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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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South African rugby is entering a whole new universe in 2019 as SA Rugby, SuperSport, Vodacom and Marvel team up to bring Super Heroes to life and create an all-conquering, planet-shifting, villain-busting “Superpowered” Vodacom Super Rugby competition.

Some of Marvel’s most iconic Super Heroes will join forces with South Africa’s most powerful rugby stars to turn every one of the South African derbies in the 2019 Vodacom Super Rugby season into an action-packed adventure in and outside the stadiums.

In a ground-breaking collaboration between SA Rugby, SuperSport, Vodacom and Marvel, each of the South African Vodacom Super Rugby teams will be assigned a Marvel Super Hero as their look for the home derbies next season.

The Vodacom Bulls kit will be emblazoned with the colours of Captain America, the Emirates Lions will channel their inner-Spider-Man, the Cell C Sharks’ kit will be inspired by Black Panther and the DHL Stormers will be wearing Thor’s colours. The kit designs will be revealed at a later stage.

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At the 27th annual General Council meeting of the Western Province Rugby Football Union (WPRFU) held at DHL Newlands on Monday, November 26, the General Council voted Zelt Marais in as the new WPRFU President.

With outgoing President Thelo Wakefield stepping down after completing a second term, the former Deputy President Marais was chosen by the clubs to replace him.

Wakefield’s tenure as WPRFU President ran from 2012 until 2018, which is the maximum term of office.

“It has been a pleasure to serve the WPRFU for the last 28 years and especially the last six years as President. I have given my all for this Union and will cherish the memories made during my term of office,” he said.

Marais has served as a WPRFU Executive Committee member for 12 years and was Deputy President of the Union for the last two years.

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The revival of club rugby will receive another boost in 2019 when a pioneering amateur provincial competition is trialled in the Western Cape.

The pilot project – a joint initiative between SA Rugby and the SWD Rugby Football Union – will see the best club players in SWD being given the opportunity to represent their municipal regions in an eight-team tournament that will take place across the length and breadth of the Garden Route (formerly Eden) and Central Karoo Districts.

The competition will be divided into two divisions, with representative teams from George, Oudtshoorn, Mossel Bay and Hessequa Local Municipalities contesting the Community Cup. Bitou, Knysna and Kannaland Local Municipalities will be joined by Central Karoo District in the Community Shield.

The pilot – which for the first time in South African rugby will see senior select teams representing their municipal regions – will kick off on 28 September 2019, with each team playing the other three sides in their division home and away. The top two teams in each division will contest the Community Cup and Shield Finals at Outeniqua Park, George, on 9 November 2019 – the weekend after the Rugby World Cup Final.

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