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Springbok Rugby

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The Springboks concluded a week of intense training at the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport on Friday as their preparations for the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour to Ireland, England, Italy and Wales stepped up a gear.

A total of 31 players took part in the training camp after prop Marcel van der Merwe withdrew due to injury.

Amongst the squad were four uncapped players in Lizo Gqoboka (prop), Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), Boela Abrahams (scrumhalf) and Rudy Paige (scrumhalf), who were invited to get a taste of what Springbok rugby is all about after impressive performances for their provinces in the Absa Currie Cup.

“We had a good week and the players really worked very hard on the field and in the gym,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“The emphasis was on conditioning and we also paid a lot of attention to detail on and off the field. It was great to have time to work on these things before we embark on what will be a very tough tour.

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South AfricaSpringbok captain Jean de Villiers spoke about Monday afternoon’s start to the national training camp in Stellenbosch as the beginning of the build-up to next year’s World Cup, and if that was so, where it all began should end up being like chalk and cheese to where it will surely end.

Twickenham next November is what the Boks are aiming for, and it will doubtless be chilly and probably a little gloomy, as it so often is in London at that time of year.

On Monday though a burning sun beat down as the Cape spring continues to play more like a summer, with sweltering conditions adding to the discomfort levels even after 5pm as the players ended their session with a grueling crawling drill directed by conditioning coach Basil Carzis.

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Schalk Brits

Schalk Brits

Marcel van der Merwe

Marcel van der Merwe

The Springboks were dealt a double blow on Monday, when first Saracens hooker Schalk Brits and then Blue Bulls tighthead prop Marcel van der Merwe was ruled out of the End Of Year Tour (November Internationals) with a knee injury.

Van der Merwe was supposed to join up with the Bok training camp this week but hurt himself in the dying minutes of the Vodacom Blue Bulls loss in the ABSA Currie Cup semifinal against DHL Western Province on Saturday, and will miss the next four to six weeks of rugby with a medial knee ligament injury.

“He fell awkwardly in the last few minutes of the game,” Blue Bulls doctor Org Strauss said, “He has a grade 2 medial ligament tear, luckily not the same knee that has given him problems in the past, I expect him to be out for anywhere between four and six weeks.”

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South AfricaFollowing the elimination of the Cell C Sharks and the Vodacom Blue Bulls from the ABSA Currie Cup and the conclusion of the First Division, 8 more players have been invited to the Springboks’ training camp in Stellenbosch.

The Springbok selectors have invited Lwazi Mvovo, Cobus Reinach, Lourens Adriaanse (all Cell C Sharks), Handré Pollard, Rudy Paige, Marcel van der Merwe, Bongi Mbonambi (all Vodacom Blue Bulls) and Boela Abrahams, who starred for the Down Touch Griffons in their ABSA Currie Cup First Division final victory on Friday, to join 20 nationally contracted players and 4 others as the team start their preparations for what will be an arduous Castle Lager Outgoing Tour.

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SpringboksFour additional players, Trevor Nyakane, Lood de Jager, Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje and Lizo Gqoboka, have been invited to the Springboks’ training camp in Stellenbosch next week.

The three Toyota Free State Cheetahs forwards and the EP Kings prop are not nationally contracted but as their teams did not qualify for the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division semi-finals, their unions had been requested to release them for the training camp.

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Thelo WakefieldThe Western Province Rugby Union wants to persuade the South African Rugby Union to hand Newlands the Springboks / All Blacks Rugby Championship Test next year.

This comes after SANZAR on Monday issued a release revealing that the Springboks will tackle the All Blacks at a South African venue to be decided on Saturday, 25 July.

It will be part of a curtailed, single-round Rugby Championship for the first time since its inception in 2012, a situation brought about by the priority given to next year’s World Cup in England and Wales from September.

The Boks play both the defending champion All Blacks and Argentina (Saturday, 8 August) at home, with their only overseas obligation being against Australia in Brisbane (Saturday, 18 July).

WP president Thelo Wakefield said that they will send a letter to SARU president Oregan Hoskins to consider handing the All Blacks Test to Newlands.

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New Zealand

New Zealand will head into next year’s Rugby Championship as title-holders

Australia will play New Zealand twice in a week as part of their preparation for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

The draw for the condensed 2015 Rugby Championship sees champions New Zealand host Argentina in Christchurch but travelling to South Africa and Australia.

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South AfricaIt is unlikely that the Springboks will rest a few key forwards for their year-end tour to Europe.

According to reports on Sunday, there will be no respite for stalwarts like Jannie du Plessis, Beast Mtawarira, Adriaan Strauss, Bismarck du Plessis and Duane Vermeulen as Boks aim to pick their best possible team for the tour.

The Boks play four Tests back-to-back against Ireland (Dublin, 8 November), England (London, 15 November), Italy (Padova, 22 November) and Wales (Cardiff, 29 November).

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Morné Steyn

Morné Steyn

Flyhalf Morne Steyn will not tour with the Springboks on their upcoming trip to Europe, a report on Sunday suggested.

According to the report, only two flyhalves – Handré Pollard and Pat Lambie – will be picked for the tour which includes Tests against Ireland (Dublin, 8 November), England (London, 15 November), Italy (Padova, 22 November) and Wales (Cardiff, 29 November).

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Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira

Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira

South Africa finished second overall courtesy of their Ellis Park derring-do against New Zealand, and for but five points, the collective margin of defeat against the Wallabies in Perth and All Blacks in Wellington, it could have been a massive celebration for the team.

Admittedly the eventual champions boasted a 49-point difference advantage over the Springboks, but if the South African’s 4-2 ledger had been 5-1 (bonus points wouldn’t have come into the equation), the trophy would be theirs.

The victory is Meyer’s 24th in 33 Tests (a 73% winning mark), closes the gap in the IRB rankings (versus one and two) to just over two points, while the Republic boasts nearly a five point advantage over newly promoted England in third.

South Africa’s four wins and two losses equalled their return from last season, and their overall ten victories in The Rugby Championship’s history over 18 Tests gives them a three win lead over Australia (from 2012-2014) and second over the last three years (All Blacks 16-1-1).

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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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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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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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New ZealandTwo injury-enforced changes in the tight-five, rewards for strong form, and a new-look bench are the features of the All Blacks team to take on the Springboks at Ellis Park on Sunday morning (NZT).

Lock Brodie Retallick (concussion) and prop Wyatt Crockett (facial cuts) have been officially ruled out with Jeremy Thrush, in his second start against the Boks, and Joe Moody, in his maiden test start, respectively promoted.

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Tony Johnson

Tony Johnson

It’s the game that many of us have been waiting for, perhaps ever since Nigel Owens blew the final whistle at Ellis Park last year to end one of the greatest test matches ever played.

The fact that the Rugby Championship is no longer up for decision matters not one bit. There may be no trophy at stake, but there’s plenty to be gained, and a lot to lose for both teams when they run onto the hallowed turf again on Saturday.

There has certainly been a sense of something really building in Heyneke Meyers Springboks.

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The khaki brigade

The khaki brigade

WP Rugby has launched an investigation into alleged racist behaviour that occurred during last Saturday’s Rugby Championship match at Newlands.

According to Cape Talk radio, the accusations have been levelled at a group of men dressed in khaki outfits, who used the ‘k-word’ every time a South African player of colour made an error on the field of play.

When confronted by another member of the crowd, they got aggressive and verbally abused him for the remainder of the match. Continue reading

The Rugby ChampionshipNow that the excitement of the crazy last 10 minutes at Newlands has subsided, maybe it’s time for a reality check for the Springboks and their supporters – regardless of what happens at Ellis Park this coming week, the All Blacks remain top of the southern hemisphere pile and there is still a lot of work to be done before their position will be properly challenged.

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Scott Fardy  Michael Hooper

Scott Fardy conforts Michael Hooper following the loss

Australian Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver recently called for a rotation of Rugby Championship games because he believed playing the All Blacks twice at the start of the tournament had killed off local interest.

After the Wallabies deflated in the final ten minutes in Cape Town, Pulver’s latest brainwave could be pleading to SANZAR that Australia does not play any important Rugby Championship matches away from home, and that the Springboks are barred from using their reserves bench.

These are kooky times, and as the frazzled ARU brain’s trust has made it quite clear, the Wallabies need every bit of help they can get.

Still it is all too late to stop the Mandela Plate, like the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship silverware from remaining for another year thousands of kilometres away from the ARU’s bare trophy cabinet.

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