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Super Rugby

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Cell C SharksIn the first week of discussion of Super Rugby squad contenders for 2015 (17 to 24 December), we will discuss 2 positions in seperate Articles (Props & Hookers) and also seperate the Articles of the 5 SA Super Rugby participating franchises.

That means 10 Super Rugby Articles every week from now on.

The basic idea is to discuss the players IN the Super Rugby Group, and not all the options beyond that.

In this Article we look at the contenders for PROPS in the Cell C Sharks 2015 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.

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Michael Cheika

Michael Cheika

Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika is unfazed about a possible mass exodus of players after next year’s World Cup, following the departures of veterans James Horwill and Adam Ashley-Cooper.

Lock James Horwill, captain at the 2011 World Cup, agreed to a three-year contract with English club Harlequins as he prepares for his first spell in English rugby.

On the same day, French Top 14 side Bordeaux announced they had agreed a two-year deal with wing Ashley-Cooper.

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James Horwill

James Horwill

Queensland Rugby has announced James Horwill has signed a three-year contract with English Premiership giant Harlequins.

Horwill will make the move to the famous London club following the 2015 Rugby World Cup, which concludes in October next year.

He is currently the most-capped Queensland captain, having led the Reds on 69 occasions.

A modern-day champion of the Reds who led Queensland to the 2011 Super Rugby title, Horwill will make the 2015 Super Rugby season his 10th and his last and is determined to achieve success when he pulls on the Reds jersey for the final time next year.

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Dan Carter

Dan Carter

Daniel Carter, world rugby’s leading points scorer and one of the greatest players to ever don the All Blacks jersey, is to leave New Zealand rugby at the end of the 2015 season.

The All Blacks and Crusaders flyhalf has announced he has signed a three-year deal with French Top 14 club Racing Metro. It will be Carter’s second stint in France after he played five games for Perpignan in 2008-09 during his sabbatical from New Zealand rugby.

32-year-old Carter said it was exciting to confirm his future post 2015.

“It’s going to be an awesome adventure for me and my family. Having visited France many times, including my time with Perpignan, I know what the French culture and their rugby culture is like and it’s something I really love.

“Having said that, it’s the immediate future that is exciting me at the moment. 2015 is going to be a big year and I’m looking forward to getting into it, firstly with the Crusaders and then hopefully with the All Blacks.

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dhl Newlands, Cape Town

dhl Newlands, Cape Town

A Special General Meeting of the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) was held at DHL Newlands on Wednesday 17 December 2014 to give feedback and to discuss the investigation of the feasibility and desirability to relocate to the Cape Town Stadium.

The WPRFU are the owners of the DHL Newlands Rugby Stadium – in turn, the clubs are the stakeholders and owners of the Union – and a decision to remain at DHL Newlands was carried by the clubs on Wednesday 17 December 2014, unanimously and without abstention.

The decision to NOT further consider relocating to the Cape Town Stadium was based on a number of factors, the main considerations being the following:

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Akihito Yamada

Akihito Yamada

The Western Force has recruited Japanese international wing, Akihito Yamada for the 2015 edition of the Super Rugby competition.

The signing also coincides with the Force’s 10th season in the Southern Hemisphere tournament.

Yamada joins the Force as a concessional signing for one year, with each Australian club permitted to recruit one Japanese player in addition to their 35-man senior squad.

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Vodacom BullsIn the first week of discussion of Super Rugby squad contenders for 2015 (17 to 21 December), we will discuss 2 positions in 10 seperate Articles (Props & Hookers) – seperating the Articles of the 5 SA Super Rugby participating franchises.

That means 10 Super Rugby Articles every week from now on.

The basic idea is to discuss the players IN the Super Rugby Group, and not all the options beyond that.

In this Article we look at the contenders for PROPS in the Vodacom Bulls 2015 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.

Suggestions as to what to add to these Articles are welcome, but please hurry as the next Article will follow this one shortly!

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Western Force 2015 KitThe Western Force has launched its anniversary playing strip ahead of the 2015 Super Rugby season – the club’s 10th year in the competition.

Representative players were involved in the design process with the 10th anniversary jersey featuring the iconic swan on the front the Force’s ocean blue jersey. Gold trim and black panels under the arms link back to the traditional state colours of Western Australia, where rugby has been played in the state for more than 120 years.

The jersey also has the Force’s ’10 Years’ logo emblazoned on the chest while each name of the 126 players that have represented the Force in Super Rugby since 2006 are listed on the lower back.

The alternate strip is predominantly white featuring the black swan across the front, and a blue trim.

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Damian McKenzie

Damian McKenzie

New Zealand Under 20 star Damian Mckenzie will have to battle it out with his brother Marty for a spot at flyhalf for the Chiefs next year.

The 19-year-old flyhalf has a big future in the game, after showing hints of his sparkling ability with the New Zealand Under 20’s and Waikato’s NPC side this year.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has had his eye on McKenzie for years now, and is looking forward to seeing what he can bring to the team.

He will start third or fourth in the pecking order for the flyhalf position at the Chiefs, behind All Black Aaron Cruden, brother Marty McKenzie, and in a tie with Andrew Horrell.

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Paul Treu

Paul Treu

Former BlitzBokke and Kenya Sevens coach Paul Treu’s role at the Stormers and Western Province may be surprising given his Sevens background, but the departure of Jacques Nienaber has left a hole to be filled.

Treu, who had been coaching the Kenyan Sevens until the recent Port Elizabeth tournament, completed a rapid return to the world of 15-man-rugby when he joined Western Province on Monday.

The long-serving BlitzBokke coach signed up with the Cape side along with Rito Hlungwani and Hanyani Shimange as three big appointments by Director of Rugby Gert Smal ahead of the 2015 Super Rugby season.

Western Province also announced the loss of defensive coach Nienaber who joined the High Performance Department at SARU. This is where Treu stepped in.

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Rugby-Talk.com

It is officially the dreaded OFF-SEASON for Southern Hemisphere rugby, so it means under normal circumstances that we would be going into withdrawal system mode very, very soon… but NEVER here on Rugby-Talk.com.

As from this week (sometime), we will be starting IN DEPTH DISCUSSIONS on the INDIVIDUAL POSITIONS and the PLAYERS who will be filling these positions for the 5 South African Super Rugby Franchises.

That alone means 40 Articles to feast on (8 per Franchise), at a rate of 2 per midweek day, therefor roughly 10 per week, and subsequently it will take us roughly 4 weeks to complete… which basically covers most of the off-season.

But, that is not all folks, we will also be covering INTERNATIONAL CRICKET and some of the NORTHERN HEMISPHERE RUGBY.

In addition we will have a Christmas and New Year’s message, which has also proven popular over the years.

So, lots to look forward to, hold on to your boots!

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Brodie retallick receives New Zealand Player Of The Year 2014

Brodie retallick receives New Zealand Player Of The Year 2014

All Black Brodie Retallick has backed up his World Rugby International Player of the Year award by being named the Kelvin R Tremain Player of the Year at the 2014 Steinlager Rugby Awards.

The 23-year-old’s outstanding form saw the 35-Test powerhouse lock join team mates Richie McCaw, Kieran Read and Jerome Kaino who have won the top honour in recent years.

The All Blacks who retained their number one world ranking for the fifth consecutive year, took out the Team of the Year for the fourth successive year while Steve Hansen earned his third successive Coach of the Year award.

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Emirates LionsEmirates, a global connector of people and their passions, and the Lions, one of South Africa’s top rugby teams, today announced a five-year sponsorship agreement.

The agreement will see Emirates become the title sponsor of the Lions Super Rugby team and have naming rights to the Lions home ground Ellis Park in Johannesburg. The announcement was made at a media conference today by Orhan Abbas, Emirates Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations for Latin America, Southern and Central Africa, and Rudolf Straeuli, the CEO of the Golden Lions Rugby Union.

Starting from 1 January 2015, the Lions will become known as the Emirates Lions, and the familiar “Fly Emirates” logo will adorn the match and training jerseys of the team for the next five years. Ellis Park, will be named Emirates Airline Park. The agreement also includes in-stadia hospitality as well as a number of other marketing rights and activities.

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Johan Ackermann

Johan Ackermann

The Golden Lions Rugby Union is not worried about reports stating that head coach Johan Ackermann is being targeted by a top Japanese club.

It was reported earlier this week that the Lions will struggle to keep Ackermann in South Africa after next year’s Rugby World Cup, with the former Springbok lock reportedly receiving a big-money offer from a Japanese club.

However, the Lions insisted they will not have a fight on their hands to hold on to the services of Ackermann.

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Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

Nizaam Carr and Handré Pollard lead the full list of nominees released by SARU on Wednesday for their annual Player of the Year Awards, which will take place on 8 February in Midrand.

Carr and Pollard, both of whom made their Test debuts for the Springboks this season, have both been nominated in three categories.

The 23-year-old Carr has been nominated in for the SARU Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and Currie Cup Player of the Year.

Pollard, who is only 20, has been nominated in the categories for SARU Player of the Year, Young Player of the Year and SA Under 20 Player of the Year.

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Xerox Golden LionsComing off a highly successful 2014 rugby season in all areas, the Lions have announced the final signings of players for the 2015 season

The GLRU has worked hard in maintaining growth potential in junior players and increasing depth where needed.

The Lions have managed to attact six SA Schools players for the Under 19 squad in Nazo Nkala, Barend Smit, Sarel Smith, Kenny van Niekerk and Marco van Vuuren.

In the Under 21 squad there are seven players who took part in the recent Under 20 World Cup in New Zealand. Cyle Brink, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Thabo Mabuza, Malcolm Marx, Ramone Samuels, Victor Sekeketi and Currie Cup player Jaco van der Walt.

In the senior squad the Lions boast seven players who are either capped by the Springboks or were involved this year, as well as BlitzBokke in Albertus “Kwagga” Smith and their captain Warren Whiteley who is both a Springbok and a Sevens Bok.

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Natalie Thain

Natalie Thain

Natalie Thain, a New Zealand business woman and former Zimbabwean swimmer, has taken over as the new board director at the Crusaders.

Crusaders Chairman Murray Ellis has stepped down from the Crusaders Board and is retiring after fifteen years on the board and seven as Chairman.

He said he continued to be passionate about the Crusaders and it was not easy stepping aside from something that had been such a big part of his life for many years.

“It has been an honour to serve on this board and as the Crusaders Chair. We have faced significant change in the time that I have been involved, and I am proud of the contribution I have been able to make in helping to steer the Crusaders through those challenges.

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Golden LionsEmiratesIt has been widely reported in various sections of the media today that the Lions are set to announce a 5 YEAR sponsorship deal with Emirates Airlines which would also include naming rights to the iconic Ellis Park Stadium.

The announcement, which will also include details of 2 other sponsorship deals is set to be made by Lions CEO Kevin de Klerk and CEO Rudolph Strauli tomorrow (11 December 2014).

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Doug Edwards

Doug Edwards

The Brumbies will say farewell to Doug Edwards as Chief Executive of the club after the long-serving board member announced his departure on Monday.

Edwards has external business interests to the Brumbies which will see him return to Queensland.

Edwards will remain with the Brumbies until his replacement has been appointed and is working in the role. The search for a replacement is already underway and has turned up several positive leads.

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Super RugbyTwenty-three newly contracted Australian rugby players have gathered in Sydney for the 12 annual RUPA Induction Camp at St Andrew’s College.

In attendance are players across all five Australian Super Rugby teams and the National Sevens who have been offered their first full time or Extended Playing Squad (EPS) contract for 2015.

Last year the Camp involved players including Will Skelton, Alofa Alofa, Jack Debreczeni, Curtis Browning, Samu Kerevi and Adam Coleman.

In 2014, the camp includes five players from the Brumbies, four from the Waratahs, Rebels and Force, three from the Reds and, for the first time, three members of the women’s National Sevens squad.

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Western ForceThe Force will host two pre-season fixtures in Perth against the Brumbies (Friday 23 January) and the Asia Pacific Dragons (Saturday 31 January) in the lead-in to the club’s 10th Super Rugby season.

Both matches will be played at McGillivray Oval in Mount Claremont.

The two matches will give the passionate ‘Sea of Blue’ their opportunity to see the Force in action prior to their season-opener against the Waratahs in Sydney on Sunday 15 February.

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Nizaam Carr

Nizaam Carr

Marcell Coetzee

Marcell Coetzee

Willie le Roux

Willie le Roux

Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

Duane Vermeulen

Duane Vermeulen

Five Springboks have been nominated for the prestigious SA Rugby Player of the Year Award for 2014 with one of Nizaam Carr, Marcell Coetzee, Willie le Roux, Handré Pollard or Duane Vermeulen in line to claim the coveted annual award for the first time in their careers.

The five players, who all played for the Boks this year, have been nominated by the South African rugby media following a stellar year on the field. Springbok rugby fans across the globe will now be given a voice in the selection of the winner, SARU announced on Friday.

The public will also be asked to cast their votes in two other categories, Young Player and the Absa Team of the Year. To cast your vote, CLICK HERE.

Carr and Pollard have also being named in the Young Player category, along with Cheslin Kolbe, Seabelo Senatla and Jan Serfontein. The Junior Springboks, Springboks, Springbok Sevens, DHL Western Province and Xerox Golden Lions have been nominated as Absa Team of the Year.

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Toyota Cheetahs 2015 Home & Away Jerseys

Toyota Cheetahs 2015 Home & Away Jerseys

PUMA has revealed the new Cheetahs kit for Super Rugby 2015, which focuses on the team’s two distinct colours – orange and ‘pou blou’ turquoise, rounded off with purple numbers and trimmings – but with a shift to orange for the home kit.

“The latest PUMA kit for the Toyota Cheetahs is something of a landmark,” says PUMA South Africa’s Marketing Director Brett Bellinger.

“Traditionally the home kit has been marked by a largely white-based treatment with the away kit being orange.

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Deon van Rensburg

Deon van Rensburg

Michael Bondesio

Michael Bondesio

Golden Lions players Michael Bondesio and Deon van Rensburg have announced their retirement from professional rugby.

The duo had been struggling with injuries of late and decided to call it a day, the union announced via their official Facebook page.

Scrumhalf Bondesio had not played much this year due to a knee injury, while wing / centre Van Rensburg was laid low by a rib injury.

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Mouritz Botha

Mouritz Botha

Mouritz Botha has been reluctantly released by Saracens to join The Sharks in South Africa, with effect from 1 January 2015.

Mark McCall, Director of Rugby, said: “Mouritz has been a massive part of our squad and our culture for the past five and a half seasons, and we are very sorry to see him leave. However, this is a great opportunity to play for one of the top teams in the Super XV, and we wish him, Natasha and young Joshua well.”

Botha joined Saracens from Bedford Blues in 2009, has played 142 matches for the club and has also been capped 10 times by England.

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Frik Kirsten

Frik Kirsten

The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Wednesday confirmed the retirement from rugby by Vodacom Bulls prop Frik Kirsten. The former Junior Springbok player suffered a neck injury in March whilst playing his 34th match for the Vodacom Bulls and underwent surgery after that. Although the surgery proved successful, medical advice was for the 26-year old player not to play rugby again.

Kirsten, who studied B.Comm (Accounting) at the University of Pretoria while playing professional rugby, graduated with an honours degree and will now pursue a career in accounting, hoping to become a chartered accountant.

Xander Janse van Rensburg, High Performance Manager at the Blue Bulls Company, said it was sad to lose a player of Kirsten’s ability, but applauded the fact that the player prepared for a career after rugby while still playing.

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Super Rugby

Some news titbits from all over, in preparation for the 2015 Super Rugby season.

  • Willie Brits, the popular lion-looking Xerox Lion, has made his move back to the Toyota Cheetahs for 2015.
  • Ben Afeaki, Chiefs prop, who has ongoing concussion problems will have to decide his future and consider possible retirement.
  • The Force will celebrate its 10th Super Rugby season by returning one of the club’s favourite sons, Tai McIsaac, to its coaching staff for the next three years.
  • South African-born lock Marco Kotze has become the 11th Queensland-based National Rugby Championship player to be contracted by the Reds.

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BullsFor long the bastion of a structured approach to rugby, the Blue Bulls are flirting with an attacking mindset.

Bulls captain Pierre Spies suggested as much at the launch of their latest jersey for the Super Rugby season on Thursday.

“You want to create an attacking mindset within the players, and in a lot of ways the guys have felt restricted and also bound themselves to the plan that was on the table,” Spies said in Pretoria.

“That is never how it should have been, the plan is to create an environment where we can go out and play rugby.

“The big thing is to cultivate and attacking mindset and an enjoyment of the game.”

The Bulls have been the pace-setting South African team in the previous decade where they won an unprecedented three Super Rugby titles.

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Vodacom Bulls 2015 Home Kit

Vodacom Bulls 2015 Home Kit

PUMA has launched the new Vodacom Bulls Super Rugby 2015 kit, which is rich in heritage, pays homage to the team’s loyal fans and features a striking Bull’s head.

The Bull’s head wraps around the player’s body to create a 360-degree effect and when the team gathers on the field, the design’s collective impression is of a herd of Bulls, standing strong and unified by years of history.

“The new PUMA kit for the Vodacom Bulls marks a departure from the last few seasons kit,” said PUMA South Africa Marketing Director Brett Bellinger. “PUMA together with the Vodacom Bulls decided it was time to return to something a little more traditional and pay tribute to the strong Bulls brand and branding that has made them the most decorated Vodacom Super Rugby Team in South Africa. We also take this opportunity to wish the team well as they prepare for the upcoming season.”

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CrusadersThe Pacific Islands may yet get a taste of Super Rugby, with the Crusaders considering shifting their home match against the Hurricanes to Fiji next year.

The Fiji Village website reported that planning was underway for the seven-time Super Rugby champions to play the Hurricanes in Suva after a sponsor came forward to underwrite the move.

A Crusaders spokesman could not confirm the switch Thursday, saying there were a number of options under consideration with their usual second-choice home venues of Nelson and Timaru also in the mix.

“It’s too soon to comment on what may go ahead,” she said.

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Aaro Mauger

Aaro Mauger

Crusaders Assistant Coach, Aaron Mauger, has accepted the Head Coach role with his old Leicester Tigers club from the 2015 / 2016 season.

Mauger, who will complete his third Super Rugby season as Assistant Coach with the Crusaders in 2015, played 53 games for the Leicester Tigers between 2007 and 2010 and captained the side for much of the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

He says it is a dream opportunity to return to a club that he is so fond of, in a head coach capacity.

“I have awesome memories of my time at Leicester as a player and it is a place I will very happily return to.

“I feel incredibly lucky to have the chance to do that as the head coach for the club and the timing is right for me to grab that opportunity.

“My aim is to help create the framework for Leicester to once again be amongst the top clubs in European and world rugby.

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Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe

The Bulls were dealt a cruel blow just days into their pre-season, with confirmation that Springbok Flip van der Merwe is set to miss the start of the 2015 season.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke, confirmed that Van der Merwe will undergo surgery next Tuesday after damaging his pectoral muscle.

“It was a freak accident,” Ludeke said, when asked about the burly lock that was ruled out for the latter half of 2014 after suffering a serious knee injury during the second Springbok Test against Wales in June.

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Super Rugby

  • SANZAR Executive Committee formally approves Japan Rugby Football Union and Union Argentina de Rugby’s admission into Super Rugby from 2016
  • The Japanese team will be based at Tokyo’s Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Stadium with three home games per season to be played at the Singapore Sports Hub
  • The Argentine and Japanese national teams are currently ranked 9th and 10th in the world respectively
  • There are nearly a quarter of a million rugby players in Japan and Argentina combined
  • Japan will host the 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympic Games

Super Rugby’s expansion to 18 teams from 2016 is officially complete with SANZAR formally confirming the participation of the Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) and Union Argentina de Rugby (UAR) at an Executive Committee meeting in London today.

The confirmation is the final stage of formalities and paves the way for the Tokyo and Buenos Aires-based franchises to start contracting players and staff ahead of their historic entry to Super Rugby in a little over 12 months from now.

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Dave Dennis

Dave Dennis

Waratahs captain Dave Dennis revealed that he went to America to speed up the rehabilitation program, following a knee injury.

Dennis was among the first batch of Waratahs that began pre-season training this week, as they look to defend their Super Rugby crown.

He was among the first group of returning players, which include senior team members Pat McCutcheon, Paddy Ryan and Jeremy Tilse.

They are joined by seven new faces, including former New Zealand Warriors Rugby League player Sam Lousi.

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