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· Five SA franchise teams involved in overseas matches this weekend

· Southern Kings clash with Jaguares on maiden Argentine visit

The two leading teams on the Africa conference standings, the DHL Stormers and Emirates Lions, will be eyeing home wins this weekend, while the rest of the South African franchises are all playing away matches in Round 10 of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition.

For the first time in Vodacom Super Rugby history, six SA teams will be in action this weekend against overseas foes in a single round. This weekend’s action sees no less than five South African franchise teams playing overseas.

On Friday morning (SA time) the Cell C Sharks continue their tour of New Zealand against the Chiefs in New Plymouth, with the two teams getting this weekend’s action underway in another exciting round of fixtures. Continue reading

DHL Stormers co-captains Juan de Jongh and Frans Malherbe both return for the Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Waratahs at DHL Newlands on Saturday.

De Jongh takes his place at outside centre after missing the 40-22 victory over the Reds last week with concussion, and will partner Damian de Allende in midfield, while Malherbe returns at tighthead prop after being ruled out last week due to illness.

The only other changes to the starting line-up are rotational switches to the forward pack as Schalk Burger takes his place at No.8 with Nizaam Carr shifting to the flank and Siya Kolisi moving to the replacements bench, whilst in the front row JC Janse van Rensburg starts at loosehead prop.

DHL Stormers Head Coach Robbie Fleck said that his team are intent on raising the bar once again at DHL Newlands.

“We are determined to keep on progressing along the path we have embarked on this season, and the Waratahs will provide another serious challenge this weekend.

“The team has really bought into what we are trying to do, and I am excited to see what they can produce in front of our faithful fans on Saturday,” he said.

DHL Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (co-captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Frans Malherbe (co-captain), 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Huw Jones.

Referee: Mike Fraser

Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron on Tuesday said his team was making solid progress in terms of their game plan and mental toughness as their preparations continue for the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Manchester, England, from 7 June to 25 June.

The Junior Springbok training squad faced the Western Province Academy on Tuesday, in their second contact session since assembling in camp in Stellenbosch earlier this month, and Theron was satisfied with the performance at the end of the hit-out.

The SA U20 training squad produced a solid display in which they scored 14 tries and denied the Western Province Academy from scoring one in the contact session, which was made up of four 20-minute chukkas. Continue reading

Ajax Cape Town can confirm the acquisition of Kenyan midfielder Victor Ali Abondo from Kenyan Premier League outfit, Gor Mahia on a two (2) year deal.

The 26-year-old midfielder enjoyed a successful training stint with the club earlier this year, which prompted head coach Roger De Sa to make Abondo’s stay in Cape Town permanent. Depending on the approval of his work permit, Abondo could still make his debut appearance in the current season.

The Kenyan playmaker helped Gor Mahia to the 2015 Kenyan Premier League with his creativity and eye for goal, however, Abondo won the Kenyan Premier League on two other occasions with Sony Sugar and Tusker respectively. Abondo becomes the fifth addition to Ajax Cape Town’s squad for the new Absa Premiership season, after Erick Chipeta put pen to paper a fortnight ago, while the club has also promoted three teenagers Masilake Phohlongo, Darren Johnson and Sirgio Kammies from the club’s prestigious youth academy. The technical team’s preparation for the 2016/17 PSL season is progressing well with further signings to be announced soon. Continue reading

SA Rugby on Monday acknowledged the findings of the Eminent Persons’ Group report on Transformation for 2014/15 and the sanction imposed by Mr Fikile Mbalula, Minister for Sports and Recreation.

SA Rugby, as well as Cricket South Africa, Netball SA and Athletics South Africa, had revoked their privilege of “hosting and bidding for major and mega international tournaments in South Africa as a consequence of…not meeting their own set transformation targets”, said the minister. The decision would be reconsidered at the next reporting of the EPG, which is expected in November.

“We understand and support the Minister’s urgency in addressing the issue of transformation,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.

“There is no question that we have more work to do and we could be moving faster, but our sport has undergone a major overhaul in how we do business and how we measure ourselves in the past two or three years and we have definitely made great progress.

“Transformation is a key strategic imperative for SA Rugby to remain competitive and to survive in the sports landscape in our country. Continue reading

SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux confirmed on Monday that Rassie Erasmus (GM: Rugby) has accepted a new position as director of rugby at Munster in Ireland. He will take up his new position following the Springboks’ home series against Ireland in June.

Erasmus, a former Springbok captain, has led the Rugby Department for the past four years, introducing a number of new structures and innovations.

“I’d like to thank Rassie for the massive contribution he has made in establishing the Rugby Department and ensuring SA Rugby remain leaders on and off the field,” said Roux.

“It will be difficult to replace Rassie, but we’ll make an appointment in due course. The Rugby Department is functioning extremely well with experts at all levels ensuring the department runs smoothly on a daily basis. Continue reading

Cape Town would like to rectify a recent article that appeared on the Kickoff website suggesting that Anssi Jaakkola was set to leave the club at the end of the current Absa Premiership season.

Jaakkola has been a rock in the goals for the Urban Warriors in the past three seasons, earning himself nominations for the Absa Premiership Goalkeeper of the Season in two consecutive years, while staking his claim for yet another nomination this season after producing many stellar performances between the posts. The Finnish shot stopper played an instrumental role in Ajax Cape Town’s unbelievable achievement of reaching the 2015 Nedbank Cup final as well as winning the MTN8 trophy in spectacular fashion. Continue reading

The Emirates Lions proved far too strong for a gallant Southern Kings side in their Vodacom Super Rugby match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday evening, winning by 45-10 as the Highveld-side moved within a point of leaders DHL Stormers on the Africa conference standings.

In Cape Town, the DHL Stormers survived a second half onslaught from the visiting Reds to clinch a 40-22 home win in the early Saturday afternoon fixture. The Cape side received a blow before kick-off when captain, Frans Malherbe, had to withdraw because of illness. His place in the front row was taken by Vincent Koch, while Springbok midfielder Damian de Allende took over the captaincy.

Meanwhile on Friday, the Rebels put in a strong second half performance to beat the Toyota Cheetahs 36-14 in Melbourne. They scored 26 unanswered points in the second half to clinch a bonus point win, which saw them take pole position on the Australian conference ladder.

In the first match played on Friday morning, rookie flyhalf Garth April succeeded with all five kicks at goal to guide the Cell C Sharks to a hard fought 15-14 win over a 14-man Highlanders at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin. The win enabled the Cell C Sharks to snap a winless streak of four matches. Continue reading

Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron was confident on Friday that the plans for the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in June were falling into place, as his provisional training squad continues to put in the hard yards at their training base in Stellenbosch.

Theron’s training squad has been in Stellenbosch since the beginning of the month, where the focus has been on familiarising themselves with the game plan, and improving their conditioning and fitness.

The Junior Springboks, who secured the bronze medal at the 2015 World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Italy, will kick off their 2016 campaign in Manchester, England, against Japan on 7 June at the Academy Stadium, before taking on Argentina on 11 June at the AJ Bell Stadium, and France on 15 June back at the Academy Stadium in the pool stages. Continue reading

SA Rugby has increased its commitment to player welfare and continued its efforts to simultaneously maximise player performance by partnering with leading USA sports science technology company, Kitman Labs.

SA Rugby has reached an agreement with California-based Kitman Labs to provide analytics with the aim to reduce injury incidence and promote player performance, as an enhancement at the elite end of the game.

This is a timely addition, following the success of the ongoing BokSmart Rugby Safety Programme since its official introduction almost seven years ago.

Kitman Labs’ Athlete Optimisation System (AOS) will be rolled out to the Springboks, the Junior Springboks, Springbok Sevens, Women’s Sevens teams, and across its Elite Player Development programmes. Continue reading

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