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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen was the star of the annual South African Rugby Union Player of the Year Awards when he walked off with 3 awards, including the main award of the season.

Vermeulen was named SARU Rugby Player of the Year after an extensive voting process, which included the country’s rugby media and the public through SARU’s online and social media platforms.

The 28-year-old Vermeulen, who will captain the DHL Stormers this year, also won the coveted SARPA Players’ Player of the Year and Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year Awards for 2014.

“Duane has been outstanding in 2014 and these awards are just reward for the excellent form he showed last year, as one of the Springboks’ key performers and for the DHL Stormers,” said SARU President, Mr Oregan Hoskins.

Hot on Vermeulen’s heels, with two awards, was young Springbok flyhalf and Junior Springbok captain Handré Pollard.

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South African Rugby Annual 2015The 2015 edition of the South African Rugby Annul goes on sale nationwide today after being launched at Sunday’s South African Rugby Union Awards in Johannesburg.

In keeping with tradition, the 44th edition of the ‘bible’ of the game once again features South Africa’s player of the year on the cover, with the newly-crowned Duane Vermeulen following in the footsteps of the likes of Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana and Schalk Burger in recent years.

“Even in this digital age, it’s vitally important to retain a physical document of record for future generations,” said SARU CEO, Jurie Roux. “SARU strives to be a world leader in the game both on and off the field and when it comes to the Annual, we are immensely proud of the quality of the book we continue to produce year in and year out.

“We like to believe that we have an outstanding yearbook but that hasn’t stopped us from raising the bar even further with this new-look, Rugby World Cup-themed edition. We’ve made it a more user-friendly size, refreshed the layout and added a depth to the statistical records that surpasses anything we’ve done before,” Roux added.

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Jacques du Plessis

Jacques du Plessis

Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe

The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Friday confirmed that efforts to keep Vodacom Bulls locks Jacques du Plessis and Flip van der Merwe in Pretoria have been unsuccessful, with both players taking up contracts in France at the end of the domestic 2015 season.

Du Plessis has signed a two year deal with Montpellier and Van der Merwe will join Clermont, also after the completion of the ABSA Currie Cup competition.

The BBC’s High Performance Manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg said talks with both players have been ongoing for some time.

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Jimmy Stonehouse

Jimmy Stonehouse

After seven years at the helm of the Pumas, Jimmy Stonehouse will be leaving Nelspruit to ply his trade in Japan with the Toshiba Brave Lupus.

Stonehouse had been instrumental in the team being promoted to the Currie Cup Premier Division in 2010 and again in 2014 while their promotion, and unbeaten run in the 2013 First Division competition, earned Stonehouse the SA Rugby Union’s Coach of the Year award.

He had been approached on three previous occasions by Japanese clubs, which he turned down, the latest being in February 2014 but he feels that it is the right time to move on and take on a new challenge.

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dhl Newlands, Cape Town

dhl Newlands, Cape Town

A Special General Meeting of the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) was held at DHL Newlands on Wednesday 17 December 2014 to give feedback and to discuss the investigation of the feasibility and desirability to relocate to the Cape Town Stadium.

The WPRFU are the owners of the DHL Newlands Rugby Stadium – in turn, the clubs are the stakeholders and owners of the Union – and a decision to remain at DHL Newlands was carried by the clubs on Wednesday 17 December 2014, unanimously and without abstention.

The decision to NOT further consider relocating to the Cape Town Stadium was based on a number of factors, the main considerations being the following:

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Johan Ackermann

Johan Ackermann

The Golden Lions Rugby Union is not worried about reports stating that head coach Johan Ackermann is being targeted by a top Japanese club.

It was reported earlier this week that the Lions will struggle to keep Ackermann in South Africa after next year’s Rugby World Cup, with the former Springbok lock reportedly receiving a big-money offer from a Japanese club.

However, the Lions insisted they will not have a fight on their hands to hold on to the services of Ackermann.

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Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

Nizaam Carr and Handré Pollard lead the full list of nominees released by SARU on Wednesday for their annual Player of the Year Awards, which will take place on 8 February in Midrand.

Carr and Pollard, both of whom made their Test debuts for the Springboks this season, have both been nominated in three categories.

The 23-year-old Carr has been nominated in for the SARU Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and Currie Cup Player of the Year.

Pollard, who is only 20, has been nominated in the categories for SARU Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and SA Under 20 Player of the Year.

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Xerox Golden LionsComing off a highly successful 2014 rugby season in all areas, the Lions have announced the final signings of players for the 2015 season

The GLRU has worked hard in maintaining growth potential in junior players and increasing depth where needed.

The Lions have managed to attact six SA Schools players for the Under 19 squad in Nazo Nkala, Barend Smit, Sarel Smith, Kenny van Niekerk and Marco van Vuuren.

In the Under 21 squad there are seven players who took part in the recent Under 20 World Cup in New Zealand. Cyle Brink, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Thabo Mabuza, Malcolm Marx, Ramone Samuels, Victor Sekeketi and Currie Cup player Jaco van der Walt.

In the senior squad the Lions boast seven players who are either capped by the Springboks or were involved this year, as well as BlitzBokke in Albertus “Kwagga” Smith and their captain Warren Whiteley who is both a Springbok and a Sevens Bok.

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Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

Marcell Coetzee

Marcell Coetzee

Willie le Roux

Willie le Roux

Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

Five Springboks have been nominated for the prestigious SA Rugby Player of the Year Award for 2014 with one of Nizaam Carr, Marcell Coetzee, Willie le Roux, Handré Pollard or Duane Vermeulen in line to claim the coveted annual award for the first time in their careers.

The five players, who all played for the Boks this year, have been nominated by the South African rugby media following a stellar year on the field. Springbok rugby fans across the globe will now be given a voice in the selection of the winner, SARU announced on Friday.

The public will also be asked to cast their votes in two other categories, Young Player and the Absa Team of the Year. To cast your vote, CLICK HERE.

Carr and Pollard have also being named in the Young Player category, along with Cheslin Kolbe, Seabelo Senatla and Jan Serfontein. The Junior Springboks, Springboks, Springbok Sevens, DHL Western Province and Xerox Golden Lions have been nominated as Absa Team of the Year.

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Deon van Rensburg

Deon van Rensburg

Michael Bondesio

Michael Bondesio

Golden Lions players Michael Bondesio and Deon van Rensburg have announced their retirement from professional rugby.

The duo had been struggling with injuries of late and decided to call it a day, the union announced via their official Facebook page.

Scrumhalf Bondesio had not played much this year due to a knee injury, while wing / centre Van Rensburg was laid low by a rib injury.

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Jimmy Stonehouse

Jimmy Stonehouse

Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse is pondering his future after a receiving an offer to coach in Japan.

According to reports, Stonehouse has until next Friday to decide if he will accept an offer to coach the Toshiba Brave Lupus.

Should he decide to leave, he would be lost for South African rugby until the middle part of 2017.

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Stephan Coetzee

Stephan Coetzee

Michael van der Spuy

Michael van der Spuy

Griquas have secured the services of two promising Western Province players for next season.

Centre Michael van der Spuy and hooker Stephan Coetzee – who both showed promise for WP this season – have signed with Griquas until the end of the 2015 season.

It will also be a boost for the men from Kimberley who recently lost the services of hooker Ryno Barnes (Free State) and centres Howards Mnisi (Lions) and Doppies la Grange (retirement).

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Doppies la Grange

Gideon “Doppies” la Grange has brought the curtain down on his career after a short return stint in the Currie Cup for the Griquas.

The 32-year-old returned to South Africa via Kimberley after playing in Italy for Benetton Treviso in 2013 where he only made nine appearances.

La Grange states the reason for his retirement is that his body was sending him signals.

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Tiaan LiebenbergWestern Province hooker Tiaan Liebenberg has been forced to retire after being plagued by back injuries for some time now.

The 32-year-old will be returning to Bloemfontein to join up with his family and to get involved with the business.

The hooker was a mere spectator during Western Province’s 19-16 Currie Cup victory over the Lions on Saturday and although the veteran has reached some lofty heights in rugby, he was still sad not to be a part of it.

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ScrumAfter the Xerox Golden Lions demolition of the Cell C Sharks scrum in the Currie Cup Semi-Final last weekend and the average performance of DHL Western Province in the scrums against the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the other Semi-Final, this week’s hottest debates has raged about what will happen in the scrums in the Final and how the referee, Craig Joubert, will officiate this aspect of the game.

Balie Swart, adviser to SARU and to the Referees on scrumming in South Africa, came under heavy bombardment from DHL Western Province and in particular Gert Smal and Allister Coetzee. They are unhappy that SARU’s man is not impartial, when he declared that the Golden Lions scrum is ahead of all other South African scrumming units.

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DHL WPDHL Western Province coach Allister Coetzee has kept the changes to a minimum for Saturday’s 2014 ABSA Currie Cup Final clash against the Xerox Golden Lions at DHL Newlands (kick-off 17:00 SA Time).

In the only change to the starting XV that beat the Blue Bulls by 31-23 last weekend, fit-again centre Jaco Taute returns in the No 12 jersey to resume his partnership with skipper Juan de Jongh, who will be playing in his 50th match in the Blue & White hoops of DHL Western Province.

Michael van der Spuy reverts to the bench for Saturday’s final, where he is joined by lock Gerbrandt Grobler, who comes into the matchday squad at the expense of prop Oli Kebble, who came off the bench last weekend.

No 8 Nizaam Carr, who left the field in the first half of last week’s semifinal, has been passed fit for the final, with coach Coetzee praising the consistency in selection during the business-end of the 2014 ABSA Currie Cup.

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Xerox Golden LionsXerox Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann left his starting line-up unchanged and added Jacques van Rooyen on the substitutes bench for Saturday’s ABSA Currie Cup final against Western Province at Newlands in Cape Town.

The last time Western Province and the Lions met in a Currie Cup final was way back in 1986, when the hosts beat the then Transvaal 22-9 at Newlands.

Kick-off for Saturday’s clash is scheduled for 17:00 SA Time (15:00 GMT).

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Vodacom Blue BullsThe Blue Bulls Company have released the team sheets for the Under 19 and Under 21 teams for the ABSA Currie Cup Finals at Newlands, Cape Town against the age group sides of DHL Western Province.

Some of the Blue Bulls senior Currie Cup players have been added to the Vodacom Blue Bulls Under 21 team, with Jesse Kriel starting at Centre, Jacques du Plessis at Blindside flank and with Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg on the bench.

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ABSA Currie CupABSA Currie Cup Final ticket sales was moving along swiftly ahead of Saturday’s 2014 final at Newlands, with just 1300 seating and 2000 standing room tickets available by close of business on Monday after public sales went live – online, at the box office and at selected PostNet outlets.

Season tickets are not valid for the Final Saturday, but season ticket holders had until 12:00 SA Time on Wednesday 22 October to purchase their seats for the Final which are being held by Western Province Rugby. Scholars’ season tickets are, however, valid for the Final.

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Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

DHL Western Province’s injury concerns have improved ahead of their Currie Cup Final against the Xerox Golden Lions at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.

Eighthman Nizaam Carr, who cried off with a hip injury midway through the first half of the Semi-Final clash against the Vodacom Blue Bulls last Saturday was walking comfortably on Monday afternoon.

Centre / fullback Jaco Taute was running without discomfort after he was forced to miss the Semi-Final because of a rib injury and was tested in a contact session on Tuesday.

Western Province coach Allister Coetzee said it was pleasing to read the team’s latest medical report because the wider training squad had been given a clean bill of health.

“Nemo (Carr) is feeling much better and is walking with ease,” Coetzee said.

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WhistleCraig Joubert is one of 26 referees to referee a Currie Cup Final since the first one in 1939.

South Africa’s provincial teams first played in a competition in 1889. The Currie Cup was added in 1892 but played mostly as centralised tournaments. There was not a Final till 1939 and then Finals were sporadic till 1968 since when there has been a Final each year.

Refereeing the Currie Cup Final is cherished by referees as it is cherished by players who play in it. After all there is only one a year.

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WhistleCraig Joubert will take charge of the ABSA Currie Cup final between DHL Western Province and the Xerox Golden Lions at Newlands on Saturday, with Jaco Peyper and Pro Legoete named as the Assistant Referees.

Legoete has also been tasked with handling the ABSA Under 21 A Division final between DHL Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls, while Rodney Boneparte will officiate the ABSA Under 19 A Division final also between DHL Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls.

The referee appointments for the provincial play-off matches this weekend were made by the South African Rugby Union on Monday.

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ABSA Currie CupDHL Western Province will host the Xerox Golden Lions in Cape Town in the ABSA Currie Cup final after the teams won their respective semifinals on Saturday to remain the last teams standing in the competition.

DHL Western Province defeated the Vodacom Blue Bulls 31-23 in a physical encounter in Cape Town, while the Xerox Golden Lions delivered a fine performance against the Cell C Sharks in Johannesburg to register a convincing 50-20 victory.

DHL Western Province were quick on their feet throughout the clash and supported this with good decision-making on attack and a solid defensive effort. In stark contrast, the Vodacom Blue Bulls made mistakes at crucial times and missed three penalties, which cost them.

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Ryno Barnes

Ryno Barnes

Griquas hooker Ryno Barnes on Friday was cleared of wrongdoing after receiving a red card in their Absa Currie Cup clash against the Blue Bulls last weekend for allegedly verbally abusing the referee.

Barnes appeared before a SARU disciplinary committee in Kimberley on Thursday after being cited for breaching Law 10.4 (m) and (s).

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Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard will play at inside centre when the Vodacom Blue Bulls take on DHL Western Province in the semi-finals of the Absa Currie Cup in Cape Town on Saturday.

Pollard will replace injured Burger Odendaal for the match at DHL Newlands in one of two backline changes made by coach Frans Ludeke. In the other, Rudy Paige will start at scrumhalf, with Piet van Zyl playing off the bench.

Pollard came off the bench in the final Absa Currie Cup league match against GWK Griquas last weekend and his place amongst the reserves will be taken by Sampie Mastriet.

In the pack, Ludeke rotated Marcel van der Merwe and Werner Kruger, with the latter starting at Newlands.

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DHL WPDHL Western Province coach Allister Coetzee has recalled all his big guns for Saturday’s 2014 Absa Currie Cup semifinal against the Vodacom Blue Bulls at DHL Newlands (kick-off 17:00 SA Time).

Flanker Rynhardt Elstadt is the only starting survivor from last week’s experimental line-up that took on a full-strength Sharks team at DHL Newlands.

Amongst the players recalled by coach Coetzee this week are skipper and centre Juan de Jongh (the team’s leading try-scorer this season), vice-captain and tighthead prop Pat Cilliers, the fit-again pairing of fullback Cheslin Kolbe and lock Jean Kleyn and SA Sevens speedster Seabelo Senatla.

Flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis will play his 50th match for DHL WP this weekend, with Nic Groom partnering him at halfback.

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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks have named a strong lineup for the Currie Cup Premier Division Semi-Final against the Xerox Golden Lions on the weekend.

“We weren’t happy with our first half performance against Western Province but it was great to see us come out in the second half and play some nice rugby and get quite a few points on the board. Hopefully the continuity continues against the Golden Lions. It’s going to be a huge task going up to Ellis Park, but a challenge we’re looking forward to. We will have to play for the full 80 minutes, defensively we need to be strong and our set-piece needs to function well.

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Jacques-Louis Potgieter

Jacques-Louis Potgieter

Vodacom Blue Bulls pivot Jacques-Louis Potgieter is confident his team has the right game plan to win playoffs as they prepare for their Absa Currie Cup semifinal against DHL Western Province at Newlands on Saturday.

Potgieter believes the momentum the Bulls have built up, coupled with their game plan will be enough to get his side over the semifinal hurdle against their old rivals.

The Bulls will head down to Cape Town as massive underdogs this weekend, having lost both their league games against Province this year and having very little to counter the Cape side’s expansive game when the teams have met.

But the turnaround came precisely after the Bulls lost their game against Province at Loftus Versfeld and despite a stutter against the Sharks, the Bulls have been steadily building after a poor start to the season to find themselves sneaking into the semifinals and now believe they can go the whole way.

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Robbie Fleck

Robbie Fleck

Western Province backline coach Robbie Fleck says they are well aware of the threat Handré Pollard could pose in their Currie Cup semi-final at Newlands on Saturday.

Pollard, who starred at flyhalf for the Springboks in the recent Rugby Championship, is allowed to play in the Currie Cup because he is not a contracted Bok.

“Handre is playing with a lot of confidence and brings his team-mates into play. We’ll have to be aware of that,” Fleck said. “He is an exceptional player having a stellar season.”

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