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Today — May 8th 2021Your RSS feeds

Stormers edge Bulls in tense Rainbow Cup battle

May 8th 2021 at 14:58

With a brace of tries by Bulls wing Madosh Tambwe proving the biggest difference in a game contested by small margins, the Bulls edged the Stormers 20-16 in a tense Rainbow Cup SA clash at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.

With the game reaching Test match proportions, the result was dependent on fierce defence and strong kicking.

As expected, a huge physical contest ensued and while the Stormers started with great energy, the Bulls weathered the storm and through the boot of flyhalf Morne Steyn transferred the pressure back in Stormers territory.

The hosts bossed the Bulls at scrum time, but at the lineouts the visitors put massive heat on the Stormers ball, while the breakdown battle was evenly contested.

Scorers

Stormers – Tries: Evan Roos. Conversions: Abner van Reenen (1). Penalties: Van Reenen (3).

Bulls – Tries: Madosh Tambwe (2). Conversions: Morne Steyn (2). Penalties: Steyn, Chris Smith.

Sharks hold off fighting Lions to stay unbeaten

May 8th 2021 at 12:25

The Sharks cemented their position at the top of the Rainbow Cup SA log with a bonus point 34-26 win over the Lions in Durban on Saturday.

It was far from a flawless performance by the Sharks, with both teams scoring four tries, but the Lions were handed their second straight defeat.

ALSO READ: O’Connor carries Reds to Super Rugby AU title

The Lions did, however, manage to score a losing bonus point and some tries to restore some belief.

After a nervous start by the Lions they seemed to find some rhythm to cancel out an early Sharks try, but their performance was hamstrung by poor decision-making in a disjointed showing.

ALSO READ: Crusaders claim New Zealand Super Rugby crown

Being down 24-12 at the break the Lions fought back bravely after the Sharks received two yellow cards in quick succession, closing the gap to 27-19 after their third try by No 8 Francke Horn.

But the Sharks retained their composure to secure a hard-fought victory as they remained unbeaten after two rounds in the competition.

Scorers

Sharks – Tries: Jeremy Ward, Grant Williams, Thomas du Toit, Kerron van Vuuren. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (4). Penalties: Bosch (2)

Lions – Tries: PJ Botha, Andre Warner, Francke Horn, Vincent Tshituka. Conversions: Fred Zeilinge (2), Jordan Hendrikse.

O’Connor carries Reds to Super Rugby AU title

May 8th 2021 at 09:12

James O’Connor snatched a try after the buzzer against the ACT Brumbies as the Queensland Reds toppled the defending champions 19-16 in a frantic finish to the Super Rugby AU final Saturday.

Brad Thorn’s men have been the standout team this year, winning seven of eight games ahead of the decider, and they didn’t disappoint a bumper 42,000-strong crowd in a pulsating game at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.

They went to the break 13-6 down but came back in emphatic fashion, with O’Connor crossing in the 84th minute then converting after a sustained period of pressure with two Brumbies players yellow-carded in the final few minutes.

It was only their second Super Rugby title. Their first came in 2011, when the competition also featured top teams from New Zealand and South Africa.

ALSO READ: Crusaders claim New Zealand Super Rugby crown

“It was a tough contest, it always is against the Brumbies. That was like a Test match,” said skipper O’Connor, who scored all 19 points.

“Super proud of my boys, they came home strong. We started a little bit slow, but we got there.”

It was the third match in a row against the Brumbies in which they had been down at half time and rallied to win.

“I want to congratulate the Reds, not only on tonight but a great season,” said Brumbies captain Allan Alaalatoa, whose side made the final after six wins from eight this season.

“I said to my boys, you’ve got to be proud of that effort.”

The Reds narrowly lost last year’s final to the Brumbies 28-23 and admitted before the game they were still smarting.

But it was all the Canberra team in the first half.

O’Connor nailed an early penalty to get the scoreboard ticking over in a fast and furious opening 10 minutes that the visitors dominated.

Their pressure paid off when Tom Banks crossed for the opening try after a deft offload from Noah Lolesio, who converted to put them 7-3 in front.

The Brumbies had all the possession and territory, but against the run of play O’Connor’s boot pulled the Reds back to within a point.

But the mini comeback didn’t last, with two more Lolesio penalties stretching the Brumbies advantage to 13-6 at half-time.

Wallaby winger Jordan Petaia was unfortunate to have a try disallowed soon after the restart as the Reds started fast.

But O’Connor bagged a third penalty to keep them in touch and then a fourth to take them within a point at 12-13 with 16 minutes left.

A composed Lolesio eased the pressure with his third successful penalty to restore a four point advantage going into the final 10 minutes, before two yellow cards for the Brumbies.

Crusaders claim New Zealand Super Rugby crown

May 8th 2021 at 07:31

A Richie Mo’unga masterclass saw the Canterbury Crusaders overcome two yellow cards to defend their Super Rugby Aotearoa crown with a 24-13 victory over the Waikato Chiefs in Christchurch on Saturday.

For a period in the second half when the Crusaders were defending a narrow 15-13 lead, they were down to 13 men, with All Blacks Codie Taylor and Sevu Reece in the sin-bin.

But flyhalf Mo’unga, whose footwork had baffled the Chiefs through much of the match, refused to be flustered as he produced raking touch finders to force them back and extended the scoreline with a drop goal and a penalty.

By the time the Crusaders were back to a full complement of 15 they were 21-13 ahead with 12 minutes to play and Mo’unga added a further penalty to settle the score.

ALSO READ: Gatland: Mental health will be toughest challenge for Lions

“I was as nervous as I’ve ever been in the box, it was very tight,” said coach Scott Robertson as his Crusaders produced their fifth consecutive Super title under his reign.

“Thirteen men, they (the Chiefs) had all the momentum, they were winning the air battles, we just couldn’t get territory and we had a couple of big scrums, a couple of really big moments and Richie Mo’unga.”

Captain Scott Barrett described the victory as “awesome” and credited the defence for shutting out the Chiefs.

“This group of boys don’t need much  motivation. They’re so driven and keep striving to be better. Richie and the backs put us in the right area of the field and we let our defence do the rest,” he said.

In a clash of Test match intensity before a sold-out crowd of 17,400, Mo’unga scored 14 of the Crusaders’ points, while Damian McKenzie was the sole scorer for the Chiefs.

It is the Crusaders’ second crown in two seasons of the New Zealand competition, to go with their 10 titles in 24 years in the multi-national tournament.

For the Chiefs it was a disappointing end to what had been a stunning turn-around to make the final after losing their first two matches and captain Brad Weber said he had dreamed of claiming the title.

Mo’unga “is the linchpin of that team and he’s been in outstanding form all year and obviously I’m devastated,” Weber said.

“We threw everything at it and just weren’t good enough. The Crusaders were incredibly clinical, even with guys in the bin, and their set piece was too good.”

An intercept by Ethan Blackadder rescued the Crusaders when they were defending desperately and sparked a counter attack which paved the way for the Crusaders’ first try by Reece six minutes into the game.

After a McKenzie penalty for the Chiefs, a David Havili chip kick produced their second try to Will Jordan.

The Chiefs were down 12-3 when McKenzie scored from an innovative lineout drive which most of the backs joined before the ball went wide for the elusive fullback to score in the opposite corner.

A McKenzie penalty after 59 minutes narrowed the gap to two points before Mo’unga’s boot wrapped up the game for the Crusaders.

Vermeulen returns as Bulls look to maul Stormers

May 8th 2021 at 06:46

Will the Stormers be able to answer all the questions the Bulls are set to throw at them at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday?

In another chapter of the traditional north-south derby, the two teams clash in round two of the Rainbow Cup SA, with the Capetonians the marginal underdogs despite their home-ground status.

With a huge physical confrontation on the menu for the 6.15pm fixture, the announcement of the British and Irish Lions tour squad this week will raise the bar, with several players on display in line for Springbok duty in the series.

Top of the list no doubt include the return of Bulls captain Duane Vermeulen and the continued comeback of Stormers flank Pieter-Steph du Toit.

Pieter-Steph du Toit of the Stormers

Pieter-Steph du Toit during a Stormers training session. Picture: Gallo Images

Vermeulen has been out with a knee injury since the Currie Cup final, while Du Toit enjoyed his first game back last week after a year-long absence from the game due to a leg injury.

Bulls director of rugby Jake White expressed his delight with the return of Vermeulen, who together with the inclusion of veteran Bok flyhalf Morne Steyn will play a major in the Bulls’ plans.

Known to suffocate teams on defence, and with inclement weather on the cards, Steyn is expected to keep the Stormers pinned back with his tactical kicking.

The inclusion of lock and lineout maestro Walt Steenkamp could also be an indication that the Bulls intend to maul the Stormers into submission in the wet weather.

The Bulls enjoyed a winning start last week, but their stuttering 22-9 win over the Lions didn’t go down well with White.

ALSO READ: The Bulls are strengthening their grip on local rugby

The Stormers started out with a defeat to the Sharks, while they also faced a disrupted week marred by injury setbacks and red card hearings.

After losing flyhalf Kade Wolhuter for the season, they will also be without scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies and lock JD Schickerling, while they released centre Ruhan Nel to the SA Sevens side.

Wing Seabelo Senatla had been banned for four weeks and is replaced by Sergeal Petersen, but No 8 Willie Engelbrecht is back on the bench after it was ruled that his second yellow card last week was unlawful.

The hosts have also lost their talented openside flank Nama Xaba for six weeks to an ankle injury, but his replacement Marcel Theunissen is as competent and will be expected to keep Bulls star Marco van Staden at bay.

The Stormers’ biggest threat is their all-out Bok front-row of captain Steven Kitshoff, hooker Bongi Mbonambi and tighthead Frans Malherbe.

But while it’s a big weapon to have, the Bulls have shown the scrums are not the be-all and end-all and will be keen to at least create parity.

Sharks desperate to hang on to the ball against Lions

May 8th 2021 at 03:42

Turnovers spread through the Sharks’ performance like the bubonic plague last weekend, and if there was one area where the Lions excelled in their opening Rainbow Cup fixture, it was the breakdowns.

So not turning over possession is going to be the key focus of the KwaZulu-Natal side as they host the Gautengers at Kings Park at 4pm on Saturday.

Sharks coach Sean Everitt produced the astounding figure of 29 turnovers that his team conceded against the Stormers in Cape Town, and given that they enjoy playing a fluent game based on momentum, that extent of profligacy is clearly untenable for them.

And the Lions made life very difficult for the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld, throwing everything at the rucks and cleaning up in that department.

ALSO READ: Sharks coach Everitt aims for consistency

“The biggest factor is going to be the number of turnovers conceded so we’ve looked to tighten up there,” Everitt said this week.

“We’ve worked hard at our breakdown because what we did last weekend is not going to be good enough against the Lions, who have two guys going very hard on the ball.

“The Lions contended at Loftus until the 70th minute and they are tough to play against. They come hard at the breakdown so it’s difficult to get continuity.”

ALSO READ: Rookie Lions backrow picked to front formidable Sharks

While the Lions loose trio of MJ Pelser, Vincent Tshituka and Franck Horne combined well to obstruct much of what the Bulls were trying to do in their previous clash, the Sharks arguably play with more flair and, if they sort out their breakdown work, they could be harder to stop.

They scored a couple of fantastic tries against the Stormers, with hat-trick scoring lock Reniel Hugo showing the sort of mobility and handling skills that Everitt is looking for from the forwards.

“We want to speed the game up, so Reniel scoring one of his tries from a quick tap was good game awareness,” Everitt said.

“But the Lions also have young backs full of energy and Wandisile Simelane is a great player who was a thorn in our side in the Preparation Series match.

“So we need to be on top of our game and keep our foot on the pedal.”

The Bulls are strengthening their grip on local rugby

May 8th 2021 at 02:00

Are the Bulls in the process of widening the gap they already hold on the other top South African rugby teams?

It certainly seems to be the case, with the Bulls signing a new big-name player almost on a weekly basis.

It may be an ominous signs for other Pro16 teams locally – the Sharks, Stormers and Lions – but eventually it could turn out to the benefit of SA Rugby.

ALSO READ: ‘Vermeulen won’t be at his best, but he’ll make an impact’

After the announcement of the British and Irish Lions touring squad for their July tour to SA, it brought new energy and enthusiasm that the tour might actually become a real event.

And in the meantime Bulls director of rugby Jake White is building a ‘super team’, being true to his word after earlier promises of more big things to come.

There have been questions about White exceeding his 45-man player cap and the limited budget of R60 million, but he has been shrewd enough to stay within those limits.

His latest big-name signing was highly-rated former Lions centre Harold Vorster, adding to their midfield depth.

Harold Vorster

Former Lions player Harold Vorster has penned a deal with the Bulls. Picture: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

This comes shortly in the wake of securing the likes of Bok flanker Marcel Coetzee from Ulster, Montpellier flank Jacques du Plessis and former Cheetahs and Bok pivot Johan Goosen, who White believes can become a top Bok again.

In contrast, the other teams have been quiet except for the odd signing by the Sharks who have gained the services of flank Siya Kolisi and maybe hooker Bongi Mbonambi as well.

The Stormers, who roped in lock Marvin Orie from the Lions, have indicated that they might be in talks with Bok hardman and hooker Malcolm Marx and former Stormers and Bok centre Juan de Jongh, but it remains unconfirmed.

The Lions, however, haven’t signed any more new big names despite losing Orie and Elton Jantjies.

They have instead preferred to invest in their younger generation like No 8 Francke Horn, cenre Manny Rass, lock Reinhard Nothnagel and the now injured duo of fullback Tiaan Swanepoel and flyhalf Gianni Lombard.

But while the other three franchises are content to develop their own resources, the Bulls are creating an empire under White and their young talent will develop under the tutelage of the experienced crop which is growing by the week.

Having already won two local competitions since emerging from the lockdown hiatus, the Bulls are setting their sights on a hattrick with the Rainbow Cup SA, and who is going to stop them?

No local team, by the looks of it.

Yesterday — May 7th 2021Your RSS feeds

Reds on revenge mission, Crusaders on a roll for finals

May 7th 2021 at 09:53

The Queensland Reds are seeking revenge while across the Tasman, the Canterbury Crusaders will look to extend their dominance when Australia and New Zealand’s domestic Super Rugby competitions play their finals this weekend.

The Reds narrowly lost last year’s Super Rugby AU decider 28-23 to the ACT Brumbies and admit the defeat still smarts, setting up an epic rematch in front of 50,000 fans in Brisbane on Saturday.

Reds halfback Tate McDermott said footage of the Brumbies celebrating after last year’s win provided ample motivation for Saturday’s clash.

ALSO READ: Meet Lions tourist Duhan van der Merwe

“We’ve re-watched that final minute of the grand final, where you see them kick it out and there’s a bit of carry on and they win,” he said.

“There’s definitely been a fire burning since that moment last year that has really helped the team… we do owe them a lot from that game.”

The Reds have overtaken the Brumbies as Australia’s most consistent team this year, losing only once in an outstanding season that has included two victories over their Canberra-based rivals.

Coach Dan McKellar admitted his Brumbies were the underdogs but warned the Queenslanders not to expect an easy victory in front of what is likely to be a sold-out Suncorp Stadium.

Five-year streak

“We’re quite happy – backs to the wall, big crowd at Suncorp, just ourselves and our family to bounce off,” he said.

“We’ll go out there and prove a few people wrong and continue our reign as Australia’s leading team over a number of years. That’s the goal.”

Over in New Zealand, the Crusaders are red-hot favourites to defend the Super Rugby Aotearoa title, adding a second domestic championship to the record 10 international Super Rugby titles already in the trophy cabinet.

Victory against Waikato Chiefs in Christchurch on Saturday would make it five straight years the Crusaders have won Super Rugby or Super Rugby Aotearoa.

They are unbeaten in 24 post-season matches contested at home, including six finals, and coach Scott Robertson said it was not a record they would give up lightly.

ALSO READ: Bok boss Nienaber: ‘Phenomenal’ that Lions are on their way

“Occasions like this are exactly what we play for, the chance to represent the people of our region on the big stage,” he said.

By contrast, the Chiefs began the season as competition losing their first two matches to compound the pain of a winless 2020.

But a five-match run of success turned their campaign around, with coach Clayton McMillan saying the Chiefs felt a burden had been lifted and they could defeat anyone, even an outfit as formidable as the Crusaders.

“On any given day, any team can be beaten, and we’ve proven that,” he said.

“This weekend we are going down to Christchurch with confidence and believe we can upset the Crusaders.”

Gatland: Mental health will be toughest challenge for Lions

May 7th 2021 at 09:36

Warren Gatland says looking after the mental health of his British and Irish Lions players could be his toughest challenge as they prepare for up to 10 weeks in a coronavirus bubble.

Head coach Gatland announced his 37-man tour party for the South Africa tour on Thursday, picking veteran Wales lock Alun Wyn Jones as captain.

Squad members – including those with no remaining English Premiership commitments – will meet for a training camp in Jersey in mid-June and return from South Africa on August 9.

“The big challenge for us is being in the bubble in South Africa and potentially having to quarantine when we come back,” said Gatland.

“If you add in the two-week camp before we go it could be up to 10 weeks away and in a bubble.

“The rugby side takes care of itself so it’s important we get the other stuff right and think about the players’ wellbeing and mental health.

“The rugby’s going to be the easy part. We need to get the other stuff right and then we’ve got a chance of performing on the field.”

ALSO READ: Bok boss Nienaber: ‘Phenomenal’ that Lions are on their way

The tourists hope to publish their revised schedule for South Africa next week with the eight fixtures culminating in a three-Test series against the world champion Springboks now taking place in Johannesburg and Cape Town only, reducing travel during the pandemic.

Former Wales coach Gatland admitted the tour would provide unique challenges. South Africa is Africa’s worst-affected country with more than 1.5 million infections and over 54,000 deaths.

On their return the players are likely to have to quarantine in isolation at a government-approved hotel, with South Africa on Britain’s red list of countries.

“The safety of the players is paramount and the mental health of the players comes first,” said Gatland. “Being in that bubble, being away from family, it will be about making sure we stay connected with our families.

“We’ll have to keep the players entertained, put things on for them — competitions, pool, darts, cards, casino nights, sing-songs, quizzes. We’ve got to be creative in that area.

“We’ll probably continue with the singing and choir practice that we’ve done in the past. That was successful for us. Those kinds of things are something that we need to get right.”

Stormers coach calls for consistency in applying tackle law

May 7th 2021 at 08:54

Stormers coach John Dobson has asked for more consistency from the officials after the second yellow card handed to his team’s No 8 Willie Engelbrecht – which led to a red card and a dismissal – played a big part in the team’s loss to the Sharks in the Rainbow Cup last weekend.

Dobson said had no issue with the first red card given to wing Seabelo Senatla, who’s subsequently been banned for four weeks.

But the second yellow card handed to Engelbrecht – for a tackle that was deemed to be too high – was this week overturned at a hearing, which meant Engelbrecht should never have received a red card, and been asked to leave the field.

With Senatla gone and Engelbrecht also binned, the Stormers conceded 21 points.

ALSO READ: Dobson forced to make several changes for Bulls battle

“I don’t feel aggrieved about it, but it’s a pity,” said Dobson. “We have to look at shoulders and heads and I’m not saying the officials were wrong, but it had no effect on the receiving players.

“We all want a safe game, we also want some consistency,” he said.

“Similar clips we have seen since Saturday were not considered to be transgressions, so it’s a changing world. But if that’s the norm, we have to adapt as quickly as possible.”

The Stormers, who have multiple players out with injuries, face the Bulls in round two of the Rainbow Cup in Cape Town on Saturday. Engelbrecht, because hiss hearing’s outcome was only known on Thursday, will start on the bench, having not trained fully with the team this week.

Blitzboks tune up with Rugby Africa Solidarity Camp

May 7th 2021 at 08:39

Blitzboks stars Siviwe Soyizwapi and Impi Visser will lead two experimental outfits in this weekend’s tournament of Rugby Africa’s Sevens Solidarity Camp.

The Solidarity Camp will be played at Markötter Stadium in Stellenbosch on Saturday and Sunday.

The two South African sides, consisting of Springbok Sevens and SA Rugby Sevens Academy players, will take the field against Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe, as well as the Stellenbosch Academy of Sport Sevens Academy, in what will be their first international matches in 14 months.

Blitzboks back in action

The South Africans last played international rugby in March 2020, when they contested the HSBC Canada Sevens in Vancouver, where they placed fourth.

The HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series was called off shortly after that due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a 2021 version will only continue after the Olympic Games in July.

The Solidarity Camp was arranged by Rugby Africa to assist South Africa and Kenya with their Olympic preparations, while Uganda and Zimbabwe can fine-tune their preparations for the Olympic repechage, to be played in Monaco next month.

Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell will take charge of the SA 1 side, with regular captain, Siviwe Soyizwapi, back leading the team that include new players in flyhalf Lubabelo Dobela and outside back Shilton van Wyk.

SA 2, with SA Rugby Sevens Academy coach Sandile Ngcobo in charge, will have familiar faces in Visser, Ryan Oosthuizen, James Murphy, Justin Geduld and Kurt-Lee Arendse in their midst.

The SA 1 side will kick of the day against Uganda (09H00), before matches against Kenya (11h30) and Zimbabwe (14h30). The SA 2 side start their day against the SAS Rugby Sevens Academy at 09h40, before they face Uganda (11h50) and Kenya (13h50).

A purpose in mind

Powell said the squads have been picked with a specific purpose in mind and will change when the second tournament of the Solidarity Camp takes place next weekend.

“We have players at various stages of fitness, return to play, coming back from fifteens and one or two new combinations that will be tried out, so although there are familiar faces, not all has played together in recent times,” said Powell.

“Shakes (Soyizwapi) last played at the Cape Town Sevens in 2019 and had injury issues last year, while Ruhan Nel played fifteens in the last year, having also last played for us in Cape Town in 2019.

“Some guys will have lots of time on the field this weekend, while others will only play off the bench. That will change next week, when a number of players not considered this weekend will get game time, so it is important that we get as much as possible out of these matches this weekend with these players. This is all about game time and how we manage that.”

Ngcobo will have a number of battle-hardened Blitzboks in his squad, but he is also keen to see how Tiaan Pretorius, Mervano da Silva and Latica Nela shape up in real match situations after many months of training sessions as part of the SA Rugby Sevens Academy.

“Everything we do will be with the eye on the Olympics in July, so this weekend’s planning had that in mind as well,” said Ngcobo.

“It will be good for all the players to experience international sevens, whether for the first time or the first time in a long while. Everyone taking to the field, as well as us as management is looking to gain as much from the weekend as possible. This is a great opportunity for the fringe players to show what they can do, and I hope they embrace that opportunity.

Matches will be live-streamed via Rugby Africa’s Facebook and YouTube pages and BokTube.

Blitzboks Solidarity Camp squads

South Africa 1: Chris Dry, Christie Grobbelaar, JC Pretorius, Zain Davids, Sako Makata, Branco du Preez, Selvyn Davids, Dewald Human, Lubabelo Dobela, Shilton van Wyk, Ruhan Nel, Angelo Davids, Siviwe Soyizwapi (captain).

South Africa 2: Impi Visser (captain), Khanya Ncusane, Tiaan Pretorius, Ryan Oosthuizen, James Murphy, Mervano da Silva, Ronald Brown, Qamani Kota, Justin Geduld, Latica Nela, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Sibiya Pule, Connor Mahoney.

• Muller du Plessis, Mfundo Ndhlovu, Neil Maritz, Christiaan Smit, Dalvon Blood, Shaun Williams and Darren Adonis were not considered for this weekend.

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Senatla suspension forces Stormers to shuffle

May 7th 2021 at 08:07

The Stormers have been forced to make changes for the PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA encounter with the Bulls at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.

Leolin Zas and Sergeal Petersen start on the wings, with Seabelo Senatla suspended.

Stormers shuffle the pack

Hooker Bongi Mbonambi starts in the only change to the front row, while David Meihuizen is at lock in place of JD Schickerling who injured his ankle against the Cell C Sharks last week.

Flank Nama Xaba also picked up an ankle injury at training this week and has been replaced by Marcel Theunissen, with Evan Roos at No.8 and Willie Engelbrecht among the replacements this week.

Herschel Jantjies injured

Scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies has not recovered from a quad contusion in time, so Godlen Masimla will link up at halfback with Abner van Reenen, who is in for Kade Wolhuter after the young flyhalf ruptured knee ligaments (ACL) last week.

Dan du Plessis starts at outside centre, with Ruhan Nel having joined the Springbok Sevens team.

Stormers Head Coach John Dobson said that despite the forced changes, there is a lot to look forward to from a talented side this weekend.

“Many of the players coming in impressed in the preparation matches and will relish the opportunity to prove themselves in a big game such as this.

“We are excited to see what the new combinations can offer alongside the senior players who make up the core of this team,” he said.

The North-South clash will kick-off at 18:15, with Western Province Women up against Boland Women in the curtain-raiser at 15:00. Both games will be televised live on SuperSport.

PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA – Stormers team

Stormers: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Abner van Reenen, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Marcel Theunissen, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 David Meihuizen, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain).

Replacements (from): 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Ernst van Rhyn, 20 Willie Engelbrecht, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Cornel Smit, 23 Edwill van der Merwe, 24 Andre-Hugo Venter, 25 Adre Smith.

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London Irish: Ollie Hassell-Collins marks 50th appearance in trip to Newcastle

May 7th 2021 at 07:28

Declan Kidney has named his London Irish side to take on Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park in Round 18 of the Gallagher Premiership on Saturday.

Kick-off is at 15:00 local time.

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS SQUAD: BREAKDOWN BY COUNTRY

Ollie Hassell-Collins starts on the wing for what will be his 50th appearance for London Irish.

In the front row, Will Goodrick-Clarke, Agustin Creevy and Lovejoy Chawatama combine, with George Nott and Rob Simmons linking up in the second row.

Matt Rogerson captains the side from blindside flanker and Blair Cowan wears the seven jersey. Albert Tuisue completes the pack from No 8.

Nick Phipps and Paddy Jackson are the halfback duo, and Phil Cokanasiga joins Curtis Rona in the centre partnership.

The milestone man Ollie Hassell-Collins is joined by Ben Loader and Tom Parton in the back three.

If required from the replacements, Nic Groom will make his debut for the Exiles, having joined on a short-term deal for the remainder of the season.

READ | SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA FINAL: CHANCES SCOTT ROBERTSON BREAKS OUT IN DANCE?

“We are excited to get back on the field after a weekend off,” explained Declan Kidney, Director of Rugby.

“Going to Newcastle has always been a tough challenge, and tomorrow’s trip is no different.

“As always, we will be looking to put our best foot forward, in what has the makings for another good game of rugby.”

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: 16 PLAYERS TO ENJOY THEIR FIRST TOUR OF SA

London Irish team:

15 Tom Parton, 14 Ben Loader, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Phil Cokanasiga, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Nick Phipps, 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke, 2 Agustin Creevy, 3 Lovejoy Chawatama, 4 George Nott, 5 Rob Simmons, 6 Matt Rogerson (captain), 7 Blair Cowan, 8 Albert Tuisue

Replacements: 16 Motu Matu’u, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Chunya Munga, 20 Ben Donnell, 21 Nic Groom 22 Jacob Atkins, 23 James Stokes

IN CLOSING | STARS ALIGNED FOR A GREAT BRITISH & IRISH LIONS SERIES SAYS SPRINGBOK COACH

⚠ 𝗧𝗘𝗔𝗠 𝗡𝗘𝗪𝗦 ⚠@OHassellcollins reaches 5⃣0⃣ games for London Irish in tomorrow's trip to Newcastle! 👏

🙌 @GeorgeNott1 in the row
👊 @PhilipCokanasi2 at 12
🆕 Potential debut for @nicgroom

Read more 👉 https://t.co/AJl6uObQhZ
🦅 #NEWvLIR ☘ pic.twitter.com/tZqG5hKZb3

— London Irish (@londonirish) May 7, 2021

British & Irish Lions: Stars aligned for a great series says Springbok coach

May 7th 2021 at 07:16

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber said the stars are aligning for a great series with the British & Irish Lions, after Warren Gatland announced the squad on Thursday for their forthcoming tour to South Africa.

GALLERY | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS SQUAD IN PICTURES

Gatland named a 37-man touring squad with Welshman Alun Wyn Jones as captain.

The Springboks are expected to announce their squad early next month.

“The announcement of the Lions squad was a marker in the ground in terms of international rugby coming back to South Africa, which is phenomenal for us, because we’ve been out of it for a while,” Nienaber said in reaction to the big announcement.

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS SQUAD: BREAKDOWN BY CLUB

Gatland has, during his long stint as coach of Wales, managed to build a successful track record with the Welsh Dragons against South Africa in the past few years with a specific style of play.

“One thing I do know about Warren is that he will do his homework,” added Nienaber.

“If your look into the past, the Welsh were a team that we always struggled against. We had one win (against them) since the 2015 RWC quarter-final, which was the 2019 RWC semi-final in Japan.”

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: 16 PLAYERS TO ENJOY THEIR FIRST TOUR OF SA

Under the guidance of Gatland, the British & Irish Lions defeated the Wallabies in Australia in 2013, and four years later they managed to draw their three-match series with the All Blacks in New Zealand.

With the British & Irish Lions squad now revealed, the attention shifts to the coming Springbok squad selection.

Locally, the franchise teams started the PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA on a high note last week, making for some extra spice knowing that there are Springbok places up for grabs.

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS SQUAD: BREAKDOWN BY COUNTRY

“If you look at the last weekend’s Rainbow Cup action then you will see that the intensity went up a notch,” said Nienaber.

“I must say we have nice relationships with our franchises, allowing us to meet the players just to align ourselves again.

“And the pleasing thing for me was to see how the players are working on and improving on the things we spoke about during those alignment camps.

“I think we have less than 80 days before we play the Lions and the coaches and players have to utilise every second of that time to make sure we are well prepared for the series.”

Looking forward to the three-Test series against Gatland and his team, Nienaber said: “The Lions series is a special occasion that might come only come once during the career of a professional rugby player.

“I know for a fact there are certain players who have postponed their retirement because the tour was two years down the horizon. So I think all the stars are aligned for a great series.”

READ | SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA FINAL: CHANCES SCOTT ROBERTSON BREAKS OUT IN DANCE?

Bok boss Nienaber: ‘Phenomenal’ that Lions are on their way

May 7th 2021 at 06:27

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has reacted to the naming of the British and Irish Lions squad for the three-Test series against his team by saying “a marker has been laid in the ground in terms of international rugby returning to South Africa.”

Nienaber called the news that the Lions will be on these shores in less than two months’ time “phenomenal for us, because we’ve been out of it for a while.”

Lions coach Warren Gatland named his 37-man squad on Thursday with Wales great Alun Wyn Jones as team leader.

ALSO READ: Alun Wyn Jones to lead 2021 Lions in SA

The Lions will play eight matches, including three Tests against the World Cup winners, in South Africa from the beginning of July to early August.

Nienaber is expected to name his Bok squad for the series early next month.

“The announcement of the Lions squad was a marker in the ground in terms of international rugby coming back to South Africa, which is phenomenal for us, because we’ve been out of it for a while,” Nienaber told the Springbok rugby website on Friday.

ALSO READ: Meet Lions tourist Duhan van der Merwe

The Bok coach said Gatland’s long stint as successful Wales coach would make him a tough opponent.

“One thing I know about Warren is that he will do his homework,” said Nienaber, who took over from Rassie Erasmus as Bok coach after the World Cup, but he has yet to prepare a team for a match because of the coronavirus’ impact on world sport.

“If you look into the past the Welsh have always been a team we have struggled against. We had one win against them since the 2015 Rugby World Cup quarter-final, which was the 2019 Rugby World Cup semi-final in 2019.”

ALSO READ: Lions boss Gatland on leaving Sexton out, and facing the Boks

Under Gatland the Lions won the series against Australia in 2013 and drew with New Zealand in 2017.

With regards the form of the South African players in action in the Rainbow Cup, Nienaber said he’d definitely seen a step up in intensity.

“The pleasing thing for me was to see how the players are working on and improving on the things we spoke about during the alignment camps.

“We have less than 80 days before we play the Lions and the players and coaches have to utilise every second of that time to make sure we are well prepared for the series.

“The Lions is a special occasion that might come only once during a career, and I know there are certain players who have postponed their retirement because of this tour, so I think all the stars are aligned for a great series.”

Dobson forced to make several changes for Bulls battle

May 7th 2021 at 06:14

The Stormers have been forced to make a number of changes for the PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA encounter with the Bulls at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.

The North-South clash will kick-off at 6.15pm.

Hooker Bongi Mbonambi starts in the only change to the front row, while David Meihuizen is at lock in place of JD Schickerling who injured his ankle against the Sharks last week.

Flank Nama Xaba also picked up an ankle injury at training this week and has been replaced by Marcel Theunissen, with Evan Roos at No 8 and Willie Engelbrecht among the replacements this week.

ALSO READ: ‘Vermeulen won’t be at his best, but he’ll make an impact’

Scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies has not recovered from a quad contusion in time, so Godlen Masimla will link up at halfback with Abner van Reenen, who is in for Kade Wolhuter after the young flyhalf ruptured knee ligaments (ACL) last week.

Dan du Plessis starts at outside centre, with Ruhan Nel having joined the Springbok Sevens team and Leolin Zas and Sergeal Petersen start on the wings, with Seabelo Senatla suspended.

ALSO READ: Stormers’ Senatla cops four-week ban for dangerous play

Coach John Dobson said that despite the forced changes, there is a lot to look forward to from a talented side this weekend.

“Many of the players coming in impressed in the preparation matches and will relish the opportunity to prove themselves in a big game such as this,” said Dobson.

“We are excited to see what the new combinations can offer alongside the senior players who make up the core of this team,” he said.

Stormers: Damian Willemse, Sergeal Petersen, Dan du Plessis, Rikus Pretorius, Leolin Zas, Abner van Reenen, Godlen Masimla, Evan Roos, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Marcel Theunissen, Marvin Orie, David Meihuizen, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff (capt). Bench (from): Scarra Ntubeni, Leon Lyons, Neethling Fouche, Ernst van Rhyn, Willie Engelbrecht, Paul de Wet, Cornel Smit, Edwill van der Merwe, Andre-Hugo Venter, Adre Smith.

Lions boss Gatland on leaving Sexton out and facing the Boks

May 7th 2021 at 05:01

Warren Gatland said concerns over Johnny Sexton’s “durability” lay behind one of his “toughest decisions” in omitting the veteran flyhalf from the upcoming British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa.

Ireland captain Sexton was the most high-profile absentee from the 37-man squad unveiled by Lions boss Gatland on Thursday, with the New Zealander opting for Wales’ Dan Biggar, England’s Owen Farrell and Scotland’s Finn Russell as his three No 10s for the July-August campaign.

Sexton, a veteran of 105 Tests, has featured in the Lions’ last six internationals spanning the 2013 series win in Australia and drawn encounter in New Zealand four years ago.

He also impressed for Ireland during this season’s Six Nations.

ALSO READ: Alun Wyn Jones to lead 2021 Lions in SA

But Sexton, whose career has featured several head injuries, has since suffered concussions.

While Gatland said he had a “huge amount of respect for Sexton”, 36 in July, worries about his ability to get through a tour culminating with three Tests in as many weeks against the physical, world champion Springboks had counted against him.

“It was one of the toughest decisions we had to make,” Gatland told reporters.

“When we looked that we are going to South Africa, the thing that we kept coming back to is Johnny’s durability and being able to put a string of big matches together consecutively,” the New Zealander added.

“He’s been rested on a number of occasions and unfortunately that’s what swayed it for us – not having the confidence that he could get through a tough, physical tour.”

‘Exciting Simmonds’

By contrast, Exeter No 8 Sam Simmonds is in the squad even though the reigning European player of the year won the last of his seven England caps in 2018.

“For the Springboks you’ve got to have players in your forward pack who don’t just put the ball under their arm and run hard and straight,” Gatland said.

“You need players with footwork and Simmonds has that and pace. He also scores tries. I’m really excited about him getting the chance.”

South Africa have not played a Test since winning the 2019 World Cup final in Japan because of the fall-out from the Covid-19 pandemic.

ALSO READ: Meet Lions tourist Duhan van der Merwe

But Gatland, ahead of his third tour as Lions head coach, was in no doubt of their quality.

“I think South Africa have gone back to their DNA,” he said.

“It’s about being physical and winning that physical battle…It’s going to be brutal at times.”

Prior to a warm-up Test against Japan at Murrayfield on June 26, the Lions will hold a training camp in Jersey.

A self-governing territory dependent on Britain for its defence, Jersey has been at the centre of a post Brexit row between the UK and France over fishing rights.

London recalled two navy vessels on Thursday while protesting French fishermen returned home without blockading the Channel Island’s main port.

“I’m only concentrating on the rugby side, not the gunboats and the other stuff that’s going on,” said Gatland.

“We’ve just got to make sure that if we do go fishing, we don’t go out too far,” he added jokingly.

Lions make four changes to their starting XV for clash against the Sharks

May 7th 2021 at 05:00

Lions coach Ivan Van Rooyen has made four injury-enforced changes to his starting XV to take on the Sharks in their trip to Durban this weekend.

Coach Ivan Van Rooyen has made four changes to his starting XV to take on the Sharks at in their trip to Durban this week

READ | https://www.thesouthafrican.com/sport/rugby/rainbow-cup-sharks-name-unchanged-starting-xv/

They played a truly physical encounter in their opener of the Rainbow Cup against the Bulls last week. The clash resulted in all four injuries occurring in the same match!

This means that, fullback Tiaan Swanepoel(Fullback), Stean Pienaar (Wing) and Wilhelm van der Sluys (lock) all drop out of the side due to their injuries.

There is good news however, as Burger Odendaal and JAco Visagie return the bench.

There is also a welcome return for for former Blitzbokke star, Francke Horn. He is aiming to prove his worth in the 15-a-side format.

READ | https://www.thesouthafrican.com/sport/rugby/rainbow-cup-vermeulen-returns-to-lead-the-bulls/

Ivan Van Rooyen will be hoping his side can get their season back on track with a win against the more favored Sharks in Durban.

The Lions side to face the Sharks:

15) EW Viljoen

14) Rabz Maxwane

13) Wandisile Simelane

12) Dan Kriel

11) Courtnall Skosan

10) Fred Zeilenga

9) Andre Warner

8) Francke Horn

&) Vincent Tshituka

6) MJ Pelser

5) Reinhard Nothnagel

4) Ruben Schoemen

3) Carlu Sadie

2) PJ Botha

1) Sti Sithole

Subs: 16) Jaco Visagie. 17) Nathan McBeth, 18)) Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 19) Len Massyn, 20) Emmanuel Tshituka, 21) Morne van den Berg, 22) Jordan Hendrikse, 23) Burger Odendaal

Highlanders coach exits early to help Japan prep for Lions

May 7th 2021 at 04:46

Coach Tony Brown has been forced skip Otago Highlanders’ Super Rugby Trans-Tasman campaign to help Japan prepare to face the British and Irish Lions, in a situation he conceded Friday was “not ideal”.

Brown has contracts with both the Highlanders and the rugby union in Japan, where he coached the now defunct Sunwolves and was an assistant with the Brave Blossoms at the 2019 World Cup.

The roles were never supposed to overlap but Brown said rescheduling caused by the pandemic had created a clash that left him unable to fill both roles.

“Having to head to Japan earlier than expected is disappointing particularly leaving my (Highlanders) team before the end of the season, it’s not what anyone would have wanted,” he said.

ALSO READ: Meet Lions tourist Duhan van der Merwe

The Brave Blossoms play the Lions in Edinburgh on June 26 in a warm-up for the composite team’s tour of South Africa.

Brown said Japan’s internationals had not spent time together since 2019 and they would undergo a short but intense preparation before heading to Scotland.

The Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competition – which pits Australian and New Zealand clubs against each other for the first time since the pandemic began – runs from May 14 to June 19.

“The way it has worked out means Brownie’s international obligations suddenly overlap with his Super Rugby duties, which obviously is a situation that doesn’t sit comfortably with anyone,” Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark said.

He said assistant coach Clarke Dermody would take over, with Brown providing regular input remotely.

Brown’s contract with the Highlanders runs until the end of next season.

Meet Lions tourist Duhan van der Merwe

May 7th 2021 at 04:34

Who is Duhan van der Merwe really – the South Africa-born wing who was included as one of the “bolters” in the British and Irish Lions touring squad to South Africa on Thursday?

Van der Merwe’s inclusion in the 37-man squad drew the biggest interest locally because of his connections with South Africa.

A powerful winger of 106kg and 1.93m tall, the 25-year-old follows in the footsteps of Ireland No 8 CJ Stander who was another former SA player to become a Lion – on the previous tour of 2017 to New Zealand. The Munster player, who will retire from rugby shortly, missed out on selection this time.

Ironically both Van der Merwe and Stander received recognition abroad after not being recognised in Pretoria and by the Bulls.

ALSO READ: Alun Wyn Jones to lead 2021 Lions in SA

Taking a closer look at Van Der Merwe’s exploits, the younger brother of Bok hooker Akker, was born in George in the Western Cape and attended Outeniqua High School.

Van der Merwe quickly caught the eye; he was selected for the SA Schools side in 2012-13 for whom he played five matches and he also turned out in two games for the SA U20 side in 2014.

After school he attended the University of Pretoria where he played for the University of Pretoria Tuks team in eight games, scoring 74 points.

Wing Duhan van der Merwe

Duhan van der Merwe played for Tuks in the Varsity Cup competition. Here he is in action against Maties in 2016. Picture: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

Van der Merwe played two matches for the Bulls in 2016 before moving to Montpellier in France where he played four games until 2017.

The powerful winger’s fortunes changed for the better when he joined the Edinburgh Rugby Club in 2017. He qualified to play for Scotland through the three-year residency rule and it wasn’t long before the Scottish selectors started to notice his strong performances in the Pro14 and European club competitions.

Van der Merwe was duly picked by Scotland last year and he has been one of his team’s star performers in the Six Nations, scoring eight tries in just 10 Tests.

He has so far played 64 games for his club Edinburgh, which have brought him 155 points from 31 tries.

And now Van der Merwe is ready to thrill in the country of his birth.

His proud older brother Akker, as well as rugby fans in Europe and South Africa, will be watching.

Super Rugby Aotearoa final: Chances Scott Robertson breaks out in dance?

May 7th 2021 at 03:47
By: AFP

The Reds are seeking revenge while across the Tasman, the Crusaders will look to extend their dominance when Australia and New Zealand’s domestic Super Rugby competitions play their finals this weekend.

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The Reds narrowly lost last year’s Super Rugby AU decider 28-23 to the Brumbies and admit the defeat still smarts, setting up an epic rematch in front of 50 000 fans in Brisbane on Saturday.

Reds scrumhalf Tate McDermott said footage of the Brumbies celebrating after last year’s win provided ample motivation for Saturday’s clash.

“We’ve re-watched that final minute of the grand final, where you see them kick it out and there’s a bit of carry on and they win,” he said.

“There’s definitely been a fire burning since that moment last year that has really helped the team… we do owe them a lot from that game.”

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS SQUAD: BREAKDOWN BY CLUB

The Reds have overtaken the Brumbies as Australia’s most consistent team this year, losing only once in an outstanding season that has included two victories over their Canberra-based rivals.

Coach Dan McKellar admitted his Brumbies were the underdogs but warned the Queenslanders not to expect an easy victory in front of what is likely to be a sold-out Suncorp Stadium.

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS SQUAD: BREAKDOWN BY COUNTRY

“We’re quite happy – backs to the wall, big crowd at Suncorp, just ourselves and our family to bounce off,” he said.

“We’ll go out there and prove a few people wrong and continue our reign as Australia’s leading team over a number of years. That’s the goal.”

Over in New Zealand, the Crusaders are red-hot favourites to defend the Super Rugby Aotearoa title, adding a second domestic championship to the record 10 international Super Rugby titles already in the trophy cabinet.

Victory against Chiefs in Christchurch on Saturday would make it five straight years the Crusaders have won Super Rugby or Super Rugby Aotearoa.

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: 16 PLAYERS TO ENJOY THEIR FIRST TOUR OF SA

They are unbeaten in 24 post-season matches contested at home, including six finals, and coach Scott Robertson said it was not a record they would give up lightly.

“Occasions like this are exactly what we play for, the chance to represent the people of our region on the big stage,” he said.

By contrast, the Chiefs began the season as competition losing their first two matches to compound the pain of a winless 2020.

But a five-match run of success turned their campaign around, with coach Clayton McMillan saying the Chiefs felt a burden had been lifted and they could defeat anyone, even an outfit as formidable as the Crusaders.

“On any given day, any team can be beaten, and we’ve proven that,” he said. 

“This weekend we are going down to Christchurch with confidence and believe we can upset the Crusaders.”

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British & Irish Lions: 16 players to enjoy first Lions tour in SA

May 6th 2021 at 08:26

British & Irish Lions Head Coach, Warren Gatland, named a 37-man squad to tour South Africa for the 2021 Series including 16 players who will travel with the team for the first time.

All the bolters

Josh Adams, Bundee Aki, Chris Harris, Ali Price, Louis Rees-Zammit, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Zander Fagerson, Iain Henderson, Jonny Hill, Wyn Jones, Andrew Porter, Sam Simmonds, Rory Sutherland and Hamish Watson are them men making their first trip with the British & Irish Lions.

All 16 men have enjoyed excellent campaigns for their respective teams in the 2021 Six Nations.

Rugby World Cup Stats
British & Irish Lions: Josh Adams of Wales scores his team’s second try during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Group D game between Wales and Fiji at Oita Stadium on October 09, 2019 in Oita, Japan. (Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)

Wales winger Adams was the breakout star of the 2019 World Cup, finishing as the leading try scorer.

England flanker Sam Simmonds hasn’t played for his country since 2018 but has been a livewire in the Premiership. Gatland bolstered the ranks of his loose forwards.

British & Irish Lions
British & Irish Lions: Ireland’s centre Bundee Aki during the Autumn Nations Cup international rugby union match between England and Ireland at Twickenham in London, on November 21, 2020. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Centres Aki and Harris will be eager to force their way into the starting lineup but will need to be at their best to keep Elliot Daly and Robbie Henshaw out of the starting lineup.

Another Wales winger, Louis Rees-Zammit, enjoyed a blinding Six Nations and is one of the most exciting young players in the world right now.

Props Wyn Jones, not to be confused with skipper Alun Wyn Jones, and Zander Fagerson will be in the mix to impact the game in the front row where the series could be decided.

British & Irish Lions squad

Backs (16):

Josh Adams (Cardiff, Wales) Wing

Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland) Centre

Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) Fly-half

Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) Centre

Gareth Davies (Scarlets, Wales) Scrum-half

Owen Farrell (Saracens, England) Fly-half

Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland) Centre

Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) Centre

Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland) Full-back

Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland) Scrum-half

Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) Scrum-half

Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby, Wales) Wing

Finn Russell (Racing 92, Scotland) Fly-half

Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) Wing

Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) Wing

Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales) Full-back

Forwards (21):

Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland) Second row

Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) Back row

Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England) Hooker

Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England) Back row

Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) Prop

Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby, Wales) Back row

Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) Prop

Jamie George (Saracens, England) Hooker

Iain Henderson (Ulster Rugby, Ireland) Second row

Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, England) Second row

Maro Itoje (Saracens, England) Second row

Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, Wales) (Captain) Second row

Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales) Prop

Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England) Second row

Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) Hooker

Andrew Porter (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) Prop

Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, England) Back row

Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) Prop

Justin Tipuric (Ospreys, Wales) Back row

Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England) Prop

Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) Back row

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Wales v Fiji – Rugby World Cup 2019: Group D

British & Irish Lions: Josh Adams of Wales scores his team's second try during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Group D game between Wales and Fiji at Oita Stadium on October 09, 2019 in Oita, Japan. (Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)

RUGBYU-AUTUMN NATIONS-ENG-IRL

British & Irish Lions: Ireland's centre Bundee Aki during the Autumn Nations Cup international rugby union match between England and Ireland at Twickenham in London, on November 21, 2020. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa squad named

May 6th 2021 at 07:48

The British & Irish Lions have named their squad of 37 to tour South Africa and play three Tests against the Springboks.

Alun Wyn Jones will bring his British & Irish Lions journey full circle when he returns to South Africa 12 years after first facing the Springboks, this time as captain.

Scotland winger Duhan van der Merwe will return to the land of his birth to face the Springboks with the Lions.

Ireland flyhalf Jonny Sexton misses out on selection for his third Lions tour with Dan Biggar, Owen Farrell and Finn Russell named ahead of him.

Several players are named in a Lions squad for a first time, including Josh Adams, Bundee Aki, Chris Harris, Ali Price, Louis Rees-Zammit, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Zander Fagerson, Iain Henderson, Jonny Hill, Wyn Jones, Andrew Porter, Sam Simmonds, Rory Sutherland and Hamish Watson.

 “We believe we’ve picked a squad capable of winning a Test series in South Africa,” said Gatland.

“Selecting a Lions squad is never easy and, in many ways, this has been the most challenging selection I have been involved in. Over the course of the last three weeks the coaches and I have rigorously debated each position.

“We saw some outstanding performance in the recent Six Nations, so competition for places has been tough with some incredibly tight calls to make.

“However, we are very happy with the squad we have assembled and look forward to meeting up in Jersey in just over a month’s time to start our preparation to take on the World Champions. We’ve left out some very talented players which gives an indication to the strength of this squad and we know how important that stand-by list will be.

“Being selected for a Lions Tour is the greatest honour for a British and Irish player and I congratulate everyone named today.”

British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa squad named

Backs (16):

Josh Adams (Cardiff, Wales) Wing

Bundee Aki (Connacht Rugby, Ireland) Centre

Dan Biggar (Northampton Saints, Wales) Fly-half

Elliot Daly (Saracens, England) Centre

Gareth Davies (Scarlets, Wales) Scrum-half

Owen Farrell (Saracens, England) Fly-half

Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby, Scotland) Centre

Robbie Henshaw (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) Centre

Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs, Scotland) Full-back

Conor Murray (Munster Rugby, Ireland) Scrum-half

Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) Scrum-half

Louis Rees-Zammit (Gloucester Rugby, Wales) Wing

Finn Russell (Racing 92, Scotland) Fly-half

Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) Wing

Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, England) Wing

Liam Williams (Scarlets, Wales) Full-back

Forwards (21):

Tadhg Beirne (Munster Rugby, Ireland) Second row

Jack Conan (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) Back row

Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, England) Hooker

Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, England) Back row

Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors, Scotland) Prop

Taulupe Faletau (Bath Rugby, Wales) Back row

Tadhg Furlong (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) Prop

Jamie George (Saracens, England) Hooker

Iain Henderson (Ulster Rugby, Ireland) Second row

Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, England) Second row

Maro Itoje (Saracens, England) Second row

Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, Wales) (Captain) Second row

Wyn Jones (Scarlets, Wales) Prop

Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints, England) Second row

Ken Owens (Scarlets, Wales) Hooker

Andrew Porter (Leinster Rugby, Ireland) Prop

Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs, England) Back row

Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) Prop

Justin Tipuric (Ospreys, Wales) Back row

Mako Vunipola (Saracens, England) Prop

Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby, Scotland) Back row

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British & Irish Lions: Alun Wyn Jones named captain

May 6th 2021 at 07:34

Wales lock Alun Wyn Jones will lead the British & Irish Lions on their tour of South Africa.

Coach Warren Gatland has called upon the man who was his trusted lieutenant for Wales for so many years to marshal the tourists to a series victory.

Alun Wyn Jones named captain of the British & Irish Lions

Jones will follow in the footsteps of fellow locks Willie John McBride in 1974, Martin Johnson in 1997 and Paul O’Connell in 2009 by captaining the Lions in South Africa from the second row.

The captaincy honour cements Jones’ place as one of the all-time greats of the game.

The series against the Springboks will be his fourth Lions Tour in a row while he already has nine consecutive Test appearances to his name, a feat that hammers home his longevity and continued impact.

It will not be the first time Jones has led the Lions, with the towering lock captaining the tourists in the decisive third Test win in Sydney against the Wallabies in 2013.

Having driven Wales to their sixth Six Nations title since 2005 earlier this year, it’s not hard to see why Gatland called the decision to name Jones as his skipper “relatively easy”.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with him for a number of years, he was the only player in the Welsh squad who was there before me, so he’s had a huge amount of experience,” he said.

“I think the last few years he’s done an incredible job in terms of leading Wales. He has captained a Lions team in the third Test in 2013, which was a pretty good performance.

“For me, picking someone who comes from a team that’s won the Six Nations, who has respect, has been there and done that, it was a relatively easy decision.”

Gatland says that Jones will still need to earn his place in the Lions starting lineup.

Alun Wyn Jones
Wales’ lock Alun Wyn Jones (C) and England’s lock Maro Itoje (R) compete for the ball during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Wales and England at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, south Wales, on February 27, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. Use in books subject to Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) approval. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

“When I rang him and asked him, he was pretty honoured to be able to accept it,” Gatland added.

“But there’s also the caveat and the conversation that, ‘Your form needs to be good enough to be selected in the Test side’ and there’s no one better to have that conversation with than Alun Wyn.

“He fully understands how much competition there is in that second row and that if someone is playing better than him, he could be on the bench or someone else might captain the Test series.

“We’re going to need other leaders. We’re going to need someone else to captain games that he’s not involved in, but I think he thoroughly deserves it.

“He’s a player that leads from the front, sets a great example in training, he has a huge amount of respect, he’s been there done that, a world record-holder in terms of Test caps.”

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Wales' lock Alun Wyn Jones (C) and England's lock Maro Itoje (R) compete for the ball during the Six Nations international rugby union match between Wales and England at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, south Wales, on February 27, 2021. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. Use in books subject to Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) approval. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Rainbow Cup: Sharks name unchanged starting XV

May 6th 2021 at 07:23

Sharks head coach Sean Everitt is delighted to be able to name an unchanged starting XV to host the Emirates Lions this weekend in the Rainbow Cup.

After getting their opening match of the Rainbow Cup SA tournament off to a winning start against the DHL Stormers in Cape Town last weekend, the Cell C Sharks will look to refine their performance further when the Lions visit Jonsson Kings Park on Saturday afternoon in the Cell C Sharks’ first home game of the competition.

The performance in the 33-30 victory was always going to show some rustiness due to the lack of match action and this week’s match offers the perfect opportunity to perform at a level they strive for.

“Our preparation is important because we’re a performance-driven side, we aren’t results-driven,” explains Cell C Sharks loose forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe. “We know that if we get our performance right, the results will follow.”

The highly mobile eighthman should revel in play on Saturday given his expectations of the way the game will unfold.

“I think both sides will look to lift the tempo and play a high-paced game. We will match them if they go that route and they’ll look to do the same. Decision-making will be important and making sure we stick to our plan.”

There are two changes on the bench with Le Roux Roets replacing JJ van Mescht and Jaden Hendrikse, having recovered from his niggle, being named as the reserve scrumhalf.

The Cell C Sharks will look to build on last week’s performance with a strong showing at home.

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Sharks team


1. Ox Nche
2. Fez Mbatha
3. Thomas du Toit
4. Ruben van Heerden
5. Reniel Hugo
6. Siya Kolisi
7. Henco Venter
8. Sikhumbuzo Notshe
9. Grant Williams
10. Curwin Bosch
11. Yaw Penxe
12. Jeremy Ward
13. Lukhanyo Am (C)
14. Sbu Nkosi
15. Aphelele Fassi

Replacements
16. Kerron van Vuuren
17. Ntuthuko Mchunu
18. Wiehahn Herbst
19. Le Roux Roets
20. Phepsi Buthelezi
21. Jaden Hendrikse
22. Manie Libbok
23. Werner Kok

British & Irish Lions breaking news: Squad to face Springboks named

May 6th 2021 at 07:21

British & Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland on Thursday named a 37-man squad to tour South Africa.

READ | SIYA KOLISI’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY ON SHELVES IN SEPTEMBER

Gatland has also named Alun Wyn Jones as captain for the tour.

Several players are named in a British & Irish Lions squad for a first time, including Josh Adams, Bundee Aki, Chris Harris, Ali Price, Louis Rees-Zammit, Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Zander Fagerson, Iain Henderson, Jonny Hill, Wyn Jones, Andrew Porter, Sam Simmonds, Rory Sutherland and Hamish Watson.

“We believe we’ve picked a squad capable of winning a Test series in South Africa,” said Gatland.

“Selecting a Lions squad is never easy and, in many ways, this has been the most challenging selection I have been involved in. Over the course of the last three weeks the coaches and I have rigorously debated each position.

“We saw some outstanding performance in the recent Six Nations, so competition for places has been tough with some incredibly tight calls to make.

“However, we are very happy with the squad we have assembled and look forward to meeting up in Jersey in just over a month’s time to start our preparation to take on the world champions. We’ve left out some very talented players which gives an indication to the strength of this squad and we know how important that stand-by list will be.

“Being selected for a Lions Tour is the greatest honour for a British and Irish player and I congratulate everyone named today.”

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: FIRST LOOK AT THE TROPHY UP FOR GRABS IN SPRINGBOK SERIES

BRITISH & IRISH LIONS SQUAD TO TOUR SA:

Backs

Josh Adams, Bundee Aki, Dan Biggar, Elliot Daly, Gareth Davies, Owen Farrell, Chris Harris, Robbie Henshaw, Stuart Hogg, Conor Murray, Ali Price, Lewis Rees-Zammit, Finn Russell, Duhan van der Merwe, Anthony Watson, Liam Williams

Forwards

Tadhg Beirne, Jack Conan, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Tom Curry, Zander Fagerson, Taulupe Faletau, Tadhg Furlong, Jamie George, Iain Henderson, Jonny Hill, Maro Itoje, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Wyn Jones, Courtney Lawes, Ken Owens, Andrew Porter, Sam Simmonds, Rory Sutherland, Justin Tipuric, Mako Vunipola, Hamish Watson

Rainbow Cup: Vermeulen returns to lead the Bulls

May 6th 2021 at 07:04

Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White has adjusted his matchday squad slightly as they prepare to travel to the Cape where they will face the DHL Stormers at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday, 8 May 2021.

Duane Vermeulen is back

Headlining the changes is the return of Springbok no.8 and Bulls captain Duane Vermeulen. He will resume the captaincy from fellow Springbok Nizaam Carr with Carr dropping to the bench, from where he will be looking to undoubtedly provide a crucial impact when called upon.

The backs have been adjusted slightly with a direct exchange as James Verity-Amm and Chris Smith switching out for David Kriel and Morné Steyn respectively.

The heavy men up front only see one other change, outside of the return of Vermeulen, with Walt Steenkamp starting in the number 4 jumper as Janko Swanepoel shifts to the bench.

The Vodacom Bulls boasts a bench packed oozing with talent and like last weekend, will provide fresh legs and more energy.

“Last week certainly proved how vital it is that we continue getting as much competitive rugby under our belts,” said White. “The players need little motivation for another brutal North-South derby and we are definitely up for the challenge against a solid DHL Stormers outfit.”

Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White

Kick-off is scheduled for 18:15 with the match being broadcast live on SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby channels.

Bulls (with clubs)

15. David Kriel (Centurion)

14. Madosh Tambwe (Pretoria)

13. Marco Jansen van Vuren (Pretoria)

12. Cornal Hendricks (Northam)

11. Stravino Jacobs (Harlequins)

10. Morné Steyn (Tuine)

9. Embrose Papier (Tukkies)

8. Duane Vermeulen (Harlequins, Captain)

7. Elrigh Louw (Tukkies)

6. Marco van Staden (Pretoria)

5. Ruan Nortje (Naka Bulle)

4. Walt Steenkamp (Centurion)

3. Mornay Smith (Centurion)

2. Johan Grobbelaar (Tukkies)

1. Gerhard Steenekamp (Naka Bulle)

Replacements:

16. Schalk Erasmus (Tuine)

17. Lizo Gqoboka (Naka Bulle)

18. Jacques van Rooyen (Tuine)

19. Janko Swanepoel (Pretoria)

20. Nizaam Carr (Centurion)

21. Zak Burger (Tuine)

22. Chris Smith (Harlequins)

23. James Verity-Amm (Pretoria)

24. Jan-Hendrik Wessels (Under 20)

25. Reinhardt Ludwig (Under 20)

26. Arno Botha (Naka Bulle)

27. Keagan Johannes (Tukkies)

28. Janco Uys (Tuine)

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British & Irish Lions: Has the squad to play the Springboks been LEAKED?

May 6th 2021 at 06:09

Mere hours away from the official announcement of the 36-man British & Irish Lions squad to tour South Africa later this year and it appears the list of players has been LEAKED!

READ | SPRINGBOK BLOW AS RG SNYMAN GOES BACK UNDER THE KNIFE

Coach Warren Gatland is due to name his captain at 13:09 (SA time) and the rest of the squad at 13:28.

But it appears as if we needn’t wait until then if an image doing the rounds on social media is to be believed!

READ | SIYA KOLISI’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY ON SHELVES IN SEPTEMBER

Although the final tour itinerary is still not confirmed only 58 days before the first match is due to be played, it has been reported that all eight matches will be played in just two cities – Cape Town and Johannesburg.

The first three matches – including the first Test – will be played in the Mother City followed by the remaining five clashes – and second and third Tests – in Gauteng.

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: HOW TO WATCH THE SQUAD ANNOUCEMENT LIVE

See below for who reportedly made the cut – and who didn’t – for the first British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa since 2009.

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: FIRST LOOK AT THE TROPHY UP FOR GRABS IN SPRINGBOK SERIES

British-Irish-Lions-leaked

Watch live: British & Irish Lions squad announcement

May 6th 2021 at 06:04

Warren Gatland will name his British & Irish Lions squad for the 2021 Tour of South Africa and you can watch it live with Lions Rugby.

Join us for the live stream from 12:45 when the British & Irish Lions will be building up to the announcement, before chairman Jason Leonard reveals the final 2021 Lions squad.

The whole show

Join Lee McKenzie and special guests, including World Cup winner Jason Robinson as well as Tommy Bowe, Gavin Hastings, Sam Warburton and Springboks legend Bryan Habana via zoom.

The four year wait is about to come to an end.

Tune in to the Captain & Squad announcement livestream now as we reveal our 2021 Lions! Lions! Lions! 🦁#LionsRugby https://t.co/YVqXe4rFhB

— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) May 6, 2021

Also revealed on the show will be our 2021 Tour captain who will join McKenzie and guests on the show remotely.

Gatland and members of his 2021 coaching team will also join McKenzie in the studio as they run over their squad for the Vodafone Lions 1888 Cup against Japan, as well as the Castle Lager Lions Series.

Finally the stream will be joined ‘virtually’ by members of the 2021 squad.

“To put on that Lions jersey is incredibly special,” said Gatland.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be on a number of Lions tours and seeing those players put the jersey on for the first time – you can see the pride in their faces.

“It’s about understanding what has come before you and the famous players who have worn the iconic jersey and those who will come after you. The Lions are regarded as the best of the best and this is the biggest challenge in rugby.

“Once you’ve been selected, once you’ve played for the Lions, that is something that can never ever be taken away from you.”

Former Lions star Brian O’Driscoll said: “Good luck to all those players in contention today for the British & Irish Lions squad announcement. It’s the experience of a lifetime getting to build that bond and play with such great players.”

“The Most Special Club”

Tomorrow, 36 players will enter the club, some of them for the very first time.

Hear from some of the people who are lifetime members 🦁#LionsRugby pic.twitter.com/ChLJlpFfQd

— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) May 5, 2021

Watch live: British and Irish Lions squad announcement

The live stream kicks off at 12:45, please refresh the page if the video does not display.

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Watch live: British & Irish Lions squad announcement

The British & Irish Lions squad for the 2021 Tour of South Africa will be named today with 36 players punching their tickets to travel down.

British & Irish Lions: 5 candidates for captaincy role against the Springboks

May 6th 2021 at 05:14

The announcement of the British & Irish Lions captain is due at 13:09 (SA time) – in just 2 hours!

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: ARE THESE THE 36 MEN TO TAKE ON THE SPRINGBOKS?

Debates around the player most fit to lead the squad are against the Springboks are red hot. Alun Wyn Jones (Wales), Owen Farrell (England), Maro Itoje (England), Jonathan Sexton (Ireland) and James Ryan (Ireland) all provide strong candidates.

READ | SPRINGBOK BLOW AS RG SNYMAN GOES BACK UNDER THE KNIFE

5 candidates to captain British & Irish Lions against the Springboks

Alun Wyn Jones

The favourite to dawn the captaincy armband or is he? Wyn Jones has 9 caps for the British and Irish Lions and recently lead the Welsh side to the Triple Crown and the Six Nations titles earlier this year.

He is a seasoned veteran and leader for both sides.

Jones may be the most experienced captain but on form alone. He is is not guaranteed a starting spot however, with James Ryan and Maro Itoje the form locks in the recent 6 Nations season. Warren Gatland will have quite the headache over selecting between a captain who has led from the front under Warren Gatland .

Owen Farrell

Farrell is a fine leader and all round player. Having led the English side to their recent Autumn Nations trophy, back to back 6 Nations titles between 2019 – 2020 and the 2019 Rugby World Cup Final.

He has had his fair share of discipline issues though which would be highly costly in a tour of this magnitude.

Farrell, Like Jones, is not guaranteed a starting birth given his recent form.

Dan Bigger appears to be the form flyhalf and best option but on his day Farrell is one of the best in the world.

Maro Itoje

Itoje is the wildcard for the captaincy for me. Arguably, one of the best locks in world rugby – a fearsome presence on the ball and and physical force on defense. He epitomizes everything in a leader and leads from the front.

What works against Itoje is his lack of real experience as an International Captain. In such a prestigious tour, this could certainly work against his ambitions to lead the side against The Springboks.

James Ryan

Ryan is the current Irish captain and one of the best locks in world rugby. He is direct, strong and consistent.

Having recently held the captaincy role for Ireland. Ryan leads from the front, both on and off the rugby field. He is a stern player and trustworthy leader. He may not have the level of international leadership experience as Jones but will certainly be in the running to lead the side.

Jonathan Sexton

Sexton is an excellent leader and flyhalf but has struggled with injuries in recent seasons and has hardly played any rugby this season. It would be hard to see him earn a starting position and his lack of recent rugby, unfortunately, will have strongly limited his chances at being the captain.

Who is your first choice captain to face the Springboks?

Jake White makes another key signing at the Bulls

May 6th 2021 at 04:24

The Blue Bulls Company has confirmed the signing of centre Harold Vorster who returns to South Africa from Japan.

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: ARE THESE THE 36 MEN TO TAKE ON THE SPRINGBOKS?

Vorster enjoyed a stellar career across the Jukskei where he represented the Golden Lions and Lions, accumulating 70 caps in Super Rugby and 17 more in the Currie Cup.

In 2018, the hard-running centre made the move to Japan where he turned out for the Panasonic Wild Knights.

READ | SPRINGBOK BLOW AS RG SNYMAN GOES BACK UNDER THE KNIFE

Vorster has established himself as a no-nonsense centre with blistering pace and explosive strength which was rewarded in 2017 as he donned the South Africa ‘A’ jersey against the French Barbarians. 

“Attracting the type of talent Harold possesses is exactly what we are looking for at Loftus Versfeld. His signing adds immense depth to our backs and we are keen to see what he brings to the table,” said Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White.

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🚨 OUR LATEST SIGNING IS A BEAST 😤🚨

Welcome to Loftus Harold Vorster 🔥

Press release here: https://t.co/qij0kOf1h9#TrueToTheBlue pic.twitter.com/3k5C0eGf3q

— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) May 6, 2021

All Blacks star No 9 names Springbok opponent as the best ever

May 6th 2021 at 04:17

All Blacks scrumhalf Aaron Smith has named former Springbok Fourie du Preez as the greatest No 9 to ever play in a Rugby World Cup.

READ | SIYA KOLISI’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY ON SHELVES IN SEPTEMBER

When the official Rugby World Cup Twitter account recently sent out the question, ‘Best scrumhalf to play at a Rugby World Cup?’, none other than Smith responded with a picture of the legendary Bulls No 9.

The 97-Test veteran posted a pic of Fourie du Preez in his Springbok colours, along with a caption that read, “There can only be one! #FourieDuPreez”

READ | SPRINGBOK BLOW AS RG SNYMAN GOES BACK UNDER THE KNIFE

Du Preez was at the peak of his powers during the 2007 World Cup and was undoubtedly one of the Boks’ star performers at the tournament.

While he was a vital cog in Jake White’s Springbok machine throughout the competition, his masterclass performance in the 36-0 victory over England during the group stages is considered one of the finest individual performances in rugby history.

Du Preez would go on to help the Boks secure the Tri-Nations title and a series victory over the Lions two years later, while also achieving Super Rugby success with the Bulls.

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: ARE THESE THE 36 MEN TO TAKE ON THE SPRINGBOKS?

LIVE British & Irish Lions squad announcement: How to watch – 6 May 2021

May 6th 2021 at 03:00

Later today, Thursday, 6 May, British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland will name his 36-man squad for their 2021 tour of South Africa.

READ | SIYA KOLISI’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY ON SHELVES IN SEPTEMBER

The announcement will be broadcast live from 12:45 SA time with a build-up to the unveiling after which chairperson Jason Leonard will read out the names.

It will be streamed live on the British & Irish Lions’ social media channelsFacebookYouTube and Twitter, as well as on the Official Lions Rugby App and website.

The announcement will also be broadcast on SuperSport.

The 2021 tour captain – to be named on 6 May as well – will also join the the show remotely.

READ | SPRINGBOK BLOW AS RG SNYMAN GOES BACK UNDER THE KNIFE

‘To put on that British & Irish Lions jersey is incredibly special,’ said Gatland.

‘I’ve been lucky enough to be on a number of Lions tours and seeing those players put the jersey on for the first time – you can see the pride in their faces.

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: ARE THESE THE 36 MEN TO TAKE ON THE SPRINGBOKS?

‘It’s about understanding what has come before you and the famous players who have worn the iconic jersey and those who will come after you. The Lions are regarded as the best of the best and this is the biggest challenge in rugby.

‘Once you’ve been selected, once you’ve played for the Lions, that is something that can never ever be taken away from you.’

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS V SPRINGBOK MATCHES TO BE PLAYED IN JUST TWO CITIES!

The itinerary for the tour still hasn’t been confirmed despite the first match scheduled – at this stage – to be held on July 3, only nine weeks and a day away.

According to reports, all eight matches will be split between just two cities – Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Cape Town is due to hold the first three matches (including the first Test), while Johannesburg will stage the remaining five matches as well as the second and third Tests which are reported to be penciled in for the FNB Stadium to maximise the number of permitted spectators.

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Gangs, gunshots ‘the norm’ in Springbok Cheslin Kolbe’s ‘rough’ childhood

May 6th 2021 at 02:56
By: AFP

More than most people, South Africa wing Cheslin Kolbe, now the toast of Toulouse, is used to avoiding trouble.

READ | SPRINGBOK BLOW AS RG SNYMAN GOES BACK UNDER THE KNIFE

On the field he is best known for using his quick feet to find a handkerchief of space before accelerating away to score but off the field, as a kid, the Rugby World Cup winner needed that speed to stay out of harm’s way.

The 5-foot-7 winger was brought up in Kraaifontein, a northern suburb of Cape Town which also produced 2016 400m Olympic gold medalist Wayde van Niekerk, who just happens to be his cousin. 

READ | SIYA KOLISI’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY ON SHELVES IN SEPTEMBER

“You have to grow up just playing in the streets and all of a sudden all you hear is gunshots, gang members fighting each other. That was the norm, each and every day,” the 27-year-old told AFP this week.

“After a while you get used to the way things happen around you. It’s scary to notice what I was faced with from a young age.

“It was a rough upbringing but I definitely wouldn’t want it any other way,” he added.

Kolbe said the coronavirus pandemic has worsened the situation at home considerably.

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: HOW TO WATCH THE SQUAD ANNOUCEMENT LIVE

South Africa has officially recorded more than 1.5 million cases of Covid, of which over 54 000 have been fatal.

“The feedback I get from friends is that it’s 10 times worse than what it was since we grew up,” Kolbe said.

“People are vulnerable with Covid, losing their jobs, becoming more desperate to get food on the table so they do whatever it takes. 

“They will steal something from you, that they can sell for money, or to get food or to buy drugs to keep themselves going,” he added.

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: ARE THESE THE 36 MEN TO TAKE ON THE SPRINGBOKS?

Kolbe’s father, Andrew, played local rugby in the town, which gave the young Cheslin a role model and a routine. 

“It gave me the opportunity to go to training with him during the week and on weekends I would go and watch him. I always kept myself busy with wherever my Dad was,” he said.

“I would follow him around. It kept me on the right path by not making silly or decision that I would have regretted,” he added.

Kolbe senior’s rugby hopes were stymied by the apartheid system which only came to an end with the election of Nelson Mandela as president in April 1994, six months after Cheslin was born.

“My Dad has always not wanted to feed me with what happened in the past and keeps me looking ahead and wanting the best for me,” the 14-time Springbok said.

“I wouldn’t say I was faced with a lot of racism at a young age. But I definitely got the other side, I was always criticised for not being the biggest player on the field,” he added.

Kolbe’s path to wearing the Green and Gold of his country in 2018 took him to the Rio Olympics two years earlier when South Africa won the Sevens bronze medal.

But it also landed him criticism by former players and coaches, such as Nick Mallett, who wanted him to move to play scrumhalf.

“I’m really tired of the comments about my size. I have friends who sent me screen shots of people still saying I’m too small, that I’m not the best,” he said.

“I’m a firm believer that this game is meant for each and every human being, no matter how big or small you are.

“I’m still working on it to stay on top of my game because people look for the one mistake. They’ll wait for me to miss a tackle to get on the wagon,” he added. 

This weekend, Kolbe’s French club Toulouse travel to Toulon ahead of a busy few months for club and country.

Including the busy domestic run-in he is set to feature in his first Champions Cup final on May 22 before the Springboks host the British and Irish Lions.

“I still want to achieve a lot of things with Toulouse. Another Top 14 and a European Cup. That’s a big one, with us in the final,” he said.

“If we can top that off it would have been a good ride for these past four years and hopefully that can continue.”

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Jarryd Hayne: Ex-49er, Australian rugby league star jailed for sexual assault

May 6th 2021 at 02:41
By: AFP

Former Australia rugby league star and San Francisco 49er Jarryd Hayne was on Thursday jailed for five years and nine months over the sexual assault of a woman at her home in 2018.

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The 33-year-old – best known outside Australia for a short-lived attempt to break into the NFL – was found guilty in March on two counts of intercourse without consent.

He must serve at least three years and eight months before being eligible for parole.

Jarryd Hayne was sentenced at a court in Newcastle, north of Sydney, after the judge heard the woman describe how the incident had changed her life.

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: HOW TO WATCH THE SQUAD ANNOUCEMENT LIVE

“Yes I am destroyed and damaged but I am still standing,” the 26-year-old, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said in a victim impact statement.

The pair met on social media and the woman reported that he attacked her at her home in Newcastle on the night of the National Rugby League grand final.

Former Parramatta Eels star Hayne insisted it was consensual, but District Court Judge Helen Syme disagreed.

READ | SPRINGBOK BLOW AS RG SNYMAN GOES BACK UNDER THE KNIFE

“The reliability and honesty of the victim’s evidence was tested at length and in my view, her reliability was not in doubt. She said no several times,” Syme said, according to broadcaster ABC.

The Sydney-born Jarryd Hayne was the NRL’s player of the year in 2009 and 2014, making more than 20 appearances for New South Wales in State of Origin matches, which pit New South Wales against Queensland.

He was capped 12 times by Australia and four by Fiji, where his father comes from, as well as representing Fiji in rugby sevens.

Hayne attempted a career in the NFL in 2015 as a kick returner and running back, but experienced only fleeting success during a tough first season with the San Francisco 49ers.

He played eight times for the 49ers, making 79 yards and scoring no touchdowns.

British & Irish Lions: Joe Marler ‘gutted’ after revealing he’s NOT part of squad

May 5th 2021 at 14:43

England prop Joe Marler admits he is a “bit gutted” at being overlooked for the British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa later this year.

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: HOW TO WATCH THE SQUAD ANNOUCEMENT LIVE

Marler’s name will be missing when Warren Gatland announces his 36-man squad to take on the Springboks on Thursday after he revealed he was not among those to be contacted by the Kiwi in advance.

Gatland wrote to in excess of 50 players to inform them they are in contention in the belief that some might not want to travel to South Africa because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Marler missed the Six Nations for family reasons and the Harlequins prop is disappointed that he will not be touring with the British & Irish Lions for a second time having been present in New Zealand four years ago.

READ | SIYA KOLISI’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY ON SHELVES IN SEPTEMBER

“I didn’t get an email. Bit gutted. I’m not surprised, but I’d have loved to have gone. I’d love to have gone with a different approach to it than I did in 2017,” Marler said.

“I remember sitting down talking to (former Ireland hooker) Rory Best on that tour. He said he regretted the way he’d approached 2013 and the memories he had of it.

“It was pretty obvious from the start that he wasn’t going to make the Test team and he let those feelings become bitter and cloud his enjoyment of the whole experience.

READ | SPRINGBOK BLOW AS RG SNYMAN GOES BACK UNDER THE KNIFE

“And he wanted to make sure that in 2017, the midweekers didn’t make the same mistake that he did. And there was part of that for me in 2017.

“It was pretty obvious from the start that I wasn’t going to get a sniff of the Tests and I was a bit of a s*** at times. I regret having those feelings towards it.

“I still had an unbelievable experience and the friends I made for life, but I’d have liked to have gone back this time around and would have tried to help out.”

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: ARE THESE THE 36 MEN TO TAKE ON THE SPRINGBOKS?

Marler was selected in England’s Six Nations squad but withdrew to be with his pregnant wife Daisy rather than in the squad’s bubble in south west London.

The 30-year-old, who has openly discussed his mental health issues, pulled out of the 2016 tour to Australia and in 2018 announced his international retirement only to reverse the decision.

“If you are Warren Gatland, would you go: ‘It’s a pretty tight bubble, nine weeks away, it’s already tough enough as it is, do I need someone who’s got form of struggling mentally and away from home?’,” Marler said.

“Is that the right person to have on that tour? Probably not. Who knows? Maybe it’s because there are better players than me.

“There are pretty good players in the loosehead position before having to consider someone who hasn’t played international rugby for 12 months and has got form of not being that good at not being away from home.”

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SA-born Kyle Steyn sets sights on Scotland spot after injury return

May 5th 2021 at 13:44

Glasgow back Kyle Steyn aims to resurrect his fledgling Scotland career after making his comeback following more than a year out of action.

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: HOW TO WATCH THE SQUAD ANNOUCEMENT LIVE

Kyle Steyn made his first appearance of the season in Glasgow’s opening Rainbow Cup defeat by Benetton and is hoping to face Edinburgh at Scotstoun on Friday night.

The centre/wing had not played since making his Scotland debut against France in March last year in the final game before the first lockdown.

The Johannesburg-born player tore his hamstring off the bone in early August and suffered a recurrence of the injury well into his rehab.

But he is setting high targets for his comeback as he eyes Scotland’s July tour to Georgia and Romania following a Scotland A game that is yet to be arranged.

READ | SIYA KOLISI’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY ON SHELVES IN SEPTEMBER

“I don’t want to shy away from it – at the end of the day that is my goal,” the 27-year-old said.

“I would absolutely love to be on the summer tour.

“I’m very aware of the circumstances I’m in and I think it’s just really important for me to put my head down in these next few games and play as well as I can and help Glasgow play as well as they can and see what comes off the back of that.”

READ | SPRINGBOK BLOW AS RG SNYMAN GOES BACK UNDER THE KNIFE

Kyle Steyn is grateful for the opportunity that the PRO14’s new tournament has afforded him.

“The Rainbow Cup is the best tournament in the world if you ask me,” he said.

“Every time there were reports coming out that the South African teams weren’t coming I thought it was going to be canned, and I was thinking, ‘please, please do not let that happen’.

“It’s come at a good time. It’s the end of a long season and I feel I’ve got an important role to play. I’ve got a lot of fresh, bundled up energy that needs to be spent so I’m trying my best to drive that forward.”

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: ARE THESE THE 36 MEN TO TAKE ON THE SPRINGBOKS?

Kyle Steyn believes he can quickly push himself forward after making his comeback late last month.

“With an injury like that the medical team is really good in making sure you are as close to having experienced match conditions before you get out there,” he said.

“Before I went out on the pitch I had probably done six or seven weeks of contact by then.

“Having said that, nothing compares to the game stage, nothing is as full on in training as it is in a game.

“To be honest the toughest part of it was my lungs, getting acclimatised. It felt like I hadn’t played a game in a year. It felt like I was running around with a trailer of lead behind me.

“Mentally I felt good and definitely the first time I carried I felt, ‘thank goodness, that was a relief’. I was just excited to be honest.”

IN CLOSING | LONDON IRISH SIGN FORMER STORMERS AND LIONS VETERAN NIC GROOM

British & Irish Lions news: Manu Tuilagi backed for call-up

May 5th 2021 at 13:37

Manu Tuilagi remains on course to return for Sale this month and director of rugby Alex Sanderson says if it was down to him, he would select the centre for the upcoming British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa.

READ | LONDON IRISH SIGN FORMER STORMERS AND LIONS VETERAN NIC GROOM

Lions head coach Warren Gatland is set to name his 36-man squad and captain on Thursday and England international Manu Tuilagi could be included despite being out since September due to an Achilles injury.

“Yeah I would (take him) if I was picking it,” Sanderson said ahead of Friday’s Premiership game with Leicester.

“Manu understands more than most how to come back from an injury because he has had more than most.

“And I think he wants to come back and be brilliant again. If I could back anyone to come back and be at their best, I’d back him.”

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: ARE THESE THE 36 MEN TO TAKE ON THE SPRINGBOKS?

Sanderson revealed Manu Tuilagi may have been available for the Champions Cup on May 22 had La Rochelle not knocked Sale out at the quarter-final stage.

The Samoan-born back has not been ruled out of their fixture with Bath next weekend either, but a more realistic target is the visit of Premiership leaders Bristol on May 28.

An appearance against the Bears would potentially give the 29-year-old three regular season games.

READ | SPRINGBOK BLOW AS RG SNYMAN GOES BACK UNDER THE KNIFE

Sale are also hopeful of making the play-offs which could give the England international another two matches to prove his fitness before the Lions depart for South Africa.

On Manu Tuilagi’s return, Sanderson added: “All being well and hitting all his markers, some time around the European Cup final.

“It is a shame we are not playing in it because he could be making his (second) debut in that. Some time around that, so two to three weeks.

“What we are guarding against isn’t his Achilles, his Achilles is fine. It’s making sure he doesn’t reinjure himself through a soft tissue.”

READ | SIYA KOLISI’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY ON SHELVES IN SEPTEMBER

Tuilagi, who went with the Lions squad to Australia in 2013, has suffered with hamstring, groin and knee problems in the past and Sanderson still feels it will not take him long to get back up to top speed.

The Sharks director of rugby is cautious about putting the former Leicester Tigers player back into the mix too early, but he has been involved in leadership meetings over the team’s attacking structure with his return in mind.

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: HOW TO WATCH THE SQUAD ANNOUCEMENT LIVE

“It is our job to get him up to game fitness before he plays, that’s why I am very tentative to say when he is coming back and him hitting his marks because I don’t want to throw him in there at 80 per cent, he will reinjure,” Sanderson said of Tuilagi, who recently signed a new two-year deal at Sale.

“I can only talk for myself, I can’t talk for the legend that is Warren Gatland’s perspective, but it is not a leap of faith for us to sign him again, it is a calculated risk and a good one.

“I have no doubt he will get back to playing his best rugby. He is very happy here, very motivated and a very good player. You get those three things together and you end up finding form.

“I think he will find form, whether or not Warren wants to take Manu Tuilagi with the Lions, that is his choice.”

Sanderson has not spoken with Gatland about the return of the Sale man but, with centre rival George North ruled out last month, Tuilagi will hope to be included in Thursday’s 36-man list.

London Irish sign former Stormers and Lions veteran Nic Groom

May 5th 2021 at 11:08

London Irish have completed the short-term signing of scrumhalf Nic Groom.

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: ARE THESE THE 36 MEN TO TAKE ON THE SPRINGBOKS?

Nic Groom arrives on a short-term contract until the end of the 2020/21 season, following his recent departure from Edinburgh.

Director of Rugby, Declan Kidney, said: “We’re really pleased to add Nic to the squad for the remainder of the season.

“His experience in the Premiership will be invaluable for what’s to come over the course of the remaining fixtures.”

READ | SPRINGBOK BLOW AS RG SNYMAN GOES BACK UNDER THE KNIFE

Nic Groom joined former club, Edinburgh, from the Lions in 2019, and made 22 appearances for the Scottish side, scoring six tries.

The South African is no stranger to Premiership rugby, of course, having made 49 appearances for Northampton Saints between 2016 and 2018.

Prior to that, Groom spent five years at Stormers and a similar spell with Western Province in his homeland in the early stages of his career.

The 5-foot-8 playmaker has one South Africa ‘A’ cap and one Barbarians appearance to his name.

READ | SIYA KOLISI’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY ON SHELVES IN SEPTEMBER

Speaking on his arrival at the club, Groom said: “I’m really glad it’s happened – it’s the right opportunity at the right time for me.

“I’ve been keeping an eye on things ever since it became a possibility to come here, and it seems like the Club is really moving forward in the right direction.

“I like the way the team plays, and you can see how much it means to the group every time they pull on the London Irish jersey, so that was a big attraction for me in coming here.”

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: HOW TO WATCH THE SQUAD ANNOUCEMENT LIVE

Springbok blow as RG Snyman goes back under the knife

May 4th 2021 at 12:03

Munster and Springbok lock RG Snyman’s hopes of making a return to action have been hampered after he suffered a setback that will require further surgery.

READ | SIYA KOLISI’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY ON SHELVES IN SEPTEMBER

The South African was forced off the field after rupturing his ACL on his Munster debut against Leinster in Dublin last August and was entering the last block of his rehabilitation.

But Munster revealed on Tuesday that the 26-year-old’s spell on the sidelines is set to continue after the latest disappointment.

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: FIRST LOOK AT THE TROPHY UP FOR GRABS IN SPRINGBOK SERIES

“He will see a knee specialist this week and will undergo a minor procedure on his knee after suffering an unrelated injury,” read a press statement on the PRO14 side’s official website.

“This will delay his return to training for a number of weeks.”

The news will also concern the Springboks coaching team as they continue their preparations for the upcoming British & Irish Lions series, with RG Snyman having proved to be a real workhorse and towering presence in their engine room in recent internationals.

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: HOW TO WATCH THE SQUAD ANNOUCEMENT LIVE

All Blacks write to WSU: No more haka before matches!

May 4th 2021 at 10:12

Walter Sisulu University (WSU) captain Litha Nkula has explained why the team is not performing the All Blacks’ haka during the second Varsity Shield bubble.

READ | FORMER UCT COACH KEVIN FOOTE THE NEW MELBOURNE REBELS BOSS

WSU were accused by some on social media of ‘cultural appropriation’ after performing a mix of ‘Ka Mate’ and ‘Kapa o Pango’ before their first match of the tournament against DUT at Loftus Versfeld.

Afterwards, Nkula explained why the team performed the haka and they continued to do it for the remainder of the first bubble.

However, last Sunday, WSU’s haka was noticeable by its absence before their first match of the second bubble, against Rhodes at Tuks Stadium, which they went on to win 63-10. 

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: FIRST LOOK AT THE TROPHY UP FOR GRABS IN SPRINGBOK SERIES

Nkula says their decision to stop performing the haka came after the university received a letter from New Zealand Rugby last Saturday.

“New Zealand Rugby asked us not to do the haka for now,” the fullback told the Varsity Cup official website.

“They said they can maybe help us to do it in another way or form, because “Kapa O Panga” has deep and meaningful roots in New Zealand.”

On Tuesday, FWSU will take on CPUT in a top-of-the-log clash at Tuks Stadium at 19:00.

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: HOW TO WATCH THE SQUAD ANNOUCEMENT LIVE

James O’Connor bags top Super Rugby AU honour

May 3rd 2021 at 08:00

Reds star James O’Connor has clinched the 2021 Super Rugby AU MVP award, as voted by fans.

READ | NEW RAINBOW CUP LAWS BAFFLE FANS – AND COACHES!

More than 8 000 supporters voted for their favourite Super Rugby AU player.

James O’Connor claimed 30 percent of all fan votes, followed by Reds team-mates Taniela Tupou and Hunter Paisami, who came in second and third position, respectively.

READ | JOHN DOBSON REMAINS LOYAL TO STORMERS BY SIGNING NEW CONTRACT

James O’Connor has captured the hearts of Australian fans this season and starred as interim captain while Liam Wight sat out with injury.

The 30-year-old finished the regular season as joint top point scorer alongside Melbourne Rebels playmaker Matt To’omua.

The Reds flyhalf has his sights set on the upcoming Super Rugby AU final, with the Reds hosting defending champions, the Brumbies, at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday.

READ | ROSKO SPECMAN A SPRINGBOK BOLTER FOR BRITISH & IRISH LIONS SERIES?

Rainbow Cup’s new laws baffle spectators – and coaches!

May 3rd 2021 at 06:46

South African rugby coaches had mixed reactions to the new trial laws being implemented in the PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA.

READ | JOHN DOBSON REMAINS LOYAL TO STORMERS BY SIGNING NEW CONTRACT

Among the new set of laws adopted in this Rainbow Cup, teams can now replace players who have received a red card 20 minutes after the infringement, while captains are each allowed to challenge one call and send it upstairs to the TMO for a referral if they think the on-field official may have gotten it wrong.

The new red card rule saw plenty of action in the match between the Sharks and the Stormers in Cape Town, as the home side twice found themselves reduced to 14 men, ultimately spending a full 40 minutes of the match with a man down.

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: WARREN GATLAND SENDS SAVE-THE-DATE LETTERS TO PLAYERS

Had the Stormers not been able to replace both red card recipients, Seabelo Senatla and Willie Engelbrecht, after 20 minutes, the Sharks would surely have run away with the contest.

As it happened, the men from Durban only just managed to hold on to a 33-30 win, but Sharks coach Sean Everitt nevertheless gave the rule change the thumbs up after the match.

READ | ROSKO SPECMAN A SPRINGBOK BOLTER FOR BRITISH & IRISH LIONS SERIES?

“Especially early in the game when you concede a red card, it’s always going to be tough to try and make a spectacle out of the game,” said Everitt.

“I don’t think those players [Senatla and Engelbrecht] intentionally went in.

“With Seabelo Senatla, I don’t think that was intentional from him. It was probably careless, and he’ll learn from that. We know he’s a good rugby player and he’s not a malicious person at all.

“At the end of the day the rules are there and the fact that a team can make do and change on a red card after 20 minutes I think is a good idea in hindsight.”

Meanwhile, Bulls coach Jake White admitted he was not entirely convinced by the new captain’s call rule, which saw Morne Steyn’s cross-kick which led to a “try” for Madosh Tambwe in the 70th minute ruled out due to a wayward lineout throw in the build-up.

Lions captain Dan Kriel sent up the referral and successfully got the try chalked off – although it made no difference to the final result as the Bulls held on for a 22-9 victory in Pretoria.

“It’s going to be one of those things you have to get used to,” White said after the Rainbow Cup match.

“I haven’t particularly enjoyed the captain’s referrals all the time or things like when you carry over the ball you get a goal-line dropout. But again, that’s maybe because we’ve just been used to the previous laws over time. It hasn’t been like that before.

“I don’t believe it’s ideal.”

White also acknowledged that the new red card rule will make it easier for referees to send players off and enforce the laws.

“The red card rule is to be expected. There’s a massive push overall for players to abide to the laws, change their height when they go into contact, defensively and on attack,” said White.

“I suppose today’s round of action provided evidence that if you’re not going to do it, you’re going to be found out. It’s something we’re working on hard, breakdown wise, carrying low, defensively making sure you’re body position is fine.

“If it’s going to speed up the game and make it safer then fine. We want young boys to play rugby, not mums say that it’s too dangerous. We want to grow the game and if these nuances and laws are going to help, then we’re for it.”

Timely boost for the Springboks as Handre Pollard returns to the fray

May 3rd 2021 at 03:13

Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard made his return from a serious knee injury on Saturday as he came off the bench for French outfit Montpellier.

READ | JOHN DOBSON REMAINS LOYAL TO STORMERS BY SIGNING NEW CONTRACT

Pollard was brought on with 22 minutes to go and landed a late penalty to help the mega-rich Top 14 giants in booking a place in the European Challenge Cup final with a 19-10 win over Bath.

Handre Pollard tore his anterior cruciate ligament while playing for Montpellier in a French Top 14 clash against Racing 92 last October.

It is great news for the Boks ahead of the upcoming British and Irish Lions series in July with Pieter-Steph du Toit and RG Snyman also returning to action after injuries.

READ | BRITISH & IRISH LIONS: WARREN GATLAND SENDS SAVE-THE-DATE LETTERS TO PLAYERS

And Montpellier scrumhalf Benoit Paillaugue said Handre Pollard will have “a very big role to play” for the rest of the season.

“He’s a very important part of our team. He”s got a lot of experience and will help us a lot at the end of the season. He has a very big role to play,” Paillaugue said.

READ | ROSKO SPECMAN A SPRINGBOK BOLTER FOR BRITISH & IRISH LIONS SERIES?

Montpellier will face Leicester Tigers in the final on May 21 at Twickenham, where 10 000 fans will be allowed to attend.

READ | HANDRE POLLARD IS BACK! HELPS MONTPELLIER REACH CHALLENGE CUP FINAL

All Blacks lock leaves France to join Hurricanes in Super Rugby

May 3rd 2021 at 03:03

All Blacks lock Dominic Bird is returning to New Zealand following a successful stint in France to link up with the Hurricanes for the 2022 Super Rugby season.

READ | JOHN DOBSON STAYS LOYAL TO THE STORMERS BY SIGNING NEW CONTRACT

The 30-year-old former Canterbury, Crusaders and Chiefs representative will line up for the Wellington Lions for this year’s NPC before joining the Hurricanes for next year’s Super Rugby competition.

“I’m excited to be getting back into Super Rugby next year and returning to NZ with my family to live,” the two-Test All Black told the Hurricanes’ official website.

“We’ve enjoyed our time with Racing Metro in France, and I feel like I’ve been playing some of my best rugby up there, but now is the right time to return home. I’m looking forward to testing myself again in Super Rugby and adding huge value to the Hurricanes in 2022.”

READ | ROSKO SPECMAN A SPRINGBOK BOLTER FOR BRITISH & IRISH LIONS SERIES?

A World U20 Championship winner with New Zealand, in what is considered one of the best junior sides ever produced in the country, Bird made his mark in Canterbury after studying at Lincoln University before forging a successful start to his Super Rugby career at the Crusaders.

The 2.06m second-rower then made the move north to the Chiefs where he was one of the most consistent forwards through three campaigns before he signed with Racing 92 to play in the Top 14.

READ | HANDRE POLLARD IS BACK! HELPS MONTPELLIER REACH CHALLENGE CUP FINAL

“We’re really looking forward to seeing Dom turn up and show his experience for the Wellington Lions before he comes into our group,” said Hurricanes head coach Jason Holland.

“Speaking with him, we know how much he wants to prove himself again in New Zealand rugby and you can’t beat the sort of experience he will bring to us. He’s a big man who has shown he can match it with some of the toughest forwards in a really challenging competition and we think he will bring real value to the club.”

READ | SIYA KOLISI HAS THE LAST LAUGH ON SHARKS RETURN TO CAPE TOWN

Wellington Lions head coach Leo Crowley was also delighted to have the opportunity to bring a player with Bird’s experience join the squad.

“It’s probably understated just how important it is to bring guys with true international experience into an environment that contains a lot of guys who are eager to learn,” he said.

“We know how much Dom is looking forward to stepping back into New Zealand rugby and we will look to him to fill a vital leadership role amongst an exciting squad.”

‘We found a way to win’ – White satisfied with victory

May 2nd 2021 at 14:09

 

Bulls coach Jake White wants his team to be flexible, so he was satisfied that they were able to ‘win ugly’ in their opening Rainbow Cup SA match against the Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.

White had before the game promised an attacking approach if conditions were dry, and the Bulls started superbly, keeping ball in hand for two minutes from the kickoff and then scoring the opening try.

But thereafter they were constrained by a watertight, rapidly approaching Lions defence and the soft underfoot conditions, only managing to cross the tryline again in the 66th and 80th minutes for a 22-9 win.

ALSO READ: Massive blow for Lions as Swanepoel faces injury hiatus

The victory and a bonus point would also have been in the bag much earlier if the Bulls hadn’t had three tries disallowed due to captain’s referrals.

“Sometimes you’ve got to win these sort of games and we found a way to win,” White said after fhe Bulls’ 13th successive victory at home.

“The Lions were very good at the breakdown. They tried to slow us down all the time. To have four tries disallowed – I think the yellow card for a deliberate knock-on could maybe have been a penalty try – was helluva frustrating because you keep thinking you’ve put a bit of distance between you and the opposition.

“But we know everyone will be coming for us because we’ve won the last two trophies and today we had to vasbyt for the win.”

ALSO READ: Bulls made to work hard for victory against Lions

The Bulls dominated possession but at times they suffered from the rugby equivalent of bulimia – having an over-abundance of ball and generally keeping it in hand meant they also coughed up a lot of possession as the Lions dominated the breakdowns.

“We will work on not being sucked into playing too much rugby. Sometimes we need to be a bit smarterm,” White said.

“But we did end up playing into the wind in both halves because the wind turned… it was a bit extraordinary, something we’re not used to here. But it’s exciting times with guys like Elrigh Louw and Janko Swanepoel just out of the U-21s, Mornay Smith is a young tighthead, Joe van Zyl, Stravino Jacobs and David Kriel are all young.

“But if you have too many youngsters then they can start to panic, so it’s nice for them to learn from the seniors exactly how to close off a game.”

Stormers suffer flyhalf blow as Kade Wolhuter ruled out for the season

May 2nd 2021 at 04:37

The Stormers face a flyhalf poser just one match into their Rainbow Cup season with confirmation that youngster Kade Wolhuter ruptured his knee ligaments against the Sharks on Saturday.

READ | PIETER-STEPH DU TOIT SAYS GOODBYE TO THE STORMERS

Kade Wolhuter, who looked assured during his time on the field, had to be stretchered off after sustaining the nasty injury.

The Sharks went on to win the match 33-30.

On Sunday the 19-year-old former Paul Roos pupil confirmed via his Instagram account that he will miss the rest of the season.

READ | SIYA KOLISI HAS THE LAST LAUGH ON SHARKS RETURN TO CAPE TOWN

‘The game we love so much is full of the most extreme ups and downs,’ Kade Wolhuter wrote.

‘Unfortunately yesterday afternoons opening game of the Rainbow Cup SA vs the Sharks will be my last for the season after tearing my ACL during the match.

‘Really gutted to be leaving the boys @dhlstormers so early on in the season but at the same time looking forward to the adventure to getting back out on the pitch.

‘Thank you so much for all the messages of support, they don’t go unnoticed!’

Pieter-Steph du Toit says goodbye to the Stormers

May 2nd 2021 at 04:24

Pieter-Steph du Toit is reportedly set for a lucrative departure from the Stormers to Japan later this year.

READ | HANDRE POLLARD IS BACK! HELPS MONTPELLIER REACH CHALLENGE CUP FINAL

The 2019 World Rugby Player of the Year has long been linked with a move from the Cape.

The 28-year-old made his return from injury on Saturday for the Stormers in their 33-30 defeat to the Sharks in their Rainbow Cup opener at the Cape Town Stadium – a full 398 days after last representing the union.

However, according to Netwerk24, the 2019 Rugby World Cup winner will not be plying his trade for the Cape side for much longer.

READ | SIYA KOLISI HAS THE LAST LAUGH ON SHARKS RETURN TO CAPE TOWN

His swansong in South Africa is set to be the British & Irish Lions’ three-Test tour in July-August.

Du Toit was set to sign a deal with Munster, but his high-profile move was blocked by the Irish Rugby Football Union who instead controversially signed Jason Jenkins.

It is now believed Pieter-Steph du Toit will join Japanese Top League side Toyota Verblitz after deciding against renewing his existing contract with the Stormers and Western Province.

No details of what will no doubt be a mega contract have been revealed.

Du Toit will be the third Springbok to depart the union after Siya Kolisi who now plays for the Sharks and Bongi Mbonambi who is heading to Durban as well.

READ | BULLS FAR TOO STRONG FOR LIONS IN RAINBOW CUP OPENER

Handre Pollard is back! Helps Montpellier reach Challenge Cup final

May 2nd 2021 at 03:56
By: AFP

Montpellier scrumhalf Benoit Paillaugue said Springbok Rugby World Cup winner Handre Pollard will have “a very big role to play” in the rest of the campaign, after making his first appearance since September as the French club reached the European Challenge Cup final with a 19-10 win at Bath on Saturday.

READ | SIYA KOLISI HAS THE LAST LAUGH ON SHARKS RETURN TO CAPE TOWN

Flyhalf Handre Pollard, who suffered a serious knee injury in just his second game of the season, came off the bench in the second half to kick a late penalty for the Top 14 strugglers.

“He’s a very important part of our team. He’s got a lot of experience and will help us a lot at the end of the season. He has a very big role to play,” Paillaugue said.

“We showed massive heart today, huge solidarity. It was a deserved win.”

READ | BULLS FAR TOO STRONG FOR LIONS IN RAINBOW CUP OPENER

Montpellier, the 2016 Challenge Cup winners, will face Leicester in the final on May 21 at Twickenham, where up to 10 000 fans will be present.

Home coach Stuart Hooper named Zach Mercer, who will join the French club next season, at No. 8.

Handre Pollard was joined by two other World Cup winners in scrumhalf Cobus Reinach and hooker Bismarck du Plessis on the visitors’ bench.

The English outfit led 7-0 after just five minutes as prop Tom Dunn crossed and scrumhalf Ben Spencer slotted a conversion.

Philippe Saint-Andre’s French side then sparked into life and led 10-7 after Paillaugue set up Yacouba Camara for a fine effort.

Montpellier held onto the lead at the break after Paillaugue and Spencer exchanged penalties to make it 16-10.

Bath pressed on inside the away side’s 22 with 25 minutes left and away prop Enzo Forletta was sin-binned for infringing at a ruck.

Pollard, 27, then made his return with 22 minutes to go, almost eight months after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament, and his first involvement was an up-and-under which he failed to gather.

Du Plessis, a World Cup winner in 2007 with the Springboks, also came on and won two incredible penalties at the breakdown with the home side on top.

Despite Bath’s efforts in search of a try and place in the final, a first since 2014, Montpellier defended well to hold on and Pollard kicked a penalty in added time.

Montpellier’s focus now turns to hosting La Rochelle next weekend and securing their Top 14 status, as they are just four points above the relegation playoff place.

Gavin Hunt: We created enough chances to win THREE matches!

May 2nd 2021 at 03:03

Gavin Hunt was left ruing two dropped points as Kaizer Chiefs drew 2-2 with Bloemfontein Celtic on Saturday.

READ | WE HAVE NEW LEADERS IN THE DSTV PREMIERSHIP!

Happy Mashiane opened the scoring at the Seisa Ramabodu Stadium after just three minutes before Eric Mathoho added a second 10 minutes later.

Bloemfontein Celtic though were back in the tie when Neo Maema netted on 22 minutes, while Sepana Letsoalo ensured a share of the spoils with his 54th minute penalty.

READ | MAMELODI SUNDOWNS DUO GET BEHIND THE WHEEL OF LUXURY SUVS

The result left Amakhosi in ninth place on the DStv Premiership standings with 29 points from 25 games – three adrift of TS Galaxy in eighth spot.

Speaking after the game, Gavin Hunt told SuperSport: “Well it’s the story of our season. It’s the old adage – strikers win you games and defenders win you leagues. Not that we try to defend but we concede goals every week. It’s been poor.

“We have to get better. We work on it all the time. Lot of individual stuff.”

READ | GAVIN HUNT COMMENTS ON KAIZER CHIEFS’ CAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DRAW

Despite the result, Gavin Hunt still felt his side played ‘well’.

“But I’m proud of the players. They played well today. We’ve been playing well this whole season. Even the games we’ve lost or drawn we’ve played well, created chances.

“I mean we created enough chances today to win three games of football. First half could have been 4-0. We had so many opportunities.

“But I mean I’m proud of the players. I can’t ask for more. They give me everything they’ve got.”

READ | KAIZER CHIEFS MAMELODI SUNDOWNS CAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL? IT COULD HAPPEN!

Gavin Hunt: We created enough chances to win THREE matches!

Gavin Hunt was left ruing two dropped points as Kaizer Chiefs drew 2-2 with Bloemfontein Celtic on Saturday.

British & Irish Lions news: England scrumhalf Ben Youngs pulls out for family reasons

May 2nd 2021 at 02:56

England scrumhalf Ben Youngs has ruled himself out of contention for the British & Irish Lions tour of South Africa for family reasons.

READ | SIYA KOLISI HAS THE LAST LAUGH ON SHARKS RETURN TO CAPE TOWN

The 31-year-old was reportedly one of more than 50 players to have been sent a ‘save-the-date’ letter from British & Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland.

However, Youngs has opted to remove himself from consideration.

READ | SHARKS HAVE A FORMER US PRESIDENT IN THEIR CAMP FOR STORMERS CLASH

“Whether or not I would have made the final cut, I’ll never know,” Youngs told the Daily Mail.

“I’ve got two young children and my wife is heavily pregnant with the third. This summer I’ve got an opportunity to be with my family and my kids.

“I have always loved the Lions. I’ll be cheering them on, and I wish everyone involved a healthy and successful tour. It’s not a decision that I’ve taken lightly, but it’s the best decision for my family.”

READ | BULLS FAR TOO STRONG FOR LIONS IN RAINBOW CUP OPENER

Gatland is set to name his 36-man squad and captain on Thursday, 6 May but a revised itinerary for South Africa made necessary by the coronavirus pandemic has yet to be published.

The British & Irish Lions have a historic warm-up match against Japan scheduled at Murrayfield on June 26.

Bulls far too strong for Lions in Rainbow Cup opener at Loftus Versfeld

May 1st 2021 at 16:46

The Bulls made a winning start to their PRO14 Rainbow Cup campaign after clinching a deserved 22-9 victory over the Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

READ | SIYA KOLISI HAS THE LAST LAUGH ON SHARKS RETURN TO CAPE TOWN

The Bulls started on the front foot and opened their account after just two minutes of play, Chris Smith avoiding several attempted tackles before racing over the line for the try and calmly slotting the conversion.

The Lions didn’t take long to respond, though, reducing the deficit in the 12th minute as Fred Zeilinga converted a penalty from 50 metres out after Janko Swanepoel had conceded a penalty for a ruck infringement.

The Lions further reduced the deficit just a few minutes later as Zeilinga converted another penalty to bring his side within one point of the Bulls.

READ | SHARKS HAVE A FORMER US PRESIDENT IN THEIR CAMP FOR STORMERS CLASH

After a brief lull in play, with the teams battling back and forth, the Bulls were celebrating just after the half-hour mark after a well-worked move from a lineout resulted in Swanepoel getting in for the try. However, the referee called for the TMO to review the play leading up to the try and it was subsequently chalked off after Embrose Papier was shown knocking the ball on at a breakdown.

The Bulls managed to put a further three points on the board just one minute later, though, as Smith converted a penalty after a scrum infringement by du Plessis.

And with neither side able to forge another breakthrough in the remainder of the first half, the scoreline would remain unchanged with the Bulls leading 10-6.

The Lions were counting on Zeilinga’s kicking to keep them in the game and he did not disappoint in the 44th minute as he slotted another penalty to bring his side within one point of the Bulls.

There was further drama just after the hour mark as the Bulls were again celebrating another try before the ref called for a review, with the TMO subsequently spotting an infringement at the maul, leading to Stavino Jacobs’ try being chalked off and a penalty being awarded to the Lions.

That decision only served to fire up the Bulls, who went on to stretch further ahead just a few minutes later, Zak Burger bagging the try after a well-timed offload from substitute Lizo Gqoboka.

Morné Steyn stepped up to take the conversion and made no mistake, adding two more points to make it 17-9 to the Bulls.

The Bulls kept up the pressure after bagging their second try and very nearly added a third as the Lions managed to escape unscathed following a captain’s challenge. The lineout throw in the build-up was not straight from the Bulls, letting the Bulls off the hook.

That being said, the decision to overturn the try did little to alter the complexion of the game as the Bulls eventually added a third try at the death, Elrigh Louw powering over the line with the Lions defence trying in vain to halt his charge.

Steyn opted to attempt a drop kick for the conversion and but failed to hit the target as the Bulls clinched a deserved home win in their Rainbow Cup opener.

SCORERS:

Bulls

Tries: Chris Smith, Zak Burger, Elrigh Louw

Conversions: Smith, Morne Steyn

Penalty: Smith

Lions

Penalties: Fred Zeilinga (3)

Stormers implode to hand the Sharks victory in Cape Town

May 1st 2021 at 11:12

The Stormers let a 17 point lead slip in their Rainbow Cup opener against the Sharks in Cape Town, ultimately going down 30-33 to the visitors.

Stormers squander strong position with poor discipline

The Stormers opened the scoring through the boot of Kade Wolhuter before Herschel Jantjies finished off the first try of the contest. Rikus Pretorius was on hand to round off a Wolhuter break and the Stormers looked in complete control at 17-0 up within 15 minutes.

Seabelo Senatla proved to be the gamechanger, but not in a way he would have enjoyed. Senatla bundled into an airborne Aphelele Fassi and saw red just 13 minutes into the clash.

Willie Engelbrecht joined Senatla in the dog box as he made a trip to the sin bin just a minute later.

A 13-man Stormers team then allowed Thomas du Toit in for the Sharks first try.

The Stormers showed guts in the first half and a pair of penalties ensured they led 23-7 with half time looming.

Sharks hooker Fez Mbatha scored what proved a pivotal try just before half time.

When Reniel Hugo crossed for the Sharks third try the tide turned decisively in the visitor’s favour. The TMO spotted another offence by Engelbrecht in the lead up to the try, and he too got his marching orders.

In the Rainbow Cup a red carded player can be replaced after 20 minutes have elapses, but the half an hour they were short-handed proved the difference.

Hugo powered to an incredible hat-trick of tries, a rare feat for a second row forward. 

Damian Willemse scored a 73rd minute try that set up a dramatic finish after Jeremy Ward was yellow carded for persistent infringements.

Trailing 33-30, the Stormers rejected two chances to level the scores from the tee, opting to set up lineouts. While the Sharks were lucky to finish the match without further cards being shown to them, they held on to secure a 33-30 win.

Stormers 30-33 Sharks: Rainbow Cup match summary

Stormers 30 (23)

Tries: Herschel Jantjies, Rikus Pretorius, Damian Willemse

Conversions: Kade Wolhuter (2), Abner van Reenen

Penalties: Wolhuter (3)

Sharks 33 (12)

Tries: Thomas du Toit, Fez Mbatha, Reniel Hugo (3)

Conversions: Bosch (4)

Siya Kolisi has the last laugh on Sharks return to Cape Town

May 1st 2021 at 10:32

Siya Kolisi has helped his new team, the Sharks, beat his previous employers, the Stormers, in Saturday’s opening match of the Rainbow Cup at the Cape Town Stadium.

READ | SHARKS HAVE A FORMER US PRESIDENT IN THEIR CAMP FOR STORMERS CLASH

The Stormers blew a sizeable first-half lead as the Sharks came storming back via a hat-trick from Reniel Hugo to snatch a dramatic 33-30 victory on Saturday.

Playing their first match in their new home, the Cape Town Stadium, things were looking good for the hosts as they opened up a 23-7 lead in the first half, but they surrendered 26 unanswered points thanks in no small part to Hugo’s heroics – a deficit they were unable to overcome despite threatening to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with the final kick of the game.

The Capetonians also did themselves no favours by being forced to play 40 minutes of the match with 14 men after receiving two separate red cards – the first to Seabelo Senatla in the first half for playing an opponent in the air, and the second to debutant Willie Engelbrecht after the break for two dangerous tackles.

Though they could replace those two players after 20 minutes according to a new law being trialled in the competition, it was still a lengthy period spent with a man down, and it cost them dearly.

The Stormers led 17-0 after just 12 minutes thanks to tries from scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies and centre Rikus Pretorius, with flyhalf Kade Wolhuter looking solid as he slotted two conversions and a penalty goal to leave the Sharks staring down the barrel.

But the visitors kept themselves in the picture thanks to two first-half tries from clever lineout moves – the first by Springbok prop Thomas du Toit in the 16th minute and the second by hooker Fez Mbatha just before half-time to ensure they stayed within touching distance after Wolhuter had extended the Stormers’ lead via two more penalties.

After the break, the Stormers were left stunned by a hat-trick of tries from none other than Sharks lock Reniel Hugo – as the visitors took full advantage of their opponents being a man down for the second time in the match.

The big man’s first try came from a quick-tap penalty, while the second arrived three minutes later from quick attacking play close to the try-line. And against all odds, he crashed over for his hat-trick in the 53rd minute as the Sharks totally turned the tables on their opponents.

That left the Stormers with a 10-point deficit, but Springbok fullback Damian Willemse gave them hope of forcing a result when he latched onto a crossfield kick from Abner van Reenen and scored a crucial try with just seven minutes to play.

The hosts had a chance to snatch the victory in injury time when Van Reenen kicked a grubber through a rushed Sharks defence, but though the ball sat up perfectly for Ruhan Nel, the centre lost his composure and made a hash of his attempt to dot the ball down and the Sharks hung on for victory.

The DHL Stormers fought hard until the bitter end and had the ball over the line to win it, but could not finish it off and come up just short as the Cell C Sharks claim a tense 33-30 win at Cape Town Stadium in the PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA opener. #STOvSHA pic.twitter.com/OHQdnpFV1H

— DHL Stormers (@THESTORMERS) May 1, 2021

SCORERS:

Stormers

Tries: Herschel Jantjies, Rikus Pretorius, Damian Willemse

Conversions: Kade Wolhuter (2), Abner van Reenen

Penalties: Wolhuter (3)

Sharks

Tries: Thomas du Toit, Fez Mbatha, Reniel Hugo (3)

Conversions: Curwin Bosch (4)

READ | NECK INJURY FORCES ANOTHER SA PLAYER INTO EARLY RETIREMENT

TEAMS:

Stormers

15 Damian Willemse, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Kade Wolhuter, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Nama Xaba, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain)

Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Ernst van Rhyn, 20 Evan Roos, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Abner van Reenen, 23 Dan du Plessis

Sharks

15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (c), 12 Jeremy Ward, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Fez Mbatha, 1 Ox Nche

Substitutes: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Phepsi Buthelezi, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Werner Kok

Bulls made to work hard for victory against Lions

May 1st 2021 at 15:09

The Bulls may have scored as early as the second minute, but for more than an hour they then struggled to go around or get through a ferocious Lions defence, eventually struggling to a 22-9 win in their Rainbow Cup match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.

The Bulls began superbly, retaining possession from the kickoff for two minutes before flyhalf Chris Smith jinked and slipped though some tackles to score the opening try. Thereafter, however, the Bulls found themselves in a tremendous tussle, struggling to cope with the Lions’ line-speed in defence and their aggressive targeting of the breakdowns.

Only once in the whole game was there a short kick over the top of the rapidly advancing Lions defence and it nearly resulted in centre Cornal Hendricks scoring. But the Bulls did not use that tactic or the grubber nearly enough. And for all their possession, the Lions were dominant at the breakdowns so it almost always came to nothing.

Smith added a penalty to the conversion of his try and Lions flyhalf Fred Zeilinga kicked two penalties as the Bulls went into halftime 10-6 ahead. The Lions made a good start to the second half, allowing Zeilinga to close the gap to just one point with another penalty in the  44th minute.

ALSO READ: Hat trick hero Hugo helps Sharks down Stormers

The final quarter belonged to the Bulls though as they camped in the Lions half.

After 10 minutes in the 22 they eventually broke through, helped by EW Viljoen’s yellow card for a deliberate knock-on, when replacement prop Lizo Gqoboka won a turnover to win a penalty, and then produced a mini-break before offloading to substitute scrumhalf Zak Burger to race over under the poles for the match-winning try.

The never-say-die Lions were better than the final scoreline suggested, conceding a try right at the death as flank Elrigh Louw powered through several tackles to score. Hendricks had fought hard on the gainline in the build-up, before offloading to Burger, who darted well and then found Louw with a neat offload.

But the Bulls will point to having three tries disallowed by the TMO and the soft underfoot conditions as having put paid to their more ambitious plans.

Scorers

Bulls: Tries – Chris Smith, Zak Burger, Elrigh Louw. Conversions – Smith, Morne Steyn. Penalty – Smith.

Lions: Penalties – Fred Zeilinga (3).

 

South African rugby teams draw big sponsorship deals

May 1st 2021 at 06:15

Two of South Africa’s franchise rugby teams, the Bulls and the Stormers, announced big sponsorship deals this week.

In these uncertain times, South African rugby’s professional structures need to support of big business to keep one of our national sports in good nick. 

Bulls partner with Brightrock

BrightRock, South Africa’s fast-growing life insurer in its sector, joins the Bulls as an associate sponsor.

“With their Love Change message and a passion for rugby, BrightRock has made significant inroads as an associate sponsor since 2016 to Western Province Rugby and the DHL Stormers, and as the main sponsor of the annual BrightRock Players’ Choice Awards for the last four years,” The Bulls announced.

“BrightRock committing their support of the Vodacom Bulls is a massive boost for us. There are many similarities between the brands, but the two that are most fitting for me is that they are at the cutting edge of their field and strive for perfection in everything that they do. The team and I are excited about the journey ahead, and with partners like BrightRock at our side, we believe that our fans are in for a special ride,” said Blue Bulls Company CEO Edgar Rathbone.

BrightRock Deputy CEO, Suzanne Stevens concurred: “We’re proud to have the backs of the Bulls, one of South Africa’s most successful and beloved rugby franchises, as they help us spread our Love Change message. Just like life, rugby’s an unpredictable game – a lucky bounce of the ball can swing the game for or against you. Loving Change means embracing these game-changing moments and the opportunities they bring. BrightRock and the Bulls share the belief that, with skill and practice, it’s possible to become fitter and more adept at playing the game and learning to love change. We’re excited to be playing the bounce with them.”

DHL extends title sponsorship of Stormers and WP

Western Province Professional Rugby (WPPR) announced a multi-year extension of their partnership with DHL this week, continuing their long-standing relationship until the end of the 2023/2024 season.

DHL first signed on as title sponsor of the two professional teams in 2011 and they are already the longest-standing title sponsorship in Western Province Rugby’s history.

DHL, which is also the Official Logistics Partner for the upcoming British & Irish Lions Tour, has a strong connection to rugby on a global scale, with partnerships with the World Rugby Sevens Series, Rugby World Cup 2019 and Harlequins, to name a few.

WPPR Chairman Ebrahim Rasool said that having an international brand such as DHL continue their title sponsorship is a major boost going forward.

“DHL, and the excellence that it delivers in all areas of business, has become synonymous with our teams. We are delighted to continue this important partnership. This is a much needed show of faith in our vision for the future and investment in our strategy to achieve it; with DHL on board we are even more determined to take our teams to greater heights and reward our players’ loyalty to our brand,” he said.

Hennie Heymans, CEO for DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa added, “We are thrilled to extend our partnership with the DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province. We have a close connection with the players, coaches, management, staff and we are excited to see the team grow in the coming years. The teams proudly wear the DHL brand and we’re equally as proud to have them as part of the DHL family.”

Megan Collinicos, VP Marketing for DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa commented, “At DHL, we believe in the importance of connecting – connecting people, businesses, communities and opportunities – and through this partnership we pride ourselves on being the ‘team behind the team’, both on and off the field. Our partnership has evolved over the years, and the success of the DHL Stormers and DHL WP brands across the globe has given us many opportunities to engage with key stakeholders, not just in South Africa, but in other important markets for us across the world. As the DHL Stormers prepare for their inclusion in the upcoming European PRO Rugby tournament, this gives us great scope to leverage the partnership even further in the years ahead.”

Stormers Head Coach, John Dobson, said that the continuing support of DHL as a title sponsor is not something that the team takes for granted.

“DHL has been incredible over the last 10 years as a title sponsor and everyone is very grateful to have them right behind us. Having the support of a globally renowned brand with the personal touch that DHL provides means that this is far more than just a sponsorship, on and off the field. It is a working, successful, partnership,” he said.

READ: Bulls look to pick up where they left off in Rainbow Cup

Sharks have a former US President in their corner for Stormers match!

May 1st 2021 at 05:19

The Sharks will be able to count on the support of none other than former US President Bill Clinton in their Rainbow Cup match against the Stormers on Saturday, 1 May.

READ | NECK INJURY FORCES ANOTHER SA PLAYER INTO EARLY RETIREMENT

Thanks to their recent takeover by the Jay-Z founded Roc Nation, the Sharks’ brand awareness has sky-rocketed with support for the team having gone global.

Top basketballers, footballers, musicians – and even the 42nd President of the United States – are all in Camp Sharks.

Kick-off at the Cape Town Stadium is at 14:00.

READ | SPRINGBOK BAD-BOY ANDRE ESTERHUIZEN HIT WITH HEAVY BAN FOR STRIKING OPPONENT

Next level support for #OurSharks from around the globe 🦈🔥#OurSharksForever #RainbowCupSA #STOvSHA #RocNation pic.twitter.com/jRo8dEM492

— The Sharks (@TheSharksZA) May 1, 2021

Pieter-Steph is ‘training like a freak’ – Dobson

April 30th 2021 at 12:00

 

Stormers coach John Dobson doesn’t believe it’s a gamble to rush star Springbok flank Pieter-Steph du Toit straight into their starting line-up.

Du Toit will make his long-awaited return in Saturday’s Rainbow Cup SA coastal derby against the Sharks at Cape Town Stadium.

“If anything, I believe Pieter-Steph’s return is long overdue as he hasn’t played since February last year after his horrific leg injury,” said Dobson.

“He has been a freak in training and can’t wait to get back, but we also know he will get better every week after being out for so long.”

Lock Marvin Orie will make his Stormers debut at competitive level after joining from the Lions, while Pumas loan player and No 8 Willie Engelbrecht is also set for his first game.

In a big blow, however, lock Salmaan Moerat has been ruled out with injury which could see him spend an extended time on the sidelines.

“Salmaan injured his neck this week and we don’t really know for how long he will be out. It could be a few weeks or even months,” confirmed Dobson.

Bok hooker Bongi Mbonambi, who had been linked with a move to the Sharks, has been named on the bench with fellow Bok Scarra Ntubeni starting.

“Bongi hasn’t yet made a long-term commitment and Scarra did a while ago, but Bongi will get a chance next week,” said Dobson.

“Fact is we have two Bok hookers here and they are pushing each other hard and Scarra has just been great in training.”

Stormers captain Steven Kitshoff predicted a battle of attrition with no quarters given this weekend.

“We had a big pre-season building up to this Rainbow Cup. The guys showed great attitude in training and we’re raring to go,” the skipper said.

On the bench, scrumhalf Paul de Wet was withdrawn in a late change, being replaced by Godlen Masimla.

Stormers team

Damian Willemse, Edwill van der Merwe, Ruhan Nel, Rikus Pretorius, Seabelo Senatla, Kade Wolhuter, Herschel Jantjies, Willie Engelbrecht, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Nama Xaba, Marvin Orie, JD Schickerling, Frans Malherbe, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff (capt).

Bench (from): Bongi Mbonambi, Ali Vermaak, Neethling Fouche, Ernst van Rhyn, Evan Roos, Godlen Masimla, Abner van Reenen, Dan du Plessis, David Meihuizen, Marcel Theunissen, Leolin Zas.

Lions prepare for life after Elton Jantjies

April 27th 2021 at 11:39

 

The Lions will be contemplating life after Elton Jantjies this week as they prepare for the opening round of the Rainbow Cup SA campaign.

This is one of several issues that will challenge Lions coach Cash van Rooyen ahead of their clash with the Bulls at Loftus on Saturday.

Experienced Springbok flyhalf Jantjies departed recently for Pau in France and it’s not only his game management that will be missed by the Lions, but also his experience and leadership.

Van Rooyen will have to choose between Fred Zeilinga and Tiaan Swanepoel to fill the massive void left by the former captain.

ALSO READ: Gqoboka braces for Rainbow Cup battle against Du Plessis

It is likely that Van Rooyen will give Zeilinga his first start, with his previous experience with the Sharks and the Cheetahs counting heavily in his favour.

Swanepoel has been a colossus with his long-distance goal-kicking and is the natural choice to take over that duty from Jantjies on a more permanent basis.

Though the jury is still out on his ability to handle the pressure of the Bulls’ kicking game, Swanepoel looked more at ease at fullback than flyhalf when he was tested in that position by the Lions in the Preparation Series.

Jantjies’ leadership will also be missed but Van Rooyen probably made the best decision by naming veteran lock Willem Alberts as the new skipper.

Willem Alberts

Lions lock Willem Alberts will captain the team in the Rainbow Cup. Picture: Gallo Images

Van Rooyen, who will name his match-23 on Thursday, will also have other selection issues to deal with apart from the pivot position, the most pressing of which is who will partner Alberts in the middle row.

With Alberts fulfilling the No 4 lock ‘enforcer’ duties with great efficiency, the search is still on to find the perfect No 5 lock with sufficient athletic ability after the departure of Marvin Orie.

The three lock candidates are Ruben Schoeman, Wilhelm van der Sluys and Rynhard Nothnagel.

Van der Sluys is the more experienced option, but Nothnagel is seen as a future Lions star, having captained the side in three of their four Preparation Series matches.

Van Rooyen will also look again at the balance of his loose trio with the likely starting combination being MJ Pelser, Bok hopeful Vincent Tshituka and Len Massyn at No 8.

But two former junior stars emerged in the Preparation Series – Mark Snyman in the No 6 flank position and Francke Horn at No 8 – which will leave Van Rooyen with exciting options.

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