Japan’s hopes of playing in the 2016 Super Rugby tournament still appear to be doomed but their exit could also force the Southern Kings out of the expanded tournament.
The Japanese Rugby Union formed the Japan Super Rugby Association (JSRA) to run the new Super Rugby team but the JSRA has struggled to sign players for the new team.
Their expectation was that the Japanese Top League teams would release players to the Super Rugby team but they don’t want to do that and instead they want the Top League to be considered at a higher level than Super Rugby.
SANZAR are believed to be so concerned about the situation in Japan that they have started discussing alternate tournament models for the 2016 season and possibly beyond.
Tournament organizers SANZAR gave Japan a deadline on 31 August last month to show a list of 20 contracted players but reports suggest that the standard of players is not at a level that will make the new Asian team competitive.
Reports in Australia say that SANZAR are now considering taking the Super Rugby licence away from Japan indefinitely.
The writing appeared to be on the wall early last month when Japan coach Eddie Jones announced that he would not be re-signing with the national side and he would not be available as the new Japanese team’s Director of Rugby.
While the Japan team’s inclusion seems unlikely it is understood that the 6th South African side, the Southern Kings are also struggling to sign a full squad and in recent months there have been financial problems and player strikes due to wages not being paid.
As the Kings franchise looks forward to a significant period in its history, EP Rugby chief executive Charl Crous has announced a 3-year clothing sponsorship deal with BLK South Africa, beginning in 2016.
The sponsorship will coincide with the Southern Kings’ return to Super Rugby in 2016 and both parties are excited about the journey which lies ahead for rugby in the Eastern Cape region.
The EP Kings have expressed their disappointment after former coach Carlos Spencer voiced his dissatisfaction at unpaid wages.
Spencer earlier this week parted ways with the Kings and – through his attorney David Jones – the former All Black has attributed his departure from the Kings to their continued troubles in meeting wage obligations.
The Kings on Thursday insisted that Spencer and his lawyers’ claims were “simply not true”.
“The initial problems we had with Carlos’ salary was due to his insistence of having his funds paid into an offshore account,” EP Rugby President, Cheeky Watson, said via a media statement.
Watson said this resulted in delays that arose out of the administrative compliance and paperwork issues.
Could Auckland rugby icon Carlos Spencer be on the verge of making a dramatic return to the Blues as a skills coach under Tana Umaga?
It might seem a longshot but the door could be open according to Blues boss Michael Redman.
Spencer, among the most gifted footballers in New Zealand rugby history, wants to return to New Zealand from South Africa having quit Super Rugby’s Kings franchise which he says owes him substantial wages.
Redman told the Herald the Blues will decide within days whether to appoint a new skills coach, or make the job contestable. If it is the latter, Spencer – who approached the franchise this year – would “absolutely be an option and we would hope and expect he would apply.”
The 39-year-old Spencer is on the lookout for a new job after parting ways with South Africa’s Eastern Province Kings, the apparently financially troubled franchise which returns to the expanded Super Rugby competition next season.
His shock departure from the Kings, revealed yesterday, has cast a further spotlight on issues facing the expanded Super Rugby competition.
Former SARU chief executive Edward Griffiths is being lined up as the new supremo at the Southern Kings as they prepare for their re-entry into Super Rugby next year.
Kings president, Cheeky Watson, confirmed that the union had discussions with Griffiths who earlier this year left his post as chief executive at Saracens after 7 years in charge.
“We have had discussions with Griffiths, but I cannot say more than that,” Watson said.
The Southern Kings continued their recruitment drive ahead of their re-entry into Super Rugby next year.
Veteran prop Schalk Ferreira, who played Super Rugby for the Kings in 2013, is the latest recruit for the Port Elizabeth-based franchise.
He will be returning to PE on a 2-year contract and will join them ahead of the Eastern Province Kings’ Currie Cup campaign that gets underway in August.
The 31-year-old Ferreira – who also played for the DHL Stormers before moving to PE – has been playing for Toulouse in France since 2013.
The have recently also confirmed the signing of centre JP du Plessis and prop Basil Short.
This also follows the announcement of a loan agreement with the Blue Bulls for the services of Jacques “Vleis” Engelbrecht to join the squad for the Currie Cup season, as well as the signing until 2016 of young prop Nicolaas van Dyk.
Du Plessis and Short are already taking part in a training.
Former Steval Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse, 1 of the country’s most undervalued coaches, is rumoured to have thrown his name into the hat for vacant coaching positions at the Cell C Sharks, Vodacom Bulls and Southern Kings.
4 Of South Africa’s franchises will be looking to fill their vacant head coach positions before the start of the revamped and extended Super Rugby tournament in 2016.
Stonehouse took up a coaching job with Japanese club Toshiba Brave Lupus earlier this year after he declined 2 previous offers from abroad with the hope of landing a job with a South African franchise.
The Bulls head coach position opened up over the weekend when Frans Ludeke resigned after 8 years in charge of South Africa’s most successful Super Rugby franchise.
The Kings defence coach for their inaugural Super Rugby campaign in 2013, Omar Mouneimne, has returned to Port Elizabeth from Edinburgh in preparation for their 2016 season and beyond.
Mouneimne played a crucial role in making the Southern Kings one of the toughest teams defensively in the 2013 competition and has once again taken up the role of defence coach.
He has already begun training with the 2015 Vodacom Cup squad alongside Vodacom Cup head coach, Mzwandile Stick.
“It is wonderful to be back and to be part of the preparations for the Kings’ return to Super Rugby,” he said.
The Eastern Province Kings say there is no loan agreement for wing Sergeal Petersen to represent the Cheetahs in Super Rugby next year.
It was reported on Monday that the Baby Bok flyer has signed a deal to play Super Rugby with the Cheetahs before returning to play Currie Cup for the Kings.
However, EP Rugby CEO Charl Crous denied this move via a media statement on Tuesday.
After an impressive professional rugby career that has spanned over a decade, the dynamic winger, Michael Killian, will be hanging up his boots to take on new challenges in the corporate sector.
EP Rugby CEO, Charl Crous, on Monday confirmed Killian’s retirement.
Ospreys have signed South African second row Rynier Bernardo on a three-year deal.
The Ospreys have turned to the 22-year-old because their British and Irish Lions lock Ian Evans is leaving for French side Toulon in the summer.
The DHL Stormers have been the South African side to be hit with the most pre-season injuries of all 5 Super Rugby Franchises. It has left them lean at lock and in the backline at wing and fullback.
Jaco Taute is rported to be out for 2 more weeks,as a result of which the Stormers have had to scramble to sign more depth, which now comes in the form of signing Shakes Soyizwapi from the EP Kings.
In addition, speculation is rife around what the constitution of the back three will be to run out against the Lions in Super Rugby on the weekend and the likelyhood is that Allister Coetzee would entrust a midfield spot next to Jean de Villiers to Michael van der Spuy.
Springbok Siya Kolisi scored a hat-trick as the Stormers dispatched the Southern Kings in a Super Rugby pre-season outing.
The Stormers eventually won 40 / 7, after racing into a commanding 19 / 0 lead inside the first half-hour, at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
The DHL Stormers have announced that Juan de Jongh has injured his knee and will miss 6 weeks of rugby.
In addition, Schalk Burger makes double news, being named the Captain of the side who will take on the Southern Kings on the weekend and with the further news that he wants to stay put in the Cape, at least till after the next World Cup.
A somewhat changed Southern Kings team will take to the field against the DHL Stormers under the leadership of Steven Sykes on Friday evening, says caretaker coach, Robbie Kempson.
Announcing the team at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Kempson said Sykes would take the role of captain this week, following an injury to Darron Nell’s elbow that has resulted in him being excluded from selection.
The Southern Kings will have to appoint a new captain for the game on Friday when they take on the DHL Stormers (in a pre-season Super Rugby warm-up game for the Stormers) at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The Lions continued their build-up to their Super Rugby return with a 19-12 win over the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Flanks Jaco Kriel and Derick Minnie crossed for tries in the first 15 minutes to set up the victory for a Lions team that has now beaten the Kings three times in four meetings in the past year.
It may be the newest rivalry in Super Rugby, but they don’t get much more appetizing and entertaining than the Southern Kings against the Lions.
We can thank the South African Rugby Union and its bungling for creating this delectable showdown for us.
Lions coaches, Johan Ackermann and Russel Winter, have named the 2 sides which will face the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth and Polokwane respectively, to take on the Southern Kings and Vodacom Blue Bulls.
Southern Kings coach Robbi Kempson is hoping the experience and bulk of prop Charl du Plessis will help their scrumming performance when they take on the Lions in a Super Rugby warm-up match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday (kick-off 17:00).
In their opening friendly against the Cheetahs last week, which the Kings lost 36-21, Kempson was not impressed with the pressure placed on the home forwards and was planning for a better showing against the Lions.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann will bring out most of his big guns for their second Super Rugby pre-season outing.
The Lions, who return to Super Rugby in 2014 after sitting out last year, head to Port Elizabeth where they will face the Southern Kings on Saturday.
The Cheetahs had to come from behind to earn a 36-21 victory over a spirited Southern Kings side at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Trailing 21-12 at half-time, the Cheetahs controlled most of the possession in the second half to whittle away at the Kings’ lead and to finally emerge winners in a hard-fought battle.
Brendan Venter’s passion for coaching knows no bounds. His latest stop on a world-wide coaching tour is Port Elizabeth.
Robbie Kempson, the Southern Kings’ caretaker coach, revealed that Venter is assisting him with the PE-based outfit.
Long-serving Southern Kings player Darron Nell is back as captain and relishing a return to the loose forward department when his side take on the Cheetahs in a Super Rugby warm-up match at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The Kings will not be involved in the Super Rugby competition this year, having lost to the Lions in a promotion playoff last year. However, they were still determined to give a good account of themselves in the pre-season clash.
The Eastern Province Kings may be keen, but they are a long way off from securing the services of Gary Gold.
Media reports on Friday suggested the former Springbok assistant coach could be heading to Port Elizabeth – to fill the void left by the departure of another former Bok assistant, Alan Solomons, and New Zealander Matt Sexton.
The sound of Afrikaans being spoken among a group of Edinburgh players yesterday fuelled the belief that Murrayfield is taking on a strong South African flavour, but prop Willem Nel emerged from the huddle to insist that the capital side is not losing its Scottish identity.
It was speculated here on rugby-talk on Saturday that South African centre Andries Strauss was going to sign up with Edinburgh Rugby. The news was confirmed on Sunday by the club. Strauss has signed up for two and a half seasons, subject to passing the customary medical tests.
The exodus in Port Elizabeth continues with confirmation that Southern Kings coach Matt Sexton will leave the union and return to New Zealand this month.
Sexton, who joined the union in June 2012 to assist them in their preparations for their entry into Super Rugby, has decided to return home for personal reasons.
In preparation of the 2014 Super Rugby season, the pre-season is underway before the Christmas / New Year break later in December.
So, what happens to the remaining Southern Kings players, who now have to sit out of Super Rugby again? Whilst a lot have already found franchises like the Bulls, Sharks, Cheetahs to sign for and others are available on loan to these other franchises, there is still a number of players who want to find a spot to play Super Rugby in 2014. Sergeal Petersen, young wing sensation of the EP Kings and Southern Kings is one such player.
Then we move over to up-and-coming youngsters who have now played Currie Cup rugby and questions are asked whether they will step up and rock Super Rugby the way they did the Currie Cup. We specifically look at Cheslin Kolbe, who set the world alight at Western Province in the Currie Cup.
The Lions have finalised their warm-up matches ahead of next year’s Super Rugby tournament, however there are rumours of demands and coaching demands by the Pumas, who form part of the Lions Super Rugby franchise.
These rumours want us to believe that the Pumas are insisting that their coach, Jimmy Stonehouse, has to be involved in coaching at the MTN Lions. With Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann’s coaching contract already extended and with him the designated figure to take the head coach role for the MTN Lions, this spat could easily turn ugly if the parties do not reach some compromise and consensus.
Kings duo Rynier Bernardo and Shane Gates have both been called up to the Cheetahs wider training camp ahead of next year’s Super Rugby season.
Two more Southern Kings players have decided to make their futures elsewhere, bringing the tally to 10 so far. Cornell du Preez will join Solly (Alan Solomons) in Edinburgh, and Nicolas Vergallo will join French club, Lyon.
The players who have now already left the Southern Kings are: Nicolas Vergallo, Cornell du Preez, Daniel Adongo, Waylon Murray, Bandise Maku, Jacques Engelbrecht, David Bulbring, SP Marais, Wesley Dunlop and Dimetri Catrakilis. Alan Solomons of course has also jumped ship to Edinburgh.
Omar Mouneimne has become the latest member of the Southern Kings squad to walk away from the relegated Super Rugby franchise.
Mouneimne, the Kings’ defence coach, has joined Alan Solomons on the Edinburgh coaching panel.
The player exodus at the Southern Kings is continuing, with Kings scrumhalf Shaun Venter the latest player to secure a contract with a Super Rugby franchise. Venter has signed a two year deal with the Cheetahs, commencing on the 1st November 2013.
The Blue Bulls have further bolstered their ranks with the signing of Kings loose forward Jacques “Vleis” Engelbrecht who joins them on a three-year deal.
The hard-working Engelbrecht impressed for the Kings in their debut Super Rugby season this year, and he joins teammate Waylon Murray in heading to Loftus Versveld following the Eastern Cape side’s relegation from Super Rugby.