After brokering the deal for a new European Cup, starting next season, bosses of Aviva Premiership clubs are understood to be working on plans for a World Club competition.
It has been reported that the English clubs will test the resolve of the IRB by proposing plans to create a new worldwide club tournament for the summer of June 2018 which, as it stands, is currently a designated international rugby window.
The Cell C Sharks ground out their sixth win of the Vodacom Super Rugby season to stay at the top of the standings, but for the other three South African teams in action this weekend, the ninth round wasn’t a happy one.
The KwaZulu-Natalians beat a plucky Lions side by 25-12 in front of more than 30,000 people at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday evening. It was a battle of attrition and the visitors from Durban scored the only try of the match.
Earlier on Saturday, the Toyota Cheetahs put up a brave fight, but for a second successive week they fell off the pace in the final 10 minutes as they lost by 52-31 to the Crusaders in Bloemfontein – the team from Canterbury’s first win in the Free State Stadium for seven years.
On Friday morning, the Vodacom Bulls could not put an end to a seven-year drought in Dunedin as they paid the price for making way too many errors with ball in hand and on defence as they went down by 27-20 to the Highlanders.
Squad captain Jean de Villiers, prop Pat Cilliers and lock / flank Jurie van Vuuren are all back on deck this week, and available for selection against the Lions.
Hookers Scarra Ntubeni and Tiaan Liebenberg and wing Kobus van Wyk are not available for selection as yet, whilst flank Schalk Burger and winger Cheslin Kolbe will be given until later in the week to see if they are available.
Andries Coetzee has been sent to a surgeon to reassess his knee which may require a clean up, potentially ruling him out for a week or two.
Coetzee suffered knee ligament damage in the Lions pre-season warm up match against the Eastern Province Kings and has not featured in the Lions campaign until last weekend’s 25-12 loss to the Sharks.
They are strong, generally popular characters of the international rugby landscape and that is never a bad thing … but do brothers Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis take interaction with referees a bit too far?
The voices of the two Sharks front-rankers have been among the most consistently audible to mass audiences this season as far as spirited dialogue with Super Rugby officials is concerned.
Shrinks (and may I cheekily add, at the risk of generalisation, wives and girlfriends?) will tell you that communication is healthy.
That’s the question not even the Waratahs have the answer to right now, as the Wallaby star waits to be medically cleared for Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby game.
Folau was controversially pulled from the clash with the Western Force on Saturday after the Australian Rugby Union medical staff overruled the Waratahs’ decision to put him on the park after a throat Cartilage injury.
“We haven’t lost hope.”
The hard words of Toyota Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss after his side’s loss at the hands of the Crusaders in their Vodacom Super Rugby match this past weekend.
The Reds go into their bye week with the firm belief that Plan A will get them into the Super Rugby play-offs.
Reds coach Richard Graham – who is hoping to get a number of frontline players back from injury when they return to action against the Hurricanes on April 26 – said the next block of matches will be vital to his team’s cause.
Clyde Rathbone insists he is ready for a Super Rugby recall if required after making a successful comeback from injury on Saturday.
The South African-born Rathbone surprised many by joining up with the Brumbies’ Super Rugby squad at the end of the 2012 season – he announced his retirement in 2009.
England and Saracens flyhalf Owen Farrell is in doubt for the rest of season after he was forced to leave the field at half time in the Premiership leaders 28-24 win over second-placed Northampton on Sunday.
Farrell had to be relieved of kicking duties by Argentina’s Marcelo Bosch and didn’t take the field in the second half at Saracens’ home ground in Hendon, north-west London.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster will be hoping that Farrell is fit enough for their end of season tour of New Zealand.
James Coughlan, who captained Munster to their 5-22 defeat at the hands of Glasgow Warriors last Saturday, was left infuriated by the display.
Munster’s shock defeat is their first at home in the competition and comes after a quarterfinal victory in the European Cup against Toulouse.
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.
The South African Rugby Union will on Monday get a better idea of the government’s new ‘adapt or die’ transformation policy.
Speaking at a general meeting of the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee recently Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula revealed that the minimum requirement for the number of blacks in teams have been increased to 60 percent.
Stuart Berry will be the referee in the South African Super Rugby derby between the Stormers and Lions at Newlands on Saturday (17:05 kick-off).
Berry will be assisted by Marius van der Westhuizen and Quinton Immelman, with Shaun Veldsman on Television Match Official (TMO) duty.
The Lions don’t learn from their mistakes they will be doomed to repeat them.
This was the harsh message from coach Johan Ackermann after his side held the Cell C Sharks for 65 minutes, before allowing them a turnover inside the Lions’ own half and watched as the game slipped away from them through an excellent Lwazi Mvovo try to lose 25-12 in their Vodacom Super Rugby match on Saturday.
Every time the Cell C Sharks score a win there are mutters in the background that they still have to travel overseas, but the rate they are going they will leave for Australasia needing to do very little to confirm themselves as the winners of the South African conference in Vodacom Super Rugby.
It has been written that the Sharks, in beating the Lions at Ellis Park this past weekend, showed that they are not as commanding away from home as they are at Growthpoint Kings Park. But that should surely be a given in a season where until the past two weeks home ground advantage was so important, and these days a win over the Lions in Johannesburg is not something you just accept as an expected event. You have to work for it.
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke admits he will be again looking for reasons why his side dominated the possession stakes against the Highlanders and didn’t get the reward.
The Bulls had more than enough ball in their Vodacom Super Rugby game on Friday but defensive lapses and a lack of execution cost them as they went down 27-20 in Dunedin.
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke will know on Wednesday if he could select Jurgen Visser, Flip van der Merwe and Akona Ndungane for this weekend’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Waratahs in Sydney.
After slipping to their sixth defeat in eight games in this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby season, even coach Naka Drotske had to admit that his team’s slim outside chances of staging a massive comeback is dead and buried and now only pride remains for the team to play for.
Just how will Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer go into any international this year without the boot of Frans Steyn?
The big midfielder underlined his importance with four massive penalties and a conversion for a total of 14 points as the Cell C Sharks returned to the top of the Vodocom Super Rugby table with a 25-12 win over the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett was impressed by the performance of Sharks centre S’bura Sithole against the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday night.
Sithole was named man-of-the-match following the Sharks’ 25-12 victory which took them back to the top of the Super Rugby standings.
The Blues have called Hawke’s Bay Magpies and Maori All Blacks first five-eighths Ihaia West into their Super Rugby squad as replacement for the injured Baden Kerr who has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
After fracturing a bone at the base of his thumb in a pre-season match against the Hurricanes, 24-year-old Kerr then fractured two fingers playing rugby for his club side Karaka last month and was forced to have surgery, ruling him out of action for at least 12 weeks.
Legendary All Black Brad Thorn’s ageing body has broken down for a second time this season, a bicep injury ruling him out or the remainder of the Super Rugby competition.
It was revealed that the 39-year-old lock forward tore his bicep in the Highlanders’ 27-20 win over the Bulls in Dunedin at the weekend.
Nick Cummins is confident his team’s steely new attitude and willingness to work for each other will help them overcome a growing injury toll.
The Force can dare to dream of securing a maiden finals berth after Saturday night’s win over the Waratahs propelled them into fourth spot on the Super Rugby table.
However, their latest triumph came at a major cost, with scrumhalf Alby Mathewson (ankle) and wing Luke Morahan (hamstring) set to miss this weekend’s clash with the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park.
Connacht captured a major overseas signing for the 2014 / 2015 season to further strengthen the midfield.
New Zealand-born centre Bundee Aki, 24, a member of the two-time defending Super Rugby champion Chiefs, has signed a three-year deal with the Irish province, Connacht, and the Irish Rugby Football Union.