As the Vodacom Bulls preparations for Super Rugby 2016 gains momentum we focus on some team news.
Rudy Paige has been named as Vice-Captain for the season.
Handré Pollard’s shoulder injury has been confirmed and he will miss the opening weeks of Super Rugby.
Deon Stegmann needs to undergo an operation due to an ankle injury and projections are that he will be out for 9 weeks.
In addition it is believed that Derick Hougaard, also affectionately known as “Liefling”, is going to attempt to make the Bulls team, after years in the wilderness, but he is not in the current Bulls Super Rugby plans… yet.
The 2016 RBS 6 Nations launched in style on Wednesday morning at the Hurlingham Club and the 6 captains present an intriguing mix of the old and the new.
There are 3 brand new skippers for this year’s Championship, which gets underway in 10 days’ time on Saturday 6 February when France welcome Italy to the Stade de France – and they are all hookers.
Rory Best takes the armband for 2-time defending champions Ireland after Paul O’Connell’s retirement, Eddie Jones’ England have Dylan Hartley at the helm and France under Guy Noves will be led by Guilhem Guirado.
Those 3 were joined by Scotland’s Greig Laidlaw, Wales’ Sam Warburton and Italy’s Sergio Parisse on Wednesday – 3 captains that have led their country with great distinction for many years.
Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons insists the fact Cornell du Preez is prepared to play through the pain barrier shows how special a player he is.
The loose forward is in line for his 50th appearance for the Scottish side when he runs out against Benetton Treviso in the Guinness PRO12 tonight (Friday night).
The South African-born forward joined the club ahead of the 2013 / 2014 season and has racked up 37 league appearances since.
He missed most of last season, however, due to an ankle injury but has appeared in all of Edinburgh’s Guinness PRO12 games this campaign, helping the club to 4th in the table.
However, Solomons admitted his player is still overcoming the after effects of that injury.
“Cornell has made a massive contribution to Edinburgh,” he said.
“There are not many people who would have had the ankle injury he has had and come back to play like he has.
“He is going to play in pain for a while. He trains and plays and has a bit of pain there, obviously. It is the kind of injury that will take 18 months to clear up. He is a class rugby player.”
Experienced Edinburgh flanker Roddy Grant has been forced to retire after failing to recover from a knee injury suffered at the end of last season.
The 28-year-old played 138 times for the club and represented Scotland Sevens between 2006 and 2014, including last year’s Commonwealth Games.
“A difficult time has been made easier as it’s not been a decision,” said Grant.
“You just have to get on with it, accept things and move on.”
Grant joined Edinburgh in 2009 after beginning his Scottish rugby career as an apprentice with Border Reivers.
A recipient of the John Macphail Scholarship in 2008, he broadened his experience playing with Auckland University in New Zealand, having played through Scotland’s age grades, and went on to be part of the Scotland A team that secured a 35 / 0 victory over England Saxons in 2012.
“It’s been a pretty emotional time, having to come to terms with the fact I have to stop playing due to injury but I have no regrets,” added Grant.
“I’m really proud of what I’ve done, what I’ve achieved and what I’ve contributed.”
Head coach Alan Solomons said: “Roddy’s retirement is a sad day for both the club and Scottish rugby.
“I’ve been fortunate, over the years, to coach some terrific young men; Roddy is right up there with the best of the best. His contribution to the club has been immense, both on and off the field. He is a leader of men and the ultimate pro.
“He has the heart of a lion, an unbelievable work-rate and he knew our systems and his role within them to perfection. Roddy never had a bad game. He is certainly one of the most consistent players I have ever coached.
“We will miss him – he is one of a kind.”
Wallaby fullback Israel Folau is set to undergo surgery and will be out of rugby for a minimum of four months.
Folau will go under the knife next Tuesday on a troublesome ankle, having carried the injury through much of Australia’s Rugby World Cup campaign.
Glasgow Warriors have signed Georgian international Shalva Mamukashvili on a deal until the end of the season.
The 25-year-old has 35 caps for his country and featured in all 4 of Georgia’s Rugby World Cup pool games in England.
He played 11 matches for Sale Sharks last season, including 3 European Rugby Champions Cup games.
The experienced hooker goes straight into the Warriors 41-man European squad, replacing Kevin Bryce. Glasgow visit Racing 92 on Saturday and then host Northampton Saints the following weekend, in front of a capacity crowd at Scotstoun.
Mamukashvili joins as cover at hooker, with both Kevin Bryce and Fergus Scott set for lengthy spells on the sidelines, while Fraser Brown is currently recovering from foot surgery.
Bryce and Scott have both undergone shoulder operations, following scans at BMI Ross Hall Hospital, and are expected to remain on the sidelines for several months.
The Reds will need a new captain for the start of the 2016 Super Rugby season as Wallabies Rugby World Cup prop James Slipper will have surgery in the off season.
Slipper has returned to Australia from England and will see surgeon Phil Duke to sort out a shoulder issue that has been troubling him for several seasons.
The new Super Rugby season begins in 14 weeks and the Reds start the new season with a match against the Waratahs in Sydney on 27 February.
Minor shoulder surgery will rule him out of the opening Rounds of the season while a full shoulder reconstruction could keep him out until April or May.
In his absence the Reds captaincy could go to vice-captain and Wallabies lock Rob Simmons or flanker Liam Gill.
Wallabies lock Kane Douglas faces surgery on his injured left knee this week after MRI scans confirmed he sustained a ruptured ACL during Australia’s World Cup Final against New Zealand.
The 26-year-old injured his knee when he fell awkwardly just 15 minutes into the decider and took no further part in the match.
The Ospreys confirmed that lock De Kock Steenkamp has been released from his contract and will return home to South Africa after undergoing surgery for an ongoing hip problem.
It brings to an end an injury ravaged 14-month spell with the team that has seen the lock restricted to just 2 competitive appearances at the start of this season.
The 28-year-old signed from the Cape Town based DHL Stormers in September 2014 to add his considerable experience and physical presence to a young squad, having earned a reputation as one of the leading line-out operators in Super Rugby.
However, an achilles injury sustained within days of his arrival at Llandarcy Academy of Sport meant that he missed last season in its entirety, returning to full training for this pre-season.
Having come through the summer months, Steenkamp then stepped up his involvement with an appearance in the pre-season win over Saracens before making his competitive debut, starting in the PRO12 opener away to Ulster. A 2nd appearance followed off the bench against Munster the following week but he then found himself sidelined once again, after reporting hip instability to the region’s medical team.
After further investigation, the player underwent surgery at the weekend and, having assessed all options both parties have agreed to the early release.
Argentina loosehead prop Marcos Ayerza, who was set to start for Los Pumas in the bronze final against the Springboks on Friday, has been ruled out of the game due to a hamstring injury sustained in training on Thursday, according to team doctor Guillermo Botto.
Team management have called up Santiago García Botta, a Belgrano Athletic prop with 5 Test caps under his belt, to take his place in the squad.
García Botta, 23, flew in from Buenos Aires on Thursday and will be on the replacements bench at the Olympic Stadium as Daniel Hourcade’s men take on South Africa for the right to finish 3rd at Rugby World Cup 2015.
South Africa captain Fourie du Preez says Saturday’s semifinal defeat by New Zealand is likely to be his last game for his country after he picked up a facial injury.
Du Preez finished the match with a swollen eye and cheekbone and is doubtful for the bronze final on Friday.
Asked about his future, a dejected du Preez said: “I don’t know if that was my last game, I’ll see how the injury goes. That was probably my last game. I have got a broken tooth and I will be getting a check on my cheekbone tomorrow, but they don’t think it’s broken.
Scans taken after the match cleared the No 9 of a fractured cheekbone, but he does have a damaged tooth.
He will also have to wait and see if the swelling goes down before a decision is made if he will play against Argentina at the Olympic Stadium in London this coming Friday.
However, medical opinion is that he should be available.
The Springboks have been given 2 days off, before they will fit in a couple of training sessions – a full session on Wednesday and the captain’s run on Thursday – ahead of Friday’s meaningless encounter.
Team doctor Craig Roberts’s post match medical report had some other good news as well.
Flank Francois Louw, who received 16 stitches to his forehead for a deep cut, is available for selection.
“That won’t keep him out of play, it has healed up and it is fine,” Roberts told a media gathering.
Argentina have dismissed Springbok suggestions that Friday’s bronze final does not mean anything and are determined to celebrate their attacking style at the tournament by beating their Rugby Championship rivals.
After his side narrowly lost to New Zealand 20 / 18 in Saturday’s 1st semifinal, South African coach Heyneke Meyer said it would be tough mentally to prepare for the clash at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. “It does not mean anything to me. It is like kissing your sister,” he said.
But, despite the disappointment of failing to get past Australia in their semifinal, Argentina captain Agustin Creevy and his squad were excited about trying to secure the 3rd place.
Asked about Meyer’s comments, Creevy said: “I don’t know why he said that. I would rather be 3rd than 4th. We want to be in the Top 3. We need to get over the defeat and start again. The 3rd-place playoff means a lot.”
Flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez, who scored all of Argentina’s points in the 29 / 15 defeat by the Wallabies, said: “We came here to play the final, but I think we gave it our all. The biggest challenge now is to finish on a high note and get the 3rd place.
“We’ve got a mentally very tough game ahead. This week probably won’t be as pleasant as this past one, but we’ll make a great effort to get the bronze medal.”
Israel Folau and David Pocock are on course to return to Australia’s start line-up for the Rugby World Cup semifinal against Argentina on Sunday, coach Michael Cheika said Monday.
However, 1st choice prop Scott Sio is a doubt and is to undergo a scan on his elbow which forced him to leave the fray early in the thrilling 35 / 34 win over Scotland on Sunday.
Pocock – who in a stroke of genius has been switched from flanker to No 8 by Cheika and was instrumental in the pool game win over humiliated hosts England – missed the quarterfinal because of a calf injury he suffered in the 15 / 6 win over Wales.
Fullback Folau has been struggling with an ankle problem since the 33 / 13 win over the English and the game against Scotland was the 1st Test he had missed since making his debut in 2013.
Key players David Pocock and Israel Folau handed Australia a double blow on Friday.
Both failed to prove their fitness and will miss the Rugby World Cup quarterfinal with Scotland on Sunday.
David Pocock, whose conversion to No 8, from openside flank, has been a roaring success, has been struggling with a calf injury suffered during the 15 / 6 Pool A victory over Wales last Saturday.
Fullback Israel Folau struggled through the Wales game with a painful ankle, a knock he had picked up in the 33 / 13 whipping of hosts England a fortnight ago, and the injury sees him miss his 1st Test for the Wallabies since he made his debut in 2013.
Pocock has been replaced by Ben McCalman, with Kurtley Beale coming in at fullback for Folau.
Meanwhile Stephen Moore and Matt Giteau will become the newest Wallabies centurions.
Australian Wallaby stars Israel Folau and David Pocock are doubts for the Rugby World Cup quarterfinal with Scotland on Sunday.
However, they are both expected to train on Wednesday, coach Michael Cheika said.
Folau is trying to shake off an ankle problem that forced him off in the 33 / 13 whipping of hosts England and appeared to restrict his freedom of movement in the thrilling 15 / 6 victory over Wales last weekend.
Pocock, a revelation after being switched to No 8 from flank, is still battling a calf muscle injury that saw him leave the Wales game early and at a crucial period when they were down to 13 men.
There was better news regarding centre Matt Giteau, who is set to return to training after missing Tuesday’s session.
Ireland are holding out hope that injury-hit flyhalf Jonny Sexton will be fit for Sunday’s quarterfinal against Argentina, according to assistant coach Les Kiss.
Sexton limped off after 25 minutes of Ireland’s hard-fought 24 / 9 victory over France last Sunday, a win that saw them undefeated in Pool D and avoiding a last-8 clash against defending champions New Zealand.
“Jonny has a slight adductor strain. There’s been some improvement. Hopefully we’ll see a little bit more on Wednesday and that’ll give us a clearer picture,” said Kiss.
“Each day will give us some more information.”
Kiss insisted head coach Joe Schmidt would not be rushed into a decision about picking Sexton, for whom Ian Madigan came on against the French, putting down his own marker with an astute play-making display.
“We have to be pragmatic about what works and it will probably come down to the last minute when we make the decision,” Kiss said.
The agony etched on the face of Ireland’s iconic captain Paul O’Connell said it all. Clutching a hamstring during the 24 / 9 win against France on Sunday, the giant lock’s pain was physical and emotional. The group stages were where his Rugby World Cup 2015 would end.
As bruised and battered players take a deep breath, head for the ice baths and prepare to go again in the quarterfinals, some of their less-fortunate teammates will be forced to watch those matches from the stands, or on television.
The withdrawal of O’Connell on Tuesday, hard on the heels of fellow Ireland players Jared Payne and Peter O’Mahony, means that all 8 teams left in the competition will enter the knockout stages depleted, in some way, by injuries.
Liam Williams joined Wales’ World Cup casualty list after he was ruled out of the rest of the tournament on Sunday with a foot injury.
The 24-year-old Scarlets wing limped off with a foot problem during the 2nd half of Wales’ 15 / 6 Pool A defeat by Australia’s Wallabies at Twickenham on Saturday.
“Disappointing news out of camp this morning. Liam Williams ruled out of Rugby World Cup with foot injury,” said a statement on the Welsh Rugby Union’s Twitter feed on Sunday.
He is the 6th member of Wales’ original Rugby World Cup squad to be ruled out because of injury following Leigh Halfpenny, Rhys Webb, Scott Williams, Hallam Amos and Cory Allen.
Williams had to overcome a foot injury just to gain a place in coach Warren Gatland’s original 31-man squad.
Ireland flank Peter O’Mahony will play no further part in the Rugby World Cup after suffering knee ligament damage in his team’s victory over France.
There were continuing doubts over the future participation of captain and lock Paul O’Connell and flyhalf Jonny Sexton, who both went off injured in a ferocious 1st half of Sunday’s match won 24 / 9 by the Irish at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium.
“Peter O’Mahony suffered a knee ligament injury and is returning to Dublin. He will play no further part in the World Cup,” said Ireland team manager Michael Kearney.
“Paul O’Connell suffered a significant hamstring injury and was hospitalised overnight.”
Sexton, who limped off in the 25th minute, sustained a “groin injury” and was awaiting scans later Monday, Kearney said.
The New Zealand All Blacks’ image as surefire Rugby World Cup winners is starting to fade.
Not only critics, but also the team’s fans, are beginning to question coach Steve Hansen’s master plan.
Even Kieran Read, the stand-in captain for Friday’s 47 / 9 win over Tonga, admitted there were problems to be addressed.
Hansen put on a bold front after the game, declaring himself “very happy” with the way things are going.
“What’s happening now is irrelevant. What happens next week will be and it’s about maintaining performances from here on in and winning,” he said after Tonga finally folded at St James’ Park.
“We had a plan and we stuck to that plan now we have to wait to see if it works.”
Namibia captain Jacques Burger has been ruled out of his country’s final Pool C game against Argentina on Sunday, thereby ending an illustrious international career.
Burger suffered a confirmed concussion, 9 minutes into the match against Georgia on Wednesday evening at Sandy Park in Exeter and will not be able to play against the Argentinian Pumas in Leicester.
Burger’s test career for Namibia spanned over 9 years and 36 caps, which included 3 Rugby World Cup appearances in 2007, 2011 and 2015. Last night he equalled Hugo Horn’s 11 Rugby World Cup appearances for his country.
Before the team’s departure for Leicester on Thursday morning, Burger reflected on his career.
“It was a huge disappointment that I could not complete last night’s match and an even bigger disappointment that I will not be able to play on Saturday. I am very proud of my team and it is not the way that you would want to end an international career. But that’s the game of rugby for you.”
Australian Wallabies star Israel Folau is battling to be fit for their final Pool A clash – the table-topping decider with Wales.
Assistant coach Stephen Larkham delivered the bad news to the media.
Folau, lynchpin of the Wallabies formidable backline, did not train on Monday, but got a run out on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old is still feeling the effects of the knock to the ankle that forced him to quit the action in the devastating 33 / 13 defeat they inflicted on hosts England last Saturday.
While he is still in the game to play the Welsh, little hope is given to wing Rob Horne, who left the England match in the 10th minute because of a shoulder injury.
There seems to be no stopping the Xerox Golden Lions on the field as well as off it, as injuries seems to be something they need not worry about.
Following their resounding 62 / 32 victory over DHL Western Province in Johannesburg, the Golden Lions only picked up 4 minor knocks but all the players are available for selection for their final Currie Cup round-robin fixture against ORC Griquas.
MB Lusaseni has recovered enough from a shoulder injury to be available for selection while hooker Mark Pretorius will also be available for selection after recovering from his knee niggle.
There is also good news in midfield for the Johannesburg side as centres Rohan Janse van Rensburg (shoulder) and Howard Mnisi (hamstring) have both recovered from slight knocks picked up against Western Province.
3 DHL Western Province players have found themselves on the injury list following their massive defeat to the Xerox Golden Lions in Johannesburg.
Kobus van Wyk (hamstring contusion), Chris Cloete (calf muscle) and Cheslin Kolbe (bone bruising and a knock to shoulder) are all unavailable for selection for their final round-robin match against the Eastern Province Kings at Newlands on Friday.
The trio joins Scarra Ntubeni (calf muscle) and Rynhardt Elstadt (quadricep), who remains on the injured list and are also unavailable.
There is a silver lining for the Cape side though, as both Jano Vermaak and Dillyn Leyds have recovered from their groin strains and are available for selection.
New Zealand All Blacks wing Waisake Naholo, on the comeback trail from a broken leg, is again under an injury cloud and in doubt for their final Pool C match against Tonga on Friday.
The try-scoring specialist is in need of game time after being sidelined for 3 months and the All Blacks will wait until the last minute before naming their team on Wednesday to decide if he will be fit enough to play.
Naholo missed the All Blacks 1st 2 games as he completed his recovery from a leg fracture.
He then exploded onto the Rugby World Cup stage with a sensational try, with his 1st touch of the ball in the 3rd game against Georgia which the All Blacks won 43 / 10 to confirm their quarterfinal berth.
Italy prop Martin Castrogiovanni has had to drop out of his last Rugby World Cup after doctors discovered a tumor in his back, the Italian team manager revealed on Monday.
The 33-year-old Argentina-born star – fondly known as ‘Castro’ – will see a specialist about whether he requires surgery.
“Martin has pain on a sciatic nerve and after a check doctors found a tumor pressing on his 5th vertebra that is causing inflammation and pain,” team manager Luigi Troiani said.
“We are sure it is benign and tomorrow he will fly to Milan to see a specialist. The likelihood is he will require surgery.”
Castrogiovanni has been 1 of the leading props in the world over the past decade, playing for Toulon in France and Leicester in England.
Australian wing Rob Horne remains a doubt to play against Wales but his tournament is not over yet, Wallabies defence coach Nathan Grey said Monday.
The 26-year-old had to go off in the 10th minute of Australia’s crushing 33 / 13 win over England on Saturday which consigned their opponents to becoming the 1st World Cup hosts to fail to get out of the pool stage.
“Rob Horne’s scans and tests came back a bit better than expected,” said Grey at the Australian’s morning press conference.
The Eastern Province Kings’ injury list just keeps on growing as a further 6 players have been added to the ‘already injured’ list.
Knee injuries seems to be common among the EP Kings players – 5 players have already undergone surgery and will be out for a number of weeks – and lock Steven Sykes has now added his name to that list.
Aidon Davis (6 months), Gary van Aswegen (2 weeks), George Whitehead (2 months), Cameron Lindsay (9 months) and Luke Watson (pre-season) have all already had knee surgery and a call on Sykes’ availability for the final Round clash with DHL Western Province will be decided later in the week.
Other than Sykes, there are a further 5 players who emerged with injuries following their 27 / 48 defeat at the hands of the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
Martin Ferreira (dead leg), Tom Botha (elbow), Dwayne Kelly (hamstring strain), Tim Whitehead (AC joint) and Luther Obi (ankle sprain) will all be treated and monitored during the week.
The Steval Pumas dramatic comeback to secure a 37 / 37 draw against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs came at a cost, as no less than 6 players picked up a few niggles.
According to the team physiotherapist, Luzahn Louw, 5 forwards and 1 backline player will be re-assessed during the week to determine their availability for the Pumas’ final Currie Cup match against the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Nelspruit on Friday.
Fullback JW Bell will undergo a sonar scan on the same hamstring he injured 2 weeks ago while loose forward Jaco Bower will have to wait for x-rays to determine whether or not he has broken his cheek bone.
Fellow loose forwards Uzair Cassiem (neck spasm strain) and Jason-Colin Fraser (quad contusion) are also on the injury list. Joining them are lock Marius Coetzer, who damaged knee cartilage and picked up a hamstring strain, as well as Springbok prop Vincent Koch, who a picked up a knee contusion.
The Scotland squad issued the following medical bulletin on Sunday after Saturday’s (3 October) 34 / 16 loss to South Africa in the Rugby World Cup at St James’ Park.
Hooker Ross Ford failed an in-game HIA (head injury assessment) meaning he will now follow the graduated return-to-play protocol, as will centre Matt Scott, who reported delayed onset concussion symptoms post match.
Fullback Stuart Hogg left the field of play in the 63rd minute of the Test match having suffered cramp to his legs and lower back, however he is not considered an immediate concern.
Further knocks include a dead leg for lock Jonny Gray and a mild knee strain for centre Richie Vernon. Both players will continue to be monitored and rehabilitated by the Scotland medical team.
Jean de Villiers successfully completed the 1irst step on his return to playing.
He underwent surgery on his broken jaw in Cape Town on Wednesday.
The Springbok captain was forced out of the Rugby World Cup, following an impact to his jaw in the match against Samoa last Saturday.
The 109-Test centre plans to continue playing, although he announced his international retirement following his exit.
“Jean had surgery in Cape Town this morning and the operation went well,” said Springbok team doctor, Craig Roberts.
“The fractured jaw was plated and his wisdom teeth were removed.”
De Villiers is currently recuperating at home and a decision on returning to England to support the Springbok team will be made in due course.
Following injury Italian captain Sergio Parisse has returned to the Azzurri squad, ahead of their Rugby World Cup encounter with Ireland.
Parisse had a very welcome arrival at Italy’s hotel on Tuesday, when – after a wait of over 2 weeks – the team’s illustrious long-time captain finally joined up with Jacques Brunel’s squad.
While Italy played France and Canada, the 32-year-old No 8 was back home in Paris recuperating and then training under the auspices of his club side, Stade Francais, following surgery earlier in September.
On Monday he was finally given the all clear to join up with the Azzurri, and less than 24 hours later he jumped on Eurostar to whizz to London.
However, there was less good news for Leonardo Ghiraldini, the man who has led the team in Parisse’s absence, but who limped off midway through the 2nd half of Italy’s 23 / 18 win over Canada at Elland Road in Leeds last Saturday.
There seems to have been so many injuries already in this tournament which is barely halfway through the group stages. One feels sorry for the players who have had their World Cup short and wish them all a speedy recovery, it just shows what an attritional game Rugby Union is.
We could theorize all day on the possible reasons for all of these injuries: too many games, players bulking up, laws not being sufficient or those that are there not sufficiently enforced, players possibly carrying injuries into the tournament. The harsh reality for those who have been ruled out is that the game involves high speed collisions of big men and they have been reduced to being spectators for the rest of the tournament as well as having to undergo a period of rehabilitation, for some this involves surgery.
Scotland lock Grant Gilchrist has been ruled out of the national team’s Rugby World Cup 2015 campaign with a groin injury.
Gilchrist sustained the soft tissue damage in the 19th minute of the national team’s 39 / 16 win over USA on Sunday, with the recovery period expected to extend beyond the competition.
Gilchrist’s replacement will be announced in due course.
With the Rugby World Cup match against Samoa being called “brutal” by Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts, Jean de Villiers is heading home and out of the Rugby World Cup with a fractured jaw, while a long list of injuries will be assessed on Monday by the team doctor as the team start to prepare for their showdown with Scotland.
Prop Jannie du Plessis (knee), midfielders Damian de Allende (knee) and Jesse Kriel (laceration to the eye), lock Victor Matfield and scrumhalf Fourie du Preez all are on the injury list.
Depending on how they heal overnight, they should all hopefully be declared fit for the Scottish game.