From humble beginnings in the Middledrift eNjwaxa location near King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape to being one of the top women’s rugby players in South Africa, Springbok Women’s centre Zintle Mpupha’s journey to becoming a professional rugby player is nothing short of admirable.
Mpupha – a dual international who has played for the Springbok Women and serving as one of the contracted players in the Springbok Women’s Sevens team – was named as the first of 10 Springbok Women who will be unveiled in the next six weeks as ‘Unstoppables’.
The ‘Unstoppables’ is the second phase of World Rugby’s ‘Try and Stop Us’ women’s rugby campaign, which was launched in 2019 with the objective of lifting the profile of women’s rugby, and attracting new fans, players and investors to the game.
Mpupha was born in the small Eastern Cape location on Christmas day, 25 December 1993, and although her family had to make the most of the resources they had as her mother Nomatheko Mpupha was employed as a cashier while she was growing up, this did not stop her from making a big success of her life.
Interestingly rugby was non-existent in her township – as cricket was the sport of choice – and there were no rugby facilities to speak of, yet she carved a noteworthy life for herself through the sport.
“Rugby has totally changed my life,” said Mpupha.
“Thanks to the sport, I am independent and able to offer my family the support they need.
“Every opportunity I receive in rugby deepens my passion for sport, opens my eyes wider and enables me to create more goals and seek more opportunities, so I make sure I grab it with both hands and ensure that it is meaningful.
“Playing for Springbok Women and representing my country is a dream come true and an honour, but most importantly it has allowed me to create hope and showcase the opportunities out there for young girls who would like to become Springboks one day.
“Every time I take the field, I give my best because I believe that by putting women’s rugby on the map the young girls in the country may receive more opportunities in future and will also realise their hopes and dreams.”
Unlike like most of her team-mates who chose to play rugby from the outset, Mpupha almost stumbled onto the oval ball after establishing herself as an astute cricketer for the Border women’s team and the Cricket South Africa Under-19 women’s teams in 2009 and 2011, and she later had to choose her sport of choice.
“As much as I love cricket, my passion for rugby developed much faster, and I ended up choosing rugby,” said the Human Movement Sciences graduate and Psychology student.
“In fact, that was one of the biggest decisions I had to make in my life.
“The biggest challenge has probably been the fact that after waiting two years to advance to the women’s Under-20 structures there was a long wait until 2017 to play for the Springbok Women’s Sevens team, while I only made my Springbok Women’s debut in 2018. But it was certainly worth the wait and the tough times along the way.”
Mpupha speaks highly of the most influential figures in her rugby career – former Springbok Women’s captain Mandisa Williams and her former club and Border women’s coach, Skwiri Nkolonza.
“Mandisa has played a huge role in my career – She has been a team-mate, sister, mother figure and coach during my time at Border, and I always looked up to her because of the passion she has for women’s rugby,” said Mpupha.
“Skwiri on the other hand was one of the best coaches I ever had. He made me the strong person I am today because he always pushed me to the limit, and thanks to his guidance I am reaping the rewards today.”
Mpupha lists her short-term goals as trying playing her way into the Springbok Women’s team that will compete at the 2021 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, and to participate in the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town in 2022, while her long-term dream is to move into a management role in the Springbok Women’s set-up as the team Biokineticist.
For a Q&A with Zintle Mpupha, click here.
Issued by SA Rugby Communications
The Vodacom Blue Bulls were in rampant form as they scored 10 tries to book their spot in the SA Rugby Under-21 Championship Final with an impressive 72-26 win over the Cell C Sharks at Emirates Airline Park on Sunday.
The men from Pretoria held a 20-0 lead at the break and kept increasing that margin in a second half that saw 78 points being scored.
In the second match on Sunday, DHL Western Province, scored a crucial try at the final buzzer as they beat Toyota Free State by 47-28, keeping alive their chances to make it to the Final on 30 October.
The late try secured the Capetonians a bonus point as they moved from the bottom of the log to third place and back into contention with one round of pool matches remaining.
Next Sunday, the Cell C Sharks and Toyota Free State (both with four log points) will kick-off at 10h30, and the match between DHL Western Province (five points) and the Xerox Lions (nine points) – which is likely to deliver the other finalist – starts at 13h45.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls are the defending champions and have a bye next Sunday, but their big win over the Cell C Sharks guaranteed them top spot on the log (15 log points), so all eyes will be on the remaining four teams next Sunday, all of whom still have a mathematical change to qualify for the 30 October showpiece.
Match reports of today’s matches below:
Ten-try Vodacom Blue Bulls smash Cell C Sharks
Ten tries, seven of which came in a whirlwind second half of their match against the Cell C Sharks, eased the Vodacom Blue Bulls into a very convincing 72-26 win in their final SA Rugby Under-21 Championship pool game.
The coastal side had no answer to the support play shown by the team in blue, and did themselves no favours with some ill-discipline earlier in the match, which helped the Vodacom Blue Bulls to break the shackles and apply some score board pressure on their opponents.
In fact, the 20-0 scoreline after half an hour of play saw the Cell C Sharks chasing the game from early on.
The KwaZulu-Natalians’ flyhalf, Ryhardt Jonker, had an early opportunity with a long range penalty attempt, but the ball bounced off the upright. Instead, it was his opposite number, David Coetzer, who got the first points after nine minutes in what started a mini-scoring spree from the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
Coetzer then missed two long range efforts before the water break, which saw the Pretoria outfit with a three point lead. The next ten minutes were telling though.
First Stravino Jacobs was worked over in the right hand corner. The Vodacom Blue Bulls attacked well down the blind side, the wing was got the ball in space and he dotted down. Richard Kriel, who took over the kicking duties, slotted the tight conversion.
That lead was extended two minutes later when a Taakir Abrahams kick was charged down by Diego Appollis and his midfield partner, Jay-Cee Nel pounced. The centre kicked ahead and gave Kriel a second and much easier conversion.
After 30 minutes and 17-0 down, the Cell C Sharks suddenly were chasing the game. The Vodacom Blue Bulls, on the other hand, kept their composure and waited for their opponents to make mistakes. And there were plenty, allowing Kriel to slot a penalty goal from right in front with the first half siren looming.
The lanky left-footed Kriel kicked another penalty goal shortly after the restart before a fine try by Appollis extended the lead to 28 points. The outside centre found space on a counter-attack and ran in from 45m, outsprinting the desperate Cell C Sharks cover defence.
The coastal side pulled one back shortly after, when Lucky Dlepu scored. The scrumhalf took a quick tap from a penalty 10m out and stepped past a number of Vodacom Bulls defenders.
Kriel enjoyed his responsibilities as goal kicker and slotted a long range effort after 55 minutes to take the lead out to 31-5.
The Cell C Sharks scored their second try just under the hour mark when Jean Roux (wing) kicked ahead and found the bounce to his favour. Jonker kicked a good conversion from wide out to cut back the lead to 31-12 with 20 minutes to play.
From the restart, the Vodacom Blue Bulls’ hooker Janco Uys scored his side's fourth try. The Cell C Sharks failed to gather the kick-off, the men in blue pounced and Uys ran onto the final pass to get his third try of the tournament.
A minute later Sebastiaan Jobb ran impressively down the right hand touch to add his name to the score sheet. A turn-over ball saw the Vodacom Blue Bulls attack the blind side and found the wing speeding away from the cover defence for a 41-12 lead.
An hour into the game, Cell C Sharks midfielder Le Roux Malan scored after a strong run and Jonker's conversion cut the lead back to 41-19.
Jacobs got his second of the match and fifth try of the tournament when he stepped inside his man to dot down in the corner.
Jan-Hendrik Wessels scored their seventh try as the Vodacom Blue Bulls outworked the Cell C Sharks on attack. The ball was moved across the field in a number of phases and Wessels broke the final tackle to dot down under the posts.
Try number eight was another stunner by the Vodacom Blue Bulls when their replacement centre Marnus Potgieter ran a great line from a lineout attack and his pass found Hendrik du Toit (replacement flanker).
A minute later, Ruben Beytell was over as well as the replacement flyhalf ran a great support line to receive the final pass.
Malan scored his second for the Cell C Sharks after a counter-attack from way inside their own half, but that try was of academic nature only.
Wessels just restored the dominance with a quick-tap penalty from close range, getting his second of the half. Kriel's final kick went wide, but he still managed to contribute 19 points to the Vodacom Blue Bulls’ tally.
Vodacom Blue Bulls 72 (26) – Tries: Stravino Jacobs (2), Jay-Cee Nel, Diego Appollis, Janco Uys, Sebastiaan Jobb, Jan-Hendrik Wessels (2), Hendrik du Toit, Ruben Beytell. Conversions: Richard Kriel (5). Penalty goals: David Coetzer, Kriel (3).
Cell C Sharks 26 (0) – Tries: Lucky Dlepu, Jean Roux, Le Roux Malan (2). Conversions: Rynhardt Jonker (2), Malan.
DHL Western Province stay in hunt with first win and late bonus point try
DHL Western Province scored seven tries, including a second hat-trick in as many matches by Blitzbok speedster Angelo Davids (left wing), en route to a 47-28 win over the Toyota Free State at Emirates Airline Park.
Crucially the seventh try, by Waqar Solaan (centre), confirmed a crucial bonus point the Capetonians, who are still in the running, despite their slow start.
DHL WP side started with more intent than their opponents from the heartland. De Wet Marais (flanker) scored in the opening minutes following sustained pressure by his side.
Their pack had the early dominance and Chris Schreuder (flyhalf) used his loose forwards to punch holes in the Free State defence. It was off such a play that the loose forward bust through and over the line for the opening score.
The Free Staters gained momentum as DHL WP conceded a number of penalties and from one of those, near the Province line, Toyota Free State opted for a scrum. This worked in their favour as Cohen Jasper (fullback) blitzed through a gap to score, with Charles Williams (flyhalf) levelling the scores after 17 minutes.
Davids then outpaced the Cheetah defence with a 55m run, showing the Bloemfontein cover defence a clear pair of heels for his first of the afternoon. Schreuder converted to give his side a 14-7 lead at the first water break after 20 minutes of play.
DHL Western Province kept the momentum after the first stop in play and five minutes later, Dian Bleuler (prop) crashed over from an attacking lineout.
Davids extended the lead with his second try, showing his great pace as he ran onto a kick from DHL WP scrumhalf Thomas Bursey.
The Cheetahs were still in it though, thanks to good first phase play and following an attacking lineout, William Moffat (hooker) scored at the back of the maul to bring score back to 26-14 after 31 minutes.
A good try by DHL WP fullback Sibabalwe Xamlashe edged his team further ahead, with a yellow card to Cheetahs wing Cham Mzondeki not helping their cause.
Toyota Free State struck despite being a man down with Cornel Korff dotting down after some patience on attack and good inter-passing between forwards and backs saw the scrumhalf dotting down under the sticks.
Davids blitzed in for his third as the team from Bloem completely missed the kick-off and the wing collected the ball to run in unopposed.
Toyota Free State were starting to push hard though and a well-timed run by Jasper saw him in for second try as they attacked to the left side from a scrum in the middle of the field, and Jasper looped around to find open space and the try-line.
Schreuder kicked two long range penalty goals to ease DHL WP out to a 42-28 lead with 12 minutes to play, and while the Free Staters came close, Solaan had the last say with his crucial try in the corner after the final buzzer.
DHL Western Province 47 (31) – Tries: De Wet Marais, Angelo Davids (3), Dian Bleuler, Sibabalwe Xamlashe, Waqar Solaan. Conversions: Chris Schreuder (3). Penalty goals: Schreuder (2).
Toyota Free State 28 (14) – Tries: Cohen Jasper (2), William Moffat, Cornel Korff. Conversions: Charles Williams (4).
Issued by SA Rugby Communications
The DHL Stormers were victorious in their first Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked outing when they defeated the Emirates Lions 23-17 at DHL Newlands on Saturday evening. The Cape side had a bye in the first round.
In the earlier match on Saturday afternoon played in Kimberley, the visiting Phakisa Pumas fought their way to a deserved 27-21 win over the Tafel Lager Griquas.
The Toyota Cheetahs managed to hold on for a tight 19-17 in over the Vodacom Bulls on Friday evening in Bloemfontein, while the Cell C Sharks had a rest weekend.
As a result of their second successive win the Free Staters are sitting on top of the log with nine points from two wins, followed by the Vodacom Bulls (five points), the DHL Stormers, Cell C Sharks and Phakisa Pumas, all on four points each.
Click on the headline-link to download the full match report.
DHL Stormers grab comeback win over Emirates Lions
The DHL Stormers delivered an improved second half performance to grab a 23-17 comeback win over the Emirates Lions at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday evening.
The visitors from Johannesburg made the better start and led 10-6 at halftime, but the home side managed to turn things around in the second half for a deserved but close fought win.
However, Siya Kolisi’s team delivered a much more composed effort in the second half, cutting down on their error rate, which resulted in two tries.
The Capetonians, with no less than seven Springboks in their starting team, gradually gained the ascendency and took their scoring opportunities while keeping the visitors in check with some solid defence.
Toyota Cheetahs hold on for tight win over Vodacom Bulls
The Toyota Cheetahs battled their way to a close-fought 19-17 win over the Vodacom Bulls in their clash in Bloemfontein on Friday evening. The home side led 13-3 at halftime and managed to hang on for their second successive win of the competition.
The Vodacom Bulls had a chance to level matters right at the end when Joe van Zyl (replacement hooker) crashed over for their only try from a lineout maul. However, Chris Smith (replacement flyhalf) missed the conversion attempt to allow the Free Staters to grab the winning points for a second week in a row.
The men from Pretoria had a first half to forget with too many errors, while the home team also made life difficult for their visitors with some bone crunching defensive hits.
The visitors finished strongly but the home side managed to hang on for a tight win stay on top the log standings after two rounds.
Fouche steers Phakisa Pumas to victory in Kimberley
Phakisa Pumas flyhalf Eddie Fouche delivered a superb individual performance to steer his team to a 27-21 victory over Tafel Lager Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday afternoon.
The Mpumalanga side led 17-11 at halftime and faced a strong second-half challenge by the hosts, but a converted try with 10 minutes left to play set them up for the six-point victory and their first win of the new campaign.
Fouche deservedly earned the man of the match award for his influential performance, which included kicking all three conversions and two penalty goals for personal tally of 12 points.
The flyhalf remained composed as he orchestrated several attacking spells for his side throughout the match, while his clever play and timely offload deep in the second half led to the visitors’ crucial third try scored by fullback Devon Williams, which allowed them to finally race clear of the determined home side.
With time running out, captain George Whitehead (flyhalf) slotted over a penalty goal in the dying minutes to earn the Kimberley outfit a bonus point for going down by less than 7 points.
Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked media resources: Latest News | Match Centre | Standings | Statistics
Issued by SA Rugby Communications
SA Rugby has reluctantly been forced to withdraw the Springboks from the Castle Lager Rugby Championship.
The on-gong complications related to the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns about seriously jeopardising player welfare, made it impossible to commit to SANZAAR that South Africa would be able to compete.
The South African-based portion of what was a 46-player squad was scheduled to fly from Johannesburg on Sunday. However, government regulations as currently drafted meant it was unclear whether the team would legally be able to depart.
In addition, mounting concerns relating to player welfare, were a major concern.
“With time essentially having run out, it left us with no option,” said Jurie Roux, SA Rugby CEO.
“This is a hugely disappointing outcome for our supporters and commercial partners but the on-going impacts of the pandemic in multiple dispensations means we are unable to deliver a Springbok team without seriously compromising player welfare.
“SANZAAR and Rugby Australia have bent over backwards to make the tournament happen and it would have been unfair on them, their partners and state government to delay a decision any longer.”
Roux said that the local challenges were compounded by the fact that the 24 overseas based players, who had been identified for potential selection (depending on COVID-19 status) and for whom visas had been applied, were based with European or Japanese clubs.
“Players in England, Ireland, France and Japan are subject to differing local regulations and travel protocols and potentially imminent renewed lockdowns in some territories,” he said.
“It was unclear when they would be able to become functioning members of the Springbok squad in Australia.
“We understand that public safety concerns come first and there’s no way that we could expect short cuts to be found to get them out of their host countries and into the Springbok bubble.
“But the impact on our planning was profound and took us to a bottom line that we could not in fairness commit to being able to compete.”
SA Rugby consulted with MyPlayers – the players’ representative body – who supported the decision.
Rassie Erasmus, Director of Rugby, said that his department had planned for every scenario.
“We worked out that the players needed a minimum of 400 minutes of game time before they could be ready for a Test match,” said Erasmus.
“The overseas-based players had started playing before us and they would have been getting close to that time by 7 November.
“But many of those have completed their programmes or have had COVID outbreaks which has interrupted the planning. The Japanese based players haven’t played any rugby at all, while the home-based players would be well short of 400 minutes by the time of kick off.”
SA-based players played their first competitive matches at the weekend, 29 weeks after their last competitive match in Vodacom Super Rugby. In contrast New Zealand’s and Australia’s players contested a Test match on Saturday, 17 weeks and 14 weeks respectively after they resumed competitive rugby.
Roux said: “It has been an extremely challenging year and what started out as a two-week lockdown evolved into a global crisis, one of whose side effects has been to decimate our rugby calendar.
“It seems impossible that the Springboks won’t play a Test match in 2020, but public health and safety have been the primary concern and we have been collateral damage like so many businesses.
“All we can do now is enjoy our domestic competitions and find ways to be ready for the arrival of the British & Irish Lions in 2021.”
Issued by SA Rugby Communications
SA Rugby and FNB confirmed on Tuesday that the South African banking giant has extended its sponsorship of the Springboks for a further five years.
The new agreement will stretch FNB's association with the team to eight years in total, with the bank's iconic acacia tree logo to continue to feature on the jersey above the playing number.
Renewal discussions began before last year's Rugby World Cup and were concluded before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are delighted to confirm FNB’s continued association with the Springboks,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.
“FNB have been a great partner since they joined us in the 2017 season and have supported us in many was beyond a pure sponsorship.
“They showed faith in the Springboks at a challenging time, but I trust and believe that we have been good for each other as the team has developed and enjoyed success in 2019.
“It’s worth noting that our renewal conversations began long before the Rugby World Cup to underline the nature of the relationship.”
FNB's logo first appeared on the team jersey in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship Test against Argentina in Port Elizabeth in August 2017.
Faye Mfikwe, FNB Chief Marketing Officer said: “We are honoured to continue our association with the Springboks. FNB is immensely proud of the team’s achievements and commitment to unifying the country to foster social cohesion.
“Over the last four years, our collective contribution has provided a platform for South Africa’s youth to showcase their sporting talent on the global stage.
“The Springboks not only inspire South Africans to have ‘hope’ but also strive to building a stronger nation. We are looking forward to continuing a winning journey with the team.”
Roux added: “We look forward to continuing our successful relationship in the seasons to come. SA Rugby is proud to partner with one of the strong pillars of South African business.”
FNB is the oldest bank in South Africa, and can be traced back to the Eastern Province Bank formed in Grahamstown in 1838. Today, FNB trades as a division of FirstRand Bank Limited. The Acacia tree in our brand logo is a suitable representation of our history. Our roots run deep in South Africa, and we have grown thanks to our commitment to serving the needs of our clients and communities.
Issued by SA Rugby Communications
The Xerox Lions lowered the flags of the Vodacom Blue Bulls (26-17) and the Cell C Sharks outplayed DHL Western Province (45-24) in the third round of the SA Rugby U21 Provincial Championship at Emirates Airline Park on Monday, with both wins crucial for teams hoping to reach the final.
The home side, boosted by two tries in the opening 10 minutes, held on to hand the Vodacom Blue Bulls their first defeat of the competition, while the Cell C Sharks managed their first win and kept the Cape side winless and at the bottom of the log halfway through the competition.
The Xerox Lions have now moved into the second place on the log standings, but have a bye in round four, while the Vodacom Blue Bulls, despite their defeat, still stays top, courtesy of two strong wins in their first two matches.
The latest standings after three rounds of action is here.
• The next two matches are on Sunday, when DHL Western Province will be looking for their first win when they take on Toyota Free State (who had a bye today) in the early match at 10h30. The Vodacom Blue Bulls will meet the Cell C Sharks at 13h45 in the second match of round four.
Below are match report summaries of today’s matches.
Cell C Sharks strike early to beat DHL Western Province
The Cell C Sharks delivered a strong first half performance to dominate DHL Western Province for a morale-boosting 45-24 victory in their SA Rugby U21 Championship clash at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on Monday.
The KwaZulu-Natalians held out in the second stanza as the Cape side fought back bravely, which allowed them to secure their first win of the tournament.
The Durbanites’ industrious backline sealed the deal early on, scoring three tries in the first quarter to get daylight between themselves and DHL WP, who have now suffered consecutive defeats.
It took only 15 minutes of play for the Cell C Sharks to build up an encouraging 21-0 lead, which paved the way for them to run away with the match.
The compulsory water break after 20 minutes came just in time for the shell-shocked DHL WP, as it allowed them regroup and sharpen up their focus.
They delivered a much better display as the half progressed, but the real damage had already been inflicted and they were forced to play catch-up rugby for the remainder of the match.
DHL WP flyhalf Ruan Mostert had an early penalty goal attempt for his team, but pulled it wide, before the Cell C Sharks scored three sublime tries.
Thaakir Abrahams (fullback) scored from wide out after a great attack by his teammates from inside their own half.
Paul Roux (wing) ran strongly and Abrahams took the final pass to score, while Boeta Chamberlain (flyhalf) slotted over the conversion from the touch line.
Cell C Sharks outside centre Donald Falconer was next on the score sheet barely a minute later after Chamberlain found Caleb Dingaan with a cross-kick, with the winger passing to Celimpilo Gumede (flanker) on his inside before Falconer received the try-scoring pass.
Chamberlain kicked the conversion and he had another successful attempt at the goal posts when Le Roux Malan (centre) burst through strongly.
Chamberlain missed a long-range penalty goal attempt after the water break and it was no surprise when DHL WP scored their first try on the 30-minute mark. Captain and flank Marcel Theunissen barged over after his team attacked relentlessly. Mostert converted, but that score was cancelled out again just before the half-time hooter.
The commanding Cell C Sharks pack drove strongly from a lineout and captain and Fez Mbatha (hooker) touched down, with the successful conversion handing them a 28-7 lead, which left the Cape outfit with a big mountain to climb.
The second half saw the Sharks on the front foot again thanks to a long-range effort from Chamberlain which extended their lead to 31-7.
DHL WP were shocked into action and a strong lineout drive saw Dian Bleuler (prop) crashing over near the corner flag.
Roux then lost the ball over the line thanks to a try-saving tackle by Andre-Hugo Venter (replacement hooker), but the Cell C Sharks were rampant, with Abrahams scoring his second try after a powerful scrum.
Evan Roos (No 8), who was hugely imposing in the clash, picked up at the base of the scrum and broke the advantage line, before soft hands found the fullback in space and he dropped over the line, with Chamberlain kicking another pearler from wide out.
Venter then turned from try-saver to try scorer as Province attacked from all corners. The Cell C Sharks were found napping after a penalty and Venter could burst through following a quick tap.
The Cape side continued their comeback effort with a try by Simon Taylor (replacement flank), who charged over after a good lineout drive, but with only five minutes left, it was too little too late.
The Cell C Sharks’ dominance and win were amplified by Roos, who scored off the back of another powerful scrum to round off a strong personal and team performance.
Cell C Sharks 45 (28) – Tries: Thaakir Abrahams (2), Donald Falconer, Le Roux Malan, Fez Mbatha, Evan Roos. Conversions: Boeta Chamberlain (5), Rynhardt Jonker. Penalty goal: Chamberlain.
DHL Western Province 24 (7) – Tries: Marcel Theunissen, Dian Bleuler, Andre-Hugo Venter, Jarred Taylor. Conversions: Ruan Mostert, Kade Wolhuter.
Xerox Lions outlast northern neighbours in U21 nail-biter
It was a massive Monday afternoon slog between the two top teams in the SA Rugby Under-21 Championship, but in the end the Xerox Lions outlasted the defending champions, the Vodacom Blue Bulls, to remain in contention for the final with a 26-17 victory at Emirates Airline Park.
The two packs of forwards had a proper go at each other, but in the end the Xerox Lions probably had the upper hand upfront, played their territory better and used their opportunities, while the Vodacom Blue Bulls made too many mistakes, were ill-disciplined and seemed lethargic at stages.
The visitors from north of the Jukskei river scored three tries to two, but it was the boot of Luke Rossouw that proved the difference, with the Xerox Lions inside centre kicking four second half penalty goals and two conversions for a personal haul of 16 points.
The Xerox Lions started this match against their Gauteng neighbours like a house on fire, realising that a win will keep alive their hopes of reaching the final.
And the Xerox Lions’ tighthead prop, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, was the man who hurt the men in blue with two tries in the opening 10 minutes.
The former Junior Springbok prop’s first try was an opportunistic piece of play from an over-thrown lineout, and a few minutes later he barged over under the uprights after a good build-up by the Xerox Lions.
It was just the start the Xerox Lions had wanted, as they took a 14-0 lead after just nine minutes.
Try as they might, the Vodacom Blue Bulls struggled to get going with stern Xerox Lions defence and unforced errors keeping the men from Pretoria scoreless for most of the first half.
In fact, they seemed to get frustrated as the Xerox Lions fluffed a number of promising attacks, with some negative play creeping into the hosts’ defensive play.
After 30 minutes, the referee, Divan Uys, sent the Xerox Lions’ Shaun Baxter (fullback) to the bin for repeated infringements and the Vodacom Blue Bulls used this numeric advantage to work Stravino Jacobs (wing) over in the left corner, with Qamani Kota (replacement fullback) putting in a superb run in the build-up to the try.
This try saw the teams go into the break with the hosts leading by 14-5, but the Vodacom Blue Bulls were getting into their stride as they were looking to secure a place in the final as they have a bye in the last round.
But the Xerox Lions had other ideas, with Rossouw adding the first two of his four penalty goals early in the second stanza to stretch his team’s lead to 20-5.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls came back strong though and closed the gap to just three points with two converted tries in four minutes.
First Jay Cee Nel crashed over from a good period of sustained attack after a lineout on the home team’s 5m-line, and then David Coetzer scored from a turnover deep in the Vodacom Blue Bulls’ own half when the Xerox Lions lost the ball just outside the Pretorians’ 22, and they quickly counter-attacked to send the flyhalf over under the sticks.
But with mistakes creeping back into the men in blue’s game, Rossouw stepped up to the plate and added another penalty goal just before the second water-break to give his team some breathing space on the score board.
Despite getting their hands on the ball quite often, the Vodacom Blue Bulls still lost possession with silly mistakes, and with less than five minutes remaining, Rossouw added three more points, all but securing victory for the Xerox Lions.
Xerox Lions 26 (14) – Tries: Asenathi Ntlabakanye (2). Conversions: Luke Rossouw (2). Penalty goals: Rossouw (4).
Vodacom Blue Bulls 17 (5) – Tries: Stravino Jacobs, Jay Cee Nel, David Coetzer. Conversion: Qamani Kota.
Issued by SA Rugby Communications
The body that represents the employers of South Africa’s professional rugby players elected Veda Manie (South Western Districts CEO) as its first female executive committee member at its annual meeting on Monday.
Ms Manie was elected to serve on the incoming executive committee of the South African Rugby Employers’ Association (SAREO), along with Eduard Coetzee (KZN Sharks CEO), Eugene Fourie (Leopards CEO) and Edgar Rathbone (Bulls CEO).
Thando Manana (EPRU GM) was elected as vice-chairman – having previously been an ordinary executive member – while Rudolf Straeuli (Lions CEO) was re-elected as chairman. SA Rugby is represented on the committee by Ian Schwartz, GM Strategic Performance Management.
“It’s a pleasure to welcome Veda onto the executive committee,” said Straeuli. “Rugby has been a male-dominated sport for many years, but we’re happy to be moving with the times.
“Rugby prides itself on being a sport for all, and we need to have diverse and wide-ranging voices in shaping its future so that it meets the needs of all.”
Barend van Graan, CEO of SAREO, said it had been a supremely challenging year for members.
“Although play has resumed for some of our members, our sport remains in an extremely precarious position,” he said.
“We are businesses, like any other in the South African economy, and we rely on being able to provide entertainment to our customers – either through the turnstiles, on TV or through sponsorship – to pay our way.
“Major revenue streams have slowed to a trickle in 2020 and some have been turned off completely, and many of our members find themselves in an uncertain position.
“Our major achievement this year was the sport-wide, Industry Savings Plan that we were able to agree with MyPlayers, Sports Employees Unite (the union representing rugby staff) and SA Rugby, to reduce budgets and make savings.
“It has been extremely tough for all our members, their players, coaches and staff but it was essential so that we would still have a sport to return to once this pandemic eases.”
Professional rugby in South Africa went into lockdown on 21 March. Competitive play only resumed on 10 October, 29 weeks later. Seven of the 14 professional teams opted not to resume playing at all in 2020 to maximise savings.
Issued on behalf of SAREO by SA Rugby Communications
South African rugby supporters can nail their colours to the mast by voting for the best Springbok and Blitzbok players, and a few superb tries scored by the Boks in the last decade, after World Rugby announced on Thursday that fans around the world will have a say in the World Rugby Awards Special Edition by selecting the best players and tries of the decade (2010-19).
Six fans’ choice categories open today, with nominees selected from previous World Rugby Award winners. Voting closes next Sunday, 25 October, while the World Rugby Awards panel will also select a men’s and women’s 15s Team of the Decade in the remaining two categories.
The Final winners will be unveiled during the virtual World Rugby Awards on Monday, 7 December 2020.
<< CAST YOUR WORLD RUGBY AWARDS VOTES HERE >>
The various South Africans up for awards are Pieter-Steph du Toit, Cecil Afrika, Werner Kok, Seabelo Senatla, Bryan Habana and Francois Hougaard.
Du Toit – a three-time SA Rugby Player of the Year – was named World Rugby Player of the Year after the Boks won the Rugby World Cup in Japan last year.
The three Blitzboks, Afrika, Kok and Senatla, have all been crowned World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year in the last decade during a time when the Springbok Sevens team won the World Series twice.
Habana and Hougaard have both walked away with the Try of the Year awards in the last 10 years – the Springbok wing for his sublime effort against New Zealand in Dunedin in 2012, and the nuggety Bok scrumhalf for rounding off a great move from their own 22 against the All Blacks in Johannesburg in 2014.
Fans are likely to have a selection headache in choosing between rugby legends and will be asked to consider criteria such as length of rugby career, performance in key matches, leadership qualities and projecting rugby’s values when they cast their vote for Player of the Decade.
The World Rugby Awards special edition will also shine the spotlight on members of the rugby family who showcased great solidarity during the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting their communities, getting involved in relief efforts, and showcasing the sport’s character-building values.
The event will be co-hosted by former England international and World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Maggie Alphonsi and rugby presenter Alex Payne on Monday, 7 December. The show will be available for rugby fans globally to watch via World Rugby digital channels.
Nominees for World Rugby Men’s 15s Player of the Decade in association with Tudor
Richie McCaw (NZL), Thierry Dusautoir (FRA), Dan Carter (NZL), Kieran Read (NZL), Brodie Retallick (NZL), Beauden Barrett (NZL), Johnny Sexton (IRE), Pieter-Steph du Toit (RSA)
Nominees for World Rugby Men’s Sevens Player of the Decade in association with HSBC
Mikaele Pesamino (SAM), Cecil Afrika (RSA), Tomasi Cama (NZL), Tim Mikkelson (NZL), Samisoni Viriviri (FJI), Werner Kok (RSA), Seabelo Senatla (RSA), Perry Baker (USA), Jerry Tuwai (FJI)
Nominees for International Rugby Players Men’s 15s Try of the Decade
Chris Ashton v Australia, 2010 (ENG); Radike Samo v New Zealand, 2011 (AUS); Bryan Habana v New Zealand, 2012 (RSA); Beauden Barrett v France, 2013 (NZL); Francois Hougaard v New Zealand, 2014 (RSA); Julian Savea v France, 2015 (NZL); Jamie Heaslip v Italy, 2016 (IRE); Joaquin Tuculet v England, 2017 (ARG); Brodie Retallick v Australia, 2018 (NZL); TJ Perenara v Namibia, 2019 (NZL)
Nominees for World Rugby Women’s 15s Player of the Decade in association with Tudor
Carla Hohepa (NZL), Michaela Staniford (ENG), Magali Harvey (CAN), Kendra Cocksedge (NZL), Sarah Hunter (ENG), Jessy Trémoulière (FRA), Emily Scarratt (ENG), Portia Woodman (NZL)
Nominees for World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Decade in association with HSBC
Kayla McAlister (NZL), Emilee Cherry (AUS), Portia Woodman (NZL), Charlotte Caslick (AUS), Michaela Bylde (NZL), Ruby Tui (NZL)
Nominees for International Rugby Players Women’s 15s Try of the Decade
Alison Miller v New Zealand, 2014 (IRE), Magali Harvey v France, 2014 (CAN), Megan York v France, 2016 (WAL), Danielle Waterman v Canada, 2016 (ENG), Portia Woodman v USA, 2017 (NZL)
The two remaining two categories, Men’s and Women’s 15s Teams of the Decade, will be selected by the World Rugby Awards panel, a stellar team of rugby legends who choose the annual World Rugby Awards player, team and coach winners.
Men’s 15s Team of the Decade panel: Maggie Alphonsi (ENG), Fiona Coghlan (IRE), Thierry Dusautoir (FRA), George Gregan (AUS), Richie McCaw (NZL), Brian O’Driscoll (IRE), Melodie Robinson (NZL), John Smit (RSA) and Clive Woodward (ENG)
Women’s 15s Team of the Decade panel: Maggie Alphonsi (ENG), Liza Burgess (WAL), Lynne Cantwell (IRE), Fiona Coghlan (IRE), Stephen Jones (ENG), Gaëlle Mignot (FRA), Jillion Potter (USA), Melodie Robinson (NZL), Karl TeNana (NZL) and Danielle Waterman (ENG).
Issued by SA Rugby Communications and World Rugby
The DHL Stormers, who had a bye in the first round, kick off their Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked campaign on Saturday evening when they host the Emirates Lions from 19h00 in Cape Town.
The Cape Town clash is one of two Saturday matches, with Tafel Lager Griquas hosting the Phakisa Pumas in Kimberley in the earlier kick off (16h30).
Friday evening sees the exciting Toyota Cheetahs outfit up against the powerful Vodacom Bulls in Bloemfontein, where the action starts 19h00.
Due to COVID-19 regulations, no fans will be allowed inside the stadiums. However, rugby fans will be able to watch all the exciting action live on SuperSport.
Unchanged Toyota Cheetahs ready for physical Vodacom Bulls challenge
The same 15 players that did the damage for the Toyota Cheetahs last weekend will run out again on Friday when the Free Staters host the Vodacom Bulls in Bloemfontein, in what will be the 100th time Clayton Blommetjies runs out in the famous white jersey.
The only change Hawies Fourie (head coach) made to his team was on the bench, where Jacques du Toit came in for Louis van der Westhuizen as the new replacement hooker.
“The Bulls will bring different challenges (to the Pumas) and we’re expecting a very physical match,” said Toyota Cheetahs assistant coach Corniel van Zyl.
Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White, has made five changes to his starting team for their visit to Bloemfontein, with Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen back to lead the men in blue.
White also decided to hand the exciting and hard-hitting inside centre Clinton Swart his Vodacom Bulls debut against the Free Staters, whom he represented a few seasons ago.
“We struggled to get going against the Griquas and we cannot afford the same against a strong Cheetahs team,” said White.
Toyota Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Malcolm Jaer, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Ruan Pienaar (captain), 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Reinach Venter, 1 Charles Marais. Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Erich de Jager, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Aidon Davis, 21 Chris Massyn, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 William Small-Smith.
Vodacom Bulls: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 David Kriel, 13 Cornal Hendricks, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Jade Stighling, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements: 16 Joe van Zyl, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Stedman Gans.
Match information – Toyota Cheetahs v Vodacom Bulls
Date: Friday, 16 October 2020
Venue: Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant Referees: Griffin Colby, Ben Crouse
Television Match Official: AJ Jacobs
TV: SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby
Tafel Lager Griquas unchanged for Phakisa Pumas visit
Tafel Lager Griquas will field an unchanged starting fifteen for their home match against the Phakisa Pumas on Saturday. Kick-off in Kimberley is at 16h30.
There are however two changes on the bench for the Peacock Blues’ first home fixture of the new local competition, both of them amongst the forwards with the inclusion of Andrew Beerwinkel, a former Vodacom Bulls, Phakisa Pumas and Junior Springbok prop, and utility forward Ewan Coetzee.
Meanwhile, Phakisa Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse has made a bunch of changes to his side, as they will have to make do without two key players who are injured, Ryan Nell and Le Roux Roets.
The only players who will start again this week are Devon Williams (fullback), Wayne van der Bank (centre), Neil Maritz (left wing), Eddie Fouche (flyhalf), Ginter Smuts (scrumhalf), Willie Engelbrecht (flank), Ruan Kramer and Morgan Naude (both props).
Tafel Lager Griquas: 15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 André Swarts, 11 James Verity-Amm, 10 George Whitehead (captain), 9 Zak Burger, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Carl Els, 5 Victor Sekekete, 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 HJ Luus, 1 Mox Mxoli. Replacements (from): Alandre van Rooyen, Andrew Beerwinkel, Madot Mabokela, Adre Smith, Zandre Jordaan, Gideon van der Merwe, Ashon Davids, Berton Klaasen, Mzwanele Zito, Ewan Coetzee, Bjorn Basson.
Phakisa Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Etienne Taljaard, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Wayne van der Bank, 11 Neil Maritz, 10 Eddie Fouche, 9 Ginter Smuts, 8 Jeandré Rudolph, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren (captain), 4 Darrien Landsburg, 3 Ruan Kramer, 2 Simon Westraadt, 1 Morgan Naude. Replacements: 16 HP van Schoor, 17 Liam Hendricks, 18 Heath Backhouse, 19 Phumzile Maqondwana, 20 Dian Badenhorst, 21 Neil Marais, 22 Ali Mgijima, 23 Dewald Maritz.
Match information – Tafel Lager Griquas v Phakisa Pumas
Date: Saturday 17 October
Venue: Tafel Lager Park, Kimberley
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant Referees: Griffin Colby, Ben Crouse
Television Match Official: Cwengile Jadezweni
TV: SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby
Seven Springboks to start for DHL Stormers against Emirates Lions
John Dobson (head coach) has included seven Springboks in the DHL Stormers starting line-up for their encounter with the Emirates Lions at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.
There are just two changes to the starting line-up that did duty in the 34-21 victory against the Emirates Lions on Vodacom Super Fan Saturday at Loftus Versfeld at the start of the month, with fit-again wing Sergeal Petersen replacing the injured Seabelo Senatla, while Bongi Mbonambi starts at hooker with Scarra Ntubeni among the replacements.
“This is our first competitive match since March, so to say that we are looking forward to it would be an understatement,” said Dobson.
Morne van den Berg has been named to replace the injured Dillon Smit at scrumhalf in the only change to the Emirates Lions starting line-up.
Van den Berg gets a deserved start following his solid performance last week as first-half replacement for Smit, who dislocated his shoulder and will most likely miss the remainder of the local season as a result of injury rehabilitation.
DHL Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff. Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Michal Haznar, 23 Tim Swiel.
Emirates Lions: 15 EW Viljoen; 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Burger Odendaal, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Rabz Maxwane; 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Morné van den Berg; 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole. Replacements (from): Jan-Henning Campher, Dylan Smith, Wiehahn Herbst, Wilhelm van der Sluys, MJ Pelser, Hacjivah Dayimani, Ross Cronjé, Gianni Lombard, Wandisile Simelane, Ruan Dreyer.
Match information – DHL Stormers v Emirates Lions
Date: Saturday 17 October
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Referees: Egon Seconds, Aimee Barrett-Theron
Television Match Official: Joey Klaaste-Salmans
TV: SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby
Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked media resources: Latest News | Match Centre | Standings | Statistics
Issued by SA Rugby Communications
SA Rugby advised amateur clubs, universities, associate members and schools on Thursday that their COVID-19 Committee (CovCom) had approved a proposal to allow teams to return to training under certain strict conditions, although a return to play will not be permitted in 2020.
The resumption of amateur rugby training follows the gazetting of new regulations on sport by the Departments of Basic Education and of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC).
“In the past couple of weeks, the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture has permitted several sports to allow their amateur constituents to return to training and match play,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.
“Earlier this month the DSAC released a statement to be read in conjunction with the gazetted regulations that said athletes, support staff and official involved in non-professional sport do not have to undergo COVID-19 testing before returning to train, but only had to ensure that a robust screening system was in place for training to commence.
“They do not have to submit their operational return to training plans to the Minister for approval. We decided to approve the resumption of training for the SA Rugby and the Provincial Union Elite Player Development programmes, rugby at amateur and community clubs and for associations affiliated to Provincial Unions and SA Rugby, but on certain strict conditions.”
The conditions include, among other things, financial considerations, control measures to curb the transmission of the virus, as well as adherence to requirements of the SA Rugby Return to Train and Play Guidelines for Amateur Rugby. The rules are required to be enforced by provincial unions.
All rugby bodies have been instructed to follow the “Integrated Return to Training” framework, as an injury mitigation strategy. It requires four weeks of fitness and strength training, followed by four weeks of gradual integration of contact rugby skills.
A set of guidelines will be circulated to all teams wishing to return to training through their provincial unions. These will include: signing indemnification and declaration of health forms; the appointment of a compliance officer; registration of all players, officials and staff on a club data base; screening and education of players, officials and staff; cleaning and sanitation of training venues, apparel and facilities; and to ensure no spectators are permitted at training or matches.
SA Rugby also advised that amateur rugby matches will not be permitted to take place for the remainder of 2020, and teams may only start competitive action with the commencement of the 2021 rugby season.
However, non-contact rugby, such as TAG or Touch Rugby, can resume once the four weeks of fitness and strength training have been concluded.
Advice on the resumption of competitive play at the community level will be confirmed in due course.
Issued by SA Rugby Communications