Springbok flank Siya Kolisi makes his 100th appearance for the DHL Stormers on Saturday against traditional rivals the Vodacom Bulls in their important Vodacom Super Rugby Round 12 derby match in Cape Town, while hooker Scarra Ntubeni is set to play his 50th match off the bench for the home side.
This big South African derby match starts at 15h05 and will be televised live on SuperSport. The two South African sides will face each other in the only derby of the round, with both looking to keep in touch with local log leaders the Emirates Lions.
On Saturday morning the Emirates Lions continue with their New Zealand tour when they visit the Westpac Stadium in Wellington to face the Hurricanes from 09h35 (SA time).
Experienced Springbok prop Beast Mtawarira makes a welcome return to the Cell C Sharks side to take on the Highlanders at Jonsson Kings Park in Durban where this late Saturday afternoon fixture kicks off 17h15.
The Jaguares, the other team in the South African Conference, kick off the weekend’s action on Friday morning against the Chiefs in Rotorua (09h35).
Captain Siya Kolisi will play his 100th Vodacom Super Rugby game for the DHL Stormers when he leads the team out to face the Vodacom Bulls at DHL Newlands on Saturday.
The match, which kicks off at 15h05 on Saturday at DHL Newlands, is set to be a double milestone celebration for the DHL Stormers, with hooker Scarra Ntubeni in line to earn his 50th cap when he comes off the replacements bench.
The action at DHL Newlands will kick off at 12h15, when DHL Western Province will face Boland in a SuperSport Rugby Challenge curtain-raiser.
The DHL Stormers forward pack remains unchanged for the Vodacom Super Rugby derby, while there are two positional changes in the starting backline with JJ Engelbrecht shifting to outside centre and Dillyn Leyds on the wing.
As a result SP Marais comes in at fullback and Raymond Rhule is back on the wing.
There are two new faces on the replacements bench, with prop Frans Malherbe and flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis both making their return following long-term injuries.
DHL Stormers Head Coach Robbie Fleck said that his team is looking forward to what should be another classic North-South derby at DHL Newlands.
It is still early beginnings in the highly entertaining SuperSport Rugby Challenge, but the bar of excellence has already been set in the opening two rounds of the competition, with another weekend of high-class entertainment awaiting rugby fans across the country.
With two of the high flyers so far – iCOLLEGE Pumas and Tafel Lager Griquas – having a bye this weekend, eyes will be on another pacesetter, the defending champions DHL Western Province, to maintain the high standards set so far. Meanwhile, the continued improvement of the likes of Toyota Free State XV and SWD Eagles will also be looked at in anticipation.
DHL WP have not lost since the competition started in 2017 and will be looking for a 14th straight win, a remarkable achievement indeed, as some of those victories were achieved away from DHL Newlands, the traditional venue for the Cape side.
In fact, the DHL WP will only be in action at DHL Newlands for the second time since the tournament started and Paul Dobson’s young side will be keen to show why they should probably be considered the next bunch of future stars.
The Capetonians take on neighbours Boland, who will be coming into this clash rested and well-prepared after an early bye.
Junior Springbok fullback Gianni Lombard on Wednesday described the opportunity to represent the SA U20’s for the second season as a dream come true as the team got down to business in Edinburgh before Friday’s clash against Scotland.
The players had their first field training session at the Oriam sports performance centre and followed this up with a split session outdoors in the cold and wet Scottish conditions. Friday’s match will kick off at the Murrayfield B field at 14h00.
The three-match tour, which also features Tests against Wales in Cardiff and England in Worcester, is part of the team’s preparation for the World Rugby U20 Championship, which will be hosted in the south of France from 30 May to 17 June.
Lombard, who was born in Worcester in the Western Cape, has been a regular feature in SA Rugby’s junior high performance structures in the last few years, having progressed from the SA Schools team to the Junior Springboks.
“It is a privilege to represent the Junior Springboks for the second year in a row,” said Lombard. “It is a great feeling especially since few players receive the chance to play for the team in back-to-back seasons.
Salmaan Moerat will lead a Junior Springbok squad featuring seven players who participated in the World Rugby U20 Championship last year, from 30 May to 17 June in the south of France.
Moerat, who established himself as a fine captain for the SA Schools team in 2016, will have the support of Damian Willemse, Wandisile Simelane, Muller Uys, Gianni Lombard, Rewan Kruger and Daniel Jooste, all of whom were members of the 2016 SAU20 squad that won the bronze medal in Georgia.
Adding to this experience, Willemse has been the DHL Stormers’ preferred flyhalf this season, while Moerat also made his Vodacom Super Rugby debut, and utility back Muller du Plessis represented the Springbok Sevens team in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.
In total, 22 of the players in Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux’s 28-man squad also have junior international experience having represented the SA Schools or SA Schools A teams in the Under-18 International Series, while every player with the exception of lock Ruan Vermaak – who is recovering from a knee injury – featured in the warm-up matches against Georgia.
The DHL Stormers gained a valuable home win on Friday afternoon when they defeated the visiting Rebels 34-18 in their Vodacom Super Rugby clash in Cape Town, while a last minute penalty enabled the Highlanders to snatch a 29-28 win over the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday evening.
Earlier on Saturday saw the Emirates Lions suffer a surprise 27-22 loss to the Reds in Brisbane after the Highvelders trailed 24-0 at the interval, while the Cell C Sharks were not in action this weekend.
In the other SA conference match, the Jaguares recorded their first win over a New Zealand side courtesy of a 20-13 win in Auckland over the Blues on Saturday.
The Emirates Lions still lead the SA conference table on 31 points from 10 matches, while the Jaguares moved into the second spot (20 points) thanks to their historic success in Auckland. The Vodacom Bulls are third on point difference (20 points) while the Cape side improved their league tally to 18, the same as the Cell C Sharks.
The DHL Stormers clearly enjoy playing at home and on Friday they registered their fourth home victory by comfortably beating the Rebels following their 17-6 lead at the break. Damian de Allende, Dillyn Leyds and JJ Engelbrecht (2) were the DHL Stormers’ try scorers, while young flyhalf Damian Willemse kicked four conversions and two penalties.
It was a costly weekend for the Springbok Sevens as they lost stand-in skipper Kyle Brown for the season with a knee injury, and dropped to second place behind Fiji in the 2017/18 World Rugby Sevens Series standings after finishing fourth in Singapore.
The Blitzboks started the bronze final with only 10 fit players and were beaten 26-24 by England on Sunday. Earlier, the South Africans were edged 12-10 by Fiji in the semi-finals of the tournament, the eighth of the ten in the series.
Fiji, who started the tournament three points behind the Blitzboks and beat Australia nu 28-22 in the final, have now overhauled South Africa at the top of the log and lead by four points with two tournaments remaining, in London and Paris.
To make matters worse for Neil Powell’s team, Brown injured knee ligaments and will require surgery to repair the damage. He will not be available to play in the final two tournaments of the series, as well as the Rugby Sevens World Cup in July in San Francisco.
On the opening day of the HSBC Singapore Sevens, the Blitzboks lost the services of Rosko Specman, while Selvyn Davids missed the encounter against England because of injury.
In the past, South Africa’s national side has been blessed with star players from European clubs. Today the squad is predominantly picked from the domestic league, a truth that fills it with a strong vibrancy and positions Bafana Bafana well for next year’s African tournament. With the national team’s 2018 collection, the young squad has the kits to match its energy.
For 2018, the nation’s emerging crop of players will wear a new collection highlighted by a dazzling yellow home kit embellished with a powerful green print on the sleeves. The away kit is a bold green with a cascading horizontal pattern.
The South African Football Association collection launches April 27.
The Blitzboks strive for – and believe – that consistency is the key to success in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and helped them win the 2016/17 Series.
This weekend at the HSBC Singapore Sevens they will be looking for more of the same, but also know they have the small matter of the Commonwealth Games to put behind them.
“We often said one game will not define us or what we stand for as a Springbok Sevens team, yet that second half performance against England in the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast was one that did show some shortcomings in our attitude,” said the Springbok Sevens stand-in captain, Kyle Brown.
“We were in fact defined by that one game as it also knocked us off the podium and we left Australia without a medal, disappointing many, including ourselves.”
Brown is wearing the armband this weekend in place of Philip Snyman, who has been rested following a heavy workload during the series.
The Blitzboks have held the World Series lead since the opening tournament in Dubai, but in the last couple of tournaments conceded points to Fiji, who are now only three points behind in second place.
Rassie Erasmus, the SA Rugby Director of Rugby, said on Wednesday he is very pleased with the outcome of the three Springbok alignment camps used to accelerate preparations for the forthcoming international rugby season. The third and last four-day camp, featuring 15 players from the Cell C Sharks and one from the Toyota Cheetahs, concluded earlier today in Durban.
A combined total of 34 players from the Vodacom Bulls, Emirates Lions and DHL Stormers attended two similar camps staged earlier this month in Vanderbijlpark.
Junior Springbok coaching staff members Chean Roux and Louis Koen were also present at the Durban camp alongside Cell C Sharks head coach, Robert du Preez, as well as other coaching and conditioning personnel of the Durban-based franchise.
Looking back at the three camps, Erasmus said they have proved to be an extremely productive and useful exercise.
“I am very satisfied with the amount of technical and tactical preparation we did. We wanted the opportunity to spend some time with the players and explain our technical and playing philosophy as we prepare for the international season,” explained Erasmus.