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Springbok Rugby World Cup 2015 squad

Springbok Rugby World Cup 2015 squad

With the Springbok Rugby World Cup Squad having been announced on Friday at 18:00 SA Time, this weekend has slowly seen the emergence of the reaction to it.

The general reaction, mine included, is that some players should not be there and some should… but I think it’s fair to say that almost everybody agrees on 85% PLUS of the selected players… call them the “Non-Contestables”, if you will.

It is those final 7 or 8 players which the bickering has featured about as well as the undoubted support for or against the national coach, Heyneke Meyer.

From Government circles, the Minister of Sport & Recreation, Fikile Mbalula, has praised the team and announced that the South African Rugby Union (SARU) is on track with their transformation goals.

To counter this, some obscure little piddly widdly Political Party, the Agency for New Agenda Party…. yeah right, who the hell are they, you are also asking, like me.. have brought a High Court Application in the North Gauteng High Court, seeking an urgent order to compel SARU and the Sports Department officials to surrender their passports so they cannot travel.

Heyneke Meyer has had to fend off those who have questioned some of his selections too, mainly the selection of Rudy Paige at scrumhalf, the only uncapped Springbok in the squad and he has had to give reasons for the specific selection.

In recent weeks, the previous Springbok coach, Peter de Villiers, has also come out with some scathing critisism against Heyneke Meyer, and De Villiers has gone so far as to join forces with Labour Movement, Cosatu, to get his agenda and points accross as well as to form the backbone of a pressure group for the inclusion of more players of colour. Heyneke Meyer has retorted with a very simple yet eloquent reply, by praising Peter de Villiers.

Lastly, with fears regarding the fitness of a number of previously injured and rehabilitating players included in the squad, most notably Fourie du Preez, Jean de Villiers, Duane Vermeulen, Jannie du Plessis and Coenie Oosthuizen, coach Meyer now assures us that all 31 players will be ready to play when the tournament starts on 18 September.

So here goes, let’s look at all these aspects in more depth:

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Springboks

The South African Springboks squad, to take on the world’s best in England, at the 2015 Rugby World Cup was officially announced at 18:00 SA Time (16:00 GMT), live on SuperSport 1 on TV in South Africa.

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer is on a hiding to nothing, no matter which squad he would have selected, whether it be from lobbyists saying that there are not enough players of colour in the side OR whether he is accused of player bias OR choosing old favourites… OR not choosing players on merit.

I urge everybody to accept his selection prerogatives, even though you or me would have done it differently, and to get behind this Springbok side for the Rugby World Cup, where they will be representing their country to the best of their abilities.

The “Ghost Squad” has already been discussed ad-nauseam, the announced squad is exactly the same and feature the inclusion of fringe players like Zane Kirchner, Rudy Paige, Siya Kolisi and Morné Steyn.

Injured or previously injured players like Fourie du Preez, Jean de Villiers, Duane Vermeulen, Coenie Oosthuizen, Jannie du Plessis is also be included in the squad.

A number of players are hugely unlucky not to be selected, they include Heinrich Brüssow, Steven Kitshoff, Marcel van der Merwe, Vincent Koch, Marcell Coetzee, Jan Serfontein, Frans Steyn, Cornal Hendricks, Cobus Reinach and Francois Hougaard.

Here is the Springbok Rugby World Cup squad for 2015, which is now official:

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Ian Robertson

Ian Robertson

Ex Springbok centre and fullback, Ian Robertson, a skilled and determined player from what was then Rhodesia, died on Monday 24 August 2015.

He was only 65 but had been ill for a long time in a battle against leukaemia, ironic for such a fit man who helped so many others to fitness.

He played in 5 Tests for South Africa – not many but then there were not many in the 70’s and it was that much harder for a Rhodesian to be selected.

He 1st became a Springbok in 1974 as part of the rebuilding of the team after the trashing by the 1974 British Lions. He was chosen as a centre and played his 1st Test against France in Toulouse and then his 2nd at Parc des Princes in Paris. The Springboks won both, the 1st one 13 / 4, the 2nd 10 / 8.

In each case his centre partner was Johan Oosthuizen. In 1976 the All Blacks came and Robertson played fullback against them in 2 Tests and centre in 1. The Springboks won the series 3 / 1. He also played for a World XV against Cardiff that year.

Robertson was Rhodesia’s Sportsman of the Year in 1976.

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Peter de Villiers

Peter de Villiers

Former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers was a guest speaker at an event where a group of supporters burned a Springbok jersey out of protest last week.

A new organisation, Supporters Against Racist Rugby Associations (Sarra), was officially launched in Mossel Bay last Friday, where the group burned a Springbok rugby jersey.

The group wants to see more players of colour in the Springbok team and feels not enough is being done to speed up the transformation process in South African rugby.

De Villiers, 58, attended the event as guest speaker.

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EnglandWith England’s recent loss to France in Paris the Springboks have bumped up 1 place to 4th in the World Rugby rankings.

The Spriongboks slumped to a lowly 5th place in the World of their loss to Argentina in Durban during The Rugby Championship, however Rugby World Cup hosts England have now claimed that spot.

With 1 match to go before the start of the Rugby World Cup, England find themselves in danger of going into the tournament ranked lower than Pool A rivals Australia and Wales.

Stuart Lancaster’s men are now just 1.3 points ahead of 6th-placed Wales, who travel to Dublin to play Ireland on Saturday. England conclude their Rugby World Cup warm-up campaign against the Irish the following weekend.

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ArgentinaSouth AfricaLos Pumas (9) 12 / 26 (20) Springboks (Final Score)

The Argentinian Pumas and South African Springboks did battle in a Rugby World Cup warm-up match at

Vélez Sarsfield, Buenos Aires at 21:40 SA Time (16:40 ARG Time, 19:40 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.

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Siyabonga "Scarra" Ntubeni

Siyabonga “Scarra” Ntubeni

Fringe hooker Scarra Ntubeni has been released by the Springbok coaching staff.

Ntubeni, who did not travel with the team to Argentina on Wednesday this week, will be returning to DHL Western Province.

He was 1 of the members of the broader Springbok squad that stayed behind in Durban, while the matchday squad headed to Buenos Aires for the final match ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

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Trevor Nyakane

Trevor Nyakane

Trevor Nyakane is firmly focused on making the most of a rare opportunity to start for the Springboks rather than the sideshows.

A tough week for the Springboks has been made even tougher by claims from COSATU that they had been approached by some black players who felt aggrieved that they were not getting sufficient opportunities under coach Heyneke Meyer.

However, Nyakane has dismissed the allegations and said that the key for him is to put the distractions aside so that he is able to put his best foot forward against Argentina in Buenos Aires this weekend in what is the last chance to impress before the Rugby World Cup.

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Zane Kirchner

Zane Kirchner

Victor Matfield will captain the Springboks against Los Pumas on Saturday, with Zane Kirchner, Lwazi Mvovo, Pat Lambie, Willem Alberts, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss and Trevor Nyakane all getting their 1st starts of the season.

Jan Serfontein and Schalk Brits have also been included in the match-23 for the 1st time this season.

A total of 28 players will travel to South America on Wednesday to play the Pumas at the Vélez Sarsfield on Saturday evening (SA Time). The match-23 shows numerous changes from the side that lost to Argentina last weekend, many of them injury-enforced.

Kirchner takes over at fullback from the injured Willie le Roux, Jesse Kriel moves from wing to centre for Jean de Villiers, with Lwazi Mvovo getting his 3rd run of the season, in the No 14-jersey. Willem Alberts replaces the injured Marcell Coetzee in what will be his 1st Test in more than a year.

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Tony Ehrenreich

Tony Ehrenreich

AfriForum has accused Tony Ehrenreich, Secretary of Cosatu in the Western Cape, of being an opportunist, using South African rugby on the eve of the Rugby World Cup as political playball in an attempt to promote his own race-obsessed agenda.

Kallie Kriel, CEO of AfriForum, is of the view that Ehrenreich – if he is serious about the development of rugby’s player base among all communities – should rather find the fault in the failure of the governing alliance – of which he is part – in promoting sport in dysfunctional schools.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has reportedly agreed to extend Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s contract.

Local media reports on Wednesday indicated that Meyer’s contract has already been extended by another 4 years until after the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

When these reports surfaced, SARU responded with the following statement:

“It is SARU policy to only make announcements on the contractual arrangements of key employees when there is something to announce. The contractual position of the Springbok coach is unchanged,” said a SARU spokesperson.

Meyer was also reluctant to comment when probed on the matter after naming his team for this weekend’s Test against Los Pumas.

“I said I want to serve and make a difference. If you ask every single guy on the street they would say I make a difference but in a negative way. The only thing I worry about is not the next 4 years, it’s the next 4 minutes,” he said at a press conference in Durban on Wednesday.

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Springboks

We desperately try to stay clear of political content here on Rugby-Talk.com, however this week, after the loss by the Springboks to Los Pumas in Durban, it appears that another mini-storm has been brewing regarding the inclusion or non-inclusion of non-white players (such an ugly term in a new and supposedly democratic South Africa) in the Springboks.

Firstly it was reported that 5 Black Springboks (yet another unfortunate term in the new South Africa) have apporached trade union Cosatu about being sidelined in Test matches for the Springboks.

Then of course Cosatu, as we have come to know their standard methodology, responded about the supposedly racist choices of SA Rugby, condemning it and shouting from the rooftops.

Then there was the logical retort from SARU… not that it cleared matters up at all.

The Minister of Sport & Recreation, Fikile Mbalula, also jumped on board this discussion and seemed to be “the voice of reason” in this rather unfortunate circumstance, saying that South Africans must be patient with the pace of transformation in rugby in South Africa. From my side a small thank you to the Minister – good on you!

These political shannanigans always build on the discourse in South African traditional politics and fuel the devide, in stead of bringing harmony to this nation with so many possibilities.

I guess what I am asking myself, through all of this, is which other logical first choice Black Springboks merited 1st choice selection above their not so black peers?

Do we want the best team out there or do we want transformation tokens in our Springbok side?

To me it’s simple… do the transformation thing, but for goodness sakes, allow the Springbok coach to select the best Springbok squad out there, based on merit and merit alone, whether that squad only consists of White Springboks or only of Black Springboks or of a smattering of one and the other… the rest is immaterial to me!

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Daniel Hourcade

Daniel Hourcade

Los Pumas have retained the squad that stunned the Springboks at the weekend, except for injured centre Jerónimo De la Fuente.

They have also added 6 players for the Test rematch in Buenos Aires on Saturday.

A rib injury rules De la Fuente out of a game which offers the Pumas a chance to prove that a historic 37 / 25 Rugby Championship triumph in Durban 3 days ago was not a fluke.

It was the 1st Pumas victory in 20 Tests against the Springboks from South Africa and their 1st away win in the Southern Hemisphere championship after 10 losses since debuting 3 seasons ago.

Argentina took 26 players to South Africa last week and coach Daniel Hourcade has expanded the squad to 31 for the rematch with the Springboks at the 50 000-capacity Estadio Jose Amalfitani.

The 6 additions are fullback Santiago Cordero, centre Matias Moroni, flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez and loose forwards Javier Ortega Desio, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe and Facundo Isa.

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Downward GraphIreland are now the 2nd best team in the world according to the World Rugby rankings, with newly-crowned Rugby Championship champions Australia moving up to 3rd.

According to World Rugby, Ireland have moved up to 2nd place in the World Rugby rankings for the 1st time since they were introduced in 2003.

Saturday’s 35 / 21 win over Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff earned them 1.13 ratings points, putting them a fraction ahead of Australia who jumped 2 places to 3rd on the back of their Rugby Champions / Bledisloe Cup triumph against the All Blacks on the weekend.

The Nic White-inspired Wallabies gained 1.61 points to move on to 86.84 points, 0.05 behind the Irish and 1.44 in front of England, the only Top 6 side not in action at the weekend, who remain in 4th spot.

For New Zealand it was their 1st defeat since they lost to South Africa a year ago and a disappointing way to mark Richie McCaw’s record-equalling 141st test appearance. It also saw their lead at the Top of the rankings cut to 5.83 points.

Meanwhile, hat-trick hero Juan Imhoff helped Argentina to an historic 37 / 25 win over South Africa at Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban and they a gain of 2 full rankings points. Los Pumas are now within touching distance of France in 7th place, the gap between the 2 nations now down to 0.57 of a point.

With a drop of 3 places from 2nd to 5th, South Africa were the weekend’s biggest losers from a rankings perspective. 3 Consecutive Rugby Championship defeats have seen their rankings points total reduced to 84.37 points – 1.43 more than 6th-placed Wales.

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Los Pumas celebrate the win against the Springboks

Los Pumas celebrate the win against the Springboks

A hat-trick from Juan Imhoff helped the Argentinian Pumas record their 1st ever win over the Springboks in a 37 / 25 Rugby Championship victory in Durban on Saturday.

It’s taken 20 attempts but the Pumas finally got a positive result against the Springboks after 2 close calls last year. Using their domination at scrum time as a platform, Argentina created the biggest upset in the history of The Rugby Championship on the day that they commemorated 50 years since their 1st tour of South Africa.

The result means the Springboks have now lost 4 consecutive Tests to different countries for the 1st time since 1965.

While the Pumas produced their best game of the year, tackling their hearts out, their disjointed hosts were a pale shadow of the side that troubled the All Blacks 2 weeks prior as they made countless unforced errors and offered very little on attack.

Los Pumas led 27 / 13 at halftime thanks to 3 excellent tries, including 2 for Juan Imhoff, who also helped set up the opening try for Marcelo Bosch.

The Springboks hit back via a try from lock Lood de Jager, but the visitors were well worth their lead against an error-prone Springbok outfit.

Imhoff bagged his hat-trick in controversial circumstances soon after the break and although the Springboks hit back via tries from Willie le Roux and Bryan Habana, they fell well short of saving the result.

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

Marcell Coetzee

Marcell Coetzee

Willie le Roux

Willie le Roux

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, Marcell Coetzee and Willie le Roux have all been ruled out of the return match against Los Pumas in Buenos Aires next weekend, because of injuries.

Jean de Villiers fractured his jaw in The Rugby Championship defeat against the Pumas at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban on Saturday, which will rule him out for 4 to 6 weeks. The Springbok captain will be able to continue with the bulk of the training sessions during this time.

Marcell Coetzee suffered a medial collateral ligament injury to his left knee, which will rule him out for approximately 6 weeks. The injury is unrelated to the knee injury he suffered a few weeks ago in Brisbane.

Willie le Roux sprained his ankle early in the match against Los Pumas and will not be considered for the trip to Buenos Aires. He will undergo scans early in the week to determine the exact nature of the injury.

Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts said that players possibly returning from injury, such as Victor Matfield, Fourie du Preez and JP Pietersen, will be assessed on Monday before a decision on their availability for next weekend will be taken.

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Agustín Creevy

Agustín Creevy

Argentinian Pumas skipper Agustin Creevy said the presence of former Pumas in Durban helped inspire a stunning and historic 37 / 25 Rugby Championship triumph over the Springboks on Saturday.

“The presence of these rugby heroes of our nation was a major factor in the success,” the 30-year-old hooker said.

Survivors of the 1965 Pumas – the 1st Argentine rugby team to play in South Africa – celebrated the 50th anniversary of the pioneering trip by watching the Test at the Growthpoint Kings Park stadium.

And when the final whistle blew and the Pumas triumphed for the 1st time against the Springboks after 19 failed attempts and also won away in The Rugby Championship for the 1st time, they moved toward the ‘golden oldies’ and clapped.

The gesture was returned as the group of smartly attired ex-national team players, wearing dark suits, blue ties and white shirts, stood to acknowledge a great day for Argentine rugby.

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South AfricaArgentinaSpringboks (13) 25 / 37 (27) Los Pumas (Final Score)

The South African Springboks and Argentinian Pumas did battle in Round 3 of The Rugby Championship at

Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban at 17:05 SA Time (12:05 ARG Time, 15:05 GMT, Sunday 01:05 AEST, Sunday 03:05 NZ Time).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.

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Jean de Villiers, Hashim Amla & Heyneke Meyer

Jean de Villiers, Hashim Amla & Heyneke Meyer

Hashim Amla, captain of the South African Test cricket team, inspired the Springboks on the eve of their final Test on home soil for 2015, in the build-up to the Rugby World Cup, when he handed out the jerseys for the match against Los Pumas on Saturday.

Amla, who boasts batting averages of more than 50 in both Test and ODI cricket and is ranked in the top-4 in the world in both forms of cricket, wished the Springboks well for their next 2 Tests before the team departs for England next month.

“My blood is green and so is everyone else’s in the Protea team,” said Amla.

“We know exactly how hard and tough the world of international sport is – we know how it goes when you do well and when you lose. My Protea team-mates are extremely envious of me for being able to spend time with you.

“But I’d like to let you know that we’re behind you 100% and we’d like to wish you well for the rest of the season. You guys play for the best rugby team in the world and you inspire the Protea fire.”

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers thanked Amla for his time and the kind words and presented him with a signed Springbok jersey.

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The Rugby ChampionshipIt is the 3rd and final Round of the abbreviated Rugby Championship of 2015 (Only 1 Round of matches against each side in 2015 as opposed to a double Round of matches against all sides – home and away in non Rugby World Cup years).

The last 2 games are both on Saturday 8 August.

The Action of the Round is kicked off in Sydney, Australia where the Wallabies and All Blacks dual it out for tournament honours and The Rugby Championship of 2015 concludes with the match between the Springboks against Los Pumas in Durban.

On Saturday at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney at 12:05 SA Time (20:05 AEST, 22:05 NZ Time, 10:05 GMT) referee Wayne Barnes of England is in charge in the Wallabies vs All Blacks game.

On Saturday at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban at 17:05 SA Time (12:05 ARG Time, 10:05 GMT, Sunday 01:05 AEST, Sunday 03:05 NZ Time) referee Romain Poite of France is in charge of the Springboks vs Los Pumas game.

The game between the Wallabies and All Blacks has all to play for and should be a thriller of note. It is hard to imagine the Wallabies pipping the All Blacks though. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has opted for a rather large number of changes to the All Blacks side, but the run-on side is a vastly experienced unit… with the return of Julian Savea, Sonny Bill Williams, Dan Carter, Aaron Smith all in the backline alone. The Wallabies see some old hands like Drew Mitchell, Matt Giteau & James Horwill return to the run-on side and also sees the pair of openside flankers of David Pocock and Michael Hooper in the looseforwards to try and dominate the ground ball situations against the All Blacks.

Both the Springboks and Los Pumas have made a number of changes to their run-on sides.

For the Springboks we see a return of Captain Jean de Villiers at No 13, with Jesse Kriel moving 1 wide to the right wing berth. Vincent Koch comes in for injured Jannie du Plessis at tighthead prop and Marcell Coetzee takes over at blindside flank from the injured Francois Louw. On the bench we see the return of Pieter-Steph du Toit from injury, as well as the return of Marcel van der Merwe, Siya Kolisi and Lwazi Mvovo.

The game between the Springboks should logically only go 1 way and that is with a comfortable win against Los Pumas.

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

There has been so much hype surrounding Jean de Villiers’ return to the Springbok line-up that it almost slipped past everyone that this Saturday’s clash against the Pumas has the potential to be his final Test on South African soil.

And after Friday’s captain’s press conference in Umhlanga, it was confirmed that it would be.

De Villiers initially steered clear of confirming that he would be retiring at the end of the year, but by the end of his explanation he had said what any knowledgeable rugby fan already knew.

“Every game you play might be your last and that’s exactly what I realised with this injury,” De Villiers said.

“You’ve got to play as if it’s your last and you’ve got to make the most of it.

“But the reality is that it will be my last Test match in South Africa. I can’t see myself playing international rugby next year.”

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Morné Steyn

Morné Steyn

Flyhalf Morné Steyn has been ruled out of the Springboks’ trip to Argentina next week, as his wife is due to give birth.

The Springboks will play the Pumas in a non-championship Test at the Estadio Jose Amalfitani in Buenos Aires on Saturday 15 August at 21:40 SA time.

The Test will also be the Springboks’ final run-out ahead of the Rugby World Cup starting on 18 September.

The fact that Steyn won’t be available means that he will not have played any Test rugby in 2015, giving coach Heyneke Meyer something of a headache.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has admitted that a combination of injuries and the 2 narrow defeats in the opening part of The Rugby Championship have changed his plans slightly, but he is still committed to making conditioning the priority after this week’s clash with Los Pumas at Growthpoint Kings Park.

Meyer said after announcing his team for the match that several 1st choice players will stay behind in Durban when the playing squad travels to Buenos Aires next week for what has the status of a return ‘friendly’ international against the Pumas. However, because he is coaching the South African national team and knows how important winning is to the nation, he’s not going to make changes to quite the extent that he intended to when he did his planning for the Rugby World Cup build-up.

“I’ve always said that I haven’t been happy with the fitness and conditioning and the last 2 matches when we lost in the last few minutes proved that we still have a lot of work to do in that regard,” said Meyer.

“My plan has always been to implement a very intense 3 week conditioning programme after The Rugby Championship is completed and that will mean that some of the top players will be staying behind in Durban next week rather than going to Argentina. If we are going to win the World Cup it is imperative that we get our conditioning right and the players can look forward to a really tough camp.

“The players who do travel to Argentina will slot into that fitness camp after they return. We are going to make an all-out effort to get the conditioning right. It is something that has improved gradually over the past few years, but we need the 3 week conditioning top up that is planned in order to get it totally right.”

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Victor Matfield

Victor Matfield

Those thinking Springbok lock Victor Matfield will retire for the 2nd time may well be disappointed – it seems the legendary Springbok lock is set for another swansong at English club Bath.

The 38-year old Rugby World Cup winning lock should actually retire from playing after the Rugby World Cup and is contracted to take up a coaching position with the Vodacom Bulls next season, but it seems this may not be the case as he seeks a final payday before turning to coaching.

There have been rumours that since the axing of Frans Ludeke as Bulls coach – the Super Rugby franchise has not found a replacement – that Matfield may not be keen to go into coaching just yet, especially as Ludeke’s proposal to move to Director of coaching with Matfield and Fourie du Preez taking over the coaching reigns, was rejected with the Bulls bad run of results earlier this year.

According to sources close to the Bulls, Matfield was also told that the Bulls would not stand in his way if he decided he didn’t want to take up the coaching contract after the Rugby World Cup.

With this in mind, the news that Bath may want to sign him on a short term deal – a season in England to cap off a long and illustrious career – may well suit the Springbok captain very well, especially with the Pound very strong against the Rand at the moment.

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers will captain a Springbok side also featuring the return of Pieter-Steph du Toit and Siya Kolisi in the match-23 for the 1st time since 2013, when the Springboks host Los Pumas at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.

De Villiers will continue his remarkable recovery from the terrible knee injury he suffered last November in Cardiff and will start his 1st Test of the season. He will lead the team against the Pumas from outside centre, with Schalk Burger taking over the vice-captaincy.

As a result of De Villiers’ inclusion for the final Test in The Rugby Championship, Jesse Kriel will move to right wing.

“Jean’s comeback is truly remarkable and very inspirational and I can’t wait to see what he can offer playing next to exciting youngsters such as Handré Pollard, Damian and Jesse,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

“Jean now has 160 minutes of rugby behind him since his comeback a month ago and I’m very satisfied that he will be able to make his mark as player and captain.

“Jesse is a very versatile player – he has played at wing before and spent almost the entire Vodacom Super Rugby season at fullback. His aerial skills and work-rate, as well as tactical kicking will be valuable and hopefully he will be given even more space to attack in.”

The forwards on the bench are again rotated due to injuries and players recovering from injuries, which sees the return of Siya Kolisi and and Pieter-Steph du Toit, both of whom made their last Test appearance as replacements in the 19 / 10 victory over France in Paris on 23 November, 2013.

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WhistleSANZAR has named the match officials for the 3rd and last Round of the abbreviated Rugby Championship of 2015.

England’s Wayne Barnes will officiate in the championship decider in Sydney and he will be assisted by Nigel Owens and Frederico Anselmi as Assistant referees. Shaun Veldsman will do TMO duty.

Frenchman Romain Poite will referee the Springboks vs Los Pumas game in Durban and will be assited by JP Doyle and Marius Mitrea, with Ben Skeen doing the TMO duties.

Poite is well remembered among Springbok fans for the controvertial sending off of Bismarck du Plessis in a Test against the All Blacks 2 years ago.

Poite harshly and erroneously Yellow-Carded Du Plessis for a tackle on All Black flyhalf Dan Carter before later dishing out another Yellow (which automatically meant a Red Card) to the hooker as the Springboks went on to lose 29 / 15 at Eden Park in Auckland.

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Fourie du Preez sits out at training

Fourie du Preez sits out at training

There is renewed concern over the fitness of Fourie du Preez after the Springbok scrumhalf sat out Tuesday afternoon’s training session at People’s Park in Durban.

Whether or not Du Preez joined the session at a later stage (media were asked to leave after about 20 minutes of the session) is not known, but word from the Springbok camp was the he was in some pain after Monday’s session and that he would continue to be monitored.

Du Preez had been identified as 1 of the players in line to play a part in Saturday’s Rugby Championship clash against the Pumas at Growthpoint Kings Park as he looks to prove his fitness for this year’s Rugby World Cup.

Team doctor Craig Roberts had said on Monday he was happy with Du Preez’s performance at training earlier that day, but that how he recovered from the training would be crucial in his availability for the weekend.

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Franco Mostert

Franco Mostert

Faf de Klerk

Faf de Klerk

Xerox Golden Lions lock Franco Mostert and Steval Pumas scrumhalf Faf de Klerk have been released from the Springbok camp and will be available for their provinces in the ABSA Currie Cup.

Both Mostert and De Klerk joined their provinces late on Tuesday.

In addition, Coenie Oosthuizen, who has not been an official member of the squad, will continue with his rehabilitation away from the camp.

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Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn, who is also recovering from a long-term injury, was released from the squad with immediate effect following the death of his brother on Monday morning.

“Frans informed me straight after our morning session on Monday and as soon as he heard the sad and tragic news that his brother had passed away,” said Ian Schwartz, Springbok Team Manager.

“We will not take any decisions on his immediate involvement with the squad – his personal situation is now the most important and we will support him and his family wherever we can in this very difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with Frans and his entire family in this time of mourning.”

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Dr Craig Roberts

Dr Craig Roberts

Springbok team doctor Craig Roberts was beaming, and for good reason, when he addressed his weekly injury report media conference in Umhlanga Rocks on Monday.

Although a clutch of players are still out injured and there are a few that are unlikely to play before the start of the Rugby World Cup, the experienced duo of skipper Jean de Villiers and scrumhalf Fourie du Preez were joined by the equally influential Willem Alberts in getting safely through what Roberts described as “a great training session” on Monday morning.

“As you know, Jean is a player who took a back seat a bit so that he could get some game time, and the news is good on that front as he looked good in training and should be available for selection for this week’s game,” said Roberts.

“It was also a good work-out for Fourie du Preez. We will obviously monitor how he responds to the training, as we will with Jean, before making a final decision, but he is potentially ready to play against the Pumas this week.

“Willem is also looking good. We’ve been building him up for a while now, and if gets through the training week then he will be ready to play.”

The Springboks face Los Pumas from Argentinia in their final match in this year’s truncated Rugby Championship in Durban on Saturday before travelling to Argentina to play a Rugby World Cup warm-up Test in Buenos Aires. Roberts appears confident that if the aforementioned players can start in Durban.

And the group of available players coming back from injury should be further swollen by young lock Pieter-Steph du Toit.

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Naas Botha

Naas Botha

Springbok legend and popular rugby pundit Naas Botha believes South Africa made an important evolutionary change in their game plan in their defeat to the All Blacks in Johannesburg last weekend.

Botha believes Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer needs to persist with the enterprising style adopted – something he believes is long overdue.

“What we saw on Saturday was totally different compared to what we’ve seen over the last couple of years but it should have happened 2 years ago,” Botha said in Midrand on Wednesday.

“I don’t think it is too late, I believe we should build on this now because what we saw over the weekend was quite impressive.

“Yes, we didn’t win and to be honest it is all about winning and they did surprise us with that last lineout.”

Botha was speaking at the launch of Creative Rugby which he co-wrote with Dr Kobus Neethling, a world leader in the field of creativity and whole-brain thinking.

The premise of the book is to promote whole-brain thinking, with modern players now on the same level in terms of fitness and skills.

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Jannie du Plessis

Jannie du Plessis

Francois Louw

Francois Louw

The Springboks will be without tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis and flanker Francois Louw when they face Argentina’s Los Pumas in Durban next Saturday, but the Springboks could have Jean de Villiers, Fourie du Preez and Willem Alberts back while at this stage their medical team is optimistic of delivering a fully fit squad to the selectors for the Rugby World Cup, it was announced on Tuesday.

De Villiers, Du Preez and Alberts are 3 of 7 players whose fitness will be assessed on Monday as they complete the final phase of rehabilitation while players such as Duane Vermeulen and Coenie Oosthuizen are progressing well with their rehabilitation.

Although Du Plessis (knee) and Louw (rotator cuff), along with Victor Matfield and JP Pietersen (both hamstring injuries) will miss the Tests against the Pumas, none of these injuries will put their Rugby World Cup participation at risk. Saturday’s other injury victims, Vincent Koch and Warren Whiteley (rib cartilages) should be fit and available for selection next weekend.

Jan Serfontein (hip and knee), Marcell Coetzee (knee), Pieter-Steph du Toit (knee) and Steven Kitshoff (knee) will also be assessed on Monday with a view to being available to selection against the Pumas.

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The Rugby Championship This weekend saw Round 2 of The Rugby Championship.

In johannesburg, South Africa it was heart-break for the Springboks again, 2nd week in a row, this time losing in the dying minutes against a better conditiond and fitter All Blacks side, by 20 / 27, with All Blacks capatin Richie McCaw doing the damage to snatch the lead from the South Africans with only 6 minutes to go in the match.

In Mendoza, Argentinia, the Wallabies led 8 / 6 at halftime before tuning in all the screws and beating Los Pumas comfortably by 34 / 9, also earning their bonus point for tries in the process.

As a result of the Round 2 results, the All Blacks and Wallabies are joint leaders of The Rugby Championship Log, with 2 wins apiece, whereas the Springboks and Los Pumas are still winless in the Competition, with the Springboks on a paltry 2 Log points and Los Pumas still not out of the starting gates, on 0 Log Points.

In 2015 there is of course only 3 Rounds in total, in the abbreviated version of the prime Southern Hemisphere international competition due to this year being a Rugby World Cup year. In this shortened version of the competition, where in stead of the normal double Round of matches by every side against the other sides, there is only a single Round of matches by every side against each of the other nations.

Round 3 is only in a fortnight, where the focus will be on the Bledisloe clash between the Wallabies and All Blacks for this year’s overall title.

The Springboks dominated most of the 1st half but at the break the scores were still tied on 10 / 10 and later on 17 / 17 before South Africa took a slender 20 / 17 lead and held that lead untill 6 minutes from time, whereafter the All Blacks showed their class and superior fitness and better bench selections to add 10 further points and running out 7-point winners.

All is not lost for the Springboks and one feels that they showed some quality rugby 2 weeks in a row, but they will surely now realize that their overall conditioning, fitness as well as the impact their bench is supposed to have in the vital Rugby World Cup during September and October still need a massive amount of work if they are to stand a proper chance of winning the world showpiece in 2015.

The All Blacks once again appear to be massive favourites to not only win theis year’s Rugby Championship but to also go on to clinch the Rugby World Cup title in October.

Argentina seem to be dogged by the same “Illness” that the Springboks are suffering from, as they also seem incapable of ending games strong enough and also tend to kick tactically poorly, which invariably results in scores against them in the latter stages of games when defences are no longer as tight as in the beginning of matches.

The Wallabies are building up nicely towards the Rugby World Cup, having first narrowly dispatched the Springboks week before last and now comforably beating Los Pumas on the weekend. They managed to score 2 quick-fire tries towards the end of the clash in Argentina, first by Tevita Kuridrani and then barely 3 minutes later one by Adam Ashley-Cooper (to earn them the bonus point for tries) to hammer the nails in properly against the Pumas.

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SpringboksExamination of The Rugby Championship table with just 1 Round to go hardly suggests the Springboks may be inching spiritedly toward a prosperous new era.

South Africa lie 3rd, winless, and already out of the running: when they tackle Argentina in Durban in just under a fortnight it will simply be a battle to avoid the wooden spoon as the Wallabies and All Blacks slug it out for title glory a few hours earlier in Sydney.

Fortunately it had been widely accepted by the most astute of rugby observers before the 2015 tournament even began that its bragging rights are of secondary importance this year, given the scheduling just a few weeks shy of the 8th World Cup in the United Kingdom.

Local enthusiasts prepared to prioritise the bigger picture will also be fully aware that the Springboks could so easily be lying at the top of The Rugby Championship pile right now, as they bossed the Wallabies for 50 minutes in Brisbane and then the All Blacks for considerably closer to 70 minutes in Johannesburg on Saturday.

If rugby is a game of inches, then Tevita Kuridrani’s debated, last-gasp try made the critical difference 2 weeks back and Lood de Jager not being able to stretch his lunging arm just a couple of centimetres further against the All Blacks for a 55th-minute Springbok touchdown possibly denied them in the latest instance.

In the final analysis, lack of composure and 1 or 2 errors in tactical decision-making at vital times by a rookie-laden team thwarted them more than anything else on Saturday – it was not as though the Springboks looked light years behind for pure competence and skill in either instance, and that is a firm plus to bank in the run-up to the Rugby World Cup.

Perhaps also, a cranked-up emphasis on conditioning and durability will work wonders over the next couple of months as Heyneke Meyer’s charges get progressively used to the new ball-in-hand culture they are embracing with some gusto and swelling promise.

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Jérôme Garcès

Jérôme Garcès

South Africa’s Springboks fell foul of a law that was introduced for player safety, when they lost 20 / 27 to the New Zealand All Blacks in their Rugby Championship encounter at the weekend.

For the 2nd week in a row the Springboks snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, after All Blacks captain Richie McCaw scored a clever try 6 minutes from time to secure the victory over their arch-rivals at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday.

The defeat came 1 week after the Springboks conceded an even later try, in the 80th minute, to fall 20 / 24 against Australia’s Wallabies in Brisbane.

However, it was the question of why there were uncontested scrums in the final quarter – when the Springboks still had 3 ‘qualified’ front row forwards on the field – that puzzled most observers.

It came at a crucial point in the game and had a material effect on the outcome.

The dominant Springbok scrum, which had already earned a couple of penalties and free kicks in the 1st hour, was reduced to uncontested restarts – after Vincent Koch, who had replaced the injured Jannie du Plessis at halftime, was forced from the field in the 61st minute.

Even though Trevor Nyakane, who can play on both sides of the scrum, took to the field, French referee Jérôme Garcès ruled that there should be uncontested scrums.

Not only did it eliminate one of the Springboks’ strengths, but it came at a crucial time.

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  • CoachPete 30 Aug 2015, 22:15 SAST - Hi GBS Piet and others Yeah doing fine thanks. How are you and all the regulars doing? Only problem is...
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