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With the Springbok Sevens team for the Emirates Dubai Sevens, the opening leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, to be named next Friday, the most experienced player in the team, Chris Dry, admits that competition within the squad is huge.

The Blitzboks are looking for a repeat of their 2016/17 success in the World Series, when they claimed the overall title, and will return to Dubai as the defending champions. The tournament has proved a happy hunting ground for South Africa in recent years and Dry indicated that all players are pushing hard to make the final team.

Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell has all but the injured Dylan Sage available from his regular squad, including the likes of Kwagga Smith and Seabelo Senatla, who only played in the first four tournaments of the last series.

The Blitzboks have also been boosted by the arrival of Sikhumbuzo Notshe, a regular starter for the DHL Stormers in Vodacom Super Rugby, who like Dry, is also a forward.

“It has been a great couple of weeks in camp and the guys have really being putting in the hard work,” said Dry after the team closed out their second last week of preparation before departing for Dubai next Sunday. Continue reading

Springbok captain Eben Etzebeth said he and his team-mates are focussed on delivering a good performance on Saturday evening against France, when the two teams meet at the Stade de France in Paris.

“We have a job to do on Saturday and our focus is on the game,” said Etzebeth.

“I am sure back home everyone is disappointed with the outcome of the (2023) Rugby World Cup bid, but that will not have any influence on us.”

Etzebeth mentioned that following the loss to Ireland in Dublin last Saturday, the team sat down at the beginning of the week and had an honest and tough discussion.

“So far, the week has gone very well for us, our preparations have been good and we are ready for a tough match against France. We know we have to improve in all areas,” said Etzebeth, who added that the return of No 8 Duane Vermeulen has boosted the experience in the squad.

“Apart from his experience, he is also an exceptionally good option at the back of the lineout. We all know Duane is a world-class No 8, a good ball carrier and a good tackler.

“Duane also captained Toulon so he has great leadership qualities, which will be of help to me on the field and it’s just awesome to have him back.”

Saturday will also be the farewell Test for Springbok assistant coach Johann van Graan, who joins Munster next week following a stint of six years with the Springboks.

“Coach Johann is an incredibly hard worker, very knowledgeable and he has great people skills,” said Etzebeth.

“I personally enjoyed his company and the opportunity to work with him. He has all the qualities of a very good coach and we want to wish him and his family all of the best in his new adventure at Munster.”

Only two years after the launch of the Limpopo Women’s Youth Training Centre (YTC), the programme is making solid strides in achieving its growth and development objectives while simultaneously breaking social barriers.

The Limpopo centre is one of eight SA Rugby YTC’s located throughout the country with the purpose of bolstering the women’s game by developing a bigger pool of players and grooming them for top-class rugby.

Through the programme players from the ages of 14 to 18 years participate in regular training sessions and matches and have access to conditioning and healthy eating programmers. The other seven centers are based at the Blue Bulls, Border, Eastern Province, KwaZulu-Natal, Griquas, SWD and Western Province rugby unions.

The Limpopo programme kicked off in 2015 with 250 participants across three districts – Capricorn District, Mopani and Vhembe – and has grown to include 620 girls from all five districts – including Sekhukhune and Waterberg – and the centre is determined to achieve further growth in the next few years as it strives to create a Women’s rugby hub in the community.

Training sessions are hosted three times a week in each of the Limpopo Districts, while the players are also educated on the importance of balancing their training with a good nutritional programme to achieve maximum results. Continue reading

Pic: sport24.co.za

Pic: sport24.co.za

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee has made 10 changes to the match-23 for Saturday’s second Test in the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour against France in Paris, which include starts for experienced No 8 Duane Vermeulen and flyhalf Handré Pollard.

Coetzee also handed a first Test start to prop Wilco Louw, while Francois Venter has been selected at inside centre. The Springbok coach also made several positional changes to the match day squad that lost to Ireland in Dublin last weekend.

Upfront, Louw is set to make his starting debut in place of Coenie Oosthuizen, who suffered a serious knee injury in Dublin. And with Pieter-Steph du Toit ruled out with concussion, Vermeulen starts at No 8 in a revamped loose trio combination which sees Francois Louw moving to flank where he will join Siya Kolisi on the side of the scrum.

In the backline, Pollard is in line to make his first start for South Africa since the 2015 Rugby World Cup bronze medal playoff match against Argentina in London, in place of Elton Jantjies. Venter, who made his Test debut in 2016, comes in at No 12 for Damian de Allende.

Jantjies and De Allende are included amongst the replacements, where they will be joined by prop forward Trevor Nyakane and uncapped loose forward Dan du Preez.

Coetzee said Vermeulen brings a lot of experience to the team: “Duane is very experienced and fits in well with our plan for Saturday. He is a great lineout and ball-carrying option to fill the void left by Pieter-Steph, while his leadership and experience will offer great support to Eben Etzebeth.

“His presence and knowledge of the French is also a huge benefit for us. Duane has made good contributions since joining us at the beginning of the week, and I am looking forward to his combination with Siya and Francois,” said Coetzee. Continue reading

20 Youth Celebrated at the Laureus Youth Empowerment Through Sport Graduation

The 2017 Laureus Youth Empowerment Through Sport (YES) programme concluded with a special 2-day graduation celebration in East London on 9 and 10 November.

Laureus Ambassadors Natalie du Toit and Zanele Mdodana along with Laureus South Africa Chairman Morné du Plessis and SA sprint sensation and Mercedes-Benz ambassador Akani Simbine attended the ceremony to join in the celebrations and personally congratulate the twenty graduates who have successfully completed this year’s programme.

The Laureus YES programme is aimed at developing youth leaders from a range of sport for social change organisations across South Africa. Launched in 2012, the programme focuses on equipping youth with the technical, vocational, entrepreneurship and life skills needed to develop sustainable livelihoods. The programme targets school leavers, ages 18 to 25, with particular attention given to young people who are passionate about sport and the upliftment of local communities

The 2-day program kicked off on Thursday and saw YES leaders from various Laureus-funded projects leading a number of sport focused activities. Activities included: surf therapy lessons led by Waves for Change and Indigo Youth Movement YES leaders;
Soccer activities led by YES leaders from the Diepsloot Mountain Bike Academy and Grassroots Soccer and rugby activities led by YES leaders from Egoli Squash, Nemato, Great Commission United and Peace Players International. Continue reading

The DHL Stormers will break new ground when they face the Vodacom Bulls in a pre-season encounter in Los Angeles on February 3, 2018.

The match will be played as a curtain-raiser for the clash between the USA Eagles and an Argentina XV at Stub Hub Center, which forms part of the Americas Rugby Championship.

The pre-season match will see Vodacom Super Rugby make its United States debut, as the two South African teams take their rivalry to a new continent.

Western Province Rugby Group CEO, Paul Zacks commented: “This is a great opportunity to share the success of the DHL Stormers team and brand with a new and growing market. The world is continuously becoming a smaller place, so exploring new and growing areas of the game forms part of our vision, as we strive to become a truly high-performance organization with global appeal.”

President of the Western Province Rugby Football Union, Mr Thelo Wakefield, said that he is looking forward to showcasing the brand and team and winning the hearts of rugby supporters in the USA, whilst helping grow the game.

“The DHL Stormers are one of the best supported franchises in Rugby Union and we are very excited to be able to showcase our brand, team, athletes and style of play, to the growing number of Faithful in the United States,” he said. Continue reading

Springbok assistant coach Franco Smith has lauded the immediate impact of Duane Vermeulen, who has joined the squad in Paris as a replacement for the injured Coenie Oosthuizen.

The experienced No 8 joined the Springboks on Monday from French club side Toulon, and he had his first training session with the squad on Tuesday at the training grounds of Stade Francais.

On Tuesday afternoon, Smith told the media that Vermeulen made an immediate impact on the squad.

“I think Duane’s experience is of enormous value to us,” said Smith.

“We believe the right process was followed with him, to allow him to get some game time for his club following an extended period out due to injury.

“Duane has a wealth of knowledge of the French game and it is good to have his calmness and considerable experience in our environment. We lacked a bit of experience and it’s great to welcome him at this stage of the tour. Continue reading

Experienced No 8 Duane Vermeulen has been called up to the Springbok squad as replacement for Coenie Oosthuizen who sustained a serious knee injury on Saturday in Dublin.

Oosthuizen underwent a scan before flying home from Dublin, and the results showed that he has sustained medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligament damage which will require surgery and an extended period of time of out of the game.

Vermeulen, who plays for French club Toulon, is set to join the Springbok squad on Monday at their base in Paris.

Meanwhile, it was confirmed that loose forward Pieter-Steph du Toit will miss Saturday’s Test against the French because of concussion he suffered against Ireland. He left the field in the closing minutes of play after receiving a blow to his head.

The Springboks started their preparations with a gym and field training session on Monday. The team to play against France at the Stade France will be confirmed on Thursday.

Pic: timeslive.co.za

Pic: timeslive.co.za

Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen will return home from Dublin after he suffered a knee injury against Ireland on Saturday evening in the Aviva Stadium.

Oosthuizen left the field in the opening stages of the match and was replaced by Wilco Louw, who played in only his second international for the Springboks. Oosthuizen will first undergo a scan in Dublin before flying home to Durban.

A decision on a replacement will be made shortly.

Loose forward Pieter-Steph du Toit sustained concussion in the closing minutes of the match and he will be managed accordingly in the coming week.

Meanwhile, Springbok coach Allister Coetzee said his team has to rectify matters in their next tour match against France following their disappointing 38-3 loss in Dublin against Ireland on Saturday night.

Coetzee said his side was outsmarted by Ireland, who was tactically better than the tourists. The match in Dublin was the team’s first of four matches on their month-long Castle Lager Outgoing tour, which also includes matches against France, Italy and Wales in the next couple of weeks. Continue reading

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