In a somewhat confusing week for Adriaan Strauss fans, the big question is, did he or didn’t he? Conflicting reports indicate that he signed for the Bulls, and others that he will be remaining at the Cheetahs.
Earlier this week, at the unveiling of the new Blue Bulls and Free State Cheetahs jerseys for the 2014 Currie Cup, Strauss was the poster boy for the Cheetahs.
What I find strange though, is a specific question asked to him during a Q & A session. Have a look at question No. 8 posed to him and decide whether that was already a dead giveaway.
They’re 10,966 kilometres from home and massive outsiders for Saturday night’s Super Rugby semi-final, but Sharks coach Jake White thinks conditions could play into his side’s hands.
The Durban-based team know if they want any chance of stunning the Crusaders for the second time this season, they need to stick to their strengths.
On a cold Christchurch night, the Sharks will be aiming to retain possession, build up pressure and utilise their dominant scrum and rolling maul.
The long kicking games of fullback SP Marais and backline general Francois Steyn will also be integral as they seek to play the game in the right areas of the field.
It is the Semi-Finals of Super Rugby 2014 this weekend! We have only the 2 Semi-Final games in this Round, as all the other 11 teams have now been dispatched. Both games take place on Saturday 27 July 2014.
It is crunch time, as only the winners advance to the Final on 2 August 2014.
The Crusaders and Waratahs host the Semi-Finals, as top contenders on the Combined Super Rugby Log. The challengers are the Cell C Sharks and the Brumbies, who have had to travel in order to see if they can advance against strong home ground advantage, for the Final.
Only 3 Super Rugby games for 2014 remain!
Bonus points for tries and losses within 7 now does not matter anymore, all that is needed is a win.
Let the games continue….
The Sharks’ advancement to the Super Rugby semi-finals has meant the Springbok squad announcement for the upcoming Rugby Championship will be slightly delayed.
The SA Rugby Union on Wednesday announced that there are lingering injury concerns over certain players which will see the 30-man Springbok squad only be announced on Saturday 2 August.
Flank Deon Stegmann has been made captain of the Blue Bulls for this year’s Currie Cup competition.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke confirmed the news on Wednesday.
Stegmann, 28, will take over from Jono Ross who captained the team in last year’s Currie Cup when they failed to make the semi-finals.
Juan Smith has moved closer to a possible recall for the Springboks after his French club Toulon released him along side Bryan Habana and Bakkies Botha for the Rugby Championship.
This comes as SARU announced that a 30-man Springbok squad for the forthcoming Rugby Championship will only be announced on Saturday 2 August.
This is due to the Sharks still being involved in Super Rugby and lingering injury concerns over certain players.
In April 2012, Smith announced that he would be taking an indefinite break from rugby due to the ongoing battle with his Achilles injury.
The Bulls continued on their wave of signings as they have snapped up Blitzbok star Jamba Ulengo to join them alongside the likes of Bok Trevor Nyakane and loose forward Lappies Labuschagne next year.
Ulengo, who was a regular both in Paul Treu and Neil Powell’s Springbok Sevens sides, is a big fast skilful runner on the wing who loves to score tries and other than his exploits on the HSBC World Sevens Series has also played for Shimlas in the Varsity Cup and for the Toyota Cheetahs at Absa Currie Cup level.
The announcement of the trio – plus the loss of hooker Bongi Mbonambi to the Stormers – will be made in the next day or so by the Bulls after they have completed dotting all the I’s and crossing the T’s on the various contracts and may also include an announcement of Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss as well.
Strauss has been given until Wednesday to make a decision on his future by the Bulls, who are looking to lure him to Loftus as well, but pressure from Bloemfontein, where he owns two businesses and a renewed big money offer from the Cheetahs has given him second thoughts.
Glasgow Warriors have signed South African prop Rossouw de Klerk from the Cheetahs, subject to a visa and medical.
The 24-year-old has put pen to paper on a two-year deal at Scotstoun and will join up with Gregor Townsend’s squad for pre-season training at the end of the month.
The 1.85m tighthead began his senior career in Pretoria, making his debut for the Blue Bulls in 2009. He went on to make 41 appearances for them, 14 of which were in Super Rugby.
In 2013 de Klerk joined the Cheetahs and has made 14 appearances in the Vodacom Cup and Currie Cup and has played seven times in Super Rugby this season.
Rugby-Talk’s SuperBru competition for the 2014 Super Rugby tournament is drawing to a close with only three matches remaining.
In last week’s Qualifying rounds JohnR earned the yellow cap with a solid 5 pointer moving him up 12 places to 31st. Carol still leads the pack of hungry wolves chasing at her heels, but refuses to relinquish her coveted 1st spot. Sharks_Lover is still a close second, with less than a point separating the two.
Both Winston Champ and Charo at 3 and 4 respectively have fallen slightly off the pace, with 3,5 and 5,2 points separating them from Carol.
Before making those SuperBru predictions, let’s have a look at some picks, tips and predictions first.
Is Jake White trying to get his excuses in early should his Shark team lose against the Crusaders on Saturday?
If his tactics against the last placed SA conference side, the Cheetahs, hadn’t backfire and the Sharks were victorious, they would have had the week off and played the semi final at home.
Would he have complained about the format then?
When his Bok team won the 2007 World Cup they did so without having to face either the All Blacks or the Wallabies. White never complained about the format being skewed did he? No, he benefitted and rightly so, the rules are the rules.
PUMA, the official technical and apparel sponsor of the Toyota Free State Cheetahs, has unveiled a new heritage-inspired Currie Cup rugby kit in the customary white and russet orange.
“As always the Toyota Free State Cheetahs are looking forward to the Currie Cup competition and this year even more so with our new Currie Cup jersey design from our partner PUMA,” said Kobus le Roux, the Marketing & Sales Executive at the Free State Cheetahs. “PUMA has yet again been able to design a new fresh look for the Toyota Free State Cheetahs without changing our unique traditions. Proudly white and orange! Proudly Cheetahs! Proudly PUMA.”
PUMA, the official technical and apparel sponsor of the Blue Bulls, has unveiled a new Currie Cup rugby kit inspired by heritage and tradition – with no pink colourways or camo designs in sight.
The jersey in the Blue Bulls’ customary blue is also embroidered with both the PUMA logo and the Blue Bulls’ Daisy on the shirt. Part of PUMA’s evoPOWER Rugby apparel design, the jersey uses a polyester tight fit material which is lightweight, comfortable and robust.
“The ABSA Currie Cup symbolises the long and proud heritage of South African Rugby, so it was important for us not to break away from the traditional look of our ABSA Currie Cup jersey for that very reason. We firmly believe that the simplicity, yet elegance of the design makes a bold statement,” said Barend van Graan, CEO of the Blue Bulls Company.
The Cell C Sharks team named by Director of Rugby Jake White shows a number of changes from last week’s line-up, albeit not in any major disruptive way as the team prepare for Saturday’s Vodacom semi-final showdown with the Crusaders, reports Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick.
With Anton Bresler falling foul to a knee injury against the Highlanders in last week’s quarter-final win at Kings Park and not making the journey to New Zealand, Willem Alberts shifts from flank to the second row, with his place on the side of the scrum taken by Jean Deysel.
Richie McCaw has been named at blindside flanker and Corey Flynn will start his 150th Super Rugby match when the Crusaders meet the Sharks in Saturday night’s semifinal in Christchurch.
All Blacks captain McCaw, who hasn’t played since carrying a fractured rib into the third test against England on 21 June, has predictably been named at blindside flanker to allow the in-form Matt Todd to start in his specialist openside flanker role.
Flynn has been elevated ahead of Ben Funnell, who started the previous two matches against the Highlanders and Blues, in the only other change to the run-on side that thumped the Highlanders 34-8 at AMI Stadium on 12 July.
Former All Blacks fullback Greg Cooper can’t believe Nemani Nadolo is yet to unwrap one of his deadliest tricks.
Cooper, who coaches Nadolo at his Japanese club NEC Green Rockets, hasn’t been surprised the Fijian wing has been a sensation at the Crusaders this season but reckons he can offer even more.
While everyone knows how effective Nadolo can be with the ball in hand, Cooper says one of the best ways to expose defences is to sling cross-kicks to his left wing and reckons there is an 80 per cent chance of scoring if it is executed correctly.
“He is the best winger I have ever seen when taking the ball from cross-kicks,” Cooper, speaking from Japan, emphasised.
Former Sharks assistant coach Chris Boyd doesn’t expect to see the South African side resorting to cynical behaviour or niggle to unsettle the Crusaders.
The Sharks caused a 30-25 boilover when the teams last met in Christchurch in May but they had to do it the hard way, playing 64 minutes with 14 men.
Poor discipline plagued the Sharks with loose forward Jean Deysel sent off after stamping on the face of Crusaders opposite Jordan Taufua. Fellow flanker Willem Alberts was sinbinned in the second half for a professional foul.
Boyd, who will coach the Hurricanes next season, was an assistant at the Sharks in 2009 and 2010 under John Plumtree.
Prior to our 1995 World Cup-winning campaign, the late Kitch Christie told us during one particular team meeting that we could either take the high road or the low road to reach the knockout phase writes Brendan Venter.
While we followed the former path having defeated Australia in our opening match, the Sharks’ class of 2014 have taken the latter route. Although more arduous, nothing is impossible in the oval game.
The new Absa Currie Cup Premier Division format featuring eight teams will come into play on 8 August in a fresh start to SA’s top domestic competition, with newcomers the EP Kings taking on DHL Western Province in the opening match.
The official launch of the 2014 Absa Currie Cup competition was hosted by the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and sponsor Absa on Wednesday at Jeppe High School for Boys in Johannesburg where the new format was explained and the 2014 marketing campaign revealed.
The launch featured a Tag rugby match between the media, and the players and coaching staff of the Premier and First Division teams.
The Toyota Free State Cheetahs have picked up promising former Western Province Under 21 and UCT loose forward, Vincent Jobo, for their Absa Currie Cup campaign and a good showing may even lead to a Vodacom Super Rugby stint for the player nicknamed “The Animal.”
Jobo had an impressive Varsity Cup last year and is one of the rising stars of Cape Rugby. The decision to move to Bloemfontein for the Currie Cup is an excellent one for him as the former King Edward VII schoolboy has fought his way through the ranks and is now being rewarded for his form.
Remember the days when Kobus van der Merwe was still Stormers coach? In 2006 and 2007, the Stormers ended in 11th and then 10th in consecutive seasons in the then-Super 14 under Van der Merwe’s watch.
Under Allister Coetzee since 2010, the Stormers were losing finalists and then losing semi-finalists for two years. But in 2013 and 2014, they ended seventh and 11th.
It is unacceptable for a team like the Stormers to not at least make the playoffs for two consecutive years. So we took a look at what they need to do to avoid missing out again in 2015.
Highly-rated former SA Schools and SA Under 20 hooker Bongi Mbonambi will join Western Province Rugby at the start of the 2015 season.
Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer continues his “Dad’s Army” approach by recalling veteran flanker Juan Smith for a training camp ahead of next month’s Rugby Championship.
French club Toulon confirmed three of their South African signings – Smith, lock Bakkies Botha and wing Bryan Habana – would be involved in the Boks camp.
Smith, 32, hasn’t played for the Boks since 2010 as Achilles injuries requiring four surgeries ravaged his career, eventually forcing him to “retire” early last year.
The Cell C Sharks face a daunting task this weekend, there is no doubt about that, and not many will deny that the Crusaders at home are clear cut favorites.
Having to travel to New Zealand to face a Crusader side laden with 18 All Black players in their squad should spell defeat to the side from Durban.
During the build up to this weekend’s match, cliches aplenty will be bandied about and should include phrases like “backs to the wall”, “underdog”, “nothing to lose”. All true and apt, but therein lies the rub.
It appears Cheetahs hooker Adriaan Strauss will make a U-turn and decide not to move from the Cheetahs to the Bulls.
It was reported earlier that Strauss’s move to Pretoria was a done deal, but business interests in Bloemfontein now look likely to keep Strauss at the Cheetahs.
According to reports, the Cheetahs also significantly upped their offer for Strauss and he said that he’ll make a final decision on his future this week.
Wyatt Crockett sounds like a physics teacher as tries to de-mystify the complicated task of demolishing the Sharks’ mauls.
Few things are as difficult to stop as a turbo-charged lineout drive, yet Crockett emphasises that if the Crusaders’ forwards are organised they should fear little in Saturday night’s Super Rugby semifinal at AMI Stadium.
Splintering a maul, usually off a lineout, requires technique and a pinch of luck, as well as a referee who can spot a dodgy truck-and-trailer routine.