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DHL Western Province will begin their SuperSport Rugby Challenge campaign on Sunday at Wolfson Stadium in Port Elizabeth, where they will face the EP Kings.

Hooker Chad Solomon will captain a team which includes eight players with Vodacom Super Rugby experience in the matchday squad.

There will also be some exciting new talent exposed at Wolfson Stadium, with props Niel Oelofse, Michael Kumburai and Caylib Oosthuizen, hooker Dean Muir, flanks Johan du Toit and Jaco Coetzee, centre Harlon Klaasen and wings Valentino Wellman and Michal Haznar all set to make their competitive debut for DHL Western Province.

Oosthuizen and Kumburai start either side of captain Solomon in the front row, with Muir, Oelofse and the experienced Ashley Wells providing cover on the replacements bench.

In the second row Eduard Zandberg will partner Jurie van Vuuren, whilst Du Toit will link up with Luke Stringer and Kobus van Dyk in the loose trio with Coetzee on the replacements bench.

In the backline Godlen Masimla and Brandon Thomson form the halfback pairing, with Justin Phillips set to provide impact in the second half. Continue reading

Land Rover South Africa has renewed its sponsorship of Western Province Rugby, which represents the DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province teams. By continuing its support of the team until 2019, the British brand reaffirms its global commitment to grassroots and professional rugby.

Land Rover’s association with the DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province kicked off in 2014, for that year’s Vodacom Super Rugby and Currie Cup tournaments. In 2015, six DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province players went on to feature in the South African national squad at Rugby World Cup 2015, where Land Rover is a worldwide partner.

“Around the world, Land Rover is involved in rugby on every level – from amateur clubs and schools, all the way to the pinnacle of the sport, the Rugby World Cup,” said Lisa Mallett, Marketing Director of Jaguar Land Rover South Africa and sub-Sahara Africa. “And through our association with Western Province Rugby and the Land Rover Rugby Ambassadors we’re building an excellent platform to support and develop rugby in South Africa.” Continue reading

 

Pic: Eben Etzebeth on Twitter

Pic: Eben Etzebeth on Twitter

The match in Christchurch, where the DHL Stormers have never won, is the first of three tour matches in New Zealand for Robbie Fleck’s team and Saturday’s big match starts at 09h25 (SA time).

The Southern Kings conclude their three game tour of Australia on Friday morning against the Waratahs in Sydney. Later on Friday evening the Emirates Lions host the Jaguares in Johannesburg, where the action gets underway at 19h00.

The remaining three South African teams are all in action on Saturday evening. Loftus Versfeld hosts the derby between Vodacom Bulls and the Toyota Cheetahs (17h15), while the Cell C Sharks and the Melbourne Rebels will conclude the day’s schedule in Durban (19h30).

In another change to the DHL Stormers team, Pieter-Steph du Toit will switch from lock to blindside flank, where the Springbok fills the place of Kolisi, who is getting a break. Chris van Zyl comes in to partner Etzebeth while Cobus Wiese provides loose forward cover. A rotational switch at tighthead prop sees Wilco Louw back in the starting line-up in place of Frans Malherbe (bench). Continue reading

Provincial rugby action will burst into life this weekend with six fixtures in the new SuperSport Rugby Challenge being played across the country. The recently launched competition will see all 14 provinces and a team from Namibia battle it out in three regional pools, with the top eight sides continuing to contest for the trophy in a number of knock-out matches later in the tournament.

The exiting new innovation to the rugby calendar will also see the first of five Rugby Festivals being played in Port Elizabeth’s Wolfson Stadium on Sunday, 23 April. This will include a local club match, which will be televised live, followed by two provincial matches in a day full of rugby action.

In Port Elizabeth, club sides African Bombers and PE Harlequins will contest for bragging rights and valuable league points in the Eastern Province Grand Challenge competition, with the winner playing in the Gold Cup later this year.

The provincial action opens up with a couple of mouth-watering clashes on Saturday. Continue reading

Eben Etzebeth will captain the DHL Stormers in their Vodacom Super Rugby clash with the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.

With regular captain Siya Kolisi not available for selection due to the Springbok management plan, Etzebeth will lead the side for the second time this season having stood in for Kolisi in the victory against the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth as well.

Pieter-Steph du Toit moves from lock to blindside flank to take Kolisi’s place on the side of the scrum, with Chris van Zyl coming in to partner Etzebeth in the second row and Cobus Wiese back from injury to provide loose forward cover on the replacements bench.

The only other change in the forward pack is a rotational switch at tighthead prop with Wilco Louw back in the starting line-up and Frans Malherbe on the replacements bench.

In the backline Dillyn Leyds moves from wing to fullback in place of the injured SP Marais with Bjorn Basson lining up on the left wing. Dewaldt Duvenage is back at scrumhalf after being rested last week with Jano Vermaak moving to the replacements bench.

DHL Stormers Head Coach Robbie Fleck said that following a productive week on tour, his team is ready to embrace the challenge that the Crusaders will pose. Continue reading

The Junior Springboks resumed their preparations for the World Rugby U20 Championship after a well-deserved break, with the training squad gathering in Stellenbosch for their third training camp on Tuesday. The camp will run until 18 May.

Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux said this camp would be vital in terms of fine-tuning their structures and getting the players ready mentally and physically for the international spectacle.

The Junior Springboks switched back into training mode on Tuesday with a gym session and will return to full training on Wednesday with an eye on preparing for their warm-up match against the Varsity Cup Dream Team at the Danie Craven Stadium at 19h00 on Monday, 25 April.

“The time off was good for the players because it allowed them to switch off and return to camp fresh and ready to work hard,” said Roux. Continue reading

FNB UP-Tuks showed immense character to hold off the juggernaut that is FNB Maties to win the tenth instalment of the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International competition with the scoreboard glowing 28-21 (halftime 13-15) after 80 minutes in an exhilarating final at the Tuks Rugby Stadium on Monday, 17 April 2017.

FNB UP-Tuks became only the second university (after FNB Maties) to win the coveted trophy on three occasions and the men from Pretoria did so on a perfect autumn evening in the capital.
It was the visitors who started with a bang as lock Janco Venter crashed over for a seven-point try after a few solid phases of play from the Maroon Machine. Flyhalf Chris Smith added the extras to give the Stellenbosch University a 0-9 lead.

FNB UP-Tuks cut into that lead three minutes later when Captain Fantastic and flank Chris Massyn barged over to claim a try of his own. Flyhalf Tinus de Beer converted to make it a two-point ball game within 10 minutes of the match.

FNB Maties’ sharpshooters Smith and Tiaan Swanepoel (fullback) were on hand to punish the home team for their ill-discipline as they slotted two penalties while De Beer nailed a penalty of his own to bring the curtain down on a gripping first half.

FNB Maties kept the scoreboard ticking early in the second half when Smith sliced the uprights within a minutes of play to extend the Stellenbosch students lead to 13-18. Continue reading

 

The Emirates Lions won their big SA derby 29-16 against the DHL Stormers in Cape Town to end the Cape side’s unbeaten run, while the Vodacom Bulls returned to winning ways thanks to their hard-fought 26-13 win over the Jaguares in Pretoria in their Saturday evening clash.

In other round eight matches involving South African sides, the Southern Kings fought bravely in their 47-34 defeat to the Queensland Reds in Brisbane, while the Toyota Cheetahs succumbed 41-27 to the Chiefs in Bloemfontein despite an early lead of 24-0.

The big match of the day saw the determined Emirates Lions outscoring the DHL Stormers by four tries to one to earn a vital bonus point win. It was the first loss for the Cape side following six straight wins since the start of the 2017 campaign, and also the first time the Joburg side had managed to defeat their rivals on the famous DHL Newlands ground (although the combined Cats side managed a couple of wins previously). Their last visit to the Mother City, in 2015, ended in a pulsating 19-19 draw.

The Highvelders dominated the first half and scored three tries to one for a deserved 22-13 halftime advantage. The visitors shrugged off the early loss of influential young centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg, who left the field during the opening stages with a knee injury, while flanker Jaco Kriel was yellow carded and later cited for a late tackle. Continue reading

The Springbok Sevens team on Sunday missed out the HSBC Singapore Sevens title, but did enough to extend their overall HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series lead over nearest rivals, Fiji and England.

The Blitzboks finished 6th overall, but a number of surprising results saw them extend their lead overall with only tournaments in Paris and London left to play.

South Africa started the Singapore tournament 23 points ahead of Fiji in second place and now lead them by 25 points, courtesy of a crucial win over the Olympic champions in the 5th place semifinal. England, who finished third, moved closer to Fiji, but is still 27 points adrift of the Blitzboks.

“Yes, that win over Fiji was a vital one and one of the success stories of this tournament for us. By beating them in that crucial match, we could actually extend our lead over them, which is a massive bonus for us,” Powell explained.

“We could also blood a number of youngsters, giving them proper game time and there does not seem to be any real injury concerns. Those are all positives.”

Powell was not too happy with their Sunday performance though, which saw them lose to Australia 19-17 in the Cup quarterfinal, before beating Fiji 19-14 in the 5th place semifinal. They were edged by New Zealand for 5th spot though, losing 17-12.

Canada won their first ever title in the series by beating USA 26-19 in the final. Continue reading

 

The Springbok Sevens team’s search for a fifth HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series title will continue on Sunday when the Blitzboks take on Australia in the Cup quarterfinals of the HSBC Singapore Sevens.

The fixture in the Singapore National Stadium will see an eighth consecutive Cup quarterfinals appearance for Philip Snyman and his troops, but hard work awaits against the Australians if the Blitzboks want to progress into the final four of the competition.

“Yes indeed, the Australians are playing pretty well at the moment. We need to be at our best, trust our system and eliminate the silly mistakes we are making at times,” Snyman said after Day One of the tournament last won by South Africa in 2004.

“You need to be able to beat any team in the quarterfinal if you want to win the title, but that only takes you to the semis, where more hard work awaits,” Snyman said.

The captain was disappointed, but not in the dumps, after their final pool B match against England, which South Africa lost 17-12. England scored from the kick-off after South Africa fumbled the ball, but a try by Werner Kok late in the half helped the South Africans to a 7-5 lead at the break. Continue reading

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