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Sixteen Under-16 and Under-18 girls’ teams, from SA Rugby’s various Youth Training Centres (YTC) across the country, will celebrate Women’s Month this weekend when they take part in a YTC Festival at Florida Park in Ravensmead, Cape Town.

The teams will play each other in seeding matches on Friday, 10 August, while the playoffs will take place on Saturday, 11 August.

Like last year, the U16 and U18 teams will take on one other in a combined tournament rather than being split into the North and South Sections as they have been since the inception of these events in 2015.

The U16 and U18 players at the various YTC’s train on a weekly basis, while they also have access to conditioning and nutritional programmes, as well as gymnasiums within the SA Rugby network to improve their strength and fitness levels.

They work from a coaching blueprint designed by SA Rugby’s Rugby Department to ensure a uniform approach in the structures and systems at the various centres, and the girls also participate in scheduled matches to expose them to regular competition.

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Sharks Under-18 players Thabiso Mdletshe (prop) and Mzwandile Menze (centre), have been added to the SA Schools squad following the injury-enforced withdrawal of two players.

Banele Mthenjane (prop, Nelspruit High School), one of three players who also featured for the SA Schools side in 2017, and Lionel April (flyhalf, Hermanus High School) were forced the withdraw from the squad for the Aon Under-18 International Series, which kicks off on Friday.

Their places were taken by Mdletshe, who is from Glenwood High School, and Menze, from Durban High School (DHS). This brings Glenwood’s representation in Sean Erasmus’ squad to three, while there are now two players from DHS.

“It’s always tough to lose players before a ball has even been kicked, but unfortunately these things happen and we feel for Banele and Lionel,” said Erasmus, whose team started with their preparations on Sunday in Stellenbosch.

“At the same time, this provides a wonderful opportunity for Thabiso and Mzwandle and I’ve been impressed with their zeal and positive attitude.”

The opening round of matches in the Aon Under-18 International Series is on Friday at Boland Landbou, near Paarl, where the SA Schools team will face Wales at 16h00. The first match is between the U18 teams of England and France and kicks off at 14h15.

The second round of matches is scheduled for Tuesday, 14 August at Stellenberg High School in Durbanville, and the final round will take place at SACS in Newlands on Saturday, 18 August.

Siya Kolisi’s astonishing journey, from the dusty streets of Zwide to being the first black player to captain the Springbok rugby team, has been voted Laureus Sporting Moment of the Month for July.

Kolisi’s story of overcoming adversity and succeeding against the odds gripped the imagination of a global audience of sports lovers, who vote each month for sporting moments that symbolise the true values of sport and bring to life the message that sport has the power to change the world.

The monthly winners compete against each other in the Laureus Sporting Moment of the Year public vote, with the eventual winner announced at the 2019 Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco.

Kolisi’s nomination, entitled “Uniting the Rainbow Nation”, tracked his rise from the poverty-stricken township of Zwide, near Port Elizabeth, where he often went to bed hungry as his young mother and grandmother struggled to put food on the table.

On Saturday 9 June, he made history when he led the Springboks out at Ellis Park in a Test match against England. It was a remarkable moment for the Springboks and the entire nation – and it was made all the more special by the fact that he was wearing the Number 6 jersey famously worn by former President Nelson Mandela at the same venue during the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

As it happened, the Springboks won the match 42-39 after an incredible comeback. But the lingering memories will be of Kolisi’s history-making moment, and what it means to a nation crying out for unity and healing.

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Insights- driven seminar held to empower local coaches

The 2018 Powerade Performance Academy celebrates everyday coaches and will focus on giving credit to everyday ‘ordinary’ coaches who have done extraordinary things by refining the young talent that eventually goes on to perform on the world stage.

Recently, Powerade Performance Academy at NMMU saw former Protea’s coach, Gary Kirsten, appealing to school coaches about coaching for the right reasons. The reasons he mentioned were to include seeking to develop players as people that believe in the team’s culture, purpose, focusing on the players and not on solely winning games.

Kirsten appealed to coaches who were present on the day to coach their players in a similar way they would like to be coached. “If you learn something new from another coach or from the players, blend it in your way of coaching to see if it would work”. Kirsten alludes that “Coaches should not solemnly focus on results, such as winning games, however should focus on doing justice to the team by identifying the player’s individual strengths, weaknesses and arrears of improvement. If coaches do not adopt a proactive approach it can lead into their team losing games, they could have potentially won.”

Kirsten recognises “There is a huge pressure in schools for the teams to perform and win. Nevertheless, coaches must first grow the individual and only when the individual has shown tremendous growth, the coaches can eventually begin to look at winning which would in turn boost the team’s morale. Winning is the result of all the hard work, determination and patience coaches have for their players and that is a recipe for a successful team,” he said.

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The Group CEO and Director of Rugby of Western Province Rugby on Monday met with the player base to dispel weekend media reports alluding to the imminent ‘sale/clear-out’ of a number of athletes.
“It is regrettable that the public has been presented with a factually incorrect and grossly misleading view of our confidential internal dealings with our senior player group,” said WP Rugby Group CEO, Paul Zacks.

“We back our contracted players wholeheartedly and all of those players who have contracts with WP Rugby for 2018 and beyond will all be honoured. However, we want to at all times ensure that we are looking after our players’ best interests, which for some of them, especially those coming off long term injuries, means that they may benefit from a loan spell with another franchise in order to get much needed game-time and or exposure to different international competitions. Our goal is to ensure a win-win for all parties, facilitating more game-time for more players whilst simultaneously benefitting SA Rugby as a whole.

“Any decisions we make about player movements will always consider both the interests of the individual player as well as the Union with players remaining contracted to WP Rugby,” he said.

DHL Western Province as the current trophy holder, will attempt to defend their 2017 title and claim a record 35th Currie Cup win in 2018.

“Our players and management team under Chris van Zyl and John Dobson respectively showed what they were capable of in winning a Currie Cup Final away from home last year and as a Union we have every confidence in their abilities. We believe that we have an exceptional player base that is capable of delivering more success during this year’s Currie Cup campaign,” he said.

SA Under-20 flyhalf Damian Willemse is one of three uncapped players included in the Springbok squad for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, with the Emirates Lions quartet of Malcolm Marx (hooker), Warren Whiteley (No 8), Ross Cronje (scrumhalf) and Lionel Mapoe (centre) also back in the Bok fold for the first time this season.

Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby, announced a squad of 35 players on Monday, with two loose forwards, the Vodacom Bulls’ Marco van Staden and Cyle Brink of the Emirates Lions, joining Willemse, the 20-year-old DHL Stormers and Junior Springbok flyhalf, as the uncapped players in the group.

Whiteley and the experienced Eben Etzebeth (lock) both return having recovered from long-term injuries, while Marx has shrugged off his hamstring troubles, which forced him to miss the June internationals.

Also returning to the Springbok squad are Francois Louw, the experienced flanker who plays for English club side Bath, Lwazi Mvovo (outside back), as well Mapoe (centre) and Cronje (scrumhalf), both of whom missed the midyear Tests because of injury.

Louw has represented the Boks in 57 Tests and Erasmus said he will add a lot of experience to the group.

“Eben and Warren have been out of the Bok mix for a while because of injury so it’s very pleasing to have them back in the squad, while Malcolm has regained his good form with the Emirates Lions since recovering from his injury,” said Erasmus, who added that the participation of Brink and Jean-Luc Preez (loose forward) is dependent on medical examinations.

“We saw the benefit and impact of Willie le Roux and Faf de Klerk in the squad during the June internationals and I want ‘Flo’ to perform a similar role for us.

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A 27-man DHL Western Province squad will leave Cape Town on Tuesday for a two-match pre-season trip to France.

As part of the preparations for their upcoming Currie Cup title defence, DHL Western Province will face Pro D2 side Narbonne on Saturday, August 11 and Top 14 team Montpellier on Thursday, August 16.

The squad has a good mix of youth and experience for the tour which will provide some vital gametime against quality opposition ahead of their Currie Cup campaign, which kicks off on Saturday, August 25 against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs at DHL Newlands.

Head Coach John Dobson said that the trip to France will provide important experience both on and off the field for his squad.

“We are looking forward to experiencing the rugby culture in France, which will give us a great opportunity to come together as a team.

“We have two tough matches to prepare for, which should give us a good idea of where we are at ahead of the Currie Cup campaign,” he said.

DHL Western Province squad: Juarno Augustus, Craig Barry, Paul de Wet, Dan du Plessis, Johan du Toit, JJ Engelbrecht, Neethling Fouche, Herschel Jantjies, Dan Kriel, Michael Kumbirai, Dillyn Leyds, SP Marais, Chris Massyn, Scarra Ntubeni, Caylib Oosthuizen, Sergeal Petersen, Duncan Saal, Carlu Sadie, Ramone Samuels, JD Schickerling, Josh Stander, Chad Solomon, Kobus van Dyk, Ernst van Rhyn, Ali Vermaak, Jano Vermaak, Cobus Wiese.

DHL Western Province will travel to France next week for a two-match tour as part of the preparations for their Currie Cup title defence.

Coach John Dobson’s team will face French teams RC Narbonne and Montpellier in the space of five days, in order to get some crucial game-time together as a unit before their domestic campaign kicks off on August 25.

The defending Currie Cup champions were invited by Montpellier, for a trip which is seen as the beginning of a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship, with potential commercial opportunities and projects between the two teams anticipated in the future.

A 29-man squad will depart Cape Town on Tuesday, August 7 and face Narbonne on Saturday, August 11 before taking on Top 14 side Montpellier on Thursday, August 16. They will be based in the town of Millau, which is 100km outside of Montpellier.

Western Province Rugby Group CEO, Paul Zacks, said that this trip presents a unique opportunity to make gains both on and off the field.

“We feel there is enormous potential for commercial opportunities between our respective pre-eminent teams and that Montpellier hosting the reigning Currie Cup champions is a very special opportunity for both sides to take advantage of.

“The Faithful can be found all over the world and taking our brand to new territories forms part of our strategic plan, so it is particularly exciting for us to take DHL Western Province to France as we continue to strive to become a leading rugby franchise with global appeal.

“Our team is very happy about the two matches and want to get the most value possible out of the trip before the first game of our Currie Cup campaign, while also giving our players invaluable experience of a different rugby culture both on and off the field,” he said.

The squad for the tour will be announced on Monday, August 6.

Vice President of the Western Province Rugby Football Union, Mr Gerald Njengele, handed in his voluntary resignation on Thursday.

The resignation stems from the incident that took place at the HSBC Sevens in Cape Town last December and the internal disciplinary hearings which followed.

WPRFU President, Mr Thelo Wakefield, said that he received Mr Njengele’s resignation on Thursday morning.

“Mr Njengele took the magnanimous decision this morning to resign in acknowledgement of the fact that no one person is greater than the Union and that the name and reputation of WPRFU needs to be held in high esteem at all times.

“We wish to thank Mr Njengele for his valuable contributions to the activities of the WPRFU and wish him well for his future endeavours,” he said.

Three Springbok Women’s Sevens players – Zintle Mpupha, Eloise Webb and Megan Comley – will be in action in the second round of SA Rugby’s Women’s Interprovincial competition, with the big match in Cape Town where Western Province host KwaZulu-Natal in a top-of-the-table clash on Saturday afternoon.

Both these coastal sides kicked their season off with convincing bonus-point victories in the opening round two weekends ago – WP crushed the Blue Bulls by 77-3 and KZN beat Free State by 20-3.

The defending champions from Cape Town will be keen to build on this big victory, but the ladies from Durban, who will be boosted by Comley’s availability, will put up a big fight when they clash at City Park in Athlone on Saturday. Last year, WP won the corresponding match in Durban by 25-0.

Webb and Mpupha, who captains the national side, back with Border after the Rugby World Cup Sevens in San Francisco recently, will add some sting to the East Londoners’ backline against the Blue Bulls in Pretoria, where they will hope to repeat their 29-17 win from 2017.

The East Londoners, who registered a bonus-point victory in the opening round, have been dominant in recent seasons – they won the competition from 2013 to 2016 – and they will run out as favourites at Tuine Rugby Club to build on their first round victory of 22-12 over Eastern Province.

Eastern Province host Free State in the other match of the second round, at Wolfson Stadium in Kwazakhele, near Port Elizabeth.

EP came up short against Border last weekend, but they will be looking to get their season back on track against the team from Central South Africa, whom they beat by 39-0 in Bloemfontein last year.

Women’s Interprovincial fixtures – Round 2 (Saturday, 4 August)

13h00: Eastern Province v Free State – Wolfson Stadium, Port Elizabeth

14h30: Western Province v KwaZulu-Natal – City Park, Cape Town

15h00: Blue Bulls v Border – Tuine Rugby Club, Pretoria

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