Springbok Women’s coach Stanley Raubenheimer was delighted on Saturday as his charges booked their place in the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand with a 39-0 victory against Kenya in the deciding match of the qualifiers at the Bosman Stadium in Brakpan.
The win marked a clean sweep for the Springbok Women in the competition and wrapped up a full-house of points from their three matches following 89-5 and 73-0 victories against Uganda and Madagascar earlier in the tournament.
The Springbok Women ran Kenya ragged early on, which saw them earn their fourth try early in the second quarter and take a 24-0 lead at the break, and they built on this is in a competitive second stanza in which they added three more tries to their tally for the 39-0 win.
In the other match, Madagascar and Uganda played to 15-15 draw in a gripping encounter, in which both teams ran hard on attack and defended with intent.
South African rugby players – men and women, schoolboys and adults – were congratulated for Saturday’s national team hat-trick by Mr Mark Alexander, president of SA Rugby, on Sunday.
The Springboks overcame Argentina, 24-18; the Springbok Women defeated Kenya, 39-0; and the SA Schools team beat England U18, 33-26.
“Saturday was a very satisfactory day for South African rugby,” said Mr Alexander. “We had national teams in action in Pretoria, Brakpan and Wellington – all of them in important matches and all of them came through.
“I’d like to congratulate our men and women players and our schoolboys on their successes. It’s not often that we have three national teams playing on the same day and to have them all victorious is cause for some pride.
“In particular I’d like to congratulate the Springbok Women on their qualification for the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup.”
The Currie Cup Premier Division – sponsored by DirectAxis Financial Services – is going down to the wire yet again and with only one round of the league phase left before the playoffs, five teams will be scrambling to determine how the top four finish.
Tafel Lager Griquas secured their first appearance in the semi-finals since 1998 with a good 27-23 win over DHL Western Province in Kimberley on Friday evening.
George Whitehead was the general for the men from Kimberley, while the rest of his team delivered a well-organised and physical performance as DHL Western Province made a number of handling errors and struggled in the scrum. The full match report and scorers can be found here.
On Saturday, the Toyota Free State Cheetahs had to dig deep, but in the end they had too much fuel in the tank as they outlasted the Phakisa Pumas by 43-37 in a high-scoring match in Nelspruit.
The Springbok training squad of 36 players assembled in Bloemfontein on Sunday for a four-day Rugby World Cup camp in Bloemfontein as part of the Boks’ preparations for the global tournament which starts next month in Japan.
The group consists of players who were part of the Springboks’ recent successful Castle Lager Rugby Championship campaign and the Farewell Test against Argentina in Pretoria.
The camp is designed to refocus the group on the Rugby World Cup campaign. The announcement of the 31-man squad takes place on Monday, 26 August, at 15h00 in Johannesburg.
Apart from a few team building exercises, the Springbok coaches and conditioning staff will put the training squad through some field sessions and a series of technical activities as the Boks continue to refine their plan for Japan.
Four players who were part of the match-23 that played against Argentina in Pretoria on Saturday, were released back to their provinces for Currie Cup duty.
The four are the DHL Western Province trio of Wilco Louw (prop), Scarra Ntubeni (hooker) and Dillyn Leyds (wing), as well as Vodacom Blue Bulls looseforward Marco van Staden.
Ulster looseforward Marcell Coetzee, who went off early against the Pumas with a head knock and ankle injury, did not travel to Bloemfontein.
South Africa will enjoy their victory over Argentina and their triumph in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, but Springbok captain Duane Vermeulen said these moments are all stepping stones towards the big goal of the year, the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
The Boks smashed Argentina 46-13 in Salta on Saturday to clinch the Southern Hemisphere crown for the first time since 2009.
But Vermeulen was quick to emphasise that their work is far from done as the Boks continue to fine tune their game before the start of the RWC next month in Japan.
The Springboks delivered a clinical attacking performance and a powerful forward display to outsmart and outmuscle their South American hosts at the high altitude venue in Salta.
“I think for us the most important thing was to work on our consistency,” was the response from the Bok skipper immediately after the game.
“We started the Castle Lager Rugby Championship working on executing our plans, and in a way we are happy with our performance but there are still a few things to work on.
“It’s a great feeling for us to walk away with the title, but in the end it’s a stepping stone for us going into the World Cup.”
The opening day of the SA Rugby Under-18 International Series delivered some cracking rugby at Markotter Stadium in Stellenbosch on Friday, with the SA Schools, Argentina and France scoring hard-fought wins over Wales, England and SA Schools A respectively.
The SA Schools team delivered a 23-13 over the Welsh (match report here), while Argentina outplayed England 29-19 in their first appearance of the Series, now in its tenth year.
In the opening match of the series, the French team had too much attacking prowess for the SA Schools A side, winning 43-19 (match report here).
SA Schools A coach, Phiwe Nomlomo said their slow start cost them. “We did not start well at all,” he said. “We possibly took too long to get into the game and that cost us in the end.”
The coach remained positive that they can turn their fortunes around for their next match against Wales on Tuesday.
“Some things worked well for us. We looked good with ball in hand, our loose forwards were especially monstrous with ball in hand. We will try and get them into the game a bit more next time around.”
The Springboks have done their homework and are primed for a massive Argentinian onslaught when the two teams meet on Saturday in Salta the final match of the 2019 Castle Lager Rugby Championship, according to Springbok captain Duane Vermeulen.
The Springboks are fully aware of the huge challenge posed by a confident Argentina side in front of a passionate Salta crowd, following their 16-16 draw against the New Zealand two weeks ago.
The Springboks have a one-point advantage on the log table and a bonus-point win will take all the permutations out of the equation and land them the title for the first time since 2009.
“Winning the Rugby Championship will be extra motivation for all the work the guys have put in so far as a group,” said Vermeulen. “But we have to remember there are still other teams in the running to win it and if you make a mistake someone else will take it.”
The Springboks arrived in Salta on Thursday afternoon following three days of training in the capital city of Buenos Aires.
The experienced Tendai Mtawarira (loosehead prop), Bongi Mbonambi (hooker) and Trevor Nyakane (tighthead prop) will pack down in the Springbok front row when South Africa face Argentina in the third and final Castle Lager Rugby Championship encounter in Salta on Saturday.
The reshuffled front row are the only changes to the starting fifteen from the one that held holders New Zealand to a thrilling 16-16 draw in Wellington on 27 July. Duane Vermeulen will again lead the Springboks as captain for this decisive clash in the high altitude of Salta.
Mtawarira, the most experienced Springbok prop in history, and Nyakane replace Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe, while Mbonambi takes over the hooker duties from Malcolm Marx.
All three front rankers who started the Test at the Westpac Stadium in the New Zealand capital are due to make an impact off the bench against the Pumas on Saturday.
The “Beast”, who is set to make his 110th appearance in the Green and Gold jersey, will join Rugby World Cup winner Bryan Habana on 53 appearances in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship to equal the Springbok record for number of caps in the southern hemisphere competition.
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi will start at flank for DHL Western Province in the Currie Cup encounter with Phakisa Pumas at DHL Newlands on Women’s Day on Friday.
Kolisi will earn his 30th DHL Western Province cap in his first game since 2014, in a match that kicks off at 15h00 on Women’s Day.
As a result JD Schickerling moves to lock, with Salmaan Moerat set to make an impact in the second half and Ernst van Rhyn at blindside flank, while Wilco Louw is back in the starting line-up at tighthead prop.
In the backline Justin Phillips is at scrumhalf, with Sergeal Petersen making his first start of the season on the wing.
There is a potential Currie Cup debut for loose forward Nama Xaba from the bench, with prop Neethling Fouche getting his first opportunity of the campaign and flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis back among the replacements.
DHL Western Province Head Coach John Dobson said that after the bye, he is looking for plenty of energy from his team at DHL Newlands.
“There is no doubt that we have to show our supporters at DHL Newlands that we are really up for this game and play some rugby they can be proud of.
“We worked hard in the week off and now it is about going out there on Friday and showing what it means to us to play in this jersey in the Currie Cup,” he said.