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Player Movements

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JJ Engelbrecht

JJ Engelbrecht

As speculated here on rugby-talk a few weeks ago the former Bulls player JJ Engelbrecht is set to make his debut for Ospreys on Sunday 31 January against Glasgow Warriors. Engelbrecht has been named as player No 23 in the Ospreys match day squad for the hosts in their PRO12 match.

It remains to be seen where the Ospreys will be utilizing his talents for the rest of the season and clarity on this may only be gained once he is listed in any of their starting line ups.  The pacey winger who has spent the bulk of the last few seasons playing at outside centre will at least be sleeping more peacefully for the next few nights than he would have been had he been listed as centre in the starting line up. This ensures that he will be required for less time or may completely avoid having to help the midfield defend against the mammoth Fijian Australian winger Taqele Naiyaravoro who is due to don the No 13 jumper for the reigning champions.

Naiyaravoro has been brought in from the wing with various regular centres unavailable for the match. Alex Dunbar and Richie Vernon have been ruled out due to injury, while Peter Horne and Mark Bennett are with the Scotland squad ahead of the 6 Nations and just last weekend Bennett was ruled out of playing for the Warriors in their European Champions Cup encounter against Racing 92 due to injury.  Loose forward Hugh Blake has helped out at centre earlier this season as well, but he is away with the Scotland 7s team in Wellington New Zealand.

The Ospreys picked another big Fijian, Josh Matavesi, as inside centre possibly with a view to try and keep Naiyaravoro in check. At 1.88m tall and weighing 112kg Matavesi will take some stopping as well and the fans can look forward to some big collisions.

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JJ Engelbrecht

JJ Engelbrecht

The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Thursday confirmed the release of JJ Engelbrecht to the Ospreys in Wales.

Engelbrecht, who played 65 times in the Vodacom Bulls jersey since joining the team in 2012, was due to link up with his Pretoria team mates upon returning from Japan, where he is playing for Toyota Industries Shuttles.

The Ospreys offer resulted in a release request by Engelbrecht, which has been granted by the BBC with immediate effect.

According to the BBC High Performance Manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg, the decision to release Engelbrecht was based on the depth they have in the midfield, where the likes of Jesse Kriel, Dan Kriel, Burger Odendaal, Jan Serfontein and Dries Swanepoel will be contesting starting spots.

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Cornell du Preez

Cornell du Preez in action against Glasgow Warriors

Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons insists the fact Cornell du Preez is prepared to play through the pain barrier shows how special a player he is.

The loose forward is in line for his 50th appearance for the Scottish side when he runs out against Benetton Treviso in the Guinness PRO12 tonight (Friday night).

The South African-born forward joined the club ahead of the 2013 / 2014 season and has racked up 37 league appearances since.

He missed most of last season, however, due to an ankle injury but has appeared in all of Edinburgh’s Guinness PRO12 games this campaign, helping the club to 4th in the table.

However, Solomons admitted his player is still overcoming the after effects of that injury.

“Cornell has made a massive contribution to Edinburgh,” he said.

“There are not many people who would have had the ankle injury he has had and come back to play like he has.

“He is going to play in pain for a while. He trains and plays and has a bit of pain there, obviously. It is the kind of injury that will take 18 months to clear up. He is a class rugby player.”

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Schalk Burger

Schalk Burger

Saracens are delighted to announce the signing of South African international flanker Schalk Burger for the 2016 / 2017 season.

The world class Springbok loose forward will link-up with the reigning Aviva Premiership champions for the 2016 / 2017 season after signing a 2-year deal with the Allianz Park club.

Renowned as 1 of world rugby’s finest loose forwards, Burger has captained South Africa during his stellar 12-year international career and is a former IRB World Player of the year. He has won 86 caps for the Springboks and holds the record for the most tries (14) for a loose forward for his country.

Burger will link up with Saracens after a spell with Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath and Super Rugby’s Stormers.

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Roddy Grant

Roddy Grant

Experienced Edinburgh flanker Roddy Grant has been forced to retire after failing to recover from a knee injury suffered at the end of last season.

The 28-year-old played 138 times for the club and represented Scotland Sevens between 2006 and 2014, including last year’s Commonwealth Games.

“A difficult time has been made easier as it’s not been a decision,” said Grant.

“You just have to get on with it, accept things and move on.”

Grant joined Edinburgh in 2009 after beginning his Scottish rugby career as an apprentice with Border Reivers.

A recipient of the John Macphail Scholarship in 2008, he broadened his experience playing with Auckland University in New Zealand, having played through Scotland’s age grades, and went on to be part of the Scotland A team that secured a 35 / 0 victory over England Saxons in 2012.

“It’s been a pretty emotional time, having to come to terms with the fact I have to stop playing due to injury but I have no regrets,” added Grant.

“I’m really proud of what I’ve done, what I’ve achieved and what I’ve contributed.”

Head coach Alan Solomons said: “Roddy’s retirement is a sad day for both the club and Scottish rugby.

“I’ve been fortunate, over the years, to coach some terrific young men; Roddy is right up there with the best of the best. His contribution to the club has been immense, both on and off the field. He is a leader of men and the ultimate pro.

“He has the heart of a lion, an unbelievable work-rate and he knew our systems and his role within them to perfection. Roddy never had a bad game. He is certainly one of the most consistent players I have ever coached.

“We will miss him – he is one of a kind.”

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Morné Mellett

Morné Mellett

Vodacom Bulls prop Morné Mellett has retired from rugby with immediate effect due to medical advice.

The prop suffered vertebral artery dissection in July and was ruled out of rugby for the remainder of the year. Recent medical advice suggested that the 26-year old player calls it a day.

“It is sad to end my career like this, but I have no regrets,” Mellett said on Thursday. “I had a good career with an unbelievable group of guys and was part of the best union in the world since I left school. We have achieved so much together and although I would have wanted to go on and play test rugby in the future, my health and family remains most important.  I would like to take this opportunity to specifically thank my wife, Claudine, for her unconditional love and support throughout my career and especially now, as well as my brother Leon.” he said.

Mellett represented the Valke at Craven Week in 2006 and 2007 and started playing for the Vodacom Blue Bulls Under 19’s in 2007 already.

He represented the Vodacom Bulls in 37 matches in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition and 10 times in the ABSA Currie Cup. He also played for UP-Tuks in the Varsity Cup and represented the Junior Springboks at the 2009 Junior World Championship.

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Nemani Nadolo

Nemani Nadolo

New Zealand’s Super Rugby franchise the Crusaders have confirmed that Fijian Rugby World Cup winger Nemani Nadolo will not be extending his contract with the Christchurch team next season.

Nadolo has agreed to play his rugby in France for French club Montpellier after the 2016 Super Rugby season.

Fijian winger Nadolo was raised in Brisbane Australia and has had playing stints in the UK, France, Australia and Japan but his career only really took off when he joined the Crusaders.

Nadolo is now 1 of the hottest wingers in World Rugby but it was not long ago that he was with the Waratahs and was unable to make the match day team.

The winger left Sydney and played for Bourgoin between 2010 and 2011 before joining Japan’s NEC Green Rocket where he was brought to the attention of Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder.

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Emirates LionsAll the Lions’ Currie Cup heroes except for Kwagga Smith, who is contracted for National Sevens duty, have been retained for Super Rugby while 9 other stalwarts have strengthened the squad.

Flanker Derick Minnie returns after a long injury lay-off and winger Ruan Combrink and centre Harold Vorster have also been added to the Super Rugby group after missing some Currie Cup action due to injury.

Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies, centre Lionel Mapoe and hooker Akker van der Merwe, as well as Warrick Tecklenburg will return from overseas duty.

The new squad members are former Steval Pumas scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, Leopards No 9 Dillon Smit, Leopards lock Robert Kruger and Pumas prop Corné Fourie, who are all full-blooded Lions now.

Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk has signed a contract with the Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU) which will see him based permanently in Johannesburg. De Klerk, 24, was a shining light for the Emirates Lions during this year’s Super Rugby competition but because he was still contracted to the Steval Pumas, he had to return to Nelspruit for the Currie Cup season. However, the GLRU on Wednesday confirmed that the scrumhalf has signed a deal which means he will also be available for Currie Cup duty.

Steval Pumas fullback JW Bell is the only new face who hasn’t donned the Lions jersey yet.

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw holds the Webb Ellis Cup aloft

Richie McCaw has confirmed he is hanging up his boots and retiring from professional rugby.

The 34-year-old All Blacks captain and most capped All Black of all time has drawn the curtain on his stunning international career which started in Dublin 14 years ago, almost to the day, and ended in London last month when he hoisted the Webb Ellis Cup aloft for the 2nd time.

McCaw announced his decision at a media conference at the New Zealand Rugby offices in Wellington on Thursday.

“I’m hanging up my boots having accomplished everything I could have ever dreamed about in the game. Knowing that I was able to end my career by helping the All Blacks win the Rugby World Cup Final is a hugely satisfying feeling,” he said.

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Ruan Botha

Ruan Botha

The Cell C Sharks are set to announce their pre-season Super Rugby squad on Thursday – and the name Ruan Botha will appear on that list.

The 23-year-old Stormers lock is set for a move to Durban, while Springbok Pieter-Steph du Toit has moved from the Sharks to Newlands.

A Sharks spokesperson on Wednesday said that the deal between the union and Botha could not yet be officially confirmed due to a contract that still had to be signed.

However, the indication was that all of the paperwork would be wrapped up by Thursday.

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Southern KingsAustralian James Hilterbrand, a hooker currently playing for Edinburgh in European competitions, headlines a list of 9 new signings by the Southern Kings.

This was announced on Monday, a day that another 2 players – wing Luther Obi and utility back Sylvian Mahuza – have given notice of their intent to leave the Kings, the Port Elizabeth-based franchised announced the list of new recruits.

Apart from Hilterbrand, who played 2 games for the Western Force in 2013 and 14 games for Edinburgh since joining them for the 2013 / 2014 season, they have signed a number of high-profile players.

These include duo Jurgen Visser and Louis Fouché (Vodacom Bulls), Caylib Oosthuizen (Toyota Cheetahs), SP Marais (Cell C Sharks), Stefan Watermeyer and JC Roos (Steval Pumas), Mark Richards (Emirates Lions) and Carel Greeff (ORC Griquas).

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Lima Sopoaga

Lima Sopoaga

Amongst the Super Rugby news this week is the announcement that Tanerau Latimer will return to Super Rugby and join up with the Blues.

Lima Sopoaga has also extended his stay at the Highlanders.

Meanwhile the Brumbies will lose Matt Toomua to Leicester Tigers when the European season of 2016 / 2017 starts after Super Rugby of 2016, but therefore he will still be available for the Brumbies in 2016. The Brumbies have also signed hooker Robbie Abel with the Brumbies’ Extended Playing Squad for 2016.

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw

Double Rugby World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw is expected to confirm his decision to retire from rugby this week, New Zealand media reported on Sunday.

McCaw, who turns 35 on 31 December, led the All Blacks to their 3rd Rugby World Cup triumph 2 weeks ago when his side beat trans-Tasman rivals Australia 34 / 17 in the final at a packed Twickenham stadium in London.

The All Blacks were the 1st team to retain the trophy, after the openside flanker led the team to victory in 2011 while playing with a broken foot.

McCaw had done little to dampen expectations that he would retire after this year’s Rugby World Cup, though never explicitly said he would, preferring to state he would not make up his mind until the global showpiece ended.

He was not named last month in the Canterbury Super Rugby squad for 2016 though New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and the Crusaders said there was space for him if he chose to play on.

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Lizo Gqoboka

Lizo Gqoboka

The Vodacom Bulls have capitalised on the growing uncertainty surrounding the EP Kings as they signed impressive prop Lizo Gqoboka for the next few years to bolster their Super Rugby squad.

Gqoboka gave notice at the Kings after repeated non-payment of salaries at the franchise, and the Bulls swooped in to offer him a new home for the foreseeable future.

And there may well be more news in the next 48 hours as the Bulls are still after the signatures of 3 other EP Kings players – loose forwards Tim Agaba and Thembelani Bholi and winger Luther Obi. Some big decisions will be made as to their futures soon.

Gqoboka has been rated as 1 of the strongest props by the Springbok management team, who tried in vain to get him to play Super Rugby this year, after he was ignored by the franchises for the 2015 season.

But with SARU’s transformation action plan likely to be implemented much more stringently in the future, the Bulls have been pro-active in searching for good black talent to bolster their Super Rugby ranks for the coming year.

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EP KingsThe Eastern Province Rugby Union is working tirelessly behind the scenes to address the issue of non-payment of players.

The union on Thursday confirmed that neither of the Kings’ staff nor players have yet been paid their October salaries.

“The Eastern Province Rugby Union has noted that there have been a number of issues raised in the media over the past few days, and acknowledge and apologise for our lack of proper communication on these issues,” the union said via a press statement released late on Thursday.

The non-payment of players is due to cash flow problems, the union admitted.

“These cash flow problems can be attributed to significant delays in the release of funds from a sponsorship deal that was originally announced by EP Rugby President, Cheeky Watson.

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Tomás Cubelli

Tomás Cubelli

The Brumbies have announced Argentine scrumhalf Tomás Cubelli will be joining the Canberra-based Super Rugby team on a 2-year deal.

Cubelli is a member of the Argentine national team and has been a standout player for Los Pumas this year including a number of strong performances in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Cubelli has 45 Test caps, the most recent being the 3rd-place playoff at the Rugby World Cup against South Africa, in which he started at scrumhalf for Los Pumas.

Brumbies CEO Michael Jones said Cubelli was presented a number of options after a very successful international season, including the new Argentinian Super Rugby side which will boast 21 of their Rugby World Cup semifinal squad, and was very happy to have secured the international star.

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw

New Zealand Rugby chief executive Steve Tew says Rugby World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw will make an announcement on his playing future “shortly”.

McCaw, who led New Zealand to victory at the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cups, indicated he would likely retire after this year’s tournament in England but is yet to make a definitive announcement.

His comments immediately after the All Blacks’ Cup final win over Australia suggested the 148-Test veteran might be considering continuing his international career.

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Tim WhiteheadCentre Tim Whitehead has become the 1st player to walk out on the EP Kings after the union’s failure to compensate players.

The 10-day deadline for paying the players’ October salaries expired at midnight on Tuesday without any action from the Kings’ management.

This means that from a legal perspective, the players can cancel existing contracts with the Eastern Province Rugby Union and take up matters elsewhere.

Whitehead on Thursday confirmed that he has decided to leave the Kings.

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Richie Arnold

Richie Arnold

Perth based Super Rugby franchise the Western Force have signed Queensland Country lock Richie Arnold adding size to their forward pack for 2016.

Arnold’s identical twin, lock Rory Arnold is at the Brumbies.

Richie stands at a towering 2,08m and weighs 127Kg – 7Kg heavier than his brother.

The 25-year-old would rank as the equal 2nd tallest player in Super Rugby history, alongside his brother and former Stormers lock, Andries Bekker, and only behind Lions lock JP du Preez (2,09m) – will join the Force as part of the club’s Wider Training Squad, as he looks to push for his Super Rugby debut in 2016.

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Morné Steyn

Morné Steyn

Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn has extended his contract with French Top 14 club Stade Francais by a further 2 years.

The 31-year-old joined the Paris-based club from the Vodacom Bulls in 2013 and now looks set to finish his career in France.

Steyn was part of the Springbok squad at the recent Rugby World Cup, but received limited game time, with Handré Pollard and Pat Lambie ahead of him in the flyhalf pecking order.

Steyn, who made his Springbok debut in 2009, has 60 Test caps to his name.

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Andy Nicol

Pundit Andy Nicol during his playing days

Former captain Andy Nicol believes it is “inevitable” that some of Scotland’s Rugby World Cup squad will join Dave Denton in moving from the country.

Denton has joined Bath from Edinburgh after the English Premiership club paid a transfer fee for the 25-year-old.

“That’s what happens at a World Cup,” said Nicol, the former scrumhalf who captained Bath. “You perform well and the big cheque books may open for you. That’s what happens to the Georgians and the Japanese.”

Nicol says Scotland’s run to the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals will have alerted clubs to Scottish players.

“You could get somebody here much cheaper than somebody who is established,” he said.

“It’s inevitable that we lose a few players and Dave Denton is the first.”

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David Denton

David Denton

Bath have signed Scotland loose forward David Denton from Edinburgh.

The arrival of Denton helps the Premiership club cover the departure of Sam Burgess, who left to return to rugby league last week.

Denton, 25, has 32 Scotland caps and appeared in 4 Rugby World Cup games earlier this year.

“We’ve been looking to bolster our back row for some time now so we’re very excited that David is joining us,” said Bath head coach Mike Ford.

Born in Zimbabwe, Denton played for Eastern Province in South Africa before moving to Scotland.

“He had an excellent World Cup, especially in the quarterfinal when he managed to outshine one of the best Australian back rows I’ve seen for a long time,” added Ford. “He’s going to fit in very well with the team and the way we play here.”

Denton made 78 appearances for Edinburgh following his arrival in 2010, and can switch between blindside flanker and No 8.

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Sam Burgess

Sam Burgess

England Rugby Union international Sam Burgess has left Premiership club Bath with immediate effect in order to return to Rugby League side South Sydney Rabbitohs, the BBC reported Thursday.

The 26-year-old Burgess had 2 years left on a 3-year deal with west country side Bath.

Burgess was a member of the England squad that recently became the 1st Rugby World Cup host nation to exit the tournament in the group stages, with coach Stuart Lancaster criticised for what many saw as the overly rapid promotion of the Bath man into the Test side.

It was only last year, after helping South Sydney win the Australian National Rugby League Grand Final, that Burgess changed codes with the express ambition of playing for England at the Rugby World Cup.

The end of his brief spell in union is likely to prove embarrassing for both Bath and Lancaster, whose position as England coach is currently being scrutinised as part of a Rugby Football Union review into England’s woeful Rugby World Cup campaign.

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James Slipper

James Slipper

The Reds will need a new captain for the start of the 2016 Super Rugby season as Wallabies Rugby World Cup prop James Slipper will have surgery in the off season.

Slipper has returned to Australia from England and will see surgeon Phil Duke to sort out a shoulder issue that has been troubling him for several seasons.

The new Super Rugby season begins in 14 weeks and the Reds start the new season with a match against the Waratahs in Sydney on 27 February.

Minor shoulder surgery will rule him out of the opening Rounds of the season while a full shoulder reconstruction could keep him out until April or May.

In his absence the Reds captaincy could go to vice-captain and Wallabies lock Rob Simmons or flanker Liam Gill.

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Jonny Gray

Jonny Gray

Glasgow Warriors and Scottish Rugby have been handed a further boost today after announcing one of Scotland’s established young players has signed a new long-term contract.

Jonny Gray has committed to Glasgow Warriors for a further 3 years, meaning he’ll be staying at Scotstoun until at least May 2018.

Last week the club announced that Finn Russell had signed a new 3 year contract, which along with Jonny’s extension and other new signings, reflects the increased investment from Scottish Rugby.

Gray came through the BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy system and was heavily involved last season when the club won the Guinness PRO12 for the 1st time.

The lock played in 4 of Scotland’s 5 Rugby World Cup matches in England last month.

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De Kock Steenkamp

De Kock Steenkamp

The Ospreys confirmed that lock De Kock Steenkamp has been released from his contract and will return home to South Africa after undergoing surgery for an ongoing hip problem.

It brings to an end an injury ravaged 14-month spell with the team that has seen the lock restricted to just 2 competitive appearances at the start of this season.

The 28-year-old signed from the Cape Town based DHL Stormers in September 2014 to add his considerable experience and physical presence to a young squad, having earned a reputation as one of the leading line-out operators in Super Rugby.

However, an achilles injury sustained within days of his arrival at Llandarcy Academy of Sport meant that he missed last season in its entirety, returning to full training for this pre-season.

Having come through the summer months, Steenkamp then stepped up his involvement with an appearance in the pre-season win over Saracens before making his competitive debut, starting in the PRO12 opener away to Ulster. A 2nd appearance followed off the bench against Munster the following week but he then found himself sidelined once again, after reporting hip instability to the region’s medical team.

After further investigation, the player underwent surgery at the weekend and, having assessed all options both parties have agreed to the early release.

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Mourad Boudjellal & Quade Cooper

Mourad Boudjellal & Quade Cooper

Australian flyhalf Quade Cooper reported for duty at European champions Toulon on Tuesday, having negotiated a special contract clause so he can play in the Olympics next year.

The 27-year-old flyhalf apologised to Toulon fans for the extended negotiations that even last week appeared compromised because of doubts about his international future.

“It has been a drawn-out process and I apologise for that,” Cooper told a press conference alongside Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal.

Australia’s selection rules only allow foreign-based players to be chosen if they have 60 caps. Cooper has 58 but made only 1 Rugby World Cup appearance because of the hot form of Bernard Foley.

Cooper said the 1st version of his Toulon contract did not mention being freed for national games, but it was renegotiated. Boudjellal said, and “if he is called he will be immediately freed.”

Cooper said the talks with Boudjellal had focused on allowing him to go to the Olympics in Rio next August when Sevens rugby will be played for the 1st time.

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Steval Pumas signings

The Steval Pumas have signed a total of 13 new players in a bid to become a stronger and more competitive team in the 2016 season.

MJ Mentz has also been reappointed the head coach of team on a 2 year term and will be assisted by Marius van Rensburg (operations Manager), Luzahn Louw (physiotherapist), Robin Arkell (strength and conditioning), Tobias van Niekerk (conditioning) and Ernst Kruger (assistant performance analyst).

 

The Pumas’ new contracted players:

Stephan Greeff (ORC Griquas), Nardus van der Walt (ORC Griquas), Francois Brummer (ORC Griquas), Hugo Kloppers (ORC Griquas), Tyler Fischer (Cell C Sharks), Marné Coetzee (Cell C Sharks), Chris Cloete (DHL Western Province), Emil Temperman (UP-TUKS), Lambert Groenewald (Xerox  Golden Lions), Ruben Johannes (SA Sevens), Dylan Petersen (UJ) and Deon Helberg (Xerox Golden Lions). Marlo van Niekerk is on loan from the EP Kings.

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All Blacks celebrate winningOne of the things that this recently completed Rugby World Cup should have done is put an end to some of the justifications that are perennially forwarded for percentage tactics and neglect of the skill sets and strategies that the 2 finalists boasted and employed in their passage to the Twickenham Stadium decider.

For a start, what happened to that wet weather everyone was talking about and which was supposed to a justification for grinding tactics? It rained in the semifinal between South Africa and New Zealand, where the Kiwis proved once again that they are just as good at the things that the Springboks are supposed to do well as they are.

The tournament was of course not played in the English winter. In fact, you could argue that this year it wasn’t played even in autumn, particularly early on, when cities and towns like Brighton, Birmingham and Newcastle had more of a feel of late summer than a feel of early autumn.

That, coupled with the fact that so many of the Pool games were played on fast paced surfaces built for soccer, tipped the scales towards the quick paced Southern Hemisphere style game. When Wales coach Warren Gatland was asked why the Southern Hemisphere nations shut their northern rivals out of the semifinal Round, he mentioned something about conditions south of the equator facilitating the development of more of a running rugby skill set.

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Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw became the 1st man to lift the Rugby World Cup twice on Saturday and whether or not he opts to call it a day as an All Black, his place as the greatest leader of a rugby team the game has seen is assured.

Like the New Zealand juggernaut he has led with such distinction, McCaw has kept evolving and at the age of 34 his hunger for success and focus has been as intense as ever.

That the game’s outstanding loose forward has stood up to the demands of Test rugby for so long is a reflection of his durability, enthusiasm, consistency and the way he relishes pressure.

And he is not quite ready to bow out just yet.

“I still don’t want it to end. I’m still part of this team, I’m going to enjoy today, how can you have enough of this?,” he said after New Zealand beat Australia 34 / 17 to become Rugby World Cup winners for a record 3rd time.

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Marcos Ayerza

Marcos Ayerza

Argentina loosehead prop Marcos Ayerza, who was set to start for Los Pumas in the bronze final against the Springboks on Friday, has been ruled out of the game due to a hamstring injury sustained in training on Thursday, according to team doctor Guillermo Botto.

Team management have called up Santiago García Botta, a Belgrano Athletic prop with 5 Test caps under his belt, to take his place in the squad.

García Botta, 23, flew in from Buenos Aires on Thursday and will be on the replacements bench at the Olympic Stadium as Daniel Hourcade’s men take on South Africa for the right to finish 3rd at Rugby World Cup 2015.

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

The Western Province Rugby Football Union indicated that they would like to wish former DHL Western Province and DHL Stormers captain Jean de Villiers well as he embarks on the next phase of his stellar rugby career at top English club, Leicester Tigers.

De Villiers 1st wore the Blue & White hoops of Western Province as an aspiring Under 13 Craven Week player, that after his father, Andre, represented Western Province with distinction in the 1970s.

Jean de Villiers played his final match for the DHL Stormers on 3 May 2014 (against the Highlanders at DHL Newlands), racking up a total of 105 caps since his debut against the Sharks in February 2005.

He also played 50 matches for DHL Western Province, his final appearance coming in the 2013 ABSA Currie Cup Final – having made his debut in the Vodacom Cup in February 2001.

De Villiers would certainly have played more games for WP Rugby had it not been for a catalogue of serious injuries – especially the knee injury he suffered on his Springbok debut in November 2002 – but he will go down as one of this union’s greatest players in the modern era after also amassing 109 Springbok caps (including 37 as captain).

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Finn Russell

Finn Russell in action for Scotland

Glasgow Warriors and Scottish Rugby have secured the talents of one of Scotland’s most exciting young players for the next 3 years.

Finn Russell has signed a new long-term contract with the Warriors, meaning the Scotland international will be staying at Scotstoun until at least May 2018.

The news follows the announcement earlier today that Scottish Power has agreed a 3-year, 6-figure sponsorship deal with the club, which will see their logo displayed on the back of the home and alternate playing shirts.

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