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:
Wales coach Warren Gatland named prop Samson Lee in his 31-man squad for this year’s Rugby World Cup.
Lee has not played since rupturing his Achilles tendon in March.
Flyhalf Gareth Anscombe was left out in favour of Matthew Morgan.
Wales are in Pool A with hosts England, Australia, Fiji and Uruguay.
Japan’s national coach, Eddie Jones, on Monday named former Australian rugby league star Craig Wing among a 31-strong Japan Rugby World Cup squad.
The squad is packed with imported talent for the tournament beginning next month.
Jones handed a place to former Kangaroo and New South Wales State of Origin Craig Wing, named Chiefs flank Michael Leitch – who is of Fijian origin – as captain and also included former Reds loose forward Hendrik Tui.
Australian Jones also turned to 2nd row forward Michael Broadhurst, who is the brother of 1-cap All Black lock James Broadhurst, and picked veteran New Zealand-born big man Luke Thompson, 34, who can play either in the 2nd row or at loose forward.
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:
Nehe Milner-Skudder and Waisake Naholo were rewarded for their fine form after they were included in New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup squad.
The inclusion of the 2 pacemean means that there is no place for veterans Israel Dagg and Cory Jane in the squad. Charles Piutau, who has featured regularly for the All Blacks in the last 2 seasons, also misses out on selection.
The squad, captained by Richie McCaw, features 17 forwards and 14 backs. It will be a particularly exciting time for 17 of the All Blacks squad, who will be going to their 1st Rugby World Cup tournament.
All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said said the squad was a reflection of the depth the country has at the moment.
WP Nel is due to start a test match for Scotland for the 1st time when they face Italy at BT Murrayfield on Saturday. The burly tighthead prop from Loeriesfontein qualifies to play for Scotland on residency grounds, having played for Edinburgh for the last 3 years. Nel who earned his 1st Scotland cap against Italy in Turin last weekend when he came on as a substitute in the 47th minunte is 1 of 14 changes that has been made to the starting team.
Sean Lamont is the only player who retains his place in the starting line-up from last week with several players in the match day squad making their 1st appearance in this series of warm-up matches.
Head coach Vern Cotter announced his team today and the starting line-up appears to be close to what could be considered his 1st choice 15. The halfbacks and fullback look to be Cotter’s favoured choices while there may still be 1 or 2 changes on the wings and 1 at centre. Up front we are likely to be seeing the 1st choice tight 5 in action while there will possibly still be a change or 2 to the loose forward trio.
Sam Burgess was included in England’s final 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup announced on Thursday just 10 months after changing codes from rugby league.
Burgess, the man-of-the-match in South Sydney Rabbitohs’ win in the Australian National Rugby League Grand Final, was included after playing just 70 minutes of Test rugby union – his debut in a 19 / 14 win over France at Twickenham a fortnight ago seeing him sin-binned for 10 minutes.
The 26-year-old edged out the more experienced Luther Burrell for a place among England coach Stuart Lancaster’s centres even though Burgess spent much of last season playing as a back-row forward for Bath.
Henry Slade, who also impressed on his debut against France at Twickenham, was also included in midfield alongside Burgess – although Jonathan Joseph and Brad Barritt appear to be England’s 1st-choice centres.
Ben Morgan, only recently returned from a broken leg, was included among the back-row forwards with Harlequins veteran Nick Easter missing out while Sale flyhalf Danny Cipriani, as was widely forecast, also failed to make it to the final squad.
World Rugby has demanded from Japan to supply a list of confirmed venues for the 2019 Rugby World Cup after Tokyo’s decision to scrap the proposed stadium that would host the final.
The decision to remove the future New National Stadium from the line-up was to amid huge cost overruns.
World Rugby said it was giving the tournament’s Japanese hosts until the end of September to come up with a “revised detailed host venue proposal that delivers exceptional team and fan experience, maximising opportunities for fans to be a part of rugby’s showcase event”.
The governing body has also requested a fresh tournament budget that supplies “appropriate financial security”.
The demands come after Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shocked World Rugby last month when he scrapped plans for the New National Stadium for the 2020 Olympics.
The stadium was scheduled to host Rugby World Cup matches in 2019, including the showpiece final.
Saracens loose forward Jacques Burger will captain Namibia in the upcoming Rugby World Cup in England after the squad was named on Thursday.
The veteran flank will lead a squad where 14 of the 31 players selected have previous Rugby World Cup experience.
Burger is amongst 4 members of the squad that will be appearing in their 3rd World Cup, with prop Johnnie Redelinghuys, loose forward Tinus du Plessis and scrumhalf Eugene Jantjies also part of the Namibian teams that participated in France 2007 and New Zealand 2011.
Redelinghuys is Namibia highest capped player of all time with 46 Test matches to his credit.
9 Players, Raoul Larson, Rohan Kitshoff, PJ van Lill, Theuns Kotzé, Darryl de La Harpe, Danie van Wyk, Conrad Marais, David Philander and Chrysander Botha also did duty in New Zealand in 2011.
Italy veteran Marco Bortolami was sidelined, while Valerio Bernabo was a surprise inclusion in Italy’s 31-man squad for the World Cup.
Lock Bortolami, has amassed 112 caps for the Azzurri and captained them 40 times.
He was 1 of several players cut from an initial 40-man training squad by coach Jacques Brunel.
“It was very difficult to communicate the decision, especially when you’ve put in as much work as the lads have over the past 9 weeks,” said Brunel.
“So to tell several players they were not coming to the World Cup was particularly difficult.”
Eddie Jones has confirmed that he will be stepping down as Japan coach after the Rugby World Cup.
Jones also confirmed that he will not be taking up a permanent role with the new Japanese Super Rugby franchise, making the speculation of him joining the Stormers even more of a reality.
The former Australia coach said that his contract would not be renewed when it expires at the end of the year.
“The Union are going to announce this afternoon that I will not be continuing after 2015,” he was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
“That was always the case as my contract was until the end of the year, so all they are doing is stating the obvious.
2 Players with links to the Western Cape have been included in Canada’s squad for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
Former Glasgow Warriors winger DTH vd Merwe, who has now moved to Llanelli Scarlets in Wales, made the squad announced by coach Kieran Crowley. DTH vd Merwe was born in Worcester and represented Boland at Under 16 level before he emigrated to Canada with his parents. He has played for Canada on numerous occasions and will be 1 of their stalwarts with this being his 3rd World Cup.
Another player, who has spent time in the Western Cape and should be familiar to the Newlands faithful, Jebb Sinclair has also made the squad. Sinclair, who is a backrow player but can also play in the 2nd row, played for the Stormers and Western Province in 2012 and is another veteran of Canadian Rugby. He played in the 2011 World Cup as well.
Sale flyhalf Danny Cipriani will be left out of England’s 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup.
The 27-year-old impressed off the bench in the defeat by France last weekend, but has not done enough to be included in Stuart Lancaster’s final party.
Owen Farrell and George Ford are set to be named as the 2 flyhalves, with Mike Brown and Alex Goode as the fullbacks, leaving no place for Cipriani.
The squad will be confirmed on Thursday at 14:45 SA Time (13:45 BST, 12:45 GMT).
The tournament, held in England and Wales, gets under way on 18 September.
Experienced flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc will miss the Rugby World Cup which gets underway in England next month.
He was surprisingly omitted from the France squad announced by coach Philippe Saint-Andre on Sunday.
The 28-year-old who played an influential role for France at the 2011 Rugby World Cup when they lost 7 / 8 to the New Zealand All Blacks in the Final – lost out to unpredictable veteran Frederic Michalak (who played in Saturday’s win over England) and Remi Tales.
Trinh-Duc, capped 50 times since being blooded by Marc Lievremont in 2008, found it difficult to impose himself under Saint-Andre and a serious injury last season ruled him out of contention for this season’s Six Nations.
He was given a chance to prove himself worthy of a spot in the 1st game against England a week ago – a 19 / 14 defeat at Twickenham – but evidently failed to convince Saint-Andre and his coaching staff.
“It is a choice which has been made – not only after 7 weeks, but also after 3 years of life with the squad,” said Saint-Andre, who also cited Trinh-Duc’s lack of accuracy at place-kicking.
For Michalak, who will celebrate his 33rd birthday during the tournament, it represents his 3rd Rugby World Cup – having 1st made an impression at international level during the 2003 edition in Australia.
Despite concerns over his fitness and form, Saint-Andre has kept faith with the 72-times capped playmaker.
In contrast to the flyhalf position Saint-Andre has selected 3 scrumhalves, in Morgan Parra (who was Lievremont’s favoured No 9 alongside Trinh-Duc for much of his reign), South African-born Rory Kockott and Michalak’s clubmate Sebastien Tillous-Borde.
Wallabies assistant coach Stephen Larkham says that scrumhalf Nic White could still play a role at the Rugby World Cup.
White and his Brumbies teammate Christian Lealiifano were the surprise ommissions from coach Michael Cheika’s World Cup squad, but with just 2 specialist scrumhalves in the group Larkham said that White will be called on if either Will Genia or Nick Phipps get injured.
The tenacious scrumhalf played a vital role in the Wallabies’ recent victory over the All Blacks in Sydney which saw them claim The Rugby Championship title, and Brumbies coach Larkham admitted that White was understandably disappointed that he did not make the cut for the global showpiece in England next month.
Head Coach Vern Cotter today confirmed that seven players have been released from the extended Scotland squad for the Rugby World Cup 2015.
The decision follows the national team’s opening two summer Test matches against Ireland and Italy, with this Saturday’s game against the Azzuri at BT Murrayfield the last chance for the players to stake a claim for the final 31-man squad, before it’s announced the following Tuesday (1 September).
Glasgow Warriors’ pair Mike Cusack (prop) and Rory Hughes (wing) have returned to Scotstoun having made their first outings for the national team this summer, and both starting against Italy in Saturday’s 16-12 win in Turin.
Edinburgh Rugby quintet Allan Dell (prop), Dougie Fife (wing), Damien Hoyland (wing), Ben Toolis (lock) and Hamish Watson (back-row) will rejoin the capital club, with Hoyland and Watson also adding to their international honours at the weekend.
Warriors’ hooker Kevin Bryce – who joined the squad last week as precautionary cover – has also returned to his club.
The elder statesman of Fiji, Seremaia Bai, was the notable omission Friday when Fiji coach John McKee named his 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup.
Fiji are in the so-called pool of death with England, Australia and Wales, and McKee said he had picked a squad which he was confident “will rise to the challenge”.
They go centre stage at the very start of the tournament, playing hosts England in the opening game.
Led by Montpellier flank Akapusi Qera the squad is dominated by overseas professionals with props Lee Roy Atalifo and Peni Ravai the only local amateurs to make the grade.
Veteran lock James Horwill and scrumhalf Nic White were the 2 big omissions Friday as southern hemisphere champions, Australia’s Wallabies named their 31-man squad to tackle a challenging group at next month’s Rugby World Cup.
Horwill captained the Wallabies at the last Rugby World Cup in New Zealand but was a high-profile casualty with Kane Douglas returning as 1 of 4 2nd-rowers in the line-up, alongside Dean Mumm, Rob Simmons and Will Skelton.
Coach Michael Cheika phoned Horwill on Thursday to break the news and have what he called “a very difficult conversation”.
Coach Vern Cotter has rung the changes to the Scotland team to start against Italy on Saturday.
The Scots will head to Turin’s Stadio Olimpico for the 2nd of their 4 Rugby World Cup warm-up matches.
The match is the 1st of a double-header against the Italians, with the return leg at Murrayfield the following Saturday (29 August).
In all there are 11 new faces taking the field, with the 7 inbound forwards making up an almost entirely new pack, 4 new backs, and 3 starting debuts for John Hardie (back row), Rory Hughes (wing) and Stuart McInally (hooker).
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre made 12 changes to his starting line-up for the 2nd of 2 World Cup warm-up games.
France host England at the Stade de France on Saturday.
The French lost 14 / 19 to Stuart Lancaster’s men at Twickenham last Saturday and Saint-Andre is keen to cast an eye over all of his players before cutting back his squad from 36 to 31 on Sunday.
Notably, he has linked up Frederic Michalak with Sebastien Tillous-Borde at halfback, giving both Toulon veterans a chance to state their claims for World Cup squad slots.
Regular England captain Chris Robshaw was restored to the side for the World Cup hosts’ 2nd warm-up match.
England play France in Paris on Saturday.
The Harlequins flank was 1 of 14 changes made by coach Stuart Lancaster to his starting side – with only try-scoring wing Jonny May retained from the 15 that ran out to defeat France 19 / 14 at Twickenham last weekend.
Robshaw will form a back row alongside veteran James Haskell and Billy Vunipola.
It is the same loose forward trio which started the final match of last season’s Six Nations against France, with 12 of that 15 – which won 55 / 35 at Twickenham 5 months ago, a result that still wasn’t good enough for England to clinch the title – lining up in Paris.
There was no place in the matchday 23 for either former Rugby League star Sam Burgess or fellow centre Henry Slade, who both impressed on their Test debuts against France last weekend.
Instead Lancaster has reverted back to his tried and trusted centre partnership of Luther Burrell and Jonathan Joseph, leaving open the question of who will provide midfield cover in a Rugby World Cup squad that must be named by 31 August.
All Black prop Charlie Faumuina’s Rugby World Cup hopes suffered another setback after he was knocked out cold in training on Tuesday.
Faumuina was released to play for his NPC side Auckland after he was given the all clear to resume training returning from neck surgery.
Faumuina damaged his neck in the later stages of the Super Rugby series and had surgery in June in a late bid to be fit for the Rugby World Cup.
There were several options – 1 which gave him a shot at the World Cup or another which would take him out of rugby for 6 months and park his tournament ambitions alongside the injured Aaron Cruden and Patrick Tuipulotu.
There were no great surprises as Argentina head coach Daniel Hourcade named his 31-man Rugby World Cup squad on Sunday.
Star players Juan Imhoff, Juan Martin Hernandez, Juan Fernandez Lobbe and Marcelo Bosch all took their places in the final squad.
Hourcade ditched 7 players from the squad that participated in The Rugby Championship, ending their campaign last week with a 1st ever victory over South Africa.
Racing Metro lock Manuel Carizza and Saracens prop Juan Figallo were amongst those to miss out.
Tonga President Epi Taione has named the Rugby World Cup squad which is filled with a mix of youth and experience.
Tonga line-up in Pool C alongside Georgia, Namibia, Argentina and current William Webb Ellis trophy holders New Zealand.
In a side which sees Pacific Nations Cup debutantes Telusa Veainu, Viliami Tahitu’a and Sosefo Ma’ake joining the campaign, there is also the addition of familiar names, including Gloucester duo David Halaifonua and Sione Kalamafoni, along with Samisoni Fisilau, Aleki Lutui, Paula Ngauomo, Will Helu, and Siale Piutau.
Tonga have named only 30 players in the squad with the 31st expected to be named at a later stage. The word on the street is that Rugby League star Andrew Fifita could cross-codes to fill that last spot.
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.
Experienced trio James Hook, Mike Phillips and Richard Hibbard were among 8 players released from Wales’s World Cup training squad.
The announcement was made by Welsh coach Warren Gatland on Thursday.
Flyhalf Hook, capped 78 times, scrumhalf Phillips, who has made 94 international appearances, and 38-cap hooker Richard Hibbard failed to make the cut after Gatland trimmed his squad from 46 players to 38.
Jack Dixon, Rhys Patchell, Nicky Smith, Rory Thornton and Dan Baker are the other players who will return to their respective clubs and regions.
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.
All Blacks wing sensation Waisake Naholo declared himself back in the running for a Rugby World Cup berth after a rapid recovery from a broken leg using traditional Fijian medicine.
The miracle cure was attributed to “a gift from God”, the Fiji Times reported.
Naholo cracked a fibia during his All Blacks debut against Argentina last month, and after initial treatment in New Zealand, the Fiji-born flyer was told he would be sidelined for 3 months, putting him out of World Cup contention.
The 24-year-old then turned his back on Western medicine and contacted an uncle in Fiji who specialises in traditional medicine and was told to return to the Pacific island, the Times said.
“If you want to play in the World Cup, get on the plane and come here,” the uncle, Isei Naiova, said he told Naholo from his home in Nadroumai village, which is renowned among indigenous communities for the healing powers of certain families.
Manu Samoa’s 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup features all 3 Pisi brothers – Tusiata, Ken and George as well as some other notable inclusions.
Leicester Tigers prop Logovii Mulipola is 1 of 11 English-based players to be selected, and there is a return for Hurricanes midfielder Rey Lee-Lo who, like the Pisis, were not part of the recent squad that finished 2nd to Fiji at the Pacific Nations Cup.
Mulipola has not appeared for his country for over a year while the last of Lee-Lo’s 2 caps came against England on the 2014 November tour.
The Pacific Nations Cup did present an opportunity for other players to put their hands up for selection, though. Locally based trio, prop Jake Grey, scrumhalf Vavao Afemai and goal-kicking flyhalf Patrick Faapale, all did enough in North America to warrant inclusion despite stiff competition from professional players.
Samoan coach Stephen Betham said that the tournament had been invaluable from a Rugby World Cup point of view, even if the title eluded them.
Glasgow scrumhalf Henry Pyrgos was on Tuesday named captain of a 25-man Scotland squad for Saturday’s World Cup warm-up match against Ireland in Dublin.
He is joined in the squad by 4 uncapped players: New Zealand-born flanker Hugh Blake, Glasgow prop Mike Cusack, South Africa-born Edinburgh prop Allan Dell and Edinburgh hooker Stuart McInally.
Head coach Vern Cotter will name his starting 15 for the clash at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday.
The squad is missing several key players, such as regular captain Greig Laidlaw and 2nd row brothers Richie and Jonny Gray.
After playing Ireland, Scotland will also face Italy twice and France once as they gear up for their opening World Cup Pool B match against Japan in Gloucester on 23 September.
Sam Burgess will make his England debut at centre when Stuart Lancaster’s side host France on Saturday.
The former Great Britain rugby league player is one of three debutants, with centre Henry Slade and flanker Calum Clark the other new faces in the 15.
Head coach Lancaster says Saturday’s match is the final chance for some of his players to impress before he selects his 31-man World Cup squad.
“The following week we’ll probably change a lot,” he said
Burgess, 26, started his union career in midfield for Bath before switching to the back row.
Former England scrumhalf Matt Dawson has questioned Burgess’s “game-management” at inside centre, but Lancaster described the former South Sydney player, who switched codes last October, as a ball carrier who could threaten the gain line.
“It’s an option for us to look at and it’ll be an interesting insight to see whether it goes well at the weekend or not,” he said.
“It’s about what’s right for the team. We’ll see if he can translate what he does in training and see how it goes.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.