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SA Rugby

Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks play their final pool match of the 2014 Absa Currie Cup ahead of the play-offs when they take on Western Province at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday, aiming for a big performance.

Enjoying some great form at the moment, they will want to maintain that continuity as the competition heads into next week’s semi-finals, a place in the knock-outs already guaranteed.

They will be bolstered by the return of Cobus Reinach who featured in the Springboks’ Castle Lager Rugby Championship campaign. The lightening quick scrum-half is one of a number of changes this week.

The unfortunately season-ending injury to Paul Jordaan necessitates a midfield reshuffle, with S’bura Sithole shifting from wing to outside centre to form a powerful partnership with Andre Esterhuizen.

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GWK GriquasA host of injuries has forced Griquas coach Hawies Fourie to select players out of position ahead of their final round-robin Currie Cup fixture against the Blue Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.

“Injuries have plagued us this year,” Fourie said.

“It is a problem with which any union struggles, but we’ve gotten the short end of the stick this year. It makes preparations very difficult and it disrupts any momentum we might have had.”

Locks Hilton Lobberts and Boela Serfontein, prop Steph Roberts, flank Carel Greeff and captain Wayne Stevens have all been ruled out with injuries.

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Steval PumasEP KingsAfter 9 straight defeats, the EP Kings are desperate to end their return to the Currie Cup premier rugby division on a high when they host the Pumas in their final clash at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

It has been a sobering experience for the Kings players, who have been competitive at times but have not managed to produce the sort of consistency throughout the 80 minutes needed to match, much less beat, the big guns.

Now they face another team who have had lean pickings lately, but they know the Pumas, still with an outside chance of making the semis, will produce a massive onslaught to try to stay in the running.

Kings forwards coach Shaun Sowerby said it was essential for the Kings to put together a complete performance for the entire match to have any chance of winning.

“At times we have been good this season but we need a consistent effort throughout the match to pull off a victory,” Sowerby said.

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Jaco Taute

Jaco Taute

Western Province have reacted quickly to a drunken episode in Bloemfontein at the weekend, following their 34-29 victory over the Cheetahs.

Centre Jaco Taute is believed to have over-indulged in the fruits of the vine and went on a rampage that included harassing hotel guests as well as breaking a computer in the hotel’s lobby.

On Thursday, WP Media Manager Howard Kahn, said that the incident had been investigated and the necessary steps were taken.

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Nizaam Carr

Star DHL Western Province loose-forward Nizaam Carr won’t be playing in his team’s final Absa Currie Cup league match, but there is good reason for him to want to pull out something special for the play-off matches that will follow.

While the contracted Springboks won’t be playing in the deciding stages of the domestic competition, that does not mean that Bok coach Heyneke Meyer and national selectors Peter Jooste and Ian McIntosh won’t be studying the games closely.

The days may be gone where you select Boks out of the Currie Cup, but it can be used to confirm form shown in Super Rugby earlier in the year, and it just so happens that there will be a window of opportunity for new players on the upcoming November tour.

A squad of 36 will be selected in the week of the Currie Cup final for the four match tour, which starts on 8 November with a match against Ireland in Dublin and concludes three weeks later with a test against Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. For that last match, the Boks will be losing as many as eight or nine overseas-based players from the selection equation because it falls outside of the IRB’s stipulated international window.

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Super RugbyThe race to become the 18th Super Rugby franchise in 2016 took an intriguing twist on Wednesday.

According to media reports Japan and Singapore, the contestants in the two-horse race, are going to put their names in the same hat and share the games.

If the reports, quoting various sources, are to be believed, Japan have stolen the march on rival Singapore – but only because they offered to host matches in Singapore.

This, they believe, will negate concerns from South Africa about additional travel times.

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Vodacom Blue BullsVodacom Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke recalled two Springboks and a Junior Springbok to his starting backline to play GWK Griquas in Pretoria on Saturday, whilst also including Bok pivot Handré Pollard on the bench.

In a re-jigged backline Junior Bok William Small-Smith (for Bok contracted JJ Engelbrecht), Bjorn Basson (for Sampie Mastriet) and Piet van Zyl (rotating with Rudy Paige) will start, while Marcel van der Merwe will wear the number three jersey in place of Werner Kruger in one of three changes from the pack that beat Steval Pumas last weekend.

Bongi Mbonambi is back again in the two jumper with Callie Visagie benched and Morne Mellett will start at loosehead in place of Dean Greyling.

Pollard will be brought into the game when needed, Ludeke said.

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DHL WPExperienced prop Brok Harris will captain DHL Western Province in their final league match of the 2014 Absa Currie Cup season – against the Sharks at DHL Newlands on Saturday (kick-off 17:05 SA Time).

DHL Western Province have already qualified for a home semifinal, by virtue of their top of the log finish with a game in hand, and head coach Allister Coetzee has handed starts to captain Harris, fit-again Springbok hooker Tiaan Liebenberg and flyhalf Kurt Coleman, who will make his 50th appearance for Province.

Harris, who will be leaving Western Province at the end of the season – after eight years in the Cape, has played 117 matches for DHL Western Province and 93 for the DHL Stormers.

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Xerox Golden LionsXerox Golden Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named his team to take on the Toyota Free State Cheetahs at Ellis Park this Saturday.

In the forwards, Derick Minnie will start at flank and Warren Whiteley has returned from Springbok duty to start at eighthman. He will also captain the side.

As a result of these changes, Warwick Tecklenburg and Willie Britz will shift to the bench to provide cover.

Meanwhile, in the backline, Howard Mnisi will get a start at inside centre. Harold Vorster will provide centre cover off the wood.

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Brendan Venter

Brendan Venter

While the Springboks must be commended for ending their Rugby Championship campaign with consecutive home victories, it’s important to remain performance rather than results-driven.

I believe it’s fair to say that most of us view rugby games through a retrospective scope, which effectively means that the final result fundamentally informs our thought patterns and opinions.

Although the Springboks whipped the All Blacks in the first half, the reality is that had referee Wayne Barnes not gone upstairs to the TMO, having being probed by the matchday producer, captain Jean de Villiers and the partisan home crowd, the Springboks could easily have lost the Ellis Park test.

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Nizaam Carr

DHL Western Province and Stormers loose forward Nizaam Carr was the big winner at the 2014 WP Rugby Awards Evening at the Southern Sun Cape Sun on Tuesday night.

The 23-year-old loose forward star walked off with two big prizes – the Adidas MVP Award and the prestigious Players’ Player of the Year Award, the latter as voted for by his peers. Carr has had an outstanding season, first establishing himself as a first-choice pick for the DHL Stormers and then carrying that form across into the 2014 Absa Currie Cup competition.

Joining Carr as major winners on the night were Springboks Duane Vermeulen (Senior Forward of the Year), Damian de Allende (Senior Back of the Year), Michael Rhodes (Most Promising Senior Forward) and Cheslin Kolbe (Most Promising Senior Back).

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has taken time off his busy schedule to answer some of your rugby related questions.

Meyer’s Springbok team just finished their Castle Lager Rugby Championship campaign with a famous win over New Zealand at Ellis Park.

The Q&A session once again proved very popular with our readers with hundreds of questions streaming in. We picked out the widest possible range of questions to put to the Springbok coach.

Here is what he had to say:

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Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan

This weekend saw the finale of The Rugby Championship and we saw two very contrasting games. The All Blacks won the trophy… again. Deservedly.

The Pumas won their first ever fixture in this tournament, a historical moment and one they will never forget… I certainly won’t, but the highlight had to be the bromance in the coaches box after the game where their Latin exuberance, warmth and hot blooded nature got the better of some of them… Put it this way, there was lots of lovin!!

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

No overseas-based players will be available for the Boks’ end of year Test against Wales at the Millennium Stadium.

The Springboks’ end-of-year tour itinerary includes Tests against Ireland in Dublin (8 November), England in London (15 November), Italy in Padova (22 November) and Wales in Cardiff (29 November).

“The match against Wales falls outside the IRB Test window so our overseas-based players will not be available for that match, which will provide a good test for our depth in South Africa and I’m excited to see what a number of our younger players can do in the Millennium Stadium,” said Meyer.

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Greg Growden

Greg Growden

What an absolute shambles. A rudderless and distracted Wallabies outfit got what they deserved by suffering the embarrassment of being Argentina’s first victim in The Rugby Championship.

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie’s position is now under serious question after the team suffered one of its most inexplicable losses of recent times at the end of a road tour from hell that publicly exposed the division within the Australian team camp.

Full marks to Argentina for taking advantage of a sidetracked opposition, who made it so much easier for them by being ill-disciplined, disorganised, dispirited and clearly lacking on-field leaders.

In the end, the most entertaining moment of the Australian performance was singer Marcelo Zelada’s mangled version of Advance Australia Fair before kickoff, which included snatches of English, Spanish, gibberish and even a bit of humming.

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South Africa20 Springboks contracted by the SA Rugby Union (SARU) will take part in a training camp in Stellenbosch from October 20 to 24, the union announced on Sunday.

The camp forms part of the team’s preparations ahead of the Outgoing Tour next month.

“The Springboks are our first priority and the provinces have been very supportive, which we’re very thankful for,” SARU chief executive officer Jurie Roux said.

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Hennie Bekker

Farewell to a legend of WP Rugby – Hennie Bekker

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 was a sad day when, after a 45-year association with Newlands, Hennie Bekker said goodbye to Western Province Rugby in an official capacity.

The 62-year-old gentle giant has officially retired as an employee of Western Province, having served the union with distinction for so many years.

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Newlands Rugby Stadium

All Blacks no go area – the picturesque Newlands Rugby Stadium.

Liam Napier explains the mystery of why South African rugby bosses are keeping the All Blacks away from the nation’s second-biggest city.

It’s one of the world’s most popular destinations. In 2008, 25,000 readers of South Africa’s Daily and Sunday Telegraph readers voted it the world’s best city.

But while the All Blacks travel to South Africa at least once every year, 2008 was the last time Cape Town hosted the All Blacks.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer described the 27-25 win over New Zealand in the final match of the Springboks Castle Lager Rugby Championship campaign as one of the best matches in which he had been involved.

The support of the sell-out Ellis Park crowd also lifted the team’s effort, he said.

“I have been involved in rugby for almost 30 years and this support was unbelievable. We saw the crowd support on the way into the stadium and the national anthem was awesome. It was an unbelievable Test match,” Meyer said.

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Nick Mallett

Nick Mallett

What former Springbok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Springbok victory over the All Blacks at Ellis Park.

 

On what the win means moving forward

“What a Test match. It can’t get better than that, can it? South Africa played some of the best rugby I’ve seen them play in that first half, but the All Blacks showed their championship quality the way they came back at them in the second half.

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SuperBruExciting times ahead with only one more weekend of Rugby Championship matches to go.

Dead rubber or not, it’s the Springboks versus the All Blacks, so it will still be a cracker of a match, with Heyneke looking for that elusive first win over the men in black as coach of the Boks.

The Currie Cup is nearing the end of the regular rounds, and it’s only DHL WP and the Golden Lions that can feel certain that they will make the Top 4.

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Johan van Graan

Johan van Graan

Heyneke Meyer lauds him as the one of the unsung heroes in the Springboks’ transition to an attacking game plan, with many of the stellar try-scoring feats being attributed to his role, but ask the average rugby fan what they know about Johan van Graan and many will struggle to come up with a single fact.

From his early days as a ball-boy at Loftus Versfeld, kicking the leather pigskin back to the likes of Naas Botha and Johan Heunis, Van Graan has always had an obsession with the game.

But now it is his hard-work, the hours that go unseen as he meticulously analyses the opposition, helps craft the Springbok attacking structures and spends almost every moment in trying to make the Bok side a massive success that make him such a vital cog in the current Springbok machine.

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Johan Ackermann

Johan Ackermann

The Golden Lions Rugby Union have secured the services of their successful coach, Johan Ackermann, for at least another two years.

The GLRU revealed that Ackermann signed an extension of the contract as head coach until 31 October 2016.

Ackermann will be coach of the super Rugby and Currie Cup teams.

He was officially appointed as coach by the GLRU in 2013, in the wake of the union’s acrimonious public spat with former All Black mentor John Mitchell.

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Bismarck du Plessis

Bismarck du Plessis will start at hooker against the All Blacks

Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen will be given as much time as possible to recover from injury while Bismarck du Plessis will start Saturday’s final round Castle Lager Rugby Championship Test against New Zealand at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

This match will be Springbok captain Jean de Villiers’ 50th appearance in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, the most by any South African.

Vermeulen is recovering from a rib cartilage injury and if he doesn’t recover in time to face New Zealand, Schalk Burger will start in the No 8 jersey with Warren Whiteley coming onto the bench.

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John Mitchell

John Mitchell believes the All Blacks will have too many attacking weapons for the Springboks

John Mitchell holds concerns for the Springboks’ World Cup prospects and doesn’t believe they have the attacking threats to upset the All Blacks at Ellis Park on Saturday.

After four years in South Africa, following his departure as All Blacks coach after the semifinal exit at the 2003 World Cup, Mitchell is well placed to assess the country’s changing landscape.

His main worry is the lack of youth being promoted by the Boks.

With about 250 South Africans now playing rugby overseas – the equivalent of six professional teams – Mitchell says the next generation are suffering through a lack of faith from Boks coach Heyneke Meyer, who has instead turned to aging veterans Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield and Schalk Burger.

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Juan de Jongh

Juan de Jongh

SuperSport seem far likelier to stave off howls of protest over their live Currie Cup rugby coverage this weekend.

A week ago they incurred the displeasure of many enthusiasts when it was learnt that they planned no live treatment for the two matches involving table-toppers Western Province and the Golden Lions.

Instead very abbreviated highlights of the Pumas-WP and Griquas-Lions games were later shown on the SuperSport Blitz channel.

The corporation explained that for logistical reasons they were unable to televise more than two Currie Cup Premier Division fixtures live on Test-match weekends (the Springboks played the Wallabies at Newlands on Saturday).

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Dillyn Leyds

Dillyn Leyds

Dillyn Leyds has been named at fullback for Western Province’s Currie Cup meeting with the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday (kick-off 14:00 SA Time).

WP coach Allister Coetzee has made five changes to his starting line-up this week – from the starting XV that defeated the Pumas in Nelspruit last Friday – with four of them enforced.

Leyds, who re-joined WP after a stint at the Western Force in Australia, replaces Cheslin Kolbe (back injury) in the No 15 jersey, Pat Howard comes in for SA Sevens wing Justin Geduld (on national Sevens duty), while Manuel Carizza and Rynhardt Elstadt form a new-look lock duo in the absence of the injured Ruan Botha (ankle) and Jean Kleyn (AC Joint).

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