Sharks flyhalf Tim Swiel says he has settled in nicely at English club Harlequins, who he joined on loan last year.
Swiel, 21, will stay with the London club until the end of February before returning to Durban.
In an interview, Swiel said he’s learnt a lot in the few months at Harlequins.
Prop Morne Mellett has been cleared of a rib contusion and will be considered for the Vodacom Bulls team to play a season-opening friendly against the Toyota Cheetahs in Polokwane on Saturday.
The match starts at 17:00.
Mellett’s return will be good news to coach Frans Ludeke, as the Bulls have a number of front rankers out of action.
Jano Vermaak, one of South Africa’s most experienced scrumhalves, is believed to be on the Stormers’ shopping list for their 2015 Super Rugby campaign.
Vermaak currently plies his trade for French Top 14 club Toulouse. He is a former SA Under 21 representative who has also played for the SA Sevens side as well as the Emerging Springboks.
The 30-year old was a member of the Springbok squad for most of the 2012 season, with Ruan Pienaar and Francois Hougaard as the two first choice scrumhalves in the squad.
The native of Graaff-Reinet made his Test debut for the Springboks on 8 June 2013 against Italy at Kings Park in Durban. He suffered a hamstring injury in the 62nd minute of that Test and had to be replaced. Since then he has played three Tests for the Boks.
This week sees the Super Rugby teams take to the field in a number of pre-season games as the franchises look to get ready for the 2015 season.
In the South African conference there is understandably no cross-conference games, however The Bulls and the Sharks have decided to board the plane for England and France respectively as they take on Saracens and Toulon.
The Bulls will prepare for that match with a hit out against the Cheetahs in their traditional Polokwane warm-up game before flying to France.
The Cheetahs then travel to Cape Town to face off against the Stormers, while a supposed ‘B-team’ stays at home to tackle the Griffons.
The Lions’ pre-season looks to be a muted affair with two games against the Leopards and Varsity Cup team, the Pukke happening on the same day.
Unlike other New Zealand franchises the Hurricanes will not rest their All Blacks back for the opening Rounds of Super Rugby.
New Zealand Rugby Union have given them dispensation over the other 4 New Zealand sides due to their demanding opening schedule, in which they play two matches in South Africa and one in Australia.
Coach Chris Boyd said it just means they will give their All Blacks an opportunity to rest later in the competition.
Super Rugby starts in a month’s time with a match in Christchurch with Nick Briant to referee it.
SANZAR has released the names of the referees for the first three Rounds.
Briant referees the first match in New Zealand, Angus Garner the first in Australia and Rohan Hoffman the first in South Africa.
Jason Jaftha was injured for 2014 and his fitness needs to be assured for this year.
Marius van der Westhuizen will be refereeing his first Super Rugby match overseas after reaching Super Rugby last year.
The DHL Stormers have finished their training camp in Hermanus and have also appointed their leadership for the season.
We also bring news on Nizaam Carr, who did not take part in the training camp but in stead was hospitalised due to a viral infection.
By now, the rumours of Duane Vermeulen’s departure overseas have also been laid to rest, we discuss it below.
Seabelo Senatla, the speedster, will only join the Stormers in a couple of months due to his dual committments with the South African Sevens side, more hereunder.
Queensland Rugby Union today announced prop James Slipper will captain the Reds for the 2015 Super Rugby season.
He will be supported in the role by two new vice-captains in Reds and Wallabies lock Rob Simmons and recent signing Karmichael Hunt.
Slipper takes over the role with the blessing of incumbent captain James Horwill, who after a number of discussions agreed the best long-term outcome for the future success of the Reds was to step down and allow the growth of the leadership within the team.
In 2014, Slipper was recognised by his Queensland teammates as the Pilecki Medal winner for Players’ Player of the Year and also claimed the Rugby Union Players’ Association Medal for Excellence – which is voted on by all Super Rugby players.
He was also vice-captain of the Wallabies throughout the 2014 Test season and said he was honoured to be given the title of Reds skipper.
“I’m incredibly humbled by this decision. I take great pride in playing for Queensland, so to be named captain is a great honour,” Slipper said.
Wallaby and three-time Super Rugby champion, Radike Samo, will join the Melbourne Rebels for the 2015 Super Rugby season.
Samo, who moves to Melbourne from Kinetsu Liners in the Japanese Top League, has made 23 appearances for the Wallabies, and was part of the squad which finished third at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Speaking prior to moving to Melbourne, Samo said he was excited to join Tony McGahan’s group and have “one final crack at Super Rugby.”
New Zealand flanker Peter Saili has signed for French Top 14 side Bordeaux-Begles, club president Laurent Marti confirmed on Friday.
Saili, 27, who recently left Blues after 5 years and 71 Super Rugby matches with the club, has penned a 2-and-a-half year deal with the western French side.
Saili, who will join his new club later this month, is the second Blues player to sign for Bordeaux after compatriot Luke Braid, who arrives next season for 2 years.
‘Football chameleon’ and new Reds recruit Karmichael Hunt has his sights firmly set on making the Wallabies World Cup squad.
Having started his career as a Rugby League player with the Brisbane Broncos, Hunt switched to playing Australian Rules in the Australian Football League for the Gold Coast Suns in 2011.
He signed for the Reds in the off-season and is expected to make his Super Rugby debut at fullback in the Round 1 clash with the Brumbies in Canberra.
He has made no secret of his World Cup ambitions, although he knows that he will have to prove himself at Super Rugby level first.
Blues’ George Moala has been found guilty of assault with intent to cause injury and common assault following a nasty brawl in 2012.
George Moala was found guilty of assault with intent to injure. He was found not guilty on two other charges of assault.
The 12-person jury took about five hours to deliver its verdict at the Auckland district court but not before posing a question seeking clarification on the definition of intention.
On hearing the verdict for George Moala, family members and supporters of the Moala brothers in the courtroom sat in shocked, tearful silence.
The Moala family made no comment outside court, and neither did George Moala’s lawyer Paul Wicks.
We take a look at some of the news filtering through from the Bulls in their preparations for this year’s Super Rugby Season.
Lanky flanker Jaques du Plessis might get the nod at No 4 lock in the injury absense of Flip van der Merwe during the first stages of Super Rugby. Competing against him for the No 4 spot are youngsters Nico Janse van Rensburg and Irné Herbst.
Meanwhile former Blue Bulls and Springbok captain, Wynand Claassen, who is also the chairman of the Bulls’ ex-players union, wants the Bulls to employ a much more enterprising style in 2015.
Trevor Nyakane, who has joined the Bulls for the 2015 season from the Cheetahs, says he has been inundated with calls from his fellow-Bulls mates to come up with a new dance routine, when the Bulls score tries in 2015. He was known for his jubilant dance moves at the Cheetahs in 2014, but the question is whether he can dance the blue tune this year.
The only real players of consequence, bar of course the longer term injury to Flip van der Merwe, who are not fully into the swing of things yet and who will miss the excursion to Polokwane, are Adriaan Strauss and Handré Pollard, but their injuries appear to be on the light side, and it is highly unlikely that they will not be fit and ready to play in the season’s opener for the Bulls.
Sharks loosehead prop Thomas du Toit hopes he can continue the impressive form he displayed during an amazing 2014 debut season.
In his first year after school, the Paarl Boys’ old boy has already made a huge impression at the Sharks.
At just 19, he made his Super Rugby debut for the Durban franchise, coming off the bench in his first game against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, before starting the team’s final three fixtures, including the wildcard play-off against the Highlanders and semi-final against the Crusaders. He also made eight appearances in the Currie Cup, helping the Sharks reach the domestic semi-finals.
Du Toit got a taste of international rugby too as he starred for the Junior Springboks at the Junior World Championship in New Zealand, while he was a surprise pick for the Barbarians squad.
The Toyota Cheetahs’ preparations for Super Rugby this week reports on fitness niggles to Willie le Roux and Oupa Mahoje and also reports that Rayno Benjamin will miss the start of Super Rugby due to Sevens committments with the Blitzbokke for the first 2 weeks in February.
In addition the battle for the flyhalf spot between Joe Pietersen, Willie du Plessis and Francois Brummer, seems to be dominating the attention of the media, with speculation that Joe Pietersen seems to be the favourite, after the warm-up games to get Round 1’s starting spot.
Maks van Dyk, who has been on short term loan with Leinster in Ireland, to get valuable game time reports that he is enjoying his short Northern sojourn.
Nic White and David Pocock will help lead the Brumbies as vice-captains in 2015, after head coach Stephen Larkham and captain Stephen Moore made the announcement on Thursday.
Both Pocock and White have proven leadership qualities having led professional sides on the big stage in the past.
White was named the Brumbies youngest captain against the Hurricanes in 2013, while Pocock has captained both the Wallabies and the Western Force.
A former Brumbies academy captain, White said he was thrilled to have been acknowledged with the vice-captaincy of the main squad.
New Zealander Tom Coventry has been appointed as the new head coach of London Irish for the 2015 / 2016 season, the English Premiership strugglers announced on Wednesday.
The 48-year-old, who is currently assistant coach of New Zealand team the Chiefs, will succeed former director of rugby Brian Smith, who has been released early from his contract on compassionate grounds.
“The owners have a clear vision of where they want to take the club,” Coventry told the London Irish website.
Frenchman Marc Dal Maso is spending some time with the Highlanders forwards, working on their scrums, during their preseason.
Dal Maso , who is credited by Japanese coach Eddie Jones with having turned their scrum into one of the top five in the world, has been broadening his knowledge with the Highlanders coaching group.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has named Matt Todd as the captain for the opening Rounds of the Super Rugby competition.
Todd has been preferred over more illustrious teammates, in the absence of All Blacks Kieran Read and Whitelock, for the opening 3 fixtures – against the Rebels, Highlanders and Chiefs.
Regular skipper Read is taking a mini-sabbatical and while Richie McCaw and Dan Carter are also captaincy candidates, they looks set to miss the opening week as well.
In the national pecking order Todd sits 3rd behind McCaw and Sam Cane, but this endorsement recognises the esteem in which he is held, particularly by Crusaders’ teammates and management.
“Matt Todd is going to captain the team in Kieran Read’s absence,” Blackadder said.
Wing Jamba Ulengo hopes to make a big impact for the Bulls this season.
A move to Pretoria in July last year emphasised the 25-year-old’s rise in the South African rugby ranks.
After emerging as a notable rugby talent at Jim Fouche in Bloemfontein, he represented Free State at Under 16, Under 18, Under 19 and Under 21 levels and impressed in Shimlas colours during the Varsity Cup.
His impressive attacking qualities saw him receive a Springbok Sevens call-up in 2012. He played for the Blitzbokke in 11 tournaments before deciding to sign with the Bulls, which he describes as an exciting new chapter in his career.
Eight All Blacks will miss the Round 1 of Super Rugby as the World Cup in September looms over the tournament.
All 5 New Zealand Super Rugby teams face the difficult balancing act of spelling their All Blacks for 2 games each in order to keep them fresh for the World Cup defence this year.
New Zealand Rugby high performance manager Don Tricker, All Blacks strength and conditioning trainer Nick Gill and physiotherapist Peter Gallagher this week visited Super Rugby bases to map out a player-management plan.
The Blues, Crusaders and Chiefs decided to rest a selection of their All Blacks in the opening Round starting on 13 February.
Stormers and Western Province coach Allister Coetzee is in high demand to coach in the Japanese league, according to reports.
Coetzee, who still has one year left on his contract with WP, is believed to be a strong candidate to replace Gary Gold as coach of the Kobe Kobelco Steelers in Japan. Gold is set to leave the Steelers to take up the role of Sharks Director of Rugby.
Meanwhile, WP’s Vodacom Cup and Under 21 coach, John Dobson, is also believed to be on the wish list of the EP Kings, while there is also interest in Dobson’s backline coach, Dawie Snyman.
Gert Smal, WP’s Director of Rugby, said they would like to keep all current coaches at the union for the next three years and are busy with negotiations.
The Blues’ pre-season preparations continue to be disrupted by unwanted distractions.
The New Zealand Media and Entertainment services reported that Blues player George Moala went on trial on Monday for a late-night incident that took place more than a year ago.
This follows last Friday’s reports that the Blues’ Super Rugby pre-season training almost ended in disaster, when close to 30 players had to be fished out of the water by sea rescue.
According to the NZME report Moala is on trial for an attack on two men in a boozy nightclub brawl. He stands accused of having continued the assault on one as he was carried away, bleeding profusely.
A 39-man DHL Stormers squad will depart for Hermanus on Tuesday afternoon for a four-day training camp ahead of the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby competition.
Scarra Ntubeni, Eben Etzebeth, Duane Vermeulen, Nizaam Carr and Damian de Allende – all of whom toured with the Springboks at the end of last year – will all travel to Hermanus, along with capped Springboks, Siya Kolisi, Juan de Jongh and Jaco Taute.
Props Wilco Louw and Frans van Wyk, both of whom are still eligible for the DHL Western Province Under-21 team, are amongst the new faces in the squad, joining flyhalf Robert du Preez, centres Johnny Kotze and Huw Jones and fullback EW Viljoen as the other newbies in the selection mix.
Du Preez, Kotze, Jones and Viljoen are all graduates of the DHL WP Under-21 set-up from 2014, along with hooker Michael Willemse, lock Jurie van Vuuren and loose forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe, all of whom had a brief taste of Super Rugby action in 2014.
This is the third in the series of Cell C Sharks Squad Contenders for Super Rugby 2015.
The Sharks have lost the services of Anton Bresler (Edinburgh) and Peet Marais (Brive), between seasons, and have gained the services of Mouritz Botha (from Saracens) as well as the backup services of Giant Mtyanda. Stephan Lewies is still on a longer term injury list and should return somewhere in the middle of the tournament.
The early question raised is how Pieter-Steph du Toit will fare, coming back from injury.
We discuss the players IN the Super Rugby Group, and not all the options beyond that.
In this Article we look at the contenders for LOCKS in the Cell C Sharks 2015 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.
As Super Rugby preparations are underway by all franchises early in January, a quick peek at some of the things popping out at the Cell C Sharks.
We take a quick look at Brendan Venter’s role while Gary Gold is still in Japan. Renaldo Bothma tells of his tremendous growth at the Sharks in pre-season and Giant Mtyanda is drafted in to train with the Sharks as extra lock cover.
Super Rugby preparations is also underway in Bloemfontein, in anticipation of the 2015 season.
News is that Joe Pietersen who previously played at fullback for the Stormers and then went to France to try things there, is back at the Cheetahs… to exclusively play flyhalf. Pietersen is a product of Grey College in Bloemfontein.
Heinrich Brüssow, who is currently still in Japan with the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes, before joining the Cheetahs for Super Rugby (as soon as his Japanese Club’s season ends) says that the standards of rugby in Japan has improved markedly.
The Cheetahs start their Super Rugby campaign with an away game against the Sharks in Durban on 14 February.
The Blues’ Super Rugby pre-season training almost ended in disaster on Friday, when close to 30 players had to be fished out of the water by sea rescue.
This happened when a training session in the Hauraki Gulf went wrong, with two waka swamped by waves during a paddle from Takapuna Beach to Rangitoto Island.
The team had been planning to paddle nearly five kilometres across to Rangitoto in the Hauraki Gulf then run to the summit, but the training exercise was cut short.
The team tweeted about the embarrassing outcome of the pre-season trip – which, though unpleasant, did not cause any major problems.
Coach John Kirwan also issued a statement to the New Zealand media, confirming that all team members had escaped unharmed following the scare.
Springboks Pieter-Steph du Toit and Willem Alberts are back training with the Sharks after long injury layoffs.
Lock Du Toit missed much of last season with a serious knee injury, while loose forward Alberts was laid low after a back operation last July.
The duo are back in training as the Sharks start their preparations for this year’s Super Rugby competition. Both have been training well and showed no discomfort from the injuries.
There was however less good news for lock Stephan Lewies, who will reportedly remain sidelined with injury for an extended period.
With Super Rugby fast approaching it is important to have a look at what each of the teams are doing in their preparations and who they have at their disposal.
As the teams prepare for this brusing competition there is the oppourtunity to test out combanations as well as see how the new boys go.
The Sharks will travel to French champions Toloun to test out their game plan against the Galacticos of rugby while the Bulls will take on the Cheetahs in a traditional pre-season match in Polokwane.
The Australasian sides will also warm up against each other with the Highlanders setting up a comprehensive pre-season schedule due to the first round bye.
The ‘transfer market’ has made the upcoming Super Rugby season an exciting prospect with some big names in James O’Connor and Nick Cummins returning to Australia.
Menawhile, the Bulls have bolstered their squad with some excellent former Cheetahs players.
Finally, and unsurprizingly, Ma’a Nonu has made another move – this time back to the Hurricanes.
This is the third article in the range of Bulls Squad Contenders for Super Rugby 2015.
We move deeper into the enjin room to the Locks. The Bulls have lost Paul Willemse and David Bullbring at lock for the 2015 season but of course Victor Matfield is sure to play Super Rugby this time around, whereas before the 2014 season that was not the case. Apart from Victor Matfield, Flip van der Merwe and Grant Hattingh, the Bulls will be able to call on the promising young Nico Janse van Rensburg as well as Marvin Orie in 2015.
We discuss the players IN the Super Rugby Group, and not all the options beyond that.
In this Article we look at the contenders for LOCKS in the Vodacom Bulls 2015 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.
Springboks Pierre Spies, Arno Botha, Handré Pollard, Marcel van der Merwe and Adriaan Strauss will all return to Vodacom Bulls training from next week onwards, it was confirmed in Pretoria on Tuesday.
The Vodacom Bulls squad assembled in Pretoria on Monday to prepare for the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby season, but a couple of senior players will only join the fray later this month.
Former Wallabies backline star James O’Connor is returning to Australian rugby after year-long exile in Europe, saying he has matured and is ready to resume his 44-Test career.
O’Connor was released from his Australian Rugby Union contract after a series of off-field incidents and forced to continue his career in Europe when shunned by local Super Rugby teams.
Now 24, O’Connor says he has grown up and is determined to leave behind his bad boy image.
The Brumbies have appointed Michael Jones as the club’s Chief Executive Officer for the next three years, replacing Doug Edwards who resigned in December.
Jones returns to his hometown Canberra to tackle the role with the Brumbies having most recently held the Chief Executive’s position with investment banking and corporate advisory firm, Canterbury Hill Advisory in Sydney.
Jones said it was exciting to be back in Canberra working with an organisation he has followed closely his entire life.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity, there is a lot of work to get the Brumbies and community rugby to where I want it, but I’m excited by the challenge,” Jones said.
Scott Higginbotham has become the latest to join a growing list of Wallabies that will head for the exit door after the World Cup this year.
The veteran back row forward, Higginbotham, confirmed on Monday that he will leave Australia after the World Cup, where he is in contention to represent Australia.
Higginbotham will take up a contract in Japan.
His departure follows on the news that James Horwill and Adam Ashley-Cooper will continue their careers in Europe beyond the 2015 World Cup.