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South African referee Ben Crouse will break new ground when he takes up the whistle in the USA’s Major League Rugby (MLR) competition on a five-week assignment in February and March, after receiving an invite from the tournament organisers.

Crouse, who is on SA Rugby’s National Panel, will travel to Salt Lake City in Utah next month where he will referee six matches. His first appointment is for a match between New Orleans Gold and Rugby United New York in New Orleans on Saturday, 16 February, while he will conclude his duties when the San Diego Legion host the Toronto Arrows in San Diego on Sunday, 10 March.

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The City of Cape Town is proud to host Banyana Banyana and the women’s soccer teams from the Netherlands and Sweden at the Cape Town Stadium for their FIFA World Cup preparation matches. Read more below:

‘The City would like to extend a warm welcome to all three teams as they do battle on the field in preparation for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup that will take place in France during June – July this year. We are extremely proud to be the host city for the preparation matches especially since this is the first time that Banyana Banyana have qualified to compete in a FIFA Women’s World Cup,’ said Executive Mayor, Alderman Dan Plato.

The matches, which will be played in honour of the late Winnie Mandela and Albertina Sisulu, will help the team to prepare for their ultimate battle for the World Cup. Continue reading

It’s derby time in South Africa and on Friday all Guinness PRO14 roads will lead to Port Elizabeth where the Isuzu Southern Kings and Toyota Cheetahs will take centre stage in their first encounter of the season, which is also the only match of the weekend.

The clash will be significant for both teams, as the Toyota Cheetahs will look to maintain their unbeaten run against their South African counterparts after winning all three previous matches between them in the competition, while the Isuzu Southern Kings will be desperate to register their second victory of the season.

The Free Staters are fresh off a morale-boosting 27-12 victory against Zebre Rugby Club in Italy – their third victory in five outings – and this is expected to boost their confidence going into the clash.

The home side, in turn, will have their sights set on bouncing back from their disappointing 38-0 defeat against Edinburgh in Scotland, especially after an encouraging spell in their four previous encounters in which they suffered three defeats by seven points or less.

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South Africa’s top players wearing their new jerseys inspired by Marvel’s Spider-Man, Thor, Black Panther and Captain America will run out at Cape Town Stadium on #SuperHeroSunday (3 February) at the first public appearance of the Marvel makeover of SA’s Vodacom Super Rugby teams.

The Vodacom Super Rugby double-header on Sunday 3 February will be the first time that the four local franchises will wear their new Marvel-inspired jerseys. The jersey designs have each been meticulously crafted to reflect the superheroes the South African teams will represent while also staying true to each team’s already iconic colour identity.

The Emirates Lions will be dressed in the familiar webbed suit of Spider-Man; the Cell C Sharks will adopt the Black Panther look; the DHL Stormers will be looking to hammer their opponents in the colours of Thor; and the Vodacom Bulls will shield all attacks thrown their way as Captain America.

The jerseys will be exclusively worn in most South African derbies. The teams will wear in their usual jerseys for matches against international opposition.

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The SA Rugby Sevens Academy team on Saturday finished second in pool B of the Sudamerica Rugby Sevens tournament in Punta del Este after securing victories against Russia (26-5) and Colombia (10-0) before suffering a narrow defeat against Uruguay (7-0).

This ensured that the team is still on track to defend the title they won in Uruguay last year, however, they will have to overcame Portugal in the Cup Quarter-final first, which will be played on Sunday.

The side started well against Russia, where two tries by Donovan du Randt and Kurt-Lee Arendse respectively steered them to a convincing win. Their defence was breached only once in the clash as Russia scored a late try.

The team also kept the Colombians away from their tryline in their second match, in which Arendse limped off. A first-half try by Wayne van der Bank had South Africa 5-0 up at the break, and the victory was sealed when Heino Bezuidenhout scored early in the second half.

Colombia attacked well in the final minutes, but the good defence kept them at bay.

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The DHL Stormers will head into the 2019 Vodacom Super Rugby season with a new apparel sponsor in BLK.

BLK have joined the Western Province Rugby sponsorship fold, in an initial two-year deal that will see them produce both the DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province jerseys going forward, bringing with them a proven track record in making quality sports apparel.

Created in 2011, BLK produces innovative, quality player tested apparel and accessories. It is the relentless pursuit of perfection during both design and production which has enabled BLK to evolve and build a reputation as the toughest and most durable sporting brand on the planet.

The all-new 2019 BLK home DHL Stormers jersey features a modern twist on the traditional blue and white hoops, a silhouette of the iconic Table Mountain on the back, #WeStandTogether text on the inner collar and encapsulates both the DHL Stormers’ traditions and the beauty of Cape Town. It will be a great addition to any game-day merchandise collection.

The away jersey is a markedly different black design with a yellow trim and a new-age take on the traditional hoops in the form of soundwaves which symbolise the thunder of the storm and the noise made by the DHL Newlands Faithful.

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Nine Junior Springbok stars were among the half century of emerging young players who were taught a thing or two by REF (the Rugby Education Foundation) in 2018 after winning education bursaries though the SA Rugby-run programme.

Junior Springbok prop Alulutho Tshakweni (Sports Management) and centre Rikus Pretorius (Sports Administration and Coaching) were among a handful of SA Under-20 players who were REF bursary recipients, with the group also including Xerox Golden Lions flanker Mandisi Mthiyane (Marketing Management).

They formed part of the SA Rugby Academy Programme which aims to balance formal education with high performance training and player welfare. The foundation, which was launched in October 2015 thanks to the vital support from corporates, have assisted over 100 players with bursaries to date.

The recipients are identified in consultation with scouts, school coaches, provincial rugby unions, as well as SA Rugby high performance staff. Given the success of the programme to date, the aim for 2019 is to assist 75 players with education bursaries.

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Pic: businesliveJustin Geduld has recovered from the injury, which cut short his participation in the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens, while Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell believes the improvement shown by his 13-man squad in the latter stages of last weekend’s tournament was enough to keep faith in the same players for the HSBC Cape Town Sevens.

Powell named the same 12-man squad from last weekend to front up in the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday. With Geduld back, Selvyn Davids will again be the official replacement.

Geduld took a knock halfway through the tournament in Dubai and was replaced by Davids. However, the experienced Blitzbok playmaker was cleared to play on Thursday, so the 24-year-old utility back reverts to the bench again.

“I was pleased with the performances against Scotland and Fiji, our last two matches last Saturday, and I saw more of that fluency and urgency in training as well this week,” said Powell.

“Knowing the players, they will all be desperate to correct last weekend’s disappointments and they get a chance to redeem themselves this week.”

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The SA Rugby Referees Panels were confirmed on Wednesday, with nine referees named in the elite Premier Panel, a further 17 on the National Panel while there are nine Television Match Officials listed for next year. In addition, seven names are on the Sevens Panel for 2019.

The complete SA Rugby Match Official Panels for 2019 were confirmed following the annual selection and grading meeting held last month at SA Rugby’s offices in Cape Town. This was followed by the Referees Department strategic planning meeting which happened last Thursday and Friday in Stellenbosch.

SA Rugby Referees Manager, Banks Yantolo, said that while South African match officials continue to play a prominent role on the international stage, a lot of hard work is being done behind the scenes to ensure local referees perform to international standards and that a steady stream of young men and women’s referees are identified and developed with the future in mind.

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Note to editors: Audio notes of Springbok Sevens players, Werner Kok and Branco du Preez (Afrikaans and English) on the forthcoming HSBC Cape Town Sevens can be downloaded here.

The players in the Springbok Sevens team took full responsibility for the hiccup in Dubai, where an individualistic approach in the opening matches of last week’s tournament led to the less than perfect start to the season for the Blitzboks.

That is the opinion of Springbok Sevens strongman Werner Kok as the team prepare for the HSBC Cape Town Sevens, to be played in the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday and Sunday.

“It felt like we played for ourselves and not the team in those opening matches,” said Kok.

“We lacked a team effort, but once we sorted that out and found the team structure again, things went well, especially in the matches against Scotland and Fiji. So we need to start from that base here in Cape Town.”

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