Explosive attacking back Rene Ranger is to return to the Blues next season and will be available to play for North Harbour in the ITM Cup this year.
The 28-year-old has gained an early release from his contract with French club Montpellier after 2 seasons.
Ranger scored 25 tries in his 65 Super Rugby caps for the Blues, enjoying 6 caps for the All Blacks. He has become a fan favourite with Jake White’s Montpellier side, scoring 6 tries in his first 15 games and helping the team enjoy a strong season in the European Club Championships this year.
He said his return to New Zealand is primarily for family reasons.
“Family comes first and that is the big motivator to return. I want to be able to help my mom more,” Ranger said.
Montpellier coach Jake White has his sights set on luring young Blue Bulls loose forward Wiaan Liebenberg to France.
The 22-year-old former Baby Bok captain is currently not in the Bulls’ Super Rugby plans – which makes a move to France very likely.
Loose forwards like Lappies Labuschagne, Pierre Spies, Arno Botha, Deon Stegmann and his brother Hanro are ahead of Liebenberg in the pecking order at the Bulls.
Sidelined Montpellier coach Fabien Galthie has taken club president Mohed Altrad to an employment tribunal, judicial sources said Thursday, after being relieved of his responsibilities.
Galthie was effectively replaced as coach in late December when Altrad brought in South African World Cup winner Jake White to replace the former France captain.
Since then, former scrumhalf Galthie has been officially suspended from his duties, although he remains employed by the French Top 14 outfit.
Galthie’s complaint stems from his claim that he is no longer occupying a role that conforms with his employment contract, which will run until June 2017.
The two men are due to meet on March 30 to try to find an amicable solution, otherwise the case will go to the tribunal.
The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Friday confirmed that efforts to keep Vodacom Bulls locks Jacques du Plessis and Flip van der Merwe in Pretoria have been unsuccessful, with both players taking up contracts in France at the end of the domestic 2015 season.
Du Plessis has signed a two year deal with Montpellier and Van der Merwe will join Clermont, also after the completion of the ABSA Currie Cup competition.
The BBC’s High Performance Manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg said talks with both players have been ongoing for some time.
Jake White’s Montpellier bounced back from their comprehensive loss away from home to Glasgow Warriors last week by beating fellow French team Toulouse in their final European Rugby Champions Pool 4 match on Sunday. Montpellier won a closely contested match by the narrowest of margins with a final score of 27 / 26 in their favour.
This victory for Montpellier meant that Saracens qualified for the last eight of the Cup in spite of losing their last Pool 1 match against pool winners Clermont Auvergne. The score in that match Clermont Auvergne 18 / 6 Saracens.
The 5 pool winners along with the 3 best second placed team advanced and Saracens made it through as the last qualifying with the lowest amount of points from their 6 matches (17). Had Toulouse won they would have qualified as Pool 4 winners along with Bath who won their Pool 4 match against Glasgow Warriors. Toulouse also ended the pool stage on 17 points but Saracens got through via a superior points difference, +14 versus Toulouse’s +2.
World Cup winning coach Jake White has revealed that he has been asked by Montpellier president Mohed Altrad to remain on as coach of the French Top 14 side.
White, former Director of Rugby at the Sharks, was brought in to replace Fabien Galthie who was suspended on 29 December after a string of defeats.
“The president wants me to stay,” White said in an interview in l’Equipe and Midi Libre newspapers.
Glasgow Warriors head to Bath this Sunday with a number of outcomes still possible in Pool 4 of the European Rugby Champions Cup with quarter-final places at stake.
The Warriors will be looking to qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament for the first time in their history.
Toulouse are currently top of the pool with 16 points while Bath are second with 15 and the Warriors have 14. Montpellier are out of the running for a quarter-final spot with three points.
Stormers flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis is the latest player linked to a move abroad, with French club Montpellier reportedly his destination. (Also see Update below)
Montpellier, currently coached by World Cup-winning former Springbok mentor Jake White, has been linked to a host of South African players – including the Du Plessis brothers Jannie and Bismarck.
Montpellier also secured the services of Wallaby scrumhalf Nic White, who will join them next season and be reunited with his former club coach White.
According to the French media the 24-year-old Brumbies No 9, White, has – along with Catrakilis – signed a 2-year contract with the option of extending it by a further year.
Montpellier president Mohed Altrad on Monday “categorically denied” reports of a deal to sign South African forwards Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis.
The brothers, various domestic media suggested, were due to join the Top 14 side after the conclusion of the 2015 Rugby World Cup in November on a two-year deal.
But Altrad said: “I categorically deny these reports.”
Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis as well as Duane Vermeulen will further their careers in France after this year’s Rugby World Cup, respected French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique has revealed.
According to the newspaper, the official announcement regarding Vermeulen will only be made in July.
Jerry Yanuyanutawa says the Warriors will face a highly motivated Montpellier team in Sunday’s European Rugby Champions Cup match at Scotstoun.
The French side have lost all four of their Cup matches so far, but those defeats were sustained while Fabien Galthie was in charge. Galthie was replaced by Jake White at the end of last month, and the South African put down his marker by guiding them to a 16-12 victory over European champions Toulon in his very first game.
Jerry’s knowledge of the coach is based on their season together with the ACT Brumbies in Australia and he is convinced that White is a formidable and inspirational character.
Former Springbok coach Jake White’s second week in the Top 14 was the polar opposite to his winning debut.
A week after beating defending French and Europeans champions Toulon on home soil, White’s star-studded Montpellier team were brought back down to earth with a bump as they lost to 20 / 13 to minnows Oyonnax, who only avoided relegation last season on point difference.
Just a few days into his stint in France, White was forced to issue an official apology after saying he was happy to play against heavyweights Toulon because “playing in Montauban, in a field in front of five people and a dog… does not interest me.”
Following Saturday’s result, Oyonnax winger Silvère Tian – who scored two tries in the win at the Stade Charles Mathon – didn’t mince his words when celebrating, suggesting that White will be a little humbler with his comments in the future.
Montpellier on Friday extended the suspension of coach Fabien Galthie, the former French rugby captain, with the club president saying Galthie’s management had been a “failure”.
Galthie was relieved of his duties on 29 December after a string of defeats, with South Africa’s 2007 Rugby World Cup winning coach Jake White brought in as a consultant to take over the reins.
“The suspension is extended. I’m giving myself time to reflect,” said club president Mohed Altrad, after prolonging the initial suspension which ran until 9 January.
“I let him know my grievances,” Altrad continued.
Montpellier’s new coach, Jake White, arrested a nine-match slide for his French club by using his tried and tested method – going back to basics.
The South African, a former World Cup-winning Springbok coach, got off to a winning start as the Top 14 strugglers beat European and French champions Toulon 16-12 at the weekend.
White was brought in as a consultant to replace the suspended Fabien Galthie in an aim to stem the tide of losses in European and domestic action.
Club President Mohed Altrad, who caused so much controversy when he called Galthie a failure, was full of praise for White.
He has fought the behemoths at the South African Rugby Union, he won a World Cup, lifted the Brumbies from no-hopers to Super Rugby finalists and even stuck his head into the hornets’ nest that was the Golden Lions Rugby Union a few years ago.
Yet, Jake White believes his six-month consultancy stint with struggling French club Montpellier Hérault may just be the biggest and toughest challenge of his career.
Having arrived on the shores of the Mediterranean at the weekend, White and fellow South African Shaun Sowerby were unveiled on Tuesday as the men who would have to lift the club from the doldrums.
White will just be in a consultancy role – with head coach Fabien Galthie still in the picture, despite being ‘suspended’ for a couple of weeks – Sowerby was appointed as the club’s new forwards coach.
South Africa’s 2007 Rugby World Cup winning coach Jake White is set to be named manager of Top 14 side Montpellier on Thursday.
The 51-year-old – a two-time IRB World Coach of the Year – has signed a six month contract according to a well-informed source.
His appointment will place almost unbearable pressure on head coach Fabien Galthie as White will be the former France captain’s superior.
Galthie, who has been seen as a potential successor to present France coach Philippe Saint-Andre should he step down after next year’s World Cup, has seen his position at the club weakened with a seven match losing run dating back to October 11 which only ended in their game last Saturday with a narrow win over Toulouse.
They are presently in sixth place, the last position for the post-season play-offs, 11 points off leaders and defending champions Toulon.
England hooker Dylan Hartley has rejected a mega offer from Top 14 club Montpellier to sign a new deal with Northampton.
The 28-year-old has revealed that he was given a ‘very generous offer’ by the club to move to France.
However, Hartley has opted to remain with Premiership champions Saints and outlined his reasons today.
Hartley stated that the move would have had no impact on his England career ahead of next year’s World Cup, while turning down the possibility of ‘300 days of sunshine’ was not easy.
“It’s no secret I was offered a deal to join one of the leading French sides, Montpellier, which would have been worth significantly more. But money isn’t everything,” Hartley wrote in his column in a newspaper.
“I don’t want to come across all ‘holier than thou’ over this, but I do believe the world loyalty has gone out of fashion a bit – and for me that really means something.”
The Toyota Cheetahs have made another signing, luring former Melbourne Rebels and Stormers midfielder JP du Plessis back to South Africa from Montpellier.
Du Plessis, one of the most promising midfielders to emerge from Paul Roos, had a stint in rugby league with the Sydney Roosters after school before returning to Rugby Union with the Melbourne Rebels.
He made his Vodacom Super Rugby debut against the Hurricanes in the same year but returned to South Africa in 2012 and signed with the DHL Stormers.
Western Province and the Stormers look likely to lose the services of props Pat Cilliers and Brok Harris.
According to reports, Cilliers is heading to French club Montpellier, while Welsh club Newport are believed to be hunting the signature of Harris.
While rugby spent the past week looking back on the glorious careers of two of its departing heroes, Jonny Wilkinson and Brian O’Driscoll, there was forensic analysis of a very different kind going on elsewhere close to the game.
Last Tuesday morning, at the Coroners Court in Dublin, it was found that a former amateur rugby player, whose family had donated his brain for research, had died prematurely because of repeated blows to the head on the field during his rugby years.
The coroner, Dr Brian Farrell, accepted evidence from two neuropathology experts, one of whom was Dr Willie Stewart, a consultant neuropathologist at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital and a world leader in the examination of head trauma of sport.
The findings were that Kenny Nuzum, a prop forward with the Lansdowne club in Dublin and a former team-mate of the legendary Moss Keane, passed away in March last year because of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). In layman’s terms, punch-drunk syndrome.
Former Springbok centre Wynand Olivier badly injured his face while training for his French club, Montpellier, on Tuesday.
Former New Zealand international wing Rene Ranger and South African centre Robert Ebersohn on Monday arrived to significantly bolster Top 14 highflyers Montpellier’s ranks.
All Black wing Rene Ranger confirmed he was quitting his international career and would head to France at the end of the year on a lucrative contract with Montpellier.
French club Montpellier have snapped up the signatures of two top SA midfielders – Vodacom Bulls veteran Wynand Olivier and DHL Western Province centre JP Du Plessis among their acquisitions ahead of the new European season.
Undefeated Harlequins and Clermont can book European Cup quarterfinals this weekend with Toulon also close to securing their spot in the last eight. English champions Harlequins, bidding to make the knock-out stages for just the fifth time, already have 19 points from four Pool Three wins and on Saturday tackle Connacht where just a losing bonus point will be enough to see them through.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button told the story of a man who lived his life backwards, being born an old man before dying many years later as a newborn baby. Johnnie Beattie is doing something similar with his rugby career.
The fixtures include matches from the “Lions Challenge”, as well as some friendlies against Super Rugby opposition as well as a number of international, American and European club sides.
The full media release from the Lions follows: