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Rugby-Talk.com

It is officially the dreaded OFF-SEASON for Southern Hemisphere rugby, so it means under normal circumstances that we would be going into withdrawal system mode very, very soon… but NEVER here on Rugby-Talk.com.

As from this week (sometime), we will be starting IN DEPTH DISCUSSIONS on the INDIVIDUAL POSITIONS and the PLAYERS who will be filling these positions for the 5 South African Super Rugby Franchises.

That alone means 40 Articles to feast on (8 per Franchise), at a rate of 2 per midweek day, therefor roughly 10 per week, and subsequently it will take us roughly 4 weeks to complete… which basically covers most of the off-season.

But, that is not all folks, we will also be covering INTERNATIONAL CRICKET and some of the NORTHERN HEMISPHERE RUGBY.

In addition we will have a Christmas and New Year’s message, which has also proven popular over the years.

So, lots to look forward to, hold on to your boots!

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Emirates LionsEmirates, a global connector of people and their passions, and the Lions, one of South Africa’s top rugby teams, today announced a five-year sponsorship agreement.

The agreement will see Emirates become the title sponsor of the Lions Super Rugby team and have naming rights to the Lions home ground Ellis Park in Johannesburg. The announcement was made at a media conference today by Orhan Abbas, Emirates Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations for Latin America, Southern and Central Africa, and Rudolf Straeuli, the CEO of the Golden Lions Rugby Union.

Starting from 1 January 2015, the Lions will become known as the Emirates Lions, and the familiar “Fly Emirates” logo will adorn the match and training jerseys of the team for the next five years. Ellis Park, will be named Emirates Airline Park. The agreement also includes in-stadia hospitality as well as a number of other marketing rights and activities.

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Johan Ackermann

Johan Ackermann

The Golden Lions Rugby Union is not worried about reports stating that head coach Johan Ackermann is being targeted by a top Japanese club.

It was reported earlier this week that the Lions will struggle to keep Ackermann in South Africa after next year’s Rugby World Cup, with the former Springbok lock reportedly receiving a big-money offer from a Japanese club.

However, the Lions insisted they will not have a fight on their hands to hold on to the services of Ackermann.

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Xerox Golden LionsComing off a highly successful 2014 rugby season in all areas, the Lions have announced the final signings of players for the 2015 season

The GLRU has worked hard in maintaining growth potential in junior players and increasing depth where needed.

The Lions have managed to attact six SA Schools players for the Under 19 squad in Nazo Nkala, Barend Smit, Sarel Smith, Kenny van Niekerk and Marco van Vuuren.

In the Under 21 squad there are seven players who took part in the recent Under 20 World Cup in New Zealand. Cyle Brink, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Thabo Mabuza, Malcolm Marx, Ramone Samuels, Victor Sekeketi and Currie Cup player Jaco van der Walt.

In the senior squad the Lions boast seven players who are either capped by the Springboks or were involved this year, as well as BlitzBokke in Albertus “Kwagga” Smith and their captain Warren Whiteley who is both a Springbok and a Sevens Bok.

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Golden LionsEmiratesIt has been widely reported in various sections of the media today that the Lions are set to announce a 5 YEAR sponsorship deal with Emirates Airlines which would also include naming rights to the iconic Ellis Park Stadium.

The announcement, which will also include details of 2 other sponsorship deals is set to be made by Lions CEO Kevin de Klerk and CEO Rudolph Strauli tomorrow (11 December 2014).

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Deon van Rensburg

Deon van Rensburg

Michael Bondesio

Michael Bondesio

Golden Lions players Michael Bondesio and Deon van Rensburg have announced their retirement from professional rugby.

The duo had been struggling with injuries of late and decided to call it a day, the union announced via their official Facebook page.

Scrumhalf Bondesio had not played much this year due to a knee injury, while wing / centre Van Rensburg was laid low by a rib injury.

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Mitch: The Real Story

Mitch: The Real Story

The coaching merry-go-round at the Sharks may have contributed significantly to the drain on the franchise’s financial resources.

This, at least, is the view of John Mitchell, in his recently released autobiography – Mitch: The Real Story.

The former All Black, England assistant, Western Force and Lions coach – in an exclusive interview with rugby365 – explained why he said in his book that he “strongly suspect” the Sharks are running out of money.

High-profile figures like Brendan Venter (now back in an advisory capacity again) and World Cup-winner Jake White have come and gone in quick succession in recent years. They also had to pay John Plumtree, when the New Zealander was shown the exit door before his contract had run its full term.

The most recent acquisition is another former member of a Springbok coach panel, Gary Gold – who will take over as a Director of Rugby in January.

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Xerox Golden LionsEllis Park played host to the annual glittering Golden Lions Rugby Union Player Awards event on Wednesday evening, where several individuals were acknowledged for their achievements during the 2014 season.

The GLRU celebrated the Springbok capping of three players in 2014, namely Warren Whiteley, Julian Redelinghuys and Marnitz Boshoff.

Whiteley, Kwagga Smith, Ruhan Nel and Mark Richards all represented South Africa in Sevens rugby in 2014, with Whiteley and Smith both having been a part of the gold medal-winning Commonwealth Games side.

The GLRU’s SA U20 representatives for 2014 included Cyle Brink, Thabo Mabuza, Ramone Samuels, Malcolm Marx, Jaco van der Walt and Victor Sekekete.

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Redefine PropertiesCurrie Cup runners up, the Golden Lions, have lost one of their sponsors ahead of the 2015 season.

Redefine Properties recently announced it would not be renewing its three-year sponsorship of the team.

Redefine stepped forward to rescue the Golden Lions Rugby Union in 2012 after a previous sponsor said the union was insolvent.

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Sampie Mastriet

Sampie Mastriet

Lohan Jacobs

Lohan Jacobs

Marvin Orie

Marvin Orie

Rohan Janse van Rensburg

Rohan Janse van Rensburg

The Xerox Golden Lions have snapped up a quartet of Vodacom Blue Bulls players – including two SA under-20 stars and a Springbok Sevens player for the upcoming season as more discontent sets in in Pretoria.

Already the Bulls lost one of their rising stars, hooker Bongi Mbonambi, to Western Province earlier this year, while snapping up Boks Trevor Nyakane and Adriaan Strauss for the upcoming season as well as Toyota Cheetahs flanker Lappies Labuschagne.

But now the cross-Jukskei trek has seen the Bulls lose not only Springbok Sevens flyer Sampie Mastriet to the Lions, but also top young players Marvin Orie, Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Lohan Jacobs.

The quartet have signed for the Lions after failing to find any meaningful game time at the Bulls as the bottleneck at the top continues.

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Xerox Golden LionsXerox Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann left his starting line-up unchanged and added Jacques van Rooyen on the substitutes bench for Saturday’s ABSA Currie Cup final against Western Province at Newlands in Cape Town.

The last time Western Province and the Lions met in a Currie Cup final was way back in 1986, when the hosts beat the then Transvaal 22-9 at Newlands.

Kick-off for Saturday’s clash is scheduled for 17:00 SA Time (15:00 GMT).

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ABSA Currie CupABSA Currie Cup Final ticket sales was moving along swiftly ahead of Saturday’s 2014 final at Newlands, with just 1300 seating and 2000 standing room tickets available by close of business on Monday after public sales went live – online, at the box office and at selected PostNet outlets.

Season tickets are not valid for the Final Saturday, but season ticket holders had until 12:00 SA Time on Wednesday 22 October to purchase their seats for the Final which are being held by Western Province Rugby. Scholars’ season tickets are, however, valid for the Final.

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ABSA Currie CupDHL Western Province will host the Xerox Golden Lions in Cape Town in the ABSA Currie Cup final after the teams won their respective semifinals on Saturday to remain the last teams standing in the competition.

DHL Western Province defeated the Vodacom Blue Bulls 31-23 in a physical encounter in Cape Town, while the Xerox Golden Lions delivered a fine performance against the Cell C Sharks in Johannesburg to register a convincing 50-20 victory.

DHL Western Province were quick on their feet throughout the clash and supported this with good decision-making on attack and a solid defensive effort. In stark contrast, the Vodacom Blue Bulls made mistakes at crucial times and missed three penalties, which cost them.

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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks have named a strong lineup for the Currie Cup Premier Division Semi-Final against the Xerox Golden Lions on the weekend.

“We weren’t happy with our first half performance against Western Province but it was great to see us come out in the second half and play some nice rugby and get quite a few points on the board. Hopefully the continuity continues against the Golden Lions. It’s going to be a huge task going up to Ellis Park, but a challenge we’re looking forward to. We will have to play for the full 80 minutes, defensively we need to be strong and our set-piece needs to function well.

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Currie CupDHL Western Province will host the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Cape Town and the Xerox Golden Lions will face the Cell C Sharks in Johannesburg in the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division semifinals next weekend.

Log-leaders DHL Western Province were assured of their home semifinal and the top spot on the log before entering the final round of pool matches this weekend, while the Xerox Golden Lions sealed their home semifinal by thumping the Toyota Free State Cheetahs. The victory for the Johannesburg team was enough to cancel out any efforts by the Cell C Sharks for the second spot on the log.

In the weekend’s matches, the EP Kings registered their first victory of the season as they pipped the Steval Pumas 26-25 in Port Elizabeth, while the Xerox Golden Lions thumped the Toyota Free State Cheetahs 47-7 at Ellis Park, the Cell C Sharks defeated DHL Western Province 28-20 in Cape Town and the Vodacom Blue Bulls beat GWK Griquas 46-12 in Pretoria.

The Xerox Golden Lions will meet the Cell C Sharks in the first semifinal on Saturday, October 18, at 14:30 SA Time and DHL Western Province will go up against the Vodacom Blue Bulls at 17:00 SA Time.

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WhistleThe two REFEREES for the Currie Cup Premier Division Semi-Finals of 2014 have been revealed.

Jaco van Heerden will take charge of the first Semi-Final between the Xerox Golden Lions and Cell C Sharks at Ellis Park (kick-off at 14:30 SA Time).

Van Heerden will be assisted by Ben Crouse and Sieg van Staden, while Johan Greeff will be the TMO.

Pro Legoete will handle duties in the second Semi-Final at Newlands between DHL Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls (kick-off at 17:00 SA Time).

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Xerox Golden LionsXerox Golden Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named his team to take on the Toyota Free State Cheetahs at Ellis Park this Saturday.

In the forwards, Derick Minnie will start at flank and Warren Whiteley has returned from Springbok duty to start at eighthman. He will also captain the side.

As a result of these changes, Warwick Tecklenburg and Willie Britz will shift to the bench to provide cover.

Meanwhile, in the backline, Howard Mnisi will get a start at inside centre. Harold Vorster will provide centre cover off the wood.

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SuperBruExciting times ahead with only one more weekend of Rugby Championship matches to go.

Dead rubber or not, it’s the Springboks versus the All Blacks, so it will still be a cracker of a match, with Heyneke looking for that elusive first win over the men in black as coach of the Boks.

The Currie Cup is nearing the end of the regular rounds, and it’s only DHL WP and the Golden Lions that can feel certain that they will make the Top 4.

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Johan Ackermann

Johan Ackermann

The Golden Lions Rugby Union have secured the services of their successful coach, Johan Ackermann, for at least another two years.

The GLRU revealed that Ackermann signed an extension of the contract as head coach until 31 October 2016.

Ackermann will be coach of the super Rugby and Currie Cup teams.

He was officially appointed as coach by the GLRU in 2013, in the wake of the union’s acrimonious public spat with former All Black mentor John Mitchell.

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Juan de Jongh

Juan de Jongh

SuperSport seem far likelier to stave off howls of protest over their live Currie Cup rugby coverage this weekend.

A week ago they incurred the displeasure of many enthusiasts when it was learnt that they planned no live treatment for the two matches involving table-toppers Western Province and the Golden Lions.

Instead very abbreviated highlights of the Pumas-WP and Griquas-Lions games were later shown on the SuperSport Blitz channel.

The corporation explained that for logistical reasons they were unable to televise more than two Currie Cup Premier Division fixtures live on Test-match weekends (the Springboks played the Wallabies at Newlands on Saturday).

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ABSA Currie CupIt was a weekend of bonus-point victories in the ABSA Currie Cup as all the winning sides, except for the Vodacom Blue Bulls, bagged 5 Log points from their matches to maintain comfortable log positions with an eye on the playoff stages.

In Friday’s matches DHL Western Province defeated the Steval Pumas 37-23 in Nelspruit and the Vodacom Blue Bulls beat the Toyota Free State Cheetahs 31-22 in Bloemfontein. On Saturday the Cell C Sharks thumped the EP Kings 53-24 in Durban and the Xerox Golden Lions registered a convincing 46-8 victory against GWK Griquas in Kimberley.

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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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ABSA Currie CupAs anticipated, DHL Western Province and the Xerox Golden Lions confirmed their positions at the top of the Absa Currie Cup log with bonus point home wins over the weekend, but they may have reason now to be looking nervously over their shoulders.

The Cell C Sharks have looked woeful for most of the season and until the second half against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs 10 days again, they just weren’t converting their line breaks or stringing phases together.

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Super Rugby TropheeAll of the Bulls, Stormers and Sharks, traditionally South Africa’s strongest franchises in Super Rugby, have reason to feel fairly upbeat about their 2015 ordinary-season schedules.

SANZAR revealed the roster for next season – the last before the competition expands yet again – this week, and at least on paper there seems a better chance of the SA challenge being better than this year’s (only the Sharks made the playoffs, and were losing semi-finalists) as the draw is largely kind to the domestic trio of superpowers.

Jake White’s Sharks were widely considered to have had a dream draw in 2014, given the opportunity it presented for them to build a tidy head of steam on South African soil – including a generous allocation of Kings Park games – before their overseas leg.

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Xerox Golden LionsXerox Golden Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named his 22-man side to front the Steval Pumas at Ellis Park on Friday.

Ackermann has opted for consistency, making just one change to his starting side. In the forwards, Martin Muller will start at lock in place of the injured MB Lusaseni.

On the bench, Derick Minnie will return from injury to provide cover. Malcolm Marx will need to pass a fitness test later in the week in order to be included on the wood.

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SuperBruRound 3 of the Rugby Championship ended in heartbreak for the Springboks when they went down to Australia by 1 point in the final few minutes of what was not an entertaining match at all.

The referee, the yellow card to Bryan Habana, the failed touchfinder by Morné Steyn and various other reasons have already been dissected and discussed, so we won’t dwell on those.

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Louis Schreuder

50 Up! Louis Schreuder

Scrumhalf Louis Schreuder will play his 50th provincial match on Saturday and he will have a new halfback partner for the occasion, when DHL Western Province go up against the Xerox Golden Lions in Johannesburg (kick-off 17:05 SA Time).

The DHL WP starting XV shows just two changes from last week’s 49-14 demolition of the EP Kings, with Kurt Coleman partnering half-centurion Schreuder in what will be his first start of the 2014 Absa Currie Cup and vice-captain Pat Cilliers returning at tighthead prop.

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Lionel Mapoe

Lionel Mapoe

Golden Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named his 22-man side to front Western Province in a Currie Cup clash at Ellis Park on Saturday.

In the backline, Lionel Mapoe shifts to outside centre with Stokkies Hanekom moving into the inside centre berth, while Courtnall Skosan has been recalled to the starting side at left wing.

Ricky Schroeder will start at scrumhalf in the place of Ross Cronje, who is ruled out for up to three weeks with a knee injury.

Up front, Willie Britz will start at No 8 in place of Derick Minnie.

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