks the changing of the guard at the top of Springbok rugby and is an exciting new departure for SA Rugby,” said Mr Oregan Hoskins, president of SA Rugby.
“It is a watershed moment for our game with new players developing alongside a spine of experience and it was the right time to have a new man guiding the Springboks for the foreseeable future.
“Allister was the outstanding candidate in terms of his rugby credentials, his understanding of our unique South African transformation imperatives and also in the image he will present as Springbok coach. I am delighted to welcome him back into the Springbok fold.
“The Springbok coaching job is an enormous challenge but Allister has the full support of us at SA Rugby and we will be united in our efforts to continue to make Springbok rugby strong. I want to wish him well in his new job, I also want to pay tribute to Heyneke and his management team for their dedication and service to Springbok rugby the past 4 years.”
Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez called time on his illustrious rugby career today (Thursday).
The 34-year-old Du Preez represented South Africa in 76 Tests between 2004 and 2015, captaining the Springboks in 4 Tests at the World Cup in England last year. He also won 164 caps for the Bulls and Blue Bulls from 2001 to 2011, and played 55 times for Suntory Sungoliath in Japan.
Du Preez played his last match in the green and gold in last year’s World Cup semifinal against New Zealand, where he picked up an injury which ruled him out of the 3rd-place play-off. He has subsequently finished his career with Suntory.
“Fourie du Preez will go down in the annals of South African rugby as one of the most decorated players ever,” said SA Rugby President Oregan Hoskins.
With Wellington now but a distant memory, the Sydney leg of the Sevens World Series took place this weekend, with new significance.
There had been 3 different champions in the 3 tournaments prior to this weekend – Fiji in Dubai, South Africa in Cape Town and New Zealand in Wellington.
South Africa started the weekend with a 2-point advantage over Fiji on top of the World Rugby Sevens Series Log standings.
New Zealand won the Final of the Sydney Sevens, beating hosts Australia by 27 / 24, again in the dying seconds of the game, to take the Title and earn back to back wins in the World Rugby Sevens Series.
Three teams are now equal on the Points Log for the World Rugby Sevens Series 2015 – 2016, namely South Africa, Fiji and New Zealand, all on 69 Log Points. In 4th and 5th places on the Log are Australia and Argentina, both on 54 Log Points.
With only 6 Series tournaments left before the teams head to the Olympic Games, a lot of talk, understandably, are on Rio.
I found the article below on a website called rugbybetting.com (See the Link to the original Article by clicking HERE). The article is actually not about betting. It put the racial policy of SA rugby within context of the World Rugby rule book. Interesting perspectives. I thought the rugby-talk readers might enjoy this.
The World Rugby (formerly known as the IRB) rule book on racial discrimination reads as follows:
In terms of By-Law 3 of the IRB rules and regulations, the IRB is compelled to prevent any form of racial discrimination in rugby. IRB Regulation 20 also stipulates that any action which may be construed as racial discrimination will be regarded as misconduct. In terms of By-Law 7, not only is a country’s international team bound to this; the provincial rugby unions resorting under a country’s board must adhere to these principles as well. In terms of By-Law 9.4(r) the IRB may institute disciplinary steps against any rugby body that violates these rules.
The 3rd leg of the 2015 / 2016 season (1st tournament of 2016) took place in Wellington, New Zealand on 30 & 31 January 2016.
Defending champions New Zealand won the Final, once again against South Africa’s Blitzbokke, by 24 / 21 after trailing till deep into the dying seconds of the match.
It was an epic Final, with New Zealand’s never say die attitude, winning it in the end for them. It was the 2nd time on the weekend that South Africa could not close out a game against New Zealand where they were well in front and deservingly so, near the end.
Hosts and defending champions New Zeland won all 3 of their matches on Day 1 of the HSBC Wellington Sevens to march into the quarterfinals after dramatically beating South Africa’s Blitzbokke 19 / 14 in the last match of the day.
HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series leaders Fiji and Australia also maintained 100% records with impressive displays at the Westpac Stadium, as the 3rd Round of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series continued to entertain.
Former Springbok backline coach Ricardo Loubscher is set to pursue his career further overseas this season.
Loubscher, who served as the Springbok backline coach between 2012 and 2015, ended his association with the South African Rugby Union when his contract expired at the end of last year.
Since then there has been no communication on any future possible plans for him from SARU’s side and without any coaching alternative currently at his disposal, Loubscher has been forced to look outside South Africa for employment.
The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Thursday confirmed the release of JJ Engelbrecht to the Ospreys in Wales.
Engelbrecht, who played 65 times in the Vodacom Bulls jersey since joining the team in 2012, was due to link up with his Pretoria team mates upon returning from Japan, where he is playing for Toyota Industries Shuttles.
The Ospreys offer resulted in a release request by Engelbrecht, which has been granted by the BBC with immediate effect.
According to the BBC High Performance Manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg, the decision to release Engelbrecht was based on the depth they have in the midfield, where the likes of Jesse Kriel, Dan Kriel, Burger Odendaal, Jan Serfontein and Dries Swanepoel will be contesting starting spots.
Saracens are delighted to announce the signing of South African international flanker Schalk Burger for the 2016 / 2017 season.
The world class Springbok loose forward will link-up with the reigning Aviva Premiership champions for the 2016 / 2017 season after signing a 2-year deal with the Allianz Park club.
Renowned as 1 of world rugby’s finest loose forwards, Burger has captained South Africa during his stellar 12-year international career and is a former IRB World Player of the year. He has won 86 caps for the Springboks and holds the record for the most tries (14) for a loose forward for his country.
Burger will link up with Saracens after a spell with Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath and Super Rugby’s Stormers.
If international coaches were judged on passion for their country rather than results, Heyneke Meyer would rank alongside anyone in rugby union’s history. Never has a badge been gripped so tightly at anthem time. The 48-year-old lived each game as if his life depended on it. When the Springboks won it was all worthwhile; when they lost it was painful to behold.
Sadly, it was those gut-twisting defeats that Meyer could ultimately not escape. Not unlike Stuart Lancaster with England, he will be remembered as an extraordinarily decent man who could not quite generate sufficient on-field success. To be the coach of a Springbok team beaten by Japan at a World Cup is hardly a recipe for securing a shiny new four-year contract.
And so Meyer has stepped off the stressful, unpredictable Bok wagon before he was pushed. On his better days – and South Africa won 67% of their games under his stewardship – the Boks were well-motivated, grimly physical, defensively impressive and tricky to beat. On the debit side he persisted with senior players who were visibly past their best and South Africa’s attacking game was seldom as dangerous as their leading rivals.
Local rugby supporters finally have a reason to smile.
The plan by the SA Rugby Union (SARU) to stem the enormous exodus of top players heading overseas, by way of joint contracts with its unions is gaining some momentum.
Rugby World Cup tough guys Damian de Allende, Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth and Frans Malherbe are among the list of about 20 players with whom SARU has already signed contracts.
The full list of names has not been made available, but it was confirmed that Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira, Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss, Coenie Oosthuizen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Marcell Coetzee, Siya Kolisi, Handré Pollard, Pat Lambie and Jan Serfontein had also been contracted and could look forward to competitive salaries in line with those of Springboks playing overseas.
South Africa’s provincial rugby unions are reportedly at loggerheads over whether Heyneke Meyer should remain as Springbok coach.
Meyer’s position has been a hot talking point in recent weeks after the Springboks’ failure to win the Rugby World Cup in England.
Initial media reports indicated that Meyer would remain in his position until the next Rugby World Cup in 2019, but more recently it was reported that he could face the axe.
Meyer’s fate will be decided at a SARU general council meeting in Cape Town on 11 December.
The 29 members of SARU’s general council consist of the 14 provincial union Presidents and CEOs, as well as SARU president Oregan Hoskins.
Springboks Francois Hougaard and Juan de Jongh were on Wednesday named in a strong Springbok Sevens (Blitzbokke) 12-man squad for the 1st 2 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments of the new season, in Dubai and Cape Town.
The season kicks off on 4 & 5 December with the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens, which is followed a week later by the inaugural HSBC Cape Town Sevens, on 12 & 13 December, at the Cape Town Stadium.
Hougaard has played in 35 Tests for the Springboks and recently joined the Sevens squad on a 1-year contract. He is set to make his World Series debut in Dubai, while DHL Western Province centre and skipper, Juan de Jongh (14 Tests), return to the Springbok Sevens fold for the 1st time since making his 1st and only appearance for the side in Wellington in 2008.
Werner Kok, the newly-crowned World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year, Cheslin Kolbe (DHL Western Province) and last season’s top-try scorer on the World Series circuit, Seabelo Senatla, will combine with regular stalwarts Cecil Afrika, Justin Geduld and Rayno Benjamin (Toyota Free State Cheetahs) to form a potent Blitzbokke backline attack.
The tough-tackling Benjamin is set to make his 30th World Series appearance while skipper Kyle Brown is on course to play in his landmark 50th tournament in his hometown of Cape Town.
The durable Brown, Philip Snyman, Kwagga Smith and Chris Dry will provide the necessary steel upfront and complete a strong selection who will defend their crown in Dubai. The Springbok Sevens are also the current tournament champions in South Africa.
Allister Coetzee looks set to be named the new Springbok coach in December.
It has reliably been learnt that Heyneke Meyer has lost the support of the majority of South Africa’s provincial unions and will be replaced at the General Council meeting of the South African Rugby Union on 11 December.
SARU has already postponed their General Council meeting by a week, to 11 December. It will be preceeded by a meeting of the Executive Council on 9 December.
Current team manager Ian Schwartz, who is employed as a permanent staff member of SARU, has apparently flown to Japan to speak to former Springbok Assistant Coach and DHL Stormers Head Coach, Allister Coetzee, to take over the national team.
Coetzee has an exit clause in his contract with Kobelco Steelers – the club he coaches in the Japanese Top League.
Former Springbok wing James Small says Emirates Lions coach Johan Ackermann deserves to be considered for the Springbok head coaching role.
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) is set for its next General Council meeting on 11 December and it is at this meeting that the fate of under-fire Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer will be decided.
The latest mumblings are that Meyer could be offered a 1-year contract extension, but the possibility of Meyer being axed also exists.
The Springbok Sevens team (Blitzbokke) scooped the Team of Year Award at the annual SA Sports Awards in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
The SA Sports Awards is annually hosted by the Department of Sport and Recreation of South Africa, recognising SA sports individuals and teams for their outstanding sporting contributions on and off the field.
Springbok Sevens pipped the South African Test Cricket team and the SA Lightweight Women’s Rowing team to claim the prestigious award.
Sunday evening’s accolade capped a successful 2014 / 2015 season for the Blitzbokke team. They were the 1st team to qualify automatically for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and finished 2nd to Fiji on the final standings of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
SANZAR has appointed Andy Marinos as the organisation’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
His new job will formally commence on 1 January 2016 and he replaces Greg Peters – who is taking over as CEO of the new Argentina Super Rugby team.
The South African, who is no stranger to the position, having previously served as CEO between 2008 – 2010, brings a wealth of business and rugby experience to the role, both as an administrator and professional player.
Marinos re-joins SANZAR from SARU, where he has served as General Manager of Commercial & Marketing for the past 5 years, in addition to SARU Acting Managing Director and Board Member (2008 – 2010), Springbok Team Manager (2008), Manager of South African National Teams (2005 – 2010) and World Rugby Sevens Advisory Group (2008 – 2015).
The South African Springboks have been stung by the loss of 2 key Sponsors, namely ABSA Bank and BMW!
The Springboks are set to lose their jersey sponsor after ABSA Bank decided not to renew its contract with the South African Rugby Union (SARU).
According to the Sunday Times, the slow pace of transformation is one of the reasons for the decision.
The world’s most famous invitation club, the Barbarians, will aim to entertain when they celebrate their 125th year of existence.
The BaaBaas will host a strong Argentinean Los Pumas team at Twickenham on Saturday.
However, coach Michael Cheika’s message to his Barbarians team was simple.
“Keep it simple, have a go and back yourselves,” Cheika told the BaaBaas players.
Argentina have a slightly different focus.
Having finished 3rd in The Rugby Championship – the 1st time hey did not finish last – and 4th in the Rugby World Cup, they hope to finish their year on a winning note.
Wing Santiago Cordero, 1 of the sensations for the Pumas at the Rugby World up, said it is going to be a “pretty tough” game.
The South African Rugby Union extended its condolences to the family of legendary Springbok centre John Gainsford, who passed away on Wednesday morning following a long battle with cancer. He was 77.
Gainsford established himself as one of the greatest centres of his generation due to his powerful bursts and rock-solid defence.
He earned 33 Test caps and scored 8 tries during his Springbok career between 1960 and 1967, playing in 71 Springbok matches in total (including tour matches). He remained the most capped Springbok centre until as recently as 2001 when his record was finally overtaken by Japie Mulder.
Gainsford was a world-renowned player, who emerged from the Villagers Rugby Club in Cape Town. He made his Springbok debut on 30 April 1960 against Scotland at the young age of 21 and played his last Test at the age of 28.
The Springbok Sevens (Blitzbokke) were drawn with Scotland, Samoa and newly-promoted core team Russia for the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens on 4 & 5 December.
According to the draw announced by World Rugby last Friday, South Africa are the Top-seeds in Pool B for the opening Round of the bigger HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series. The Blitzbokke are the defending Dubai champions.
With global excitement building ahead of Sevens’ biggest season, the world’s top players – representing 28 national teams – will compete in Dubai from 3 to 5 December. The 12-team women’s tournament will be played on 3 & 4 December and the 16-team men’s event on 4 & 5 December.
In the men’s competition, reigning series champions Fiji head Pool A and kick off proceedings against Canada with further ties against Japan and Argentina.
12-Time series champions New Zealand face matches against USA, as well as France and Portugal in Pool C, while in Pool D England will compete against Australia, Wales and Kenya.
The South Africans start their Dubai campaign against powerful Samoa. They then face Russia in the mid-afternoon, before tackling Scotland later in the evening on the opening day.
New Zealand Rugby chief Steve Tew said it was premature to speculate about Japan joining The Rugby Championship.
The sport is currently on a high in the Asian nation after the Brave Blossoms’ exploits at the Rugby World Cup, which included a stunning 34 / 32 win over South Africa, but there are already concerns about its preparations for the expanded Super Rugby competition next year.
With Japan set to host the next edition of the Rugby World Cup in 2019, World Rugby is keen to consolidate its popularity in a large and potentially lucrative market.
The governing body’s chairman Bernard Lapasset said on a trip to Tokyo this week that Japan should join The Rugby Championship, which currently comprises New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina.
But New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew said a more immediate concern for Japanese rugby was fielding a competitive side in the Super Rugby competition in 2016.
Strange as it may seem considering the hype beforehand over “emotional Springbok swansongs” in the bronze playoff match at Rugby World Cup 2015, only 1 member of the squad at the tournament, captain Jean de Villiers, has officially confirmed his Test retirement.
Several younger Springboks spoke beforehand of their desire to beat Argentina – a task duly achieved – as a fitting send-off for senior players bidding farewell to the green-and-gold cause.
Almost 2 weeks on from the end of the Rugby World Cup, however, it is still only the luckless Jean de Villiers, injured again in just the 2nd Rugby World Cup match against Samoa, who has definitely bowed out after 109 appearances since 2002.
Perhaps influenced by the state of flux surrounding embattled coach Heyneke Meyer, the likes of Victor Matfield, Fourie du Preez, Schalk Burger and Bryan Habana intriguingly haven’t yet pulled the plug publicly on their illustrious Springbok careers.
The majority of “older” Springboks who took part in their hot-and-cold Rugby World Cup 2015 campaign are now exclusively foreign-based and there have been some pleas back home for only locally-stationed players to be chosen for South Africa henceforth – a tricky matter considering the ever-shrinking strength of the Rand against other currencies, which hardly helps keeps the best players rooted here.
Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn has extended his contract with French Top 14 club Stade Francais by a further 2 years.
The 31-year-old joined the Paris-based club from the Vodacom Bulls in 2013 and now looks set to finish his career in France.
Steyn was part of the Springbok squad at the recent Rugby World Cup, but received limited game time, with Handré Pollard and Pat Lambie ahead of him in the flyhalf pecking order.
Steyn, who made his Springbok debut in 2009, has 60 Test caps to his name.
We have received a request by a reader and newly registered blogger here on Rugby-Talk.com, Helgaard, to place an ARTICLE here on Rugby-Talk, containing an OPEN LETTER by him to SA Rugby, all supporters and interested parties as well as decision-makers in our country.
The topic of the Letter, follows the trend and main topic of discussion amongst Springbok supporters, namely whether Heyneke Meyer should stay on as coach, or whether he should go.
In his well-worded and well-reasoned letter, Helgaard supports the “Heyneke Must Fall” stance on the matter, and seeing as Rugby-Talk.com is “By the people, for the people” we gladly place relevant and requested reader content here on Rugby-Talk.com… once if conforms to the necessary literary requirements, of course. I wish more readers would act like Helgaard and send me their contributions, as it could lead to Rugby-Talk.com really becoming the official voice of the marginalized supporter out there and depicting the views of the average rugby supporter and not for supporters to be boxed in by the normal way media steers things to suit their own agendas.
Helgaard’s views are his own and does not necessarily reflect the views of this publication.
Without further a do… here is Helgaard’s Letter in it’s entirity:
WHY HEYNEKE MUST FALL…
Background to the article
As a dedicated Springbok supporter, I watched my fair share of the 48 games played at the Rugby World Cup 2015, including the 7 Tests in which the Springboks featured. I also watched all of the other 40 Tests played since Heyneke Meyer took over as the Springbok coach.
Durban, and not Johannesburg, will host back-to-back Rugby World Cup winners, the New Zealand All Blacks next year.
The South African Rugby Union revealed that the 3-times Rugby World Cup champion All Blacks will play the Springboks in Durban on 8 October in The Rugby Championship encounter between the 2 sides on SA soil.
The Springboks and All Blacks have played each other in Johannesburg 5 times in the last 6 years – with 2011 the exception, when they met in Port Elizabeth.
Durban last hosted a Springboks versus All Blacks Test in 2009, with Newlands completely off the map (for the biggest face-off in the game) since 2008.
The exceptionally large All Black following in Cape Town, which have become increasingly vengeful towards the Springboks (even spitting at players), is the main reason why Newlands will not host the All Blacks in the near future.
Bloemfontein (2009) and Pretoria (2006) have also not seen an All Black Test in years.
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has delayed its General Council meeting by a week.
The meeting was originally due to take place on 4 December and is understood to have a major influence on whether or not Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s contract is extended following the Springboks semifinal exit at this year’s Rugby World Cup.
The meeting will now take place on 11 December and will follow a meeting of the Executive Council on 9 December.
Sports minister Fikile Mbabula is expected to brief the media on Thursday on the Springboks’ performance in the Rugby World Cup, as well as on transformation in the national team.
South Africa lost to New Zealand in the one semifinal of the tournament, following blistering wins against Samoa, Scotland and the USA. Those victories came after the Springboks lost in their opening game against Japan.
There has been debate about the racial make-up of the team, especially from the side of the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) – who has taken a strong line against coach Heyneke Meyer.
Cosatu Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich said on Tuesday that Meyer “must rest assured that he is not welcome in rugby by the majority of SA supporters and he should go”.
South African Rugby Union (SARU) CEO Jurie Roux says they had no choice but to move their Sevens World Series event away from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town.
Roux was speaking to journalists in Cape Town on Wednesday after the announcement of several new sevens signings for the Springbok Sevens team.
Cape Town will in December host the South African leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series for the 1st time after the event had been held at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth since 2011.
Roux said that it was imperative for South Africa to host a successful tournament as World Rugby had insisted that the event be staged at an iconic destination.
“In terms of their criteria, only the tournaments at Twickenham and Hong Kong were successful,” said Roux.
Rugby World Cup Springboks Bryan Habana, Damian de Allende and Lwazi Mvovo are among a host of 15-a-side stars who will be in contention for places in South Africa’s Olympic Sevens squad, the South African Rugby Union announced on Wednesday.
They will be joined by Springbok team mates Juan de Jongh, Warren Whiteley, Cornal Hendricks and Oupa Mohoje at a 3-week training camp from Sunday in Stellenbosch as part of the South African Rugby Union’s (SARU) new Sevens strategy in Olympic year, announced Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU.
Habana has returned to his French club side Toulon and will join the training camp towards the end of the month. SARU also confirmed that Springboks Francois Hougaard and Ryan Kankowski had already signed contracts to play for the Springbok Sevens team this season.
In addition, provincial 15-a-side stars Cheslin Kolbe, Rayno Benjamin, Warrick Gelant and Jaco Kriel have also been invited to join the camp alongside SARU’s powerful, existing Sevens squad.
New Zealand and Australia’s World Cup finalists join forces in a superstar Barbarians’ squad when they take on Gloucester and Argentina this month. Add a sprinkling of South Africans to it and you have the Barbarians squad.
Wing Nehe Milner-Skudder, the All Blacks’ opening try scorer in the 34 / 17 win against the Wallabies, is just 1 of 7 All Blacks in the squad.
Milner-Skudder will be joined by Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Charlie Faumuina, as well as fellow wing Waisake Naholo, when the world famous invitation club returns to action at Kingsholm on 17 November before taking on Rugby World Cup semifinalists Argentina in the Killik Cup match at Twickenham Stadium on 21 November.
Tevita Kuridrani – the scorer of Australia’s 2nd final try – has been added to the squad and joins Wallabies captain Stephen Moore and flank Scott Fardy in a 24-man group.
The squad also contains one of the world’s greatest lock partnerships in South Africa’s Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha who are backed up by rising star Lood de Jager.
Barbarians head coach Michael Cheika will have formidable firepower at his disposal with the likes of Fiji’s World Cup star Nemani Nadolo lining up with South Africa’s Pat Lambie and Australia’s Joe Tomane.
There is world class front row potential with Moore and Faumuina alongside South Africa’s Tendai Mtawarira, while flank Fardy was 1 of Australia’s most consistent Rugby World Cup performers.
There are 2 uncapped players in the squad: Cheetahs’ centre Francois Venter and Hurricanes flank Ardie Savea.
They may not all be “coining it” immediately to the extent that certain foreign-based colleagues are, but Springbok Rugby World Cup 2015 players contracted only to domestic franchises are about to reap the benefits of an unusually lengthy off-season.
In a development that ought to see them importantly start a heavy 2016 roster pretty firmly refreshed, both physically and mentally, those players are largely off competitive duty for the next 4 months.
Outside of a Rugby World Cup year, the month of November would normally see them packing bags – no doubt just a little reluctantly – for the obligatory end-of-year European tour in conditions likely to be wetter and colder than those agreeably experienced during the recent, more autumnal Rugby World Cup in those climes.
Instead the beach beckons back home now as relevant Springboks with extended international futures like Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Lood de Jager, Trevor Nyakane, Rudy Paige, Pat Lambie and Jesse Kriel wipe rugby from their minds for several weeks, until Super Rugby 2016 pre-season activities with their respective sides.
Even then, blue-chip Springbok players are often shielded to a significant extent from warm-up matches staged in inevitably murderous summer heat and are largely asked to instead hit the ground running when the competition-proper gets underway.
No longwinded article, just a nice Press Conference video upon the Springboks return to OR Tambo International Airport…
As well as winning a host of new admirers for their adventurous approach throughout Rugby World Cup 2015, beaten semifinalists Argentina and headline-grabbing Japan have also enjoyed the biggest rise of all the competing nations in the World Rugby Rankings. Both are ranked 3 places higher than where they were when Rugby World Cup 2015 began at Twickenham Stadium on Friday 18 September.Los Pumas have moved up from 8th to 5th thanks to their 2nd place finish behind New Zealand in Pool C and the way that they effortlessly brushed Ireland aside in the quarterfinals.
A disappointing World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup campaign this summer left Japan languishing 13th in the rankings, and at that stage few people would have predicted what they would go on to achieve in England: 3 wins from 4 and a place in tournament folklore.
The Brave Blossoms’ historic 34 / 32 win over South Africa in Brighton may not have been enough to book them a place in the knockout stages but it did help them return to the world’s Top 10.
With points exchanges doubled to reflect the importance Rugby World Cup matches no-one fared better than Japan, going from 72.06 rating points pre-tournament to 77.05 at its conclusion.