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ShimlasPukkeShimlas (24) 29 / 26 (5) Pukke (Final Score)

FNB UFS-Shimlas (University of the Free State) and FNB NWU-Pukke (University of North West) did

battle in the Varsity Cup at Shimla Park, Bloemfontein at 19:00 SA Time (17:00 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.

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Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn

Frans Steyn has been found not guilty by a SANZAR judicial hearing on Monday.

This follows after the Springbok midfielder was Red-Carded for an alleged spear tackle in the Sharks’ 12 / 11 Super Rugby win over the Chiefs at the weekend.

Frans Steyn has been found not guilty of disobeying Law 10.4 (j) Lifting Tackling, during a SANZAR Judicial hearing, after he was carded with a Red in a Super Rugby match against the Chiefs at the weekend.

The tip tackle, which was double teamed with Cobus Reinach, took place after 28 minutes had passed between the Sharks and the Chiefs at Kings Park, Durban, on 21 March.

It was a controversial moment, after TMO Marius Jonker recommended a Yellow Card to referee Angus Gardner after reviewing the incident. The on-field officials also had the benefit of watching the dangerous tackle on the big screen. Nevertheless, it was a Red Card.

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Nasi Manu

Nasi Manu

Highlanders co-captain Nasi Manu has signed for Scottish club Edinburgh and will leave at the end of the current Super Rugby season.

Manu has played 53 games for the Highlanders and has been co-captain with Ben Smith for the last 2 seasons.

“Believe me it was a very hard decision to leave the Highlanders, my team mates, my friends and family. This place, this team, it gets under your skin, becomes part of you and I will always treasure my time here” said Manu.

“Obviously I want to go out on a good note and I am keen to finish off my time here really successfully and that’s my focus at the moment.

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FijiA Fijian rugby player has died in his sleep aged just 32 midway through a tournament.

Prop Iosefo Bele Tabalala failed to wake up at his team’s hotel room, the Fijian Rugby Union (FRU) said on Saturday.

“His room mate and medical team in camp tried all efforts to revive him,” the FRU said in a statement.

Tabalala, a 32-year-old member of the Brothers Rugby Club in Brisbane, had been playing for the Fiji Warriors in the World Rugby Pacific Challenge.

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Bismarck du Plessis

Bismarck du Plessis

The Cell C Sharks issued a Media Release today, regarding Bismarck du Plessis 4 week suspension for kicking an opponent in the face on Saturday, in the ill-tempered game between the Cell C Sharks and the Chiefs, in Durban.

It reads as follows:

Bismarck du Plessis today appeared in a SANZAR judicial hearing, following him being issued with a red card for foul play in the 18th minute of yesterday’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Chiefs at Growthpoint KINGS PARK.

Upon pleading guilty to the charge, SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Adam Casselden, handed du Plessis a four-week suspension.

In acceptance of the punishment handed to him by SANZAR, Bismarck du Plessis said: “I want to unreservedly apologise for my behaviour both as captain and a senior player. My actions were unacceptable and I fully accept the punishment handed down to me by SANZAR.

“I will use these four-weeks off the field to reflect on my actions as both a leader and role-model in the game. I am painfully aware that people have lost faith in my character and the values I claim to stand for. I intend to rectify that through actions going forward and not merely words.”

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Frans Ludeke

Frans Ludeke

The Vodacom Bulls fully support the South African Rugby Union’s plan to rest key Springboks, but there won’t be a mass withdrawal of players at any stage.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said the next 5 weeks will see the Bulls rotate the players in a calculated move that is in line with the SARU plan.

In a meeting between SARU, the national body’s CEO, Jurie Roux, Bok coach Heyneke Meyer, the various franchise CEOs and coaching representatives it was agreed that franchise coaches – as far as possible – would rest key Springboks at various stages in the season.

Two principles were identified as being ideal:

  1. That players should not play more than 5 consecutive weeks.
  2. That certain Springbok players should have a number of weeks of rest during the tournament (2 to 4 weeks depending on each player’s personal needs and position and the franchise’s playing resources). Bye weeks are not considered as a rest week (although they do trigger a restart of the count of consecutive weeks), while injury weeks are ‘invisible’ (i.e. a player injured for 2 weeks during the 1st 7 weeks of the tournament would be regarded as having played 5 consecutive weeks at the end of week 7).

However, the Sharks have already bucked the system – with coach Gary Gold having said his outfit is in a different position to other SA outfits.

The Bulls have opted to take a different stance.

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Jacques Potgieter

Jacques Potgieter

The Australian Rugby Union fined Waratahs player Jacques Potgieter $ 20 000.00 (with $ 10 000.00 suspended), following an incident during Sunday afternoon’s match against the Brumbies.

Potgieter admitted making comments contrary to the Australian Rugby Union’s Inclusion Policy.

He will also be required to undergo additional educational and awareness training.

The sanction was determined following an investigation by the ARU’s Integrity Unit, after the matter was referred to the ARU by SANZAR late Monday afternoon.

The incident follows the endorsement of an ARU Inclusion Policy in August 2014, which is designed to stamp out all forms of discrimination and homophobia in Rugby.

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Varsity CupThere will be 4 teams fighting it out over the 2 remaining play-offs spots in the final round of the FNB Varsity Cup on Monday.

With FNB UP-Tuks and FNB UFS-Shimlas having secured home semi-finals with big wins in the penultimate Round last week, it is down to which teams will join them in the knockout phase of the competition.

Just 4 log points separate the next four sides, who will all be desperate to ensure they will be travelling to either Pretoria or Bloemfontein for a semi-final next week.

In the early match on Monday, 2-time champions UP-Tuks will be looking to maintain their place at the top of the standings when they travel to Port Elizabeth to face FNB NMMU Madibaz, hoping to end a disappointing campaign on a high.

In Cape Town defending champions FNB UCT will know that a win will see them stay in the competition, but their opponents FNB UJ will need more than that as their outside chance of making the semi-finals rests on other results going their way as well.

3-Time champions FNB Maties face winless newcomers FNB CUT in Bloemfontein, and they will need a full 5 Log points and a favour from either UJ or FNB UFS-Shimlas if they are to avoid missing the play-off’s for just the 2nd time in the history of the competition.

UFS-Shimlas are the only team that has yet to lose this season, and they host FNB NWU-Pukke in what could be a make-or-break game for the visitors.

Last year’s beaten finalists know that a win will be enough to go through, but if they do not manage to topple coach Franco Smith’s impressive UFS-Shimlas outfit then they will have to rely on results elsewhere going their way to make the cut.

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Dean Mumm

Dean Mumm

The Waratahs have confirmed the signing of lock Dean Mumm, who will return to the club after 3 years with English Premiership side the Exeter Chiefs.

Mumm, who earned 95 New South Wales caps (including 83 at Super Rugby level), during his time with the Waratahs from 2004 – 2012, has signed a 1-year contract and will return to play in the 2016 Super Rugby season.

Waratahs Rugby CEO Greg Harris said he was extremely pleased to secure the signature of Mumm.

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Ardie Savea

Ardie Savea

Hurricanes flank Ardie Savea will be sidelined for up to 6 weeks after dislocating his finger in Friday’s 20 / 13 win over the Highlanders.

Hurricanes assistant coach Clark Laidlaw said 21-year-old Savea had an operation on Saturday, and would be out for between 3 to 6 weeks.

“He dislocated his finger and it popped out the side, so he had to get it pushed back in and tidied up,” Laidlaw said on Monday.

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SIX-NationsSomewhere, shaking his cauliflower ears in dismay, a grizzled old retired prop was probably secretly wishing someone would just stick the ball up his jumper and make a cautious 3 inches.

For everyone else watching this was surely the most thrilling day that 5 or 6 Nations rugby has seen: a fantasy finale, a chest-squeezer and knee-knocker, a day to fall back in love.

There are the stats: 221 points scored across the 3 matches, the most in a single weekend – 27 tries, run in from deep and wide and everywhere in between.

There was England’s record score against France, Ireland’s biggest away win, the most tries Wales have scored in 1 championship half.

Then there was the style. This was rugby we thought had died and been laid to rest, killed by detailed analysis and the professional urge to be sensible.

Sensible? This was glorious chaos, March madness to put a spring in every watcher’s step and an ulcer in the stomach of every defence coach.

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Super RugbyThe Emirates Lions won their 2nd tour match as the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks had to dig deep to win at home in an interesting 6th Round of Vodacom Super Rugby.

The men from Johannesburg weathered an early storm and clinched their 3rd successive win over the Melbourne Rebels, by 20 / 16, courtesy of a late try by Lionel Mapoe on Friday in Melbourne. With this victory, the Emirates Lions emulated their feats in 2007 and 2011, when they also won 2 tour matches.

On Saturday, the Toyota Cheetahs started well and were in front at the break against the Crusaders in Christchurch, but the home team took proper advantage of 2 second-half Yellow Cards against the visitors from Bloemfontein to win comfortably by 57 / 14.

2 Matches were played in South Africa on Saturday afternoon, both in less-than-perfect conditions.

First up, the Vodacom Bulls had to rely on a late penalty goal by Handré Pollard to pip the Force by 25 / 24 in Pretoria before the Cell C Sharks, playing for more than 50 minutes with 13 men against 14, following 3 Red Cards, had to dig deep to beat the Chiefs by 12 / 11 in Durban.

The DHL Stormers had a BYE.

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Vodacom CupThe South Section of the Vodacom Cup kicked off on Friday evening with a resounding victory for the SWD Eagles, while the Cell C Sharks XV and Steval Pumas got 50-pointers without conceding a point on Saturday.

Apart from these 3 matches, the 4 others played this weekend were much closer affairs.

On Friday, the Xerox Golden Lions remained unbeaten when they beat northern neighbours the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Johannesburg.

Saturday’s other matches saw wins for DHL Western Province in Caledon, where loose forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe scored 4 tries, GWK Griquas in Port Elizabeth and the Leopards XV in Lichtenburg.

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Gary Gold

Gary Gold

Sharks coach Gary Gold has not condoned Bismark du Plessis’s Red Card offence but he has come to the support of his physical captain’s firey nature.

The Sharks captain was shown a Red Card in his team’s 1 point victory against the Chiefs in Durban on Saturday for kicking Michael Leitch’s head.

This came only a few minutes after the opposition hooker, Hika Elliot, was sent for an early shower for an illegal clean-out on Tendai Mtawarira in the 1st half.

Du Plessis is already well known as an incredibly abrasive and physical character on the field, but more and more it seems that teams are figuring out he has a short fuse.

Gold made it clear that what Du Plessis did to earn his Red Card was silly and he did not justify the foul play.

“I am not going to justify foul play, it is silly to do that,” Gold said after the match.

“I feel it was a silly thing for Bismarck to do, he lashed out from trying to free his foot – but you cannot make contact with someone’s head.

“For what it is worth, he has apologized to the group, and in his words he said he is ashamed by his behaviour.”

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The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Adam Casselden has accepted a guilty plea from Bismarck du Plessis of the Sharks for contravening Law 10.4 (c) A player must not kick an opponent, after he was sent off following a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

Du Plessis has been suspended from all forms of the game for 4 weeks up to and including 18 April 2015.

The incident occurred in the 18th minute of the match between the Sharks and Chiefs played at Kings Park in Durban.

SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Adam Casselden assessed the case.

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BullsThe Vodacom Bulls left it late, beating the Force 25 / 24 with a late penalty.

Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard kicked 20 points as his Vodacom Bulls side sneaked home against the Western Force in their Vodacom Super Rugby match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Marcel van der Merwe scored a try but his team were outscored 3 to 1 in the try-scoring stakes, as the Force’s spoiling game worked exceptionally well on their opponents. The Bulls failed to capitalise on the Force being down to 13 men at one stage.

The Bulls, who had just returned from a BYE week, were poor and out-of-sorts, and for large periods of time it looked as if it was the Force who were the home side with the way they played.

But thanks to Pollard they managed to sneak home through a penalty in the last minute, shortly after Sias Ebersohn kicked a 59-metre bomb that gave the Force the lead.

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Ireland ruthlessly wore down Scotland in a commanding 40 / 10 victory at Murrayfield on Saturday to win the Six Nations title on points difference from England.

England needed to beat France by 26 points at Twickenham in the final game of the tournament but only managed a 55 / 35 victory to leave Ireland as champions.

“It’s going to be the death of me, it was pretty tough viewing but all of this makes it worth while. The people that have stayed here represent a fantastic support base that we have,” Ireland coach Joe Schmidt told Irish television.

“We were only just glued together towards the end there because the English really put the pressure on, I’d certainly sympathise with them a little bit. I though their performance today was superb.

“Thankfully France rebounded each time England did get a bit of a differential and that allowed us to hang in and hang on to the silverwear,” Schmidt added.

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David Pocock

David Pocock

Allegations of homophobic slurs marred a resounding return to form for defending champions the Waratahs, who delivered a 28 / 13 win over arch rivals the Brumbies in Sydney on Sunday.

It is understood a NSW forward will be investigated for allegedly using the word “faggot” when addressing two different Brumbies players in the second half of the blockbuster derby at Allianz Stadium. The Brumbies made a formal complaint after the match.

Brumbies flanker David Pocock took the allegation to referee Craig Joubert in the 67th minute as his side trailed by 10 points, and made his concerns known again in the 72nd minute. Joubert said he did not hear the remarks – allegedly made at scrum time – but asked NSW captain Michael Hooper to have a word to his forwards.

“I’m getting some pretty aggressive comments coming from your guys – that there are homophobic slurs,” Joubert said. Hooper replied: “We’re not into that”.

But that did little to satisfy Pocock, who is a vocal supporter for same sex marriage rights.

“You heard that sir … you can’t say that, there could be gay players out there.” Pocock continued: “That’s fine, but after that their captain said: ‘That’s rugby’. That’s not right.”

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Edward Griffiths

Edward Griffiths

The Board of Saracens and Edward Griffiths announced that, following seven very successful years with the club, the CEO will be leaving at the end of the season to pursue new opportunities.

“After seven years as CEO Edward is moving on,” Saracens Chairman Nigel Wray said.

“He has created and leaves an outstanding and beautiful new permanent home for Saracens, and a team of people with a real caring and community focus and we will build upon this legacy.

“Edward will forever be a Saracen and always welcome amongst his friends at Allianz Park.”

 

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Cell C SharksChiefsSharks (9) 12 / 11 (11) Chiefs (Final Score)

The Cell C Sharks and Chiefs did battle in Super Rugby at

Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban at 19:10 SA Time (17:10 GMT, Sunday 06:10 NZ Time).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.

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Super RugbyIt is Round 6 of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.

There are 2 games on Friday 20 March, 3 games on Saturday 21 March and 1 game on Sunday 22 March.

The Blues, Reds & DHL stormers have a BYE weekend.

There are no South African derbies on the weekend, with 2 SA sides currently on tour, the DHL Stormers on a bye and both the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks envolved in games on South African soil against Anzac counterparts.

Only 1 undefeated team remains prior to the start of the weekend, the Hurricanes, and they will be up against the hard-hitting Highlanders, away from home, in the 1st game of the weekend (08:35 SA Time on Friday 20 March).

The Vodacom Bulls take on a struggling Western Force side on Saturday afternoon at Loftus Versfeld and the Cell C Sharks are up against it against a rampant Chiefs side, who just this past weekend took care of the DHL Stormers at Newlands.

This weekend, to predict winners are maybe even more difficult than normal, where at least 4 of the 6 games could go either way. It also does not help to select the home team as your bankers, seeing as away wins have been more predominant than home wins so far in 2015!

Round 6 will have us rivited to the TV screens and marching to the stadia again!

The Friday games are: Highlanders vs Hurricanes in Dunedin as well as the Melbourne Rebels vs Emirates Lions in Melbourne.

On Saturday the action starts at 08:35 SA Time, with the Crusaders hosting the Toyota Cheetahs in Christchurch. Thereafter there will be time to play with the children and go shopping with the wifey before the Vodacom Bulls host the Western Force at Loftus at 17:05 SA Time, before the Cell C Sharks battle the Chiefs at 19:10 SA Time in Durban.

Once again 6 Nations Rugby, well 2 of the 3 games in that competition’s finale is on at the same time as the 2 Super Rugby games on South African soil… so the PVR will be busy again in my household!

On Sunday morning early, 07:05 SA Time, the derby between the Waratahs vs Brumbies takes place in Sydney.

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SIX NationsIt should be a 3-way fight between England, Ireland and Wales for the Six Nations title on Saturday, although France still have an outside chance.

The Top 3 are locked on 6 Points with 3 wins apiece, while England’s points difference of +37 puts them 1st, ahead of Ireland’s +33 and Wales’ +12.

France are 4th with 4 Points and a points difference of +22.

Philippe Saint-Andre’s side could still steal the title if Wales and Ireland lose and Les Bleus then beat England by a margin of 8 points or more, but it looks a remote possibility.

If teams are level on points, and match-points difference, then England are likely to win the Championship on tries scored, having crossed 11 times to Ireland’s 4 and Wales’ 5. In the highly unlikely event this was also level come Saturday night, the trophy would be shared.

Wales are in action 1st away to Italy in Rome (14:30 SA Time, 12:30 GMT), before Ireland take on Scotland at Murrayfield (16:30 SA Time, 14:30 GMT), ahead of England’s home match against France at Twickenham (19:00 SA Time, 17:00 GMT).

With the Six Nations wide open, we assess the 4 teams’ chances.

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