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Pic: thesouthafricn.com

Pic: thesouthafricn.com

Fit-again wing Cheslin Kolbe returns to the Springbok team in the only change to the match 23 for Saturday’s Rugby World Cup final against England at Yokohama International Stadium (kick off 11h00 SA time).

He regains the right wing berth from stand-in Sbu Nkosi in the only change to the team that eased their way to a 19-16 victory over Wales in Sunday’s semi-final.

Siya Kolisi will lead the team out for the 20th time as he becomes the eighth player in the 23 to have won 50 caps.

Rassie Erasmus, director of rugby, named the now familiar six-two split on the bench to field a settled line-up, 22 of whom will be appearing together for the fourth time in the tournament.

This line-up first played together in the play-off-clinching, 49-3, win over Italy a month ago and was retained for the quarter-final, semi-final and now final. Only Kolbe’s ankle injury interrupted the pattern.

“Chessie is fully fit and ready to go,” said Erasmus.

“It’s tough on Sbu to drop out of the 23 altogether but, like the other seven, non-playing squad members – and the two injured players back home [Trevor Nyakane and Jesse Kriel] – he has made vital contributions to our campaign.

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Rassie Erasmus heaped praise on his Springbok players for carrying South Africa to a third Rugby World Cup final in an achingly tense semi-final with Wales in Yokohama on Sunday.

The Springboks were never behind in their 19-16 victory, but resilient Wales refused to be shaken off until a fourth penalty goal from the boot of man of the match, Handre Pollard, with five minutes remaining secured the victory.

There was also a try for Damian de Allende (centre) as the Boks confirmed a remarkable revival for the depths of 2016 and 2017 by emulating the teams of 1995 and 2007 to reach the Rugby World Cup final.

“We have always had the potential to be a force in world rugby and historically we have been,” said Erasmus, South Africa’s director of rugby, “but we have been through some tough times in recent seasons.”

Record defeats by New Zealand and Ireland, a first defeat by Italy and a whitewash on a tour of Europe all led to assertions that Springbok rugby was dead by the end of 2017.

But only one defeat in 11 matches in 2019 to confirm a turnaround begun in 2018 has turned those forecasts on their head. Erasmus gave the credit to the players.

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South Africa lost 19-14 to Kenya’s Morans team in the final of the Tusker Safari Sevens at RFUEA Grounds in Nairobi after a slow start in the first half saw the visitors concede 19 points against the locals.

The home side, consisting mainly of the Kenyan HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series squad, scored three tries in a six-minute spell, with the SA side falling off tackles they were making earlier in the tournament.

When they finally found some zest in their play, two late tries by Luwi Mngadi and Cameron Hufke followed, but the home crowd was already celebrating.

Earlier in the day, the SA squad outplayed KCB Rugby 31-14 in the Cup quarter-finals, while they had too much guile for Shujaa, winning their semi-final by 19-5.

Springbok Sevens assistant coach, Renfred Dazel, who took charge of the squad for this trip, said afterwards the defensive effort in the final was way below their standards.

“We played really well leading into the final and especially against the Shujaa, we really did well and that ticked a number of boxes,” said Dazel.

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Pic: sarugbymag

Pic: sarugbymag

Sunday, 20 October 2019

The Springboks produced a second half revival to clinch a place in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals after a ‘nervous’ first 40 raised hopes for a packed home crowd of a repeat of the ‘Miracle of Brighton’ which had seen Japan turn the rugby world on its head with victory over South Africa four years ago.

The Springboks stretched away from an edgy two-point halftime lead (5-3) with 21 unanswered points in the second half.

Makazole Mapimpi scored two more tries to take his tally to 13 in 12 Tests, while Faf de Klerk finished off a 40-metre rolling maul to claim the third.

“We’re happy to be through to the semi-finals but we were very nervous at halftime,” said Rassie Erasmus, South Africa’s director of rugby.

“Overall we were nervous going into this match; playing Japan with their home support and the way they played against Ireland and Scotland and they were definitely building momentum today.

“Going in at halftime we were only a few points up and having left a few tries out there, there was definitely a bit of a lull and a quietness in our change room.

“But I think after being together for 17 weeks the guys knew which buttons to push to get ourselves out of that lull and come and produce it in the second half. I’m proud of that. We’re through to the semi-finals and hopefully we can pull it through.”

Erasmus credited Bok captain Siya Kolisi, Duane Vermeulen and the other senior players for doing the key talking.

“If guys miss tackles and there’s a lack of commitment and there are effort errors, harsh words might help,” said Erasmus.

“But if it’s a bad pass or a missed opportunity or a skill error then it’s more a question of trying to get the guys confidence up and I guess that was the challenge at halftime.

“That’s where Siya and Duane and those guys did well at halftime. I think Siya and the boys did most of the talking and sorted that out.”

Kolisi said: “The message at halftime was to be patient and trust our plan. Our maul and our scrum were working. We didn’t take our opportunities in the first half, but we didn’t want to change anything, especially when we got turnover ball.

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He is amongst the fastest of really fast men in the Springboks Sevens squad and come the Safari Sevens in Nairobi this weekend, Angelo Davids will also be amongst the bravest.

The 20-year-old star winger for the Blitzboks and DHL Western Province, will take the field at RFUEA Grounds in the Kenyan capital at hooker for his team, something that has Davids as excited as when he made his debut in Hong Kong earlier this year.

The move to the forwards was mooted by Blitzbok coach Neil Powell, who realised that the striking power of Davids wide out could be limited due to the presence of Siviwe Soyizwapi and Seabelo Senatla, amongst other fast guys in the squad.

Powell has moved strike runners to the forwards before, most notably Werner Kok, with the former World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year now also comfortable doing his bit in the scrum and lineout.

Davids is keen to make this a successful move too.

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The Springboks have reverted to the starting XV and replacements that recorded a 49-3 victory over Italy a fortnight ago for the do-or-die Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Japan in Tokyo on Sunday.

It means 13 changes to the starting XV from the one which concluded the Boks’ pool campaign with a 66-7 demolition of Canada in Kobe last Tuesday.

Only Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and Damian de Allende – who switches from outside centre back to the more familiar inside centre position – are retained from the Kobe XV.

They are joined in the line-up by the balance of the starting XV from the seven-try-to-nil overwhelming of Italy in what has become a familiar ‘senior’ line-up.

“We were satisfied with the performance against Italy and want to build on that,” said Rassie Erasmus, South Africa’s director of rugby.

“We have been improving and building momentum this season and we will be looking for further improvements this weekend.

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Experienced South African referee, Jaco Peyper, will have a memorable 50th Test appearance with the whistle on Sunday after being appointed to take charge of the Rugby World Cup quarter-final between Wales and France at the Oita Stadium in Japan.

This feat makes him only the third South African referee to officiate 50 Tests, with Craig Joubert and Jonathan Kaplan being the others.

World Rugby announced that Wayne Barnes (England) has been appointed as the referee for the Springboks’ quarter-final against Japan at the Tokyo Stadium, also on Sunday.

The two other quarter-finals will be refereed by Nigel Owens of Wales (New Zealand v Ireland at Tokyo Stadium) and Jérôme Garcès of France (England and Australia at the Oita Stadium).

The 39-year-old Peyper was set to reach this milestone last weekend in the pool stages between England and France, but the match was cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis.

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The Springbok Women’s Sevens team travelled to Tunisia with one mission – to claim the Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens crown – so it was very rewarding for the team to arrive back in Cape Town with that feat accomplished, according to Imbokodo captain Zintle Mpupha.

The squad returned home earlier on Tuesday with gold medals around their necks and the knowledge that they are the top team on the continent.

“There is a feeling of joy, of achievement and of content amongst the group,” said Mpupha.

“We wanted to go and win this as that would set-up the rest of our season nicely. We can now continue in our quest to try and qualify for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.”

Mpupha, who earlier in the year also helped the Springbok Women to qualify for the Rugby World Cup New Zealand in 2021, said the foundation needed to be laid as the team prepare for their next challenge, which will be tournaments in Dubai and Cape Town in November and December. Continue reading

Damian Willemse, the DHL Stormers utility back, will fly out to Japan to join the Springbok Rugby World Cup squad following the injury withdrawal of Jesse Kriel.

Kriel sustained a hamstring injury in the opening match of the tournament against New Zealand and although the condition has improved it was insufficient to put him in contention for either of the remaining two pool games.

Willemse, 21, who is on loan to Saracens in England, will join the squad in Japan on Thursday. He won all of his five caps in 2018.

“Damian would have been more involved with us this year but for injury, but he is familiar with our systems and should have no problem slotting in.

“He has the ability to play in a number of positions in the back division, while other players can cover Jesse’s No 13 jersey,” said Rassie Erasmus, South Africa’s director of rugby.

“I feel for Jesse. He has been in the match-day 23 for almost every match since I took over and is a model professional. He was a key member of the squad.”

Willemse is the second replacement in the Springbok squad. Prop Thomas du Toit had previously replaced Trevor Nyakane.

Boland and Griquas will battle it for top honours in the Iqhawe Week at Paarl Gymnasium on Thursday after finishing the second round of matches on Tuesday among four unbeaten teams.

The other two undefeated sides in the development tournament for Under-15 boys – which is a joint initiative between the SA Rugby Legends Association and SA Rugby – were Eastern Province and the Sharks.

Boland dominated their match against the Leopards on Tuesday and touched down five times for a rewarding 33-7 win, while Griquas also continued to show their class, with their effective attack earning them six tries against Western Province for a 38-12 victory.

Eastern Province stamped their authority from the outset against the Pumas and used their try-scoring chances well to cruise to a 37-7 victory, while the Sharks overcame a tightly-fought first half against SWD to continue their winning ways, scoring four tries to two for a 24-12 victory.

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