Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked launched over the weekend with wins for all three host teams, the Vodacom Bulls, the Cell C Sharks and the Toyota Cheetahs in the first local competition since rugby was halted in mid-March because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The DL Stormers had a bye this weekend.
The Vodacom Bulls, playing with a raft of new signings and a new head coach in former Springbok mentor Jake White, had to fight real hard for their 30-23 win over a very gritty Tafel Lager Griquas Saturday evening in Pretoria.
The men from Kimberley led for more 60 minutes before the home side finally kicked into gear to secure the win, thanks mainly to the accurate kicking boot of experienced former Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn after both sides had scored three tries.
In the earlier match on Saturday in Bloemfontein, the Toyota Cheetahs raced into a 41-3 halftime lead before easing to a 53-31 bonus-point triumph over the Phakisa Pumas.
The Cell C Sharks kicked off the weekend’s action on Friday night in Durban where they held on for a nail-biting 19-16 win over the Emirates Lions.
Click on the headline-link to download the full match report.
Vodacom Bulls made to work hard against gritty Tafel Lager Griquas
The Vodacom Bulls got their Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked campaign off to a winning start but they had to work very hard for their 30-23 win over the Tafel Lager Griquas on Saturday evening at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. The sides were level (10-10) at the break in a match played in good highveld conditions.
It was the team from Kimberley who enjoyed early dominance - in fact - they had their noses in front for 62 minutes of the match before the home team could start to assert themselves mainly through a strong show from their forwards. The plucky visitors conceded too many penalties as a result of that pressure, which unfortunately led to their downfall.
The Vodacom Bulls came out in an alternative jersey for the second half after a clash of colours in the opening stanza. Jake White’s men asserted themselves better in the second period mainly because of their forwards.
Ruan Nortje and Arno Botha were the try scorers for the Vodacom Bulls, who were also awarded a penalty try. Morne Steyn kicked two penalty goals and one conversion. James Verity-Amm (2) and Anthony Volmink scored for the visitors, while George Whitehead added a penalty goal and two conversions.
Free-scoring Toyota Cheetahs off to impressive start in Bloemfontein
The Toyota Cheetahs scored an impressive 53-31 win over the Phakisa Pumas in Bloemfontein on Saturday, scoring eight tries in a dominant display over their Mpumalanga rivals in their opening match of the post-Coronavirus competition.
The home side scored five of those in a dazzling display of backline play in the first half at the Toyota Stadium to lead 41-3 and had the win sealed at the halfway stage of the encounter already. Credit to the visitors however, who managed four tries of their own in a much improved second-half display.
Frans Steyn, a double Rugby World Cup winning Springbok, made his debut for the Free Staters and the big man was a menace in midfield. Outside backs Malcolm Jaer (3) and Rosko Specman (2) scored five of their eight tries. Junior Pokomela, Ruan Pienaar, William Small-Smith were the other try scorers and Pienaar also kicked six conversions plus a penalty goal.
Cell C Sharks clinch nail-biting win over Emirates Lions in Durban
Springbok Curwin Bosch kicked four successful penalty goals to steer the Cell C Sharks to a close-fought 19-16 win over the Emirates Lions in their first-round Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked clash on Friday evening in Durban.
The Durbanites held a 13-3 lead at the break and had to show strong defence in the second stanza to keep the determined visitors at bay at Jonsson Kings Park. Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies hit the upright with a penalty attempt in the closing stages of the game as the home team just managed to hang on for a win.
Former Blitzboks star Werner Kok dotted down for Lukhanyo Am’s team while Curwin Bosch add four penalties to the conversion. Jamba Ulengo grabbed a try for the Joburg outfit, which Jantjies converted together with his three penalty goals.
Vodacom Super Rugby Round 1 results:
Friday, 9 October
Cell C Sharks 19, Emirates Lions 16
Saturday, 10 October
Toyota Cheetahs 53, Phakisa Pumas 31
Vodacom Bulls 30, Tafel Lager Griquas 23
Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked media resources: Latest News | Match Centre | Standings | Statistics
Issued by SA Rugby Communications
Vodacom Blue Bulls continue to dominate SA Rugby U21 Championship
The Vodacom Blue Bulls scored an impressive 19-0 bonus point win over the Toyota Free State at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on Thursday, as they remained the only unbeaten side after two rounds of the SA Rugby Under-21 Championship, while the Xerox Lions proved too slick for the Cell C Sharks, beating them 32-16.
The Pretoria team scored their second consecutive bonus point win against the Free Staters, who started the competition with a good victory on Sunday, while the Cell C Sharks were slow out of the blocks after their first round bye as they went down to the tournament hosts earlier in the day.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls now take on the Xerox Lions in round three on Monday, while in the early match-up, the Cell C Sharks will be looking to rebound against DHL Western Province, who had a bye today. Toyota Free State have a break on Monday.
Both matches are scheduled to be live streamed by SuperSport on their DSTV Now platform (channel 245).
Xerox Lions 32 (8), Cell C Sharks 16 (6)
The Xerox Lions scored a much-needed win against the Cell C Sharks in the opening match of the day, outscoring their coastal rivals by three tries to one.
It was a match full of errors, with referee Morné Ferreira penalizing both teams for repeated infringements, especially around the rucks.
The Cell C Sharks started best, and their first attack yielded results. The home side was penalized for offside play at the breakdown and Boeta Chamberlain (flyhalf) slotted the opening penalty goal to give his side a 3-0 lead within five minutes of play.
The Xerox Lions hardly touched the ball in the first 10 minutes of the match and got their best scoring opportunity after 15 minutes, when they were first ruled short of the tryline and then missed an attacking lineout.
Chamberlain added his second following another breakdown penalty, with the pivot slotting the kick from just inside his half for a 6-0 lead after 18 minutes. Cell C Sharks head coach, Phiwe Nomlomo, must have been smiling at that stage, but that was about to change.
The Xerox Lions had a sniff just after the first water break, but Marc Morrison (flyhalf) struck the upright with his penalty attempt.
But the men from Johannesburg were changing gears and from a rolling maul two minutes later, Cal Smid scored his first try of the competition, delivering a powerful burst from close range to score. The conversion was unsuccessful.
The remainder of the half delivered a mixed bag for both sides. The ill-discipline at the breakdown kept Ferreira busy and some erratic handling by both teams spurned promising attacks on either side. The home side took the lead before the break, courtesy of a Luke Rossouw (centre) penalty goal.
That lasted only a short while though as Chamberlain landed another penalty goal to put his side back into a 9-8 lead early in the second half.
The Xerox Lions were starting to put their coastal foes – a man down due to a yellow card – under pressure but fluffed another opportunity close to the Cell C Sharks’ line when they lost possession.
After yet another penalty for an arriving player going off his feet at the ruck, Rossouw kicked his side back into the lead with his second penalty goal, a lead the home side would not surrender again.
Rossouw extended the lead with a long-range effort to put his team 14-9 up and when Prince Nkabinde scored two minutes later, the Cell C Sharks were suddenly on dry ground.
An attempted chip kick by Chamberlain was charged down, the ball was kicked by Nkabinde and the Xerox Lions wing raced 50m to score. This handed them a 19-9 lead, soon to be extended by another Rossouw penalty goal.
The visitors from KwaZulu-Natal finally managed some error-free phases and Caleb Dingaan scored their first try with minutes remaining. The former Junior Bok wing took a nice inside pass from Rynhardt Jonker (replacement flyhalf), with the conversion giving them a glimmer of hope.
A fifth Rossouw penalty goal sealed the deal though and after a strong burst by Ngia Selengebe (wing), Runaldo Pedro (scrumhalf) added a well-deserved third try to his team’s tally that sealed the 32-16 win.
Xerox Lions – Tries: Cal Smid, Prince Nkabinde, Runaldo Pedro. Conversion: Jordan Hendrikse. Penalty goals: Luke Rossouw (5).
Cell C Sharks – Try: Caleb Dingaan. Conversion: Rynhardt Jonker. Penalty goals: Boeta Chamberlain (3).
Vodacom Blue Bulls 19 (7), Toyota Free State 0 (0)
Brimming with confidence from their opening round victories, the evenly-matched Vodacom Blue Bulls and Toyota Free State teams’ defences held sway in the early part of the match, and in the first 20 minutes, neither team gave an inch.
The Free Staters conceded a yellow card though after 23 minutes following a high tackle by Gustav Meyer (flanker) and that gave the Vodacom Blue Bulls the momentum they needed as they started to attack from all angles. The men from Bloem were hands on hips soon afterwards as the tempo started to take its toll on the players.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls were rewarded for their renewed vigour with a first kickable penalty after 26 minutes of play, but Ruben Beytell (flyhalf) could not convert the pressure into points though.
A dust-up resulted in two more cards, with Janko Swanepoel (Vodacom Blue Bulls lock) and Johan Schutte (Toyota Free State prop) shown yellow. The Bloem side then conceded another yellow when Pierre Uys (lock) pulled down a lineout drive.
This resulted in an inevitable maul try for the Vodacom Blue Bulls, with Janco Uys (hooker) dotting down at the back of a bulldozing pack. Beytell converted to give the Pretoria side a 7-0 lead at the break.
The second half proved more of the same. The men in blue kept the ball amongst their forwards while Uys was off the field, but that delivered no short-term results. Instead, the Free Staters almost scored, but spilled the ball near the Vodacom Blue Bulls’ line.
Part of that comeback was due to some ill-discipline by the Pretoria team, who gave away a number of penalties, helping Toyota Free State to get good field positions to attack from.
The slow poison handed out in heaps in the latter part of the first half was starting to work for the Vodacom Blue Bulls though. Richard Kriel made a telling break in a flowing backline move, but the fullback was overhauled just short of the Free State line.
The men in blue jerseys were getting confident with ball in hand and in another flowing attack, where a number of players offloaded at the right time, Uys darted 30m to dive over in the corner for his second try.
David Coetzer (replacement back) kicked a beauty from the touchline to extend the lead to 14 points, but then missed a long range effort with the water break looming.
Toyota Free State – hard as they tried – could not work themselves into a try-scoring position and it was rather the Vodacom Blue Bulls who struck just before the end. Kriel made a strong run and when Bernard van der Linde (replacement scrumhalf) took the final pass to score in the corner, the bonus point try was the reward.
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Janco Uys (2), Bernard van der Linde. Conversions: Ruben Beytell, David Coetzer.
Toyota Free State – 0.
Third round fixtures for Monday (12 October):
DHL Western Province v Cell C Sharks
Referee: Egon Seconds
Xerox Lions v Vodacom Blue Bulls
Referee: Divan Uys
Bye: Toyota Free State
Issued by SA Rugby Communications
SA Rugby’s BokSmart Rugby Safety programme has embraced a digital future to combat the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, following a landmark sponsorship agreement with sports software specialist, SportsCap.
The agreement will allow the national rugby safety programme to continue training coaches and match officials in safe practices through a ‘MyBokSmart’ app – despite the constraints enforced by the pandemic.
The new software programme will house a BokSmart Certification Software Ecosystem (BCSE) to support the various aspects of BokSmart’s internal and external operations.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way business and the world operates, and we are delighted that we will enter into the ‘new normal’ with SportsCap as our partners,” said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.
“BokSmart and SportsCap have developed a good relationship in the past few years in other operational aspects of the programme, and we are pleased to see them coming on board as an official partner.
“This new system will not only enable us to offer a non face-to-face option to BokSmart training, it will also benefit the coaches and referees immensely by allowing them the opportunity to complete their certifications in their own time.”
Dr Wayne Viljoen, SA Rugby Senior Manager for Rugby Safety, said various elements were being planned for the BCSE: “We will have an upgraded internal certification system database, an internal reporting system, and an external BokSmart Certification Check App,” said Dr Viljoen.
“The main aspect of the BCSE will be the ‘MyBokSmart’ web portal, web-API and App that will be developed over the next year. In addition to this, new components will be created in the future as the system develops and expands.”
SportsCap Managing Director Dale Toy was delighted to sponsor the project and said: “This is the start of a new era for BokSmart and we are looking forward to being part of their journey towards a digital future.
“By moving BokSmart online we are breaking through the ceiling by not only strengthening the relationship with the existing stakeholders but expanding it to include players, parents, medical staff and administrators.
“Along with the BCSE we are also creating systems designed specifically for clubs and schools to make compliance with BokSmart and rugby in general both simple and time efficient.
“We have been involved with BokSmart behind the scenes for a few years now, and have seen first-hand the impact that it has had on making the game both safer and more accessible.
“It is a privilege to now be an official partner and part of the team driving this,” added Toy.
Apart from online BokSmart certifications, ‘MyBokSmart’ will allow coaches, referees, players, and even medical staff to register and view certain modules on rugby safety from their devices of choice, such as laptops, mobile phones and tablets.
Once registered on the App, BokSmart will become a self-controlled access point for coaches and referees to be able to direct their personal journeys with the programme, and once verified, to change, update or edit basic personal information that is currently on the BokSmart Certification System database.
Medical support personnel for rugby teams will also be able to get themselves certified in future via the online or App-based course, which will extend the reach of the programme, while one or two modules will even be aimed at player education.
‘MyBokSmart’ will also be used as an information hotspot for all who have registered on the App, to receive key notifications, new information pieces, regulations, documents, videos and infographics that may have significance.
Issued by SA Rugby Communication
Springbok Women’s prop Babalwa Latsha was named among 12 leading women in rugby on the African continent as Rugby Africa unveiled its list of 12 #Unstoppables who have been a beacon of inspiration to women in the game on Monday.
Latsha, who made history earlier this year by becoming the first local 15-a-side rugby player to sign a professional contract when she joined Spanish club SD Eibar Femenino, was the only South African in the group, which features coaches, a board member, referee and club president, among others.
The 26-year-old Latsha has been a pillar of strength in the Springbok Women’s team since making her Test debut on the team’s UK Tour in 2018, and her leadership skills saw her captain the team in 2019 in the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup – which doubled up as the 2021 Rugby World Cup Qualifier – and the incoming Tests against Spain and Scotland in the absence of regular captain Nolusindiso Booi, who was injured last season.
A total of 60 women from 19 countries impressed the judges, but in the end only 12 dynamic women made it onto Rugby Africa’s list of #Unstoppables.
“Congratulations to Babalwa for being named as one of the Rugby Africa Unstoppables,” said SA Rugby CEO and Rugby Africa Secretary General, Jurie Roux.
“To be named among 12 leading women in rugby on the entire African continent is nothing short of remarkable, and given Babalwa’s achievements in the last two years, this recognition is well deserved.”
Latsha was thrilled about the achievement and said it was a great honour.
“It’s always a privilege to represent my nation and country in rugby, and being named amongst 12 powerful women in the sport is in itself is very empowering – not only to me but also for young women in Africa,” said Latsha.
“Rugby is rapidly growing on the continent and it is wonderful to be part of that. My message other women in rugby is that the sport is a phenomenal vehicle to change one’s life.
“So put in as much effort and work as you can to make your dreams come true, and enjoy your rugby as much as possible.”
Rugby Africa President, Mr Khaled Babbou, was excited to launch their #Unstoppables campaign and said: “We want to do something very impactful and sustainable for all women in rugby on the continent to get players, fans and sponsors interested in the game.
“Our goal is to uplift the ‘Unstoppables’ and the women in rugby beyond this campaign. We have a long-term vision and commitment.
“Africa is a big rugby market as the latest Nielsen report shows, conducted by World Rugby, and one of the fastest growing markets in the world.
“It is such an untapped market in terms of athletic potential, growth opportunities and market penetration – especially for the women. As the individual stories of the campaign show, there are really strong women coming out of Africa.”
Rugby Africa #Unstoppables:
• Abigail Kawonza (Zimbabwe) - Board member, match official coach and referee
• Babalwa Latsha (South Africa) - Springbok Women’s and international player
• Christel Janet Kotze (Namibia) - Coach and TV producer
• Donatienne Rasoampamonjy (Madagascar) - Coach, coach trainer and club founder
• Fatma El-Kindiy (Botswana) - Communications and project manager
• Ella Paule Guei (Côte d'Ivoire) - Referee
• Fatou Camara Sene (Senegal) - Administrator and communications manager
• Rafatu Inusah (Ghana) - Board member and educator
• Peris Mukoko (Kenya) - Board member, educator and match official
• Samiya Ayikoru (Uganda) - International player
• Sanaa Barakat (Egypt) - Player
• Wejdane Limame (Tunisia) - Citing commissioner and club president
Issued by SA Rugby Communications
Toyota Free State recorded a dramatic 31-30 victory in the final play of their match over the Xerox Lions at Emirates Airline Park on Sunday to start their SA Rugby Under-21 Championship on a high, whilst defending champions, the Vodacom Blue Bulls, used their pack of forwards to subdue DHL Western Province in a 36-25 win, scoring six tries in the process.
The opening round in Johannesburg provided 17 tries in the two matches, but it was the driving mauls in both encounters that dominated proceedings.
The Free Staters scored three of their tries – including the match-winner – from a maul, while the Vodacom Blue Bulls also used their drives to great effect as they outplayed their Cape Town counterparts.
The Cell C Sharks, who had a bye today, take on the Xerox Lions in round two on Thursday, while in the early match-up, the Vodacom Blue Bulls will take on Toyota Free State, with DHL Western Province having a break. Both matches are scheduled to be live streamed by SuperSport on their DSTV Now platform (channel 245).
Match reports from Sunday’s matches below:
Vodacom Blue Bulls 36 (12), DHL Western Province 25 (6)
A blistering second half start and a powerful display by their pack of forwards eased the Vodacom Blue Bulls to a comfortable 36-25 win over DHL Western Province in the opening match of the 2020 SA Rugby Under-21 Championship at Emirates Airline Park on Sunday.
The Pretoria side held a slender 12-6 lead at the break in Johannesburg but scored three tries in quick succession early in the second half to take a 29-6 lead after 55 minutes, which all but sealed the deal for the defending champions.
The Capetonians came back gamely from that salvo, with three tries by their Blitzboks winger, Angelo Davids, some reward for their scratchy effort.
In the end, the Vodacom Blue Bulls outscored their opponents six tries to three, a fair reflection of the dominance they enjoyed. Flyhalf Ruben Beytell missed six kicks at goal that prevented a total blow out score.
The first half saw Beytell and WP’s Ruan Mostert both missing with opening penalties, before Mostert put his side ahead after 12 minutes.
Five minutes later, the men in blue scored a beautiful try as Stravino Jacobs (wing) was worked over in the corner, following a strong scrum, with Beytell converting from the touchline.
Mostert kicked a long range penalty goal after 22 minutes to cut the lead to one. Beytell missed a long range effort of his own, but the Bulls’ lead was extended after a powerful rolling maul by his pack saw Joe van Zyl (hooker) scoring. The conversion was wide, leaving the Pretoria side with a six point margin at the break.
Three tries in ten minutes at the beginning of the second half broke the Cape side’s back.
Diego Appolis (centre) got the first of those from a storming run by Jan-Hendrik Wessels (prop) before a mighty scrum from Wessels and company allowed Johan Mulder to score after darting around the blind side which caught the defence napping.
Not to be outdone by Wessels, Eduan Swart (tighthead prop) scored the third of the second half following a power run. He was put in possession 30m out and bulldozed his way over the line. Beytell converted for a 29-6 lead.
A rash of replacements by both coaches halted the rhythm of the match and as fatigue set in, mistakes increased.
The impact from the bench added some direction to the Cape side's attack and Davids finished off a sustained attack with a fine try in the left corner. One of those replacements, Kade Wolhuter, kicked a good conversion to close the gap.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls regrouped quickly. Another powerful scrum by their pack forced DHL WP on the backfoot and Jacobs got his second after good interplay with fullback Richard Kriel.
DHL WP realized their best chances were in their winger’s hands and Davids did not disappoint. He got his second after a good backline attack and his third after a good 40 meter run, with an inside swerve beating the cover defence.
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Stravino Jacobs (2), Diego Appolis, Joe van Zyl, Johan Mulder, Eduan Swart. Conversions: Ruben Beytell (2), Jay-Cee Nel.
DHL Western Province – Tries: Angelo Davids (3). Conversions: Kade Wolhuter (2). Penalties: Ruan Mostert (2).
Toyota Free State 31 (12), Xerox Golden Lions 30 (17)
In the end, the Toyota Free State’s fifth and most important try, scored by Gideon van Wyk (No 8), proved their greater endeavor on attack, with the Xerox Lions only scoring three tries.
Much of the Xerox Lions’ scoreboard pressure was created by Marc Morrison (flyhalf), who kicked three conversions and three penalties to keep his side in the lead for most of the match.
Van Wyk opened the scoring from a strong rolling maul after only six minutes and the conversion by Charles Williams eased the Free State into a 7-0 lead.
Former Free State age-group player, James Mollentze, waltzed his way past his former teammates for a fine individual effort and the midfielder's effort was converted by Morisson to draw scores level after ten minutes.
Morrison missed a penalty ten minutes later as the Bloemfonteiners were ruled offside, but nailed his next just before the water break.
The Free Staters came back strongly with another driving maul from an attacking line-out and Janus Venter (hooker) dotted down for a 12-10 lead after 30 minutes of play.
That was soon overturned when the home side got some numbers out wide following a strong run by Prince Nkabinde (wing), with Mark Snyman (flank) dotting down. Morrison converted to extend the lead to 17-12.
The Free State lineout misfired twice in good attacking positions and the Xerox Lions enjoyed the five point lead at the break.
Morrison kicked two penalties early in the half to extend the lead to ten points and when Cheetahs lock, Ruben Cronje, was ruled for a double movement as he went for a try, the momentum moved towards the home side.
The Bloem side changed their approach slightly, starting to use their forwards again to drive towards the Xerox Lions’ line. They created some good pressure, but credit to the Jozi team, who defended very well and with good discipline.
The continued attacks from Free State were chipping away at the home side's composure though and after a ruck penalty, they forced an attacking line-out. Cornel Korff (scrumhalf) sniped through the slightest of gaps for the Bloem side and Williams kicked the conversion to cut the lead to four points with 20 minutes to play.
The second water break provided some respite for the home side and whatever was said by the coaching staff was taken to heart. And action, as the Xerox Lions executed a perfect driving maul from close range, with Ebot Buma (prop) crashing over for his side's third try. Morrison nailed the conversion to extend the lead to 11 points again.
Toyota Free State kept chipping away at that lead, using their pack to good effect. From one such a drive, the ball was sent wide and Shayne Bolton (fullback) managed to score in the corner, leaving his side with a converted try away from victory. That is exactly what they salvaged for a deserved win.
The final lineout maul saw Van Wyk being driven over and with the final act of the match, Franco Smith slotted the winning conversion.
Toyota Free State – Tries: Gideon van Wyk (2), Janus Venter, Cornel Korff, Shayne Bolton. Conversions: Charles Williams (2), Franco Smith.
Xerox Lions – Tries: James Mollentze, Mark Snyman, Ebot Buma. Conversions: Marc Morrison (3). Penalties: Morrison (3).
Second round fixtures for Thursday (8 October):
Vodacom Blue Bulls v Toyota Free State
Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron
Xerox Lions v Cell C Sharks
Referee: Morne Ferreira
Bye: DHL Western Province
Issued by SA Rugby Communication
Springbok Green turned on Test-style rugby to come away with a 25-9 victory and bragging rights over Springbok Gold in the Castle Lager Springbok Showdown as South African rugby took another step back to full competitive play with a second, post lockdown run out.
Greens’ forward power and kicking game was a deliberate plan, said their coach Mzwandile Stick: “We wanted to make it as close as possible to a test match.
“We wanted to put pressure in the air and we didn’t want to give them time and space with ball in hand. We wanted to use our set piece and kicking game – that’s what the Springbok game is all about,” added Stick.
The tactics led to three tries for the Green team – by Siya Kolisi, Juarno Augustus and a penalty try – although the primary objective was simply to get back onto the field in a Springbok environment.
“The reason for the game was to showcase the talent and also to build experience and share information between the senior players and the youngsters,” said Deon Davids, coach of Springbok Gold.
“The young players have been exposed to the Springbok environment and it was a wonderful week in our team – and it was from what I hear from team Green as well – with the senior players sharing their experience and offering guidance.
“It was also a fantastic opportunity to look at the players’ ability in training and see where they are in terms of preparation and what is needed. It is very early in the ‘season’ – this was only the second game – and we’ll get more answers from hereon in.
“We hope the players have learned some valuable lessons and will take those back in order to become better players.”
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi also highlighted the value of the interaction with the large number of uncapped players among the 50-strong line-up – and additional ‘young guns’ who had spent the week with the teams.
“It was really special for all of us and for me personally to see the young guys,” said Kolisi.
“I wanted to make sure the guys felt welcome and spent some time sitting down with them. It was special to see them perform tonight.
“We are in a good place as South African rugby with our talent, but we are a long way off in terms of fitness and match readiness from where we were at the World Cup.”
Stick said that the players and management were now preparing if the team’s participation is confirmed for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship in Australia.
“It’s not in our hands,” he said.
“Our job is to make sure that we prepare the players. Since the start of the year and during lockdown there was a lot of information shared between us and the players.
“We are doing everything in our power to make sure the players are ready, but because they haven’t played for six months it’s also very important to manage the players.
“We don’t want to put them under pressure and play them for 80 minutes week-in-week-out; even now you can see players getting small, little injuries. So, the most important thing right now is player welfare and how we look after them.
“If our executive and director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus, decide we have to go then we will do everything in our power to make sure we’re ready to go.”
The domestic season will now resume on Friday with the first round of Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked.
Issued by SA Rugby Communications
Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok captain Siya Kolisi will resume his leadership duties in the national team colours on Saturday for the first time since lifting the Webb Ellis Cup after being named alongside Springbok team-mate Lukhanyo Am as the captains of the Green and Gold teams for the Castle Lager Springbok Showdown.
The Green team is coached by Mzwandile Stick, with SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus serving as the team commissioner, while Deon Davids is the Gold team coach and Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber the team commissioner.
The experienced Springbok duo will lead two teams featuring the best of the best in South Africa; Rugby World Cup winners, seasoned internationals and rising stars determined to showcase their skills with an eye on making a step up to national level.
Stick was forced to make three changes to his match-day squad for the clash after Oupa Mohoje (utility forward) tested positive for COVID-19, although he is asymptomatic, and as a precautionary measure Trevor Nyakane (prop) was withdrawn from the squad after being in close contact with his former Toyota Cheetahs team-mate.
Furthermore, former Junior Springbok utility back Mnombo Zwelendaba was ruled out due to a hip injury.
As a result, three young guns have been called into the Springbok Gold team – Kwenzo Blose (prop), Kade Wolhuter (flyhalf) and JJ van der Mescht (lock). All three players have been named on the bench.
Stick was excited about his team, despite the enforced changes: “We have a good balance in our team if you look at the mix between the youngsters and senior players,” he said.
“We have the likes of Siya Kolisi, Duane (Vermeulen), Elton (Jantjies) and Frans (Steyn) that were with us at the Rugby World Cup in Japan, while we worked with some of the youngsters at a junior level, and it is great to give them a taste of a Test week.”
Davids was equally pleased with his team’s preparations: “The week has gone very well so far, with good enthusiasm at training and a great eagerness to learn and to absorb what is happening in this special environment,” he said.
“We will see a fascinating battle between two interesting and exciting team combinations, each one consisting of experienced RWC winning Springboks, established franchise players, some Blitzboks and some really good youngsters coming through the ranks.”
Stick, who admitted it was great to see the domestic players back in action after the country was forced into lockdown six months ago, expected an entertaining clash and said they were excited to see what the players would dish up on Saturday.
“We would like to give the players the freedom to express themselves, and to showcase their talent and bring that X-factor,” said Stick.
“If you look at the likes of Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe, they use their chances one-on-one, and we would like to give these young players the opportunity to do that. With the experienced players around them, I think it will be a good match.
“The game might open up in the later stages, but we are going to respect this match. The Gold team also has quality players, so we will try to play a well-balanced game, and if it opens up, we will look to take our opportunities.”
Davids said with the DHL Stormers relocating to the Cape Town Stadium next year, it would be a special occasion for the Cape-based players in both squads.
“We have a number of DHL Stormers players in our ranks for whom this match will be a very special occasion, playing on the beautiful field of the famous DHL Newlands stadium,” said Davids.
Am, meanwhile, kicked off the banter between the teams in the build-up to the match saying: “I’m not letting any secrets out the bag, but we have surprises in store for the Green squad.”
15 – Gianni Lombard
14 – Yaw Penxe
13 – Wandisile Simelane
12 – Frans Steyn
11 – Malcolm Jaer
10 – Elton Jantjies
9 – Sanele Nohamba
8 – Duane Vermeulen
7 – Arno Botha
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain)
5 – Hyron Andrews
4 – JD Schickerling
3 – Luan de Bruin
2 – Bongi Mbonambi
1 – Ox Nche
16 – Schalk Erasmus
17 – Kwenzo Blose
18 – Thomas du Toit
19 – JJ van der Mescht
20 – Juarno Augustus
21 – Junior Pokomela
22 – Embrose Papier
23 – Manie Libbok
24 – Jeremy Ward
25 – Kade Wolhuter
15 – Warrick Gelant
14 – Rosko Specman
13 – Lukhanyo Am (captain)
12 – Rikus Pretorius
11 – Courtnall Skosan
10 – Damian Willemse
9 – Herschel Jantjies
8 – Sikhumbuzo Notshe
7 – Nizaam Carr
6 – Marco van Staden
5 – Marvin Orie
4 – Salmaan Moerat
3 – Ruan Dreyer
2 – Scarra Ntubeni
1 – Steven Kitshoff
16 – Dylan Richardson
17 – Dylan Smith
18 – Carlü Sadie
19 – Jason Jenkins
20 – James Venter
21 – Vincent Tshituka
22 – Ivan van Zyl
23 – Curwin Bosch
24 – Werner Kok
25 – Manuel Rass
Issued by SA Rugby Communications
A Special General Meeting of the South African Rugby Union (SARU) voted on Tuesday to explore entering four teams into an expanded PRO Rugby competition as well as retaining a place in a revised SANZAAR competition.
The four teams voted to potentially make the transition were the existing Vodacom Super Rugby franchises – the Vodacom Bulls, the Emirates Lions, the Cell C Sharks and the DHL Stormers.
The decision was taken by the 13 voting member unions of SARU at a specially convened meeting to determine international participation and competition formats in a COVID-impacted rugby environment. The Border Rugby Union – which is under administration – currently has its voting powers suspended.
The new direction was determined by the SARU General Meeting as it is the highest authority in rugby. Among other things, it has responsibility for the “approval or the amendment and rescission of any decision regarding the format, structure, competition rules and composition of SARU’s major senior domestic competition currently known as the Currie Cup or its successor as well as determining the SA teams to participate in Super Rugby competitions by special resolution.”
The meeting rejected the first option of remaining in a PRO14 format and leaving four franchises to engage in potential successor SANZAAR domestic formats.
SA Rugby would now accelerate preliminary conversations with PRO Rugby Championship DAC on SA Rugby’s representation in the competition. PRO Rugby Championship DAC is the owner of PRO14 and is a joint venture between the rugby unions of Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy.
The General Meeting also opted to continue conversations with SANZAAR about entering a team into a modified “Super Series” format, on the proviso that a commercial model was developed to make their entry cost neutral at least, once agreement had been reached with SANZAAR. The meeting agreed that the Toyota Cheetahs would be proposed as the South African entry to such a competition.
Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby, said the meeting and options had been presented as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the unilateral decision by the New Zealand Rugby Union to proceed with a domestic or trans-Tasman competition.
Roux said New Zealand’s decision made it impossible to deliver the 14-team Vodacom Super Rugby competition that had been agreed by the partners and for which five-year broadcasting agreements had been signed.
“Our members are excited about the prospect of closer alignment with PRO Rugby Championship and seeking a northern hemisphere future, but we would not have been taking this decision but for actions elsewhere,” said Roux.
In a second decision the meeting determined the domestic and Currie Cup formats for 2021.
It will feature two competitions:
Mr Mark Alexander, SA Rugby president, thanked the membership for its deliberations and the outcomes.
“These are extraordinary times, if this had been an ordinary year, we would not have had this meeting,” he said.
“But we needed to take radical steps to avoid financial meltdown because of the COVID-19 crisis.”
Roux said that SA Rugby remained committed to the SANZAAR partnership and participation in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship.
“We will advise our SANZAAR partners of the General Meeting’s decision,” Roux said.
“We remain part of the joint venture and will pursue the ‘Super Series’ discussions in good faith.”
Issued by SA Rugby Communications
Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks Duane Vermeulen, Elton Jantjies, Steven Kitshoff and Herschel Jantjies expressed their excitement for the Castle Lager Springbok showdown, saying they were looking forward to a thrilling clash.
They were also keen to see what the young players in their respective Springbok Green and Gold squads had to offer as they take a step up in their careers on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Springbok Green team welcomed injured Rugby World Cup-winning lock Lood de Jager on Tuesday as their lineout coach, while the Gold team had a new edition in Springbok scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl, who replaces Jaden Hendrikse following his withdrawal due to a chest injury.
De Jager suffered a shoulder injury earlier this month while representing his English club, the Sale Sharks, and will assist Springbok Green team coach Mzwandile Stick and assistant coach Daan Human before going under the knife next week.
Van Zyl, who earned three Test caps in 2018 and was named in the original draft squad of 93, will want to make a statement to the Springbok coaching staff.
“There are several new faces in the teams and there is a lot of information coming through and detail they need to learn, but they are all willing to learn and work hard,” said Kitshoff.
“There are some really talented and energetic youngsters who are part of the group at the moment and it is great to see them getting an opportunity, and hopefully they will display some good skill and showcase their talent this weekend.”
On a personal note, Kitshoff was thrilled to be back in the Springbok set-up, albeit for a friendly match, and said: “The feeling you get from playing for the Springboks is definitely still there. We give as much as we can and make the necessary sacrifices to play for the team, and that is something I think of every day.
“To be back at the DHL Stormers and now here after the COVID-19 pandemic brought things to a halt is great, and I am really looking forward to the weekend.”
Vermeulen said the clash would not only serve as an opportunity for the young players to show what they can do at this level, but would also be beneficial for all the players in building their match fitness as they look forward to Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked, which kicks off on Friday, 9 October.
“The most important thing for us as players is to work on our match fitness, especially going into our local competition,” said Vermeulen.
“And for the youngsters I think it will be the opportunity to go out and display their skills on a bigger stage with an eye on perhaps getting the nod when we play in the future as a Springbok squad.
“There are guys like Arno Botha who have been in the fold before and have come back in and now have another opportunity, and I think it would be nice for the coaches to see what they have and if they still have that burning desire to play for the Boks.”
Experienced flyhalf, Elton Jantjies, echoed these sentiments and said: “It is always special. Wearing the green and gold comes with a lot of responsibility and it is great to be back after such a difficult time.
“There was speculation at a point that we may not be able to play rugby, but it is another opportunity to get going, which is always exciting.”
Nippy Springbok scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies, who is back in action after recovering from a fractured leg, expected an entertaining spectacle at DHL Newlands.
“We have a guidelines that we will follow, but this is rugby, so one can never predict what is going to happen and things rarely pan out the way one plans, so we will see what happens on the weekend. I think it is going to be an interesting spectacle,” said Herschel Jantjies.
Issued by SA Rugby Communications
Springbok wing Courtnall Skosan and former Junior Springboks, Carlü Sadie and Mnombo Zwelendaba, were named as injury replacements for the Springbok Gold and Green squads for the Castle Lager Springbok Showdown at DHL Newlands.
Skosan, who earned the last of his 12 Test caps against Italy in 2017, and Sadie (prop), who represented the Junior Springboks in the 2016 World Rugby U20 Championship, were called up to the Springbok Gold squad on Monday following the withdrawal of Sergeal Petersen (foot) and Rugby World Cup-winning prop Frans Malherbe (toe) due to injury.
Zwelendaba (utility back), one of the eight Young Guns in the Springbok Green Team, was a member of the Junior Springbok squad that won the bronze medal at the 2019 World Rugby U20 Championship in Argentina. He was drafted into the main squad after Seabelo Senatla was forced to withdraw due to a hamstring injury.
Blitzboks and Vodacom Bulls speedster Kurt-Lee Arendse was initially called up as a replacement for Senatla, but a decision was made to draft in Zwelendaba after he was unable to make his flight from Gauteng to Cape Town on Monday.
SA Rugby Director of Rugby and Springbok Green team commissioner, Rassie Erasmus, explained that the key this week is to expose the young players to the Springbok culture.
“We agreed as coaches that we are going to share a lot with the players in terms of the Springbok environment,” said Erasmus.
“We want to show them how we do things, how our analysis systems work – both in terms of our game and the opposition – and setting a goal of the day, which we recap at the end of the day.
“We are also exposing them to the systems we use off the field, such as how players do their own analysis and plan the week in terms of time management, so there are several factors within the Springbok environment that we want the players to get used to.”
Zoning in on Saturday’s encounter, Erasmus said the teams’ style of play would differ to the Springboks’ usual style.
“Our message to the players this week is that they should use this opportunity to understand the way we work,” said Erasmus.
“What they don’t remember by Friday night they should forget, and they need to showcase their individual skills because that is what we would like to see. There won’t be a specific game plan, so it won’t be a Springbok blueprint imprinted in the players’ minds.”
Springbok head coach and Gold team commissioner, Jacques Nienaber, admitted that the injuries were unfortunate, but he was excited to see what Skosan, Sadie and Zwelendaba would bring to the match.
“We really wanted to see all three players in action, but due to injuries we won’t have that opportunity,” said Nienaber.
“That said, Courtnall is a Springbok so he knows what to expect at this level, while Carlü and Mnombo have come through the Junior Springbok structures and have great potential, so we are excited to see them in action.”
The Springbok Gold and Green coaches, Deon Davids and Mzwandile Stick, will announce their match-day squads on Wednesday.
Issued by SA Rugby Communications