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Rugby World Cup

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New Zealand Rugby have paid homage to the most iconic of All Blacks teams, The Originals, in the design of their World Cup jersey which includes the latest in sporting apparel technology.

Developed with the input of All Blacks management and senior players, the jersey features a special design across the shoulders and chest – inspired by the famous leather yoke which adorned The Originals jersey.

The subtle design change pays respect to the legendary Originals team which toured the United Kingdom, France and the USA in 1905 – 1906 – losing just 1 match on their famous 35-match tour.

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Frans Ludeke

Frans Ludeke

Former Vodacom Bulls head coach Frans Ludeke could be heading to the World Cup in England in September as part of the Fijian coaching staff.

The 47-year-old stepped down as the Bulls’ head coach in June and is set to be heading to the Pacific Island where he will link up with the Fijians as they begin preparations for the global showpiece.

World-Cup winning Springbok lock Victor Matfield, who is eyeing the Bulls coaching job, revealed that Ludeke was off to Fiji to help the Islanders in the World Cup.

“It’s always sad to see someone go but sometimes the time for change comes. I’ve learned so much from Frans and there are so many players who also learned a lot from him during the 8 seasons with the Bulls.

“I think he’s going to Fiji to help them with the World Cup and I wish him success with that as well,” Matfield said.

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Ofisa Treviranus

Ofisa Treviranus

Ofisa Treviranus will lead Samoa’s World Cup campaign in September and will get a taste of captaincy when they go up against world champions New Zealand in a 1-off Test on 8 July.

The 31-year-old flank, who plies his trade with London Irish in the Premiership, said he had just been focusing on making the starting lineup for the fixture – the 1st ever visit to Apia by the All Blacks.

“It’s always an honour to represent Samoa, but it is something very special when you are asked to captain your team,” Treviranus said in a statement on Monday.

Treviranus, a powerful ball carrier known for his big defensive tackles, previously captained a Samoa side to victory in the Sevens World Series in 2010.

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Rugby World Cup 2023The French Rugby Federation (FFR) confirmed their interest and their name in the hat to bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

In a statement issued at the end of their annual congress in the eastern city of Belfort, the FFR said that an official bid should be delivered in 2017.

A final decision on the host nation will be made in May of 2017 by World Rugby. Ireland, Italy, South Africa and the United States have also expressed interest in hosting the 2023 tournament.

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SpringboksThe selection of 8 uncapped players and the return of a further 6 are the features of the Springbok squad named on Saturday for the 5 matches leading up to the Rugby World Cup later this season.

In addition to the 36 squad members, the national selectors have identified 13 players who are currently injured or will be in rehabilitation, but will form part of an extended squad for the matches against the World XV, Castle Lager Rugby Championship and the Test against Argentina in Buenos Aires.

The uncapped players in the squad are Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Rudy Paige, Faf de Klerk, Jesse Kriel, Franco Mostert and Lionel Mapoe.

Back in the Springbok fold after not featuring in any Springbok Tests last year, are Elton Jantjies, Frans Steyn, Jaque Fourie, Heinrich Brüssow, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Heinke van der Merwe.

The currently injured players included in the squad are Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, Lionel Mapoe, Heinrich Brüssow, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Frans Steyn, Coenie Oosthuizen, Lood de Jager, Duane Vermeulen, Cobus Reinach, Pat Lambie, Jaque Fourie, Jan Serfontein and Fourie du Preez. The latter suffered a knee injury while training with his Japanese club earlier this week.

“It’s a long list of injured players but all of them are in the selection frame and we’d like to work with them to assist with their rehabilitation,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

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USAChris Wyles will captain the United States national team as the USA Eagles prepare for the Rugby World Cup – at a 4-match Pacific Nations Cup campaign.

Wyles, who won the Premiership with Saracens and helped the Eagles Sevens team qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in a 2-week span, will assume the captaincy role beginning with the team’s assembly in northern California.

The Eagles will play Samoa in San Jose on 18 July, before taking on Japan in Sacramento on 24 July.

Both opponents are in Pool B with the US at the Rugby World Cup.

“Chris has been one of the most respected and successful Eagles of all time and has been a selfless and proud Eagle for nearly a decade,” coach Mike Tolkin said.

“His success as a professional player with Saracens, matched with the respect that he has garnered with his teammates throughout his career, makes him a natural choice as captain.”

Wyles will succeed Todd Clever, the team’s longest-serving captain in history, after embracing the role post-World Cup 2007.

After seeing out his contract with Shining Arcs in Japan’s Top League earlier this year, Clever returned to his home state of California to play with Old Mission Beach Athletic Club.

Blaine Scully will serve as Vice-captain of the USA Eagles.

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Nelson Mandela & Francois Pienaar in 1995 with the World Cup trophy.

Nelson Mandela & Francois Pienaar in 1995 with the World Cup trophy.

 

South African Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins on Wednesday congratulated and thanked the Springbok squad involved in the 1995 Rugby World Cup as they celebrated the 20th anniversary of their epic World Cup final win in Johannesburg.

The Springboks won their 1st Rugby World Cup on 24 June 1995, beating New Zealand, 15 / 12, in a memorable final played at Ellis Park. The result unleashed a tide of goodwill and nation-building across South Africa, which a year earlier had celebrated democracy after decades of racial segregation.

“We proudly celebrate this day as a rugby family, because this team helped Nelson Mandela unite a country,” said Mr Hoskins. “It was a moment that astonished a nation and provided one of the foundation stones for the country we were to become. It was arguably the greatest day in our rugby history.

“Mr Mandela together with that Springbok team pointed the way to a new future for our people and 20 years later that day still has a massive resonance.

“We continue to salute the 1995’ers for what they achieved as a rugby team and what they meant to a nation.”

Mr Hoskins said it was also a day to remember and honour the legacy of the fallen heroes from that day, President Mandela, the Springbok coach Kitch Christie and flanker Ruben Kruger.

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Francois Louw

Francois Louw

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.”

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Andries Bekker

Andries Bekker

Jaque Fourie

Jaque Fourie

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.

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All BlacksThe All Blacks selectors gave their 1st hint of World Cup thinking, naming 5 new faces in an enlarged 41-man squad.

Coach Steve Hansen has named 33 new All Blacks since they won the last World Cup in 2011 with the latest additions being Crusaders hooker Codie Taylor, Hurricanes lock James Broadhurst and fullback Nehe Milner-Skudder, Highlanders flyhalf Lima Sopoaga and wing Waisake Naholo.

Naholo is the leading try-scorer in Super Rugby this year, touching down twice in the Highlanders 24 / 14 play-off victory over the Chiefs on Saturday to take his total for the year to 11.

Milner-Skudder is a cousin of Buff Milner and a nephew of George Skudder, both former All Blacks.

There is also a recall for 3-Test hooker Hika Elliot who has not been required for international duty since June 2012.

A final group of 31 to defend their world crown will be named at the end of August following The Rugby Championship Tests against South Africa, Australia and Argentina as well as a 1-off Test with Samoa and an extra clash with Australia.

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has no plans to retire after this year’s Rugby World Cup.

De Villiers suffered a horrific knee injury in the Springboks’ final Test against Wales in Cardiff late last year and underwent intensive rehabilitation to recover in time for this year’s World Cup.

He appears to have made a remarkable recovery and on Wednesday confirmed that he would be able to return to the playing field in a month’s time.

The Bok skipper also said he had no intentions of calling it quits after the World Cup.

“I didn’t go through 10 months of rehabilitation just to play 10 more games,” De Villiers was quoted as saying.

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ItalyItaly’s World Cup preparations are back on track after players and the national federation (FIR) reached an agreement over bonuses.

A training camp scheduled to start on Monday 15 June had been called off as the row over World Cup bonuses and other issues escalated.

Both sides accused the other of cancelling the training camp, although Italy’s players refused to leave their base in the northern town of Villabassa, where they were due to remain in camp until 3 July.

“The agreement will be sealed quickly in order to swiftly reconvene the World Cup preparation camp,” the FIR said in a statement.

A meeting at the Calvisano base of FIR president Alfredo Gavazzi allowed the “basis for a collective agreement to participate at the World Cup while respecting the meritocratic principles proposed by the federation and the requests, not just those economic, put forward by the players,” the statement said.

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ItalyItaly’s World Cup preparations got off on the wrong foot on Monday, when players refused to take part in the 1st training session in a row over pay.

The Italian Rugby Federation said it had “taken note” of the players’ decision “to neither take part in training nor wear federation kit before a financial agreement is found over participation in training and the World Cup”.

40 Players had gathered at Niederdorf / Villabassa, close to the northern town of Bolzano, for the 14 June to 3 July training camp.

However, captain Sergio Parisse and veteran prop Martin Castrogiovanni were both absent after their Top 14 efforts with Stade Francais and Toulon respectively.

The Italian internationals want a match-by-match bonus for the 18 September to 31 October World Cup in England instead of a once-off payment linked to their performances, as desired by the federation.

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EnglandEngland players have been dangled a large financial carrot ahead of the Rugby World Cup later this year.

The home side’s players have been offered a performance bonus of just over £ 100 000.00 (R 1.9m) each if they win the title, according to the Daily Mail website.

The financial incentive is believed to be more than 6 times greater than the £ 16 000.00 (R 300 000.00) reward that was on offer for winning this year’s Six Nations tournament – which they missed out on in dramatic fashion as Ireland triumphed.

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Wallabies 2015 Rugby World Cup jerseyIn the wake of the massive uproar over the Springbok World Cup jersey, Australia’s fans have taken to social media to voice their opinions on the design of their newly launched jersey.

Words such as “awful” and “disgraceful” have been used to describe the re-design which boasts a stars-and-stripes feature on the right sleeve. The colour scheme remains gold – or rich yellow – and green and the stars are the southern cross.

The Wallabies logo, like the Springbok emblem, has been moved to the left sleeve to make way for the World Cup logo to satisfy commercial requirements.

Australia and South Africa’s jerseys have a similar look as they share a common apparel sponsor, Asics.

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Michael Hooper

Michael Hooper

Stephen Moore

Stephen Moore

With the International season looming upon us, Australia head coach Michael Cheika has seemingly already decided on his Wallaby captain.

There is more than enough leadership ability in the players that are under consideration for the Australian squad. Michael Hooper, Stephen Moore, David Pocock, Will Genia, James Horwill and even veteran George Smith have all lead the team on previous occasions.

Cheika made it clear at the launch of the new Australian World Cup jersey that the 2 contenders for the captain role are Hooper and Moore.

“We will pick a captain who will go the distance… no point chopping and changing,” Cheika said.

Cheika said he would name the captain before the Wallabies take on South Africa in the opening match of The Rugby Championship in Brisbane on 18 July.

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Frans Ludeke

Frans Ludeke

Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Could Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer possibly return to the Vodacom Bulls after this year’s Rugby World Cup?

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has not yet offered Meyer an extension of his contract beyond the current Rugby World Cup.

While talks are ongoing at SARU about Meyer’s future, it is understood the Vodacom Bulls would be happy to return him and his management team to Loftus Versfeld if he doesn’t continue as Springbok coach.

The future of current Bulls coach, Frans Ludeke, appears uncertain after the men from Pretoria again failed to reach the Super Rugby playoffs.

Ludeke has a contract with the Bulls until October 2016, but there are rumours he could be relieved of his coaching duties, while there is also talk of Ludeke being promoted to Director of Rugby.

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Springboks RWC Jersey 2015

The new ASICS-designed and manufactured Springbok jersey for the Rugby World Cup was launched at a glittering event in Cape Town on Thursday, with the 100 day mark to the start of the global showpiece fast approaching.

The launch of the iconic jersey is the culmination of months of hard work by scientists at the ASICS Institute of Sport Science in Kobe, Japan, in collaboration with the South African Rugby Union (SARU).

Jean de Villiers, Tendai Mtawarira, Eben Etzebeth, Bismarck du Plessis, Duane Vermeulen, Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks and Pat Lambie took part in an extensive testing programme in Japan to fine tune the final product. They were accompanied by Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer and other members of the management team.

The main aims in the design of the Springboks’ apparel were to reduce weight without compromising on strength. The jersey for the 2015 Rugby World Cup will be the lightest ever worn by South Africa, at 70 grams lighter than any previous jersey.

It also has smooth surface making it harder than ever before to keep hold of in the tackle, while an area which has seen significant development after player insight is the Super-Grip silicone which features on the chest of the jersey.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

There is a method to the apparent ‘madness’ of Heyneke Meyer’s approach to the Springboks’ 2015 World Cup campaign.

Spending some time with the Bok mentor at a training camp in Cape Town this week, it became abundantly clear just how much preparation has already gone into South Africa’s campaign.

In fact the Bok coach even investigated the hotel beds the players will encounter during their stay in England in September and October – prompting media banter that the ‘Bok coach is sleeping on the job’.

However, even the massive 40-odd players at the 2 training camps – in Johannesburg last month and Cape Town this week – are part of a carefully orchestrated plan to ensure the Boks have the best possible chance of becoming the 1st country to win the Webb Ellis Cup for a 3rd time.

Meyer said the large squads are all part of his long-term plan, with a lot of the younger players that he can take forward.

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Fourie du Preez

Fourie du Preez

Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez will be available and will be considered for the Springbok squad in 2 months’ time.

There have been whispers about whether Du Preez will play for the Springboks, and what his obligations are to his Japanese club. However the team manager of the Springboks Ian Schwartz cleared up any uncertainty over the situation.

Du Preez played no role in the Springbok’s 1st training camp, and is currently not playing any rugby, although, he has been in the country since March.

Schwartz explained that this is due to an agreement with his Japanese club Suntory, that keeps him away from national practices. Only however, until the international season begins in July when he will be free to be selected for the Springboks 1st match against the World XV on 11 July.

Du Preez is in regular contact with Springbok fitness coach Basil Carzis and, according to Schwartz, is “working very hard” to get into top shape.

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Sam Burgess

Sam Burgess

Stuart Lancaster has announced England’s extended training squad for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The 50-man group will meet up at Pennyhill Park on Monday 22 June to begin preparing for the tournament, which starts against Fiji, at Twickenham, on Friday 18 September.

England will also face France home and away and Ireland at Twickenham as part of the QBE Internationals as they build towards the World Cup.

Five eye-catching inclusions are Luke Cowan-Dickie, Maro Itoje, Sam Burgess, Elliot Daly and Henry Slade, all of whom featured in an 18 / 9 victory for England Saxons over Ireland Wolfhounds back in January.

Calum Clark and Ed Slater bring the tally of uncapped players to 7. Each of them will be vying for a Test debut.

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Frederic Michalak

Frederic Michalak

Francois Trinh-Duc

Francois Trinh-Duc

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre has favoured experience as he named Montpellier flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc and Toulon veteran Frederic Michalak in his 36-man squad for the World Cup.

Trinh-Duc, 28, and Michalak, 32, were given the nod ahead of Clermont flyhalf Camille Lopez, 26, for the 18 September to 31 October tournament in England.

“We really chose experience,” said Saint-Andre, whose side bid to overturn a record of just 15 wins for 2 draws and 20 defeats in the past 3 years.

“Both in terms of Francois Trinh-Duc, who has returned to form for his club and knows a World Cup (2011) as has Remi Tales, who knows our systems well and the France team,” the France coach continued.

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Manu Tuilagi

Manu Tuilagi

England rugby union player Manu Tuilagi will not play in the World Cup after admitting assaulting police officers, head coach Stuart Lancaster has said.

The Leicester Tigers centre, 23, was fined £ 6 205.00 when he appeared before magistrates.

He had been charged with 2 counts of assaulting a police officer, assault by beating and causing criminal damage, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Lancaster said he would not be considered for England until January.

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Elton Jantjies

Elton Jantjies

Back in the Emirates Lions starting line-up for Saturday’s Super Rugby clash against the Brumbies at Emirates Airline Park, Elton Jantjies is enjoying one of his better seasons on South African soil.

The Johannesburg side are very much in playoff contention and Jantjies has become coach Johan Ackermann’s 1st choice pivot along the way.

A few rugby minds have now started wondering whether or not Jantjies has done enough to work his way into Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s World Cup plans. The smart money remains on the flyhalf slot going to either Handré Pollard or Patrick Lambie and while Jantjies has not ruled out any possibilities he chooses instead to let his performances do the talking.

“I can talk a big game but if my performances on the field don’t match up, there is no point in me saying that I want to go to the World Cup and be the 1st-choice flyhalf,” Jantjies said.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

All Black legend Dan Carter insists he’s not assured of a spot in New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup squad.

Carter, 33, is regaining his form in this year’s Super Rugby competition, despite his Crusaders team not being the most consistent.

However, in their most recent match the Crusaders smashed the Reds 58 / 17 in Christchurch and Carter showed signs that he is returning to his past form.

“It feels like my form has been getting better as the season has gone on and really enjoying getting a bit of game time,” Carter said.

“I’ve almost played twice as many games as I played last year so that’s encouraging as long as my form is heading in the right direction then I’m happy with that.”

Carter said there are no guarantees that he’ll make the World Cup touring party.

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Jean de Villiers, Springbok captain, with knee dislocation injury against Wales

Jean de Villiers, Springbok captain, with knee dislocation injury against Wales

 

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has revealed he has targeted the beginning of July to be back on the field.

If he achieves his aim, it will be an exceptional recovery from a total knee reconstruction after the painful injury he suffered in the match against Wales at the end of last season.

Since then De Villiers has been working tirelessly at rehabilitating the knee in order to meet the deadline, with things going a lot better than initially expected.

The Bok captain is already running again and hopes next month to resume team training before getting onto the field in early July.

Speaking at the Supersport Networking lunch at the Johannesburg Country Club, De Villiers was an optimistic man, and said if all goes to plan he will be fit and on the field again long before the final Rugby World Cup squad was picked.

“The recovery has gone very well. These days whenever I meet someone it’s always the 1st question,” De Villiers said.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is clear – the best 31 players need to go to this year’s Rugby World Cup.

Meyer began his 1st Springbok training camp with a bit of a stutter as no less than 19 of the 44 players invited to the camp couldn’t train with the Bok management. Add to that the Sharks who are overseas on tour, and there wasn’t too much training that could get done.

But despite that, the Bok coach used the time to reveal his World Cup plans to players, tell individuals what he expected of them and will use the remainder of the time to share calls, plays and get down to technical nuances for the players to take home as “homework” before they meet again in the 2nd camp in a few weeks’ time.

The final squad is only set to be selected at the end of August, when the chosen 31 will be revealed to the country for the showpiece tournament in England. But 1 thing is clear, while competition will be tough between players, only the best 31 in Meyer’s mind will be selected, meaning a number of top players may well miss out.

However Meyer has admitted that he hasn’t made up his mind yet, giving players the chance in the remainder of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition as well as the camps, to make an indelible impression on him.

And with that in mind, he may have an idea of the starting line-up, but Meyer believes beyond the starting 15, the other 16 places are still up for grabs.

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Lima Sopoaga

Lima Sopoaga

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph believes Lima Sopoaga must continue his rich vein of Super Rugby form backed up with a strong finish to the season to force himself into contention for the All Blacks.

One can argue that Sopoaga has been the most consistent New Zealand flyhalf with his improved confidence and game management.

Colin Slade has been in silky form for the Crusaders, but he crossing hemispheres after the World Cup and so is Dan Carter.

Chiefs playmaker Aaron Cruden will almost certainly miss the World Cup with a serious knee injury and Hurricane Beauden Barrett will be out for 4 weeks.

Barrett’s scans revealed a grade 2 tear of his medial collateral ligament (MCL) which he suffered during the Hurricanes’ match against the Crusaders last Saturday.

The uncapped Sopoaga, if he maintains his form, must be next in line.

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SpringboksThis week, there is a lot of news, from various fronts, on the Springboks.

The Rugby Championship game times have been announced, as has the host city for the additional Springbok game against the Pumas in Buenos Aires.

News from this week’s Springbok Training camp is dominated by the amount of injured players at the camp as well as the news today that Flip van der Merwe has made himself unavailable to the Springboks in 2015 and also for the Rugby World Cup. The reports on the injury and rehabilitation of Springbok captain also comes under discussion, with the prognosis and likelyhood of him making the world premier Rugby World Cup competition very positive.

SARU also announced today that Rhino was appointed as equipment supplier of the Springboks.

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Matt Giteau

Matt Giteau

Matt Giteau said he would love to return to Twickenham with the Wallabies at this year’s World Cup after guiding Toulon to a 3rd straight European title.

Giteau was at flyhalf in an all-star international backline featuring Wales’s Leigh Halfpenny and South Africa’s Bryan Habana as Toulon beat French rivals Clermont 24 / 18 in the European Rugby Chamions Cup Final at Twickenham on Saturday.

Having made his Test debut as a 20-year-old at Twickenham back in 2002, Giteau effectively called time on his 92-cap Australia career when he signed for Toulon after failing to be included in the Wallabies’ squad for the 2011 World Cup.

But he was given a route back into the international arena when the Australia Rugby Union announced last month it was relaxing its hardline stance barring overseas-based players from representing the Wallabies.

“I signed over here knowing I wouldn’t play Test rugby again,” said Giteau after Saturday’s match. “Now the rules have changed, it’s a possibility. I had no idea it was coming, but I’m happy it has.

“It’s very exciting for Australian rugby that they’ve changed that (the eligibility rules). For me in particular, it doesn’t change a great deal until I’m contacted.”

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Lionel MapoeLions coach Johan Ackermann says centre Lionel Mapoe would be a valuable asset to the Springboks at the Rugby World Cup later this year.

The midfielder has been on song for the Lions in Super Rugby this year and his form has been recognised by Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, who included him in both Bok training squads named over the weekend.

“If you’re looking for an outside centre with X-factor, then Lionel is definitely your man,” said Ackermann.

“In terms of enterprise, you don’t need to look any further than him and Juan de Jongh (Stormers centre) as your candidates for the No 13 jersey. Lionel’s performances in this (2015) Super Rugby competition have been outstanding and it’s notable how hard he’s worked on his conditioning.

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Tim Nanai-Williams

Tim Nanai-Williams

Samoa have named an enlarged 58-man playing squad which includes Chiefs back Tim Nanai-Williams who is pushing for his eligibility through the Sevens loophole.

Nanai-Williams has been included but will need to play in at least 2 Rounds of the Sevens World Series for Samoa to be eligible for next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and Rugby World Cup in England later this year.

Other notable inclusions in the squad are Newcastle flyer Sinoti Sinoti, Bordeaux’s Peter Saili, Sharks’ Paul Perez, former Stormer and current Wasps wing Sailosi Tagicakibau, Alesana Tuilagi – brother of Manu, former Waratahs wing Alofa Alofa and Hurricanes centre Reynold Lee Lo.

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Aaron Cruden, injured on the weekend and out for the season

Aaron Cruden, injured on the weekend and out for the season

The Chiefs and All Blacks were delivered devastating news in the context of their 2015 campaigns on Monday when it was confirmed Aaron Cruden had ruptured his left anterior cruciate ligament.

The star playmaker will visit a surgeon on Wednesday to arrange a knee re-construction which is expected to keep him sidelined for 6 months.

In a brief statement issued on Monday afternoon, the Chiefs confirmed that Cruden would undergo traditional surgery “given Aaron’s young age and long-term career prospects.”

Cruden’s Super Rugby season is definitely over and his Rugby World Cup has been thrown into doubt as even a best-case recovery within that 6 month window would only see him fit in the final fortnight of the tournament.

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Steve Hansen

Steve Hansen

The decision of All Blacks flyhalf Colin Slade to head to Europe after the World Cup has made coach Steven Hansen very aware that the exodus of New Zealand players is not yet over.

Slade is the 10th All Black so far to announce he is heading offshore at the end of the year, to join French club Pau.

Still to confirm their post-World Cup futures are Julian Savea, Sam Cane and Ryan Crotty and, coupled with expected retirements and the impact of the Olympics, coach Steve Hansen is bracing for a difficult 12 months following the World Cup in England.

Cashed-up European clubs, who once targeted players in the twilight of their careers, assisting the All Blacks into an easy rollover of talent, are now creating a talent drain by luring up-and-coming stars.

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