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Wales and British and Irish Lions international Jamie Roberts will make his DHL Stormers debut alongside 10 Springboks named in the matchday squad for the opening round Vodacom Super Rugby encounter with the Hurricanes at DHL Newlands on Saturday.

Roberts will start at inside centre, with fellow midfielder Rikus Pretorius, who is 12 years his junior, also set to make his DHL Stormers debut from the replacements bench.

There are seven World Cup winners in the starting XV, with captain Siya Kolisi set to wear the No.8 jersey when he leads the team out for kick-off at 15h05 on Saturday to start the last Vodacom Super Rugby season at DHL Newlands.

The Hurricanes last visited DHL Newlands in 2014, when a late try secured a dramatic one-point win for the DHL Stormers.

The last time the two teams played the opening game of the season was at DHL Newlands in 2012, when Kolisi made a try-scoring debut off the replacements bench.

DHL Stormers Head Coach John Dobson said that following a busy pre-season, his team are determined to make a convincing start to their campaign in front of the DHL Newlands Faithful.

“We are very excited about the team that we are putting out this weekend and the potential for us to make a good start to the last season at DHL Newlands.

“We want to play the kind of rugby that will make our supporters smile and that starts on Saturday against the Hurricanes,” he said.

Tickets for the first four games of the 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby season at DHL Newlands against the Hurricanes, Vodacom Bulls, Jaguares and Blues are on sale from wprugby.computicket.com or any Computicket outlet.

DHL Stormers: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Jamie Roberts (DHL Stormers debut), 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Siya Kolisi (captain), 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 David Meihuizen, 20 Ernst van Rhyn, 21 Johan du Toit, 22 Godlen Masimla, 23 Rikus Pretorius (DHL Stormers debut).

DHL Stormers Head Coach John Dobson has confirmed the 45-man squad for the 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby campaign.

The DHL Stormers will kick-off the new season on February 1 against the Hurricanes at DHL Newlands, having concluded their pre-season preparations with a 21-19 win against the Cell C Sharks at FNB Stadium on Vodacom SuperHero Sunday.

The New Zealand outfit, which features a large contingent of All Blacks, last visited DHL Newlands in 2014, when a late try secured a dramatic one-point win for the DHL Stormers.

The last time the two teams played the opening game of the season was at DHL Newlands in 2012, when Siya Kolisi made a try-scoring debut off the replacements bench.

Kolisi, who now has 115 DHL Stormers caps to his name, will begin his fourth season as DHL Stormers captain.

The squad has been training together since early October in preparation for what will be the historic final season at DHL Newlands.

The 45-man group includes 10 Springboks, of which seven are World Cup Champions, as well as a British and Irish Lion in new signing Jamie Roberts.

Dobson said that with pre-season having now wrapped up, the focus shifts to ensuring that his team is ready to hit the ground running in their opening game against the Hurricanes next week.

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The Springbok Sevens management and players took full responsibility for their 10th place finish at the HSBC New Zealand Sevens on Sunday, admitting that it was a very disappointing performance and way below their regular and proud standards.

The Blitzboks lost 36-14 to Kenya in their final Pool B match and then went down 12-5 to Fiji in the 9th place playoff at FMG Stadium Waikato.

Kenya’s victory over the Blitzboks came after 14 consecutive wins for the South Africans, and two tries in the last two minutes by Fiji meant the Hamilton tournament ended in misery for Neil Powell and his squad.

These results, coupled with New Zealand winning their home tournament, saw the Blitzboks drop to joint-second spot on the overall HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series standings after three tournaments of 10 played. The Kiwis, who beat France by 27-5 in the final, top the log with 63 points, followed by South Africa and France (48 points each).

For Powell, it was a frustrating weekend in which the Blitzboks lost three matches in a row, a statistic that will hurt the squad, who came into the tournament on the back of 11 wins from their last 12 matches.

“We were just poor against Kenya, with our basics not on par,” said Powell about the performance that saw the Blitzboks go down 19-0 in the opening half.

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There were contrasting emotions in the Toyota Cheetahs and Isuzu Southern Kings camps following the dramatic Guinness PRO14 derby between the sides at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday in which a brave comeback allowed the Free Staters to edge through 31-30.

While Isuzu Southern Kings coach Robbie Kempson was angry at his team’s last-minute defeat, Toyota Cheetahs coach Hawies Fourie praised his side’s fighting spirit and veteran scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar’s influence as they bounced back from 30-12 down to earn the win.

Pienaar, who took the field a replacement, slotted over two conversions in the last 10 minutes – the second of which was to win the match.

The victory ensured that the Free Staters remained at the top-end of their conference, keeping them in the race for a possible playoff spot later in the season.

“We expected it to be a tight game, but I hoped it wouldn’t be that close,” said Fourie. “It is always a dogfight here. The Kings played really well.

“We made a lot of mistakes that earned them points, especially in the first half. There were three soft tries and that made the game difficult for us.” Continue reading

Pic: E! News

Pic: E! News

This from independent.co.uk:

Kobe Bryant has died in a helicopter crash in California, aged 41. The NBA legend was travelling in his private helicopter when it came down yesterday morning in Calabasas, 40 miles north-west of Los Angeles.

Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna was also among the nine people who all died in the incident.

Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife, was not on board. They have three further children together – Natalia, Bianca and six-month-old Capri.

A call for a downed helicopter went out at 10.01am, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said, and officials later confirmed Bryant’s death.
Video from Access:

 

Pic: Stormers Twitter

Pic: Stormers Twitter

A 28-man DHL Stormers squad will get a thorough work-out against four different teams on Varsity Day at Florida Park in Ravensmead on Saturday.

In the first pre-season fixture of the 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby campaign, the extended squad will face University teams UCT, Maties, CPUT and a DHL WP XV as part of a festival of rugby hosted by Tygerberg RFC.

Gates at Florida Park will open at 09h30 on Saturday morning and the DHL Stormers squad will play their first period against CPUT at 13h30, followed directly by 20 minutes against DHL WP XV at 14h00.

The players will then take a break as the Varsity teams battle it out amongst each other, with the final two 20-minute periods against UCT and five-time Varsity Cup champions Maties ending the day.

Entrance on the day at Florida Park will be R20, with parking also R20. The non-playing DHL Stormers will have a signing session at 14h30.

In the 28-man squad for the four 20-minute periods are several players with Vodacom Super Rugby experience such as Jean-Luc du Plessis, Godlen Masimla, Chad Solomon, Ernst van Rhyn, Ali Vermaak, Chris van Zyl and Leolin Zas, as well as former Springbok Hilton Lobberts who has returned to the Western Cape to play club rugby.

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Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell knows the route to the top of the podium at the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens – he has after all lifted the trophy more than once as a player, and watched his team do the same as a coach.

The Dubai tournament – the first of ten in the 2019/20 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – starts at The Sevens Stadium on Thursday, with the Blitzboks playing Kenya in their only match of the day.

Ann according to Powell, the Blitzboks arrived in Dubai confident after good preparation in Stellenbosch for the last two months.

“We also played in a warm-up tournament, so a lot of things we wanted to do have happened – but the real test remains here in Dubai when the tournament and series start,” said Powell.

South Africa have won the Dubai title six times before and for Powell a good start has always indicated what the season has in store for the Blitzboks.

“The pre-season normally manifests itself here and in Cape Town next weekend, but I think we have laid a good foundation for the opening two weeks,” he explained.

“There are a couple of challenges though. We needed to get through the 10-hour flight and its effects, and then a slight mindset change as the tournament is now starting a day earlier and will be played over three days and not the usual two.”

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Junior Springbok assistant coach, Bafana Nhleko – who is serving in the same capacity on the SA Under-19 team’s tour to Georgia – looked back at the positives from their 28-21 victory against the hosts on Monday, and singled out a few areas to work on ahead of their second and final tour match on Thursday.

The team overturned a halftime deficit of 18-14 to win their first match at the Shevardeni Rugby Stadium in the country’s capital, Tbilisi.

After reviewing the match on Tuesday morning, Nhleko said: “With such short preparation time and the testing playing conditions, the players did well to try to stick to the game plan. They adapted particularly well to the defensive breakdown interpretation, especially after conceding a few penalties in the first half.

“I also felt that we created opportunities on attack, but it is about being alert so that we can capitalise on them. We were also pleased with the defensive character the boys showed, and the fact that they limited the hosts to only three points in the second half,” he added.

Casting an eye on their next match-up on Thursday, Nhleko said: “Our leg drive in the tackle is a work on, as we lost some collisions, and we would also like to improve our ability to set early so that we can move the ball when the options are on.

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SA Rugby confirmed on Wednesday that the Springboks will face Scotland and Georgia in three home Tests in the new international window of July 2020, as part of the Castle Lager Incoming Series match schedule.

The newly-crowned Rugby World Cup champions are scheduled to play two Tests against Scotland, on 4 and 11 July, before hosting Georgia in a historical first home Test, on Saturday, 18 July.

It will be the Scots’ first visit to South Africa since June 2014, when the Boks beat them by 55-6 in Port Elizabeth. The Springboks and Georgia have only met once before, in a pool match at the Rugby World Cup in 2003 in Sydney, when SA won 46-19.

SA Rugby will confirm the venues and kick-off times of the three matches at a later stage.

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