Just how the revised Super Rugby format will go down with the South African rugby public is unclear, but we won’t have to wait long to find out.
The new-look tournament gets underway in less than a month, with the Blues and the Highlanders kicking things off in Auckland on Friday 26 February 2016.
From a South African perspective, the road ahead looks a tough one and if local bookmakers are to be believed there is no standout side from within these borders that looks set to challenge for the title.
Outside of the tournament changes, the majority of the South African franchises have also undergone major alterations with only 2wo sides – the Cell C Sharks and Emirates Lions – heading into 2016 with the same coaches that did the business in 2015.
The Southern Kings, obviously, were not a part of the 2015 competition but they also have a new man at the helm.
Here, we look at the 6 men tasked with bringing success to their respective franchises:
The Cell C Sharks’ 5 missing international players — away in Japan completing their club duties — are expected back in Durban before the end of the month.
New vice-captain Marcell Coetzee, JP Pietersen, Namibian backrower Renaldo Bothma and new signings Willie le Roux and Jacques Potgieter will join the Sharks squad a week before they leave on their pre-season tour of France early in February.
A member of the Sharks management yesterday said that the squad to travel to France would be announced next week and a decision on whether the Japan-based players would be included for the 2 friendlies has still to be made.
The Sharks will play 2-time European champs Toulon on Friday 5 February, before taking on Toulouse 6 days later.
New Cell C Sharks captain Pat Lambie said that it was likely that all the tour members would be given an airing during the 2 games but added that taking on the 2 Top 14 French clubs would be a major challenge.
Head coach Gary Gold said he wanted tough opposition for his young charges ahead of a fresh season.
The Cell C Sharks on Thursday unveiled their provisional Super Rugby training squad ahead of the 2016 season.
As expected, lock Ruan Botha joins from the Stormers on a 2-year deal to soften the blow of Pieter-Steph du Toit moving the other way.
“Ruan is a young player with a bright future ahead of him. He was part of the SA Under 20 squad that won the IRB Junior Championship in 2012 and we look forward to his progress in the black and white jersey,” Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold told the franchise’s website.
“This squad will be re-looked at in the New Year, when our other squad members return.”
There are another 9 players currently undergoing rehab for various injuries, while 6 have been released including flyhalf Lionel Cronje, lock Marco Wentzel and centre Waylon Murray.
Cell C Sharks Director Of Rugby, Gary Gold, has announced the 4 coaches that will be assisting him in next year’s Super Rugby competition.
Former UKZN Impi coach Ryan Strudwick will be in charge of the forwards. Strudwick’s Impi side were crowned Varsity Shield champions earlier this year when they beat Wits in the Final. He also previously coached Maritzburg College.
Strudwick also assisted Gold during this year’s Currie Cup campaign. He has been involved with the Sharks at Under 19 and Under 20 level as well.
Former Springbok and Sharks scrumhalf Robert du Preez will be the team’s skills and attack coach – a role he shares with Sean Everitt. Du Preez also won the ABSA Currie Cup First Division trophy with the Leopards this year. The North West team went through the entire tournament unbeaten.
He also guided NWU-Pukke to two Varsity Cup finals – one of which was this year’s 33 / 63 loss to UFS Shimlas. Pukke lost to UCT in the final in 2014.
Du Preez will also be coaching his sons Dan and Jean-Luc who are part of the Cell C Sharks squad.
Omar Mouneimne joins from the Steval Pumas and will be the team’s defence coach. He was also part of the Eastern Province Kings coaching setup and also had coaching stints in Edinburgh and Italy.
The Cell C Sharks will travel to France in February 2016, on a pre-season tour ahead of the start of their Super Rugby 2016 campaign.
There are 2 games lined-up for the tour, with a visit to Stade Mayol 1st up to take on 2-time European champs Toulon on Friday 5 February before they face Toulouse on Thursday 11 February.
The Sharks believe that these matches against 2 of the best European clubs in recent times, marks an ideal opportunity to fine tune their preparation for Super Rugby.
The Sharks Director of Rugby, Gary Gold, will be heading-up the Cell C Sharks coaching team for this year’s ABSA Currie Cup campaign. He will be ably supported by the experienced backline coach Sean Everitt and Ryan Strudwick who will look after the forwards.
The Sharks report that Sean has worked with many of the players in their current squad through the various age-group ranks and has enjoyed great success and has a fantastic rapport with them. Ryan recently won the Varsity Shield trophy with the UKZN Impi’s and has also been involved in their coaching set-up for a few years.
Gold said: “For the first time since I arrived, I am satisfied that there is continuity and clarity amongst the various age-groups and this has been achieved through the redeployment of the coaching structures. The historic structure lacked the necessary focus throughout the age-groups. We had approached and considered a replacement for Brad. However, we have after consultation with all stakeholders including the team, decided within this new framework, that it will be in the best interest of the team and for continuity for me to oversee the campaign with the assistance of Sean and Ryan.”
To this end, Michael Horak, who enjoyed great success with Varsity Cup side UFS Shimlas will head up the Cell C Sharks Under 21 campaign and will be assisted by AB Zondagh.
The Under 19 team will be headed-up by Paul Anthony who brings with him a wealth of experience as well as success having won the competition twice with the Blue Bulls. His deputy will be Andre Barnard.
Cell C Sharks boss Gary Gold admitted the pressure is mounting for his team, currently on a record 6-match losing streak.
The Durban-based franchise, who take on the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday, have only once before lost 6 straight matches – in 2000.
Director of Rugby, Gold, is adamant his charges can avoid the ignominy of a 7th straight defeat.
He said it is “critically important” that they finish off their Australasian tour with a win.
“We had a shocking 1st week against the Highlanders, then 2 good performances against the Hurricanes and Waratahs, where we weren’t on the right side of the scoreboard,” Gold said from the team’s base in Brisbane.
The Reds, who are 4 places (14th) and 5 points (16 to 21) below the Sharks, bounced back from their own horror run with a 46 / 29 win over the Melbourne Rebels last week.
With the Cell C Sharks sitting in 11th position on the Combined Log, after suffering 7 losses, the only thing left to play for is pride, as the play-offs seem an almost impossible dream.
The Sharks were humiliated by the Highlanders in their 1st game of their Australasian tour, with even the most faithful of supporters conceding that the season is effectively over.
It seems that Sharks boss Gary Gold is in agreement, stating that they are now only playing for pride and to try and win back some disgruntled fans.
“The issue for us is that this is a matter of pride, of massive pride,” Gold said.
“We’ve let a lot of people down, we’ve let a lot of supporters down – the expectations were high for this team.
“I’m not about to provide any excuses for what happened in our performance, it was sub-standard and whatever the reasons are, we’ll investigate that.
“I take responsibility for it, I’ve said that before, but the bottom line is that we have to fix it.
The Cell C Harks website reports that Bismarck du Plessis returns to the Cell C Sharks this weekend after serving a period of time away from the game, but, by his own noble request, will not be selected as captain for the match against the Highlanders.
“The situation is this,” explains Director of Rugby Gary Gold: “Bismarck has shown incredible humility about his personal situation over the past month and he feels that he just wants to get back into the Cell C Sharks team and make as big an impact as he can.
The Sharks Director of Rugby, Gary Gold has selected a 27-member squad that departs, this Saturday, for the Australasian leg of Vodacom Super Rugby tournament.
Commenting on the squad selected and the tour, Gary Gold said: “I have gone for 15 forwards and 12 backs, my selection was based on who is fit and healthy, but the nice thing is that there are a lot of guys who can play in different positions.
“We are looking forward to this tour. Tours are funny things, I’ve seen teams in far worse positions than us fight to get back and we not giving up the fight. I believe in this group of guys and I am keen to work with them in adverse times – that’s when you see true warriors come out.
“That’s our challenge: we are down but we’re not out and now is the time to stand up and fight back. If we come back fighting in the last six games, we’ll salvage a lot of respect”, he added.
Coach Gary Gold, Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby, has said his suspended players owe the team a lot when they return from their respective bans on the Sharks’ overseas tour.
Captain Bismarck du Plessis has officially served out his 4-week ban as of 18 April. His final suspension weekend was against the Bulls last Saturday.
Du Plessis will be available for the 1st game against the Highlanders in a fortnight, after the Sharks BYE this week.
Centre Frans Steyn’s ban comes to an end on 3 May, which would mean that the Springbok would be unavailable for the 1st tour match.
Coach Gold, looking ahead to their tour after a loss to the Bulls on the weekend, was hopeful that the return of his 2 super stars would allow them a chance to right the wrongs they have caused the team.
“I certainly hope that it will be a shot at redemption for those guys coming back,” Gold said of both Du Plessis and Steyn.
Cell C Sharks boss Gary Gold said if he had the choice he would not be resting veteran Springboks Jannie du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira against a formidable Lions scrum this weekend.
Gold has made a number of changes to the team that will travel up to Johannesburg to take on South Africa’s form team this weekend.
Some of these changes are enforced due to injury, some because of suspension and others the result of a selection rethink.
However, Gold seems least pleased about the fact that he needs to rest his key front row Springboks in accordance with SARU’s player management initiative.
“If I had an opportunity to play Jannie and Beast this weekend, I would,” Gold said ahead of the trip up to Ellis Park.
“These are decisions that were made at a higher level, and as bizarre as they are, they were made, and as much as I can stick to them, I am going to try and stick to them.”
Cell C Sharks coach Gary Gold has taken full accountability after his team’s dismal 10 / 52 loss against the Crusaders in Durban at the weekend.
In a game that saw the Durban team booed off the field, and a 3rd Red Card in 3 matches handed out to one of their team leaders, Gold could do little else but ask for mercy.
At the conclusion of the match, amidst the jeers and spectators streaming from the park, newest captain Pat Lambie apologised directly to the fans at the stadium.
This set the tone for Gold, who echoed similar sentiments.
Cell C Sharks coach Gary Gold has said there is no ill-discipline rot in Durban and that the multiple Red Cards this season have been isolated incidents.
The Sharks were punished by a determined Crusaders side 52 / 10 on Saturday, and if 2 tries against them in the 1st 5 minutes did not spell out the end for the home team, Jean Deysel’s Red Card most certainly did.
The Sharks have now seen 3 Red Cards in 3 games, starting with captain Bismarck du Plessis being sent off for lashing out against the Chiefs, and Frans Steyn joining him on the sidelines for a tip tackle in the same game.
This week, another one of the Sharks’ senior players in Jean Deysel, was handed a Red Card for a deliberate knee to a Crusaders player’s head.
Du Plessis was banned for 4 weeks, with Steyn out for 5 on appeal, after initially getting off scot free.
It remains to be seen what sanction Deysel will receive, but Gold maintains there is no trend developing.
3 Consecutive wins and Top spot on the Vodacom Super Rugby South African Conference table should have left Cell C Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold beaming from ear to ear on Saturday night, but he wasn’t.
While he has been justifiably well satisfied with the character shown by his team in scoring an away win under huge pressure against the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, in edging out the Chiefs when at a disadvantage in numbers because of red cards, and in coming from behind against the Western Force, Gold argues that his team is making life more difficult for itself than it needs to be.
The Sharks won 15 / 9 against the Western Force at Growthpoint Kings Park this past weekend, but it was a close run thing and his team had to make use of several get out of jail cards in order to prevail in a game they should have been expected to win comfortably.
“We are making a habit of winning close games and some might see that as a positive in that it means we are creating a winning habit after being in a bit of a hole a few weeks ago, but the bottom line for me is that it should not have been so close and I am not happy about that,” said Gold.
Sharks coach Gary Gold has not condoned Bismark du Plessis’s Red Card offence but he has come to the support of his physical captain’s firey nature.
The Sharks captain was shown a Red Card in his team’s 1 point victory against the Chiefs in Durban on Saturday for kicking Michael Leitch’s head.
This came only a few minutes after the opposition hooker, Hika Elliot, was sent for an early shower for an illegal clean-out on Tendai Mtawarira in the 1st half.
Du Plessis is already well known as an incredibly abrasive and physical character on the field, but more and more it seems that teams are figuring out he has a short fuse.
Gold made it clear that what Du Plessis did to earn his Red Card was silly and he did not justify the foul play.
“I am not going to justify foul play, it is silly to do that,” Gold said after the match.
“I feel it was a silly thing for Bismarck to do, he lashed out from trying to free his foot – but you cannot make contact with someone’s head.
“For what it is worth, he has apologized to the group, and in his words he said he is ashamed by his behaviour.”
After 5 games in a row for the Cell C Sharks’ Springboks, questions are being asked about the SARU player rest initiative and when the Durban-based team will buy in.
Gary Gold however has said the Sharks are in a different position to other teams in South Africa and as such have an alternative to it .
The Sharks have a core group of Springboks that play an integral part to both the union and the national team.
Players such as Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis, Cobus Reinach, Marcell Coetzee and Pat Lambie to name a few.
However, with Super Rugby now reaching Round 6, and a large percentage of those Springboks being named to play their 6 game in a row against the Chiefs this Saturday, questions are being asked of the Sharks management.
Coach Gold explained his selection, and subsequent breaking of the SARU initiative, by stating the Sharks are facing a challenging schedule with regards to BYE-weeks.
Jannie du Plessis may not have been involved in the weekend’s scrumming massacre at the hands of the Stormers, but he has examined the evidence and given his diagnosis on what went wrong.
The Sharks efforts against the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday steadily disintegrated as the game went on.
Their set piece meltdown culminated in three tightheads over a period of 15 minutes.
Du Plessis might not have had a front-row seat on Saturday’s proceeding, but he did manage to get his hands on a video which he scrutinized at length.
“I was certainly not expecting it (conceding three tightheads in 15 minutes),” the Springbok tighthead said.
“We had prepared really well, but there are a few technical things that went wrong.
After enduring a disappointing start to the season, Sharks coach Gary Gold has called on his side to ‘man-up’ and pull together.
Much is expected of a squad loaded with Springboks, but they have yet to realise their potential this season, with just 1 win from their first 4 games.
Gold said that the key to turning things around will be to remain united and take a hard look at which areas of their game are letting them down.
“This is certainly not the start we wanted in Super Rugby but it is important now to man-up and carry on with the fight.
“It is a long competition and we have got some work to do, no question of a doubt.
Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby Gary Gold signed a sigh of relief when his team managed to bounce back and score an unlikely bonus point at a flooded Kings Park against the Lions on Saturday.
Both the Sharks and the Lions would have been looking to hit back from disappointing losses at their respective home grounds last week after dominating the play.
However, it was the Sharks that seemed to play the torrential conditions better on the night with Pat Lambie managing the game incredibly well with his boot.
Coach Gold was visibly disappointed after the loss to the Cheetahs in the opening round, and although there were no big smiles on his face at the press conference on Saturday, he had to explain that it was relief more than anything to come away with five points.
“I think relief is the word,” Gold said afterwards.
Cell C Sharks Director Of Rugby, Gary Gold, has named the Sharks side for the season-opener at Growthpoint Kings Park on Saturday.
He said, “The Cheetahs for me are one of the most dangerous sides to play against and on their day they have the ability to beat any team.
“We are expecting a physical battle against a well-coached team, who have some exciting young players in their squad.
“Our guys have prepared well for the tournament and there is a fantastic spirit in the camp. We want to play an exciting brand of rugby that our fans expect and score tries. The only way to win matches is to score tries and to score tries you need to keep the ball in hand. Our players are determined and will give nothing less than 100% effort on the park.”
Sharks Director of Rugby, Gary Gold has released the names of his 40-man squad for Vodacom Super Rugby 2015.
The following players were not considered for selection at this stage due to injury: JC Astle, Paul Jordaan, Stephan Lewies, Tonderai Chavhanga, Willem Alberts.
The Cell C Sharks commence their Vodacom Super Rugby campaign this Saturday, 14 February 2015 against the Toyota Cheetahs at Growthpoint Kings Park.
The match is scheduled to kick off at 17:05 SA Time.
Sharks defensive coach Michael Horak believes that their system of 6 coaches will put them ‘half a yard ahead of the opposition’ in this year’s Super Rugby competition.
The Sharks coaching system includes Director of Rugby Gary Gold, who is set to return to Durban after his Japanese club team was dumped out in the semifinals last weekend, and technical advisor Brendan Venter, who has been running the show in Gold’s absence.
Additionally, the 3 Currie Cup coaches for the Sharks in Brad Mcleod-Henderson (forwards coach), Sean Everitt (backline coach) and Paul Anthony (off-the-ball coach), have all been retained alongside Horak.
New Sharks boss Gary Gold and Springbok Frans Steyn will both be back in Durban soon.
This follows after the semi-finals of the Japanese Top League – which will see the Wild Knights play Júbilo in the Final, after they defeated the Brave Lupus and Kobe Steelers respectively.
It means the Sharks Director of Rugby, Gold, and the Bok utility back, Steyn, among others, are heading home for Super Rugby.
In the first semi-final the Wild Knights ran in 4 first-half tries and added 1 more in the second stanza as they avenged 2 earlier defeats this season to the Toshiba Brave Lupus, winning 50 / 15.
Steyn’s Brave Lupus team suffering a heavy defeat means that the Sharks versatile back can return to his Durban franchise earlier than expected.
Steyn will be following his newly appointed coach Gary Gold home after the Kobe Steelers lost 12 / 41 in another hammering to Júbilo who reached their first ever Top League Final.
Katsuyuki Kiyomiya’s side ran in 2 tries in the first half and 4 in the second to upset the Steelers, who had finished the regular season on top of the Group A standings.
Gary Gold and Andries Bekker’s Kobe Kobelco Steelers have crashed out of the Japanese Top League with a 43-12 semi-final defeat to Yamaha Júbilo on Saturday.
According to reports, Bekker made little impact in the game and failed to take control of the lineouts, while Jaque Fourie did not play because of injury.
Kobe coach – and new Sharks Director of Rugby, Gary Gold – cut a dejected figure in the stands as his team, who had topped the log, were taken apart by a side they had beaten by a similar margin during the group stage.
The Cell C Sharks have made two key appointments – Gary Gold as Director of Rugby and Brendan Venter as Technical Director.
Cell C Sharks Chief Executive Officer, John Smit, confirmed the appointment of former the Springbok assistant coach, Gold, as the Sharks’ new Director of Rugby.
However, the appointment of Venter – who guided the Sharks to the Currie Cup title in 2013 – is the more interesting addition to their backroom staff.
The 47-year-old Gold, who is currently coach of Japanese Top League club Kobelco Steelers, has signed a three-year contract – from 2015 to 2017.
“Gary is an experienced coach who brings a wealth of knowledge and an impressive level of commitment to his new role,” the Sharks CEO, Smit said.
The Cell C Sharks are expected to name their new Super Rugby coach and successor to Jake White within the next two weeks.
White left the Sharks in mysterious circumstances last month with reports indicating there was growing discord between himself and management, as well as with the players.
Brad MacLeod-Henderson took charge of the Cell C Sharks during the Currie Cup, but it’s unlikely that he’ll be the head coach during Super Rugby.
The Eastern Province Kings may be keen, but they are a long way off from securing the services of Gary Gold.
Media reports on Friday suggested the former Springbok assistant coach could be heading to Port Elizabeth – to fill the void left by the departure of another former Bok assistant, Alan Solomons, and New Zealander Matt Sexton.
Rumours are doing the rounds that former Springbok assistant coach Gary Gold could be the next head coach of the Eastern Province Kings.
Gold was released from his Director of Rugby position at English club Bath in December, and the Kings have shown interest in his services for a while now.
Bath director of rugby Gary Gold has left the Premiership club. The 46-year-old South African took over at the Rec in May 2012, replacing Sir Ian McGeechan.
A combined total of only three points has separated the Lions and Australia over the first two Tests. Now it’s onto the iconic ANZ Stadium in Sydney for a titanic decider that promises to be just as tight.
The tournament organizers couldn’t have wished for a better start to the season with an action packed game between London Wasps and Harlequins at Twickenham. Harlequins secured a narrow victory after being more than twenty points behind with twenty minutes left to play. Ten tries were scored in total in this match.
Newcastle Falcons have announced that Gary Gold has been appointed as director of rugby for the remainder of the current season.