If South Africa are to win this year’s Castle Lager Rugby Championship, then quick ball from the breakdown is non-negotiable.
The Boks have made it clear that they want to speed up their play during this year’s competition, not slow it down as they have in the past.
The biggest problem is that their catalyst, their general in exercising their play in this regard, talisman Fourie du Preez, is injured and unavailable, bringing a heavy burden on the three halfbacks in the squad to produce the goods.
Who Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer earmarks as his flyhalf at the outset of the Championship next month could also have a major bearing on which scrumhalf he chooses to plug the unfortunate Fourie du Preez gap.
Incumbent No 9 and still world-class customer Du Preez, 32, was confirmed on Tuesday as having an ankle injury serious enough for him to ruled out of the entire southern hemisphere tournament.
Given his vast, 70-cap experience and precious ability to read and control a game better than most other South African scrumhalves right now, the loss of Du Preez certainly dents the Boks’ chances of ousting New Zealand from their status as defending champions, even if there have been enough positives in other departments of late to suggest they’ll be seriously competitive nevertheless.
The veteran was just beginning to benefit from a decent run of international matches – important given that he plies his franchise trade in the much more modest arena of Japanese club rugby now – in the June window, looking increasingly more like the character who helped drive the World Cup 2007 success.
The niceties dictate that the phrase ‘parted company’ is employed but effectively Ulster have sacked Mark Anscombe. The New Zealander did not know what was in the offing over the weekend and only learned of his fate yesterday.
Ireland’s defence coach Les Kiss will combine those duties with the responsibility of those as interim head coach for the province. There is no time limit placed on his dual remit.
Ulster rugby released a statement yesterday afternoon. It read: “Following the departure of director of rugby, David Humphreys, Ulster Rugby has today announced that head coach, Mark Anscombe, is to leave the province with immediate effect.”
South Africa’s Sevens Player of 2013, Cornal Hendricks, will make his debut for South Africa in the 15-man code next to ten players who started in the Springboks’ final Test of 2013 when they face a star-studded World XV, sponsored by Samsung, at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday (kick-off at 17:00 SA Time).
The speedy Hendricks is the only newcomer in the team as Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer opted for continuity in his team’s first match of the year.
The old firm of Bakkies Botha and interim captain Victor Matfield are re-united in the second row. JP Pietersen moves to outside centre. Schalk Burger makes a return to the side for the first time in two and a half years while Frans Steyn, Schalk Brits, Lwazi Mvovo and Johan Goosen are also back after playing no Test rugby last year.
Overseas-based Springboks Francois Louw and Ruan Pienaar will be ready for action by the time the Boks play their first game this year.
Flanker Louw, who plays for Bath in England, has recovered from an ankle injury which ruled him out for the last nine weeks. He is expected to play for Bath in their Amlin Challenge Cup final against Northampton Saints at Cardiff Arms Park on Friday.
Scrumhalf Pienaar has also returned to action for his Irish club, Ulster, after being sidelined for four weeks.
Glasgow’s Jonny Gray was named ‘Young Player of the Year’ at the RaboDirect PRO12 Awards evening in the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh.
Jonny Gray picked up the award after not only breaking into and starting in the Glasgow side, but also into the Scottish national team.
He beat Leinster centre Noel Reid to the title and follows in the footsteps of Tim Visser (Edinburgh Rugby), Toby Faletau (Newport Gwent Dragons), Stuart Hogg (Glasgow Warriors) and Luke Marshall (Ulster Rugby) as the RaboDirect PRO12 ‘Young Player of the Year’.
Springbok scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar is in a race against time to be fit for the June Tests after injuring his AC joint playing for his Irish team Ulster.
The Rumour of a move to Toulon has been laid to rest on Tuesday after Springbok scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar extended his stay at Ulster for another 3 years.
Ruan Pienaar seems to be the latest interest for French side Toulon.
According to reports from France it seems that Toulon is chasing Pienaar’s signiture.
The Springbok team to face Scotland in Nelspruit on Saturday shows five changes, three of them on the bench, from the match-23 which beat Italy in the opening round of the Castle Lager Incoming Series last weekend.
The two new players in the starting line-up are scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, who comes in for the injured Jano Vermaak, and loose forward Marcell Coetzee, who replaces Francois Louw.
Although the Springbok side will officially be announced later today, Wednesday 12 June, it appears from the way the team is training that the likelyhood is that Heyneke Meyer will only change players in the positions where injury and absense due to other duties are forcing his hand.
After 22 rounds and two play-off games, the 2012/13 Pro12 season wraps up on Saturday with the Final at the Royal Dublin Society. It is, appropriately, between first and second seeds, Ulster and Leinster.
Ruan Pienaar scored 21 points playing at flyhalf as unbeaten Ulster secured a 46-19 away Pro12 victory against the Dragons on Friday.
Ruan Pienaar’s last-gasp try gave Ulster a deserved bonus-point win over Castres in the Heineken Cup opener.
Ruan Pienaar’s elevation to the Springbok kicking role is likely to continue this weekend despite the fact he was successful with less than half of his kicks at goal against Australia at Loftus Versfeld.
DHL Western Province No 8 Duane Vermeulen will make his Springbok debut against Australia in Perth on Saturday, in South Africa’s third test in The Rugby Championship for 2012.
Johannesburg – Coach Heyneke Meyer’s proactive use of his substitutes was one of the essential reasons that the Springboks lifted their second-half game to win the first Test against England in Durban.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer expressed his excitement at the upcoming international season as the national planning camp concluded in Durban today (Monday), with less than two weeks to go before the first Test of the Castle Incoming Tour 2012 against England,
The RaboDirect Pro12 ‘dream team’ for the season 2011/2012 was announced last week. There is a fair mix of representation of players from Irish, Welsh and Scottish clubs with no Italian clubs having any players in the team. On Sunday evening, in Cardiff, various awards for this season were handed out with the accolade for player of the season going to Edinburgh try scoring machine Tim Visser.
Ruan Pienaar’s Man of the Match-performance against Edinburgh in Saturday’s 22-19 Heineken Cup semi-final victory has made the Ulster scrum-half the most talked-about player in European rugby right now.