The Melbourne Rebels have signed Irish international prop Jamie Hagan for 2 Super Rugby seasons.
Hagan, 28, a tighthead prop who has made more than 100 appearances for Leinster, Connacht and London Irish, made his full international debut for Ireland against the United States of America in 2013.
Hagan becomes only the 2nd fully capped Irish international to sign for an Australian Super Rugby team, after front-rower Peter Clohessy spent the 1997 season with the Reds.
Hagan said he was looking forward to testing himself in the Southern Hemisphere’s renowned provincial competition.
The Eastern Province Kings and New Zealand born coach, Carlos Spencer, have ended their association with immediate effect.
Spencer, who earned 35 caps for the All Blacks from 1995 to 2004, finished his playing career with the Lions in 2011 and then coached at the Lions and the Sharks, before linking up with the EP Kings in December 2013. He was appointed as the attack and specialist skills coach, and then took charge of the provincial team on their return to the Currie Cup Premier Division in 2014.
In 2015 he resumed his duties as the attack and specialist skills coach following the appointment of Brent Janse van Rensburg as the EP Kings head coach.
EP Rugby president Cheeky Watson paid tribute to Spencer for his contribution to the provincial team during his time with the union.
The Melbourne Rebels have strengthened their squad for the 2016 season with the signing of lock Culum Retallick from the Blues on a 2 year deal.
Retallick has made nearly 50 Super Rugby appearances since debuting for the Chiefs in 2010, also representing the Blues and Highlanders, where he played alongside future Rebels teammates Tamati Ellison and Adam Thomson.
He has also made close to a century of appearances for Bay of Plenty in the ITM Cup since debuting as a 23 year old in 2008, and joins on a foreign developing player contract.
Retallick said he was excited about challenging himself professionally, and joining a team he has watched develop in recent years.
The Hurricanes have added another scrumhalf to their roster for 2016, signing promising talent Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi.
The Rotorua-born 20-year-old has been playing his rugby in Taranaki for the past 2 seasons, and has had a successful year in 2015 as part of both the New Zealand Under 20 World Championship-winning side, followed by selection in the New Zealand Barbarians team.
He was also a major player in his Taranaki club rugby side’s winning season, with his form for New Plymouth Old Boys’ helping to secure him an ITM Cup contract with Taranaki for 2015.
Tahuriorangi described the move to the Hurricanes as a massive opportunity, not only for himself, but his family.
The Melbourne Rebels have announced the signing of former Reds and All Blacks back rower, Adam Thomson, for the 2016 Super Rugby season.
Thomson will bring a wealth of experience to Melbourne, having made 83 Super Rugby appearances for the Highlanders and Reds as well as winning the 2011 Rugby World Cup with the All Blacks among 31 appearances for his country (29 Tests).
Capable of playing anywhere in the loose forwards, Thomson played alongside compatriot Tamati Ellison for both the Highlanders and All Blacks, while he worked with Rebels’ Assistant Coach Zane Hilton during their time together at Canon Eagles in Japan’s Top League. Thomson is a try-scoring back rower, having crossed 21 times at Super Rugby level.
Waikato Chiefs assistant coach Andrew Strawbridge has woken up and is communicating with his family but remains in a serious condition in hospital, the Super Rugby team said on Thursday.
Strawbridge, who is also a technical advisor to the Samoa national rugby team, was admitted to an Apia hospital last week with an infection in his right eye after taking ill on a flight from New Zealand before his condition “deteriorated rapidly”.
He arrived back in New Zealand in an air ambulance last Friday and was taken to Waikato Hospital in Hamilton, where he had been listed as being in a critical but stable condition since his arrival.
“Andrew Strawbridge is awake and in a serious, stable condition in the Waikato Hospital Intensive Care Unit,” the Chiefs said in a statement.
Springbok winger Cornal Hendricks has signed a contract with Western Province Rugby and will be available for the DHL Stormers from the start of the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby season.
The speedster, who originally made his name at international Sevens level, will return to his roots as a DHL Stormers player – having played his early provincial rugby for Boland, before becoming a full-time Sevens player in 2012 and then joining the Free State Cheetahs in 2014.
Hendricks, 27, made his Test debut in June of last year, whilst the 2013 Springbok Sevens Player of the Year was also a key member of the Commonwealth Games Gold medal-winning SA Sevens team in July 2014.
In all, he has played 11 Tests (as well as an additional match against the World XV) for the Springboks, scoring five tries – including a try on debut against Wales and a memorable solo score against the All Blacks in their hard-fought Rugby Championship tussle in Wellington in September 2014.
French-based loosehead prop JC Janse van Rensburg will join the DHL Stormers ahead of the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby season.
The powerful former Lions captain is currently in his third season with French club, Bayonne, but he will bolster the DHL Stormers’ propping resources as of November 1 with Steven Kitshoff having decided to further his career in France.
Janse van Rensburg, 29, toured Europe with the Springboks in 2012 (without getting any game time), as well as making over 50 appearances for the Lions at Super Rugby level and winning well over 50 provincial caps for the Golden Lions
Following a massive street parade on Monday the Highlanders will take the Super Rugby Trophy to their support base over the next few weeks.
In conjunction with their community partner PlaceMakers the trophy, which weighs and impressive 28kg, will be taken to various centres throughout the Highlanders’ region to provide photo opportunities for the fans.
Highlanders’ general manager Roger Clark said, “At the game on Saturday and at the parade on Monday, so many people, young and old, wanted photos with the cup and it just wasn’t possible to give everyone an opportunity.
Brumbies prop Jean-Pierre ‘JP’ Smith will return to Cape Town from Australia and will form part of Western Province’s Currie Cup squad.
Smith is capable of playing at both loosehead and tighthead prop and he will bolster the Western Province prop resources during their ABSA Currie Cup title defence in the absence of Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe, who are with the Springbok squad at present, and Vincent Koch, who is on loan to the DHL Stormers for Super Rugby only.
25-Year-old Smith is a former Paarl Gym scholar, who has represented Western Province at Under 19 and Under 21 level, as well as playing 5 senior matches for the Vodacom Cup team in 2010.
Western Province Director of Rugby Gert Smal commented: “JP’s ability to play on either side of the scrum is a big boost for us, as Currie Cup matchday squads are made up of just 22 (with just 1 prop on the bench).
Former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans was linked with the Stormers coaching job in 2007, and it happened again when the search for Allister Coetzee’s replacement commenced this year.
But Deans, who is in charge of Saturday’s World XV side that will take on the Springboks at Newlands, confirmed on Thursday that there had not been an official offer from the Cape Town-based franchise or any other South African franchises.
“Not South African ones, no,” said Deans.
“I had a brief conversation with Gert (Smal, Stormers Director of Rugby). I actually do a bit of work with some of the guys from down here like (current Western Province defence coach) Paul Treu. I take an interest in the game.
The Crusaders have signed Chiefs flyhalf Marty McKenzie to fill the gap left by the departing Dan Carter, Colin Slade and Tom Taylor.
McKenzie will compete with Ben Volavola and Richie Mo’unga, who have also signed with the franchise ahead of the 2016 season.
Maori All Black McKenzie will move south from the Chiefs, returning to the city where he spent the final 2 years of secondary school. Born and raised in Southland, McKenzie moved from Gore High School to Christchurch’s Christ’s College for his final school years playing in their 1st XV for both seasons.
Manu Samoa technical advisor and Chiefs assistant coach Andrew Strawbridge is fighting for his life in a Samoan hospital after he took ill during his flight to the island nation to join the team ahead of their historic All Blacks Test match.
Strawbridge was admitted to hospital overnight on Tuesday with an infection in his right eye and his condition deteriorated rapidly. He has now been joined by his wife Laura, and sister Susan.
The family is extremely grateful for the care Andrew is receiving from Dr David Galler and the staff at Moto’otua Hospital.
Chiefs CEO Andrew Flexman said: “We truly appreciate the incredible support that has been provided by the hospital staff, the people of the Samoan Rugby Union, the All Blacks and the Chiefs players who are on the ground over there.”
Vodacom Bulls centre William Small-Smith will further his career at the Toyota Cheetahs from next season.
The 23-year-old will represent the Vodacom Blue Bulls in this year’s Currie Cup before heading for Bloemfontein in time for next year’s Super Rugby competition.
Small-Smith was schooled at Grey College in Bloemfontein where he represented Free State in the Craven Week.
After school, he represented teams like the Junior Springboks, Blitzbokke, UP-Tuks and the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
It is believed that Small-Smith wanted out at the Bulls and asked to join the Cheetahs.
The Sharks have released 2 Media Releases today, with the 1st 1 bearing the news that Pieter-Steph du Toit is leaving the Union. The 2nd Media release focusses on Marcell Coetzee re-signing with the Sharks and also reveals the other candidates who have chosen to continue to ply their trade at the Sharks.
Pieter-Steph du Toit:
Springbok lock Pieter-Steph du Toit, today confirmed his departure from the Cell C Sharks at the end of his contract, which expires in October 2015.
Having made his debut for The Sharks in 2012, du Toit with his strong physicality and presence has become an influential player for the franchise with strong performances that earned him Springbok colours in 2013.
Commenting on his departure, The Sharks CEO John Smit said: “We are terribly disappointed to lose a player of the calibre of Pieter-Steph du Toit. Despite our best efforts to keep him in the province, he has chosen to move on.
Former SARU chief executive Edward Griffiths is being lined up as the new supremo at the Southern Kings as they prepare for their re-entry into Super Rugby next year.
Kings president, Cheeky Watson, confirmed that the union had discussions with Griffiths who earlier this year left his post as chief executive at Saracens after 7 years in charge.
“We have had discussions with Griffiths, but I cannot say more than that,” Watson said.
Queensland Rugby Union has re-signed Reds young guns Curtis Browning and Chris Feauai-Sautia ahead of the 2016 Super Rugby season.
Feauai-Sautia has inked a 2-year deal with the club, while Browning has signed a contract extension for 1 year.
Both players are in the early stages of their careers, are just 21 years old and have been with the Reds since they graduated from Brisbane State High School.
Feauai-Sautia famously joined the club as a teenager, signing when he was just 17 years old – following impressive performances in schoolboy rugby. He made his Queensland debut in 2012 as an 18-year-old and made his Wallabies debut the following year, scoring 2 tries in as many Tests.
While his early career was troubled with constant hamstring injuries, the power winger had arguably his most consistent season in 2015. He featured in all but 1 of the Reds’ games this season and sits in the top 5 for the team in run metres (715m), broken tackles (31), line breaks (13) and offloads (9). He has played a total 38 times for Queensland and scored 8 tries.
Elusive back Pita Ahki will be 1 player to fill the Hurricanes’ midfield following the departure of Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu and Rey Lee-Lo.
Nonu has signed for French giants Toulon while centre partner Smith has joined Pau, who have been promoted to the French Top 14 next season.
Capable to play at No 12 or No 13, Ahki has signed a 2-year deal with the club, having been with the Blues since 2013.
The Western Force will inject additional experience into its young backline with the recruitment of Reds centre Ben Tapuai for the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Tapuai will join the Force having played 66 Super Rugby matches across 7 seasons for the Reds, including starting at inside centre for the Queenslanders in their title-winning team in 2011.
The 26-year-old, who previously represented the Australian Schoolboys in 2006 and 2007, and Australian Under 20 (2008), has played Sevens Tests for the Wallabies, starting in 6 of them during the 2012 Rugby Championship and Spring Tour.
Head coach Michael Foley says Tapuai will bring further experience to his young midfield.
The Hurricanes have put the Super Rugby Final behind them and started to build for 2016 by announcing the re-signing of talented New Zealand Under 20 and Maori All Black flyhalf, Otere Black.
The 20-year-old Manawatu Turbo was part of the club’s wider training group this year and ended up playing 4 matches in his 1st season, scoring 17 points.
Despite fielding significant interest from at least 3 other New Zealand Super Rugby teams, Black said it was at the Hurricanes where he wanted to continue developing his game.
The Chiefs have responded to their lock exodus with the signing of 2nd row Dominic Bird from the Crusaders for 2 years.
The Chiefs have lost the services of Matt Symons and Michael Fitzgerald from the engine room – Symons is heading to London Irish while Fitzgerald will become a Leicester Tiger.
Bird will thus be a relieving signature for the Hamilton side and at 206cm tall, he is set to become the tallest member in the Chiefs squad.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie believes the 120kg player will complement his forward pack well.
The Melbourne Rebels’ retention program continues to reap dividends, with front rowers Pat Leafa (2017) and Tim Metcher (2016) re-committing to the club on Tuesday.
The 26-year-old hooker has made 34 appearances for the team in his 3 seasons in Melbourne, not missing a Super Rugby match in the last 2 seasons, while Metcher joined the Rebels in 2015 and made his Super Rugby debut against the Waratahs in Sydney. He also came off the bench as the Rebels earned a bonus point victory over the Blues in Round 13 at AAMI Park.
For Leafa, who was already contracted for the 2016 season, being offered an early extension showed the club’s faith in him, his continued development and his positive influence on the team as a member of the leadership group.
A niggling hip flexor injury may have kept Springbok centre Jan Serfontein sidelined for parts of the Super Rugby season, but he is hopeful to soon stake a claim for a place in this year’s Rugby World Cup squad.
“Injuries have been a bit of a setback for me this year, but I’m on my way back. Maybe the fitness is a bit down, but it’s something you can work on, on your own,” Serfontein said at the Springbok camp in Johannesburg this week.
“I’m just hoping to get some game time for the World XV and in The Rugby Championship coming up.
The Golden Lions Rugby Union have announced the signing for the 2016 season of 2 of their Emirates Lions franchise partners, the Steval Pumas’ players, Faf de Klerk and Corné Fourie.
The Media Release reads as follows:
Lions Rugby (Pty) Ltd is pleased to announce the contracting of Pumas duo Faf de Klerk and Corné Fourie for the 2016 season.
Both De Klerk and Fourie, who have played Vodacom Super Rugby for the Emirates Lions through loan agreements over the past 2 seasons, will return to Johannesburg under permanent contracts in November 2015.
The pair has signed 1-year contracts with Lions Rugby and will thus be involved in both the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby and ABSA Currie Cup campaigns.
The Cell C Sharks have announced the signing of Reds lock, David McDuling, ahead of the ABSA Currie Cup season.
The Sharks press release reads as follows:
We are pleased to announce the signing of Reds lock, David McDuling, who will join the Cell C Sharks until the end of 2016.
Known for his never-give-up attitude and athleticism around the park, McDuling made his Super Rugby debut in 2014 against the Crusaders and has since amassed a total of 12 Super Rugby caps for the Reds. He also won the inaugural season of the National Rugby Championship with Brisbane City and had the most carries and run metres of any 2nd rower in the competition.
Hurricanes (5) 14 / 21 (13) Highlanders (Final Score)
The Hurricanes and Highlanders did battle in the 2015 Super Rugby Final at
Westpac Stadium, Wellington at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.
It is the Final of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.
The long awaited game to determine the champions of 2015 is finally upon us!
Of course, the South African and Australian Franchises are already done and dusted and only 2 New Zealand sides remain in the race, the all season Log leading Hurricanes and the New Zealand Cinderella side, the Highlanders.
The Final takes place in Wellington, New Zealand at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT), at Westpac Stadium.
The Hurricanes are firm favourites for the game, having had by far the best overall performance of all 15 Super Rugby franchises in Super Rugby 2015, and running away with the Combined Log. They certainly played entertaining rugby and a lot of it has to be attributed to their forwards finally stepping up to the plate to match their tremendous backline.
Their defensive structures were much improved and their dangerous backline fired.. if one did not know any better one would swear that every last player was on some serious performance enhancing drugs.
I’ve always said that the Hurricanes were always underperforming in relation to the team they have on paper, but in 2015 all the elements finally came together to make them a fabulous side.
Whatever happens in the final, they deserve plaudits for the season of 2015!
The Highlanders on the other side, turned a lot of seemingly no-name forwards into a monster pack and their backline players turned into a dangerous unit with All Blacks written all over every member.
The Highlanders have lost twice to the Hurricanes already in 2015 but last weekend in the semi-final against the Waratahs they showed that they have progressed upwards a number of rungs in the 2015 season and specifically in the last few weekends.
The Highlanders, having almost always been considered New zealand’s step-child Super Rugby side, have had a real Cinderella season and deserve to be in the final and one is almost unwillingly tempted to urge them on for all the honours in the Final.
As a totally neutral observer, all I can say is that I enjoyed the rugby these two teams dished up for us all in 2015… and may the best team win!
Let the Final roll on… no guts, no glory!
Enjoy it with me, folks.
After 124 games spread across 18 Rounds and a fortnight of finals, we stand at the cusp of crowning a 1st-time Super Rugby champion.
We run the rule over both teams – examine their strengths, potntial weaknesses and try to decipher where the game will be won.
Chris Boyd has announced his side to battle the Highlanders for the Super Rugby title but is still sweating on Ardie Savea who is yet to prove his fitness.
Meanwhile, Saturday night’s finale will quietly take on an extra meaning for a few of the men in black and yellow.
For long-serving Hurricanes Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu and Jeremy Thrush, and fellow teammates Chris Smylie, Rey Lee-Lo and Ben Franks, it will be the last time they run onto Westpac Stadium as Hurricanes.
With 468 caps between them, the 6 players will leave a sizeable hole at the Hurricanes when they depart at the end of the season, but not before they do their best to help lift a Super Rugby trophy for their club.
Boyd has named a similar line-up to help those 6 guys do the job, with the only change coming at reserve hooker where Motu Matu’u returns from a knee injury.
Savea’s knee will continue to be monitored throughout the remainder of the week, with Callum Gibbins bracketed as cover should Savea not be deemed fit.
The Highlanders will line up with an unchanged side for the Super Rugby Final against the Hurricanes in Wellington.
Head coach Jamie Joseph has chosen to stick with the same 15 that knocked off the defending champion Waratahs in Sydney a week ago.
On Saturday Elliot Dixon will make his 50th Super Rugby appearance for the Highlanders, while co-captains Ben Smith and Nasi Manu will once more lead the side.
The only change to the squad comes on the bench, where Marty Banks replaces Trent Renata, while Joseph has stuck with 6 forwards on the bench.
DHL Stormers forwards coach Matt Proudfoot has opted not to renew his contract with Western Province Rugby, but he might not be lost to the union on a permanent basis.
Proudfoot will be linking up with outgoing DHL Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee at Kobe Steel Kobelco Steelers in Japan, but Director of Rugby Gert Smal remains hopeful of retaining his services on a consultancy basis, which would see him contribute to the ‘Tight Five Factory’; an innovative project which is aimed at identifying and developing tight 5 players from youth level and up within WP Rugby.
Proudfoot, 42, has served as forwards coach of both the DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province for the past 7 seasons, which has seen the Cape team’s pack become 1 of the most feared units at Super Rugby and Currie Cup level.
In that time, the likes of unheralded juniors Steven Kitshoff, Scarra Ntubeni, Frans Malherbe, Vincent Koch, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi and Nizaam Carr have progressed into the Springbok ranks (either as Test players or squad members), with the DHL Stormers’ scrummaging power a huge boon in their recently-completed 2015 Super Rugby campaign.
Ex-Springbok flyhalf Peter Grant is set to join the Western Force ahead of next year’s Super Rugby season.
Grant, who was released with a season to run on his contract at French club La Rochelle, looks a likely replacement for South African compatriot Sias Ebersohn, who has already been released.
According to The West Australian, Grant’s potential return to Super Rugby was opened due Wilhelm Steenkamp’s imminent signing for French club Brive for next season.
Steenkamp had limited game time last season and failed to impress the Force’s coaching staff at his time with the team.
The Force are allowed 3 overseas Test players and Grant would join former All Black scrumhalf Alby Mathewson and Tongan forward Steve Mafi.
Stade Français have confirmed the signing of Springbok back row Willem Alberts who will join the club after the Rugby World Cup.
The Top 14 champions have not brought in many players this off-season, generally prioritising quality over quantity, as Alberts joins Will Genia in the French capital.
Alberts arrives from the Cell C Sharks on a 3-year deal and will join a back row which already features Sergio Parisse, Raphaël Lakafia and Antoine Burban, while promising youngster Sekou Macalou also arrived over the off-season from Massy.
The 31-year-old made his Springbok debut back in 2010 and has scored 7 tries in 32 tests.
The Emirates Lions have lost another key player ahead of their Currie Cup campaign.
Hooker Armand “Akker”van der Merwe or “The Angry Warthog” as he is sometimes referred to, has signed a deal with Racing Metro, which will see him play in France for the remainder of the 2015 season.
Lions Rugby (Pty) Ltd revealed that they agreed to release 4 players to clubs abroad for the duration of the Currie Cup tournament.
As was previously reported Elton Jantjies (Shining Arcs), Lionel Mapoe (Spears) and Warwick Tecklenburg (Kamaishi) have all signed agreements in Japan until February 2016.
Along with Van der Merwe, all the players will return ahead of the 2016 Super Rugby tournament and will represent the Lions in next year’s competition. The players have all committed to Lions Rugby until the end of 2016.
Lionel Mapoe, Renaldo Bothma, Bjorn Basson and Warwick Tecklenburg have added their names to growing list of Super Rugby players heading to The Land of the Rising Sun.
Emirates Lions centre, Mapoe will join Vodacom Bulls lock Grant Hattingh at the Spears while his Lions team mate, flank Warwick Tecklenburg heads to the Kamaishi Seawaves.
Cell C Sharks and Namibia International loose forward, Renaldo Bothma will join Verblitz after the World Cup while Vodacom Bulls and Ex-Springbok wing Bjorn Basson will join Lomano Lemeki and Digby Ioane at the Heat.
Another high profile player who will be heading East is Wallaby fullback Israel Folau who will link up with Springboks Handré Pollard and Eben Etzebeth at the Docomo Red Hurricanes. Folau just put pen to paper on a new flexible contract with the Australian Rugby Union.