The New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) have revealed a packed 10-match programme for the 2017 British & Irish Lions tour, including 3 Tests between the Lions and All Blacks.
In addition to the internationals, the Lions will play all 5 of New Zealand’s Super Rugby teams, the Maori All Blacks and a composite Provincial XV.
NZRU Chief Executive Steve Tew said the tour was set to generate more demand than the Lions’ last trip in 2005, when 20 000 travelling fans created a boisterous atmosphere and injected an estimated NZ$ 135 million (US$ 90 million) into the economy.
“The series in New Zealand will be a huge occasion, featuring the best players from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales and providing almost 6 weeks of incredible rugby,” he said.
The Lions tour every 4 years, with the event rotated between South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, where last time out they overcame the Wallabies 2 / 1 in 2013.
They lost 0 / 3 when last in New Zealand in 2005, with the defining moment a spear tackle on Brian O’Driscoll early in the 1st Test that forced the Irishman out of the tour.
Overall, New Zealand have won 27 Tests and the Lions 6 since the tours began in 1888, with the visitors achieving their only series win in 1971.
NZRU also revealed it will host Wales in June next year for a 3-Test series against the All Blacks.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster has culled 5 players from his original wider squad for their next training camp in Denver.
The unlucky soles are Elliot Daly, Maro Itoje, Stephen Myler, Nick Easter and Ed Slater.
Daly, Slater, Itoje and Myler will return to their clubs to be on standby, while Easter is suffering from a back injury and will return to Harlequins for treatment, before rejoining the squad on 2 August following their post-Denver break.
Bad boy Danny Cipriani is still in the mix as Lancaster is waiting on the outcome of the drink-driving case before he makes a decision on the flyhalf.
Hosts England will have a 3D look at the World Cup, following the unveiling of their jersey on Monday.
England put the unveiling of the innovative England jersey in the hands of their most committed supporters, with more than 3 600 fans publishing the exclusive 1st image of the new shirt across their Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr feeds.
England captain Chris Robshaw was then joined by his teammates to officially reveal the team kit to the assembled media at Twickenham Stadium, before meeting with a number of core fans.
The new shirt features a range of innovations that have been developed through more than 220 hours of testing and over 250 000 miles of travel to improve both the look, feel and performance of the kit.
The rose symbolises the connection between the fans and the players and between former internationals who have worn the shirt and those who wear it now. In a striking innovative twist the rose has been 3D injection moulded, developed through rapid prototyping technology to standout in a way that merits the significance of the rose for players and fans alike. The shirt also features contoured ‘ball deadening’ grip placement to complement the players’ physique.
Johan Goosen’s kicking coach has confirmed Western Province’s interest in the Springbok pivot and says the player is ‘considering’ all possible options.
Media reports earlier this month indicated that the Capetonians were interested in signing Goosen as a replacement for Demetri Catrakilis, who will join Montpellier in France after this year’s Currie Cup.
Bertus Pretorius, who is Goosen’s kicking coach in Bloemfontein, confirmed the interest in his player.
Goosen though still has 2 seasons left on his contract with Racing Metro in France and WP would have to fork out a lot of money to sign him.
“Any player will always consider possibilities (to move) and it’s not necessarily only WP. But Goose has a 3-year contract with Racing (should WP fail in their quest to lure him) and he’ll honour it, like he did with the Cheetahs,” Pretorius said.
Goosen though appears not to be a happy camper in France, with Racing coach Laurent Labit recently accusing the Springbok pivot of not attending French classes as well as not taking things serious enough at practice.
A potential move by barnstorming Newport-Gwent Dragons No 8 Taulupe Faletau to English Premiership team Bath would not hinder his international chances, Wales head coach Warren Gatland insisted on Thursday.
The so-called “Gatland’s law” was put in place with the theory that home-based players would be favoured over those choosing to ply their trade overseas.
But it has appeared increasingly irrelevant, with a host of current Welsh internationals turning out for the national side despite playing in England or France, although the ‘law’ will reportedly only allow 2 wildcard selections from those playing outside the country after this year’s Rugby World Cup.
Tonga-born Faletau has a year left on his Dragons contract, but it seems increasingly likely he will be bought out of that deal, to the reported value of £ 250 000.00, with Premiership club Bath keen to sign the 24-year-old British and Irish Lions forward.
“We’re discussing it at the moment with the Dragons, the regions and Bath,” Gatland said.
“Toby’s got the biggest choice to make, that’s ongoing and hopefully that gets sorted out in the next week.
“There is potential there for Toby to move, that’s up to him, but he wouldn’t be hampered by that.
The Cell C Sharks have announced the signing of utility back Wandile Mjekevu on a 2-year deal effective from July this year.
After having spent time with the Lions and the Sharks, the former junior Springbok joined French Top 14 club Perpignan in 2013 where he gained some valuable experience at the club and got the opportunity to further develop his game.
Commenting on Mjekevu’s signing, the Sharks Director of Rugby, Gary Gold, said they were delighted to bring the once promising young talent to Durban.
“We are delighted that Wandile has decided to return to the Sharks,” said Gold.
“He had a great stint in France and he is an unbelievable prospect. His strength and agility around the park will most certainly bolster our backline and we look forward to him progressing at the franchise.”
Serge Blanco resigned as Biarritz president on Tuesday following his unsuccessful attempt to merge the club with Basque rivals Bayonne.
Blanco needed a 2-thirds majority in Biarritz’s general meeting to merge the fallen French giants with their regional rivals, but fell short.
Venezuelan-born Blanco, who was at Biarritz during his entire playing career, leaves the club in the 2nd-tier Pro D2 – the same division as Bayonne.
The decision comes as a surprise following the Biarritz board’s approval of the merger last week, but rival fans of Bayonne were among those to share their concerns.
Blanco, a French legend with 93 caps, had been in discussions with Bayonne’s president Manu Merin about the merger, and voiced his disappointment during Tuesday’s meeting, in which he resigned.
Former Springbok coach Jake White has lured another South African player to Montpellier in France.
White has signed former Springbok prop CJ van der Linde from the EP Kings.
34-Year-old Van der Linde, who played 75 Tests for the Springboks, will join his new club at the end of this month.
His departure is a big blow for the EP Kings, as the former Springbok prop was also their scrum coach.
Van der Linde joins a large South African contingent at the ambitious Top 14 club.
The departure shortly from the Stormers of superstar No 8 Duane Vermeulen on a three-year deal to Toulon arguably confirms for the first time a grim reality: an overseas-based group of players would now make up the bulk of a full-strength Springbok team.
Vermeulen is the cherry on top, in many ways, of a fresh wave of once staunchly SA-based players quitting the domestic landscape either following this season’s Super Rugby competition – only the Stormers retain an interest in it – or later in the year after the Currie Cup and RWC 2015 have run their courses.
He is one of the most precious elements of the current Bok mix, and if you consider him foreign-based henceforth – along with several other seasoned internationals on their bikes imminently – then it is quite feasible to argue that the cream of coach Heyneke Meyer’s intended first-choice Test XV will suddenly be drawn from foreign climes.
Before, it was just a sprinkling, with men like France-based Bryan Habana, English-stationed Francois Louw and JP Pietersen from Japan bolstering a Bok side still made up very strongly of “home” elements.
But that trend is set for a pretty violent change.
World Cup winning coach Jake White has formally welcomed the Du Plessis brothers, Jannie and Bismarck, to his French club Montpellier.
The Top 14 outfit on Wednesday confirmed the signing of the Du Plessis brothers, Bismarck and Jannie, from the Cell C Sharks.
In a brief statement on the club website Montpellier said the 2 Du Plessis brother had signed for 3 years.
The 2, who won the World Cup with White as coach in 2007, will head to France after this year’s edition of the World Cup – in England in September and October.
White welcomed the signing of the Springbok duo.
Italy’s World Cup preparations are back on track after players and the national federation (FIR) reached an agreement over bonuses.
A training camp scheduled to start on Monday 15 June had been called off as the row over World Cup bonuses and other issues escalated.
Both sides accused the other of cancelling the training camp, although Italy’s players refused to leave their base in the northern town of Villabassa, where they were due to remain in camp until 3 July.
“The agreement will be sealed quickly in order to swiftly reconvene the World Cup preparation camp,” the FIR said in a statement.
A meeting at the Calvisano base of FIR president Alfredo Gavazzi allowed the “basis for a collective agreement to participate at the World Cup while respecting the meritocratic principles proposed by the federation and the requests, not just those economic, put forward by the players,” the statement said.
The Welsh Rugby Union have acquired the services of highly respected and experienced fitness expert Paul Stridgeon as consultant Head of Physical Performance.
Stridgeon linked up with the national squad on Monday 15 June as Wales’ World Cup preparations commenced with initial conditioning training.
The 34 year-old will oversee the WRU’s Physical Performance department on a tournament-by-tournament basis combining that role with his Head of Strength and Conditioning position at European Champions Toulon.
Stridgeon, a former freestyle wrestler who represented England at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, joined Toulon in 2014 after 6 years as England Rugby National Fitness Coach.
He already has a close working relationship with a number of the Wales management team and players having toured with the British and Irish Lions as fitness coach in 2009 and 2013. His relationship with head coach Warren Gatland stretches further back to their time together at Wasps where they won both European and domestic titles.
Western Force flyhalf Zack Holmes has signed a 2-year deal with La Rochelle, the Top 14 club announced on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old Perth-born Holmes, an Australian Sevens international who previously played with Force’s Super Rugby rivals Brumbies, will replace South African playmaker Peter Grant who was released with a season to run on his contract for family reasons.
Scottish Rugby Referee Commissioner Tappe Henning has recently signed a permanent deal to continue the work he started at the tail end of 2013. Spending 5 minutes in his company is more than enough to suggest that the personable South African is really making a difference to a facet of rugby that he harbours a clear passion for.
Having brought through the likes of Craig Joubert, who officiated in the 2011 World Cup final, Tappe’s reputation for spotting refereeing talent precedes him and now he wants to put Scotland back on the arbitrary map.
Tappe Henning said: “The real purpose of me coming to Scotland was to implement a high performance structure for referees so that we can train, educate and coach Scottish referees to Tier 1 Test level.
“The concerns were raised when there were no Scottish match officials at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and the situation has repeated itself now in 2015, which is worrying coming from a country which has always traditionally had a lot of them.
“In short, we needed a professional structure with support for referees in all aspects of it and getting pathways introduced to identify future referees to deliver top quality match officials for international rugby.”
DHL Stormers captain Duane Vermeulen has not improved significantly enough to feature in the 1st Round of Super Rugby playoffs.
The Stormers host the Brumbies at DHL Newlands on Saturday and the burly Springbok will not be considered.
Should the Stormers beat the Brumbies at Newlands, they would travel to Sydney to face the Waratahs in the semifinals.
Vermeulen, who has missed the Stormers’ last 2 games with a bulging neck disc that at one stage threatened his World Cup prospects, is making “good progress” on the road to recovery.
However, coach Allister Coetzee said that the improvement is “not enough” for this week.
“Hopefully, going forward, there is still an opportunity for him,” Coetzee told a media scrum at the team’s training base.
Stade Français ensured Clermont’s dire record continued as the Paris club handed the side from central France their 11th defeat in 12 French finals.
South African flyhalf Morné Steyn kicked Stade Français into a 6 / 0 lead, while Morgan Parra missed 2 chances to reduce the lead for Clermont.
Steyn added a 3rd penalty before Camille Lopez made it 9 / 3 at the break.
Brock James cut the gap to 3 but missed a chance to level the scores and Steyn added a 4th penalty late on.
England players have been dangled a large financial carrot ahead of the Rugby World Cup later this year.
The home side’s players have been offered a performance bonus of just over £ 100 000.00 (R 1.9m) each if they win the title, according to the Daily Mail website.
The financial incentive is believed to be more than 6 times greater than the £ 16 000.00 (R 300 000.00) reward that was on offer for winning this year’s Six Nations tournament – which they missed out on in dramatic fashion as Ireland triumphed.
Flyhalf Dean Grant is the latest South African to secure a move to play club rugby in France, having been released from his contract at Griquas.
Dean’s main focus this year was on balancing his professional rugby career in Kimberley and completing his Honours in B.Com Investments at the University of Cape Town.
6 Months later, and Grant can celebrate his impressive qualification, and a new chapter in his rugby career.
After spending the past 2 seasons in Kimberley, the 26-year-old has secured a deal with French club Chambery, based in the south-eastern region of France.
Chambery play in Federale 1 (3rd Division), having nearly qualified for the Pro D2 during the 2014 / 2015 season.
“I want to thank Griquas for accommodating my career over the past 2 years by allowing me to balance my studies and my rugby commitments,” said Grant.
Scottish Rugby has confirmed Glasgow Warriors assistant coach, Shade Munro, will be the new head coach of the Scotland Women’s team.
Munro will move into the role over the summer and is charged with progressing the women’s national side in line with the forthcoming National Strategy for Women & Girls’ Rugby which is being developed by Head of Women & Girls’ Rugby, Sheila Begbie MBE.
The 48-year-old former lock, capped 7 times for Scotland, has worked his way up the coaching ladder since retiring from playing in 1997 and will bring 18 years of coaching experience to the role.
After coaching initially at club level with Glasgow Hawks, Munro moved on to Glasgow Warriors as assistant coach in 2002, was part of the Scotland coaching set-up in 2006 and, as head coach in 2013, helped Scotland A to victory over England for the 1st time south of the border.
In 20 years of the professional rugby age you could probably count the good news stories in the Scottish game on the fingers of 1 hand – or both hands if you were being generous.
This past week has been huge, however. Nobody is extrapolating Test match glory from Glasgow’s PRO12 skilful and clinical victory over Munster in Belfast last Saturday, but it was an uplifting occasion nonetheless.
On Thursday, Mark Dodson, the chief executive of Scottish Rugby, spoke about the union’s latest rugby academy, operating out of Edinburgh Napier University. The Edinburgh programme is run alongside others in Cumbernauld, Aberdeen and the Borders and all are for players age 14 and up.
Gregor Townsend had the following to say:
If Carlsberg did rugby weekends… well it was very much a Guinness weekend for us and I’m sure our supporters enjoyed some of the sponsor’s product in Belfast and in the many pubs and rugby clubs throughout Scotland after the final whistle last Saturday night.
It was a joy to watch our players perform so well in such an important game and as a coaching group we were immensely proud of their efforts. Even better was the reaction to this performance from our sizeable travelling support. Their constant noise and some new chants made it a great occasion at the Kingspan Stadium – a venue that will now forever have fond memories for Glasgow supporters.
Over the past few weeks I’ve written about the culture of Glasgow Warriors and how this has been the foundation for our success. The on-field development over the past 3 years also tells a story of how the players have improved to become a much stronger team. The following games illustrate this progress.
Guy Noves, the mythical manager of Top 14 giants Toulouse will take over as head coach of France following this year’s World Cup.
The 61-year-old is set to take up the post in November after fighting off competition from Bordeaux-Begles manager Raphael Ibanez amongst others, according to respected sports daily L’Equipe and radio station RMC.
A vote to decide the successor to current coach Philippe Saint-Andre was carried out in a secret ballot at the French Rugby Federation headquarters on Friday.
The FFR have announced they will make the decision official on Sunday following the Top 14 playoff clash between Toulouse and Oyonnax who meet on Saturday.
Toulouse are still in the running for a 20th French championship but must 1st overcome the challenge of Oyonnax if they want to keep their bid alive.
Noves, who has coached Toulouse since 1993 and is the most titled coach in French rugby, is set to be joined by 2 of his former players – current forwards coach Yannick Bru and Stade Francais backs’ coach Jean-Frederic Dubois.
Finn Russell inspired Glasgow Warriors to their maiden Guinness PRO12 title with a solid kicking display and a 2nd-half try to sink Munster in Belfast.
But there was to be no repeat of last year’s defeat to Leinster, as Glasgow showed their superior cutting edge to clinch a 31 / 13 victory and give retiring captain Al Kellock the perfect send-off.
A blistering 1st half saw Rob Harley, DTH van der Merwe and Henry Pyrgos each cross over for the Warriors, but Andrew Smith’s score just before the break sent Munster in just 11 points off the pace.
That deficit was cut to 8 early in the 2nd half, but Russell flew over on the hour and the Warriors expertly saw out the contest to ensure Munster’s wait for a 4th PRO12 crown goes on for at least another year.
Glasgow were let off when Ian Keatley’s early long-range penalty fell short of the posts but they almost stole a march towards the Munster line soon after, only for a heroic tap-tackle from stand-in captain Denis Hurley to halt van der Merwe’s charge.
Barbarians (5) 12 / 73 (45) England (Final Score)
The Barbarians and an England XV did battle in a Barbarian Celebration
match at Twickenham, London at 16:00 SA Time (15:00 BST, 14:00 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 5 on TV in SA.
Owen Farrell helped himself to a personal tally of 18 points, as Saracens got their hands back on the Premiership trophy, beating Bath 28 / 16 and becoming the 1st side to finish outside the Top 2 in the regular season and go on to be crowned champions.
Saracens got off to a flying start as flyhalf Farrell touched down after only 6 minutes and England teammate Jamie George followed him over the whitewash shortly after.
And Chris Wyles added a 3rd try as Saracens went into the break 25 / 3 ahead, Bath having just a solitary George Ford penalty on hte board.
But Bath, appearing in their 1st Premiership Final since 2004, came out stronger after the break and Jonathan Joseph’s try and the boot of Ford got them back into the contest as they trailed 16 / 25 with a quarter of the game to go.
However, man-of-the-match Ford stretched Saracens lead with a penalty and from then on Mark McCall’s men never looked like relinquishing their lead as they got their hands back on the trophy for the 1st time since 2011.
Joe Launchbury and Ed Slater will resume their international careers by lining up for an England XV against the Barbarians today (Sunday).
The lock pairing will feature in a side captained by scrum-half Lee Dickson, and with Mathew Tait at fullback.
The squad features 10 players from Stuart Lancaster’s initial World Cup squad, including Danny Cipriani at No 10.
New Zealand’s World Cup-winning forward Brad Thorn skippers an experienced BaaBaas side at Twickenham.
Montpellier, coached by former Springbok and Sharks mentor Jake White, have announced that 19 players will leave the club at the end of the season, including former All Black Rene Ranger and ex-Springbok Wynand Olivier.
Rene Ranger is set to return to New Zealand with the Blues in next season’s Super Rugby.
There is already a large South African contingent at Montpellier.
Shaun Sowerby is White’s assistant coach, while Pat Cilliers (prop) and Robert Ebersohn (centre) already ply their trade there.
Other South Africans soon to join include Jacobie Adriaanse (Llanelli Scarlets, prop), Schalk van der Merwe (Lions, prop), Demetri Catrakilis (Stormers, flyhalf), Jacques du Plessis (Bulls, loose forward / lock), Cameron Wright (Sharks, scrumhalf / flyhalf) and Wiaan Liebenberg (Bulls, loose forward).
Leinster’s Shane Jennings will captain the Barbarians against Ireland at Thomond Park on Thursday.
The Leinster and Ireland flank retires from the professional game in June after a distinguished career in which he has won 13 caps for Ireland, Pro12 and European Cup titles for Leinster and a Premiership title with Leicester Tigers.
He captains a starting side containing 9 different nationalities with 466 international appearances between them for the game in Limerick on 28 May.
It includes his Leinster teammates Zane Kirchner and Jimmy Gopperth with Ulster scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar also starting for the famous invitation club celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster has named 10 players from his World Cup training group in a squad of 24 to play the Barbarians next Sunday Twickenham.
The England side will be captained by experienced scrumhalf Lee Dickson, who has 18 international caps to his name, and who also led the England Saxons team to victory against the Irish Wolfhounds in Cork earlier this year.
The other World Cup training squad members named are Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons), Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Matt Mullan (Wasps), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers) and Marland Yarde (Harlequins).
The fixture will provide an opportunity for those who narrowly missed out on initial selection for the 50-man training squad to press their claims as well as allowing a number of up-and-coming players to work with Lancaster and his senior coaching group.
The latest news from the Barbarians camp is that both Zane Kirchner and Ruan Pienaar have been called up to join the Barbarians for the matches against Ireland and England.
The Barbarians face Ireland at Thomond Park (28 May) and an England XV at Twickenham (31 May).
They will line up alongside the likes of Joe Rokocoko, George Smith, Adam Jones, Alex Cuthbert, Gio Aplon and Thomas Waldrom for the famous invitation club that celebrates the 125th anniversary of its foundation this year.
World Cup-winning Springbok scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar has also been called up to complete the Barbarians squad to face Ireland and England this week.
Apart from Pienaar, who became available after his Irish province Ulster suffered a dramatic 14 / 16 defeat to Glasgow Warriors in the Pro12 semifinals at the weekend, Barbarians head coach Robbie Deans also added other high-profile names like England international wing Ugo Monye, also with All Blacks forwards Brad Thorn and Jason Eaton.
Australian legend George Smith will get a taste of Champions Cup next season after agreeing a switch from Lyon to Wasps.
The 34-year-old flank, part of the Wallabies side that beat the British & Irish Lions in 2001 and reached the 2003 World Cup final, retired from international rugby with 111 caps after 1 final appearance against the Lions in 2013.
He played for the Brumbies for 11 years before switching to Europe and then Japan. He played for Toulon in the old Heineken Cup in 2010 / 2011, helping them reach the quarterfinals, and the following season played for Stade Francais Paris in the Challenge Cup, reaching the semifinals.
He made 24 appearances for Lyon last season, but couldn’t stop them from losing their Top 14 status. He will join a Wasps team that retained its Champions Cup place and will get his 1st taste of Premiership rugby, battling for a place with James Haskell, Ashley Johnson, Nathan Hughes, Guy Thompson, Sam Jones and Thomas Young.
Munster will face Glasgow Warriors in the Guinness PRO12 final in Ravenhill after an incredible 21 / 18 win over Ospreys at Thomond Park.
Josh Matavesi crossed at the death for what would have been the winning try for the Ospreys but a knock-on in the build-up meant the try was ruled out and Munster progressed to the final.
Bath reached their 1st Premiership final since 2004 with a comfortable play-off semi-final win over Leicester.
A brace from Matt Banahan and a Kyle Eastmond try put the hosts in control, but they ended the 1st half with 13 men as Tom Youngs replied.
2Nd-half tries from Peter Stringer, George Ford and Anthony Watson sealed Bath’s passage to Twickenham as Banahan completed his hat-trick late on.
The Blue, Black and Whites will face Saracens in the final on 30 May.
Owen Farrell produced a nerveless kicking display as Saracens avenged last year’s extra-time defeat to Northampton Saints by booking their place in the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final once more.
David Strettle got Sarries off to a flying start but Northampton’s pack responded to win a Penalty Try, before the 2 sides traded scores early in the 2nd half through Jamie George and Tom Wood.
But it was the battle between England flyhalves Farrell and Stephen Myler that ultimately settled this semi-final, with the Sarries man besting his counterpart by 19 points to 14 from the tee – including an ice-cool 77th minute penalty to take the game out of the defending champions’ reach.
Glasgow Warriors left it late but eventually overcame a huge challenge from Ulster to clinch a PRO12 Grand Final place.
The Irish province had much the better of the opening exchanges and took control midway through the opening period with Chris Henry’s try.
But Glasgow came out fired up for the 2nd half and kept themselves in touch before DTH van der Merwe levelled the scores on his final Scotstoun appearance 5 minutes from time.
The score sent the 10 000 sell-out crowd into ecstasy but there was still work to be done as Finn Russell lined up the decisive conversion.