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SANZAAR will suspend the 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby tournament for the foreseeable future, at the conclusion of this weekend’s matches it was announced this afternoon.

The decision was made during a SANZAAR Executive Committee (EXCO) teleconference in response to the announcement by the New Zealand Government that all travellers returning to the country would have to self-isolate for 14 days, including Vodacom Super Rugby players. Five New Zealand teams play in the 15-team Vodacom Super Rugby tournament.

The SANZAAR statement said the organisation completely understood the directive issued by the New Zealand government, given concerns globally over the COVID-19 virus and the primary aim to reduce exposure and spread of the virus.

SANZAR CEO Andy Marinos said: “The safety and welfare of the public, our players and other stakeholders is paramount and as previously stated we were always going to abide by government and health authority instructions on the issue of COVID-19 containment.

“We are extremely disappointed for the players, our fans,broadcasters and partners butgiven the complexity of our competition structure, and the multiple geographies that we cover, we have no other option but to align with such directives. We also believe it is time for all those players currently overseas to return home and to be with their families.

“Our priority is, therefore, to ensure our players are within their homes territories from the end of this weekend.

“SANZAAR will also remain engaged with its stakeholders and will continue to explore avenues to see if we can keep the rugby product alive within our core markets, with the possibility to be in a position to resume the tournament, if at all possible, in future weeks. We have currently played seven rounds out of the 18 in the normal regular season”.

The players and managements of the Vodacom Bulls (who are currently in Australia) and Emirates Lions (New Zealand) will return to South Africa.

SANZAAR said it would issue further information on Vodacom Super Rugby 2020 tournament and any potential rescheduled fixtures in the days ahead.  

Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

Over 1000 kids attended the Western Province KFC Mini-Cricket Provincial Festival at the PPC Newlands on the 13th March 2020.

The programme brings youngsters from across our diverse country together and not only introduces them to the wonderful game of cricket but also allows them to play and have fun.

The festival was hosted with Cobras Players Simon Khomari, Isaac Dikgale and Rory Kleinveld were all there to assist in coaching the kids and looking for talent. The Western Province Women’s team came out in full force including their coach Claire Terblanche, Proteas player and Western Province players Sinalo Jafta, Andrie Steyn and Laura Wolvaardt.

Laura has just come back from the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup and where she was picked in the World XI.

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Despite the limitations placed on her at birth and doctors saying that she will never be able to do anything by herself, Cindy has in 5 years become one of South Africa’s top Down Syndrome Field Athletes with the support of her family and her school, Club 21.
At the Sports Union for Athletes with Down Syndrome (SU-DS) World Championships in Athletics, Cindy represented South Africa in Portugal, making the top 3 for shot put, discus and javelin. Making South Africa proud, she brought home 2 silver and bronze medals.

Pictured above: Dressed in green and gold, Cindy and her team celebrate victory after the World Championships in Portugal.

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SA Rugby welcomed Mitchum SA into their sponsorship family after Mitchum secured a new one-year partnership as an associate sponsor for Vodacom Super Rugby.

Vodacom Super Rugby is the largest rugby union competition in the Southern Hemisphere, consisting of a total of 15 teams – five from New Zealand, four each from South Africa and Australia as well as one team each from Argentina and Japan – dating back to the 1990s.

“We are excited to welcome Mitchum to our sponsorship family and look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship with a partner that is enthusiastic about rugby and the sustainability of the game,” said Jurie Roux, SA Rugby CEO.

“To attract such a sponsor in a tough economic climate is not only testimony to the lure of rugby as a sport and Vodacom Super Rugby as one of the top sporting competitions in South Africa, but also for the return on investment that Mitchum see in associating with SA Rugby and our brands.”

Roux said Mitchum has come on board as one of two associate sponsors to Vodacom Super Rugby and formed an integral part of SA Rugby’s plans of improving the quality of rugby to the fans each year.

“Without sponsors, sport will struggle and we’re fortunate that we have South African companies that are passionate about growing rugby,” Roux added.

Ndungu Wanjohi, Marketing Director at Revlon South Africa, said: “Mitchum is excited to come on board as an associate sponsor for the international competition.

“The association of our brand and that of Vodacom Super Rugby is a natural one that serves Mitchum and our strategy in a manner that makes sense for many reasons. We believe this new sponsorship deal will take our brand exposure to even greater heights.

“The sponsorship of Vodacom Super Rugby represents a renewed and passionate commitment by us to the future of the sport in South Africa with a particular emphasis on the ever-growing support which Vodacom Super Rugby is enjoying year on year.”

The Cell C Sharks tackle the Jaguares in Durban on Saturday afternoon in their first game since returning from their successful Vodacom Super Rugby tour of Australasia. The match kicks off at 15h05 and will be televised live on SuperSport1. 

The Durban side can top the South African Conference if they beat the formidable South American outfit, as the DHL Stormers, who are currently in the lead on the log, have a bye this weekend.

The Emirates Lions will be the first South African team in action on Saturday in their round-six encounter with the Rebels in Melbourne, where the action gets underway at 10h15 (SA time).

In Pretoria, meanwhile, the Vodacom Bulls will be desperate for their first win of the season when they host the Highlanders in a late afternoon kick-off at Loftus Versfeld (17h15).

Alberts and Simelane start for Emirates Lions in Melbourne

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The inclusion of Springbok flank Willem Alberts is one of three changes to the Emirates Lions’ starting team for their clash against the Rebels in Melbourne on Saturday. The match starts at 10h15 (SA time) and will be televised live on SuperSport1.

Alberts, who-rejoined the Joburg side earlier this year after playing club rugby in France, comes into the starting team in the back row to replace the injured Vincent Tshituka.

In the front row, Pieter Jansen is handed a start in the No 2-jersey, with Jan-Henning Campher moving to the replacement bench. The outside centre berth goes to Wandisile Simelane and Manuel Rass drops out of the matchday 23 this week.

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Branco du Preez will play in his 74th HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournament, Cecil Afrika his 63rd and Werner Kok his 50th, so it is fair to say that the Blitzboks will rock up at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Los Angeles with some serious experience for the HSBC LA Sevens on Saturday and Sunday.

On the other end of the Springbok Sevens scale you will find the likes of Sako Makata (seven tournaments) and Mfundo Ndhlovu (four tournaments), but both return to the USA leg of the circuit clear on what they need to do to add value to the Blitzboks’ effort on the weekend.

Makata is back in the tournament squad for the first time since June last year and Ndhlovu, the official reserve, also last played in Paris in 2019.

Makata made his World Series debut in Las Vegas a year ago and his second visit to the USA brings calm and determination to comply with his role and responsibility in the squad.

According to the former Sterling High School winger, now playing as a prop in the sevens code, getting back into the match day squad is a relief as well as a blessing.

He missed the start of the season due to an ankle injury and only made his return to the World Series last month, when he travelled to New Zealand and Australia as the official reserve. Makata was called into the squad in Sydney when Impi Visser was ruled out and played in the final against Fiji, which South Africa lost 12-10.

“I am excited to be back and that comes from some hard work behind the scenes, doing rehab and getting back to match fitness. I am pretty keen to contribute on the field now and give it my best shot,” the 22-year-old confessed.

The time off the field – excluding when he did rehabilitation and conditioning – was also spent watching the team play and learning from that, although only mentally.

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An epic Guinness PRO14 derby between the Toyota Cheetahs and Isuzu Southern Kings is set to play out in Bloemfontein on Saturday, when both sides will target a victory at all costs.

While the Toyota Cheetahs are determined to register their sixth victory of the season to remain in third place in Conference A and gain some breathing space between themselves and the Glasgow Warriors on the log, the Isuzu Southern Kings are highly motivated to avenge their last minute 31-30 defeat last week against their countrymen.

Should the Free Staters register a victory, they will maintain their dominance against the men from Port Elizabeth in the tournament, which has seen them win all six encounters between the sides to date.

Toyota Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie was adamant that his charges had to deliver a much better display at home to emerge victorious: “There were a lot of things going through my head in the last 10 minutes last week. I had three different speeches for the changeroom and the press, but I was just grateful we pulled it through.

“We played really well in the closing minutes and put up a fight to pull the game back, and I’m proud of that. But in saying that, we all know we need to improve and that will start with a win at home.

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Two hundred and fifty-five matches – and 49 tournaments – ago, when Justin Geduld ran onto the field in the colours of the Springboks Sevens team for the very first time, he cried tears of joy. By the end of it, those turned into tears of despair though, as the then 19-year-old broke his hand in his very first match.

On Saturday, at the HSBC Sydney Sevens at Bankwest Stadium in Parramatta, he will run out for his 50th tournament with an extreme feeling of gratitude as only the seventh Blitzbok to play reach a half-century of HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series tournaments.

For Geduld, now 26 years old, that day in 2012 at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington, New Zealand, feels like a lifetime ago.

“I never thought of playing 50 tournaments for my country when I started out, especially after breaking my hand in my very first match! At that time, we used 35 tournaments as a benchmark, now 50 seems to be the new standard,” Geduld reflected.

“So, to be running out for my 50th is a very special feeling and I am very grateful. It is tough out there and not many players make it to 50.”

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The 25th edition of Vodacom Super Rugby kicks off this weekend, starting with an exciting South African derby between the Cell C Sharks and Vodacom Bulls in Durban on Friday evening. The DHL Stormers and Emirates Lions start their respective campaigns on Saturday and Sunday.

Flyhalf duel adds spice to Vodacom Super Rugby opener in Durban

Springbok centre Lukhanyo Am will lead an exciting Cell C Sharks team in their opening Vodacom Super Rugby clash with the Vodacom Bulls at Jonsson Kings Park on Friday evening, with a number of players set to make their competition debut for both teams. Kick-off is at 19h10.

The Vodacom Bulls welcome back former Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn, who last played for the Pretoria outfit in 2013 and is the only three-time Vodacom Super Rugby champion that remains within the South African circuit. His duel with Bosch is bound to play a key role in the outcome of the match.

Kolisi leads DHL Stormers from No 8 against Hurricanes

Springbok Rugby World Cup winning captain Siya Kolisi will lead the DHL Stormers in the No 8 jersey when they host the Hurricanes in their first Vodacom Super Rugby match of 2020 on Saturday. Kick-off at DHL Newlands is 15h05 and the match will be televised live on SuperSport.

Wales and British & Irish Lions international Jamie Roberts will make his DHL Stormers debut alongside 10 Springboks named in the matchday squad for the opening round clash with the Kiwis. Roberts will start at inside centre.

Emirates Lions face difficult task first up in Buenos Aires

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