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.
16 Teams, split into 2 Sections of 8 each, will contest the 2015 Vodacom Cup, with defending champions GWK Griquas heading up a strong South Section and the Welwitschias from Namibia back in the competition and replacing the Kenyan Tusker Simba XV side who has withdrawn due to financial considerations.
Joining the 5-time champions from Kimberley in the South Section will be winners in 2012, DHL Western Province, as well as the Boland Cavaliers, Border Bulldogs, Cell C Sharks XV, EP Kings, SWD Eagles and Toyota Free State XV.
The Xerox Golden Lions, runners up last year and champions in 2013, are in the North Section with the Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls, Down Touch Griffons, Leopards XV, Steval Pumas, Valke, Vodacom Blue Bulls and Welwitschias from Namibia.
Rugby development in Africa took a heavy blow this week when Kenya withdrew their team from this year’s Vodacom Cup competition.
The Tusker Simba XV that took part in last year’s competition was meant to be involved in the 2015 edition as well, but have had to withdraw from all games as they don’t have the financial resources to field a team in the competition.
The invitation for them to participate came from SA Rugby to help with rugby development in Africa, and was seen as a key part of Kenya’s development as a rugby nation, especially after their success at Sevens level.
The Tusker Simba XV finished second last in last year’s Southern Section, above the Border Bulldogs.
MJ Mentz has been handed the reigns for the Pumas in their upcoming Vodacom Cup campaign and the coach is looking to keep a similar system going.
The Pumas enjoyed a successful year in 2014 as they toppled some of the bigger teams in the Currie Cup through their gritty determination.
“The secret to our success this year will certainly lie in our communication skills and a shared goal,” Mentz said.
The new coach also said the last two years coaching under the mentorship of coach Jimmy Stonehouse was a great stepping-stone in his coaching career.
The way Stonehouse maintained discipline in the squad was a huge encouragement and now Mentz would like to add his way to the existing system.
The Nelspruit-based Steval Pumas have retained the bulk of their coaching squad, without appointing a new head coach.
The top spot in the coaching became vacant earlier this month when head coach Jimmy Stonehouse resigned from his position to join Japanese club Toshiba Brave Lupus.
On Thursday the board of directors of the Mpumalanga Rugby (Pty) Ltd revealed they have decided to leave the coaching team intact for the duration of the 2015 Vodacom Cup.
Nizaam Carr and Handré Pollard lead the full list of nominees released by SARU on Wednesday for their annual Player of the Year Awards, which will take place on 8 February in Midrand.
Carr and Pollard, both of whom made their Test debuts for the Springboks this season, have both been nominated in three categories.
The 23-year-old Carr has been nominated in for the SARU Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and Currie Cup Player of the Year.
Pollard, who is only 20, has been nominated in the categories for SARU Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and SA Under 20 Player of the Year.
Coming off a highly successful 2014 rugby season in all areas, the Lions have announced the final signings of players for the 2015 season
The GLRU has worked hard in maintaining growth potential in junior players and increasing depth where needed.
The Lions have managed to attact six SA Schools players for the Under 19 squad in Nazo Nkala, Barend Smit, Sarel Smith, Kenny van Niekerk and Marco van Vuuren.
In the Under 21 squad there are seven players who took part in the recent Under 20 World Cup in New Zealand. Cyle Brink, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Thabo Mabuza, Malcolm Marx, Ramone Samuels, Victor Sekeketi and Currie Cup player Jaco van der Walt.
In the senior squad the Lions boast seven players who are either capped by the Springboks or were involved this year, as well as BlitzBokke in Albertus “Kwagga” Smith and their captain Warren Whiteley who is both a Springbok and a Sevens Bok.
As 2014 draws to an end, and the festive spirit starts to take over, it also brings with it a time to reflect on the year gone by. The Blue Bulls Company today hosted their annual Player Awards at very casual and relaxed event hosted on the Loftus B-Field.
All the contracted players, including the Under 19’s, Under 21’s and senior teams, attended the event. They were also joined by a host of team management, administration staff, sponsors and partners.
Full list of awards:
The Namibian Rugby Union (NRU) has welcomed the inclusion of a Namibian team in next year’s Vodacom Cup competition.
NRU president Bradley Basson, confirmed on Tuesday that the South African Rugby Union has agreed to Namibia’s request to be included in the 16-team competition that will run from early March through to the end of May.
“It is the best thing that could have happened to Namibian rugby in our build-up towards the Rugby World Cup, we have a number of local based players who are not exposed to high level rugby and they will benefit from this,” said Basson from Carcavelos, Portugal where the national team is preparing for a test match against Portugal on Saturday.
GWK Griquas dethroned the defending champions to clinch the Vodacom Cup for the 5th time when they beat the Golden Lions by 30-6 in the final at GWK Park in Kimberley on Friday evening.
These 2 teams are now the undoubted kings of Vodacom Cup rugby, both with 5 titles out of the 17 on offer since the inception of the competition in 1998.
It was GWK Griquas’ first Vodacom Cup title since 2009 and also avenged their home defeat in the in the final seconds of the 2012 final against DHL Western Province. They won their other Vodacom Cup titles in 1998, when they also beat the Golden Lions in the final, as well as 2005 and 2007.
Griquas (16) 30 / 6 (6) Golden Lions (Final Score)
GWK Griquas and the Golden Lions did battle in the Final of the Vodacom Cup at
GWK Park, Kimberley at 19:10 SA Time (17:10 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1, SHD & M-Net on TV in SA.
The 2 biggest ‘dogs’ in the history of the Vodacom Cup, the Golden Lions and GWK Griquas, take on each other in Kimberley on Friday evening in the grand finale of the competition in 2014.
Between these 2 sides, who will clash at 19:10 SA Time at GWK Park, they have won the Vodacom Cup 9 times since its inception in 1998. That means more than half of all the titles have gone either to Johannesburg or Kimberley.
It’s the Lions’ 2nd visit to Kimberley this year. They lost their Round 5 encounter at GWK Park by 33-18.
Golden Lions Head Coach, Russell Winter, has announced his team to take on GWK Griquas in Kimberley on Friday night.
Should the Golden Lions win, they will remain as the team with the most victories in the competition with 6, but if Griquas triumph they will join the Golden Lions as 5 time winners of the competition.
Griquas have laid an official complaint against the Pumas who apparently fielded an ineligible player in their Vodacom Cup semi-final clash in Nelspruit last Friday.
Griquas are upset that the Pumas played Coenie van Wyk at fullback.
The two most successful teams in Vodacom Cup history, GWK Griquas and the Golden Lions, will contest the 2014 final after both won their semi-finals away from home this weekend.
In both matches, the team that scored more tries were knocked out and the points’ difference in the semi-finals in Nelspruit and Pretoria was a single point.
On Friday evening in Nelspruit, the Steval Pumas lost their first match of the season when they went down by 14-15 to four-time champions, GWK Griquas, after a last-minute penalty goal by fullback Gouws Prinsloo.
The visitors to the Mbombela Stadium had the best possible start when flyhalf Francois Brummer put them ahead by 3-0 after only 20 seconds with a well-struck drop-goal.
Pumas (3) 14 / 15 (9) Griquas (Final Score)
The Steval Pumas and GWK Griquas did battle in the 1st Semi-Final of the Vodacom Cup at
Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit at 19:10 SA Time (17:10 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1, SHD & M-Net on TV in SA.
While the Vodacom Cup heads towards two very competitive semifinals this weekend, one small story that will go unnoticed will be the rise of a top young new coach in Peter Engledow, who will take Griquas into their big showdown with the Pumas in Nelspruit confident of victory.
Golden Lions head coach Russell Winter has named his 22-man side to front the Vodacom Blue Bulls in a Vodacom Cup semi-final clash on Saturday.
The team remains unchanged from last week’s side that trumped the Cell C Sharks XV 27-20 in Durban.
The venue for the game has been changed to take place at Loftus Versfeld, after carefull scrutiny of the rules of the tournament, leading to the conclusion that the Vodacom Blue Bulls are ahead of the Golden Lions on the Logs and therefore should host the semi-final.
With 12 titles out of 16 between them, three of the four teams contesting the Vodacom Cup semi-finals this weekend – all of them from the North Section – know a thing or two about winning this competition.
It’s only the Steval Pumas, runners up in 2013 and the only unbeaten team this season, that hasn’t won the Vodacom Cup.
But the Golden Lions, whose title last year was their fifth, GWK Griquas (four-times champions) and the Vodacom Blue Bulls (three-time champions) have dominated the competition between them since its inception in 1998.
A late venue change handed the Vodacom Blue Bulls home ground advantage for their Vodacom Cup semifinal match against defending champions, the Golden Lions, on Saturday.
The two teams will now meet at Loftus Versfeld due to the hosts finishing above their southern neighbour on the points log.
The match was originally scheduled for Johannesburg on Friday, but a proper look at the regulations of the competition prompted a venue switch.
GWK Griquas scored the biggest playoff victory in the history of the Vodacom Cup as all four teams from the North Section proved too strong for their counterparts from the South and progressed to the semi-finals.
With three of the winning margins over the weekend between one and seven points, GWK Griquas’ 84-15 victory over the SWD Eagles perhaps best illustrated the dominance the North had over the South.
The previous biggest victory in a playoff match also involved the team from the Northern Cape, when they lost 73-7 to the Golden Lions in the 1999 Final.
The Golden Lions and Vodacom Blue Bulls, with eight Vodacom Cup titles between them, had to travel for their quarter-finals, while the Steval Pumas and GWK Griquas won their playoffs at home.
This means that for a second successive year the winner of the Vodacom Cup will come from the North Section – last year the Golden Lions proved too strong for the Steval Pumas in the Final in Nelspruit.
The Steval Pumas, Cell C Sharks XV, GWK Griquas and Toyota Free State XV will host the four Vodacom Cup quarter-finals after the pool phase of the competition came to an exciting conclusion this weekend.
It was an exciting end to the competition in 2014, with a total of 75 tries scored in the eight pool matches at an average of just over nine per match, or one try every eight or so minutes.
While the North Section went pretty much as expected and the Steval Pumas managed the become the only team to go through their pool matches unbeaten, the last round in the South Section saw the log getting a proper overhaul following upsets in Durban and George on Friday evening.
While the four teams who will contest the Vodacom Cup quarter-finals from the South Section have been decided, the race to get into the playoffs in the North Section is not over yet after the penultimate round of pool action.
And to add some spice, in the final round (in two weeks’ time) four of the top five teams in the North Section take on each other in two highly anticipated clashes. The defending champion Golden Lions (currently fourth on the log) host 2013’s runners-up the Steval Pumas (first), while GWK Griquas (second) have to travel to North West province to take on the Leopards XV (fifth).
The Vodacom Blue Bulls (third) host their neighbours to the north, the Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls, in Pretoria and a likely win should cement their place in the quarter-finals.
Lions centre Dylan des Fountain has been forced to retire from professional rugby due to a knee injury.
The Lions have issued a media release concerning injuries sustained during the weekend’s Super Rugby encounter against the Blues as well as the Vodacom Cup match against the Valke.
The Down Touch Griffons and Cell C Sharks XV were the big winners in the first round of the 2014 Vodacom Cup, which kicked off across the width and breadth of South Africa this weekend.
These two teams top the North and South Section logs after round one when they managed to bag a full-house of five log points in their opening victories over the Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls and Border Bulldogs respectively.
Siviwe “Shakes” Soyizwapi and Scott van Breda will start against the Tusker Simba XV in Cape Town on Saturday in the Eastern Province Kings first Vodacom Cup match of the season.
Vodacom Cup head coach, Mzwandile Stick, said both Soyizwapi and Van Breda, who had been on loan to the Stormers, had returned to the Kings this week, as they had not been selected as part of the Stormers touring squad.
Springbok captain Jean de Villiers on Wednesday became only the sixth player to be named South African Rugby Player of the Year more than once, while Eben Etzebeth was named the Young Player of the Year for 2013 for the second successive season at a glittering ceremony at the Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City in Johannesburg.
De Villiers led the Springboks to 10 wins in 12 Tests in 2013 and scored five tries in the process following an outstanding Vodacom Super Rugby campaign for the DHL Stormers. His first-class record now stands at 254 matches with 91 tries scored.
Former Baby Boks, Lions and Boland coach Eugene “Loffie” Eloff will coach the Border Bulldogs in this year’s Vodacom Cup.
Kenya will add an international flavour to the Vodacom Cup this year when they compete in this 17th annual edition of this national competition for the first time.
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Wednesday confirmed that Kenya will form part of the Vodacom Cup in the place of Argentina’s Pampas XV, Vodacom Cup champions in 2011.
Griekwas het die dienste van twee Leeus-staatmakers vir die Vodacombeker- en Curriebeker-reeks bekom.
Die haker Martin Bezuidenhout en die skrumskakel Tiaan Meyer, wat albei sterk aanspraakmakers op insluiting by die Cheetahs se Superrugby-span sal wees, sluit hulle later vandeesweek by die span in die Diamantstad aan.
A lot of rugby will be played this weekend, with the much awaited friendly between Saracens and the Cell C Sharks, the HSBC Sevens World Series tournament in Las Vegas and the LV Cup, amongst others, happening.
The Referees & Match Officials have been named.
The Eastern Province Kings may be keen, but they are a long way off from securing the services of Gary Gold.
Media reports on Friday suggested the former Springbok assistant coach could be heading to Port Elizabeth – to fill the void left by the departure of another former Bok assistant, Alan Solomons, and New Zealander Matt Sexton.
Kenya will replace the Pampas XV in this year’s Vodacom Cup competition, a report indicates.
Edinburgh Rugby have recruited 2013 Currie Cup (First Division) and Vodacom Cup winning stand-off Carl Bezuidenhout on an extended trial until the end of the season.
The 27 year-old began training with the squad at Murrayfield Stadium this morning (Monday 30 December) two months after the Pumas’ unbeaten Currie Cup First Division triumph, in which he ended the season as tournament top points’ scorer.