Category Archives: Springbok Rugby

In with the old, out with the new for Springboks

Heyneke Meyer has announced his provisional squad to tour Australia and New Zealand in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship. And it is a case of in with the old and out with the new or younger players.

Victor Matfield, the oldest Springbok, will rejoin the squad. Alongside him will be Willem Alberts should he pass his fitness test on Thursday. This means Warren Whitely will be released to the Golden Lions with Juan Smith remaining the back up for Alberts if needed.

Marcel vd Merwe will replace the injured Frans Malherbe. Malherbe will undergo surgeryn his ankle and probably miss the rest of the season.

“Victor is over his injury and has been declared fit to travel with us for the next two Tests, while we’re awaiting a final verdict on Willem,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.

 

“It will be good to have them back. Willem has been part of the squad for the last number of seasons and Victor showed he can still add a lot of value when he returned to the Bok fold earlier this year.

 

“Losing Frans is a huge setback and my heart bleeds for him, because he’s done well since returning from a long injury lay-off recently which saw him miss the June Tests.

 

“It’s also a big disappointment for Frans, whose involvement with the squad was cut short because of injury last November as well, but Marcel has been with us before and will slot in seamlessly. He provides specialist tighthead cover as Tendai Mtawarira, Gurthrö Steenkamp and Trevor Nyakane are specialist looseheads.”

 

Meyer added that Whiteley had impressed him immensely during his week with the Springboks and that Smith had made a massive contribution during his time with the squad in the last fortnight.

 

“Warren and Juan know exactly where they stand and it was great to work with them, even if it was only for a limited period of time,” said Meyer.

Now we will have to wait and see what the Springboks do on tour.

Bench has huge impact as SPringboks scrape home

The Springboks came back from 28-16 down with 20 minutes to go to win 33-31 against Argentina on Saturday in Salta. This was mainly due to the impact the bench made late in the game. Many hailed it to be a well deserved win by the Springboks.

Although we all know that it is not easy to go to Argentina and just came back with a win, especially these days, it was still a closer game than the Springboks expected. Overall the Springboks have won 18 tests against Los Pumas and one test was drawn. This is at an average of 39-19. That puts the 33-31 score a bit more into perspective.

As captain, Jean de Villiers put it:

“I’ve said it before, but I really think Argentina is a much better team than what their world-ranking shows, and they showed it again today,” said De Villiers after the match.

“We’re happy that we could pull it through, but it could’ve gone either way.”

He went on to praise the effort of the bench:

“That is not saying that the players who started did badly, but our bench, whom we see as impact players rather than replacements, certainly made an impact today and that is probably where the difference was.”

Heyneke Meyer added to this:

“All credit to Argentina though – they’ve been together for a month and you could see that today as they played some great rugby,” said Meyer.

“We don’t want to say every week that we’ve shown great character, but we’ve now won nine out of our last 10 away games and I think the guys have shown that they know how to win.

“At one stage, we were down and out and the team came back. We know there are a lot of areas we have to work on, but we’re still in this competition.”

The Springboks next faces Australia and then New Zealand away from home. They will then return to play the same teams in South Africa. As it stands the Springboks top the log by 1 point from New Zealand.

They will have a lot of work to do before the next leg of the Rugby Championship. One of these being the scrums where the Springboks were decimated two weeks in a row. Wales also out scrummed them earlier this year.

 

Meyer calls for improvent by Boks

The Springboks arrived in Buenos Aires after 22 hours of travelling via Sao Paulo in Brazil. They left on Sunday night after beating Los Pumas on Saturday at Loftus Versfeld in the worse condition possible.

Meyer called on the Boks to make a step up after what many called a lacklustre performance.

 

“It was a tough start in difficult conditions for both teams, but we simply have to execute better this weekend in Salta,” said Meyer upon the team’s arrival in the Argentinean capital.

 

“We have first-hand experience on how tough it is over here from our last two visits to Argentina. They are a very proud rugby nation and have improved immensely over the last number of years.

 

“The players know they have to be 100% sharp and focused when we hit the training field this week. It’s a great challenge to improve on our results here from 2012 and 2013, but we have to be at our best.”

 

The team will have a light session on Tuesday while the medical staff sort out the bumps and bruises of the past weekend. Warren Whitely has joined the team. The Xerox Golden Lions Captain replaced Willem Alberts and flew out with the squad from OR Tambo.

 

Springboks have work to do in wet weather

 

Having watched the test between the Springboks and Los Pumas again on Sunday (I missed most of the test on Saturday due to sitting in the rain at Loftus Versfeld), some things became very clear to me. Although some supporters are complaining about the performance of the Springboks there are some positives to take from the game.

“What are these positives?” you are asking. Well let me start with this:

First and foremost we scored a try. Secondly we won the game. Other than that it is hard to find much to take from the game. Maybe the fact that the Springboks can indeed swim. Other than that it is hard to find to many positives. IMG_5424321875108 IMG_5429546698104 IMG_5433792974960  

We struggled to do he basics right and when I say basics I’m not just talking about handling. 2 kicks straight into touch. A charge down from a free-kick, I mean what is with that. One can for certain not blame the rain or that. Basic decision making was lacking and with the experience that we have in the team this should never have been a problem.

As coach Meyer put it:

“We had a 20-year old (Handrè Pollard) running play at flyhalf and a 21-year old (Lood de Jager) calling the line-outs and they did very well. We showed a lot of character by keeping them out from our line. They had two great line-out options near our line and our guys kept them out. I am very happy with that.”

True as this may be, we selected these players because they are good enough. Pollard could have made more use of the backline. In the second half there was a scoring opportunity outwide and still he broke inside and the opportunity was lost.

We lost two or three balls on our own throw and not because it went skew but because the hookers didn’t find the jumpers. If this was De Jager’s fault is open for discussion.

In the end as Jean de Villiers said it was the worst conditions he has played in:

“Still, our guys came through nicely,” he said. “We could not play the brand we wanted to. We have five matches left to do it. Now we must regroup and do it in Salta. Our execution was poor tonight. We did not expect these conditions, so adapted as best we could. We were looking for five points, but the fact that we got four is still very pleasing.”

I can agree to that. I was soaking wet sitting in the stands and never in my life have I seen rugby played in these conditions in South Africa. Definitely not in Pretoria in August. wpid-20140816_162603.jpg

In the end a win is a win, but we will need to work on our play in wet weather. It is not going to be much better in the England come the world cup next year. One or two guys stood out in the Springbok jersey.

Francois Louw had a good game and Willie le Roux at the back wasn’t to bad. Ruan Pienaar had moment of brilliance and it resulted in a try for the Springboks. Other than that the team will look back and have a lot to reflect on before the test in Salta this Saturday. From here on we can only improve.

SARU unveils Junior Springbok preparation plans for 2014 JWC

The South African Rugby (SARU) Union announced a group of 76 players on Tuesday for the start of the SA Under-20 preparations for the 2014 IRB Junior World Championship tournament to be hosted in Auckland, New Zealand, in June.

 

SARU also unveiled a comprehensive preparation plan aimed at ensuring the Junior Springboks are battle ready for the 2014 JWC showpiece. The main pillars of this plan are three training camps in Stellenbosch, which will see the Junior Springbok hopefuls play a series of trial matches, and participate in three friendly internationals against Argentina Under-20.

 

To kick-start the preparation schedule of the training group, SA Under-20 head coach, Dawie Theron, members of his management team, the SARU Mobi Unit and the SARU Development department will soon meet with the selected players in Johannesburg and Stellenbosch respectively.

 

Players from the Blue Bulls, Golden Lions, Leopards, Free State, EP Kings and the Sharks will assemble in Johannesburg on February 20 for a one-day information session, while a similar get together is planned for the Western Province-based players on February 27 in Stellenbosch.

 

Theron will conduct three training camps before the announcement of the official SA U20 squad in April. The first training camp will run from 31 March to 16 April and a series of trial matches will also be held during this period. A smaller group will then gather from 27 April to 17 May, again in Stellenbosch, for a second camp and the three internationals against the Argentina U20’s.

 

The matches against Argentina are scheduled for May 9 at City Park Stadium, Cape Town, on May 13 at the Paul Roos Gymnasium Stellenbosch and May 17 at the Saldanha Rugby Club on the Cape West Coast.

 

The final holding camp takes place from 23 to 26 May and the squad departs Cape Town for New Zealand on May 26 to participate in the JWC tournament from June 2 to 20 June.

 

Commenting on the preparation plans Junior Springboks head coach Theron said they hope the structure of the camps and the large training group would allow them to cast the net as wide as possible.

 

“We have a different approach this year in terms of identifying the players and also our training group preparations. We have already visited the provinces and communicated our preparation and conditioning plans to them, and we will continue to keep them informed.

 

“Our conditioning coach especially, together with the SARU Mobi Unit and Development department are working very closely with the provinces to ensure the players follow a comprehensive training programme so that they’re in good physical condition when they arrive at our training camps,” explained Theron.

 

The Junior Springbok coach added he is pleased with quality of players identified for the large training group: “There are a lot of talented players in the group and it certainly helps us that some of these players, such as Malcolm Marx (Lions), André Esterhuizen, Thomas du Toit (The Sharks), Jesse Kriel, Handré Pollard (Vodacom Blue Bulls) and Ryno Eksteen (DHL Stormers) have played in Vodacom Super Rugby warm-up matches for their franchises,” said Theron.

 

He added: “We are also fortunate to include a number of players who played last year in France, such as Pollard, Jessie Kriel, Rohan Janse van Rensburg (all Bulls) and Aidon Davis (EP Kings). Sergeal Petersen (EP Kings) is also available after he missed the JWC last year because of injury.”

 

The SA U20 training group:

 

Blue Bulls:  Handré Pollard, Jesse Kriel, Duhan van der Merwe, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Dan Kriel, Keagon Gordan, Kobus Marais, Warrick Gelant, Ganfred May, Marcus Kleinbooi, Duncan Mathews, JP Smith, Corniel Els, Wilco Louw, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Pierre Schoeman, Abongile Nonkontwana, Janse van Rensburg, RG Snyman, Heinrich Viljoen, Justin Basson;  

Golden Lions:   Malcom Marx, Michael Hazner, Ramone Samuels, Jaco Van der Walt, Jano Venter, Thabo Mabuza, Vincent Maropeng, Victor Sisekete, JP du Preez, Pieter Scholtz, Stephan Vermeulen, Cyle Brink, Dylan Smith;

Leopards:  Jaco Botha, Kock Marx, Dean Stokes, Lloyd Greef;

Free State:  Ox Noche, Joseph Dweba, Mthokozisi Mkhabela, Nicolaas Lee, Marthinus Oosthuizen, Jandré Slabbert;

EP Kings:  Aidon Davis, Sergeal Petersen, Kevin Kaba, Alrin Eksteen;

The Sharks: Andre Esterhuizen, Thomas du Toit, Gideon Koegelenberg, Chris de Beer, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Dan du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Neil Maritz, Sandile Khubeka, Cameron Wright, Ayron Schramm, Ray Williams, Sias Koen;     

Western Province: Ryno Eksteen, JD Schickerling, Jacques Vermeulen, Rikus Bothma, Daniel du Plessis, Jarryd Sage, SP Ferreira, Justin Philips, Dewald Naudé, Grant Hermanus, Chad Solomon, Wesley Adonis, Frans van Wyk.

The SA U20 preparation activities are:

 

Camp One

When: 31 March – 16 April 2014

Where: Stellenbosch Academy of Sport

 

Camp Two

When: 23 April – 17 May 2014

Where: Stellenbosch and Cape Town

 

SA U20 international friendlies vs Argentina U20:

09 May: SA vs Argentina (City Park Stadium, Cape Town)

13 May: SA vs Argentina (Paul Roos, Stellenbosch)

17 May: SA vs Argentina (Saldanha Rugby Club, Saldanha)

 

Camp Three – Holding camp

When: 23 – 26 May 2014

Where: Stellenbosch Academy of Sport

 

Capping Ceremony

When: 25 May 2014

Where: Stellenbosch Academy of Sport

 

Squad Departure 

When: 26 May 2014

Where: Cape Town International Airport

 

SA U20 2014 JWC fixtures:

2 June: SA vs Scotland (North Harbor)

6 June: SA vs New Zealand (North Harbor)

10 June: SA vs Samoa (Pukekohe)

15 June: Playoffs (Tbc)

20 June: Finals (Auckland)

Elite Springbok Women given SARU contracts en route to Rio

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has awarded national contracts to 15 Springbok Women Sevens players for the first time in history in a significant move towards the 2016 Rio Olympic Games and proving its commitment to growing Women’s rugby.

The 15 are members of the elite Sevens squad based in Port Elizabeth in a programme supported by the Eastern Province’s Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture. This group includes star players Zenay Jordaan, Mathrin Simmers and Veroeshka Grain, who participated in the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow as well as the 15-a-side Rugby World Cup qualifier against Uganda last season.

The contracts range from five to 12 months.

“This is a watershed moment for Women’s rugby in South Africa,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux.

“It shows that we have faith in our players and that SARU is serious about Women’s rugby. We are determined to see the ladies excel on the international stage, and by raising the level of professionalism in the women’s set-up, we believe results will follow.”

SARU was the first union to award full-time national contracts to the men’s Sevens team in the 2008/2009 season, since when the team has delivered consistent results.

Rassie Erasmus, SARU’s General Manager of High Performance, was equally excited about the decision to contract an elite group of players and he believed it would inspire more women to follow their dream of becoming professional rugby players.

“Women’s rugby worldwide has grown tremendously in the last few years and with the inclusion of Sevens rugby in the Olympic Games from 2016 we believe it will be even more popular in future,” said Erasmus.

“In line with this growth it was essential to align our structures with international standards in order to compete successfully against the best teams in the world. This is certainly a massive milestone for Women’s rugby in South Africa.”

Erasmus was equally delighted about the residential programme, which involves 16 players being housed in Port Elizabeth, as it provides an ideal environment for the players to train and bond off the field.

“The residential programme, which was introduced last year, has already started bearing fruit as the SA Select Women’s Sevens team finished as runners up in the Dubai International Invitational tournament in November last year, and hopefully the team will build on that performance this year,” said Erasmus.

“In the past our women players had to train on their own and then assemble in short camps before matches, which was not conducive to consistent quality performances. These initiatives have definitely changed the face of women’s rugby.”

Springbok Women contract group:

Player

Province

Position

Nicolene Barendse

SWD

Wing

Siviwe Basweni

Border

Flyhalf

Lorinda Brown

Eastern Province

Centre

Phumeza Gadu

Eastern Province

Utility Back

Rachelle Geldenhuys

Golden Lions

Looseforward

Nosiphiwo Goda

Border

Hooker

Veroeshka Grain

Western Province

Utility Back

Zenay Jordaan

Eastern Province

Flyhalf

Jacqueline Kriel

Blue Bulls

Utility Back

Nomaphelo Mayongo

KwaZulu-Natal

Flank

Nomsa Mokwai

Leopards

Looseforward

Marithy Pienaar

Blue Bulls

Centre

Fundiswa Plaatjie

Border

Scrumhalf

Mathrin Simmers

SWD

Utility Back

Voyulwethu Vazi

Blue Bulls

Flank

Seven players added to Springbok contract group

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) confirmed on Friday that a group of 17 players had been contracted for the 2014 Springbok season – completing the process earlier than at any time for a number of seasons.

 

The signing of seven players to new Springbok contracts was completed in the past week to add to the ten players who agreed long-term contracts in 2013. Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU, confirmed that there was scope to contract additional players if the coach wished.

 

The seven newly-contracted players are Marcell Coetzee (loose forward), JJ Engelbrecht (centre/wing), Francois Hougaard (scrumhalf), Patrick Lambie (flyhalf/fullback), Willie le Roux (fullback/wing), Coenie Oosthuizen (prop) and Flip van der Merwe (lock).

 

In addition, experienced Springbok wing JP Pietersen, who is expected back in Durban from his Japanese club in the coming weeks, has already committed his future in South Africa by signing a national contract for 2015.

 

“I am delighted that we have been able to conclude the contracting of a core Springbok group so early in the year,” said Roux. “In the past discussions have gone on for some months for different reasons at different times. We invariably reached agreement but we are pleased to have been able to conclude this very important matter so early in the year.

 

“A lot of hard work was put into finalising these contracts late last year and we would have made the announcement at that time but for needing one player to come back from leave and put pen to paper.

 

“The core group of Springboks are now nationally contracted, which bodes well for the next two seasons as we step up preparations for the Rugby World Cup in England in 2015.”

 

Those players previously contracted were: Willem Alberts (loose forward), Jean de Villiers (centre), Bismarck du Plessis (hooker), Jannie du Plessis (prop), Eben Etzebeth (lock), Siya Kolisi (loose forward), Tendai Mtawarira (prop), Frans Steyn (utility back), Adriaan Strauss (hooker) and Duane Vermeulen (No 8).

Springbok Women impress at first training camp

South African Rugby Union (SARU) High Performance GM Rassie Erasmus on Sunday was satisfied with the skills levels and quality of players available ahead of the IRB Women’s Rugby World Cup in France later this year following the conclusion of the opening Springbok Women’s training camp in Cape Town.

The Rugby World Cup will be hosted in Paris from August 1 to 17, with the team set to line up against hosts France, Wales and Australia in the pool stages.

A 40-member squad was invited to the four-day training camp from Thursday to Sunday, during which the players underwent a series of fitness and medical tests, and had two field training sessions which were managed by the SARU Mobi-Unit and consultant Lawrence Sephaka.

Former Springbok flyhalf Louis Koen, former French International prop Pieter de Villiers, defence coach Jacques Nienaber, performance analyst Chean Roux and Erasmus all attended the camp and assisted the ladies with skills training and monitoring.

The squad will be trimmed in the next few weeks and satellite training camps set up in Port Elizabeth, Gauteng, the Western Cape, East London and KwaZulu-Natal to ensure that the Women follow their training programmes and continue developing their skills in the build-up to the World Cup.

The seven-a-side Women’s squad based in Port Elizabeth will also be in contention for places in the final 26-member Rugby World Cup squad once they complete their tournaments in May.

“I am pleased with the skills levels and the quality of the players who put up their hands at the training camp in the last few days,” Erasmus said. “Having witnessed the hard work they put in and how well they worked with the SARU Mobi-Unit, I am excited ahead of the World Cup. That said, however, there is a long way to go to get the structures in place and to ensure that the team is ready to compete against top international opposition.”

Erasmus added: “The main purpose of this camp was to measure the fitness and skills levels of the players, and we achieved that, but the onus is now on them to work hard between the training camps to reach the goals we have set for each individual. This will be vital for them to be in contention for a place in the World Cup squad.”

Springbok Women begin World Cup preparations

The Springbok Women will begin their preparations for the 2014 Women’s Rugby World Cup on Thursday with a four-day camp in Cape Town, which will mark an important step in laying the foundation for the competition which will be hosted in France from August 1 to 17.

The Springbok Women, who will make their third consecutive appearance at the international showpiece, have been drawn in a pool with hosts France, Wales and Australia.

A 40 member squad, which features a mix of experienced players including Springbok Women’s captain Mandisa Williams and wing Natasha Hofmeester, and a handful of players who have earned their first call-up’s will assemble in Cape Town for medical screening and fitness tests.

The group excludes the Sevens players, among them star flyhalf Zenay Jordaan and centre Mathrin Simmers, who were key figures in the team’s World Cup qualifier against Uganda last year, but who will be expected to focus on the Sevens code until May.

The battery of tests will be followed by field training sessions led by members of the South African Rugby Union Mobi-Unit, including Louis Koen and Chean Roux, SARU General Manager of High Performance Rassie Erasmus and former Springbok Lawrence Sephaka.

“It is a privilege to play in a Rugby World Cup, and we are determined to make the most of this opportunity to prove that we have grown as a team since the first World Cup in 2006,” said Erasmus. “In order to achieve this, however, it is important to start with our preparations as early as possible so all the building blocks are in place by the time the squad departs for Paris. In the last few years we have invested a large amount of time and resources in Women’s rugby and this year the focus on the 15-a-side team will be even greater with the World Cup taking place.

“This camp will mark the first of a series of camps in the lead-up to the tournament, but this will mark one of the most important as it will offer the players and the team management an idea of the condition the ladies are in,” Erasmus explained. “The results of these tests will provide a good indication of what the players need to do to work themselves into contention to secure a place in the final squad later in the year. In effect this marks the first step in our road to the Women’s Rugby World Cup.”

Springbok Women’s training squad: Celeste Adonis (Western Province), Nolusindiso Booi (Border), Kirsten Conrad (Boland), Nomaphelo Dike (Western Province), Nomathamsanqa Faleni (Eastern Province), Nombasa Hagile (Border), Natasha Hofmeester (Western Province), Laurian Johannes (Western Province), Portia Jonga (Eastern Province), Tayla Kinsey (KwaZulu-Natal), Thantaswa Macingwana (Border), Benele Makwezela (Western Province), Dolly Mavumengwana (KwaZulu-Natal), Vuyokazi Mbonda (Western Province), Andrea Mentoor (Western Province), Rights Mkhari (Limpopo Blue Bulls), Onicca Moaga (SWD), Lamla Momoti (Border), Lusanda Mtiya (KwaZulu-Natal), Nwabisa Ngxatu (Border), Zandile Nojoko (Eastern Province), Portia Nqunqa (Border), Asithandile Ntoyanto (Border), Tamsyn Nuttley (Western Province), Marnezelle Rabie (SWD), Yolanda Sana (Border), Namhla Siyolo (Eastern Province), Nonkosi Sobandla (Border), Claudia Thompson (KwaZulu-Natal), Sinazo Tsawu (Border), Amanda Tshidi (Border), Zimkitha Tsilana (Western Province), Ziyanda Tywaleni (Border), Denita Wentzel (Western Province), Shona-Leah Weston (Blue Bulls), Christal Williams (SWD), Mandisa Williams (Border).

Springboks give back at SARU coaching symposium


Photo: Springbok Flip van der Merwe and Bok assistant coach Johann van Graan demonstrate the proper tackle technique at the SARU Coaching Symposium in Queenstown.

 

Springboks Francois Hougaard, Flip van der Merwe, Jan Serfontein and Bjorn Basson coached more than 170 schoolboys and 50 school and club coaches during a coaching session in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape last Thursday.

The national players gave back some of their knowledge to the local rugby community on day two of the SARU High Performance Coaching Symposium in the rural Eastern Cape.

 
 

They were assisted by Springbok assistant coaches, Johann van Graan, Ricardo Loubscher and John McFarland. The Springboks demonstrated to the local coaches how to master the basic technical techniques in areas such as tackling, scrumming, lineout play and the breakdown.

 
 

It was the second visit to the Eastern Cape by the Springboks as part of the Footprint Programme which SARU and the Eastern Cape Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts & Culture launched in July in Mthatha. Through the Footprint Programme, SARU aims to deliver the latest rugby coaching techniques and skills to all corners of South Africa.

 
 

The Eastern Cape Sports Department is also assisting SARU to prepare the Springbok Women’s Sevens squad to qualify for the 2016 Olympics. This assistance includes scientific support, fitness and conditioning training.

 
 

Rassie Erasmus, the SARU General Manager for High Performance, got the two-day symposium underway the previous day when he addresses the eager local schools and club coaches on the proper tackling and breakdown techniques.

 
 

During the practical session on Thursday, the Springbok players and coaching staff demonstrated those techniques to the learners and coaches at a community field, with a happy local crowd following every move on the field.

Afterwards lock Flip van der Merwe said he and his team mates enjoyed the session as much as the schoolboys and the coaches.

“This is a great initiative and it is wonderful to see eagerness amongst the kids and their coaches to learn,” said Van der Merwe. “We seldom get the chance to visit areas such as Queenstown and the reception we got from the local community and kids was amazing.”

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