Glasgow scrumhalf Henry Pyrgos was on Tuesday named captain of a 25-man Scotland squad for Saturday’s World Cup warm-up match against Ireland in Dublin.
He is joined in the squad by 4 uncapped players: New Zealand-born flanker Hugh Blake, Glasgow prop Mike Cusack, South Africa-born Edinburgh prop Allan Dell and Edinburgh hooker Stuart McInally.
Head coach Vern Cotter will name his starting 15 for the clash at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday.
The squad is missing several key players, such as regular captain Greig Laidlaw and 2nd row brothers Richie and Jonny Gray.
After playing Ireland, Scotland will also face Italy twice and France once as they gear up for their opening World Cup Pool B match against Japan in Gloucester on 23 September.
DJ Forbes says he is stepping down as captain of the New Zealand Sevens team after 9 years in the role, a year ahead of the sport’s debut at the Rio de Janiero Olympic Games.
The 32-year-old said he decided to resign from the role after discussions with long-time coach Gordon Tietjens.
Forbes said “by stepping aside from the responsibilities of captain I can focus solely on what I need to do to get in the best shape mentally and physically. (Tietjens) and I agree this is the best way to get me to the Olympics.”
Seasoned midfielder Stefan Watermeyer will lead the Steval Pumas in the opening Round of the Currie Cup, when they host the Cell C Sharks in Nelspruit on Friday.
He will be assisted by lock Lubabalo ‘Giant’ Mtyanda, who has been named vice-captain.
Mtyanda is 1 of a handful of players returning from Super Rugby franchises. The lock played for the Cell C Sharks this year during Super Rugby, before returning to Nelspruit for the Currie Cup competition.
Also back is scrumhalf Francois ‘Faf’ de Klerk, who was released from the Springbok training camp on Tuesday – where he had been for the past month, after his impressive Super Rugby season with the Emirates Lions.
Also back from the Emirates Lions is prop Corne Fourie.
Experienced loose forward Schalk Burger will become the 55th Springbok captain on Saturday when he leads South Africa out against New Zealand at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.
The 32-year-old Burger has been named interim captain, in the absence of the injured Jean de Villiers and Victor Matfield. He assumes the captaincy from Matfield, who was ruled out of action in the short term after suffering a hamstring strain against Australia’s Wallabies on Saturday.
“Schalk has been a magnificent servant of Springbok rugby and he fully deserves this responsibility,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Tuesday.
“The resilience he’s shown in coming back from serious injury and illness is the kind of qualities I look for in players as well as teams I coach.
“In my eyes, the captaincy is very important and something I never take lightly or want to cheapen. Schalk’s character and the fact that he has been a role model for so many through the years made this an easy decision.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer will announce an interim captain for South Africa on Tuesday.
Even though there’s been no formal confirmation, the fact that a media briefing has been scheduled to name an ‘interim’ captain confirms that current stand-in captain Victor Matfield will not play against New Zealand at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday.
Matfield, who suffered a hamstring injury in the 1st half of last week’s 20 / 24 loss to Australia’s Wallabies in Brisbane, was standing in for the injured captain Jean de Villiers.
And Meyer has made it very clear that De Villiers won’t be considered this week.
So who are the candidates in the current Springbok squad?
The front-runners, surely, are Francois Louw, Schalk Burger, Ruan Pienaar, Bismarck du Plessis and Adriaan Strauss – with Bryan Habana, Patrick Lambie and Warren Whiteley at long-odds.
If you really want to stir the pot, why not throw Flip van der Merwe’s name in there – seeing as he is now ‘available’ again.
Bakkies Botha will captain the World XV against South Africa’s Springboks at DHL Newlands in Cape Town this Saturday.
The veteran lock leads an experienced side containing former Springboks JJ Engelbrecht (Blue Bulls) and Gurthrö Steenkamp (Toulouse) and with Flip van der Merwe (Blue Bulls) among the replacements.
Head Coach Robbie Deans described Botha, 35, as the “natural choice” to take charge as the invitation side prepare to test Heyneke Meyer’s men as they start their build-up to the Rugby World Cup.
“For a long time Bakkies has been a huge presence in the game here so it’ll be a real occasion when he leads the World XV out against his country,” said Deans.
“He’s really enjoyed this week, mixing with those he’s played against and he’s been a big contributor in helping the group come together. He was leading before he was appointed leader.”
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has appointed veteran hooker Stephen Moore as captain of Australia for this year’s international campaigns.
A veteran of 92 Tests and Australia’s all-time most capped hooker, Moore has been reinstated as Wallaby captain, following a season-ending injury in his 1st outing as skipper.
Moore will be well supported in the role with 2014 Wallaby captain Michael Hooper and Test centurion Adam Ashley-Cooper named as the team’s vice-captains.
“Having spoken to the 2 vice-captains prior to Stephen, both of them couldn’t have made a higher endorsement of Stephen to the lead them personally, this playing group and our country,” Cheika said.
“Leadership is going to be a massive part of this journey, and both Adam and Michael will have a big part to play in supporting Stephen.
New Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais is yet to decide who will captain the team in this year’s ABSA Currie Cup.
Marais earlier this week named his squad for the tournament, but he’s still considering who will lead the team.
“He (the captain) needs to impress me. If I name a captain now, then it’s over and out. There are a few candidates I have in mind, but I want to be certain of my decision,” Marais said.
Experienced players like flank Deon Stegmann and lock Flip van der Merwe are possible candidates.
Stegmann led the Bulls in last season’s ABSA Currie Cup, while Flip van der Merwe captained the Vodacom Bulls in a few Super Rugby games in 2014.
Chiefs centre Charlie Ngatai will captain an exciting mix of experienced hands and promising young talent when the Maori All Blacks play Fiji and the New Zealand Barbarians.
Coach Colin Cooper has retained 13 players who took part in last year’s tour to Japan, drafted in 3 members of the World Champion New Zealand Under 20 team and boasts 10 new caps ahead of their matches in July.
“This is a well-balanced side with some very experienced campaigners who have now played on several tours and know our systems well. I’ll be expecting them to lead by example and show the new boys the high standards we expect.
“We have a proud record of success to uphold and I am sure this side will work hard to honour the great legacy of the Maori All Blacks,” Cooper said.
Akira Ioane, who had a stellar Super Rugby season for the Blues and went on to help the Under 20 side win the World Title in Italy, is joined by fellow Under 20 stars flyhalf Otere Black and utility back Sean Wainui while Sevens star Rieko Ioane has also been added to the squad.
Ofisa Treviranus will lead Samoa’s World Cup campaign in September and will get a taste of captaincy when they go up against world champions New Zealand in a 1-off Test on 8 July.
The 31-year-old flank, who plies his trade with London Irish in the Premiership, said he had just been focusing on making the starting lineup for the fixture – the 1st ever visit to Apia by the All Blacks.
“It’s always an honour to represent Samoa, but it is something very special when you are asked to captain your team,” Treviranus said in a statement on Monday.
Treviranus, a powerful ball carrier known for his big defensive tackles, previously captained a Samoa side to victory in the Sevens World Series in 2010.
With the International season looming upon us, Australia head coach Michael Cheika has seemingly already decided on his Wallaby captain.
There is more than enough leadership ability in the players that are under consideration for the Australian squad. Michael Hooper, Stephen Moore, David Pocock, Will Genia, James Horwill and even veteran George Smith have all lead the team on previous occasions.
Cheika made it clear at the launch of the new Australian World Cup jersey that the 2 contenders for the captain role are Hooper and Moore.
“We will pick a captain who will go the distance… no point chopping and changing,” Cheika said.
Cheika said he would name the captain before the Wallabies take on South Africa in the opening match of The Rugby Championship in Brisbane on 18 July.
Vodacom Blue Bulls No 8 Hanro Liebenberg will lead the Junior Springboks at the World Rugby Under 20 Championship in Italy next month, SARU confirmed on Wednesday.
Liebenberg will skipper the 28-man squad during the 3-week tournament from 2 to 20 June. He led the Junior Springboks to a thrilling win over the Varsity Cup Dream Team last month and also captained them when they clinched a 2 – 0 series win over the Argentina Under 20 side in Rosario last Saturday.
The squad, which was chosen by the national selectors, consists of 16 forwards and 12 backs, and includes 6 players who featured in last year’s tournament in New Zealand. Last year England edged the young South Africans by a single point in a memorable final at Eden Park in Auckland.
Jean-Luc du Preez (flank), Thomas du Toit (prop, both Cell C Sharks), Joseph Dweba (hooker, Toyota Free State Cheetahs), Abongile Nonkontwana (lock, Vodacom Blue Bulls), Jacques Vermeulen (No 8, DHL Western Province) and Warrick Gelant (fullback, Vodacom Blue Bulls) are the players who will represent the Junior Springboks for a 2nd successive year.
The Junior Springbok squad shows 4 changes from the touring group that returned from Argentina on Monday evening.
Lock RG Snyman (Vodacom Blue Bulls) got the nod to travel to Italy after he sat out the Los Pumitas series because of an ankle injury. WP centre EW Viljoen and Blue Bulls flyhalf Tinus de Beer, who also did not tour Argentina, were both selected for the Italian job.
The Du Preez twins, Dan and Jean-Luc, who were selected for the 2014 tournament, are also members of the 28-man squad. Dan, however, withdrew days before the team left for New Zealand last year because of a shoulder injury.
Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett says Duane Vermeulen should be the Springbok captain at this year’s Rugby World Cup if Jean de Villiers fails to recover in time.
De Villiers, the current Springbok leader, is in a race against time to be fit for the 18 September to 31 October event.
De Villiers suffered an horrific knee injury in South Africa’s final Test of last year – against Wales in Cardiff – and it remains uncertain if he’ll recover sufficiently for the tournament in England and Wales.
“Duane should lead the Springboks at the World Cup if Jean de Villiers is not ready,” Mallett said.
The Cheetahs, in a surprise move, named Francois Uys as their captain for the Super Rugby season.
Uys will be leading the team, joined by the vice-captain Sarel Pretorius.
The ‘well-informed’ media in Bloemfontein have been speculating for weeks that Japan-based Springbok Heinrich Brüssow would get the leadership armband.
However, coach Naka Drotské decided to go with Uys – starting from Saturday, when they take on the South African conference champions, the Cell C Sharks, in Durban.
The Western Force have named lock Sam Wykes as interim Super Rugby captain whilst regular captain Matt Hodgson recovers from injury.
Hodgson will miss the beginning of the season after suffering a hamstring injury in the team’s 38 / 19 pre-season win over the Asia Pacific Dragons.
The Melbourne Rebels have selected a group of 5 players for their leadership group in 2015 but have delayed announcing their captain by a week.
Foundation Rebel Laurie Weeks and loose forwards Scott Fuglistaller and Scott Higginbotham retain their places from the 2014 leadership group, while Pat Leafa and Nic Stirzaker are added into the 5-man group for the first time.
Rebels’ Head Coach Tony McGahan believes the group will lead the Club with pride during the upcoming season.
Nic White and David Pocock will help lead the Brumbies as vice-captains in 2015, after head coach Stephen Larkham and captain Stephen Moore made the announcement on Thursday.
Both Pocock and White have proven leadership qualities having led professional sides on the big stage in the past.
White was named the Brumbies youngest captain against the Hurricanes in 2013, while Pocock has captained both the Wallabies and the Western Force.
A former Brumbies academy captain, White said he was thrilled to have been acknowledged with the vice-captaincy of the main squad.
Springbok lock Flip van der Merwe says there is enough leadership in the team to fill the void left by Jean de Villiers.
The Springbok captain suffered a horrific knee injury in last Saturday’s Test against Wales in Cardiff. He faces an extended period on the sidelines and could even miss next year’s Rugby World Cup in England and Wales.
While losing De Villiers would be a big blow, Van der Merwe feels there are enough leaders in the squad for coach Heyneke Meyer to call on.
“It’s one of Heyneke’s big success stories during his time as coach. He concentrated on establishing a leadership group. of which Jean merely acts as manager,” Van der Merwe says.
Alistair Hargreaves has been appointed as the new Saracens captain. The Springbok lock forward, 28, succeeds Steve Borthwick, who retired at the end of last season.
The former Sharks man has been with the Saracens since 2012, born and schooled in Durban he played for the Sharks from under-19 level.
He has been capped four times for the Springboks, the last of those coming in the 2011 Tri-Nations tournament.
England have named their team to play the Barbarians at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday with Graham Kitchener captaining the team.
Leicester Tigers second row Kitchener will captain the England selection which includes players from seven Premiership sides.
Twenty-one-year-old Exeter Chiefs fly half Henry Slade has been named a the vice captain of the team.
The June Internationals are close at hand and Heyneke Meyer has already showed his hand to a certain extent by selecting a Springbok Training Group, which currently excludes players plying their trade in the UK and Europe.
The recent injury to Springbok captain, Jean de Villiers, now determines that a “Stand-in” Springbok captain will have to be selected and coupled to this the Springbok midfield positions are bound to be re-constituted.
Injuries to key players, specially flyhalf, as well as the 3-match suspension of Adriaan Strauss at hooker will see some juggling around of the match-day 23 and some very clear thinking will be required by Heyneke Meyer to address these issues.
We take a look at the Springbok Captaincy candidates as well as midfield combination and look at hooker options to function as back-up to Bismarck du Plessis.
Jerome Kaino is likely to take over the captaincy of the Blues when they travel to Canberra to face the Brumbies on Friday.
The 49-cap All Black is the most likely candidate to lead the team out in the absence of Luke Braid, who is struggling with a shoulder injury.
The Southern Kings will have to appoint a new captain for the game on Friday when they take on the DHL Stormers (in a pre-season Super Rugby warm-up game for the Stormers) at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Double Super Rugby champions the Chiefs have announced that they will continue to use a co-captaincy system in 2014 with Liam Messam and Aaron Cruden acting as co-captains.
Alun Wyn Jones will captain defending champions Wales in their Six Nations opener against Italy on Saturday, with Sam Warburton on the bench, the Welsh Rugby Union announced on Tuesday.
Chris Robshaw will continue as England captain in this year’s Six Nations, the Rugby Football Union said on Friday.
Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby, Jake White, on Thursday announced that Springbok hooker, Bismarck du Plessis, will captain the Cell C Sharks in 2014.
Regarded as one of the best hookers in the world, Bismarck has been colossal figure for the Cell C Sharks over the years. With 103 Vodacom Super Rugby appearances to his name, he is a player who leads by example and is well respected by the team.
Senior Springboks Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger will head up the Stormers’ leadership group in the 2014 Vodacom Super Rugby season.
De Villiers, who has led the Springboks with such success in 2012 and 2013, will again captain the Stormers this season, while Burger, back to full health and fitness, will serve as his vice-captain.
Quade Cooper’s remarkable return could culminate with him becoming the next Wallaby captain after Ben Mowen’s shock decision to quit Australian rugby.
Mowen on Thursday announced that he’ll join the French exodus at the end of the year, seemingly leaving vice-captain Cooper next in line to lead Australia.
Australia captain Ben Mowen is to quit the country at the end of 2014 and play in Europe, ending his hopes of representing the Wallabies at the 2015 World Cup.
Wallabies loose forward Scott Higginbotham has been named as the Melbourne Rebels captain for the 2014 Super Rugby season.
Despite being axed as Wallabies skipper, James Horwill will not reliquish captaincy of the Reds according to coach Richard Graham.
Springbok skipper Jean de Villiers will captain the Barbarians in Saturday’s clash against Fiji at Twickenham.
Chris Robshaw has retained the England captaincy for the November internationals, coach Stuart Lancaster announced on Wednesday.
Australia’s Rugby Championship campaign is being threatened by a pay row involving one of the key players in the team.
Media reports suggest Ben Mowen is considering walking out over a payment dispute with the Australian Rugby Union – just a fortnight after captaining the team against Argentina.
The 28-year-old is understood to be frustrated because he’s not receiving a top-up contract from the ARU, despite being a regular starter for the Wallabies.