Former England captain John Spencer has been appointed tour manager for the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand in 2017.
FFR vice-president Serge Blanco has announced that he is set to play a more active role within the French national team with the aim of “supporting” head coach Philippe Saint-André.
Les Bleus and their staff have come in for harsh criticism from all quarters after their dismal tour of Australia in June which saw them lose all three Tests, two of them by more than 25 points (50-23, 6-0 and 39-13).
Saint-André has the worst win percentage of any French coach in the modern era and calls for his head have been growing from the media and fans.
Transfer season in rugby may not create the same kind of wide-eyed, frothing-at-the-mouth fervour that it does in its round-balled cousin, but there are nonetheless always intriguing movements as players come to the end of their contracts. Here’s our countdown of the top 10 transfers ahead of the 2014/2015 season.
Outgoing Chiefs and Auckland utility back Gareth Anscombe said that he decided to switch his allegiance from New Zealand to Wales after realising he had little hope of making the All Blacks.
Anscombe, 23, who has signed to play for the Cardiff Blues, said he spoke with All Black coach Steve Hansen earlier this year and found he was well down the pecking order in his favoured position of flyhalf.
“There was a lot of factors, but I mean, there’s a lot of classy No 10′s that are floating around in New Zealand right now and they’re all pretty young as well,” he said.
Experienced former All Black tighthead prop, Carl Hayman, has been named as the new captain of European champions Toulon.
The 34-year-old front row forward takes over from World Cup-winning England flyhalf legend Jonny Wilkinson who retired at the end of last season.
Juan Smith has moved closer to a possible recall for the Springboks after his French club Toulon released him along side Bryan Habana and Bakkies Botha for the Rugby Championship.
This comes as SARU announced that a 30-man Springbok squad for the forthcoming Rugby Championship will only be announced on Saturday 2 August.
This is due to the Sharks still being involved in Super Rugby and lingering injury concerns over certain players.
In April 2012, Smith announced that he would be taking an indefinite break from rugby due to the ongoing battle with his Achilles injury.
Welsh club Cardiff Blues have announced the signing of Gareth Anscombe from Super Rugby side, the Chiefs.
Anscombe, who can play flyhalf or fullback, will make the move to Cardiff Arms Park later this year and join the exciting new-look squad under the guidance of new Director of Rugby Mark Hammett, Cardiff wrote on their official website.
Glasgow Warriors have signed South African prop Rossouw de Klerk from the Cheetahs, subject to a visa and medical.
The 24-year-old has put pen to paper on a two-year deal at Scotstoun and will join up with Gregor Townsend’s squad for pre-season training at the end of the month.
The 1.85m tighthead began his senior career in Pretoria, making his debut for the Blue Bulls in 2009. He went on to make 41 appearances for them, 14 of which were in Super Rugby.
In 2013 de Klerk joined the Cheetahs and has made 14 appearances in the Vodacom Cup and Currie Cup and has played seven times in Super Rugby this season.
French rugby powerbrokers have confirmed no decision will be taken on the Florian Fritz concussion saga until the LNR Executive Committee meets in early September – some four months after the Toulouse centre was led bloodied and reeling from the Stade Ernest Wallon pitch.
In the wake of the incident during the club’s Top 14 barrage against Racing Mètro on May 9, the player’s ill-advised return to the game and the apparent misconduct of head coach Guy Novès are the subject of an investigation from a panel of doctors assembled by the LNR.
Repeated attempts from the IRB – who requested the French bodies launch the investigation – to press both the FFR and LNR for answers proved fruitless until Tuesday (yesterday), when a spokeswoman for the professional league administrators confirmed no action will be taken until after the September meeting.
Juan Smith is set to complete an extraordinary return to Test rugby after being named in South Africa’s squad for a training camp in August, according to Toulon.
Toulon have announced that Smith, along with Bakkies Botha and Bryan Habana, have been selected to attend a South African training camp in August.
Smith, who won the Heineken Cup and Top 14 titles with Toulon last season, has been rejuvenated in France after taking an indefinite break from the sport back in 2012 due to a persistent battle with an Achilles injury.
Simon Easterby has been confirmed as Ireland’s new forwards coach.
The former Ireland captain will replace John Plumtree in head coach Joe Schmidt’s back-room set-up, with the New Zealander returning home for family reasons.
Easterby will assume his new role in October, in time for Ireland’s autumn international Guinness Series of Tests against South Africa, Georgia and Australia.
French police have questioned four men on Monday over a machete attack on rugby union internationals Aurelien Rougerie, Julien Pierre and Benjamin Kayser, officials said.
The three from French Top 14 side Clermont were set upon by about 10 armed men as they walked to their hotel in the southern town of Millau in the early hours of Sunday, according to police.
Clermont said that “machetes” and “swords” were used.
Clermont have released a statement on Julien Pierre, Aurélien Rougerie and Benjamin Kayser, saying they should return to training in a month.
The trio, who were attacked in Millau by a dozen individuals “armed with machetes, knives and swords” on Saturday night, were all hospitalised.
Pierre was in the most serious condition but the club confirmed his operation was a success and that he will be back training before September.
For all the talk of players leaving Australian shores, the costliest exit may be Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher, who is bound for Gloucester next year. The Brumbies’ lineout, drive, scrum and defence against the relatively new Chiefs tactic of setting up mauls in general play were the difference in an outstanding qualifying final of tiny margins on Saturday. Not only that, but Fisher worked lineout miracles with emergency hooker Ruaidhri Murphy in the few short weeks since he understandably struggled against the Waratahs. Murphy was like Phil Taylor with his arrows when he came on for the closing stages, even hitting Ben Mowen at the tail of one set-piece. Brilliant work
We don’t always get to hear much about our top-level coaches these days, certainly not much beyond the usual ‘this bloke is rubbish’/’this bloke’s a genius’ debate, but often there are stories and insight to be provided that goes well beyond the standard clichés.
After years of selling itself as a global game when it never really was, rugby is poised to take grip in territories it has always dreamed of conquering writes Gregor Paul in the Herold on Sunday.
The All Blacks are scheduled to play in Chicago this year, Samoa in 2015 and probably Singapore in 2016. Super Rugby is also heading to Argentina and probably Singapore.
The new European Rugby Champions Cup is set to be sponsored by the same company which backed the competition it replaced.
According to a report in The Rugby Paper Heineken, who were the long-term title sponsors of the previous European rugby competition, will splash out around £4m-a-year to be associated with the European Rugby Champions Cup.
Heineken is the first major company to give their backing to the new competition, which is being organised by club-driven promoters European Professional Club Rugby.
EPCR are hopeful of securing sponsorship from four other major companies, with insurance-giant Allianz and Turkish Airlines believed to be among the interested parties.
French internationals Benjamin Kayser, Julien Pierre and Aurélien Rougerie have been hospitalised following an attack in Millau.
The Clermont trio were attacked by a dozen individuals “armed with machetes, knives, swords” on Saturday night as the players returned to their hotel, according to the club’s website.
The players have been staying in the southern town in France for a training camp and were returning from a nightclub at the time of the attack. All three were then rushed to hospital.
Chiefs playmaker Gareth Anscombe is poised to leave New Zealand to take up a contract in Wales with the Cardiff Blues.
Rumours that the 23-year-old would move to Wales, for whom he qualifies through his Cardiff-born mother, have been circulating since April.
The move now looks certain following reports that he had thanked colleagues and supporters at a Chiefs dinner in Hamilton ahead of his departure. Anscombe, who can play both fly-half and full-back, is expected to join the Pro12 side – where he will link up with former Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett – as soon as he has completed his commitments with the Chiefs, who play the Brumbies in Saturday’s Super Rugby play-off in Canberra.
The son of ex-Ulster boss Mark Anscombe, the player has already met with Wales’ Kiwi coach Warren Gatland and reports in the Welsh press suggest he could be fast-tracked into the national setup in time for the November Tests. Although he has signed with Auckland for the NPC, Anscombe is understood to have an out-clause allowing him to go to Wales.
Veteran All Black scrumhalf Jimmy Cowan will return to New Zealand after two seasons in the English Premiership.
The 32-year-old Cowan has signed to play for the Tasman Makos in the NPC.
The Tasman Rugby Union confirmed he has signed a one-year deal, after seeing out two injury-affected seasons at Premiership club Gloucester.
Springbok and Toulon lock Bakkies Botha has spoken about life in France, the final 18 months of his career and what he has planned after rugby.
After his successful run with the Springboks in June against the World XV and Wales, the My Players website caught up with the 35-year-old during his off time in the South African bush.
The Cheetahs have found a replacement for flyhalf Johan Goosen who will leave them to further his career in France.
According to reports, former Stormers back Joe Pietersen will play for the Cheetahs in next year’s Super Rugby competition.
“A good big player is better than a good small player” is something we have heard before on the rugby landscape in South Africa. Unfortunately, these type of utterances has been heard coming from the National coach, Heyneke Meyer, as well.
Is rugby not supposed to be the one game that people of every shape and size can partake and excell in? Remember when we were young kids, standing around with bare feet all excited about our very first rugby practice? Dividing the players into positions seemed like such a simple task…the fat kids were props, the tall kids were locks, the fast kids were wings. There seemed to be a position suited to every size and shape.
Professional rugby as we know it now has put paid to that philosophy, 15 supreme athletes seem to be the target for coaches. Centers weigh in at the 100kg mark or more, which is bigger and heavier than some of legendary Bok forwards of previous eras. Just this week the Under 18 Academy week was played in Worcester. One of the stand out players for the victorious Western Province Academy team was prop Carlu Sadie who weighs in at 122kg. The fact is, he is not judged on his size or weight, but on his playing ability and it would seem like this youngster has a bright rugby future ahead of him. Obviously when it comes to the position of front row, size is a huge asset, but what about the other positions?
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.
London Welsh are today expected to announce the signing of Piri Weepu from the Auckland Blues, according to reliable sources.
It marks another huge signing in their already impressive recruitment drive, with the 71-cap All Black set to bring real experience of rugby at the very top level. He will join the likes of Olly Barkley and Tim Molenaar in what is starting to look like a very useful back line.
Weepu’s career is yet to take him outside of New Zealand, beginning his career in Wellington both for the ITM Cup side and the Hurricanes, before moving to Auckland and the Blues. It is understood that he has expressed a desire to play in the Aviva Premiership.
The governing body of the English Premiership has prevented Schalk Brits from representing the South African Sevens team at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland later this month.
Brits’ club Saracens were happy for him play in the event, but the final say lies with the governing body of the English Premiership.
Sharks lock Anton Bresler has signed a three-year deal with Scottish side, Edinburgh.
Edinburgh, who are coached by South African Alan Solomons, announced the news via their official website on Wednesday.
Bresler, who has played 39 Super Rugby games for the Sharks, will join his new team after the completion of this year’s Super Rugby competition.
The niceties dictate that the phrase ‘parted company’ is employed but effectively Ulster have sacked Mark Anscombe. The New Zealander did not know what was in the offing over the weekend and only learned of his fate yesterday.
Ireland’s defence coach Les Kiss will combine those duties with the responsibility of those as interim head coach for the province. There is no time limit placed on his dual remit.
Ulster rugby released a statement yesterday afternoon. It read: “Following the departure of director of rugby, David Humphreys, Ulster Rugby has today announced that head coach, Mark Anscombe, is to leave the province with immediate effect.”
The joke is going around that Heyneke Meyer describes everything the Bokke does as “AWESOME“!
Well, the South African public have reason to be AWED by the AWESOME display of the Springboks and their AWESOME coach!
Not only are the Springboks playing a very well-rounded and balanced game, 2 and a half years into Heyneke Meyer’s tenure, but it appears that the Springoks can now call on 40 odd players to do National duty for them at any given time.
Not only do the Springboks have locks of absolute world class to burn, the looseforwards are equally impressive, the midfield options have been greatly bolstered… and the flyhalf stocks are suddenly no concern anymore, with well-rounded performances by Handré Pollard and Marnitz Boshoff.
The biggest problems still for the Springboks, seem to be adequate depth at both loosehead and tighthead prop.
With almost 30 frontline Springboks out with injury and / or not available due to the International Window having closed before the start of the Test on the weekend, the mix-and-match Springboks certainly excelled on the weekend.
The 5 Springbok debutants, Handré Pollard, Marnitz Boshoff, Marcel van der Merwe, Stephan Lewies and Teboho ‘Oupa’ Mohoje also distinguished themselves on the field of play.
At the end of the June Internationals, the Springboks and Heyneke Meyer finally have reason to smile!
Glasgow Warriors will host Harlequins in a pre-season friendly at Scotstoun Stadium on Saturday 23 August, kick-off 15:30 BST.
Gregor Townsend’s squad will take on the Aviva Premiership side two weeks before the start of the new season.
Harlequins hosted the Warriors at Twickenham Stoop last summer and this year travel north after finishing fourth in the Aviva Premiership.
Conor O’Shea’s squad includes the likes of Mike Brown, Danny Care, Ugo Monye, Chris Robshaw and Nick Easter.
Springboks (19) 55 / 6 (6) Scotland (Final Score)
The South African Springboks and Scotland did battle in the June Internationals at
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth 17:00 SA Time (16:00 BST, 15:00 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1, SHD & M-Net on TV in SA.
Never can a nightmare have turned good as quickly as Adam Ashe’s. He spent almost the entire season fighting a recurring hamstring injury and though he did recover in time to win the chance to go training at the Canterbury International High Performance unit in Christchurch, New Zealand, everything was in reality geared to trying to make an impression next season.
He has not had to wait that long for his chance. Even though he had hardly played any rugby during the Scottish season and had managed only 36 minutes of pro play as a replacement for Glasgow, he has been propelled from the fringes of the game to centre stage as the starting No 8 against South Africa.
The magnitude of the step up is huge. For example, among the Springbok back row is Schalk Burger. Ashe was just ten when Burger started playing for South Africa in the 2003 Rugby World Cup, scarcely any older when Burger won the World Player of the Year award. No wonder that, with his strong ball carrying and kamikaze tackling style, Burger was one of teenage Ashe’s heroes.
A capacity crowd is expected at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday when the Springboks take on Scotland.
EP Rugby CEO, Charl Crous, said there were roughly 3 500 tickets left by Thursday afternoon and tickets were selling fast.
“We have seen an upsurge in ticket sales this week and we are encouraging those who have not yet got tickets to please get them as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.”
Crous said it would be great to be able to put up “sold out” signs ahead of the Test match and called on Nelson Mandela Bay residents to come out and support the Springboks.
He also advised people to come early to ensure that everyone would be able to get into the stadium before kickoff at 17:00 SA Time.
Edinburgh’s backline resources for the new season were boosted with the signing of Highlanders utility back Phil Burleigh.
Burleigh signed a two-year deal with the Scottish outfit.
The 27-year-old playmaker came through the ranks with Bay of Plenty, before becoming a regular star in the Southern Hemisphere’s top flight Super Rugby competition.
Wales centre Owen Williams suffered a potential career-ending injury at the weekend.
The player’s club, the Cardiff Blues have confirmed, and the Welsh Rugby Union confirmed that Williams has “significant” neck and spinal injuries – sustained during the inaugural World Club 10s in Singapore.
Williams was hurt on Sunday, while playing for the Blues in a third-place play-off match, but the club waited until Wednesday to confirm his injuries.
Adam Ashe, the 20-year-old Glasgow Warriors No 8, will become the seventh new cap of Scotland’s summer tour when he takes to the field against South Africa in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Ashe, a product of the Hillfoots and Stirling County clubs, was preparing for club training at Lincoln University in Christchurch one week ago, having been domiciled for a couple of months in New Zealand’s South Island as recipient of the John Macphail Scholarship.
Others have graduated to full international honours and have cited the “invaluable” experience the scholarship has bequeathed them, for example, John Barclay, Grant Gilchrist, Jonny Gray and Kevin Bryce.
The match is played at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth at 17:00 SA Time, 16:00 BST, 15:00 GMT.