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.
South African hooker Craig Burden has joined Stade Francais as an injury replacement, the Paris club said on Friday.
The 30-year-old from Durban spent 2 seasons at Toulon before a short spell with Montpellier this year.
All 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.
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.
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.
Australian 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).
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
Centre 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.
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.
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.
Wallaby fullback Israel Folau is set to undergo surgery and will be out of rugby for a minimum of four months.
Folau will go under the knife next Tuesday on a troublesome ankle, having carried the injury through much of Australia’s Rugby World Cup campaign.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Nicolas Sanchez, the highest points scorer at the Rugby World Cup, will captain Argentina for the 1st time in Friday’s 3rd-place play-off against South Africa.
Sanchez, who has 89 points, mainly from the boot, will take over the armband from the injured Agustin Creevy.
Coach Daniel Hourcade has made 9 changes to the team that started the 15 / 29 semifinal loss against Australia last Sunday.
Many were forced by injury as key players Creevy, outstanding wing Juan Imhoff and veteran centre Juan Martin Hernández all had to be replaced on Sunday.
Insisting that all Springboks play domestically is the best way to “restore pride” in the national jersey, says former Springbok prop and pundit Robbie Kempson.
Speaking on SuperSport’s “RWC Master Plan” programme which has run during the current Rugby World Cup in the United Kingdom, the 1998 Tri-Nations title-winning front-ranker said he backed the decision by Argentinean rugby bosses to make it compulsory for all players wishing to represent the Pumas next season to play for the new Buenos Aires-based franchise in remodelled Super Rugby.
“It will help galvanise a side that will produce for them, going forward.”
But the 37 Test-cap Kempson added that he felt South Africa had “missed a trick” through their policy for the latest Rugby World Cup, which allowed for squad inclusion of 7 players who are exclusively contracted to overseas franchises – Fourie du Preez, Zane Kirchner, Bryan Habana, Morné Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Francois Louw and Schalk Brits.
Former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers will continue his playing career in the English Premiership after signing with the Leicester Tigers.
De Villiers was part of South Africa’s Rugby World Cup winning squad in 2007 and captain of the 2015 campaign but announced his international retirement after suffering a fractured jaw in the 2nd Round of the tournament. With 109 Test caps he is among the most experienced players in the world game.
Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill said: “Jean brings invaluable experience to the squad. He is among the leading centres in the modern game and has played at the very highest level for a significant period of time.
Argentina have dismissed Springbok suggestions that Friday’s bronze final does not mean anything and are determined to celebrate their attacking style at the tournament by beating their Rugby Championship rivals.
After his side narrowly lost to New Zealand 20 / 18 in Saturday’s 1st semifinal, South African coach Heyneke Meyer said it would be tough mentally to prepare for the clash at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. “It does not mean anything to me. It is like kissing your sister,” he said.
But, despite the disappointment of failing to get past Australia in their semifinal, Argentina captain Agustin Creevy and his squad were excited about trying to secure the 3rd place.
Asked about Meyer’s comments, Creevy said: “I don’t know why he said that. I would rather be 3rd than 4th. We want to be in the Top 3. We need to get over the defeat and start again. The 3rd-place playoff means a lot.”
Flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez, who scored all of Argentina’s points in the 29 / 15 defeat by the Wallabies, said: “We came here to play the final, but I think we gave it our all. The biggest challenge now is to finish on a high note and get the 3rd place.
“We’ve got a mentally very tough game ahead. This week probably won’t be as pleasant as this past one, but we’ll make a great effort to get the bronze medal.”
New Zealand All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has made 1 change to the side that thrashed France for their semifinal showdown against South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday.
Joe Moody replaces the injured Wyatt Crockett (groin) at loosehead prop, with Ben Franks being promoted to the bench to provide cover.
1 Is the least number of changes that the All Blacks have made to their starting line-up so far in the tournament and the fewest between successive Rugby World Cup matches since making no changes at all to the side that defeated Australia in the 2011 semifinals and went on to beat France in the final.
No player in international test rugby has been on the winning side against the Springboks more often than Richie McCaw (19 times). Only Australia’s George Gregan (30 times) has played them more often than McCaw (25).
Brodie Retallick (6), Wyatt Crockett (5), Sam Cane (3), Luke Romano (2), TJ Perenara (1) and Codie Taylor (1) have won all of their individual test appearances against the Springboks.
McCaw sets a Rugby World Cup record in captaining his side for the 12th time in the competition, surpassing the 11 captain’s appearances by Martin Johnson and Will Carling (both England), Raphaël Ibañez (France), John Smit (South Africa) and Sam Warburton (Wales).
Former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has been linked with a move to English Premiership club, Leicester Tigers.
A jaw fracture suffered against Samoa prematurely ended De Villiers’s Rugby World Cup 2015 campaign, with the midfielder subsequently announcing his retirement from international rugby.
De Villiers hinted that he would finish his professional career overseas, while revealing that he was considering a few options in England.
He was linked to the Tigers earlier this year, but the deal fell through before the start of the Rugby World Cup.