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Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn

Gary Gold

Gary Gold

New Sharks boss Gary Gold and Springbok Frans Steyn will both be back in Durban soon.

This follows after the semi-finals of the Japanese Top League – which will see the Wild Knights play Júbilo in the Final, after they defeated the Brave Lupus and Kobe Steelers respectively.

It means the Sharks Director of Rugby, Gold, and the Bok utility back, Steyn, among others, are heading home for Super Rugby.

In the first semi-final the Wild Knights ran in 4 first-half tries and added 1 more in the second stanza as they avenged 2 earlier defeats this season to the Toshiba Brave Lupus, winning 50 / 15.

Steyn’s Brave Lupus team suffering a heavy defeat means that the Sharks versatile back can return to his Durban franchise earlier than expected.

Steyn will be following his newly appointed coach Gary Gold home after the Kobe Steelers lost 12 / 41 in another hammering to Júbilo who reached their first ever Top League Final.

Katsuyuki Kiyomiya’s side ran in 2 tries in the first half and 4 in the second to upset the Steelers, who had finished the regular season on top of the Group A standings.

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Gary Gold

Gary Gold

Gary Gold and Andries Bekker’s Kobe Kobelco Steelers have crashed out of the Japanese Top League with a 43-12 semi-final defeat to Yamaha Júbilo on Saturday.

According to reports, Bekker made little impact in the game and failed to take control of the lineouts, while Jaque Fourie did not play because of injury.

Kobe coach – and new Sharks Director of Rugby, Gary Gold – cut a dejected figure in the stands as his team, who had topped the log, were taken apart by a side they had beaten by a similar margin during the group stage.

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Tim Swiel

Tim Swiel

Sharks flyhalf Tim Swiel says he has settled in nicely at English club Harlequins, who he joined on loan last year.

Swiel, 21, will stay with the London club until the end of February before returning to Durban.

In an interview, Swiel said he’s learnt a lot in the few months at Harlequins.

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Thomas du Toit

Thomas du Toit

Sharks loosehead prop Thomas du Toit hopes he can continue the impressive form he displayed during an amazing 2014 debut season.

In his first year after school, the Paarl Boys’ old boy has already made a huge impression at the Sharks.

At just 19, he made his Super Rugby debut for the Durban franchise, coming off the bench in his first game against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, before starting the team’s final three fixtures, including the wildcard play-off against the Highlanders and semi-final against the Crusaders. He also made eight appearances in the Currie Cup, helping the Sharks reach the domestic semi-finals.

Du Toit got a taste of international rugby too as he starred for the Junior Springboks at the Junior World Championship in New Zealand, while he was a surprise pick for the Barbarians squad.

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Cell C SharksThis is the third in the series of Cell C Sharks Squad Contenders for Super Rugby 2015.

The Sharks have lost the services of Anton Bresler (Edinburgh) and Peet Marais (Brive), between seasons, and have gained the services of Mouritz Botha (from Saracens) as well as the backup services of Giant Mtyanda. Stephan Lewies is still on a longer term injury list and should return somewhere in the middle of the tournament.

The early question raised is how Pieter-Steph du Toit will fare, coming back from injury.

We discuss the players IN the Super Rugby Group, and not all the options beyond that.

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

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Cell C SharksAs Super Rugby preparations are underway by all franchises early in January, a quick peek at some of the things popping out at the Cell C Sharks.

We take a quick look at Brendan Venter’s role while Gary Gold is still in Japan. Renaldo Bothma tells of his tremendous growth at the Sharks in pre-season and Giant Mtyanda is drafted in to train with the Sharks as extra lock cover.

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Willem alberts

Willem alberts

Pieter-Steph du Toit

Pieter-Steph du Toit

Springboks Pieter-Steph du Toit and Willem Alberts are back training with the Sharks after long injury layoffs.

Lock Du Toit missed much of last season with a serious knee injury, while loose forward Alberts was laid low after a back operation last July.

The duo are back in training as the Sharks start their preparations for this year’s Super Rugby competition. Both have been training well and showed no discomfort from the injuries.

There was however less good news for lock Stephan Lewies, who will reportedly remain sidelined with injury for an extended period.

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Super RugbyWith Super Rugby fast approaching it is important to have a look at what each of the teams are doing in their preparations and who they have at their disposal.

As the teams prepare for this brusing competition there is the oppourtunity to test out combanations as well as see how the new boys go.

The Sharks will travel to French champions Toloun to test out their game plan against the Galacticos of rugby while the Bulls will take on the Cheetahs in a traditional pre-season match in Polokwane.

The Australasian sides will also warm up against each other with the Highlanders setting up a comprehensive pre-season schedule due to the first round bye.

The ‘transfer market’ has made the upcoming Super Rugby season an exciting prospect with some big names in James O’Connor and Nick Cummins returning to Australia.

Menawhile, the Bulls have bolstered their squad with some excellent former Cheetahs players.

Finally, and unsurprizingly, Ma’a Nonu has made another move – this time back to the Hurricanes.

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Cell C SharksThis is the second article in the series of Cell C Sharks Squad Contenders for Super Rugby 2015.

The Sharks have had no change in hooker personnel since the 2014 Super Rugby season, but are very adequately covered in Bismarck du Plessis and Kyle Cooper, with further backup from Monde Hadebe.

We discuss the players IN the Super Rugby Group, and not all the options beyond that.

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

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Jack Wilson

Jack Wilson

The Cell C Sharks have lured a New Zealand Sevens player to Durban as they continue to bolster their own ranks.

New Zealand-born wing Jack Wilson has signed for the Sharks from English Premiership club Saracens and will immediately join the Super Rugby squad.

The talented wing, 25, arrived in London in December 2012 and has scored 6 tries in 19 appearances for Saracens.

His arrival follows shortly after confirmation that Saracens’ England lock Mouritz Botha will also make Durban his home next year. Botha, unlike Wilson, will only join the coastal franchise in January.

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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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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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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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Mouritz Botha

Mouritz Botha

Mouritz Botha has been reluctantly released by Saracens to join The Sharks in South Africa, with effect from 1 January 2015.

Mark McCall, Director of Rugby, said: “Mouritz has been a massive part of our squad and our culture for the past five and a half seasons, and we are very sorry to see him leave. However, this is a great opportunity to play for one of the top teams in the Super XV, and we wish him, Natasha and young Joshua well.”

Botha joined Saracens from Bedford Blues in 2009, has played 142 matches for the club and has also been capped 10 times by England.

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Cell C SharksToulonTwo time Heineken Cup champions Toulon have accepted the challenge presented to them by the Cell C Sharks CEO, John Smit, to play the Cell C Sharks in a North vs South pre-season friendly.

The date for this clash has been set for Thursday 5 February 2015, at the Stade Mayol in Toulon.

We believe that in order to be the best you need to play the best. This match against the best European Rugby Club in recent history marks an ideal opportunity to fine tune our preparation for an important Vodacom Super Rugby season ahead.

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Paul Perez

Paul Perez

Sharks CEO John Smit has confirmed the arrival of Samoan and former EP Kings wing Paul Perez to the Sharks.

Perez arrived earlier on Monday at the Sharks headquarters in Durban, after his contract with the Kings was terminated.

Perez now joins Michael Horak, who also made the move up the coast, to take up a role as defensive and kicking coach fro the union.

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Michael Horak

Michael Horak

The Sharks have gained the services of departing Kings defence coach Michael Horak who terminated his contract in Port Elizabeth

“Michael Horak was released from his contract, and has taken up the position as defensive coach at the Sharks,” Eastern Province CEO, Charl Crous confirmed.

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Kings ParkThe three men acquitted of murder in connection with the fatal beating of a former Royal Marine will not be allowed to watch rugby matches at Kings Park.

Novashni Chetty, public relations manager for the Sharks, said in a statement on Wednesday that Kyle Shepard, Andries van der Merwe and Dustin van Wyk would not be allowed to attend matches despite the fact that they were allowed to walk free from the Durban Regional Court on Friday last week.

“The Sharks reserve the right of admission to our stadium.

“There is no clear indication that any one of the three men made any attempt to stop the fight. For that reason, they will not be welcome into our family environment at Kings Park,” said Chetty in her statement, issued in response to a query as to whether the three would be allowed to attend.

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Brendan Venter

Brendan Venter

John Smit has defined the role that Brendan Venter will play at the Sharks with the former Saracens Director of Rugby coming in once a week as a technical advisor.

Smit’s big appointments since his former World Cup-winning coach Jake White walked out has been to bring in two men who coached the CEO during his playing career – Gary Gold, who was assistant coach to Peter de Villiers and Venter, who coached him at Saracens.

Gold has been installed as the hands-on head coach of the Sharks and will be assisted by the three Currie Cup coaches in Brad Macleod-Henderson, Paul Anthony and Sean Everitt.

Venter will be adding technical support and advice with Smit hoping to tap into his ‘intellectual property’ of how the game works.

“Brendan will provide intellectual property in terms of where the game is going, discussing trends and helping with detail,” Smit told the Sharks website..

“He will come in once a week depending on the emphasis of the skill-set for that week.

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Tim Swiel

Tim Swiel

Cell C Sharks back, Tim Swiel will play for Harlequins Rugby Club in the UK on loan for four months. He joined the team on Saturday and will return to Durban at the end of February 2015.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Tim and I am certain that this experience at a top club will provide him with great memories and will bode well for him in the future”, said The Sharks CEO, John Smit.

Tim Swiel added: “I am looking forward to playing for Harlequins Rugby Club for a few months during the Cell C Sharks off-season.

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Brendan Venter

Brendan Venter

Gary Gold

Gary Gold

The Cell C Sharks have made two key appointments – Gary Gold as Director of Rugby and Brendan Venter as Technical Director.

Cell C Sharks Chief Executive Officer, John Smit, confirmed the appointment of former the Springbok assistant coach, Gold, as the Sharks’ new Director of Rugby.

However, the appointment of Venter – who guided the Sharks to the Currie Cup title in 2013 – is the more interesting addition to their backroom staff.

The 47-year-old Gold, who is currently coach of Japanese Top League club Kobelco Steelers, has signed a three-year contract – from 2015 to 2017.

“Gary is an experienced coach who brings a wealth of knowledge and an impressive level of commitment to his new role,” the Sharks CEO, Smit said.

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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks are expected to name their new Super Rugby coach and successor to Jake White within the next two weeks.

White left the Sharks in mysterious circumstances last month with reports indicating there was growing discord between himself and management, as well as with the players.

Brad Mac­Leod-Henderson took charge of the Cell C Sharks during the Currie Cup, but it’s unlikely that he’ll be the head coach during Super Rugby.

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 Leigh Heard

Leigh Heard, Sharks chief operations officer, has been dismissed for gross misconduct.

A disciplinary hearing into allegations of “serious misconduct” by a senior staff member of the KZN Sharks rugby administration has exposed a number of alleged breaches in the financial management of the globally revered sport franchise.

A 47-page report described as “highly sensitive” and leaked to the Tribune this week details a litany of apparent unethical financial practice, spanning more than a decade.

Claims of irregular payments for “deserving” staff members, gifts and bonuses, free luxury stadium suites, inflated bonuses, free cars, nepotism, poor accounting and large unauthorised handouts were all part of the mix.

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Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks have named a strong lineup for the Currie Cup Premier Division Semi-Final against the Xerox Golden Lions on the weekend.

“We weren’t happy with our first half performance against Western Province but it was great to see us come out in the second half and play some nice rugby and get quite a few points on the board. Hopefully the continuity continues against the Golden Lions. It’s going to be a huge task going up to Ellis Park, but a challenge we’re looking forward to. We will have to play for the full 80 minutes, defensively we need to be strong and our set-piece needs to function well.

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Currie CupDHL Western Province will host the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Cape Town and the Xerox Golden Lions will face the Cell C Sharks in Johannesburg in the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division semifinals next weekend.

Log-leaders DHL Western Province were assured of their home semifinal and the top spot on the log before entering the final round of pool matches this weekend, while the Xerox Golden Lions sealed their home semifinal by thumping the Toyota Free State Cheetahs. The victory for the Johannesburg team was enough to cancel out any efforts by the Cell C Sharks for the second spot on the log.

In the weekend’s matches, the EP Kings registered their first victory of the season as they pipped the Steval Pumas 26-25 in Port Elizabeth, while the Xerox Golden Lions thumped the Toyota Free State Cheetahs 47-7 at Ellis Park, the Cell C Sharks defeated DHL Western Province 28-20 in Cape Town and the Vodacom Blue Bulls beat GWK Griquas 46-12 in Pretoria.

The Xerox Golden Lions will meet the Cell C Sharks in the first semifinal on Saturday, October 18, at 14:30 SA Time and DHL Western Province will go up against the Vodacom Blue Bulls at 17:00 SA Time.

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WhistleThe two REFEREES for the Currie Cup Premier Division Semi-Finals of 2014 have been revealed.

Jaco van Heerden will take charge of the first Semi-Final between the Xerox Golden Lions and Cell C Sharks at Ellis Park (kick-off at 14:30 SA Time).

Van Heerden will be assisted by Ben Crouse and Sieg van Staden, while Johan Greeff will be the TMO.

Pro Legoete will handle duties in the second Semi-Final at Newlands between DHL Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls (kick-off at 17:00 SA Time).

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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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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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Patrick Lambie

Staying in Durban: Pat Lambie

Sharks utility back Pat Lambie has extended his stay with the Durban-based outfit for at least the next three years.

Lambie is amongst a host of young players who have extended their contracts beyond next year’s Rugby World Cup.

Youngsters like Thomas du Toit, Andre Esterhuizen, Cameron Wright, S’bura Sithole and Stephan Lewies have also signed contracts to remain in Durban for the next three years.

Du Toit and Esterhuizen were involved in the Baby Boks’ IRB Junior World Championship campaign where they ended as losing finalists – going down 21-20 to England – with du Toit already boasting Super Rugby experience, just a few months after finishing his school career.

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