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Salesi Ma'afu

Salesi Ma’afu

Australian international prop Salesi Ma’afu is in custody over an alleged assault, a police source said on Monday.

The 32-year-old Toulon player, capped 14 times by the Wallabies, is believed to have been involved in a heated argument over a parking place on 16 August and is reported to have hit someone who attempted to intervene.

Ma’afu has not sparkled in pre-season friendlies since he joined the 3-time European champions from English side Northampton, and only came on for the last half hour of the opening day 22 / 27 defeat to Racing-Metro on Friday.

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Philippe Saint-Andre

Philippe Saint-Andre

Experienced flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc will miss the Rugby World Cup which gets underway in England next month.

He was surprisingly omitted from the France squad announced by coach Philippe Saint-Andre on Sunday.

The 28-year-old who played an influential role for France at the 2011 Rugby World Cup when they lost 7 / 8 to the New Zealand All Blacks in the Final – lost out to unpredictable veteran Frederic Michalak (who played in Saturday’s win over England) and Remi Tales.

Trinh-Duc, capped 50 times since being blooded by Marc Lievremont in 2008, found it difficult to impose himself under Saint-Andre and a serious injury last season ruled him out of contention for this season’s Six Nations.

He was given a chance to prove himself worthy of a spot in the 1st game against England a week ago – a 19 / 14 defeat at Twickenham – but evidently failed to convince Saint-Andre and his coaching staff.

“It is a choice which has been made – not only after 7 weeks, but also after 3 years of life with the squad,” said Saint-Andre, who also cited Trinh-Duc’s lack of accuracy at place-kicking.

For Michalak, who will celebrate his 33rd birthday during the tournament, it represents his 3rd Rugby World Cup – having 1st made an impression at international level during the 2003 edition in Australia.

Despite concerns over his fitness and form, Saint-Andre has kept faith with the 72-times capped playmaker.

In contrast to the flyhalf position Saint-Andre has selected 3 scrumhalves, in Morgan Parra (who was Lievremont’s favoured No 9 alongside Trinh-Duc for much of his reign), South African-born Rory Kockott and Michalak’s clubmate Sebastien Tillous-Borde.

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Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn

Springbok utility back Frans Steyn is set to join Montpellier in the French Top 14 and reunite with his World Cup winning coach Jake White.

Steyn is one of many recruits from South Africa and Australia in a completely revamped Montpellier outfit under the guidance of coach White.

White, who had coaching roles at the Sharks and Brumbies as well as the South African national side, has confirmed 20 new signings for Montpellier – with a number of them from places where he used to ply his trade.

The 28-year-old Steyn is no foreigner to France having had a spell at Racing Metro from 2009 – 2012.

His versatility at flyhalf, centre and fullback should be particularly useful to Montpellier, given the many departures announced this off-season for the French club.

The French scene is notorious for big-money signings a look is taken into the major comings and goings in the Top 14 for the season ahead.

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Frederic MichalakFrance coach Philippe Saint-Andre made 12 changes to his starting line-up for the 2nd of 2 World Cup warm-up games.

France host England at the Stade de France on Saturday.

The French lost 14 / 19 to Stuart Lancaster’s men at Twickenham last Saturday and Saint-Andre is keen to cast an eye over all of his players before cutting back his squad from 36 to 31 on Sunday.

Notably, he has linked up Frederic Michalak with Sebastien Tillous-Borde at halfback, giving both Toulon veterans a chance to state their claims for World Cup squad slots.

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Chris Robshaw

Chris Robshaw

Regular England captain Chris Robshaw was restored to the side for the World Cup hosts’ 2nd warm-up match.

England play France in Paris on Saturday.

The Harlequins flank was 1 of 14 changes made by coach Stuart Lancaster to his starting side – with only try-scoring wing Jonny May retained from the 15 that ran out to defeat France 19 / 14 at Twickenham last weekend.

Robshaw will form a back row alongside veteran James Haskell and Billy Vunipola.

It is the same loose forward trio which started the final match of last season’s Six Nations against France, with 12 of that 15 – which won 55 / 35 at Twickenham 5 months ago, a result that still wasn’t good enough for England to clinch the title – lining up in Paris.

There was no place in the matchday 23 for either former Rugby League star Sam Burgess or fellow centre Henry Slade, who both impressed on their Test debuts against France last weekend.

Instead Lancaster has reverted back to his tried and trusted centre partnership of Luther Burrell and Jonathan Joseph, leaving open the question of who will provide midfield cover in a Rugby World Cup squad that must be named by 31 August.

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SpringboksSA Schools coach Hein Kriek and his SA Schools A counterpart Lance Sendin on Monday made wholesale changes to their starting line-ups for the 2nd Round of the Under 18 International Series at Outeniqua Park in George on Tuesday.

The SA Schools team will take on France at 17:00 SA Time and the SA Schools A team will go up against England at 13:00 SA Time.

In the other clash Wales will take on Italy at 15:00 SA Time.

Kriek made 7 changes to his team, which sees 2014 Coca-Cola Craven Week player of the year Curwin Bosch move from flyhalf to fullback, while flyhalf Damian Willemse will join forces with scrumhalf Embrose Papier in a new halfback combination.

The other changes in the backline were on the left wing where Wandisile Similane replaces Manie Libbok and centre Heino Bezuidenhout is selected alongside Stedman Gans, who scored 2 tries in their opening fixture against Wales.

Up-front Kriek retained the flanker combination of Cobus Wiese and captain Ersnt van Rhyn, while Hacjivah Dayimani has been selected at No 8. In the engine room lock Ruben van Heerden will start alongside Ruben de Villiers.

Ashwyn Adams, meanwhile, will start at loosehead prop in a strong front row with tighthead prop Carlu Sadie and hooker Johan Grobbelaar.

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Sam Burgess

Sam Burgess

Sam Burgess will make his England debut at centre when Stuart Lancaster’s side host France on Saturday.

The former Great Britain rugby league player is one of three debutants, with centre Henry Slade and flanker Calum Clark the other new faces in the 15.

Head coach Lancaster says Saturday’s match is the final chance for some of his players to impress before he selects his 31-man World Cup squad.

“The following week we’ll probably change a lot,” he said

Burgess, 26, started his union career in midfield for Bath before switching to the back row.

Former England scrumhalf Matt Dawson has questioned Burgess’s “game-management” at inside centre, but Lancaster described the former South Sydney player, who switched codes last October, as a ball carrier who could threaten the gain line.

“It’s an option for us to look at and it’ll be an interesting insight to see whether it goes well at the weekend or not,” he said.

“It’s about what’s right for the team. We’ll see if he can translate what he does in training and see how it goes.”

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Stedman Gans - SA Scools

Stedman Gans – SA Scools

The SA Schools and SA Schools A teams on Friday started the Under 18 International Series on a high note at the City Park Stadium in Crawford, Cape Town, as they registered encouraging victories against Wales and Italy respectively to make their presence felt early on.

The SA Schools team delivered a solid performance on attack and defence against Wales for a 42 / 11 victory, while the SA Schools A side overcame a closely-fought 1st half against Italy for 29 / 14 win.

In the other clash England defeated France 15 / 7.

The teams will battle it out in the 2nd Round in George on Tuesday before returning to the City Park Stadium on Saturday 15 August for the closing Round of the Series.

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Mourad Boudjellal & Quade Cooper

Mourad Boudjellal & Quade Cooper

The latest instalment in the Quade Cooper transfer saga has been an exchange of words between the Toulon boss and the Australian coach.

Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal launched a relatively tasteless tirade against the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and its prized asset Quade Cooper, whom he threatened would end up as “the 2nd most indebted State after Greece”.

The eccentric Frenchman said that the 150 000 Euros that has been mooted as Cooper’s buyout of his contract was in fact for the promise of a contract – Boudjellal claims that Cooper has actually put pen to paper, which would make that void and has allegedly threatened legal action if Cooper does not show up for his medical soon.

Boudjellal told Midi Olympique: “The moron of the Australian federation who does not understand the case needs to know that the promise of employment is no longer the question.”

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Rugby World Cup 2023France, Ireland, Italy and South Africa have been confirmed as the 4 nations who will bid for the right to stage the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The quartet all submitted formal expressions of interest before last month’s deadline.

A decision on which country will stage the 2023 Rugby World Cup will be made in May 2017 after a tender deadline in June next year.

South Africa staged the World Cup in 1995, when the Springboks won the tournament on home soil, while France played host to the 2007 edition.

However, neither Ireland nor Italy, 2 of Europe’s elite Six Nations along with France, have been the main hosts of a World Cup.

“The candidate hosts now have a year to benefit from detailed knowledge-sharing and preparation, including digesting the detailed tender requirements and observing World Cup 2015 hosting, before the confirmation to tender deadline of June 2016,” said World Cup tournament director Alan Gilpin in a statement.

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Willem Alberts

Willem Alberts

Stade Français have confirmed the signing of Springbok back row Willem Alberts who will join the club after the Rugby World Cup.

The Top 14 champions have not brought in many players this off-season, generally prioritising quality over quantity, as Alberts joins Will Genia in the French capital.

Alberts arrives from the Cell C Sharks on a 3-year deal and will join a back row which already features Sergio Parisse, Raphaël Lakafia and Antoine Burban, while promising youngster Sekou Macalou also arrived over the off-season from Massy.

The 31-year-old made his Springbok debut back in 2010 and has scored 7 tries in 32 tests.

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Armand "Akker" van der Merwe

Armand “Akker” van der Merwe

The Emirates Lions have lost another key player ahead of their Currie Cup campaign.

Hooker Armand “Akker”van der Merwe or “The Angry Warthog” as he is sometimes referred to, has signed a deal with Racing Metro, which will see him play in France for the remainder of the 2015 season.

Lions Rugby (Pty) Ltd revealed that they agreed to release 4 players to clubs abroad for the duration of the Currie Cup tournament.

As was previously reported Elton Jantjies (Shining Arcs), Lionel Mapoe (Spears) and Warwick Tecklenburg (Kamaishi) have all signed agreements in Japan until February 2016.

Along with Van der Merwe, all the players will return ahead of the 2016 Super Rugby tournament and will represent the Lions in next year’s competition. The players have all committed to Lions Rugby until the end of 2016.

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Rugby World Cup 2023The French Rugby Federation (FFR) confirmed their interest and their name in the hat to bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

In a statement issued at the end of their annual congress in the eastern city of Belfort, the FFR said that an official bid should be delivered in 2017.

A final decision on the host nation will be made in May of 2017 by World Rugby. Ireland, Italy, South Africa and the United States have also expressed interest in hosting the 2023 tournament.

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Johan Goosen

Johan Goosen

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.

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Wandile Mjekevu

Wandile Mjekevu

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.”

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Serge Blanco

Serge Blanco

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.

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CJ van der Linde

CJ van der Linde

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.

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New ZealandEnglandNew Zealand (11) 21 / 16 (10) England (Final Score)

New Zealand Under 20 and England Under 20 did battle in the Final of the World Rugby

Under 20 Chamionship at Stadio Giovanni Zine, Cremora at 20:30 SA Time

(20:30 Italy Time, 18:30 GMT). This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.

Scorers:

New Zealand:

  • Penalties – Otere Black (3)
  • Drop Goals – 0
  • Tries – Vince Tavae-Aso (1), Akira Ioane (1)
  • Conversions – Otere Black (1)

England:

  • Penalties – Rory Jennings (3)
  • Drop Goals – 0
  • Tries – Matt Clark (1)
  • Conversions – Rory Jennings (1)

 


 

South AfricaFranceJnr Springboks (28) 31 / 18 (8) France (Final Score)

The South African Junior Springboks and France Under 20 did battle in the 3rd Place play-off match

of the World Rugby Under 20 Championship at Stadio Giovanni Zini, Cremora at 18:35 SA Time

(18:35 Italy Time, 16:35 GMT). This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.

Scorers:

Jnr Springboks:

  • Penalties – Brandon Thompson (1)
  • Drop Goals – 0
  • Tries – Thomas du Toit (1), Jason Jenkins (1), Dan du Preez (2)
  • Conversions – Brandon Thompson (4)

France:

  • Penalties – Lucas Meret (1)
  • Drop Goals – 0
  • Tries – Arthur Bonneval (1), Julien Delannoy (1), Lucas Blanc (1)
  • Conversions – 0
Bismarck du Plessis

Bismarck du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

Jake White

Jake White

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.

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Zack Holmes

Zack Holmes

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.

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Duane Vermeulen

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.

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Hosea Gear

Hosea Gear

French club Clermont Auvergne have signed All Black wing Hosea Gear on a 2-year deal from the Chiefs.

The 31-year-old Gear, who played 14 Tests and scored 6 tries for the All Blacks from 2008 – 2012, completes Clermont’s recruitment campaign for next season – following the arrivals of Springbok Flip van der Merwe, French international Scott Spedding, Waisake Naholo (Highlanders), David Strettle (England), Adrien Plante and Camille Gerondeau.

Gear is returning to France, where he already played 1 season for Toulouse in 2013 and 2014.

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Johann Sadie

Johann Sadie

Newly-promoted French Top 14 team, Agen, have signed South African centre Johann Sadie as they continue to build ahead of next season.

The 26-year-old arrives from Super Rugby side the Toyota Cheetahs and has signed a 2-year deal, the club confirmed.

Sadie started his career with Western Province before spells with the DHL Stormers, Vodacom Bulls and then the Toyota Cheetahs. In 2014, he started playing for the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes in Japan but was allowed to return to Bloemfontein during the Super Rugby season.

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Stade Français

Stade Français, Top 14 Champions for 2015

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.

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Dean Grant

Dean Grant

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.

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Israel Folau

Israel Folau

Even with the Top 14 Final looming, the French media rumour mill has gone into overdrive about Southern Hemisphere players heading north for the next season.

Waratahs superstar Israel Folau is the latest Wallaby linked to a move to cash-flush French club Toulon.

Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal, who has never been scared to wield his substantial cheque book to lure big names to Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, has already made substantial acquisitions for the 2015 / 2016 season.

According to the French sporting newspaper Midi Olympique Boudjellal and his people are already speaking to Folau.

If the 2-time European champions convince the Wallaby fullback to head to France after the World Cup, in England in September and October, he will join a long list of high-profile recruits.

Already said to be heading to Toulon for the new season are Ma’a Nonu (from the Hurricanes), Jonathan Pélissié (from Montpellier), France Thibault (from Oyonnax), Salesi Ma’afu (from Northampton Saints), Samu Manoa (from Northampton Saints), Mohamed Boughanmi (from Béziers), Julien Caminati (from France Grenoble), Quade Cooper (or so they claim, from the Reds), James O’Connor (another unconfirmed arrival – from the Reds), Charles Ollivon (from Bayonne), Anthony Etrillard (from Bayonne) and Paul O’Connell (from Munster).

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Mourad Boudjellal

Toulon boss, Mourad Boudjellal

Toulon boss Mourad Boudjellal took aim at the Stade Bordeaux spectators for showing “disrespect” to 1 of the game’s greatest players.

Stade  Français stunned triple European champions Toulon 33 / 16 last Friday to reach the French Top 14 Final.

Led by the irrepressible Italian back row forward Sergio Parisse, Stade scored tries through flanks Rapahel Lakafia and Antoine Bourban, before a freak late score from wing Julien Arias gave a flattering skew to the final score – as they reached their 1st Final since defeating Clermont 23 / 18 in 2007.

It was a sad end for a number of veteran stalwarts, whose club careers ended with this defeat – including South Africa’s Bakkies Botha, along with Ali Williams and Carl Hayman of New Zealand.

Outgoing Toulon coach Bernard Laporte took aim at the players, for a lack of commitment, but the club President, Boudjellal, turned anger on the spectators.

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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen’s reported move to France appears all the more likely after the Springbok and Stormers No 8 rejected a contract offer from the South African Rugby Union (SARU).

Vermeulen would have been the highest earning Springbok had he accepted SARU’s offer.

His decision to reject the offer from SARU adds fire to reports earlier this year that linked him with a move to French club Toulon.

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Guy Noves

Guy Noves

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.

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Eben Etzebeth

Eben Etzebeth

Big-spending French giants Toulon are finding the going tough in luring Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth to France after this year’s Rugby World Cup.

Reports late last year indicated that Etzebeth could join Toulon as a replacement for compatriot Bakkies Botha, who is set to leave the reigning European champions.

The problem though for Toulon is that Etzebeth is still contracted to Western Province until the end of the 2016 season – and the union is reluctant to let him go.

Toulon boss Mourad Boudjellal has confirmed their interest in Etzebeth, but admitted that they are finding the going tough to attain Etzebeth’s services, with Western Province believed to be upset over the matter.

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MontpellierMontpellier, 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).

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Jake White

Jake White

Former Springbok coach Jake White was being linked as a possible successor to France coach Philippe Saint-Andre.

Saint-Andre, who has won only 15 of 37 Tests in charge of France, will step down after this year’s Rugby World Cup in England and Wales.

According to Britain’s Telegraph, there is no shortage of top coaches eager to replace him, with White and former England coach Clive Woodward believed to be in the running.

Woodward, England’s 2003 World Cup winning mentor, has reportedly been involved in discussions with French bosses and it is alleged as many as 66 names were presented and they have been whittled down to a shortlist of 8.

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Frederic Michalak

Frederic Michalak

Francois Trinh-Duc

Francois Trinh-Duc

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has favoured experience as he named Montpellier flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc and Toulon veteran Frederic Michalak in his 36-man squad for the World Cup.

Trinh-Duc, 28, and Michalak, 32, were given the nod ahead of Clermont flyhalf Camille Lopez, 26, for the 18 September to 31 October tournament in England.

“We really chose experience,” said Saint-Andre, whose side bid to overturn a record of just 15 wins for 2 draws and 20 defeats in the past 3 years.

“Both in terms of Francois Trinh-Duc, who has returned to form for his club and knows a World Cup (2011) as has Remi Tales, who knows our systems well and the France team,” the France coach continued.

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Sir Clive Woodward

Sir Clive Woodward

England’s Rugby World Cup winning coach Clive Woodward is in the hunt to succeed Philippe Saint-Andre as France manager, L’Equipe reported on Monday.

The sports daily says the 59-year-old’s name is 1 of the 8 candidates on the French rugby federation’s shortlist to take over Les Bleus after this year’s World Cup.

The federation, which has not identified any of the finalists, will name Saint-Andre’s successor by the end of May after the 8 remaining candidates are interviewed by the federation’s selection panel.

The names most bandied about as Saint-Andre’s successor are those of Bordeaux-Begles coach Raphael Ibanez, former Montpellier manager Fabien Galthie and veteran Toulouse coach Guy Noves, who turned down the job in 2011.

L’Equipe suggests that while Woodward may be the best qualified for the job “it seems improbable that he’ll become the 1st foreign coach of Les Bleus”.

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Jannie du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

Bismarck du Plessis

Bismarck du Plessis

The Du Plessis brothers, Bismarck and Jannie, are set to sign a deal with French club Montpellier, a report in French media indicates.

Reports surfaced earlier this year that the Springbok brothers would join Montpellier on a 2-year deal after the conclusion of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, but Montpellier denied it at the time.

However, according to RMC Sport, the double signing of the Sharks duo is expected to be announced in the coming days.

The Du Plessis brothers are believed to have respected their earlier commitment despite having some contact with Toulon.

Montpellier are coached by former Springbok coach Jake White, who was quoted as saying after their weekend defeat at Stade Francais: “Big names will be announced in the coming days. To win the Top 14, you need the best players in the world.”

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