Springbok No 8 and South Africa’s Rugby Player of the Year in 2014, Duane Vermeulen, is in a race against time to be fit for the Rugby World Cup following a diagnosis that he will require surgery on a neck injury.
The 29-year-old Vermeulen, who was also the SARPA Players’ Player of the Year and the Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year in 2014, consulted a specialist in Durban on the recommendation of the Springbok medical team.
The need for surgery was identified to give him the best possible chance to recover in time for the global rugby showpiece in England in September and October. The operation is scheduled for Wednesday.
Samoa have called veteran prop Census Johnston out of retirement to bolster their pack in Wednesday’s historic 1-off Test against the All Blacks in Apia.
“We simply couldn’t leave him out,” coach Stephan Betham said when naming his team on Monday.
The 34-year-old Toulouse prop, who has played 47 Tests for Samoa since 2005, had announced his retirement in April – but has been training with the Samoa squad in recent weeks.
Chiefs fullback Tim Nanai Williams is the only uncapped player in the starting 15.
Outside back Faialaga Afamasaga, the only Samoa-based member of the squad, is set to make his debut off the bench.
New Zealand-born Nanai Williams, a cousin of All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams, has previously represented New Zealand as a Sevens player, but switched allegiance to his parents’ home country last year to boost his World Cup and Olympic prospects.
All but 5 members of the 23-man Samoa squad are based in Europe – including captain and back row forward Ofisa Treviranus, who plays for London Irish.
The match will be the 1st appearance in Samoa by the All Blacks, who have won all 5 previous Tests between the 2 countries played in New Zealand.
Chiefs utility back Andrew Horrell has been called up to the World XV squad for their match against the Springboks in Cape Town next Saturday.
Horrell, a 2-time Vodacom Super Rugby champion with the Waikato-based team, replaces Crusaders flyhalf Tom Taylor, who has been called into the New Zealand training squad for their Test against Samoa.
He is the 6th New Zealander to be included in the World XV squad, which also includes Springbok legend Bakkies Botha, All Blacks tight forwards Carl Hayman and Ali Williams, and 10 players from 3-time European champions Toulon.
The squad, coached by Robbie Deans and Bernard Laporte, assembles in Cape Town on Monday and they take on South Africa at DHL Newlands on Saturday 11 July at 17:00 SA Time (15:00 GMT).
A niggling hip flexor injury may have kept Springbok centre Jan Serfontein sidelined for parts of the Super Rugby season, but he is hopeful to soon stake a claim for a place in this year’s Rugby World Cup squad.
“Injuries have been a bit of a setback for me this year, but I’m on my way back. Maybe the fitness is a bit down, but it’s something you can work on, on your own,” Serfontein said at the Springbok camp in Johannesburg this week.
“I’m just hoping to get some game time for the World XV and in The Rugby Championship coming up.
The Golden Lions Rugby Union have announced the signing for the 2016 season of 2 of their Emirates Lions franchise partners, the Steval Pumas’ players, Faf de Klerk and Corné Fourie.
The Media Release reads as follows:
Lions Rugby (Pty) Ltd is pleased to announce the contracting of Pumas duo Faf de Klerk and Corné Fourie for the 2016 season.
Both De Klerk and Fourie, who have played Vodacom Super Rugby for the Emirates Lions through loan agreements over the past 2 seasons, will return to Johannesburg under permanent contracts in November 2015.
The pair has signed 1-year contracts with Lions Rugby and will thus be involved in both the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby and ABSA Currie Cup campaigns.
The Cell C Sharks have announced the signing of Reds lock, David McDuling, ahead of the ABSA Currie Cup season.
The Sharks press release reads as follows:
We are pleased to announce the signing of Reds lock, David McDuling, who will join the Cell C Sharks until the end of 2016.
Known for his never-give-up attitude and athleticism around the park, McDuling made his Super Rugby debut in 2014 against the Crusaders and has since amassed a total of 12 Super Rugby caps for the Reds. He also won the inaugural season of the National Rugby Championship with Brisbane City and had the most carries and run metres of any 2nd rower in the competition.
Ex-Springbok flyhalf Peter Grant is set to join the Western Force ahead of next year’s Super Rugby season.
Grant, who was released with a season to run on his contract at French club La Rochelle, looks a likely replacement for South African compatriot Sias Ebersohn, who has already been released.
According to The West Australian, Grant’s potential return to Super Rugby was opened due Wilhelm Steenkamp’s imminent signing for French club Brive for next season.
Steenkamp had limited game time last season and failed to impress the Force’s coaching staff at his time with the team.
The Force are allowed 3 overseas Test players and Grant would join former All Black scrumhalf Alby Mathewson and Tongan forward Steve Mafi.
Stade Français have confirmed the signing of Springbok back row Willem Alberts who will join the club after the Rugby World Cup.
The Top 14 champions have not brought in many players this off-season, generally prioritising quality over quantity, as Alberts joins Will Genia in the French capital.
Alberts arrives from the Cell C Sharks on a 3-year deal and will join a back row which already features Sergio Parisse, Raphaël Lakafia and Antoine Burban, while promising youngster Sekou Macalou also arrived over the off-season from Massy.
The 31-year-old made his Springbok debut back in 2010 and has scored 7 tries in 32 tests.
The Emirates Lions have lost another key player ahead of their Currie Cup campaign.
Hooker Armand “Akker”van der Merwe or “The Angry Warthog” as he is sometimes referred to, has signed a deal with Racing Metro, which will see him play in France for the remainder of the 2015 season.
Lions Rugby (Pty) Ltd revealed that they agreed to release 4 players to clubs abroad for the duration of the Currie Cup tournament.
As was previously reported Elton Jantjies (Shining Arcs), Lionel Mapoe (Spears) and Warwick Tecklenburg (Kamaishi) have all signed agreements in Japan until February 2016.
Along with Van der Merwe, all the players will return ahead of the 2016 Super Rugby tournament and will represent the Lions in next year’s competition. The players have all committed to Lions Rugby until the end of 2016.
Lionel Mapoe, Renaldo Bothma, Bjorn Basson and Warwick Tecklenburg have added their names to growing list of Super Rugby players heading to The Land of the Rising Sun.
Emirates Lions centre, Mapoe will join Vodacom Bulls lock Grant Hattingh at the Spears while his Lions team mate, flank Warwick Tecklenburg heads to the Kamaishi Seawaves.
Cell C Sharks and Namibia International loose forward, Renaldo Bothma will join Verblitz after the World Cup while Vodacom Bulls and Ex-Springbok wing Bjorn Basson will join Lomano Lemeki and Digby Ioane at the Heat.
Another high profile player who will be heading East is Wallaby fullback Israel Folau who will link up with Springboks Handré Pollard and Eben Etzebeth at the Docomo Red Hurricanes. Folau just put pen to paper on a new flexible contract with the Australian Rugby Union.
Tighthead prop Vincent Koch has confirmed that he will return to the DHL Stormers for next year’s Super Rugby competition.
Koch, 25, was loaned from the Pumas for this year’s Super Rugby competition and was one of the Cape franchise’s standout performers.
His performances also earned him a call-up to Heyneke Meyer’s Springbok squad named at the weekend.
There was confusion regarding Koch’s availability for the Stormers because his province – the Steval Pumas – form part of the Emirates Lions franchise and the men from Johannesburg could have requested the player to feature for them.
Outgoing DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has given the franchise advice on where they can look to strengthen their squad for next season.
The 52-year-old is set to leave for Japan as he embarks on a new phase in his coaching career with Japanese club, Kobe Kobelco Steelers.
The Stormers won this year’s South African conference in Super Rugby, but were knocked out in the qualifiers against the Brumbies at Newlands.
Coetzee said they need add a few new recruits in order to be successful in 2016.
Waratahs Rugby and the Australian Rugby Union have confirmed the re-signing of fullback Israel Folau on a 3-year flexible contract which will keep him in Australian rugby until at least 2018.
The 26 year-old joined the Waratahs for the 2013 season, making an immediate impact to the side with his impressive speed and agility.
In just his 2nd year in the code, he was named 2014 Australian Super Rugby Player of the Year after an outstanding season in which he scored 12 tries in 14 matches and was an integral member of the title-winning team.
A key member of the team’s leadership group, Folau was named as vice-captain for the 1st time in 2015, and held the role for 5 matches.
2016 Waratahs head coach Daryl Gibson said he was pleased that Folau had committed to stay in Australian rugby.
A SANZAR Appeals Committee, chaired by Nigel Hampton QC (New Zealand) and comprising Lex Mpati (South Africa) and Terry Willis (Australia) unanimously dismissed an appeal brought by the Brumbies against the decision that found Henry Speight had contravened Law 10.4 (j) – Lifting Tackle.
The Committee dismissed the appeal on the basis that the appellant was unable to show that the Judicial Officer’s central factual findings, that the tackle involved both a lifting and driving, were in error.
The Committee also unanimously dismissed the appeal brought against the 5-week (4-match) suspension imposed on Speight, finding that the Judicial Officer had not erred in principle and that the sanction imposed was not manifestly excessive.
As such, the player remains suspended from all forms of the game for 5 weeks up to and including Saturday 25 July 2015.
Chiefs centre Charlie Ngatai will captain an exciting mix of experienced hands and promising young talent when the Maori All Blacks play Fiji and the New Zealand Barbarians.
Coach Colin Cooper has retained 13 players who took part in last year’s tour to Japan, drafted in 3 members of the World Champion New Zealand Under 20 team and boasts 10 new caps ahead of their matches in July.
“This is a well-balanced side with some very experienced campaigners who have now played on several tours and know our systems well. I’ll be expecting them to lead by example and show the new boys the high standards we expect.
“We have a proud record of success to uphold and I am sure this side will work hard to honour the great legacy of the Maori All Blacks,” Cooper said.
Akira Ioane, who had a stellar Super Rugby season for the Blues and went on to help the Under 20 side win the World Title in Italy, is joined by fellow Under 20 stars flyhalf Otere Black and utility back Sean Wainui while Sevens star Rieko Ioane has also been added to the squad.
Thomas Lavanini has committed to the new Argentinean Super Rugby team until at least the end of 2018.
The 22-year-old lock started his professional career at Hindú in the Argentinean capital before moving to Racing Metro at the beginning of this season.
He is capped 18 times for the Pumas and is currently in Sydney as the squad prepares for the forthcoming Rugby Championship.
“I am very happy with agreeing to terms,” he said.
Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez will be sidelined for an extended period with a medial knee ligament injury.
When Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer unveiled a 49-strong squad on Saturday, a paragraph in the official media release revealed that “He suffered a knee injury while training with his Japanese club earlier this week”.
More clarity regarding Du Preez’s injury was given in Johannesburg on Monday, where it was determined that the 33-year-old former Loftus-based favourite, now contracted to Suntory Goliath in Japan, will be sidelined for between 4 to 8 weeks.
The other scrumhalves picked in the Springbok squad are Ruan Pienaar, Cobus Reinach, Faf de Klerk and Rudy Paige.
Another serious injury concern is prop Coenie Oosthuizen who had a neck operation today and will miss the Castle Rugby Championship.
The Western Force has released flyhalf Sias Ebersohn from his contract, allowing him to return to his native South Africa.
The 26-year-old, who joined the Force from the Bloemfontein-based Toyota Cheetahs ahead of the 2013 Super Rugby season, has played 43 matches – scoring 212 points – across his 3 seasons for the Western Australian club.
Ebersohn has made a strong contribution to the club over the past 3 seasons, including playing a key role during the club’s most successful season in 2014.
However, leading into the 2016 season, the club identified the need to inject additional experience into its young backline, which coincided with an opportunity for Ebersohn to return to South Africa.
The Southern Kings continued their recruitment drive ahead of their re-entry into Super Rugby next year.
Veteran prop Schalk Ferreira, who played Super Rugby for the Kings in 2013, is the latest recruit for the Port Elizabeth-based franchise.
He will be returning to PE on a 2-year contract and will join them ahead of the Eastern Province Kings’ Currie Cup campaign that gets underway in August.
The 31-year-old Ferreira – who also played for the DHL Stormers before moving to PE – has been playing for Toulouse in France since 2013.
The have recently also confirmed the signing of centre JP du Plessis and prop Basil Short.
This also follows the announcement of a loan agreement with the Blue Bulls for the services of Jacques “Vleis” Engelbrecht to join the squad for the Currie Cup season, as well as the signing until 2016 of young prop Nicolaas van Dyk.
Du Plessis and Short are already taking part in a training.
The Sharks took delight in announcing the signing of Springbok loosehead prop, Coenie Oosthuizen, on a 4-year deal.
Oosthuizen made his Springbok debut in 2012 and has since amassed 21 caps in the green and gold jersey. He is a versatile prop that is able to play on both sides of the scrum and is a welcome addition to the Cell C Sharks family.
Commenting on his signing, The Sharks Director of Rugby, Gary Gold said: “I am pleased that Coenie has taken up our offer to play his rugby in Durban. He is an exceptional player who boasts surprising pace and is known for his strong runs and work rate around the park.
“His experience will prove invaluable to our team ambitions going forward.”
The Japanese Yen’s pulling power continues to lure Springboks to Japan for brief off-season stints.
Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth is reported to have signed for the Red Hurricanes and is set to join Springbok teammate Handré Pollard for a stint in Japan.
As is the case with Pollard, Etzebeth’s contract with the Japanese club will only be for 3 months and commence after the World Cup.
That would see him return to play for the DHL Stormers in next year’s Super Rugby competition.
Etzebeth’s contract with Western Province expires at the end of the 2016 season.
The 2nd Springbok that will travel to Asia, is Super Rugby sensation Damien de Allende who has, according to japanrugby.net, signed with the Liners.
De Allende will depart for Japan after the World Cup and return in time for the Super Rugby season in 2016.
Johan Goosen’s kicking coach has confirmed Western Province’s interest in the Springbok pivot and says the player is ‘considering’ all possible options.
Media reports earlier this month indicated that the Capetonians were interested in signing Goosen as a replacement for Demetri Catrakilis, who will join Montpellier in France after this year’s Currie Cup.
Bertus Pretorius, who is Goosen’s kicking coach in Bloemfontein, confirmed the interest in his player.
Goosen though still has 2 seasons left on his contract with Racing Metro in France and WP would have to fork out a lot of money to sign him.
“Any player will always consider possibilities (to move) and it’s not necessarily only WP. But Goose has a 3-year contract with Racing (should WP fail in their quest to lure him) and he’ll honour it, like he did with the Cheetahs,” Pretorius said.
Goosen though appears not to be a happy camper in France, with Racing coach Laurent Labit recently accusing the Springbok pivot of not attending French classes as well as not taking things serious enough at practice.
A potential move by barnstorming Newport-Gwent Dragons No 8 Taulupe Faletau to English Premiership team Bath would not hinder his international chances, Wales head coach Warren Gatland insisted on Thursday.
The so-called “Gatland’s law” was put in place with the theory that home-based players would be favoured over those choosing to ply their trade overseas.
But it has appeared increasingly irrelevant, with a host of current Welsh internationals turning out for the national side despite playing in England or France, although the ‘law’ will reportedly only allow 2 wildcard selections from those playing outside the country after this year’s Rugby World Cup.
Tonga-born Faletau has a year left on his Dragons contract, but it seems increasingly likely he will be bought out of that deal, to the reported value of £ 250 000.00, with Premiership club Bath keen to sign the 24-year-old British and Irish Lions forward.
“We’re discussing it at the moment with the Dragons, the regions and Bath,” Gatland said.
“Toby’s got the biggest choice to make, that’s ongoing and hopefully that gets sorted out in the next week.
“There is potential there for Toby to move, that’s up to him, but he wouldn’t be hampered by that.
Michael Leitch will be back in Chiefs colours after signing to remain in Hamilton for the 2016 Super Rugby season.
The Japanese national team captain has been impressive for the Chiefs this season, earning the Rookie of the Year award as voted for by the players.
“Michael has made a huge impression in his debut season,” said Chiefs coach Dave Rennie.
“He is a top man, very professional and has been a real positive influence on our younger players. We appreciate Michael’s desire and commitment to return to the Chiefs and we are rapt that he will be back for us.”
The Brumbies will appeal Wallabies wing Henry Speight’s 5-week suspension after the Aussie side felt the player was treated harshly compared to other lifting tackles this season.
Speight was found guilty of contravening Law 10.4 (j): Lifting Tackle, on Wednesday and will be out of action up until 25 July, which translates into 4 matches.
His tackle on DHL Stormers’ centre Juan de Jongh in the 74th minute of the qualifier last Saturday, resulted in the Springbok landing on his head.
Speight will be out for the remainder of the Super Rugby season and will also miss the Wallabies 1st 2 Tests of The Rugby Championship against South Africa and Argentina.
The Brumbies will appeal the suspension on 2 grounds – the severity of the punishment and the incident’s classification as a lifting tackle.
Western Force lock / flank Steve Mafi took another step towards representing Tonga in this year’s World Cup after being selected in the Tongan Pacific Nations Cup squad.
The squad will have a strong Western Force presence with former Force hooker Elvis Taoine and former team staff Scott Anderson (Performance Analyst) and Rob Naish (Physiotherapist) also a part of the squad.
The tournament will be hosted in 3 countries – Fiji, United States of America and Canada with the opening match on 18 July with Tonga facing Fiji.
Francois Louw is determined to keep hold of his Springbok jersey despite being based overseas in Bath.
Louw is 1 of the overseas-based players expected to make the Springbok squad to be announced later this week. However other contenders for the openside role are the likes of Heinrich Brussow, Marcell Coetzee, Siya Kolisi and Jaco Kriel who have all been in the Super Rugby spotlight this year.
Louw is the incumbent Springbok flank and has been Heyneke Meyer’s 1st choice for some time though he acknowledges the challenge of cracking the Springbok squad from the northern hemisphere.
“When I 1st signed for Bath, I knew it would be more challenging making the Springbok squad. But it was a move I needed to make at that stage of my career as I needed a fresh challenge, on and off the field,” Louw said.
“So when Heyneke Meyer gave me my opportunity in 2012, I was delighted and made the most of it. I’m glad that I’ve been able to play an extended role for South Africa over the years, and I want to continue giving my best to the team.”
New Kobe Steelers’ coach Allister Coetzee has said that Springbok centre Jaque Fourie is available and keen to play for South Africa at the World Cup.
Fourie had previously announced his retirement from international rugby in November 2014 which came as a surprise to Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
Coetzee however, in his final Stormers press conference, said that Kobe Steelers’ centre Fourie is keen to play at the World Cup but Springbok lock Andries Bekker is not available.
According to Coetzee the Japanese club have made it clear to SARU that Bekker will not be an option for the Boks.
Springbok flyhalf Pat Lambie will see a specialist in Durban on Thursday to determine his availability.
A neck injury saw the Sharks pivot miss the latter half of the Super Rugby competition and there is uncertainty regarding his availability for the Springboks’ 1st game against a World XV at DHL Newlands on 11 July.
“I’m going to see the doctor for a final examination,” Lambie said. “I hope to be fit and available for the World XV match as well as The Rugby Championship.”
Flank Heinrich Brüssow could be a surprise inclusion when Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer names a 40-man squad for the upcoming Rugby Championship.
Despite currently being laid low by an arm injury, Brüssow could be included when Meyer names his squad on Sunday.
Despite being invited to various Bok training camps in recent years, Brüssow has never played a Test under Meyer as coach, with the last of his 20 internationals coming against Australia at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
A SANZAR Judicial Hearing has found Henry Speight of the Brumbies guilty of contravening Law 10.4 (j) Lifting Tackle, after he received a red card during a Super Rugby match at the weekend. Speight has been suspended for five weeks up to and including Saturday 25 July 2015, which translates into four matches.
The incident occurred in the 74th minute of the match between the Stormers and Brumbies at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on 20 June 2015.
The SANZAR Judicial Hearing was heard by Robert Stelzner SC via video conference at 4:00pm AEST, 6:00pm NZST, 8:00am SAST on 23 June 2015. Mike Mika was the former professional player who attended as a Judicial Technical Adviser. The outcome was delayed as Stelzner requested information of the player’s forthcoming playing schedule in order to determine the sanction.
In his finding, Stelzner ruled the following:
“As the Judicial Officer, I considered all the evidence before me including the video footage of the incident, referee and TMO reports for issuing the red card and the submissions made for the player by his legal representative, Peter McGrath.
The Cell C Sharks have announced the signing of utility back Wandile Mjekevu on a 2-year deal effective from July this year.
After having spent time with the Lions and the Sharks, the former junior Springbok joined French Top 14 club Perpignan in 2013 where he gained some valuable experience at the club and got the opportunity to further develop his game.
Commenting on Mjekevu’s signing, the Sharks Director of Rugby, Gary Gold, said they were delighted to bring the once promising young talent to Durban.
“We are delighted that Wandile has decided to return to the Sharks,” said Gold.
“He had a great stint in France and he is an unbelievable prospect. His strength and agility around the park will most certainly bolster our backline and we look forward to him progressing at the franchise.”
Loose forward Jacques “Vleis” Engelbrecht says signing with the Bulls was the biggest mistake of his rugby career.
The 30-year-old was a star for the Kings when they played Super Rugby in 2013 before joining the Bulls later that year.
His career nosedived in Pretoria though, where a lack of game time left him frustrated.
Engelbrecht mainly played Vodacom Cup rugby for the Blue Bulls this year and has been loaned to the EP Kings for this year’s Currie Cup.
Engelbrecht’s contract with the Bulls only expires next year, but he is hoping to impress for the Kings in the Currie Cup in order for them to try sign him for next year’s Super Rugby competition.
The Eastern Province Kings on Wednesday announced the termination of the contract of flyhalf Tony Jantjies with immediate effect.
In making the announcement on Wednesday, EP Kings chief executive officer Charl Crous said Jantjies’ contract had been terminated due to a breach of team protocol.
The 23-year-old Jantjies joined the EP Kings this year after representing the Blue Bulls from 2012 to 2014.
The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Tuesday confirmed that flyhalf Handré Pollard has been given permission to join Japanese outfit NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes for a 3 month spell at the end of the year.
Pollard will join the club in November 2015 and will return to Loftus Versfeld at the end of January 2016, in good time for the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby season that starts in mid-February.
“Handré is contracted to the Bulls till the end of 2017 and we are already in talks, with assistance from SARU, to extend that to 2019,” said Blue Bulls Company High Performance Manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg.