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Varsity CupRound 3 of the FNB Varsity Cup on Monday will feature 4 intense rivalries.

The action will get underway with the 1st-ever Varsity Cup Bloemfontein derby as newcomers FNB CUT host their cross-town rivals the FNB UFS-Shimlas in the 1st match to be televised live on Supersport 1.

The Monte Taljaard trophy will be up for grabs once again as coastal sides FNB NMMU and FNB UCT square off on the Green Mile in Cape Town, whilst in Johannesburg FNB UJ will take on FNB NWU-Pukke before the big North-South showdown between FNB UP-Tuks and FNB Maties in Pretoria.

All 4 Varsity Rugby competitions will be up and running on Monday, with the 1st fixtures in the FNB Varsity Young Guns and Steinhoff Koshuisrugby Championships kicking off as well.

Although CUT and UFS-Shimlas have never faced each other in the Varsity Cup, there is plenty of history between the 2 sides, so Bloemfontein is likely to come to a standstill when the game kicks off at 16:45 SA Time.

Newly-promoted Varsity Shield champions CUT are still looking for their 1st win of the competition, and would dearly love to make UFS-Shimlas their 1st scalp.

UCT won 2 trophies last year, picking up the Monte Taljaard trophy against the Madibaz in Port Elizabeth before going on to lift the Varsity Cup trophy at the end of the season, and having lost to UP-Tuks in Pretoria last week, they will be desperate to bounce back in front of their fans and keep the trophy in Cape Town for another year.

The trophy is played in memory of star Grey High School and UCT flank Monte Taljaard who was tragically killed in a car accident in 2008, with the match between the Ikeys and the Madibaz doubling as a celebration of his life every year.

After going down at home to UFS-Shimlas last week, UJ will be determined to put things right against a NWU-Pukke side that will still be smarting after seeing a win against Maties in Stellenbosch slip through their hands in Round 2, with a draw.

The late match will see 2 powerhouses of the competition cross swords, with 2-time champions UP-Tuks up against 3-time champions Maties, in Pretoria.

UP-Tuks currently top the standings on points difference ahead of NWU-Pukke, and will want to maintain that position, whilst Maties will be out to break the cycle of stalemates following consecutive draws in their first 2 games.

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Vodacom BullsThe Vodacom Bulls lost their 2nd successive home match when the Hurricanes caused a minor upset by winning 17 / 13 at Loftus Versfeld on Friday evening.

The last time the 3-time champions lost consecutive matches at home was in Rounds 2 and 3 in 2008. Incidentally, that was also the last year the Hurricanes won in Pretoria before this weekend.

The home team could not get into gear and were heavily penalised by referee Andre Lees. These and other errors proved very costly in the end.

Springbok flyhalf Handré Pollard scored all the Vodacom Bulls’ points through a try, conversion and 2 penalty goals.

In the aftermath to the match, the Bulls and Hurricanes Press Conferences were a sight to behold!

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke, wide-eyed as ever, seemed more strained than usual and once again underlined what he perceived as positives to be taken from the game. Captain Pierre Spies could not hide the shame and it appeared that he was deliberately looking down to avoid eye-contact with menbers of the Media.

On the other hand, Hurricanes Coach Chris Boys was in a juvial mode, making an early joke during the Press Conference, yet also stating that although they achieved to come “take Points” in South Africa, that he was not yet satisfied and felt that the Hurricans should improve.

 

Here are the Audio streams of the After Match Press Conferences:

Bulls after match Press Conference:

 

Hurricanes after match Press Conference:

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Marcell Coetzee

Marcell Coetzee

Springbok forward Marcell Coetzee scored 2 tries as the Cell C Sharks defeated the Emirates Lions 29 / 12 at a drenched Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban.

Kick-off was very nearly delayed thanks to the torrential rain that hit Durban throughout Saturday, with only the most dedicated of fans remaining in the Kings Park stands.

The natural expectation therefore was an error-strewn contest with knock-ons galore, but to credit both sides the standard of their handling and execution was better than predicted.

The Lions grew in confidence and stature as the match progressed, doing their damage off the tee through Marnitz Boshoff, but ultimately came up significantly short.

A test of tactical nous in the wet, Springbok halfbacks Cobus Reinach and Pat Lambie both showed real intelligence in their decision-making, a fine example being the build-up to Odwa Ndungane’s try.

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DHL StormersThe DHL Stormers got their 2nd win of the season, a 27 / 16 triumph over the Blues at a sun-bathed Newlands on Saturday.

It is a win that will be both celebrated and loathed.

The celebration will be for the 4 points on the standings. The negative side will be because the Blues were reduced to 14 men for 55 minutes and the home team should have won by a much larger margin.

The game was turned on its head in the 25th minute, when veteran Blues lock Hayden Triggs was spotted punching Stormers captain Duane Vermeulen – not once, but twice – and Red-carded, leaving his team a man down for a large chunk of the match.

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Hayden Triggs Red Carded for punching Duane Vermeulen

Hayden Triggs Red Carded for punching Duane Vermeulen

Veteran Blues lock Hayden Triggs will front up to a SANZAR disciplinary hearing, after he received a Red Card for punching during his team’s Super Rugby loss to the Stormers.

Triggs stands accused of having contravened Law 10.4 (a): Punching or striking.

It follows an incident that occurred in the 24th minute of the match between the DHL Stormers and Blues at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.

The case is to be considered in the first instance by SANZAR duty judicial officer Robert Stelzner.

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Owen Franks

Owen Franks

Kane Hames

Kane Hames

Crusaders prop Owen Franks and his Highlanders counterpart Kane Hames were both cited for foul play after their teams’ clash in Dunedin on Saturday.

Both players are alleged to have contravened Law 10.4 (a) Punching or striking.

Owens’ incident occurred in the 10th minute of the match while Hames’ incident took place in the 74th minute.

Upon further review of the match footage, the citing commissioner deemed in his opinion the incidents had met the Red Card threshold for foul play.

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Grant Jarrold

Grant Jarrold

Grant Jarrold has been elected the new Chairman of the Crusaders.

Jarrold said he was looking forward to stepping up to the role of Crusaders Chairman and continuing to contribute to the organisation.

“I am passionate about this team and have enjoyed being involved as a Board member since 2012.

“This is a Board, a team and an organisation full of quality, committed people, so it is an honour to assume the role of Chairman for the Crusaders,” Jarrold said.

Jarrold continued: “There are plenty of new opportunities for the Crusaders this season and in the future.

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Super RugbyIt is Round 2 of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.

There are 3 games on Friday 20 February and 4 games on Saturday 21 February.

The Toyota Cheetahs of South Africa have a BYE weekend.

Unlike in 2013 and 2014, all countries started Super Rugby on the same weekend a week ago, so we will not have skewed Logs to deal with. A team also does not pick up ANY POINTS during a BYE weekend, which is very refreshing for a change!

Super Rugby has no June break either in an attempt to make it finish early enough to fit in an abridged Rugby Championship before Rugby World Cup 2015 kicks off on 18 September 2015.

Round 1 had some real upsets and some of the teams who were touted as Tournament winners lost badly, as there were no less than 6 away wins from the 7 weekend matches.

Will everything revert back to normal in Round 2 or will there be similar surprizes to offer?

The Friday games are: Chiefs vs Brumbies in New Plymouth, Melbourne Rebels vs Waratahs in Melbourne and the Vodacom Bulls vs Hurricanes in Pretoria. On Saturday it’s the Highlanders vs Crusaders in Hamilton, Reds vs Western Force in Brisbane, DHL stormers vs Blues in Cape Town and the Cell C Sharks vs Emirates Lions in Durban to finish off Round 2.

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Cyclone Marcia in Brisbane

Cyclone Marcia in Brisbane

Cyclone Marcia could force only the 2nd abandoned match in Super Rugby history, with the Round 2 clash between the Reds and Western Force in major doubt as heavy wind and torrential rain batters Brisbane.

Should the match be abandoned, the game will be deemed a draw, with both the Reds and Force to collect 2 competition points each.

Officials from SANZAR, the ARU and both teams were locked in deep discussion on Friday, planning possible contingencies if the category 3 storm continues to cause havoc in the city.

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Karmichael Hunt

Karmichael Hunt

The Reds have not determined a course of action for Karmichael Hunt’s cocaine allegations, but they have decided to withdraw him from Saturday’s match against the Force.

The Queensland Rugby Union released a statement on their website regarding the reports of Hunt being arrested for supplying cocaine along with 2 NRL players.

The QRU clarified what they called ‘misinformation’ regarding Hunt’s arrest, as well as the timing of the incident in relation to the players contract with the Union.

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Neil Sorensen

Neil Sorensen

The New Zealand Rugby Union said they had contracted a specialist monitoring service to ensure match-fixing does not taint All Blacks, Super Rugby or domestic matches.

It said the Swiss-based company would use its fraud detection system to monitor betting around New Zealand fixtures for the next 2 years.

NZRU general manager Neil Sorensen said there was no suggestion match-fixing was a problem in New Zealand, but there was no room for complacency.

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw

All Black skipper Richie McCaw on Thursday dropped the strongest hint yet he will retire after this year’s World Cup in England and bring his glittering career to an end.

The 34-year-old captain of New Zealand, the reigning World Cup champions, admitted he was considering hanging up his boots, but was not yet ready to make a definitive announcement, preferring to focus on the ongoing Super Rugby season with the Crusaders.

“Honestly, I haven’t made any final decision, but probably the likelihood is I’m not going to be playing next year,” McCaw said at a Crusaders training session, in comments published on New Zealand Rugby’s official website.

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BarbariansThe Barbarians will make London’s Olympic Stadium their home for the first rugby match to be played at the iconic venue ahead of this year’s Rugby World Cup.

The world famous invitation side have a number of high profile international matches throughout the year in celebration of their 125th anniversary, including this fixture against Samoa on Saturday 29 August (15:00 BST) at the Olympic Stadium.

The match will be delivered in partnership between the Barbarians, E20 Stadium LLP (a joint venture between the London Legacy Development Corporation and Newham Council), and England Rugby 2015, Tournament Organisers for Rugby World Cup 2015.

The match is also part of England Rugby 2015’s testing programme and will allow the organisers to trial aspects of match day delivery ahead of the venue hosting five Rugby World Cup matches, including the Bronze Final, later this year.

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Omar Mouneimne

Omar Mouneimne

Eastern Province Rugby CEO, Charl Crous has confirmed reports that Kings defence coach, Omar Mouneimne, has been approached by French team Lyon OU to possibly assist them on a consultancy basis.

“At this point in time nothing has been confirmed and there is no agreement in place with Lyon. Omar played a valuable role in making the Southern Kings one of the toughest teams defensively in the 2013 Super Rugby competition, and we can already see the positive impact that his return has had on the team,” said Crous.

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Emirates LionsEmirates Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named his team to face the Cell C Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

The forwards see several changes as Jacques van Rooyen comes in at loosehead prop. Hence, Schalk van der Merwe shifts to the bench to provide cover. Additionally, Jaco Kriel has been withdrawn due to the recurrence of a groin injury. As a result, Derick Minnie will start at openside flanker and Warwick Tecklenburg is called up to the starting line-up to fill the blindside flank berth.

There are absolutely no changes to the starting Emirates Lions backline for this match.

Meanwhile, on the wood, both Robbie Coetzee and Julian Redelinghuys have recovered from their respective injuries and have been called up to cover the hooker and prop berths respectively.

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Lubabalo 'Giant' Mtyanda

Lubabalo ‘Giant’ Mtyanda

The Cell C Sharks welcome back Bismarck du Plessis to the team to host the Lions at Growthpoint Kings Park in one of a handful of changes to last week’s side.

Director of Rugby, Gary Gold, explaining the rationale in making new selections, explains: “Due to injuries, we have had to necessitate a few changes to the team.

“Apart from those injury-enforced changes, we have tried to keep the team as consistent as possible, so that players have another opportunity to get the wrongs of the past weekend right.”

They will have to make do without the likes of wing S’bura Sithole, Mouritz Botha and Beast Mtawarira, but that opens the door of opportunity to Odwa Ndungane, debutant lock Lubabalo “Giant” Mtyanda and Dale Chadwick.

2 Very exciting young talents in Thomas du Toit and Andre Esterhuizen come onto the bench for this week’s match.

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Jurie van Vuuren

Jurie van Vuuren

The DHL Stormers have announced just 1 change to the starting team for their 1st home match of the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby season, against the Blues at DHL Newlands on Saturday (17:05 SA Time).

Having opened their campaign with a clinical 29 / 17 win over the Bulls in Pretoria last weekend, DHL Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee has wisely kept the changes to a minimum.

In an enforced change, however, No 4 lock Jean Kleyn misses out with a hamstring injury, handing a start to fellow young gun and lock-cum-flank Jurie van Vuuren – after the latter came off the bench at Loftus Versfeld.

In a further change to the 23-man squad that played away last Saturday, fit-again Springbok loose forward Siya Kolisi comes in for Van Vuuren in the No 19 shirt – meaning Michael Rhodes and Rynhardt Elstadt will cover at lock whilst giving the hosts 2 explosive back-row options from the bench in the process.

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Ross Geldenhuys

Ross Geldenhuys

Highlanders coach, Jamie Joseph, has named South African journeyman Ross Geldenhuys at tighthead for the big South Island clash against the Crusaders on Saturday.

Geldenhuys is 1 of 7 debutants for the Highlanders who had a BYE in Round 1 of Super Rugby.

As with last season the team will be co-captained by Nasi Manu and Ben Smith.

Joseph has selected from a near fully fit squad with just Shane Christie (hamstring), Richard Buckman (knee) and Pingi Tala’apitaga (knee) unavailable due to injury.

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Francois van Wyk

Francois van Wyk

South African Loosehead prop Francois van Wyk will make his first appearance in the starting fifteen when the Western Force takes on the Queensland Reds at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

Van Wyk, who scored the Force’s final try in last weekend’s 25 / 13 win over the Waratahs, has played 3 matches off the bench for the Western Australian club, and will pack down alongside Wallabies Nathan Charles and Tetera Faulkner.

The 24-year-old front rower replaces Pek Cowan, who will be monitored regarding his pending return after scans cleared him of any serious injury having been carried from the field on Sunday.

The other change to the starting 15 sees Zack Holmes promoted to fullback in the absence of Dane Haylett-Petty, who has been ruled out with a foot injury.

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James O'Connor

James O’Connor

Reds head coach Richard Graham has named his side to take on the Western Force at Suncorp Stadium this Saturday, with 4 personnel changes to the side which lost to the Brumbies in the opening Round.

2 Of the changes are to the starting side, with former All Blacks flanker Adam Thomson and Wallabies utility James O’Connor named to make their Reds debut.

Thomson will start at blindside flanker, with Curtis Browning shifting to the bench. O’Connor has been named starting flyhalf, with Karmichael Hunt returning to fullback.

On the bench, former Australian Schoolboys and Under 20 representative Tom Murday replaces Ed O’Donoghue at lock. Murday was part of the Reds Wider Training Squad in 2013 before heading to New Zealand to join ITM Cup side Northland. He was a member of the Blues Extended Player Squad last year before returning home to train with the Reds. Should he take the field this weekend it will be his Super Rugby debut.

The other change to the replacements sees utility Sam Johnson come in for Duncan Paia’aua, who has been ruled out following a head knock in last week’s match. Johnson, a bruising centre for Brisbane club GPS, made his Super Rugby debut for the Reds last season and is a member of the club’s Elite Development Squad.

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Israel Dagg

Israel Dagg

Israel Dagg will make his return to Super Rugby when the Crusaders take on the Highlanders this Saturday.

He is 1 of 5 changes to the starting line-up this week.

Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder has named Wyatt Crockett to start in the No 1 jersey this week, with Joe Moody and Nepo Laulala providing prop cover from the bench.

Scott Barrett will start at lock for the first time in Super Rugby, pairing up with Luke Romano and with Dominic Bird on the bench.

Colin Slade shifts from fullback to flyhalf, with Daniel Carter recovering from a knock to the leg in last week’s match, and Dagg steps in at No 15.

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Ita Vaea

Ita Vaea

Ita Vaea will complete a remarkable and dramatic comeback from a serious heart condition to start for the Brumbies for the first time since 2012.

Jarrad Butler moves to openside flank this Friday when the Brumbies travel to New Zealand’s north island to face the Chiefs.

A syndesmosis injury to David Pocock forced the change, with Vaea featuring at No 8 and in the starting side for the first time in 2 years.

The last time Vaea started for the Brumbies was under Jake White in 2012 and the Tongan powerhouse hasn’t featured at the back of the scrum since 2011.

Vaea has battled a serious heart condition for more than 2 years, with last week’s 30-minute effort against the Reds his 1st Super Rugby time since coming from the bench to beat the Waratahs in Sydney back in Round 15 of 2012.

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Luke Burgess

Luke Burgess

Tony McGahan, Melbourne Rebels coach, has made 1 forced change to the side that defeated the Crusaders in Round 1, as the Waratahs head to AAMI Park to face the Rebels this Friday.

Scrumhalf Nic Stirzaker has been suspended for 1 week, so Wallaby Luke Burgess moves to the starting lineup and exciting 2nd-year Rebel Ben Meehan is named in the matchday 23 for the first time this year.

Whilst disappointed to lose Stirzaker, McGahan had faith in the ability of both his scrumhalves to cover the loss.

“Nic is an important player for us, but we have quality players within this position,” he said.

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Jano Vermaak

Jano Vermaak

Springbok scrumhalf Jano Vermaak is set to join the Stormers at the end of the season after 2 years with Toulouse.

The former Lions and Bulls scrumhalf joined the 4-time European champions in 2013, and featured regularly in his 1st season in the Top 14.

He has fallen down the pecking order this season however, with Sébastien Bezy and Jean-Marc Doussain both ahead of him, making just 2 starts so far.

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Naka Drotske

Naka Drotske

The Cheetahs’ team doctor has a special plan to help the team overcome jet lag on their upcoming Australasian Super Rugby tour.

The men from Bloemfontein start their tour with a clash against the Crusaders in Christchurch on 21 March, before facing the Chiefs (Hamilton 28 March), Brumbies (Canberra 4 April) and Force (11 April).

Dr Louis Holtzhausen said the fact that the Cheetahs’ first game is in Christchurch makes things extra difficult.

“It’s the furthest that you can travel and the most difficult away game to start with,” he said.

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Malakai Fekitoa

Malakai Fekitoa

Following his 2014 breakout season for the Highlanders and All Blacks, Malakai Fekitoa has re-signed with New Zealand Rugby for 2 years, extending his contract until at least the end of 2017.

Fekitoa’s commitment is a major coup for both New Zealand Rugby and the Highlanders and he joins a growing list of current All Blacks who have recommitted beyond this year.

He was 1 of only 4 players to play in all 17 Highlanders’ games last year, staking his claim on the No 13 jersey early with his eye-catching performance in the opening round of the 2014 Super Rugby Competition against his old team, the Blues.

He was also 1 of 2 players to play every possible minute for their team last season (1360 across 17 appearances), the other being Michael Hooper who played 1440, including the Final.

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Finn Russell

Finn Russell

Finn Russell, the Scotland outside half, appeared today before an independent Six Nations Disciplinary Committee at Heathrow, having been cited under Law 10.4 (e) and (i) for an alleged dangerous tackle of an opponent in the air in the 31st minute of the RBS 6 Nations match between Scotland and Wales on Sunday 15 February 2015.

The Disciplinary Committee, chaired by Mike Hamlin (England) along with Jean-Philippe Lachaume (France) and Pat Barriscale (Ireland), having heard from the player and his representative and viewed various TV angles of the incident, determined that Finn Russell had committed an act of foul play which merited a Red Card rather than the on-field Yellow Card given by the Match Officials.

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Ma'a Nonu

Ma’a Nonu

All Black Ma’a Nonu is back at centre for the Hurricanes as they prepare to face the Bulls in a Super Rugby clash at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.

Nonu missed the Hurricanes’ 22 / 8 win over the Lions in Johannesburg last

weekend to attend the birth of his child, but has slotted into the starting fifteen this week.

It will be Nonu’s 145th Super Rugby appearance, and 1st for the Hurricanes since 2011.

The match will also be a significant occasion for Manawatu flank Callum Gibbins, who is set to get his 1st start for the Hurricanes.

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