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Internationals

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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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Shane Jennings

Shane Jennings

Leinster’s Shane Jennings will captain the Barbarians against Ireland at Thomond Park on Thursday.

The Leinster and Ireland flank retires from the professional game in June after a distinguished career in which he has won 13 caps for Ireland, Pro12 and European Cup titles for Leinster and a Premiership title with Leicester Tigers.

He captains a starting side containing 9 different nationalities with 466 international appearances between them for the game in Limerick on 28 May.

It includes his Leinster teammates Zane Kirchner and Jimmy Gopperth with Ulster scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar also starting for the famous invitation club celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

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Fourie du Preez

Fourie du Preez

Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez will be available and will be considered for the Springbok squad in 2 months’ time.

There have been whispers about whether Du Preez will play for the Springboks, and what his obligations are to his Japanese club. However the team manager of the Springboks Ian Schwartz cleared up any uncertainty over the situation.

Du Preez played no role in the Springbok’s 1st training camp, and is currently not playing any rugby, although, he has been in the country since March.

Schwartz explained that this is due to an agreement with his Japanese club Suntory, that keeps him away from national practices. Only however, until the international season begins in July when he will be free to be selected for the Springboks 1st match against the World XV on 11 July.

Du Preez is in regular contact with Springbok fitness coach Basil Carzis and, according to Schwartz, is “working very hard” to get into top shape.

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EnglandEngland head coach Stuart Lancaster has named 10 players from his World Cup training group in a squad of 24 to play the Barbarians next Sunday Twickenham.

The England side will be captained by experienced scrumhalf Lee Dickson, who has 18 international caps to his name, and who also led the England Saxons team to victory against the Irish Wolfhounds in Cork earlier this year.

The other World Cup training squad members named are Kieran Brookes (Newcastle Falcons), Danny Cipriani (Sale Sharks), Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Lee Dickson (Northampton Saints), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Matt Mullan (Wasps), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Ed Slater (Leicester Tigers) and Marland Yarde (Harlequins).

The fixture will provide an opportunity for those who narrowly missed out on initial selection for the 50-man training squad to press their claims as well as allowing a number of up-and-coming players to work with Lancaster and his senior coaching group.

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Hanro Liebenberg

Hanro Liebenberg

Vodacom Blue Bulls No 8 Hanro Liebenberg will lead the Junior Springboks at the World Rugby Under 20 Championship in Italy next month, SARU confirmed on Wednesday.

Liebenberg will skipper the 28-man squad during the 3-week tournament from 2 to 20 June. He led the Junior Springboks to a thrilling win over the Varsity Cup Dream Team last month and also captained them when they clinched a 2 – 0 series win over the Argentina Under 20 side in Rosario last Saturday.

The squad, which was chosen by the national selectors, consists of 16 forwards and 12 backs, and includes 6 players who featured in last year’s tournament in New Zealand. Last year England edged the young South Africans by a single point in a memorable final at Eden Park in Auckland.

Jean-Luc du Preez (flank), Thomas du Toit (prop, both Cell C Sharks), Joseph Dweba (hooker, Toyota Free State Cheetahs), Abongile Nonkontwana (lock, Vodacom Blue Bulls), Jacques Vermeulen (No 8, DHL Western Province) and Warrick Gelant (fullback, Vodacom Blue Bulls) are the players who will represent the Junior Springboks for a 2nd successive year.

The Junior Springbok squad shows 4 changes from the touring group that returned from Argentina on Monday evening.

Lock RG Snyman (Vodacom Blue Bulls) got the nod to travel to Italy after he sat out the Los Pumitas series because of an ankle injury. WP centre EW Viljoen and Blue Bulls flyhalf Tinus de Beer, who also did not tour Argentina, were both selected for the Italian job.

The Du Preez twins, Dan and Jean-Luc, who were selected for the 2014 tournament, are also members of the 28-man squad. Dan, however, withdrew days before the team left for New Zealand last year because of a shoulder injury.

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Pieter-Steph du Toit

Pieter-Steph du Toit

The Cell C Sharks appear to be winning the battle to retain the services of Cape bred Pieter-Steph du Toit, who has told Durban media that he is committed to the union that he says gave him his big break in rugby.

It has been an open secret for a while now that the Springbok lock, currently out injured, was in negotiations with the DHL Stormers. Until quite recently the Western Province union appeared to be winning the battle, with informed sources confirming that Du Toit, who is from Swartland farming stock, was nearly certain to make the move down the coast next season.

However, it is understood that the Sharks then fought quite hard with counter-offers and promises that a concerted effort will be made to get the structures in Durban rugby right, and in an interview with the Natal Mercury on Monday the lock said that while he couldn’t say what would happen in the longer term, he was committed to the Sharks for now.

Du Toit has been out injured for most of the past 2 seasons and appears to feel beholden to the patience and resources that the Sharks have committed to his medical rehabilitation.

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Werner Kok

Werner Kok

Seabelo Senatla

Seabelo Senatla

Leading try-scorer on the 2014 / 2015 HSBC Sevens World Series, Seabelo Senatla and regular Tournament Dream Team member Werner Kok have both been nominated for the 2015 World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year Award, in association with HSBC.

This announcement, made by World Rugby on Sunday evening, caps off a memorable season for the Springbok Sevens duo, who alongside fellow team member Kwagga Smith, was also named in the Series Dream Team after the completion of the final tournament in London.

Kok and Senatla were nominated with Fijian ace Semi Kunatani, with the trio voted for by the management teams of the 15 core sides who compete at all 9 Rounds of the World Series. Kok ended the season as the leading tackler of all players and also scored 23 tries.

Senatla finished the season as the leading try scorer with 47 tries and has scored 2 of this year’s fans’ favourites, as well as scoring in both of South Africa’s Cup final victories in Dubai and Port Elizabeth.

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SpringboksThe Junior Springboks clinched their 2 match international rugby series 2 – 0 against Argentina Under 20 after beating Los Pumitas 39 / 28 in Rosario on Saturday, with prop Jan van der Merwe helping himself to a hat-trick of tries in the 1st half.

The 2 teams used the series as final warm-up exercise for the World Rugby Under 20 Championship in Italy next month.

On Saturday at the beautiful Club Gimnasia Stadium in Rosario, the Junior Boks raced into a commanding 25 / 6 halftime lead thanks to a trio of tries by front ranker Jan van der Merwe. Argentina struggled to match the visitors’ powerful forward surges and could only reply with 2 penalties.

The South Africans scored 2 more tries in the 2nd half through Leolin Zas (wing) and Joseph Dweba (replacement hooker). However, they had to show great determination on defence against Los Pumitas, who stormed back with 3 tries in the 2nd stanza.

Captain and No 8, Hanro Liebenberg, led with example with ball in hand and also did sterling work on defence. The Junior Boks dominated the scrums, were supreme in the lineouts and mauled powerfully which resulted in 3 tries.

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SpringboksJunior Springbok coach Dawie Theron has shuffled his match-23 for the 2nd international rugby friendly against Argentina Under 20 (Los Pumitas) this coming Saturday in Rosario. The match will kick-off at 14:00 ARG Time (19:00 SA Time).

The young South Africans won the 1st meeting between the 2 sides 25 / 22 on Tuesday in Santa Fe. Both teams are using the 2-match series as their final warm-up for the World Rugby Under 20 Championship which will be hosted by Italy in June.

Theron elected to retain only a number of players from the starting 15 which managed to edge Los Pumitas, while he opted also for 2 positional changes.

Tighthead prop Thomas du Toit, Jason Jenkins (lock), Leolin Zas (left wing), Daniel du Plessis (inside centre) and JT Jackson (outside centre) will all start in their 2nd tour match. N0 8 Dan du Preez and right wing Grant Hermanus will however run out in different positions.

Du Preez moves to flank while Hermanus will wear the No 15 jersey. Fullback Warrick Gelant and prop Frans van Wyk were not considered for selection because of shoulder injuries.

Hanro Liebenberg of the Vodacom Blue Bulls returns to the starting line-up at the back of the scrum and will also take over the captaincy from Rikus Bothma (DHL Western Province) who led the side in Santa Fe. Liebenberg sat out the 1st tour match as precaution for his troubled hand.

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Elton Jantjies

Elton Jantjies

Back in the Emirates Lions starting line-up for Saturday’s Super Rugby clash against the Brumbies at Emirates Airline Park, Elton Jantjies is enjoying one of his better seasons on South African soil.

The Johannesburg side are very much in playoff contention and Jantjies has become coach Johan Ackermann’s 1st choice pivot along the way.

A few rugby minds have now started wondering whether or not Jantjies has done enough to work his way into Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s World Cup plans. The smart money remains on the flyhalf slot going to either Handré Pollard or Patrick Lambie and while Jantjies has not ruled out any possibilities he chooses instead to let his performances do the talking.

“I can talk a big game but if my performances on the field don’t match up, there is no point in me saying that I want to go to the World Cup and be the 1st-choice flyhalf,” Jantjies said.

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Gio Aplon

Gio Aplon

South Africa’s Gio Aplon and Australia’s George Smith are among the new additions to the Barbarians squad for this month’s matches against Ireland and England.

Smith, the Lyon flank, is one of 5 players from 5 different countries named as the famous invitation club continues its 125th anniversary celebrations.

Head coach Robbie Deans has also added Springbok Aplon (Grenoble), Tonga prop Soane Tonga’uiha (Oyonnax), Uruguay lock Rodrigo Capo Ortega (Castres) and Japan No 8 Ryu Koliniasi Holani (Panasonic Wild Knights) to his squad.

They join up with the likes of Joe Rokocoko, Adam Jones, Alex Cuthbert and Berrick Barnes for the matches against Ireland at Thomond Park on 28 May and an England XV at Twickenham on 31 May.

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SpringboksThe Junior Springboks were made to fight hard to overcome a courageous Argentina Under 20 rugby team by 25 / 22 in the 1st of 2 matches between the sides late on Tuesday in Santa Fe, Argentina.

Los Pumitas led 15 / 10 at halftime after they dominated possession and territory while playing with a strong wind in their favour in the 1st half. They scored 2 tries and a penalty to take a deserved lead, while the Junior Springboks answered with a converted try and a penalty to stay within distance despite their many unforced errors.

The young South Africans used their dominance in the scrums and set pieces to much better effect in the 2nd half, adding a penalty and an excellent try to edge out the hosts in front of a passionate crowd.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

All Black legend Dan Carter insists he’s not assured of a spot in New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup squad.

Carter, 33, is regaining his form in this year’s Super Rugby competition, despite his Crusaders team not being the most consistent.

However, in their most recent match the Crusaders smashed the Reds 58 / 17 in Christchurch and Carter showed signs that he is returning to his past form.

“It feels like my form has been getting better as the season has gone on and really enjoying getting a bit of game time,” Carter said.

“I’ve almost played twice as many games as I played last year so that’s encouraging as long as my form is heading in the right direction then I’m happy with that.”

Carter said there are no guarantees that he’ll make the World Cup touring party.

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HSBC Sevens World SeriesThe Glasgow Sevens, the 2nd last leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series takes place this weekend in Glasgow, Scotland at Scotstoun.

The Tournament is held over 2 days, with Saturday 9 May the 1st Day and the tournament concluding on Sunday 10 May.

The 3 leading sides in the World Series are South Africa (129 Log Points), Fiji (125 Log Points) and New Zealand (120 Log Points). England follows some distance behind in 3rd spot on 100 Log Points, with Australia 9 points behind them on 91 Log Points and the rest of the field far up the rear.

The Top 4 Teams in the standings at the end of the 2015 HSBC Sevens World Series, which concludes next weekend in London, England, automatically qualify for spots at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, so for England and Australia there is all to play for in this tournament and next weekend.

For the Top 3 sides in the series, who have already made sure of Olympic qualification (bar the almost impossible preventing it in these 2 last tournaments) this weekend and the next is all about winning the HSBC World Series. South Africa are only 4 Points ahead of the Fijians, who have raised the bar and upped the ante substantially in the last few tournaments. New Zealand, who are last year’s champions are also within reach and will be desperate to beat Fiji and South Africa convincingly, in order to retain the crown.

The weekend’s action kicked off at 11:30 SA Time (10:30 BST, 09:30 GMT) and all the action was broadcast live on SuperSport 6, on TV in South Africa.

South Africa played Samoa at 12:58 SA Time (11:58 BST, 10:58 GMT), then they played Kenya at 16:04 SA Time (15:04 BST, 14:04 GMT) and their 3rd and last game of Day 1 was against New Zealand at 19:37 SA Time (18:37 BST, 17:37 GMT).

On Day 1 the traditionally big Sevens Nations of South Africa, New Zealand and Fiji all advanced to the quarters, joined by England, Canada, Scotland, Australia and the United States in the quarters.

Day 2’s action started at 12:30 SA Time (11:30 BST, 10:30 GMT) on Sunday and the action was broadcast on SuperSport 1 on TV in South Africa. The tournament concluded with the Cup Final which took place at 20:50 SA Time (19:50 BST, 18:50 GMT).

South Africa’s Blitzbokke lost their quarter-final game against Fiji by 0 / 15 and Fiji and New Zealand went on to contest the Cup Final.

Fiji managed to beat New Zealand in the Cup Final by 24 / 17, to take the Glasgow title.

Fiji has now moved to the Top of the 2015 HSBC Sevens World Series points table, 5 points above South Africa, who have moved down into 2nd spot. New Zealand have also crept closer to South Africa on the Log and only 8 points now seperate the Top 3 teams, going into the Final Round of the 2015 HSBC Sevens World Series next weekend in London, England.

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BlitzbokkeA good performance at the Glasgow Sevens will not only ensure that the Springbok Sevens stay in the hunt for the coveted HSBC Sevens World Series title, it would also clinch their spot as 1 of the 4 automatic qualifiers for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

With the Top 3 teams in the Series separated by just 12 points, they will have everything to play for with an eye on the 16th Series title.

South Africa is currently in the Top Spot on the Log with 129 points and is the only side to have advanced to every Cup semi-final so far this season, while Fiji (125) and New Zealand (120) are hot on their heels.

The South Africans this week returned to Glasgow, where last year they experienced 1 of their greatest achievements by clinching the gold medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, and Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell said his team would draw inspiration from the triumph at the Ibrox Stadium.

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Jean de Villiers, Springbok captain, with knee dislocation injury against Wales

Jean de Villiers, Springbok captain, with knee dislocation injury against Wales

 

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has revealed he has targeted the beginning of July to be back on the field.

If he achieves his aim, it will be an exceptional recovery from a total knee reconstruction after the painful injury he suffered in the match against Wales at the end of last season.

Since then De Villiers has been working tirelessly at rehabilitating the knee in order to meet the deadline, with things going a lot better than initially expected.

The Bok captain is already running again and hopes next month to resume team training before getting onto the field in early July.

Speaking at the Supersport Networking lunch at the Johannesburg Country Club, De Villiers was an optimistic man, and said if all goes to plan he will be fit and on the field again long before the final Rugby World Cup squad was picked.

“The recovery has gone very well. These days whenever I meet someone it’s always the 1st question,” De Villiers said.

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Brett Gosper

Brett Gosper

World Rugby chief executive Brett Gosper has revealed that they could review the 3-year residency rule for eligbility as there has been an increasing number of foreign-born players being selected for national teams.

Currently, players can compete for a country other than the one they were born in through a family connection stretching back to a grandparent, or via a 3-year residency period.

The issue was brought into sharp focus at this year’s Six Nations where a host of players represented adopted countries, having been lured overseas by hefty club salaries.

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Gosper indicated the international game’s governing body was prepared to review the 3-year rule for Test eligibility.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is clear – the best 31 players need to go to this year’s Rugby World Cup.

Meyer began his 1st Springbok training camp with a bit of a stutter as no less than 19 of the 44 players invited to the camp couldn’t train with the Bok management. Add to that the Sharks who are overseas on tour, and there wasn’t too much training that could get done.

But despite that, the Bok coach used the time to reveal his World Cup plans to players, tell individuals what he expected of them and will use the remainder of the time to share calls, plays and get down to technical nuances for the players to take home as “homework” before they meet again in the 2nd camp in a few weeks’ time.

The final squad is only set to be selected at the end of August, when the chosen 31 will be revealed to the country for the showpiece tournament in England. But 1 thing is clear, while competition will be tough between players, only the best 31 in Meyer’s mind will be selected, meaning a number of top players may well miss out.

However Meyer has admitted that he hasn’t made up his mind yet, giving players the chance in the remainder of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition as well as the camps, to make an indelible impression on him.

And with that in mind, he may have an idea of the starting line-up, but Meyer believes beyond the starting 15, the other 16 places are still up for grabs.

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Lima Sopoaga

Lima Sopoaga

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph believes Lima Sopoaga must continue his rich vein of Super Rugby form backed up with a strong finish to the season to force himself into contention for the All Blacks.

One can argue that Sopoaga has been the most consistent New Zealand flyhalf with his improved confidence and game management.

Colin Slade has been in silky form for the Crusaders, but he crossing hemispheres after the World Cup and so is Dan Carter.

Chiefs playmaker Aaron Cruden will almost certainly miss the World Cup with a serious knee injury and Hurricane Beauden Barrett will be out for 4 weeks.

Barrett’s scans revealed a grade 2 tear of his medial collateral ligament (MCL) which he suffered during the Hurricanes’ match against the Crusaders last Saturday.

The uncapped Sopoaga, if he maintains his form, must be next in line.

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RG Snyman

RG Snyman

Blue Bulls lock RG Snyman was withdrawn from the Junior Springbok touring squad to Argentina due to an ankle ligament injury.

The big lock hurt his ankle during a training session in Stellenbosch and will be out of action for 2 to 4 weeks.

Loose forward Rikus Bothma, the former SA Schools captain and skipper of last year’s Western Province Under 19 team, has been named as his replacement.

Snyman will continue with his rehabilitation until Friday and will return to the camp when the squad reassembles after the tour. He will undergo a fitness test on his return.

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SpringboksThis week, there is a lot of news, from various fronts, on the Springboks.

The Rugby Championship game times have been announced, as has the host city for the additional Springbok game against the Pumas in Buenos Aires.

News from this week’s Springbok Training camp is dominated by the amount of injured players at the camp as well as the news today that Flip van der Merwe has made himself unavailable to the Springboks in 2015 and also for the Rugby World Cup. The reports on the injury and rehabilitation of Springbok captain also comes under discussion, with the prognosis and likelyhood of him making the world premier Rugby World Cup competition very positive.

SARU also announced today that Rhino was appointed as equipment supplier of the Springboks.

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Kurtley Beale

Kurtley Beale

Di Patston

Di Patston

A compensation claim against the Australian Rugby Union by a woman at the centre of the Kurtley Beale texting affair has been settled out of court, it was announced on Tuesday.

Former Wallabies business manager Di Patston was on the receiving end of an offensive text message sent by Beale during a team tour last year, an affair that proved hugely damaging to Australian rugby.

It sparked a heated argument on a flight from South Africa to Argentina, which ultimately led to a number of issues within the Wallabies quickly unravelling.

Coach Ewen McKenzie abruptly quit after speculation over internal dissent and his relationship with Patston, while she also resigned, citing stress. She later said the controversy had driven her to contemplate suicide.

The saga also put the spotlight on the ARU’s management of the scandal.

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Alex Cuthbert

Alex Cuthbert

Adam Jones

Adam Jones

Welsh internationals Adam Jones and Alex Cuthbert will represent the Barbarians against England and Ireland this month.

Former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans invited the duo – neither of whom have played for the Barbarians before – to join his squad for the games at Thomond Park on 28 May and Twickenham on 31 May.

Deans’ squad already includes former New Zealand winger Joe Rokocoko, Australia back Berrick Barnes and triple European Champions Toulon’s leading try scorer David Smith.

Jones, who has retired from international rugby and moves from Cardiff Blues to Harlequins this summer, was thrilled by the opportunity to don the Barbarians’ iconic black and white jersey for the 1st time.

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Quade Cooper

Quade Cooper

The Reds believe the Australian Rugby Union’s revised contracting system could convince star playmaker Quade Cooper to remain in Brisbane.

Cooper’s future remains a hot topic of conversation, following the announcement by Toulon than the 53-Test veteran had signed a 2-year contract with the French club.

Cooper, the Reds and the ARU vehemently denied his departure is a done deal – accusing the Top 14 club of jumping the gun.

It is now reported that Cooper has been offered a 4-year flexible contract by the ARU, which will allow him to play in Japan during the off-season and return for Super Rugby to remain eligible for the Wallabies.

Reds coach Richard Graham, addressing a media scrum in Brisbane on Monday, said they remain optimistic that Cooper will not take up the Toulon offer.

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Matt Giteau

Matt Giteau

Matt Giteau said he would love to return to Twickenham with the Wallabies at this year’s World Cup after guiding Toulon to a 3rd straight European title.

Giteau was at flyhalf in an all-star international backline featuring Wales’s Leigh Halfpenny and South Africa’s Bryan Habana as Toulon beat French rivals Clermont 24 / 18 in the European Rugby Chamions Cup Final at Twickenham on Saturday.

Having made his Test debut as a 20-year-old at Twickenham back in 2002, Giteau effectively called time on his 92-cap Australia career when he signed for Toulon after failing to be included in the Wallabies’ squad for the 2011 World Cup.

But he was given a route back into the international arena when the Australia Rugby Union announced last month it was relaxing its hardline stance barring overseas-based players from representing the Wallabies.

“I signed over here knowing I wouldn’t play Test rugby again,” said Giteau after Saturday’s match. “Now the rules have changed, it’s a possibility. I had no idea it was coming, but I’m happy it has.

“It’s very exciting for Australian rugby that they’ve changed that (the eligibility rules). For me in particular, it doesn’t change a great deal until I’m contacted.”

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SpringboksSARU has confirmed the 28-man Junior Springbok squad for a 2-match series against Argentina Under 20 in Rosario next month.

The squad will be led by Vodacom Bulls No 8 Hanro Liebenberg, who also captained the Junior Springboks last week in their match against the Varsity Cup Dream Team in Stellenbosch.

The Junior Springboks fly out to Argentina on 8 May and return 10 days later. They will play against their Argentine counterparts, on 12 and 16 May in Rosario.

A total of 17 forwards and 11 backs were selected for the trip. The short tour forms an important part of the Junior Springboks’ preparations for the World Rugby Under 20 Championship in June in Italy.

According to Dawie Theron, the Junior Springbok coach, the tour against the Los Pumitas will give his squad important playing time against strong opposition.

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David Smith

David Smith

Joe Rokocoko

Joe Rokocoko

Rene Ranger

Rene Ranger

Toulon try-machine David Smith, All Black legend Joe Rokocoko and New Zealand centre Rene Ranger will provide the firepower for the Barbarians against Ireland and England next month.

Smith, Rokocoko and Ranger were on Tuesday confirmed as the latest players who have accepted invitations to join Robbie Deans’s squad for games against Ireland at Thomond Park on 28 May and an England XV at Twickenham on 31 May.

The Barbarians celebrate their 125th anniversary this year and former Australia head coach Deans is assembling a group that will maintain the attacking traditions of the world famous invitation side.

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Cheslin Kolbe

Cheslin Kolbe

Springbok coach, Heyneke Meyer, has announced 2 sets of 44 players to participate in training camps in May and June in Johannesburg and Cape Town respectively.

The squads include a total of 19 uncapped players, including rising stars Jesse Kriel, Vincent Koch, Cheslin Kolbe and Bongi Mbonami.

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Rob Simmons

Rob Simmons

James Slipper

James Slipper

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has locked away 2 key members of the Wallabies’ forward pack – re-signing the experienced Reds duo James Slipper and Rob Simmons.

The signatures of the 2 talented tight forwards are significant for the future of Australia.

Slipper agreed to a new 3-year deal, through until the end of 2018, while Simmons has also inked a multi-year extension – through until the end of 2017.

Despite his young age of just 25, Slipper and Simmons, 27, have already accumulated a combined 113 Tests between them for Australia.

Both also hold leadership positions at either the Wallabies or Reds.

Slipper and Simmons, who were announced earlier this year as the captain and vice-captain of the Reds, grew up playing together on the Gold Coast at the Southport School.

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Steve Tew

Steve Tew

The New Zealand Rugby Union said Thursday they had no plans to emulate Australia and relax eligibility rules so overseas-based players can represent the All Blacks.

The Australian Rugby Union announced the move on Wednesday in response to a host of top players taking up lucrative club contracts after this year’s September and October World Cup in England.

Defending World Cup champions New Zealand face a similar post-tournament exodus, with at least 10 All Blacks heading offshore – including Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith and Colin Slade.

But NZRU Chief Executive Steve Tew said his organisation still believed that the only players allowed to pull on the hallowed All Black jersey should be based in New Zealand.

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BlitzbokkeThe BlitzBokke have been hard at work preparing for the upcoming Glasgow leg of the HSBS Sevens World Series as they face their toughest challenge yet in pursuit of being crowned World Sevens Series champions.

Neil Powell’s men hold a slender 4 point lead over Fiji on the overall log standings ahead of the Glasgow showpiece and he knows that the focus needs to remain on the task at hand and not the permutations regarding the overall Series.

It will not be an easy task though as they will have to get through a tough pool that sees them being drawn alongside 3rd-placed New Zealand, Samoa and Kenya.

“It is definitely going to be a tough pool – and tournament – but if you want to be the best in the world, you need to beat everybody. The key to our success will be to remain focused on our processes and to make sure we do the right things on the field. If we can do that, the result will take care of itself.

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Dave Dennis

Dave Dennis

Waratahs captain Dave Dennis has signed a new contract with the ARU keeping him in Australia for at least 2 more years.

The 31-year-old who can play in both the 2nd row and the back row, has signed up through to 2017 as he looks to help the Waratahs retain their Super Rugby title.

Injury kept him out of the knockout stages of last year’s win, but Dennis has been in good form so far this season.

The fact he is staying will be a welcome boost for Daryl Gibson, who will replace Michael Cheika as Waratahs boss at the end of the season.

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AustraliaThe Australian Rugby Union relaxed eligibility rules to allow senior players at overseas franchises and clubs to represent the Wallabies.

The move, which is effective immediately, follows in the wake of recent revelations that Australia faces a mass exodus of stars after this year’s World Cup.

A host of players – such as Adam Ashley-Cooper, former skipper James Horwill, Will Genia and Sekope Kepu – are among those lured abroad by lucrative contracts in Europe and due to leave Australia after the World Cup in England in September and October.

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Aaron Cruden, injured on the weekend and out for the season

Aaron Cruden, injured on the weekend and out for the season

The Chiefs and All Blacks were delivered devastating news in the context of their 2015 campaigns on Monday when it was confirmed Aaron Cruden had ruptured his left anterior cruciate ligament.

The star playmaker will visit a surgeon on Wednesday to arrange a knee re-construction which is expected to keep him sidelined for 6 months.

In a brief statement issued on Monday afternoon, the Chiefs confirmed that Cruden would undergo traditional surgery “given Aaron’s young age and long-term career prospects.”

Cruden’s Super Rugby season is definitely over and his Rugby World Cup has been thrown into doubt as even a best-case recovery within that 6 month window would only see him fit in the final fortnight of the tournament.

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Bernard Foley

Bernard Foley

Waratahs Super Rugby-winning flyhalf Bernard Foley has signed a 3-year contract extension with the Australian Rugby Union.

The new agreement locks away the 25-year-old incumbent Wallaby flyhalf until at least the end of 2018 and ensures he will be eligible for Wallabies and Waratahs selection in each year of the deal. As part of the flexible contract, Foley will also be entitled to spend 2 seasons playing rugby in the Japanese domestic competition.

Foley said he was thrilled to have finalised a long-term agreement with Australian Rugby.

“I have an incredibly strong desire to continue representing Australia and the Waratahs, and this deal allows me to do that for at least another 3 years,” Foley said.

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Recent Comments

  • nortie 27 May 2015, 09:11 SAST - @ BrumbiesBoy: They have Van der Westhuizen, you have Rohan Hoffmann. Seems fair to me :lol:
  • nortie 27 May 2015, 09:10 SAST - 23 @ Scrumdown: Think he will only be eligible if the Lions win their first play off game, so from...
  • BrumbiesBoy 27 May 2015, 07:44 SAST - With both teams still in contention for a playoff position I am trying to convince myself that there is absolutely...
  • Bullscot 27 May 2015, 07:41 SAST - Quite right for WP to be digging their heels on this one as he has such a long time left...
  • Scrumdown 27 May 2015, 07:32 SAST - So he is banned for 4 WEEKS / 3 GAMES??????
  • Scrumdown 27 May 2015, 07:30 SAST - 13 @ nortie: Lions only have 2 round robin games left. They have a bye the last week. Is the...

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