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Springboks

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Jonny Wilkinson on Boots & All

Jonny Wilkinson on Boots & All

Jonny Wilkinson believes that both South Africa and England will make it to the semifinals of next year’s Rugby World Cup.

World Cup legend Wilkinson was at SuperSport on Thursday and Xola Ntshinga was able to sit him down for an interview.

Wilkinson has great respect for what has been achieved by the England team under coach Stuart Lancaster.

“The England team has done a great thing in going back to the foundation of the game. They’ve looked at the values; they looked at the core principles of what makes a good team. They’ve solidified it at the base and now they’re building on it. They’re adding detail on top of detail on top of detail and the players are ready to accept it,” he said.

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Bismarck du Plessis

Bismarck du Plessis

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has asked teams not to pick their contracted Springboks for the entirety of this year’s Absa Currie Cup tournament.

In the past, Springbok players returned during the latter stages of the competition, but this year will be different.

The Cell C Sharks were the first team to confirm the matter, with CEO John Smit saying the defending champions have to make the best of the tricky situation.

“It was decided upon that all contracted Boks will play no part in the Currie Cup, which puts us at a bit of a disadvantage,” Smit told Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick.

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BlitzbokkeThe Springbok Sevens team will soon start the next phase in their pursuit of Olympic silverware after they stunned the New Zealand team in the final at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games at the weekend.

The South African team made history by beating the All Blacks for the first time since Rugby Sevens were introduced as one of the sporting codes in 1998.

“It is an important tournament win for us as a Springbok Sevens team. This will mean a lot for us going into the next season and going into the Olympics in 2016,” Blitzbokke coach Neil Powell said at the team’s arrival in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

“It is always great to beat the All Blacks in a final and it was a tough one, the guys really worked hard to win that one. Credit to my boys.”

“It is an honour and a privilege to represent your country and to win in the Commonwealth games is special and means a lot to us.”

The South African team captured the imagination as they played with unbridled vigour throughout the campaign.

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Eben Etzebeth

Eben Etzebeth

Springbok and WP lock Eben Etzebeth has returned to full training ahead of the Currie Cup and Rugby Championship.

Etzebeth has not seen a single minute of competitive action in 2014 after first a foot, and later a toe injury, kept him out of the Stormers’ entire Super Rugby campaign.

After a long and arduous process he is finally nearing a return to fitness, but it remains to be seen if Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer opts to draft him into the Bok set-up immediately or allows him to get some game time under his belt with Western Province.

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Commonwealth Games 2014South AfricaThe Commonwealth Games was underway and the first Rugby games of these games were on Saturday 26 July 2014.

All games were played at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow.

South Africa won the Gold Medal, New Zealand the Silver, Australia the Bronze!

Before the Final of these Games, New Zealand had not lost a single Commonwealth Games Sevens game… well, that record no longer stands.

The new Commonwealth Games Gold Medal Champions are South Africa’s Blitzbokke… for 4 more years!

It was a tough and physical Final, and New Zealand still deserve their plaudits for being the premier Sevens side in World Rugby.

Herewith the Fixtures & Results:

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Tendai Mtawarira

Beast Mtawarira: Feels privileged to play with the Du Plessis brothers

Sharks prop Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira has revealed that he will leave the Durban-based franchise at the end of 2015.

Mtawarira confirmed that he will further his career outside of South Africa after next year’s World Cup in England.

The veteran of 55 Tests with the Springboks, who has played for the Sharks since 2007, said he hopes to get a fresh challenge in Europe.

“My goals for 2015 is to help the Sharks do well in Super Rugby and to help the Springboks win the World Cup,” he told the MyPlayers website.

That would be a dream come true.

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Juan Smith

Juan Smith

Juan Smith has moved closer to a possible recall for the Springboks after his French club Toulon released him along side Bryan Habana and Bakkies Botha for the Rugby Championship.

This comes as SARU announced that a 30-man Springbok squad for the forthcoming Rugby Championship will only be announced on Saturday 2 August.

This is due to the Sharks still being involved in Super Rugby and lingering injury concerns over certain players.

In April 2012, Smith announced that he would be taking an indefinite break from rugby due to the ongoing battle with his Achilles injury.

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Heyneke Meyer

Is Heyneke Meyer putting too many “old eggs” in one basket?

Springboks coach Heyneke Meyer continues his “Dad’s Army” approach by recalling veteran flanker Juan Smith for a training camp ahead of next month’s Rugby Championship.

French club Toulon confirmed three of their South African signings – Smith, lock Bakkies Botha and wing Bryan Habana – would be involved in the Boks camp.

Smith, 32, hasn’t played for the Boks since 2010 as Achilles injuries requiring four surgeries ravaged his career, eventually forcing him to “retire” early last year.

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Bryan Habana

Bryan Habana – On standby for Blitzbokke duty

Toulon have released South Africa winger Bryan Habana to play for the Blitzbokke at the Commonwealth Games.

Habana had previously been named in the original squad to compete in Scotland before the club decided to prevent him from participating.

However, Toulon have now announced that the 97-times capped flyer has been released to compete in the tournament before he links up with the Springboks to play in The Rugby Championship.

Schalk Brits is the other big name who won’t be featuring in the competition, after his release was denied by Saracens.

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Juan Smith

Springbok flanker Juan Smith may be set to return to the Green and Gold

Juan Smith is set to complete an extraordinary return to Test rugby after being named in South Africa’s squad for a training camp in August, according to Toulon.

Toulon have announced that Smith, along with Bakkies Botha and Bryan Habana, have been selected to attend a South African training camp in August.

Smith, who won the Heineken Cup and Top 14 titles with Toulon last season, has been rejuvenated in France after taking an indefinite break from the sport back in 2012 due to a persistent battle with an Achilles injury.

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BlitzbokkeSASCOC have confirmed enforced late changes to the rugby sevens squad to compete at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.

Cheslin Kolbe, the Western Province and Stormers speedster, has been withdrawn by Western Province due to a knee injury.

Warrick Gelant was due to replace Kolbe but was injured at the weekend and will undergo surgery this week. This sees Mark Richards, a member of the gold-medalling SA sevens team at the World Games in Colombia last year, coming in as a late replacement.

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Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe

Springbok and Bulls lock Flip van der Merwe is only expected back on the field next year, but he’s already determined to make a positive return going into the next Rugby World Cup.

Van der Merwe suffered a serious knee injury during the second Springbok Test against Wales in June. He’s set to be sidelined for six months, which means he’ll only make his comeback during next year’s Super Rugby tournament.

The 29-year-old will miss the Springboks’ Rugby Championship campaign and end-of-year European tour, as well as the Blue Bulls’ Currie Cup campiagn.

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New Zealand Women

New Zealand celebrate a fourth consecutive WRWC title following victory over England in the 2010 final

With just over two weeks to go before Women’s Rugby World Cup 2014, we take a look back at how previous tournaments unfolded and at the Springbok squad and preparations.

Women’s rugby has experienced phenomenal growth in recent times and the number of women and girls playing the game currently stands at 1.5 million, a quarter of the overall total.

Much of that growth over the past five years has been driven by Olympic inclusion, the inception of the IRB Women’s Sevens World Series, Rugby World Cup Sevens and ongoing work between national unions and Olympic Committees.

However, many countries have deep roots in the women’s 15-a-side game, which has already seen seven world tournaments, four sanctioned by the IRB and three ‘unofficial World Cups’.

Here we provide a brief history of the Women’s Rugby World Cup movement.

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Bakkies Botha

Springbok hard man, Bakkies Botha, showing his romantic side

Springbok and Toulon lock Bakkies Botha has spoken about life in France, the final 18 months of his career and what he has planned after rugby.

After his successful run with the Springboks in June against the World XV and Wales, the My Players website caught up with the 35-year-old during his off time in the South African bush.

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O joy... another maul

O joy… another maul

Winning the 2007 Rugby World Cup was a momentous occasion for Springboks but it has done little for the development of the way rugby is played in South Africa.

I believe that the so-called ‘Jake White template’ has been detrimental to South African rugby on a number of levels.

Let me start by saying that I can’t fault White’s tactics in 2007. Given the weapons at his disposal, the approach he adopted was spot on. The efficacy of this approach (when correctly executed) is not in question. My aim here is rather point to the consequences of the mindset that in has become enrooted in SA rugby because of it’s (limited) success.

Ross Hastie

What concerns me is that the territory-based and defence-orientated approach employed back then has been widely adopted in the Republic and in many quarters is still held up as a blueprint for future success.

From a coaching perspective, it’s not difficult to see why this methodology is popular. Giant men imposing themselves with hard, straight running and big hits have always been the hallmarks of the South African style.

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Jake White

Does Jake White have a valid point in blaming player fatigue on the last couple of results that went against the SA Conference leaders, the Cell C Sharks?

While it is true that the Sharks lost a few players to the national cause, it wasn’t as if it was the bulk of their side. Frans Steyn played one match, Bismarck du Plessis, Jannie du Plessis, Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira and Willem Alberts were all either rested or rotated during the 4 Test matches in June. JP Pietersen had the biggest work load for the Bok team if measured in minutes played.

In contrast, the Waratahs players who were involved in the Test series against the French, for the Wallabies, seemed to have lifted their game to an ever higher level.

The same can be said of the All Black players who were involved in a tough 3 Test series against a strong England side.

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Fourie du Preez

Fourie du Preez

Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez’s ankle injury is worse than expected and it has now ruled him out for the rest of the year.

According to SARU, Du Preez will miss the remainder of the South African season following an ankle injury sustained by the Springbok scrumhalf in last Saturday’s 55-6 Test victory over Scotland in Port Elizabeth.

Du Preez left the field in the first half of the Test. He was sent for x-rays immediately afterwards and went for an MRI scan in Pretoria on Monday, which confirmed earlier suspicions of an anterior syndesmotic injury. He will be sidelined for approximately six months.

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Victor Matfield in the scrum cap Cosato does not like

Victor Matfield in the scrum cap Cosato does not like

Cosatu has called on ministers and sport administrators to intervene and bring more black players into South African rugby.

The trade union federation released a media statement in which it criticises the white “old boys club” which it believes still rules rugby in South Africa.

It follows the Springboks’ 55-6 win over Scotland in Port Elizabeth at the weekend – a match which was preceded by SARU president Oregan Hoskins urging Bok coach Heyneke Meyer to pick more black players.

Meyer did include a few more black players in his squad for the game in Port Elizabeth, but Cosatu was not impressed.

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Francois Hougaard

Francois Hougaard

Who Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer earmarks as his flyhalf at the outset of the Championship next month could also have a major bearing on which scrumhalf he chooses to plug the unfortunate Fourie du Preez gap.

Incumbent No 9 and still world-class customer Du Preez, 32, was confirmed on Tuesday as having an ankle injury serious enough for him to ruled out of the entire southern hemisphere tournament.

Given his vast, 70-cap experience and precious ability to read and control a game better than most other South African scrumhalves right now, the loss of Du Preez certainly dents the Boks’ chances of ousting New Zealand from their status as defending champions, even if there have been enough positives in other departments of late to suggest they’ll be seriously competitive nevertheless.

The veteran was just beginning to benefit from a decent run of international matches – important given that he plies his franchise trade in the much more modest arena of Japanese club rugby now – in the June window, looking increasingly more like the character who helped drive the World Cup 2007 success.

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Fourie du Preez

Fourie du Preez

Fourie du Preez will miss the Castle Lager Rugby Championship following an ankle injury sustained by the Springbok scrumhalf in last Saturday’s 55-6 Test victory over Scotland in Port Elizabeth.

Du Preez left the field in the first half of the Test. He was sent for x-rays immediately afterwards and went for an MRI scan in Pretoria on Monday, which confirmed earlier suspicions of an anterior syndesmotic injury. He will be sidelined for at least three months.

“It’s a massive blow to lose yet another world-class player and a key player due to an injury,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer. “Fourie is also a dynamic leader and one of the vice-captains in our team and his injury is a huge setback.”

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Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers

Jean de Villiers’s good nature in terms of positional flexibility may be exploited once again in a few weeks’ time.

The first-choice Springbok captain, who missed the entire June window period due to a knee injury, is an estimated four weeks away from a return to full fitness, which gives him a reasonable chance of being ready – albeit rather undercooked in match sharpness – for the Castle Rugby Championship opener against  Argentina at Loftus on 16 August.

His status was confirmed as the Stormers on Monday issued an update on various sidelined players, some of whom will be available for consideration for Saturday’s Super Rugby derby against the Bulls at Newlands.

Both De Villiers and franchise colleague Damian de Allende, another midfielder who had cracked the Bok squad nod a few weeks ago only to be quickly struck down by wretchedly inconvenient injury himself, remain a few weeks out from renewed activity.

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Bryan Habana

Bryan Habana

Schalk Brits

Schalk Brits

 

The Springbok Sevens team’s hopes of winning a medal at the Commonwealth Sevens could well have been given a blow if indications that Springbok fifteens stars Bryan Habana and Schalk Brits may have to be forced to withdraw by their respective leagues.

While both Brits’ Saracens club and Habana’s Toulon club have given them the go-ahead to be selected for the Games, it seems now that the Premiership and Top14 may well order both to withdraw as the Games falls within the prescribed off period for European rugby.

As both leagues stipulate a strict four week rest period for players during the off season, it is unlikely they will change their minds and Blitzbok coach Neil Powell may well be forced to look elsewhere to bolster his team.

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Jake White

Jake White

Cell C SharksJake White has hinted at a bold strategy to rest his returning Springboks with the Sharks having sewn up the South African conference and guaranteed some play-off rugby already.

The Sharks have an unassailable hold on the South African Conference and cannot finish the tournament any lower than third.

However, the plan is to finish in the top two and earn a direct route to a home semifinal without having to play a qualifying knock-out match.

White has indicated that if they are to really be competitive when it matters, it may require some tactical selection policies.

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Dawie Theron

Dawie Theron

The Northern Hemisphere has had a distinct advantage going into the annual Junior World Championship, but that may soon evaporate.

South African Under 20 coach, Dawie Theron, said discussions are underway to organise a four-nations Rugby Championship style tournament for juniors.

The reason is that when the Six Nations teams – England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, France and Italy – get into the play-offs of the IRB JWC they have the experience of a tough competition to fall back on.

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Heyneke Meyer

Heyneke Meyer

Lood de Jager

Lood de Jager

The joke is going around that Heyneke Meyer describes everything the Bokke does as “AWESOME“!

Well, the South African public have reason to be AWED by the AWESOME display of the Springboks and their AWESOME coach!

Not only are the Springboks playing a very well-rounded and balanced game, 2 and a half years into Heyneke Meyer’s tenure, but it appears that the Springoks can now call on 40 odd players to do National duty for them at any given time.

Not only do the Springboks have locks of absolute world class to burn, the looseforwards are equally impressive, the midfield options have been greatly bolstered… and the flyhalf stocks are suddenly no concern anymore, with well-rounded performances by Handré Pollard and Marnitz Boshoff.

The biggest problems still for the Springboks, seem to be adequate depth at both loosehead and tighthead prop.

With almost 30 frontline Springboks out with injury and / or not available due to the International Window having closed before the start of the Test on the weekend, the mix-and-match Springboks certainly excelled on the weekend.

The 5 Springbok debutants, Handré Pollard, Marnitz Boshoff, Marcel van der Merwe, Stephan Lewies and Teboho ‘Oupa’ Mohoje also distinguished themselves on the field of play.

At the end of the June Internationals, the Springboks and Heyneke Meyer finally have reason to smile!

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ashe

Adam Ashe (picture SNS/SRU)

Never can a nightmare have turned good as quickly as Adam Ashe’s. He spent almost the entire season fighting a recurring hamstring injury and though he did recover in time to win the chance to go training at the Canterbury International High Performance unit in Christchurch, New Zealand, everything was in reality geared to trying to make an impression next season.

He has not had to wait that long for his chance. Even though he had hardly played any rugby during the Scottish season and had managed only 36 minutes of pro play as a replacement for Glasgow, he has been propelled from the fringes of the game to centre stage as the starting No 8 against South Africa.

The magnitude of the step up is huge. For example, among the Springbok back row is Schalk Burger. Ashe was just ten when Burger started playing for South Africa in the 2003 Rugby World Cup, scarcely any older when Burger won the World Player of the Year award. No wonder that, with his strong ball carrying and kamikaze tackling style, Burger was one of teenage Ashe’s heroes.

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Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium

Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium

A capacity crowd is expected at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday when the Springboks take on Scotland.

EP Rugby CEO, Charl Crous, said there were roughly 3 500 tickets left by Thursday afternoon and tickets were selling fast.

“We have seen an upsurge in ticket sales this week and we are encouraging those who have not yet got tickets to please get them as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.”

Crous said it would be great to be able to put up “sold out” signs ahead of the Test match and called on Nelson Mandela Bay residents to come out and support the Springboks.

He also advised people to come early to ensure that everyone would be able to get into the stadium before kickoff at 17:00 SA Time.

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