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Springboks

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HSBC Sevens World SeriesSouth Africa collected 17 valuable World Series log points on Sunday after they defeated Samoa 26 / 5 to finish 3rd at the popular Hong Kong Sevens tournament.

The Blitzboks now have a 2 point lead (110 points) at the top of the standings after Fiji outplayed New Zealand by 33 / 19 to lift the Cup.

The tournament win moved Fiji into 2nd spot, just 1 point ahead of 3rd-placed NZ. The top 4 teams on the league table at the end of the season qualifies for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. The teams will be in action in Japan next weekend where they will play in the Tokyo Sevens on 4 and 5 April.

The Springbok Sevens staged a magnificent comeback in their Cup semi-final against Fiji. Unfortunately for them, that was not good enough and they suffered a heart-breaking 21 / 15 loss against the Pacific islanders.

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Willie le Roux

Willie le Roux

Coenie Oosthuizen

Coenie Oosthuizen

A number of changes have been made to the Toyota Cheetahs team to play the Chiefs in a Super Rugby match in Hamilton on Saturday.

There are no less than 6 changes to the starting line-up, including a rest for Springbok duo Coenie Oosthuizen and Willie Le Roux.

Springbok flank Teboho Mohoje is already on his way back home, suffering an injury to his groin in last week’s tough encounter against the Crusaders. Mohoje is expected to be sidelined for 8 / 12 weeks, and Tienie Burger will be flying to Hamilton as cover for the Cheetahs, with Johannes ‘Boom’ Prinsloo slotting into the starting line-up.

As per agreement with SA Rugby, Willie le Roux and Coenie Oosthuizen are being rested. Nicholas ‘Maks’ van Dyk moves into the front row to replace the Springbok tighthead, with Clayton Blommetjies shifting to fullback to allow the return of Cornal Hendricks on the right wing.

Centre Francois Venter sits this one out, and Michael van der Spuy comes off the bench to play in the midfield.

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Heyneke Meyer - BokSmart

Heyneke Meyer – BokSmart

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer and his SA Under 20 counterpart Dawie Theron recently renewed their BokSmart certification for a further 2 years.

Meyer renewed his certification in Pretoria last week, while Theron was joined by 3 members of the South African Rugby Union’s High Performance Mobi-Unit and Springbok coaching consultants, Pieter de Villiers, Louis Koen and Chean Roux, as well as Jacques Nienaber, High Performance Manager in the Rugby Department, in Cape Town earlier this month.

The biennial BokSmart certification is compulsory for anybody who wants to coach or referee rugby in South Africa at any level. The 3 Springbok assistant coaches, Johann van Graan, Ricardo Loubscher and John McFarland, are certified until 2016 while Springbok consultant Richie Gray will renew his certification later this year.

BokSmart provides coaches and referees with the knowledge and skills to apply safe rugby techniques and basic medical and injury prevention practices.

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Cobus Reinach

Cobus Reinach

Marcell Coetzee

Marcell Coetzee

Patrick Lambie

Patrick Lambie

The Springbok trio of Cobus Reinach, Marcell Coetzee and Patrick Lambie are all expected to be rested for the Cell C Sharks’ showdown with the Western Force, in line with the agreement with SA Rugby over player management.

The 3 have earned the break after influential performances during the competition, and the good news that Frans Steyn was cleared to play means he may well take over the flyhalf position from Lambie, although the coaches may not want to break up his midfield partnership with JP Pietersen.

If the pair remain at No 12 and No 13 respectively, either Fred Zeilinga or Lionel Cronje will step into the number No 10 jersey, after solid performances for the Sharks XV in their Vodacom Cup clash on Saturday.

“It’s a huge boost that we will have Frans available, it provides massive stability to the team, especially due to the changes we will have with the resting of the Springboks,” said assistant coach Paul Anthony.

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Frans Ludeke

Frans Ludeke

The Vodacom Bulls fully support the South African Rugby Union’s plan to rest key Springboks, but there won’t be a mass withdrawal of players at any stage.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said the next 5 weeks will see the Bulls rotate the players in a calculated move that is in line with the SARU plan.

In a meeting between SARU, the national body’s CEO, Jurie Roux, Bok coach Heyneke Meyer, the various franchise CEOs and coaching representatives it was agreed that franchise coaches – as far as possible – would rest key Springboks at various stages in the season.

Two principles were identified as being ideal:

  1. That players should not play more than 5 consecutive weeks.
  2. That certain Springbok players should have a number of weeks of rest during the tournament (2 to 4 weeks depending on each player’s personal needs and position and the franchise’s playing resources). Bye weeks are not considered as a rest week (although they do trigger a restart of the count of consecutive weeks), while injury weeks are ‘invisible’ (i.e. a player injured for 2 weeks during the 1st 7 weeks of the tournament would be regarded as having played 5 consecutive weeks at the end of week 7).

However, the Sharks have already bucked the system – with coach Gary Gold having said his outfit is in a different position to other SA outfits.

The Bulls have opted to take a different stance.

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Gary Gold

Gary Gold

After 5 games in a row for the Cell C Sharks’ Springboks, questions are being asked about the SARU player rest initiative and when the Durban-based team will buy in.

Gary Gold however has said the Sharks are in a different position to other teams in South Africa and as such have an alternative to it .

The Sharks have a core group of Springboks that play an integral part to both the union and the national team.

Players such as Tendai Mtawarira, Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis, Cobus Reinach, Marcell Coetzee and Pat Lambie to name a few.

However, with Super Rugby now reaching Round 6, and a large percentage of those Springboks being named to play their 6 game in a row against the Chiefs this Saturday, questions are being asked of the Sharks management.

Coach Gold explained his selection, and subsequent breaking of the SARU initiative, by stating the Sharks are facing a challenging schedule with regards to BYE-weeks.

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BlitzbokkeThe Springbok Sevens rugby squad announced on Thursday for the next 2 rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Hong Kong and Tokyo shows 2 changes from the squad that played in New Zealand and the USA.

Justin Geduld and Stephan Dippenaar return to the 12-man squad in place of Rayno Benjamin and Warrick Gelant, who have returned to the Toyota Cheetahs and Vodacom Blue Bulls respectively to resume their provincial duties.

Geduld, a Commonwealth Games gold medalist with the Blitzboks last year, shrugged off the hamstring injury he picked up in Wellington, which ruled him out of the Las Vegas Sevens.

Dippenaar returns to the Springbok Sevens squad for the 1st time since the opening round last October, when he sustained a hamstring injury at the Gold Coast Sevens in Australia.

The rest of the squad is unchanged from the outfit that finished 3rd in Wellington and Las Vegas. Kyle Brown leads a Blitzboks squad that is very experienced, and has in Frankie Horne a stalwart forward who will play in his 64th consecutive World Series tournament.

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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett says Duane Vermeulen should be the Springbok captain at this year’s Rugby World Cup if Jean de Villiers fails to recover in time.

De Villiers, the current Springbok leader, is in a race against time to be fit for the 18 September to 31 October event.

De Villiers suffered an horrific knee injury in South Africa’s final Test of last year – against Wales in Cardiff – and it remains uncertain if he’ll recover sufficiently for the tournament in England and Wales.

“Duane should lead the Springboks at the World Cup if Jean de Villiers is not ready,” Mallett said.

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SpringboksThe understanding reached between SARU and the participating franchises in Vodacom Super Rugby are as follows:

At a pre-season meeting between SARU’s CEO, the Springbok Coach and Rugby Department staff, with union CEOs and coaching representatives the desirability of managing the playing time of an identified group of Springbok players was agreed.

Two principles were identified as being ideal:

  1. That players should not play more than 5 consecutive weeks.
  2. That certain Springbok players should have a number of weeks of rest during the tournament (2 to 4 weeks depending on each player’s personal needs and position and the franchise’s playing resources).

Note: BYE weeks are not considered as a rest week (although they do trigger a restart of the count of consecutive weeks) while injury weeks are ‘invisible’ (i.e. a player injured for 2 weeks during the 1st 7 weeks of the tournament would be regarded as having played 5 consecutive weeks at the end of week 7).

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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

If there was ever a good time for Stormers coach Allister Coetzee to rest captain Duane Vermeulen it is now.

The SA Player of the Year was always going to have to miss the 1st game of the Stormers tour against the Highlanders, having played 5 straight games at the start of the season, but having 4 wins under the belt and plenty of loose forward depth at his disposal does make it easier for Coetzee to give him the time off.

The plan was always to give Vermeulen an extended break with the BYE this week followed by a week off in Dunedin, as part of SARU’s request that top Springboks be given regular games off to manage their workload this season ahead of the World Cup.

Coetzee admitted that it may be tougher to rest Vermeulen when there is more pressure on later in the season, but for now he is happy to stick to the plan.

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Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

Stormers captain Duane Vermeulen will not play in the team’s next Super Rugby match, against the Highlanders in Dunedin on 28 March.

Vermeulen played his 5th consecutive match for the Stormers when they hosted the Chiefs at Newlands this past weekend.

According an agreement between the SA Rugby Union and the Super Rugby franchises, key Springboks will not be allowed to play more than 5 games on the trot in this year’s competition, in order to keep them fresh for the Rugby World Cup later in the year.

This means centre Juan de Jongh will take over the captaincy for the game against the Highlanders, with Schalk Burger likely to be included in the starting team.

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Gurthrö Steenkamp

Gurthrö Steenkamp

Springbok prop Gurthrö Steenkamp has announced his retirement from international rugby, stating his wish to focus his career at Toulouse.

Steenkamp, many would feel, was still heavily in contention to make the Springbok World Cup squad after featuring through 2014. His retirement may well cause Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer some headaches.

The 33-year-old loosehead prop began his career at the Cheetahs in 2002 and then the Cats in 2004 before moving to the Bulls where he played the bulk of his rugby from 2005 – 2011.

Steenkamp was also selected for the Springboks from 2004 and made 53 appearances, scoring 6 tries.

The burley prop has been a part of the Toulouse setup since 2011 and has made 76 appearances for the French Giants.

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Tendai 'Beast Mtawarira

Tendai ‘Beast Mtawarira

Lodewyk De Jager

Lodewyk de Jager

Bismarck du Plessis

Bismarck du Plessis

We are just 1 week into the Super Rugby season and there is already a lengthy list of Springboks sidelined by injury.

With captain Jean de Villiers a non-starter thanks to a knee injury which has put a question mark over his availability for the World Cup, he has been joined by Eben Etzebeth, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Lodewyk de Jager amd Julian Redelinghuys.

Etzebeth hurt his chest in a warm-up game against the Cheetahs at Newlands, and is only expected back in the 3rd round – the 3rd consecutive year he has missed the start of the competition.

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HSBC Sevens World SeriesIt has become a familiar refrain, a cliché. However, it will never be boring, as the Olympic dream is as much a driving force as overall victory in the Sevens World Series.

New Zealand, who recorded their first Cup win of the season by beating England in the Final in Wellington last week, gave notice yet again of their class and determination to be among the top four (automatic qualifiers) when the Olympic dream is realised in May.

Fiji However won the Las Vegas Sevens, with New Zealand ending 2nd, South Africa;s Blitzbokke 3rd and USA 4th.

Many had put a question mark on whether the All Blacks would be able to defend their title in Wellington, especially after the late withdrawal of former Sevens player of the year Tim Mikkelson, and the result even exceeded coach Gordon Tietjens’ expectations.

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Morne du Plessis & Joost van der Westhuizen at the 2015 Sport Industry Awards

Morne du Plessis & Joost van der Westhuizen at the 2015 Sport Industry Awards

Former Springbok scrumhalf Joost van der Westhuizen was honoured for his contribution to South African sport at an awards ceremony in Johannesburg on Thursday night.

Van der Westhuizen, who suffers from Motor Neuron Disease, received an award for his Outstanding Contribution to South African Sport at the 2015 Sport Industry Awards held at Sandton Convention Centre.

Van der Westhuizen received a standing ovation when he received his award from former Springbok captain Morne du Plessis. Several well-known sports personalities attended the event.

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Pat Lambie

Pat Lambie

Cell C Sharks flyhalf Pat Lambie feels that SARU’s initiative to rest Springboks during the Super Rugby campaign will benefit both the national team and the bigger franchises.

SARU announced Monday that they would manage the game time of a number of key Springboks throughout the Super Rugby series following an agreement between the national board and the franchises.

It stated that players’ game time will be handled on an individual basis depending on their work load in the last year as well as injuries, in an effort to ensure the Springboks are managed as well as possible in the build-up to the World Cup in September and October.

Although not focusing on the World Cup directly, Lambie feels that enforced rest and subsequent squad rotation will benefit a bigger union such as the Sharks.

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SpringboksThe game time of a number of key Springboks will be managed throughout the Vodacom Super Rugby series in the coming months, following an agreement between the South African Rugby Union and the franchises.

These players’ game time will be handled on an individual basis depending on their work load in the last year as well as injuries, in an effort to ensure the Springboks are managed as well as possible in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup in September and October.

“We are extremely grateful to the Vodacom Super Rugby franchises for agreeing to assist in ensuring our key players’ game time is managed in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux.

“It’s wonderful to know we have the support and cooperation of the franchises as the Springboks prepare for the Rugby World Cup and we’d like to wish them all the best for the forthcoming months of Vodacom Super Rugby.

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South African Rugby Annual 2015The 2015 edition of the South African Rugby Annul goes on sale nationwide today after being launched at Sunday’s South African Rugby Union Awards in Johannesburg.

In keeping with tradition, the 44th edition of the ‘bible’ of the game once again features South Africa’s player of the year on the cover, with the newly-crowned Duane Vermeulen following in the footsteps of the likes of Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana and Schalk Burger in recent years.

“Even in this digital age, it’s vitally important to retain a physical document of record for future generations,” said SARU CEO, Jurie Roux. “SARU strives to be a world leader in the game both on and off the field and when it comes to the Annual, we are immensely proud of the quality of the book we continue to produce year in and year out.

“We like to believe that we have an outstanding yearbook but that hasn’t stopped us from raising the bar even further with this new-look, Rugby World Cup-themed edition. We’ve made it a more user-friendly size, refreshed the layout and added a depth to the statistical records that surpasses anything we’ve done before,” Roux added.

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BlitzbokkeThe Springbok Sevens have called up wing Rosko Specman in place of the injured Justin Geduld for the next leg of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Las Vegas.

The 3-day USA rugby event kicks off this coming Friday and South Africa are the defending champions.

Geduld suffered a hamstring injury over the weekend at the Wellington Sevens, where the Springbok Sevens claimed 3rd spot after a strong finish in their playoff match against Scotland. Specman (Steval Pumas) has 1 World Series tournament under his belt.

South Africa head the log with 76 points halfway through the 9-tournament World Series and are 7 points clear of New Zealand, who moved into 2nd place. The top 4 sides on the final standings in May will gain automatic entry into the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.

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SpringboksThe South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Monday confirmed that the Springboks will get their season underway against a World XV in Cape Town on 11 July, a week after the Super Rugby final.

The match was initially scheduled for late August.

The Springboks also got their 2014 season under way with a clash against the World XV at Newlands, with the South Africans running out 47 / 13 victors on that occasion.

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World RugbyA strong second half saw Rugby World Cup 2015 hosts England storm back to beat Wales 21 / 16 in their Six Nations opener in Cardiff, a result which lifted them above Ireland back to 3rd in the latest World Rugby rankings.

According to the World Rugby (previously IRB), the victory sees England regain the mantle as the leading northern hemisphere nation in the rankings behind New Zealand and South Africa and they now sit 0.35 points above Ireland after their 26 / 3 victory over Italy in Rome had no impact due to the 11 places separating the teams.

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HSBC Sevens World SeriesThe first Sevens Tournament in the 2015 calendar year for the HSBC Sevens World Series of 2014 / 2015 took place in Wellington, New Zealand at the Westpac Stadium.

The New Zealand Sevens tournament was played over 2 Days, Friday 6 and Saturday 7 February 2015.

Play started in the very early, small hours of the night / morning of 6 & 7 February (01:00 SA Time), with the opening game between the Blitzbokke from South Africa pitted against France.

South Africa’s Blitzbokke survived a scare to eventually progress to the quarters when France beat them 22 / 5 in the first game of the tournament and eventually finished in 3rd spot,beating Scotland by 40 / 7 and keeping their Top of the Log position after the early Rounds.

New Zealand won the Wellington Sevens in style, beating England in the final, by 27 / 21.

 

Pools:

  • Pool A: South Africa, United States, France, Japan
  • Pool B: New Zealand, England, Canada, Papua New Guinea
  • Pool C: Australia, Fiji, Wales, Portugal
  • Pool D: Argentina, Scotland, Kenya, Samoa

 

Fixtures & Results:

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

A discernible changing of the guard in Springbok playing personnel after a World Cup is an established trend… but national captain Jean de Villiers has some special fears about the expected migration of several leading stars to overseas clubs later this year.

Interviewed while he goes about his rehabilitation from a serious knee injury to try to make the Rugby World Cup 2015 cut in the United Kingdom, De Villiers said the exodus was threatening to be more acute this time – and not just to feature players on the receding end of their careers, as has been the general norm before.

“It does seem that this time around, if you can believe the rumours floating around, that more players are looking to go abroad than after 2011 (the New Zealand-staged tournament).

“Whereas that year we had quite a few guys retiring, finishing up (at Bok level), there weren’t as many switching shores.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

A critical element of Heyneke Meyer’s tight-forward plans for Rugby World Cup 2015, plus his unpredictable backline talisman… already under injury scares.

If you’d told Heyneke Meyer – presumably a long way from the untelevised encounter – before Friday’s Newlands friendly between the Stormers and Cheetahs that two players falling into those categories would pull up injured in it, the ever-animated Springbok head coach might have been excused for having kittens on the spot.

But that is precisely what occurred in the pre-season affair, won 39 / 31 by the hosts in an otherwise productive work-out for both teams, as Eben Etzebeth and Willie le Roux fell foul of the curse.

Oddly, the more alarming of the incidents, on initial viewing, appeared to affect fullback magician, Willie lLe Roux, during the 2nd half – and he had only got on the park off the bench for the start of it.

But with just 7 minutes remaining, the IRB Player of the Year nominee for 2014 collapsed in a writhing heap after being tackled, clutching the area around his left ankle. To watching spectators on the fairly sparsely-populated Railway Stand, it wouldn’t have looked good at all.

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BlitzbokkeChris Dry and Justin Geduld have returned to the Springbok Sevens squad and will travel with the Blitzboks for the next two HSBC Sevens World Series tournaments in New Zealand and the United States.

The Wellington Sevens takes place on 6 and 7 February in the New Zealand capital of Wellington and this will be followed by the Las Vegas Sevens a week later, from 13 to 15 14 February. The squad will depart to New Zealand on Friday 30 January.

South Africa will enter the Las Vegas tournament as the defending champions, and this followed on a successful 2013 season in the USA, meaning they will be hunting their 3rd back-to-back title in 4 years at the Sam Boyd Stadium in Nevada.

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Roger Federer

Roger Federer

Self-confessed sports nut Roger Federer goes to watch games whenever his schedule allows and is in no doubt who he’ll be cheering at this year’s Rugby World Cup – South Africa.

The tennis great’s mother Lynette is South African – she met his Swiss father Robert while he was working in Gauteng – and this is where his allegiances lie.

“I’ll be supporting South Africa, of course,” he said when asked who he will be cheering for.

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BlitzbokkeNeil Powell, the Springbok Sevens coach, admitted on Tuesday he will have to make some tough choices when announcing his touring party of 12 players for the next two World Sevens Series tournaments in New Zealand and the United States.

The Wellington Sevens takes place on 6 and 7 February in the New Zealand capital and will be followed by the Las Vegas Sevens a week later, where the South Africans are the defending champions.

Despite the absence of Cheslin Kolbe as a result of Super Rugby commitments with the Stormers, Powell still has a very strong group of players to choose from.

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers, Springbok captain, with knee dislocation injury against Wales

Injured Springbok captain Jean de Villiers is holding on tight to his dream of recovering in time for the World Cup tournament.

The Bok medical team and their counterparts from Western Province said on Monday they will work together in the coming months to ensure De Villiers is afforded every opportunity to make a successful comeback to the playing field in time for the global showpiece in September and October.

The Bok captain will continue with his rehabilitation following the serious knee injury he suffered against Wales last November.

Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts is in charge of the rehabilitation process.

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Mohed Altrad

Mohed Altrad

Montpellier president Mohed Altrad on Monday “categorically denied” reports of a deal to sign South African forwards Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis.

The brothers, various domestic media suggested, were due to join the Top 14 side after the conclusion of the 2015 Rugby World Cup in November on a two-year deal.

But Altrad said: “I categorically deny these reports.”

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Bismarck du Plessis

Bismarck du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis as well as Duane Vermeulen will further their careers in France after this year’s Rugby World Cup, respected French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique has revealed.

According to the newspaper, the official announcement regarding Vermeulen will only be made in July.

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Willie le Roux

Willie le Roux

Springbok Willie le Roux will be able to write his own salary cheque after next year’s World Cup.

According to media reports French giants Toulouse head an impressive list of clubs interested in the 25-year-old’s services.

English Premiership outfit Saracens and ‘several’ Japanese teams have put Le Roux on their wish list.

Le Roux is contracted to the Cheetahs until November next year and will be in the transfer market for the 2015 / 2016 season.

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SpringboksThis year saw another pack of exciting young players force their way into the Springbok fold and into contention for a place at the World Cup.

A lengthy injury list meant that Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer had to turn to inexpeienced players more often than he would have liked, but the flip side is that it gave some players the chance to prove themselves at the highest level.

Admittedly there is still a lot of rugby to be played before the World Cup, but it will probably take something exceptional for any uncapped players to force their way into Meyer’s thinking next year.

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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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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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