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JJ Engelbrecht

Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe

JJ Engelbrecht

JJ Engelbrecht

Gurthrö Steenkamp

Gurthrö Steenkamp

Bakkies Botha

Bakkies Botha

Bakkies Botha will be joined by 3 South African Test players and 1 Ex-Sharks player who has formed part of the Springbok squad in the confirmed World XV squad for their match on Saturday 11 July at DHL Newlands in Cape Town against the Springboks.

The World XV squad boasts a combined total of 460 Test caps and represents 6 nations.

Rugby World Cup winning forwards Bakkies Botha (Toulon) and Gurthrö Steenkamp (Toulouse) will be joined by the Vodacom Blue Bulls’ JJ Engelbrecht and Flip Van der Merwe, as well as former Cell C Sharks hooker Craig Burden (Toulon), a Springbok tourist in 2012, in the 23-man squad which will be coached by former Wallaby and Crusaders mentor Robbie Deans.

The match will be the Springboks’ 1st of the 2015 season before a shortened Castle Later Rugby Championship. It will be a stern test for Heyneke Meyer’s team as they start their preparations for the Rugby World Cup later this year in England.

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Vodacom Blue BullsThe Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd confirmed the rest of the Vodacom Blue Bulls coaching staff, following the appointment of Nollis Marais as head coach of the Vodacom Blue Bulls for the 2015 ABSA Currie Cup season.

Marais will also take charge of the forwards and he will be assisted by David Manuel as back-line coach.

Manuel, who was backline coach to the UP-Tuks Varsity Cup as well as the Vodacom Blue Bulls Vodacom Cup and Under 21 teams respectively since 2012, was named backline coach to the Varsity Cup Dream Team earlier this year. He was Head Coach of the Blue Bulls / Tuks Rugby Academy since 2007 till 2012.

The 35-year old matriculated at Waterkloof High School and as a player, represented the Blue Bulls and SA Schools, as well as representing the Vodacom Blue Bulls up to Vodacom Cup level. He also played SA Under 19 and Under 21 and represented Griquas and Free State at senior provincial level as well.

Also confirmed are the appointment of coaches to the Vodacom Blue Bulls Under 21 and Under 19 teams, with Hendré Marnitz and Hayden Groepes being appointed in those roles respectively.

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Bakkies Botha

Bakkies Botha

Springbok lock Bakkies Botha, who announced his retirement from international rugby late last year, will head up a strong group of Test icons for the match between South Africa and a World XV at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday 11 July 2015.

Botha is 1 of 9 Toulon players who will line up against the Springboks. The giants from the south of France recently won their 3rd consecutive European club title.

Toulon coach Bernard Laporte, who was previously in charge of the French national team, will assist former Wallaby and Crusaders coach Robbie Deans with the World XV.

Botha’s Toulon team-mates who have been confirmed for the World XV are Delon Armitage (fullback), David Smith (wing), Rudi Wulf (centre), Maxime Mermoz (centre), Steffon Armitage (loose forward), Ali Williams (lock), Craig Burden (hooker) and Alexandre Menini (prop).

Added to this list are Springbok and Vodacom Bulls centre JJ Engelbrecht, Wallaby scrumhalf Luke Burgess and France scrumhalf Maxime Machenaud. The World XV will be captained by Louis-Benoit Madaule, who plays on the flank for French club Bordeaux Begles.

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Xander Janse van Rensburg

Xander Janse van Rensburg

Reports of a mass exodus from the Vodacom Bulls at the end of the season have been rubbished by the franchise.

According to weekend reports a host of Bulls – which include Pierre Spies, Francois Hougaard, Deon Stegmann, Akona Ndungane and JJ Engelbrecht – will head to Japan after the conclusion of the Super Rugby season.

It was billed as the “biggest exodus” since 2013 – when the Bulls lost 20-odd frontline players, including the likes of Juandré Kruger, Wynand Olivier, Morné Steyn, Jano Vermaak, Zane Kirchner, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dewald Potgieter and Jacques­ Potgieter.

However, Xander Janse van Rensburg, the High Performance Manager at the Blue Bulls Company, said that the facts of the reports are far removed from the truth.

“JJ and Grant have Japan clauses in their contracts,” Janse van Rensburg said, adding that the duo will head to Japan after the Super Rugby season, missing the Currie Cup competition, and will then return for Super Rugby 2016.

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BullsThe Vodacom Bulls took quite a beating on the weekend against a DHL Stormers side who boasted far fewer Springboks and seasoned players than the Bulls.

Nick Mallett talks about how bad the Bulls really were.

JJ Engelbrecht, cited for a dangerous tackle received an off-field Yellow Card – a stern warning not to repeat the type of incident.

Frans Ludeke, Vodacom Bulls coach portrayed his usual diplomatic self… or is that his usual dim-witted self as some would have us believe, when questioned on the Bulls lacklustre performance on the weekend.

The Bulls also released a fitness report today, which reads like a war-veterans hospital checklist, with 3 more injuries, ahead of the Hurricanes clash on Friday evening. The injuries, specially amongst frontrowers are worrying, very worrying seeing as the Bulls scrums have been degenerating at a rate of knots in 2015… well actually for a number of seasons now… and the Bulls Brains Trust, if one could call it that, seems to have no answers to shore up the Bulls scrumming woes.

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BlitzbokkeThe Springbok Sevens’ preparation plans for the next two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series have received a boost with the news that Springbok centre JJ Engelbrecht and Junior Springbok fullback Cheslin Kolbe will join the training group from Monday in Stellenbosch.

Successful talks between SARU and several provincial unions have paved the way for a number of Absa Currie Cup players to be released for Springbok Sevens training duty.

Engelbrecht, a contracted Springbok with 12 Test caps, played for the Vodacom Blue Bulls during the recently concluded Absa Currie Cup while Kolbe starred for the DHL Western Province during their successful campaign.

Three more Vodacom Blue Bulls players, Jesse Kriel, Warrick Gelant and Duncan Matthews (all utility backs), will join the training on Monday.

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Marnitz Boshoff

Marnitz Boshoff

Xerox Golden Lions:

Golden Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named his 22-man side to take on Griquas in a Currie Cup match in Kimberley on Saturday afternoon.

In the forwards, prop Jacques van Rooyen and flank Warwick Tecklenburg will both start the match after moving up from the bench.

Meanwhile, in the backline, Ross Cronje will start at scrumhalf and Howard Mnisi will come in at inside centre.

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South AfricaThe South African Rugby Union (SARU) confirmed on Friday that a group of 17 players had been contracted for the 2014 Springbok season – completing the process earlier than at any time for a number of seasons.

The signing of seven players to new Springbok contracts was completed in the past week to add to the ten players who agreed long-term contracts in 2013. Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU, confirmed that there was scope to contract additional players if the coach wished.

The seven newly-contracted players are Marcell Coetzee (loose forward), JJ Engelbrecht (centre / wing), Francois Hougaard (scrumhalf), Patrick Lambie (flyhalf / fullback), Willie le Roux (fullback / wing), Coenie Oosthuizen (prop) and Flip van der Merwe (lock).

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Vodacom Blue BullsVodacom Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar included Springboks JJ Engelbrecht and Jan Serfontein in his backline and promoted loose forward Jacques Engelbrecht to his starting pack for Saturday’s do-or-die Absa Currie Cup clash against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

The Bok midfield duo will play for the Vodacom Blue Bulls for the first time this season and will replace William Small-Smith and Francois Venter respectively. Small-Smith will move to the Under-21’s and Venter to the bench.

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JJ EngelbrechtCentre JJ Engelbrecht believes he wouldn’t have made the Springbok side had he continued playing his rugby in the Cape.

Engelbrecht will make his run-on debut for the Boks against Italy at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday after coming on as a replacement against Argentina at Newlands last year.

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Vodacom BullsVodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made seven changes to his starting side to play the Blues in Auckland on Sunday in the first of their four match tour.

The starting team shows changes at wing, centre, scrumhalf, loose forward, prop and hooker from the one that had the bonus point win over the Western Force last weekend, with injuries and the return to fitness the main reasons for that.

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