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Cell C SharksIn the first week of discussion of Super Rugby squad contenders for 2015 (17 to 24 December), we will discuss 2 positions in seperate Articles (Props & Hookers) and also seperate the Articles of the 5 SA Super Rugby participating franchises.

That means 10 Super Rugby Articles every week from now on.

The basic idea is to discuss the players IN the Super Rugby Group, and not all the options beyond that.

In this Article we look at the contenders for PROPS in the Cell C Sharks 2015 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.

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dhl Newlands, Cape Town

dhl Newlands, Cape Town

A Special General Meeting of the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) was held at DHL Newlands on Wednesday 17 December 2014 to give feedback and to discuss the investigation of the feasibility and desirability to relocate to the Cape Town Stadium.

The WPRFU are the owners of the DHL Newlands Rugby Stadium – in turn, the clubs are the stakeholders and owners of the Union – and a decision to remain at DHL Newlands was carried by the clubs on Wednesday 17 December 2014, unanimously and without abstention.

The decision to NOT further consider relocating to the Cape Town Stadium was based on a number of factors, the main considerations being the following:

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Vodacom BullsIn the first week of discussion of Super Rugby squad contenders for 2015 (17 to 21 December), we will discuss 2 positions in 10 seperate Articles (Props & Hookers) – seperating the Articles of the 5 SA Super Rugby participating franchises.

That means 10 Super Rugby Articles every week from now on.

The basic idea is to discuss the players IN the Super Rugby Group, and not all the options beyond that.

In this Article we look at the contenders for PROPS in the Vodacom Bulls 2015 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.

Suggestions as to what to add to these Articles are welcome, but please hurry as the next Article will follow this one shortly!

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Paul Treu

Paul Treu

Former BlitzBokke and Kenya Sevens coach Paul Treu’s role at the Stormers and Western Province may be surprising given his Sevens background, but the departure of Jacques Nienaber has left a hole to be filled.

Treu, who had been coaching the Kenyan Sevens until the recent Port Elizabeth tournament, completed a rapid return to the world of 15-man-rugby when he joined Western Province on Monday.

The long-serving BlitzBokke coach signed up with the Cape side along with Rito Hlungwani and Hanyani Shimange as three big appointments by Director of Rugby Gert Smal ahead of the 2015 Super Rugby season.

Western Province also announced the loss of defensive coach Nienaber who joined the High Performance Department at SARU. This is where Treu stepped in.

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Rugby-Talk.com

It is officially the dreaded OFF-SEASON for Southern Hemisphere rugby, so it means under normal circumstances that we would be going into withdrawal system mode very, very soon… but NEVER here on Rugby-Talk.com.

As from this week (sometime), we will be starting IN DEPTH DISCUSSIONS on the INDIVIDUAL POSITIONS and the PLAYERS who will be filling these positions for the 5 South African Super Rugby Franchises.

That alone means 40 Articles to feast on (8 per Franchise), at a rate of 2 per midweek day, therefor roughly 10 per week, and subsequently it will take us roughly 4 weeks to complete… which basically covers most of the off-season.

But, that is not all folks, we will also be covering INTERNATIONAL CRICKET and some of the NORTHERN HEMISPHERE RUGBY.

In addition we will have a Christmas and New Year’s message, which has also proven popular over the years.

So, lots to look forward to, hold on to your boots!

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Hanyani Shimange

Hanyani Shimange

Paul Treu

Paul Treu

Western Province Rugby has announced some exciting additions to its coaching resources, with Paul Treu, Rito Hlungwani and Hanyani Shimange set to join, in various capacities, from 2015 onwards.

The signing of Treu, Hlungwani and Shimange will bolster the DHL Stormers and various DHL Western Province professional teams, whilst WP Rugby has also agreed to release Jacques Nienaber to further his career at national level.

Treu is a highly-regarded coach on the World Sevens circuit, having put South African Sevens on the map by guiding the Springbok Sevens side to the overall IRB Sevens World Series title in 2008/09 and recently also finishing a stint as coach of the national Kenyan Sevens team.

Treu, 43, coached the SA Sevens team between 2004 and 2013, leading them to an overall tally of 14 tournament wins and building a professional and structured squad set-up in the process. His presence will add a new and exciting dynamic to the settled DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province coaching set-ups.

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SpringboksWhile South Africa finished the year second in the world, and the only side in 2014 to defeated the All Blacks, their two losses at the end of the year against Ireland and Wales exposed deficiencies that will be studiously worked on by the coaching team.

One thing is for certain, there is likely to be some changes to the portfolio after Heyneke Meyer admitted that elements like the team’s kicking weren’t working, while the usually reliable power game of the Springboks wasn’t able to rule proceedings in Dublin and Cardiff.

They did however, during that 27-25 win at Ellis Park over New Zealand, show that they have the breakdown belligerence and attacking sense to match any side.

Even if four losses in their last eight of the year came seemed to come from a lack of crystal concise mindset than anything else, at times kicking, running or passing seemed to come without the smart bomb like precision we usually expect from a Boks team.

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HSBC Sevens World SeriesBlitzbokkeSouth Africa have beaten New Zealand 26-17 in the Cup final at the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in a repeat of last year’s victory, in front of 36 425 fans.

The Blitzbokke are the toast of South Africa after title defence at Nelson Mandela Bay stadium on the weekend.

The Blitzbokke have accordingly also now moved to first in the global HSBC Sevens World Series standings with win, as the road to Rio (2016 Olympics) heats up.

South Africa have defended their title and won their second consecutive round of the HSBC Sevens World Series with a 26-17 win over defending series champions New Zealand at the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth, round three of the Series.

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Rassie Erasmus

Rassie Erasmus

An internal restructuring to streamline the identification, development and monitoring of players will be headed up by Rassie Erasmus as SARU looks to take sole responsibility for an unbroken pathway for players and coaches.

The restructuring indicates that SARU is trying to take a bigger role in the development of players right from the junior level to potentially Springboks.

The new structure has evolved from the former Development and High Performance departments, whose functions have been rationalised.

“The old departments worked hand-in-hand,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU.

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SpringboksThe South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Friday confirmed the home venues for the 2015 Castle Lager Rugby Championship.

The Springboks will play New Zealand at Emirates Airline Park (formerly Ellis Park), Johannesburg, on Saturday 25 July and Argentina at Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban, on Saturday 8 August.

The schedule was amended as a result of the condensing of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship competition to three rounds because of the Rugby World Cup, which begins in mid-September.

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HSBC Sevens World SeriesThe last Tournament in the 2014 calendar year for the HSBC Sevens World Series of 2014 / 2015 took place in Port Elizabeth at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens tournament was played over 2 Days, Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 December 2014.

When play started on Day 1, France scored within 14 seconds against Fiji, but Fiji rallied to demolish France by 45 / 5.

Canada surprised by beating Scotland 14 / 12 in the 2nd game.

A number of more surprises followed on Day one, but what remained firm was the South African Blitzbokke resolve as they monstered their way to 3 excellent wins, and only conceeding a solitary try in the process.

Apart from South Africa, the other big Sevens nations – New Zealand, England, Fiji and Australia were joined by USA, Scotland and Argentina in the Cup Quarters on Day 2.

South Africa advanced to the Final, beating England and Australia along the way, whilst New Zealand beat USA to advance to a semi against Argentina, then comfortably beat Argentina, to book their place against the South African Blitzbokke in the Final.

Australia took the 3rd Place Play-off game against Argentina, 34 / 19.

The South African Blitzbokke took Final honours against New Zealand by 26 / 17 and made it back to back tournament wins as well as a successful defence of the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens title!

To Southern Hemisphere rugby interests, this tournament represents the last action in the 2014 rugby season, with their off-season officially starting after this tournament.

In the Northern Hemisphere though, it is all action in December.

The 2014 / 2015 season carries added significance because the top-ranked sides after the ninth and final round in London in May 2015 will qualify directly for the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016.

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Emirates LionsEmirates, a global connector of people and their passions, and the Lions, one of South Africa’s top rugby teams, today announced a five-year sponsorship agreement.

The agreement will see Emirates become the title sponsor of the Lions Super Rugby team and have naming rights to the Lions home ground Ellis Park in Johannesburg. The announcement was made at a media conference today by Orhan Abbas, Emirates Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations for Latin America, Southern and Central Africa, and Rudolf Straeuli, the CEO of the Golden Lions Rugby Union.

Starting from 1 January 2015, the Lions will become known as the Emirates Lions, and the familiar “Fly Emirates” logo will adorn the match and training jerseys of the team for the next five years. Ellis Park, will be named Emirates Airline Park. The agreement also includes in-stadia hospitality as well as a number of other marketing rights and activities.

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Francois Louw

Francois Louw

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer will be pleased to see two of his stalwarts returning to the rugby field in the European Cup this weekend.

Bath’s Francois Louw is set to make his comeback after a ten-week stint on the sideline following surgery on his neck for nerve damage.

The flank last played for the Springboks in their Rugby Championship Test against the All Blacks in Wellington on 13 September.

Bath assistant coach Toby Booth has indicated that Louw may be thrown straight into the action and could start for the English team when they face Montpellier at home on Friday.

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Captains for the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens tournament

Captains for the Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens tournament: Ed Jenkins, Osea Kolinisau, DJ Forbes & Kyle Brown

After climbing into the top four after two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series, Australia and New Zealand know it’s far too early to rest on their laurels with Olympic qualification also up for grabs this season.

As the 16 captains assemble for the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens in Port Elizabeth, Australian skipper Ed Jenkins and his New Zealand counterpart DJ Forbes reflect on their respective team’s elevation to the all-important top four after the first two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series.

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Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium

This weekend’s HSBC Sevens World Series tournament in Port Elizabeth will not be affected by load shedding, stadium organisers have assured.

Lourens Oberholzer from Access Management said that the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium has high power generators designed to ensure constant supply of electricity to the stadium in the event of any power outage.

Oberholzer also said the local municipality has assured them that the stadium will not be affected by load shedding this weekend.

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Johan Ackermann

Johan Ackermann

The Golden Lions Rugby Union is not worried about reports stating that head coach Johan Ackermann is being targeted by a top Japanese club.

It was reported earlier this week that the Lions will struggle to keep Ackermann in South Africa after next year’s Rugby World Cup, with the former Springbok lock reportedly receiving a big-money offer from a Japanese club.

However, the Lions insisted they will not have a fight on their hands to hold on to the services of Ackermann.

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Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

Nizaam Carr and Handré Pollard lead the full list of nominees released by SARU on Wednesday for their annual Player of the Year Awards, which will take place on 8 February in Midrand.

Carr and Pollard, both of whom made their Test debuts for the Springboks this season, have both been nominated in three categories.

The 23-year-old Carr has been nominated in for the SARU Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and Currie Cup Player of the Year.

Pollard, who is only 20, has been nominated in the categories for SARU Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and SA Under 20 Player of the Year.

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Xerox Golden LionsComing off a highly successful 2014 rugby season in all areas, the Lions have announced the final signings of players for the 2015 season

The GLRU has worked hard in maintaining growth potential in junior players and increasing depth where needed.

The Lions have managed to attact six SA Schools players for the Under 19 squad in Nazo Nkala, Barend Smit, Sarel Smith, Kenny van Niekerk and Marco van Vuuren.

In the Under 21 squad there are seven players who took part in the recent Under 20 World Cup in New Zealand. Cyle Brink, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Thabo Mabuza, Malcolm Marx, Ramone Samuels, Victor Sekeketi and Currie Cup player Jaco van der Walt.

In the senior squad the Lions boast seven players who are either capped by the Springboks or were involved this year, as well as BlitzBokke in Albertus “Kwagga” Smith and their captain Warren Whiteley who is both a Springbok and a Sevens Bok.

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WhistleSouth African referees Jaco Peyper, Craig Joubert, Stuart Berry and television match official (TMO) Shaun Veldsman will all officiate in the 2015 Six Nations competition, World Rugby has announced.

Peyper will take charge of the match between France and Wales on 28 February at Stade de France in Paris, while Joubert will officiate the clash between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on 1 March, with Veldsman in the role of TMO.

Berry, meanwhile, was named as an assistant referee for the matches between Italy and Ireland at Stadio Olimpico in Rome on 7 February and Ireland and France in Dublin on 14 February respectively.

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Border BulldogsThe South African Rugby Union (SARU) announced on Wednesday that it had assumed control of the financial and administrative affairs of the Border Rugby Football Union, following a resolution by the Union’s executive.

The union handed over control to SARU to allow Border’s operations to be normalised. No time limit has been put on SARU’s control. The decision was taken in November at SARU’s request.

The impact of the decision is that only SARU personnel will have signing powers on Border’s accounts. Monde Tabata, an East London-based member of the SARU Executive Council (Exco), has been confirmed as the Union’s administrator.

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Cape Town Stadium

Cape Town Stadium

The odds are believed to have unexpectedly lengthened on Cape Town getting a stint soon in the HSBC Sevens World Series sun.

It is understood that, from a situation at roughly this time last year when it seemed a switch for the South African leg of the series from Port Elizabeth to the Mother City (and probably the under-used Cape Town Stadium, built for the 2010 soccer World Cup) was almost a fait accompli from the 2015/16 tournament onward, the Eastern Cape metropolis may instead get an extension of unknown duration.

The “Friendly City” stages its fourth successive Sevens jamboree this weekend, as the Blitzbokke try to match their feat in Dubai a few days ago of winning that leg; in doing so they advanced to second place behind Fiji on the global standings after two events of the 2014 / 2015 campaign.

It has been known for some time that tenders for a new hosting stint were going to be invited by the South African Rugby Union (SARU) after the latest PE staging of the Sevens.

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ictorius Blitzbokke in Dubai

ictorius Blitzbokke in Dubai

The pools for the third round of the HSBC Sevens World Series in South Africa were drawn in Dubai with hosts South Africa heading Pool A.

World Rugby has confirmed the pool draw for the Cell C Nelson Mandela Bay Sevens, round three of the HSBC Sevens World Series 2014 / 2015 on 13-14 December 2014.

After their Cup win at the second round of the Series in Dubai, hosts South Africa are top seeds and head Pool A, while runners-up Australia, third-placed Fiji and the fourth semi-finalist New Zealand head the remaining pools.

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Golden LionsEmiratesIt has been widely reported in various sections of the media today that the Lions are set to announce a 5 YEAR sponsorship deal with Emirates Airlines which would also include naming rights to the iconic Ellis Park Stadium.

The announcement, which will also include details of 2 other sponsorship deals is set to be made by Lions CEO Kevin de Klerk and CEO Rudolph Strauli tomorrow (11 December 2014).

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Zane Kirchner

Zane Kirchner

Morné Steyn

Morné Steyn

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is likely to surprise with a few unpopular decisions in his 2015 Rugby World Cup squad.

According to weekend newspaper reports, the inclusion of flyhalf Morné Steyn and fullback Zane Kirchner could be the biggest shocks in Meyer’s 31-man squad for next year’s showpiece event in England and Wales.

Kirchner has fallen out of favour in recent times after the emergence of Willie le Roux, while Steyn has fallen behind Pat Lambie and Handré Pollard in the flyhalf pecking order.

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Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

Marcell Coetzee

Marcell Coetzee

Willie le Roux

Willie le Roux

Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

Five Springboks have been nominated for the prestigious SA Rugby Player of the Year Award for 2014 with one of Nizaam Carr, Marcell Coetzee, Willie le Roux, Handré Pollard or Duane Vermeulen in line to claim the coveted annual award for the first time in their careers.

The five players, who all played for the Boks this year, have been nominated by the South African rugby media following a stellar year on the field. Springbok rugby fans across the globe will now be given a voice in the selection of the winner, SARU announced on Friday.

The public will also be asked to cast their votes in two other categories, Young Player and the Absa Team of the Year. To cast your vote, CLICK HERE.

Carr and Pollard have also being named in the Young Player category, along with Cheslin Kolbe, Seabelo Senatla and Jan Serfontein. The Junior Springboks, Springboks, Springbok Sevens, DHL Western Province and Xerox Golden Lions have been nominated as Absa Team of the Year.

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Toyota Cheetahs 2015 Home & Away Jerseys

Toyota Cheetahs 2015 Home & Away Jerseys

PUMA has revealed the new Cheetahs kit for Super Rugby 2015, which focuses on the team’s two distinct colours – orange and ‘pou blou’ turquoise, rounded off with purple numbers and trimmings – but with a shift to orange for the home kit.

“The latest PUMA kit for the Toyota Cheetahs is something of a landmark,” says PUMA South Africa’s Marketing Director Brett Bellinger.

“Traditionally the home kit has been marked by a largely white-based treatment with the away kit being orange.

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Craig Joubert

Craig Joubert

South African referee Craig Joubert has scooped the prestigious Referees’ Referee of the Year award.

Joubert received the award at the annual course for top referees in South Africa, the SA Rugby Referees website reports.

Chairperson of the SA Rugby Referees’ Society, Steve Meintjes, made presentations to members who had achieved exceptionally.

The following awards were presented:

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Deon van Rensburg

Deon van Rensburg

Michael Bondesio

Michael Bondesio

Golden Lions players Michael Bondesio and Deon van Rensburg have announced their retirement from professional rugby.

The duo had been struggling with injuries of late and decided to call it a day, the union announced via their official Facebook page.

Scrumhalf Bondesio had not played much this year due to a knee injury, while wing / centre Van Rensburg was laid low by a rib injury.

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Graham Mackenzie

Graham Mackenzie

Graham Mackenzie has been re-elected as president of the KwaZulu-Natal Rugby Union, the Sharks’ official website reports.

The union’s annual general meeting recently took place where the president, deputy president, senior vice-president and junior vice-president roles were all retained, while there was a change among the four additional members.

Mackenzie was re-elected as president for another two-year term, Francois Louis was re-elected deputy president for a further year.

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Mitch: The Real Story

Mitch: The Real Story

The coaching merry-go-round at the Sharks may have contributed significantly to the drain on the franchise’s financial resources.

This, at least, is the view of John Mitchell, in his recently released autobiography – Mitch: The Real Story.

The former All Black, England assistant, Western Force and Lions coach – in an exclusive interview with rugby365 – explained why he said in his book that he “strongly suspect” the Sharks are running out of money.

High-profile figures like Brendan Venter (now back in an advisory capacity again) and World Cup-winner Jake White have come and gone in quick succession in recent years. They also had to pay John Plumtree, when the New Zealander was shown the exit door before his contract had run its full term.

The most recent acquisition is another former member of a Springbok coach panel, Gary Gold – who will take over as a Director of Rugby in January.

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Blitzbokke

HSBC Sevens World SeriesThe second last Tournament in the 2014 calendar year for the HSBC Sevens World Series of 2014 / 2015 is underway in Dubai.

The Emirates Dubai Sevens tournament is played over 2 Days, Friday 5 and Saturday 6 December 2014.

The last Tournament for the year is next weekend, in South Africa, at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

On Day 1, the traditional Sevens big sides, Fiji, New Zealand, South Africa, England and Australia have easily overcome their opponents in their first games.

Surprise results were Canada beating Wales by 19 / 14 and Scotland beating Samoa 21 / 14.

On Day 2 Fiji and New Zealand advanced to the 3rd place play-off and South Africa and Australia advanced to the Final.

South Africa’s Blitzbokke easily took the Final and the Dubai title by 33 / 7.

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Cricket BallThe Springboks (rugby side) took on the Proteas in a T20 celebration match, for the Nelson Mandela Legacy Cup, at Wanderers, Johannesburg on Friday 5 December 2014.

The Springbok side was made up of current and recent Springboks, whereas the Proteas have chosen a strong T20 National lineup.

The match started at 18:00 SA Time.

The score cards were be updated at regular intervals here on Rugby-Talk.com.

The Springboks put one over their Cricket counterparts, with 7 balls spare, Willem Alberts, the capatin on the day, bringing the Bokke home with a 4.

The Springboks win by 5 wickets.

 

Proteas: 181 / 10 (20 Overs)

Springboks: 185 / 5 (18.5 Overs)

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DHL WPThirty Craven Week players, five of whom played for the 2014 SA Schools team, and nine regular Under 19 First XV (or higher) captains from 2014 will form part of an exciting 2015 Western Province Rugby Institute intake.

With the WPRI already having produced the likes of DHL Stormers and / or Springbok stars Scarra Ntubeni, Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Nizaam Carr, Cheslin Kolbe and Juan de Jongh in recent seasons, there is plenty of excitement surrounding the announcement of the Class of 2015.

Five members of the 2014 SA Schools team – including captain and No 8 Jaco Coetzee – have chosen to join the WPRI in Stellenbosch, along with the 2013 Craven Week Player of the Year, Grant Hermanus, who featured for the cup-winning DHL Western Province Under 19 team in 2014, and another Paarl Gym star, lock Jaco Willemse (a WP representative in the 2014 SA Schools squad).

The 2015 WPRI squad is made of 75% local talent, with the likes of Coetzee (Glenwood), Michael Kumbirai (St Albans College), Eduard Zandberg (Outeniqua) and Eduan Keyter (Affies) – all members of the 2014 SA Schools team – joining from outside the boarders of the Western Cape.

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BlitzbokkeRegular Springbok Sevens captain Kyle Brown is eager to get back into the Blitzboks jersey and ready to play his part for his country after missing the first round the Sevens World Series in October at the Gold Coast through injury.

A serious shoulder injury sustained in the final of the Commonwealth Games, in Glasgow, in July ruled Brown out of action for several months and forced him to miss the season opener in Australia.

The Springbok Sevens finished fourth at the Gold Coast, a result which coach Neil Powell described as unsatisfactory after errors cost them on the second day’s play.

Brown, who is looking forward to making his return after a lengthy injury-layoff, said he was excited to be back.

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