Utility back Marcel Brache and front-rower Francois van Wyk will remain with the Western Force until at least the end of 2017 after signing extensions this week.
Brache played all but 1 match for the Western Australian club this year, having joined the Western Force from South Africa’s DHL Western Province for the 2014 season.
Having joined the Force with 41 Currie Cup caps to his name for Western Province and a Varsity Cup title with the University of Cape Town Ikey Tigers, the 28-year-old says he’s excited about continuing his rugby in Perth.
Yet another experienced Test star has pledged his commitment to Super Rugby with Juan Martin Hernandez returning home to join Argentina’s new team.
The 53-cap Pumas veteran has signed for 2 years, just a day after Juan Manuel Leguizamon also said he was returning to Buenos Aires.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, but I am convinced that I want to be part of what’s next for rugby in Argentina,” Hernandez said on Thursday.
“This is a new tournament to us and will serve us well as the team matures and grows in confidence. We find it extremely high intensity – more than The Rugby Championship – and will come in handy to see just how far you can go as an Argentine player.”
Beginning his professional career in France in 2003, Hernandez made 123 appearances for Stade Français before stints at Racing Métro and Toulon, where he signed at the beginning of 2015 before deciding to answer the call and return to Argentina.
The Reds have announced the appointment of experienced senior coach Matt O’Connor as the team’s attack coach on a 3-year deal.
O’Connor will join Head Coach Richard Graham (defence) and Senior Assistant Coach Nick Stiles (forwards) ahead of the Reds’ pre-season later this year. The appointment completes the team’s coaching staff structure for 2016.
O’Connor brings almost 20 years of experience to the role. Most recently, he worked as head coach of Leicester in the English Premiership (2009 – 2013) and Leinster in the European Pro 12 (2014 – 2015), achieving success with both teams.
Herbert said O’Connor was a strong addition to the Reds’ coaching team.
Juan Manuel Leguizamon is set to return to his homeland to represent Argentina’s new Super Rugby franchise after a decade in Europe.
The veteran, who has represented London Irish, Stade Francais and Lyon, signed his contract on Tuesday in the presence of UAR President, Carlos Araujo and Secretary of the Union, Fernando Rizzi.
“This is another important day for Argentine rugby,” Araujo said.
“Juan Manuel has been a strength of the Pumas and 1 of the pillars of a process that has been underway for years and that will peak in 2016 with the inclusion of Argentina in the Super Rugby competition.
The Waratahs have confirmed the re-signing of Assistant Coach Nathan Grey, finalising the coaching structure ahead of the 2016 Super Rugby season.
Grey, who began his coaching role at the Waratahs ahead of their title-winning season in 2014, said he was excited at the prospect of continuing his work with the team, and shaping the next generation of incoming players.
“We’ve got a really exciting group of young players on board for next season who have an opportunity here to contribute to the team right from the start,” Grey said.
2 Players with a big future in Super Rugby have re-signed with the Brumbies.
Former Australian Sevens representative Lausii Taliauli has signed a new 1-year deal with the club while tighthead prop Ruan Smith has signed a new 2-year deal.
Taliauli has been earmarked as 1 of Australia’s top wing prospects following his debut for the Brumbies in Round 1 of the 2015 Super Rugby Season. He made 7 appearances for the side this year and crossed for 1 try.
Brumbies Head Coach Stephen Larkham showed faith in the former Gold Coast Titans NRL winger, by selecting Taliauli to start on the wing in the Brumbies Super Rugby Semi-Final loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington.
The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Monday confirmed that a number of high profile Springboks have extended their contracts with the Blue Bulls Company for the next couple of seasons.
The likes of Handré Pollard (Oct 2019), Adriaan Strauss (Oct 2019), Jesse Kriel (Oct 2019), Trevor Nyakane (Oct 2018) and Jan Serfontein (Oct 2017) all confirmed their futures with the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls, by signing extensions that will keep them in Pretoria for a considerable time.
“This is a clear indication that frontline players see the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls as the ideal place to continue and build their already impressive careers,” says High Performance Manager at the Blue Bulls Comapany, Xander Janse van Rensburg.
SANZAR has written to the Japan Rugby Football Union seeking clarity about the players signed to the new Super Rugby franchise amid concerns about the team’s participation in the southern hemisphere provincial competition.
Japan beat off a bid from Singapore to enter a team into the expanded 18-side tournament next year but local media have cast doubts on the side’s ability to compete.
JRFU general secretary Noriyuki Sakamoto shot down reports over the weekend that only a handful of players had been signed, saying the team had already met the quota given to them by SANZAR.
But Brendan Morris, acting chief executive of SANZAR, the tournament’s governing body, said he had asked for more details.
Auckland ITM Cup head coach Paul Feeney has been named an assistant for the Blues, commencing at the end of this year’s provincial championship.
Feeney completes the new coaching group for the Blues under head coach Tana Umaga, taking specific responsibility for the backs attack and skills. He joins new defence coach Alastair Rogers and current forwards coach Glenn Moore.
Feeney, a former North Harbour representative, has been a professional coach for 14 seasons including 2 as assistant coach for Fiji and including winning the Rugby World Cup Sevens title and also coached for 2 years in Japan.
He has been involved in the ITM Cup with North Harbour, Bay of Plenty and Auckland, taking over as head coach last year.
Feeney won 3 Heartland Championship titles in succession with East Coast from 2006 – 2008, and was assistant coach with the Blues Development side for the last 3 years.
The Brumbies are celebrating the re-signing of 1 of world rugby’s most respected players, after David Pocock committed to a new 1-year deal with the club.
Pocock was a standout for the Brumbies in 2015 and was rewarded with 3 of the club’s highest on-field honours, the Brett Robinson Player’s Player, the fan-voted Stallion of the Year and the Best Forward awards.
Capping off a remarkable season, he was also named the Australian Super Rugby Player of the Year at the annual John Eales Medal ceremony in Sydney.
His achievements this season were made even more remarkable by the fact he had played just 5 games in 2013 and 2014 due to 2 serious knee injuries.
The Waratahs and Australian Rugby Union (ARU) have announced the re-signing of Kurtley Beale on a contract that will see him in Australia for at least a further 2 years, until the end of 2017.
Waratahs Head Coach Daryl Gibson said Beale’s commitment to the side for 2 more seasons would continue his significant contribution to the legacy of the club.
“Kurtley has played some of his best football for the Waratahs, and I am confident we will see his game continue to progress in the seasons to come,” Gibson said.
Israel Folau becomes the 1st Australian player to win consecutive John Eales Medals.
The Wallabies and Waratahs fullback Israel Folau has claimed the 2015 John Eales Medal, winning the award for a 2nd consecutive year.
In just his 3rd year in Rugby Union’s top flight, Folau’s meteoric rise has continued as he becomes just the 3rd player in the 14-year history of the John Eales Medal to collect the major award for a 2nd time, joining George Smith (2002, 2008) and Nathan Sharpe (2007, 2012).
At a packed gala dinner at Royal Randwick Racecourse in Sydney, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) celebrated and acknowledged the players, coaches, fans, match officials and administrators for their dedication, committment and outstanding performance.
Folau picked up 138 votes in total to edge out resurgent flanker David Pocock (113), Wallabies Vice-Captains Michael Hooper (108), Adam Ashley-Cooper (98), and Ben McCalman (95) to become the 1st ever back-to-back winner.
Springbok stars Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi and Damian de Allende have all committed their long-term rugby futures to DHL Western Province and the DHL Stormers.
Prop Malherbe, lock Etzebeth, flanker Kolisi and centre De Allende are in contention to represent South Africa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England, having all been part of the Springbok squad this season after stellar Vodacom Super Rugby campaigns for the DHL Stormers.
Between them, the quartet have featured in 61 Tests, Etzebeth leading the way with 37 Test appearances since his debut against England in 2012, with Malherbe (6 Tests) and Kolisi (11 Tests) making their debuts in 2013 and De Allende (7 Tests) playing his 1st international in 2014.
“Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi and Damian de Allende have all been developed here at Western Province, coming through our youth structures and going on to play Test rugby for South Africa as standout DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province players,” said WP Director of Rugby Gert Smal.
New Zealand Rugby, the Highlanders and Manawatu Rugby have announced that Aaron Smith has re-committed through until at least the end of the 2019 season.
26-Year-old Smith, who has played 41 Tests for the All Blacks, 78 games (including 60 consecutive matches) for the Highlanders and more than 40 matches for the Manawatu Turbos, has become an integral part of the All Blacks and Highlanders success over the last few years. He was a standout player for the Highlanders this season, helping the team to their inaugural Super Rugby title and carried his form into the All Blacks season.
The Test scrumhalf said, “I’m really excited and thankful for the commitment shown from New Zealand Rugby, including the Highlanders and Manawatu Turbos.
New Zealand Under 20 Junior World Cup winning captain, Atunaisa Moli, has signed with the Chiefs for the next 2 years.
The versatile Waikato prop who can play both sides of the scrum has impressed head coach Dave Rennie since being a part of the Chiefs’ development program in 2014.
Moli toured Hong Kong with the side earlier this season in addition to spending time training with the Chiefs’ core Super Rugby squad.
Waratahs boss Greg Harris will leave the Sydney Super Rugby franchise just 10 months after he joined the rugby club.
According to reports in Sydney CEO Harris chose not to re-apply for an extension for his contract which ends on 31 December.
The Waratahs franchise won their first Super Rugby title in 2014 but have lost several of their stars and the coach who masterminded the title has moved up to take on the Wallabies job.
The reports suggest that the restructure of the governance of both the Waratahs and NSW Rugby, who operate as separate entities, has upset several parties and and created conflicts.
With Japan’s national coach, Eddie Jones, linked to the DHL Stormers job for 2016, Japan’s new Super Rugby franchise appears to be beset by problems.
Super Rugby will be expanded to 18 teams from next year, with teams from Japan and Argentina as well as South Africa’s Southern Kings set to join the competition.
Japan coach Jones was initially chosen to coach the Japanese Super Rugby team as well, but he has confirmed he is in talks with the Stormers, with the Cape franchise reportedly eager to sign the former Wallabies coach.
Jones denied that he had signed a deal with the DHL Stormers but admitted that he has had discussions with the franchise.
Japan coach Eddie Jones has dismissed speculation that he has penned a deal with the DHL Stormers but said he was in talks with the Cape side.
Jones, like any professional in the sporting world, is weighing up his options before his contract comes to an end in Japan.
The Australian has a contract with the ‘Brave Blossoms’ until the end of 2015 but he was thought keen to remain in Japan, which will host the 2019 World Cup, to coach the national side as well as the new Super Rugby expansion team.
However, reports from Cape Town on Monday said that the 55-year-old had already put pen-to-paper on a 2-year deal worth R 5 000 000.00 ($ 385 563.00) per year with the Stormers.
The Reds have announced the extension of Richard Graham as head coach for the 2016 Super Rugby season.
Graham will work under a new high performance structure that will see him report into an Executive General Manager.
This newly created structure, outlined as the main recommendation from the recent Reds High Performance Review, sees the appointment of former World Cup-winning Wallabies centre Daniel Herbert, a 124-capped Queensland Red, to this Executive General Manager’s role.
All Blacks Performance Analyst Alistair Rogers will become the new assistant coach for the Blues.
Rogers, who has been with the All Blacks for the last 7 years, was named to join new head coach Tana Umaga for the next 2 years at the Blues.
He has had a special focus on opposition analysis and defence with the All Blacks and will take the responsibility for defence at the Blues, joining incumbent forwards coach Glenn Moore.
The former professional player is keen to return to a full-time coaching role, after guiding the Ballina Rugby Club in Ireland for 12 months, a stint as defence coach at Honda in Japan and a spell as Hurricanes assistant defence coach last year.
Glen Fisiiahi is set to make a return to rugby and will be joining the Chiefs for the next 2 years, from Rugby League team, the Warriors.
The 24 year-old former Wesley College Sports Dux and Counties Manukau Under 18 rugby player, who had offers to stay in rugby league said, “I wanted a change and to switch back to union with the Chiefs.”
“I have really enjoyed the league environment but I have rekindled my interest in rugby and want to try a different environment. I’m looking forward to a new chapter in my sporting career and a fresh challenge.
European champions Toulon of France and Super Rugby winners the Highlanders of New Zealand are hoping to face-off in Hong Kong on 6 February.
The 1-off fixture brings together triple European champions Toulon with the Highlanders, who landed their 1st Super Rugby title this month.
“Toulon and the Highlanders have sent off a request for agreement from their respective federations,” Philippe Spanghero, a spokesman for the organisers, told AFP.
“When that’s obtained we’ll put together a proposal to World Rugby to get all the required authorisation,” he added.
Karmichael Hunt is set for a fiery courtroom showdown with the alleged drug lord at the centre of football’s cocaine crisis.
Lawyers for John Touma, the alleged dealer, will make an application to grill the code-hopping star under cross-examination when the case returns to court on the Gold Coast next month.
Hunt was one of the first big-name sports stars caught by a crime and corruption commission investigation in to a multimillion-dollar cocaine trafficking network.
So far almost a dozen current and former elite footballers have been dragged into the mess on charges ranging from supply and possession to drug trafficking.
Originally charged with 4 counts of supplying cocaine in February, Hunt sensationally took a plea deal for the lesser charge of drug possession and has provided investigators with an explosive witness statement implicating National Rugby League stars and his former teammates at the Gold Coast Suns, in the scandal.
The Queensland Rugby Union has secured the signature of Test lock Kane Douglas for the next 3 years, adding further depth to the Reds’ forward stocks.
The 26-year-old is an imposing figure standing at 2.02m tall and weighing 119kg, but also brings with him significant experience, having already played 75 Super Rugby games and 14 Test matches since making the step up to professional rugby in 2010.
Douglas made his Super Rugby debut for the Waratahs in 2010 and played his 1st Test for the Wallabies in 2012. In 2014 he made the decision to experience Rugby overseas and moved to Leinster to play in the European Pro 12 competition.
Douglas has returned to Australian shores and said he was looking forward to this next chapter of his life on and off the field.
6 Weeks after Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke resigned after failing to take his side to the Vodacom Super Rugby playoffs, the Pretoria franchise are struggling to find a suitable replacement coach for next year’s tournament.
While Nollis Marais has been elevated from the Vodacom Cup to ABSA Currie Cup and is currently preparing the side in Japan ahead of their last friendly match against the Canon Eagles, there is a growing desperation and worry that the Bulls might not find a top quality coach before the preparation for next year’s expanded Super Rugby tournament begins.
It was expected that Springbok assistant coach Johann van Graan would be the favourite, and sources close to the Bulls management say that he was offered the job, but turned the Bulls down, choosing to focus on the Springboks.
While Van Graan hasn’t commented on the move, he is currently concentrating on preparing the Springboks for their Rugby World Cup campaign.
The Springbok assistant coach is highly rated, and has also been linked to the DHL Stormers coaching position, but apparently didn’t feel it was the right time to return to the province where he learnt most of his rugby.
New Western Force flyhalf Peter Grant says he’s excited to move to Perth where his parents and 2 uncles also live.
The Force on Wednesday officially confirmed the signing of the former Stormers and Springbok flyhalf on a 2-year deal.
Grant, 30, represented the Stormers for 9 seasons and the 5-Test Springbok most recently played a season with French Top 14 club, La Rochelle, having also played 4 seasons with Japanese Top League club, the Kobelco Steelers.
The move to Perth was made easier by Grant’s family connections there.
After a dismal Super Rugby season the Cell C Sharks have gone through a major revamp allowing a new crop of players to step up.
With the exodus of a number of the Sharks’ Springbok players to overseas contracts, and many of their big-name players plying their trade at The Rugby Championship and Rugby World Cup for the Springboks, a next generation of Sharks players both young and new need to man-up to the big stage.
Sibusiso ‘S’bura’ Sithole is 1 of those players that will be a key element to their success and he acknowledges that although not a senior player, he does bring a wealth of experience and knows that he has a big role to play.
All Blacks scrumhalf Tawera Kerr-Barlow will stay with the Chiefs for the next 2 seasons and has every intention of being 1st choice No 9.
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said the 24 year-old has displayed an amazing work ethic recovering from his horrific injury during an All Blacks match late in 2014.
“Tawera is incredibly professional. His dedication to rehab and developing other parts of his game throughout his time out has been impressive. He is in fantastic condition.”
“He is now 1 of our senior players who contributes greatly in our environment. I know he is hungry to get back to top level footy.”
The tenacious scrumhalf has no intention of playing 2nd fiddle to either Brad Weber or Augustine Pulu.
The latest instalment in the Quade Cooper transfer saga has been an exchange of words between the Toulon boss and the Australian coach.
Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal launched a relatively tasteless tirade against the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and its prized asset Quade Cooper, whom he threatened would end up as “the 2nd most indebted State after Greece”.
The eccentric Frenchman said that the 150 000 Euros that has been mooted as Cooper’s buyout of his contract was in fact for the promise of a contract – Boudjellal claims that Cooper has actually put pen to paper, which would make that void and has allegedly threatened legal action if Cooper does not show up for his medical soon.
Boudjellal told Midi Olympique: “The moron of the Australian federation who does not understand the case needs to know that the promise of employment is no longer the question.”
The Queensland Rugby Union has signed no less than 6 more players to the Reds squad ahead of the 2016 Super Rugby season.
In an effort to continue the restructuring and reviewing of the Reds program – these signings come after a number changes that have already been implemented in the past 2 months, including the appointment of Brad Thorn as Reds elite development squad forwards coach, Damian Marsh as head of athletic performance, the re-signing of Nick Stiles as senior assistant coach and the appointment of Cameron Lillicrap as head physiotherapist.
The announcement is headlined by the signing of 2 promising 21-year-old flyhalves in Jake McIntyre and Sam Greene.
The Reds have also added to the depth in their forward pack by adding prop Pettowa Paraka, hooker Alex Mafi and locks Lukhan Tui and Izack Rodda – all aged 21 or under.
Troubled former All Black Zac Guildford said the Waratahs had offered him a contract for next season, handing yet another lifeline to the bad boy of New Zealand.
Still only 26, Guildford’s career has been blighted by alcohol issues and he walked out of a contract with French Top 14 side Clermont in May – citing “personal reasons”.
Since then, the wing – who scored 6 tries in 10 Tests for the All Blacks – has been playing for his home provincial team Hawke’s Bay.
Guildford said Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson had approached him about joining the Sydney-based Super Rugby side, who lost wings Peter Betham and Taqele Naiyaravoro at the end of the 2015 season.
Guildford and Gibson, himself an All Black, worked together when Gibson was assistant coach at the Crusaders.
The EP Kings have expressed their disappointment after former coach Carlos Spencer voiced his dissatisfaction at unpaid wages.
Spencer earlier this week parted ways with the Kings and – through his attorney David Jones – the former All Black has attributed his departure from the Kings to their continued troubles in meeting wage obligations.
The Kings on Thursday insisted that Spencer and his lawyers’ claims were “simply not true”.
“The initial problems we had with Carlos’ salary was due to his insistence of having his funds paid into an offshore account,” EP Rugby President, Cheeky Watson, said via a media statement.
Watson said this resulted in delays that arose out of the administrative compliance and paperwork issues.
Wallabies wing Henry Speight will join Australia’s Sevens programme as part of a new 3-year deal announced by the Australian Rugby Union on Thursday.
Speight’s new contract with the ARU will see him remain with the Brumbies through to the end of 2018 and join the Australian Sevens programme in 2016.
The landmark deal means Speight will be available for the inaugural Sydney Sevens at Allianz Stadium in February next year.
As part of the agreement between the ARU and the Brumbies, Speight will combine his duties with the national Sevens program and his Super Rugby team throughout 2016.
As well as the Sydney Sevens on the weekend on 6 – 7 February, Speight will be available for selection for the Hong Kong and London legs of the 2015 / 2016 World Rugby Sevens Series and – pending qualification – the Rio 2016 Olympics.
At the conclusion of the Rio Olympics in August 2016, Speight will be available for the Wallabies for the remainder of The Rugby Championship before returning full-time with the Brumbies for the 2017 and 2018 Super Rugby seasons.
Could Auckland rugby icon Carlos Spencer be on the verge of making a dramatic return to the Blues as a skills coach under Tana Umaga?
It might seem a longshot but the door could be open according to Blues boss Michael Redman.
Spencer, among the most gifted footballers in New Zealand rugby history, wants to return to New Zealand from South Africa having quit Super Rugby’s Kings franchise which he says owes him substantial wages.
Redman told the Herald the Blues will decide within days whether to appoint a new skills coach, or make the job contestable. If it is the latter, Spencer – who approached the franchise this year – would “absolutely be an option and we would hope and expect he would apply.”
The 39-year-old Spencer is on the lookout for a new job after parting ways with South Africa’s Eastern Province Kings, the apparently financially troubled franchise which returns to the expanded Super Rugby competition next season.
His shock departure from the Kings, revealed yesterday, has cast a further spotlight on issues facing the expanded Super Rugby competition.
The Melbourne Rebels have signed Irish international prop Jamie Hagan for 2 Super Rugby seasons.
Hagan, 28, a tighthead prop who has made more than 100 appearances for Leinster, Connacht and London Irish, made his full international debut for Ireland against the United States of America in 2013.
Hagan becomes only the 2nd fully capped Irish international to sign for an Australian Super Rugby team, after front-rower Peter Clohessy spent the 1997 season with the Reds.
Hagan said he was looking forward to testing himself in the Southern Hemisphere’s renowned provincial competition.