He will soon return home to South Africa to focus on his family and his livestock farm, but life after rugby can wait a few more weeks. Bakkies Botha wants to go out in a blaze of glory with Toulon.
With a Rugby World Cup triumph in 2007, 3 Super Rugby championships with the Bulls and 2 European titles with Toulon, not to mention Tri-Nations, Currie Cup and Top 14 honours – few can match the Springbok 2nd row enforcer’s illustrious achievements.
But in the twilight of his career and savouring the prospect ahead of the “calmness of the bush”, Botha, perhaps befitting a deeply religious man, prefers to focus on the team, rather than his individual contribution.
Toulon, the Mediterranean port city he has called home since 2011, hope to be crowned kings of Europe for a 3rd successive year when they take on French rivals Clermont in the European Rugby Champions Cup final at Twickenham on Saturday.
“I’m really happy that I came to Europe to test myself in this league and I want to end my career hopefully making it into 2 finals (Champions Cup and Top 14),” said the 36-year-old lock.
This week, we look at the last 4 years of Super Rugby to examine which sides have been the best when not in occupancy of the ball and whether strong defence has been key to overall success.
Despite being 1 of the 5 sides that completed over 1800 tackles in the season, eventual champions, the Reds, still maintained a strong tackling success rate of 89%.
The Queenslanders were middle-of-the-pack in many aspects with the ball during their title-winning season, but proved a tough nut to crack in other areas. They were among the top defensive sides when it came to winning ‘jackals’ (overall turnovers won from tackles) and were well-disciplined, going all the way to the Final with 6 other teams accumulating more defensive penalties than them in fewer matches.
Other conference winners, the Crusaders and the Stormers ranked equal-1st for total turnovers won, as well as figuring close to the summit with their tackling success rates. Good defence was definitely a match winner in 2011.
Former Springbok scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen was honoured for his contribution to South African sport at an awards ceremony in Johannesburg on Thursday night.
Van der Westhuizen, who suffers from Motor Neuron Disease, received an award for his Outstanding Contribution to South African Sport at the 2015 Sport Industry Awards held at Sandton Convention Centre.
Van der Westhuizen received a standing ovation when he received his award from former Springbok captain Morne du Plessis. Several well-known sports personalities attended the event.
The 2015 edition of the South African Rugby Annul goes on sale nationwide today after being launched at Sunday’s South African Rugby Union Awards in Johannesburg.
In keeping with tradition, the 44th edition of the ‘bible’ of the game once again features South Africa’s player of the year on the cover, with the newly-crowned Duane Vermeulen following in the footsteps of the likes of Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana and Schalk Burger in recent years.
“Even in this digital age, it’s vitally important to retain a physical document of record for future generations,” said SARU CEO, Jurie Roux. “SARU strives to be a world leader in the game both on and off the field and when it comes to the Annual, we are immensely proud of the quality of the book we continue to produce year in and year out.
“We like to believe that we have an outstanding yearbook but that hasn’t stopped us from raising the bar even further with this new-look, Rugby World Cup-themed edition. We’ve made it a more user-friendly size, refreshed the layout and added a depth to the statistical records that surpasses anything we’ve done before,” Roux added.
A fourth high profile South African rugby player, former Natal wing Danny Delport, has been struck down by the devastating Motor Neuron Disease (MND).
Delport played for Natal from 1973 – 1975 while studying at Maritzburg Varsity before returning to his home in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and representing the national team for 8 years.
Delport and his family settled in Perth in 2008, but late last year he was diagnosed with MND.
The disease attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord which control voluntary muscle activity including speaking, breathing, walking and swallowing. It causes progressive weakness and increasing disability, muscle wasting and, eventually, death.
Former Springbok lock Hannes Strydom says he fought back after six men tried to hijack his vehicle in Pretoria on Monday.
Strydom, 49, was admitted to the intensive care unit of the Little Company of Mary hospital in Groenkloof after surviving the attempted hijacking.
The incident occurred in Aries street in Pretoria’s Waterkloof Ridge suburb.
According to Strydom’s wife, Nikolie, the skull around his left eye socket was fractured after one of the hijackers threw a “rock”.
But the former Springbok and Golden Lions star has since recovered and was moved out of ICU on Tuesday afternoon.
The Springboks played Italy in a Test for the first time in 1995 when they were reigning as World Champions. They won the match 40-21, and since then have played Italy 10 times.
The Springboks have won all 11 but then unusually for Northern Hemisphere teams, Italy have played more Tests against South Africa in South Africa rather than at home – seven in South Africa vs four at home. But those 11 matches were not the first rugby contacts between the two countries.
Rugby in Italy started to get organised in the late 1920’s. Before that it was a haphazard affair when wandering Brits and contact with France that had led to matches here and there. In the 1920’s it enjoyed the support of Benito Mussolini, dictator of Italy, a man who saw himself as the emperor of a new Roman Empire. As in imperial times, people enjoyed the blood sport of the amphitheatre, so in this new empire Il Duce would have rugby. Not that he had played the game as at 1,69 he would have been small even as a scrumhalf.
The KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union and the Sharks are saddened to hear the news of the passing of former Natal scrumhalf Gawie Visagie, who passed away this morning (Wednesday) after a brave battle with cancer.
Having joined Natal from Griqualand West, Visagie played 42 games for Natal between 1981-1985. Though essentially a scrumhalf, he shone at flyhalf for Natal in the 1984 Currie Cup final played against Western Province. Gawie was a well-liked and respected former player who still had such a passion for the game.
In August this year the team of 1984, which Gawie was a proud member of, celebrated their 30-year reunion with a dinner that was held in Mount Edgecombe. Gawie’s fight against cancer was recognised at this function with many stalwarts present to wish him well.
Former Springbok and Western Province centre Tinus Linee, who was suffering from Motor Neuron Disease (MND), passed away at the age of 45 on Monday morning. Continue reading
Former Springbok hooker and captain Gabriël Frederick Malan, otherwise known as Abie, has passed away at the age of 78 on Thursday.
Malan played for the Springboks in the infamous 1965 Test against the All Blacks at Athletic Park in Wellington, which the Springboks won 6-3.
Craig Joubert is one of 26 referees to referee a Currie Cup Final since the first one in 1939.
South Africa’s provincial teams first played in a competition in 1889. The Currie Cup was added in 1892 but played mostly as centralised tournaments. There was not a Final till 1939 and then Finals were sporadic till 1968 since when there has been a Final each year.
Refereeing the Currie Cup Final is cherished by referees as it is cherished by players who play in it. After all there is only one a year.
Tuesday, September 30, 2014 was a sad day when, after a 45-year association with Newlands, Hennie Bekker said goodbye to Western Province Rugby in an official capacity.
The 62-year-old gentle giant has officially retired as an employee of Western Province, having served the union with distinction for so many years.
Mr Oregan Hoskins, president of the South African Rugby Union (SARU), accompanied by a Springbok delegation on Friday visited the recuperating former “Coloured Springboks” captain Salie Fredericks at his house in Gordon’s Bay.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, team manager Ian Schwartz, captain Jean de Villiers and vice-captain Victor Matfield accompanied Mr Hoskins, as they wished Mr Fredericks well with his recovery from surgery.
Fredericks, who was labelled as the “Black Frik du Preez” by some newspapers in his playing days, played more than 200 provincial matches for Western Province in competitions of the former South African Coloured Rugby Football Board, and later the non-racial and anti-apartheid South African Rugby Union.
Richie McCaw will add another line to his long list of achievements on Saturday by matching Colin Meads as the most capped All Black ever.
The New Zealand captain will equal Meads’ record of 133 All Black appearances in La Plata against Argentina, in what will be his 132nd Test.
McCaw’s only non-Test appearance for the All Blacks came in 2009 when he captained the side against the Barbarians.
By contrast Meads, whose New Zealand career lasted 14 years from 1957-71, earned just 55 caps for his country, but featured a further 78 times for New Zealand.
International coaches – and selection panels before them – traditionally prize solidity at centre, and nowhere more than in England.
Which is not to say that they’ve not had great creative centres; Jeff Butterfield, Jerry Guscott and Will Greenwood had talents that would have been welcomed in any team in the world.
The results of today’s referendum in Scotland could have an impact on the British & Irish Lions.
If Scotland votes ‘Yes’, it may have to re-brand to reflect the altered political landscape and constitutional agreement. From their 1891 roots as the ‘British Isles’, today’s poll may see them eventually become simply ‘The Lions’.
With this in mind, Scrum Sevens looks back at seven great Scottish players who gave body, blood and sweat for the British & Irish Lions’ cause.
The 36-Test run began with a win over Australia in the final game of the 2009 Tri Nations, played at Westpac Stadium. The All Blacks cruised to victory 33-6.
Names in the All Blacks side that day included Isaia Toeava, Joe Rokocoko, Jimmy Cowan, Aled de Malmanche, Jason Eaton and Tom Donnelly – on debut. Ma’a Nonu, Richie McCaw and Kieran Read are the only players from Saturday’s match who also appeared in that Test.
The All Blacks will face the Springboks for the 88th time in history and the first time this year in Wellington on Saturday. Here are six of the more notable clashes between the two fierce rivals since the year 2000.
The odds were always that the first rugby international killed in action in the First World War would be a Frenchman.
The French were the first major rugby nation directly involved, facing a German invasion of their territory almost as soon as the war started.
Stade Toulousain half-back Alfred Mayssonnie – ‘Maysso’ to friends and fans alike – joined up as soon as war was declared, appointed a non-commissioned officer in the 259th Infantry Regiment. Within three weeks he had earned a mention in his regiment’s orders of the day with his bravery in an action at d’Amel-Eton, north-east of Verdun.
Eleven legends of New Zealand rugby have been inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame at a special ceremony in Auckland on Friday 21 August, staged the night before a Bledisloe Cup match in Eden Park.
This latest induction represents the incorporation into the IRB Hall of Fame of many of the International Rugby Hall of Fame, which was recently acquired by the IRB and presentations were made by Hall of Fame panel member Don Cameron and New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew. The new inductees are: Fred Allen, Don Clarke, Grant Fox, Sean Fitzpatrick, Michael Jones, Ian Kirkpatrick, John Kirwan, Terry McLean, Colin Meads, Graham Mourie and George Nepia.
IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “The IRB Hall of Fame recognises those who have made an indelible mark on our sport through feats on the field of play, displays of great character or through their tireless and inspirational work in driving forward our great Game.”
Selectors are sitting targets, an inevitable butt for criticism of the teams that did not quite work out.
But there are times when they are entitled to congratulate themselves, never more than when a single selection meeting launches not just one, but two or more outstanding international careers.
It was probably a good thing for Mike Brewer’s rugby career that the defeats that link him to Eden Park’s two remarkable All Blacks streaks happened far enough apart to escape much notice.
Brewer, the Pukekohe-born flanker who first made his name representing Otago, played 61 games — including 32 tests — for the All Blacks between 1986 and 1995.
According to those Wallabies who have played there, nothing is particularly forbidding about the graveyard of Eden Park. It’s not the sound of a hostile crowd, or the reverberation of the grandstand above the visitors’ dressing room.
The spookiest part for those in gold jumpers is the number: how many years it has been since Australia last beat the All Blacks at the famous Auckland ground.
Twenty-eight years… Boo!
Alan Jones coached the Wallabies in 1986, and he knew in the opening 20 minutes of the third and deciding Test of the series that his Wallabies were about to carve out their own slice of Bledisloe Cup history.
“I knew they would throw the kitchen sink at us,” Jones recalls. “I picked up that vibe by my contacts around the pubs and so on.”
In his heyday, former lock Chris Jack was accustomed to being lifted in countless lineouts. These days, he’s the one doing the heavy lifting.
The 35-year-old has taken up a building apprenticeship, a move which saw him hang up the boots after 14 years of professional rugby.
“It’s rewarding but it’s a big learning curve having not done much outside of school except professional rugby,” Jack says.
Rugby Union did not shut down completely with the declaration of war in August 1914.
Australia and New Zealand were, as dominions of the British Empire, included in Britain’s declaration on 4 August, but inevitably the matter was less urgent.
The machinery of military recruitment clicked into action and the Wellington Rugby Union cancelled its programme of second, third and fourth grade matches on the following Saturday to enable players to attend volunteer parades. But war caught both countries in mid-season and with the All Blacks part way through a tour of Australia.
Yes, it’s Rugby-Talk.com’s birthday today!
On 28 July 2009 a number of us packed our goodies and left the place where we previously discussed rugby, because it was’nt pleasant to discuss rugby anymore. Our discussions there was marred by terrible fighting between bloggers, by racial slurring and racial abuse and it was a shambles, to say the least.
We had our own “THING” in mind and amongst us there were 2 IT guys, myself and a chap called Ed-The Lion. We immediately started a temporary blog where a few friends continued to discuss rugby, whilst I started constructing our new home, Rugby-Talk.com.
At that stage web design was not my strong point or my expertice, but as an avid and accomplished coder, I set to work and chose the WordPress platform after proper research.
If there were any doubts or misgivings in the world of rugby 100 years ago this month as the First World War broke out, they were very well concealed.
The Rugby Football Union and other national governing bodies rapidly decreed a closedown after Britain’s declaration of war on August 4, with the Scots offering Inverleith – Murrayfield’s predecessor – for military use.
Rugby World Cup champion Stephen “Beaver” Donald has opened up about being the target of vile hate mail and the anguish his family endured when he was subjected to a torrent of public abuse.
The All Blacks cult first-five became a hero around New Zealand when he booted the team to victory in their nail-biting 2011 Rugby World Cup 8-7 final victory over France.
But in the lead-up to the screening of telemovie The Kick, which relives his magic moment, Donald has told how he was treated after being blamed for costing the All Blacks victory against the Wallabies in Hong Kong a year before the tournament.
From horror Tahs to Super stars – it’s been a rocky, 19-year ride for Waratahs rugby fans.
It certainly hasn’t always been pretty – think Matt Dunning’s brain explosion field goal, the 96-19 debacle in Christchurch and getting belted by the Brumbies in the semi-finals.
Yes, the Waratahs have had plenty of lows to match their rugby highs.
Perennial underachievers in the world’s toughest provincial competition, the Waratahs had always boasted one of the most talented playing rosters but were unable to turn that into on-field success.
Sir Colin Meads will finally be inducted into the International Rugby Board Hall of Fame.
The IRB Hall of Fame and the International Rugby Hall of Fame will merge this year to create one definitive rugby hall of fame.
It will see 37 greats of the game not already included in the IRB Hall of Fame inducted, creating a unique record of those who have excited and inspired rugby fans.
For years Sir Colin Meads had missed out on the IRB Hall of Fame, but now he will be recognised alongside several other greats.
They include Sean Fitzpatrick, Grant Fox, George Nepia, John Kirwan and Graham Mourie.
Five Springbok legends are set to be inducted into the International Rugby Board’s Hall of Fame.
Joost van der Westhuizen, Naas Botha, Morné du Plessis, Danie Gerber, Hennie Muller are among 37 players to be inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in the next year.
The news comes alongside the announcement that the International Rugby Hall of Fame and IRB Hall of Fame are to merge.
Former All Black front-rower Eric Anderson has died.
Prop Anderson, who was 83, played 10 matches for the All Blacks on the tour of Australia and South Africa, scoring two tries against Western Australia.
He’s one of the most decorated coaches at the Commonwealth Games, but where did it all begin for New Zealand’s long-time Sevens coach?
“From where he was, from a fancy-free, practical joking, happy go lucky player to where he is now. It’s bloody legendary.”
It’s a place that has been central to the All Blacks’ domination of world rugby, a place where tactics have been spawned, standards set and discipline dished out.
It’s the back seat of the team bus, where seats are filled according to seniority, and positions are treasured.
It’s a ritual that has survived the test of time, though there have been tinkerings along the way, especially to accommodate the demands of the professional era.
Respected Hawke’s Bay rugby administrator Dr Tom Johnson, a former All Blacks trialist, has co-authored Legends In Black, interviewing some of the greats of the Kiwi game to try to unravel some of the secrets of the team’s culture and remarkable success.
They didn’t hold back when he confronted them regarding the seating arrangements on the team bus down the years.
It’S the biggest Down Under derby in 12 years — but is the Waratahs vs Brumbies rivalry the biggest in Australian rugby full stop?
NSW vs Queensland has long been the marquee match-up for Aussie outfits, and with 140 years of tradition to back it up it’s little wonder.
But the battle between the Tahs and their “little brother” from down the road in the ACT might have trumped it in recent times.
Wallaby hooker Stephen Moore has the unique experience of playing the Waratahs both as a Reds player (from 2003-08) and now with the Brumbies.
Way back in 2009, when he had just arrived in Canberra, Moore observed of the Tahs-Brumbies enmity that: “it’s equally as big as the Queensland-NSW rivalry.”
And Wallabies great Stephen Larkham, a Brumbies legend as a player and well on his way to becoming one as a coach, reckons it’s gone even beyond equal status.