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European Rugby

ToulonCell C SharksToulon (5) 10 / 12 (9) Sharks (Final Score)

Toulon and the Cell C Sharks did battle in a friendly cross-hemisphere match prior to the

Super Rugby season at Stade Mayol, Toulon at 22:00 SA Time (21:00 French Time, 20:00 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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Ryan Wilson

Ryan Wilson

Scottish Rugby has suspended Ryan Wilson for three months without pay following his conviction for assault.

It was also decided that the 25-year-old Glasgow Warriors loose forward will not be considered for Scotland selection until late August, meaning he misses the Six Nations.

Last week, Wilson, capped nine times, was found guilty of assaulting a fellow rugby player on a night out.

Wilson, who has been with Glasgow since 2010, has the right to appeal.

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

A discernible changing of the guard in Springbok playing personnel after a World Cup is an established trend… but national captain Jean de Villiers has some special fears about the expected migration of several leading stars to overseas clubs later this year.

Interviewed while he goes about his rehabilitation from a serious knee injury to try to make the Rugby World Cup 2015 cut in the United Kingdom, De Villiers said the exodus was threatening to be more acute this time – and not just to feature players on the receding end of their careers, as has been the general norm before.

“It does seem that this time around, if you can believe the rumours floating around, that more players are looking to go abroad than after 2011 (the New Zealand-staged tournament).

“Whereas that year we had quite a few guys retiring, finishing up (at Bok level), there weren’t as many switching shores.

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Rory Kockott

Rory Kockott

South African-born scrumhalf Rory Kockott will make his first start for France in their Six Nations opener against Scotland on Saturday in Paris, coach Philippe Saint-Andre announced on Wednesday.

After three substitute appearances for Les Bleus during the November internationals, the 28-year-old Castres half-back will line-up alongside Camille Lopez, who starts at flyhalf.

It will be the 14th different starting half-back pairing aligned by Saint-Andre since taking over the France reins three years ago – in November, Toulon scrumhalf Sebastien Tillous-Borde started all three Tests but was suffering from a knee injury in the build up to the Six Nations.

“It’s logical (to pick Kockott) given our organisation in November,” said Saint-Andre.

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EnglandLuther Burrell and Jonathan Joseph form a new-look midfield partnership, as England recalled four British and Irish Lions for Friday’s Six Nations opener against Wales at the Millennium Stadium.

Dan Cole starts at tighthead prop, while Leicester Tigers teammates Tom Youngs and Tom Croft, as well as Saracens loosehead Mako Vunipola, are included among the replacements.

All four played some part in England’s 3 / 30 defeat at the same venue two years ago and will be itching to set the record straight.

Cole comes in for David Wilson (Bath) to win a 46th cap in a pack showing four changes from the one that started the final 2014 year-end Test against Australia.

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EnglandSale Sharks flyhalf Danny Cipriani has been named in the England squad for the Six Nations opener against Wales. The 27-year-old, who has not featured since last June’s tour of New Zealand, is set to start on the bench.

Harlequins No 8 eight Nick Easter, 36, returns for the first time since the 2011 World Cup.

Leicester Tigers trio Dan Cole, Tom Croft and Tom Youngs and Saracens prop Mako Vunipola are also named in Stuart Lancaster’s 25-man party.

Bath centre Jonathan Joseph returns to the squad for the first time since the 2013 tour to Argentina.

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ToulonCell C SharksThe Sharks match against Toulon will see 2014’s best European team take on the last year’s best South African team, but will it be rust versus readiness?

The men from Durban, bar a brief hit-out against Rovers last Thursday, have not seen competitive rugby in over 3 months, while their opponents, Toulon, are in the business end of their season.

There is bound to be some rustiness from the South Africans admits former Sharks prop Eduard Coetzee as he discusses what it will be like for them to face the Galácticos of rugby.

Coetzee is well versed in both countries’ rugby having spent 5 years with the Sharks before finishing off his career in France with Bayonne and finally Biarritz where he made 125 appearances.

“It is clear that for us that this meeting will be something special,” Coetzee said.

“We will assess our ability while facing the best team in the Northern Hemisphere.

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Conrad Smith

Conrad Smith

Will Genia

Will Genia

Reports from France seem to suggest that Wallaby Will Genia will finally make his much anticipated move to France along with the latest in the All Black post-World Cup exodus, Conrad Smith.

Genia, who for a peroid was heavily linked with English Premiership side Bath, now looks more likely to join Parisian side Stade Fancais on a 3-year deal.

It seems that Genia’s deal with Bath eventually fell through due to the Premiership’s salary cap restrictions and the English club’s existing deal with Rugby League convert Sam Burgess.

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WalesCaptain Sam Warburton will win his 50th cap against England on Friday as he leads a Wales side that contains 2 changes from the one that beat South Africa in their last outing.

Warren Gatland has named his team 48 hours ahead of schedule and it sees the return of British and Irish Lions Richard Hibbard and George North to the starting line-up for the Six Nations tournament opener.

Hibbard will line-up in the front row with Gethin Jenkins and Samson Lee, with Jake Ball and Alun Wyn Jones packing down behind.

Warburton is named in a familiar back row with Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau.

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Cell C SharksThe Bulls are the South African team to have laid down the early marker ahead of the Vodacom Super Rugby season that kicks off in a fortnight and after watching the Pretoria team deal with Saracens, the Sharks will aim at a quality performance when they play Toulon in France on Thursday.

In direct contrast to last season, when Jake White’s arrival as director of rugby created much hype and a few bold predictions about the Sharks’ chances long before the competition had started, the Durban franchise has been operating under the radar during the off-season.

The low key end to 2014, with the Currie Cup team bowing out in the semifinal stage as opposed to going all the way to the trophy the year before, has probably contributed to the low key build-up, as has the fact that the new director of rugby, Gary Gold, has until late last week been based in Japan. Consultant Brendan Venter has been overseeing the preparations for Super Rugby, but he is not known for making bold assertions to the media.

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SIX Nations 2015 Launch

The World Cup countdown is officially on, as the Six Nations sides get the first opportunity in the spotlight.

xThe Northern Hemisphere teams will look to sharpen up on their game plans, test out combinations and look to see who to cut from their World Cup plans.

With England hosting the global showpiece this year, the onus is on the Northern Hemisphere sides to fully challenge and grab the opportunity of a World Cup on their turf.

The conditions, referees and schedule seems to favour them.

The Six Nations in 2014 saw a tournament only decided on the final day – with three teams still able to win it. Eventually Ireland won it, a perfect swan song for arguably the greatest No.13 in the modern era – Brian O’Driscoll.

England won the triple crown, beating all the other Home Nations, but failed to win the Six Nations. Italy was also in the record books for the most tackles in a Test match as they made 208!

What do we expect in the 2015 edition of the Six Nations?

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IrelandSix Nations champions Ireland on Sunday trimmed their squad to 38 players for the opening two games against Italy and France.

Joe Schmidt’s side open their campaign in Rome on Saturday, before hosting France in Dublin the following weekend.

“Jack Conan and Michael Bent did well (on Friday night for the Wolfhounds) against the Saxons but will return to Leinster, as will Noel Reid who was restricted to a brief cameo as he was covering a number of positions,” said Schmidt.

“Rob Herring returns to Ulster and will look forward to having an opportunity for further game-time.

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Frans Malherbe

Frans Malherbe

Siya Kolisi

Siya Kolisi

French Top 14 club Toulouse are reportedly eager to attain the services of Springboks Frans Malherbe and Siya Kolisi.

French rugby newspaper, Midi Olympique, reports that the Stormers duo are on the shopping-list of the French giants who want to bolster their ranks after this year’s Rugby World Cup.

Prop Malherbe has played 4 Tests for the Boks, while flank Kolisi boasts 10 caps.

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SaracensVodacom Blue BullsSaracens (0) 26 / 39 (13) Blue Bulls (Final Score)

Saracens and the Vodacom Blue Bulls did battle in an inter-hemisphere match which also served as

warm-up for the Bulls at Allianz Park, London at 17:15 SA Time (15:15 BST & 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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Cell C SharksOn Thursday 5 February, 2015 the Cell C Sharks will play Toulon in a pre-season friendly at the Stade Mayol in a North vs South Challenge match.

This match gives fans the opportunity of seeing the likes of Mouritz Botha and Renaldo Bothma (forwards) and Paul Perez and Waylon Murray (backs) in action for the Cell C Sharks, along with team regulars in a competitive pre-season hit-out against the four time French National competition winners and back-to-back Heineken Cup champions in 2013 and 2014.

 

The following players make up the touring squad to France:

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Sarel Pretorius

Sarel Pretorius

Cheetahs scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius will join Welsh side Newport Gwent Dragons after this year’s Super Rugby competition.

The Dragons announced the news via their official website on Friday, saying the 30-year-old has signed a long-term deal.

Speaking after putting pen to paper, Pretorius commented: “I am delighted to have signed for the Dragons.

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Ulrich Beyers

Ulrich Beyers

Vodacom Bulls utility back Ulrich Beyers will know in the next few days if he will join the exodus to France after joining Bordeaux on a trial basis.

Beyers, who represented the Blue Bulls in last season’s ABSA Currie Cup semifinal at fullback, didn’t feature in last Saturday’s pre-season opener for the Bulls against the Toyota Cheetahs and isn’t part of the squad that heads Wednesday to London to face Saracens this weekend.

It has emerged that Beyers has been offered a trial with Bordeaux, with the option of a long-term contract if it goes well and could feature in his first start this coming weekend for the club.

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Ryan Wilson

Ryan Wilson

Glasgow Warriors forward Ryan Wilson has been suspended by the Scottish Rugby Union after being fined at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Tuesday for assaulting two men, including Ally Maclay of Glasgow Hawks, in a takeaway shop in the west end of the city in October 2013.

His co-accused Warriors team-mates, Ryan Grant and Rory Hughes, were cleared.

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Jurie Roux

Jurie Roux

The growing trend of other countries poaching South African rugby players at a young age was a worrying one, SA Rugby Union (SARU) chief executive Jurie Roux said in Pretoria on Monday.

Speaking at the launch of the 2015 Varsity Cup, Roux said while SARU could not stop the migration of players to overseas clubs, they had to keep young talent in the country.

“What is worrying is the targeting of our younger players – they are grabbing them at Under 20 and players that we foresee playing for us,” Roux said at the Copperleaf Golf Estate.

“We’ve now changed the rule so thae second qualifying is playing for the South African Under 20 side, so if you’ve played for the Junior Springboks since 2013 you cannot play for another country.”

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Christian Day

Christian Day

Tom Croft

Tom Croft

Leicester Tigers flank Tom Croft and Northampton Saints lock Christian Day have been called up to the England training squad.

The reinforcements come as coach Stuart Lancaster assesses the impact of an injury-laden round of European action – ahead of the first round of Six nations action, when England face Wales in Cardiff on 6 February.

Two-time British and Irish Lion Croft and former age-grade star Day joined the squad on Monday – while Geoff Parling’s knee and Tom Wood’s ankle are fully assessed by the England medical team.

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Brendan McKibbin

Brendan McKibbin

English Premiership Rugby club London Irish have announced that they have signed Waratahs 2014 Super Rugby No 9, Brendan McKibbin, on a two-year deal.

McKibbin was part of the Waratahs squad that were crowned Super Rugby Champions last season and has 63 Super Rugby caps to his name.

Formerly of the Queensland Reds, Scotland born McKibbin made his debut for the New South Wales outfit in 2011 and went on to become their first choice scrum half amassing 234 points for the side in 59 appearances.

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Vodacom Blue BullsSaracensThree-time Super Rugby champions the Bulls won’t find that their pre-season campaign gets any easier when they tackle English Premiership side Saracens at their Allianz Park, north London stronghold on Saturday.

The game (Kick-Off 17:15 SA Time, 15:15 BST & GMT) is due to be screened live on SuperSport 1 and CSN, after the Loftus-based side played out a 30 / 13 win minus the glare of television cameras against Super Rugby rivals the Cheetahs in Polokwane last Saturday.

There are few better ways to get European-stationed expatriate rugby players’ juices flowing than by pitting them against South African-based compatriots, and it seems Sarries – currently 3rd in the Premiership behind Northampton and Bath – will be in a position to field several against the presumably still rusty Bulls.

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Owen Farrell

Owen Farrell

England flyhalf Owen Farrell will undergo tests after hobbling off with a knee injury during Saracens’ 6 / 18 European Champions Cup defeat at Clermont on Sunday.

Farrell was forced off in the 19th minute, after twisting his left knee in a collision with Clermont flank Julien Bardy.

Saracens Director of Rugby Mark McCall said the 23-year-old would now undergo further tests to see if he can compete in the Six Nations which gets underway on 6 February.

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Adam Jones

Adam Jones

Wales and British and Irish Lions prop, Adam Jones, has retired from international rugby, he said.

The 33-year-old Cardiff Blues player featured 95 times for Wales and won 3 Grand Slams but was left out of their Six Nations squad having missed out on the 2014 autumn series.

“It’s obviously not the way I would want to finish, it’s not how I planned it in my head, and I hope no-one thinks I am simply quitting,” said Jones.

His last appearance for Wales was in the 38-16 defeat by South Africa in the first test of their June 2014 tour when he was substituted after half-an-hour.

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IrelandLeinster loose forward Jack Conan and Connacht prop Nathan White were the only uncapped players picked in Ireland’s 46-man training squad for the Six Nations on Thursday.

Conan has impressed for his region in the absence of the injured Sean O’Brien and the rested Jamie Heaslip.

The New Zealand-born White was set to become Ireland’s fourth-oldest debutant at 33 in the November tests, but ruptured an arm tendon in camp. He’s expected to make his comeback to action on Saturday for his province in the European Challenge Cup.

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Nick Mallett

Nick Mallett

Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett says England made a mistake by not appointing him and New Zealander Wayne Smith as coaches 3 years ago.

Mallett, 58, was in line for the England head coaching job but lost out to Stuart Lancaster.

In an interview with The Times, Mallett said he would have appointed Smith as his assistant coach had he got the England job.

Smith was the All Blacks’ assistant coach when they won the 2011 Rugby World Cup and also helped the Chiefs to back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013.

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Jake White at Montpellier

Jake White at Montpellier

World Cup winning coach Jake White has revealed that he has been asked by Montpellier president Mohed Altrad to remain on as coach of the French Top 14 side.

White, former Director of Rugby at the Sharks, was brought in to replace Fabien Galthie who was suspended on 29 December after a string of defeats.

“The president wants me to stay,” White said in an interview in l’Equipe and Midi Libre newspapers.

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Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown and Scotland Head Coach Vern Cotter (right)

Kelly Brown is determined to work his way back into the Scotland squad after being overlooked for the Six Nations.

The 32-year-old former captain failed to make Vern Cotter’s 32-man pool but is convinced he can still add to his 64 caps.

“It’s clearly disappointing, but selection is a funny thing,” Brown said.

“I want to play for Scotland and I certainly feel I can play for Scotland. I don’t feel over the hill yet.”

Saracens flanker Brown began last season’s Six Nations campaign as captain, although he was dropped later in the tournament. Since then Cotter has replaced Scott Johnson as head coach and Brown believes he has plenty still to offer, with the World Cup later in the year.

Brown has played once under Cotter, in a 19-17 win over Canada in June, but was not selected for the Autumn internationals.

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Sean Maitland

Sean Maitland

Scotland international Sean Maitland will join London Irish next season.

Maitland, who signed for the Warriors in October 2012, has made 38 appearances for the club and has scored 11 tries during his spell in Glasgow.

The 26-year-old winger has 15 caps and 2 tries for Scotland.

Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend said: “Sean has played a big role at the club over the last 3 years and we wish him all the best when he leaves at the end of the season.

“There is still a lot of rugby to be played between now and then and I’m sure he’ll want to leave the club on a high in the summer.”

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Glasgow WarriorsGlasgow Warriors head to Bath this Sunday with a number of outcomes still possible in Pool 4 of the European Rugby Champions Cup with quarter-final places at stake.

The Warriors will be looking to qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament for the first time in their history.

Toulouse are currently top of the pool with 16 points while Bath are second with 15 and the Warriors have 14. Montpellier are out of the running for a quarter-final spot with three points.

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Derick Hougaard

Derick Hougaard – Saracens

Derick Hougaard

Derick Hougaard – Blue Bulls

Derick Hougaard will have a foot in both camps next Saturday, as Saracens face South African giants the Vodacom Blue Bulls at Allianz Park.

The fly-half, who played for both Saracens and Sanlam Challenge opponents the Vodacom Blue Bulls, has warned Saracens that their latest South African opponents will pose their greatest threat to their 100% record against South African opposition.

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Ben Venter

Ben Venter

South Africa lock Ben Venter revealed on Wednesday he is set to join Top 14 rugby union side Bordeaux-Begles.

Venter will fill in for Adam Jaulhac who is absent for 3 months after undergoing surgery on a herniated disc.

“I’m proud and happy to announce that I’m going to join Bordeaux-Begles,” the 27-year-old Venter wrote on his Twitter account.

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Demetri Catrakilis

Demetri Catrakilis

Stormers flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis is the latest player linked to a move abroad, with French club Montpellier reportedly his destination. (Also see Update below)

Montpellier, currently coached by World Cup-winning former Springbok mentor Jake White, has been linked to a host of South African players – including the Du Plessis brothers Jannie and Bismarck.

Montpellier also secured the services of Wallaby scrumhalf Nic White, who will join them next season and be reunited with his former club coach White.

According to the French media the 24-year-old Brumbies No 9, White, has – along with Catrakilis – signed a 2-year contract with the option of extending it by a further year.

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