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Tyrone Holmes

Tyrone Holmes in action for Glasgow Warriors

Glasgow Warriors have announced a group of players who will leave the club in the summer.

Prop Jerry Yanuyanutawa, looseforward Tyrone Holmes and hooker Kevin Bryce are among the departures.

Fijian international Yanuyanutawa joined the club from London Irish in 2013 and has gone on to make 46 appearances for the Scotstoun-based side.

South Africa-born Holmes joined the Warriors in 2013 and has made 34 appearances for the club over the last 3 seasons and was capped by Scotland against South Africa in 2014.

27-year-old Bryce has made 12 appearances for the Warriors since joining the club in 2013 and has gone on to represent Scotland on 2 occasions.

Loose forwards Will Bordill and Jason Hill, hookers Shalva Mamukashvili and Fergus Scott, flyhalf Gregor Hunter and prop Javan Sebastian will also be leaving the club.

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SARU CEO, Jurie Roux

SARU CEO, Jurie Roux

SA Rugby on Monday acknowledged the findings of the Eminent Persons’ Group report on Transformation for 2014 / 2015 and the sanction imposed by Fikile Mbalula, Minister for Sports and Recreation.

SA Rugby, as well as Cricket South Africa, Netball SA and Athletics South Africa, had revoked their privilege of “hosting and bidding for major and mega international tournaments in South Africa as a consequence of… not meeting their own set transformation targets”, said the minister. The decision would be reconsidered at the next reporting of the EPG, which is expected in November.

“We understand and support the Minister’s urgency in addressing the issue of transformation,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.

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Southern KingsSouthern Kings head coach Deon Davids included the returning Edgar Marutlulle and Sti Sithole in his 25-man touring squad for their trip to Argentina this weekend to face the Jaguares.

The presence of the front row duo is a welcome boost to team after both missed out on the match against the Emirates Lions last week due to injury.

Stefan Willemse, who has played at both lock and flank, is also part of the touring squad, along with No 8 Aidon Davis.

Davids also announced that backline players Elgar Watts and Jaco van Tonder would be part of the touring squad.

“At fullback we have Jaco van Tonder, we know he can play at No 15 and hasn’t had a chance to start there yet this year, and Leighton Eksteen, who can come in as a backup,” said Davids.

“We felt that, at this point of time, we want to give Jaco a chance and see how he is doing.”

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Jake White at Montpellier

Montpellier’s Jake White

Newport Gwent Dragons bowed out of the European Challenge Cup with semifinal defeat by a strong Montpellier side.

Montpellier’s dominance earned them a 22 / 0 lead, with Demetri Catrakilis scoring 5 penalties and Bismarck du Plessis crossing for a try.

Dragons rallied with tries from Hallam Amos and Carl Meyer but they suffered their 2nd successive semifinal loss in Europe.

Montpellier will face Harlequins in the final in Lyon on 13 May.

Dragons’ build up to the game had been overshadowed by the departure of director of rugby Lyn Jones, with namesake Kingsley Jones assuming control until the end of the season,

Wales No 8, Taulupe Faletau, was passed fit for the Dragons despite injuring his eye in the derby defeat at Cardiff Blues.

Montpellier, coached by 2007 World Cup-winning coach Jake White, boasted 8 South African players in their squad, including front row brothers Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis.

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Jake White

Montepellier’s Jake White

Newport Gwent Dragons produced a stunning upset when they crossed the River Severn to beat Aviva Premiership Gloucester at Kingsholm in the European Challenge Cup.

But that 23 / 21 quarterfinal triumph would pale if they were to beat star-studded Montpellier at the Altrad Stadium in the south of France on Saturday evening.

So what are their chances of reaching the final of Europe’s 2nd-tier tournament? Rugby Correspondent Andy Howell assesses the head-to-head contests and marks each opposing player in the respective starting line-ups out of 10 with the Montpellier players mentioned first.

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Mike Blair

Mike Blair

Glasgow Warriors scrumhalf Mike Blair has retired from playing with immediate effect and will take up a new coaching role at the club next season.

The 35-year-old will remain with Scottish Rugby as an assistant coach at the Warriors.

Blair joined Glasgow this season and has made 12 appearances for the club and was voted Player of the Month in October.

The 85-capped former Scotland international has had an illustrious career, representing Edinburgh Rugby, Brive, Newcastle Falcons and the Warriors.

Blair enjoyed 10 years with Edinburgh Rugby, playing his first professional game in 2001. Highlights included being runners up in the Magners League in 2009 and reaching the semifinals of the European Cup in 2012.

Scotland’s most capped scrumhalf captained his country on 14 occasions before retiring from international rugby at the start of 2013, aged 31.

He was named Scotland’s Player of the Year in 2008 and was nominated for the IRB World Player of the Year that same season. He toured South Africa with the British and Irish Lions in 2009.

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Roger Morgan

Roger “Chicky” Morgan

He is the ultimate club man, hard-working, loyal, and most of all durable. He’s almost at pensionable age, but this real life Peter Pan is still lacing up his boots.

He’s been with the same club for 40 years, he’s appeared in every single position in the team and he is still playing at the age of 60!

Roger “Chicky” Morgan is Mr Usk RFC, the ultimate 1-club man, the kind of stalwart servant who is the heartbeat of the community game in Wales.

He’s a tireless hard worker for the Gwent club, cutting the grass, marking the pitch, putting the flags out, sorting the kit, cooking the meals, arranging the fixtures, painting the clubhouse and driving the mini bus.

And he’s still getting his boots on and playing on a Saturday afternoon, lining up wherever he’s needed.

So what does he put his enduring fitness and his longevity down to?

“That’s from my father that is,” he explains.

“He played football for Newport County and Swansea. So fitness is in the blood.”

“I just love playing the game. I have made some great friends over the years and there’s always a laugh with the boys.

“From when I first went down to the club in 1975, I just felt welcome.

“It’s great with the different generations and the crack you have with all of them.”

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Cheeky Watson

Cheeky Watson

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) confirmed on Thursday that they had assumed administrative control of the Eastern Province Rugby Union.

This effectively sidelines EPRU President Cheeky Watson, who has stubbornly clung to power of the bankrupt union for the past year – despite several attempts to unseat him.

Monde Tabata, an independent member of the SARU executive committee, has been appointed to the role of administrator.

According to SARU’s statement the decision to action the intention of the SARU executive council was taken after “consultation” with Watson, and with the co-operation of the EPRU.

A letter formally advising the EPRU of the intention was delivered to the union on Monday.

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Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones has a well-deserved reputation for psychological warfare but, 10 months before the next Calcutta Cup, the voluble England coach has started early even by his standards. In an interview with a mass-circulation Japanese paper,  Jones talked about his very 1st Six Nations game against Scotland at Murrayfield and was dismissive of the hosts.

“It was a game I always thought we’d win,” the Australian told the paper’s London corespondent. “I don’t see Scotland being a strong team. You look at Scotland at the World Cup, who did they beat? They were lucky to beat Samoa, they beat USA, they beat us (Japan), and we had 4 days’ preparation, and they were beaten by Australia and South Africa.

“So, they didn’t have a great World Cup, but everyone was talking as though they were a fantastic team. England didn’t have a good World Cup but we’re a stronger team than they are.”

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USA PRO RugbyThe conditions could not have been more different as PRO Rugby launched its maiden season with 2 games on Sunday. In Denver there was an epic snowstorm; in Sacramento the match was played in near ideal California conditions.

What was not different was the intensity on and off the pitch in Denver, where the hosts beat Ohio 16 / 13 in an overtime thriller, and Sacramento, who beat rivals San Francisco 37 / 25. Both games exhibited the potential of a bright future for American rugby.

“We strive for perfection,” said Sacramento head coach Luke Gross, once of the US Eagles and Newcastle Falcons second rows. “It wasn’t perfect today but a lot of good things happened and we have a lot to work on.”

Those words could easily be applied to PRO Rugby’s opening day. The league was able to accomplish something no one had ever achieved in America: have fans pay to watch 2 professional sides predominantly made up of American players. Nearly 6 000 fans showed up between Denver and Sacramento. In its 1st season, the league is targeting 3 000 – 4 000 fans per match.

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quinnroux

Quinn Roux

Connacht’s South African lock Quinn Roux and trio of other South African players have been included in an Ireland squad which will meet for a training camp on Sunday.

The uncapped Roux is joined by loose forward CJ Stander, and hookers Richardt Strauss and Rob Herring who have all played for Ireland before. The quartet will be hoping to make it into Ireland’s final squad for their tour of South Africa in June.

However, Ireland flanker Chris Henry’s hopes of being selected for the summer tour of South Africa appear to have suffered a blow after he was left out of the squad for Sunday’s training camp.

Henry, who did not play in the Six Nations, is not among the 44 players who will meet up in county Meath.

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Allister Coetzee

Allister Coetzee – New Springbok Head Coach

Former DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province coach Allister Coetzee has been named as head coach of the Springboks for the next 4 years, ushering in an exciting new era for rugby in South Africa.

The 52-year-old former Springbok assistant coach succeeds Heyneke Meyer at a time when a number of veterans of the 2007 Rugby World Cup triumph have gone into retirement, including 3 of last year’s 4 captains.

“Allister’s appointment marks the changing of the guard at the top of Springbok rugby and is an exciting new departure for SA Rugby,” said Mr Oregan Hoskins, president of SA Rugby.

“It is a watershed moment for our game with new players developing alongside a spine of experience and it was the right time to have a new man guiding the Springboks for the foreseeable future.

“Allister was the outstanding candidate in terms of his rugby credentials, his understanding of our unique South African transformation imperatives and also in the image he will present as Springbok coach. I am delighted to welcome him back into the Springbok fold.

“The Springbok coaching job is an enormous challenge but Allister has the full support of us at SA Rugby and we will be united in our efforts to continue to make Springbok rugby strong. I want to wish him well in his new job, I also want to pay tribute to Heyneke and his management team for their dedication and service to Springbok rugby the past 4 years.”

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Mils Muliaina

Mils Muliaina will be playing in the new Pro League in the USA

Next Sunday afternoon at 16:00 Pacific Standard Time a little piece of rugby history will be made. The 1st match of a brand new USA pro-league will kick off when Sacramento face San Francisco on Bonney Field. The venture has the blessing of both World Rugby and USA Rugby, although it is entirely independent of either governing body. There are only 5 teams competing in the league – Denver, Ohio and San Diego in addition to the 2 above – but for US rugby this may just be the acorn from which a rugby oak emerges.

The money man is Doug Schoninger, who worked in the financing of stadiums but boasts no background in rugby. The man in charge of the rugby is a Scot, Steve Lewis, who has been steeped in the game since growing up in Glasgow and whose resume is a good deal more exotic than most.

After turning out for West of Scotland alongside the likes of Matt Duncan, Gerry McGuinness and a young Gordon Bulloch, Lewis emigrated to the US in the early 1990s. He has coached a wide variety of teams around the world from the West Point Ladies, the Beit Jala Lions (in Palestine), Nigeria’s national team, Vail Rugby, Old Blue and the New York City Sevens side that won the plate final at Twickenham in 2013. Lewis was named the USA Coach of the Year in 2014.

As rugby director of the new league it is his task to populate those 5 teams with the best players money can buy: well, the best players that UD$ 35 000.00 can buy. And if that doesn’t sound like a king’s ransom it was enough to tempt fullback Mils Muliaina and his 100 All Black caps to play a 12-match season that stretches just 3 and a half months (17 April – 31 July). The league kicks off when the American Football season is over and before the baseball has become interesting.

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