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The Vuka Rugby programme – a joint rugby development initiative between the SA Rugby Legends Association (SARLA) and SA Rugby – was a big winner at three 2017 Department of Education Awards Ceremonies in the last two weeks, with the project in the East Rand region receiving nine awards.

The Vuka programme is a grass-roots development initiative aimed at promoting rugby in disadvantaged communities across the country.

The initiative received awards in a variety of categories in the Gauteng East region including Sport Code of The Year, while Temperence Sibutha won Administrator of The Year, Tebogo Mochabo Technical Official of the Year, Alra Park Secondary School Team of The Year, and Miqual Fredericks Male Athlete of the Year.

The Ekurhuleni region awards were split into north and south, with four awards being received up north and one in the south.

In Ekurhuleni South, Vuka earned the Sport Code of the Year and Nande Maduna Male Athlete of the Year award, while special awards were granted to the Vuka Development Programme for its role in the development of sport in the wider community, and Vuka coordinator, Nomvula Ncqala, for her role in the development of Sport in the community.

In the north, Valke region Vuka coordinator, Jacobus Coetzer, won the award for Code of the Year at the 2017 Ekurhuleni North Districts Awards for an outstanding achievement in rugby development in townships. Continue reading

The big contest at Loftus Versfeld kicks off at 17h15. All four the South African teams will be in action during the weekend’s third round fixtures.

On Saturday morning (08h35) the DHL Stormers, with Dillyn Leyds at flyhalf in place of the injured Damian Willemse, face defending champions Crusaders in another crunch away fixture at the AMI Stadium in Christchurch.

Apart from Leyds’s move to flyhalf – a position where he last played for the Capetonians in their victory over the Blues last season – DHL Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has made another four changes to his run-on team, with Seabelo Senatla, EW Viljoen, Cobus Wiese and JC Janse van Rensburg all earning starting berths.

This match will be followed by the 15h05 fixture between the Cell C Sharks and the visiting Waratahs at Kings Park in Durban, where the men from Sydney have not won since 2009.

Cell C Sharks coach Robert du Preez has made seven changes to his team for this match, which includes the return of three Springboks to the starting team – they are experienced prop Tendai Mtawarira, loose forward Keegan Daniel and scrumhalf Louis Schreuder.

Last week the Vodacom Bulls got their campaign under new coach John Mitchell off to a winning start against the Hurricanes. This Saturday they face their rivals from across the Jukskei River in a mouth-watering local derby at Loftus.

Mitchell has selected an unchanged side from last week, with Warrick Gelant, a late withdrawal against the ‘Canes, still sidelined with a knee injury.

Emirates Lions coach Swys de Bruin has shuffled his team somewhat for the visit to Loftus. Kwagga Smith is struggling with a slight injury and is being rested for the match, which has resulted in two positional switches. Springbok lock Franco Mostert moves to blindside flank while Cyle Brink shifts to the other side of the scrum to play in the No 6 jersey.

In the backline, powerful midfielder Rohan Janse van Rensburg is preferred at inside centre while Harold Vorster moves to the bench. Continue reading

Golden Lions Under-21 Championship head coach Bafana Nhleko has been added to a trimmed down Junior Springbok management team as assistant coach for the World Rugby U20 Championship in the south of France from 30 May to 17 June.

The 35-year-old Nhleko, who has been in the Xerox Golden Lions’ coaching structures since 2011, replaces Mzwandile Stick, who will assist the Springboks this year.

Nhleko steered the union’s SuperSport Rugby Challenge team to the semi-finals last year, while he also coached the team in the Currie Cup qualifiers in 2016. He has been the union’s U21 coach since 2016 – a role he will continue to fulfil this year.

“Bafana has progressed steadily through the coaching structures at the Golden Lions in the last few years, and we are delighted that he will join the Junior Springboks as an assistant coach,” said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.

“He has a solid coaching track record having steered the Golden Lions U21s to victory in the 2016 SA Rugby U21 Championship, while he also guided their U21s and SuperSport Rugby Challenge teams to their respective semi-finals last year, so we are confident that he will add value to Chean Roux’s team.

“His experience of working with U21 players will also be invaluable as the coaches lay the foundation for the SA U20s to improve on their third-place finish in the tournament in Georgia last year.” Continue reading



Rassie Erasmus will spearhead a streamlined but experienced Springbok management team until the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, SA Rugby confirmed on Wednesday, as the former Springbok captain will combine his Springbok coaching duties with his current role as Director of Rugby at SA Rugby.

The 45-year-old Erasmus takes over the national coaching duties from Allister Coetzee, who was in charge of the Boks during the past two years. His three assistant coaches will be Jacques Nienaber, Pieter de Villiers and Mzwandile Stick, while Aled Walters will join the management team as Head of Athletic Performance.

Nienaber previously served as a Springbok defence coach for a short stint under Coetzee before joining Erasmus at Munster in 2016. De Villiers worked as scrum consultant under former Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer from 2012 to 2015, while Stick was a member of the 2016 Springbok coaching staff before his involvement with the Junior Springboks last year.

Walters, who has considerable international experience gained from working in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, joins the team from Irish side Munster, where he was their Head of Athletic Performance.

According to SA Rugby CEO, Jurie Roux, the changes to the Springbok management team are the result of a very thorough review process of the 2017 season.

“The Springbok team is our flagship brand and the on-field performances have a direct impact on the business of SA Rugby,” said Roux.

“Following a very detailed review process of the 2017 season, I believe that we have managed to assemble a strong and experienced Springbok coaching and management staff. We are looking forward to see improved performances this season.” Continue reading

The Blitzboks are widely hailed for the variety they offer as a team, and while the squad currently preparing in Las Vegas for this weekend’s HSBC USA Sevens fit in with that notion, Siviwe Soyizwapi points out that they also have enough younger players keen to prove themselves to keep the intensity high.

“There are a couple of guys who have been here many times and a handful will be here for the first time, but we all have one aim, to deliver our best on the weekend,” said Soyizwapi, who missed the tournaments in Sydney and Hamilton due to a knee injury he picked up in December in Cape Town.

Now back to full fitness, Soyizwapi is keen to catch up on lost time with the team and shine in the fifth event of the series: “I am really pleased to be back in the squad and playing with the boys. It is another fantastic opportunity for all of us to go out, express ourselves and contribute. That is an exciting feeling to know that we will be out there playing for our country soon.”

Las Vegas debutant, Selvyn Davids, said he is keen to impress, but his focus will be a measured one. The Blitzbok playmaker wants to become a regular member of the team, but for now he isn’t looking further ahead than this weekend.

“I got injured in my only tournament for the Blitzboks in Hong Kong last year, so looking ahead does not always help much,” said Davids.

“My focus will be to use my opportunities this time around and just enjoy this weekend. Next week’s issues will be dealt with next week.”



Dillyn Leyds will start at flyhalf in one of four changes to the DHL Stormers starting line-up to face the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.

The versatile Leyds, who last played at flyhalf in the DHL Stormers’ victory against the Blues at DHL Newlands last year, moves into the pivot position in place of the injured Damian Willemse.

Leyds’ place on the wing is taken by Seabelo Senatla, with EW Viljoen coming in at outside centre for the injured JJ Engelbrecht in the only other backline change.

In the front row, experienced loosehead prop JC Janse van Rensburg makes his first start of the season, with Steven Kitshoff set to make an impact from the replacements bench, while in the loose trio Cobus Wiese is back at blindside flank after missing out last week.

DHL Stormers Head Coach Robbie Fleck said that his team is determined to give it absolutely everything in Christchurch.

“The players are very excited about what we can achieve against the Crusaders this week, we certainly will not be holding back.

“It has been a good week of preparation and the mindset is that we are ready to rise to the challenge that the defending chanpions will present on their home turf,” he said.

DHL Stormers: 15 SP Marais, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Dillyn Leyds, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 JC Janse van Resnburg.
Replacements: 16 Dean Muir, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Kobus van Dyk, 22 Justin Phillips, 23 George Whitehead.

SA Pro skater Jean-marc makes history by becoming the first African skater to reach this year’s Projam International Extreme Games podium in Bali this past weekend.

Having been specially invited to the ProJam to compete against 29 of the world’s top riders, I knew I had to put in everything I had and not disappoint! I am honoured to have represented South Africa at such a prestigious event,” says Jean-marc.

Commenting on his journey to the ProJams Jean-marc remarked on his experience, “following the postponement of the ProJam Festival due to volcanic activity on Mount Agung and thinking it might not happen, it actually turned out to be my top achievement thus far. Not only as my first podium in a professional category, but also having had the honour to share the podium with one of Thailand’s top pros, Jasper Dhors and Indonesia’s biggest, Pevi Permana.”

“It was the most epic and memorable contest and I want to say well done to all the skaters holding it down to the very end!,” concluded Jean-marc.

Rosko Specman, Marithy Pienaar, Chris Dry, Zintle Maphupa and Justin Geduld in their new Castle Free-branded jerseys is attached. Pic: Dominic Barnardt / Gallo Images.

Rosko Specman, Marithy Pienaar, Chris Dry, Zintle Maphupa and Justin Geduld in their new Castle Free-branded jerseys is attached. Pic: Dominic Barnardt / Gallo Images.

Castle Free, the latest product in a long range of established brands by SA Breweries, was on Wednesday revealed as the new headline sponsor of the Springboks Sevens, the Springbok Women’s Sevens and the SA Rugby Sevens Academy teams.

The sponsorship continues a long-standing relationship between the rugby body and SA Breweries, said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby, and it comes just at the right time for the thriving sevens programmes.

“The three-and-a-half year deal to back the Blitzboks and our sevens programme is in fact part of the continued partnership we have had with SA Breweries over many years,” said Roux.

“They have been involved in sponsoring other national teams such as the Springboks in the past and are currently the title sponsor to all of the Boks’ competitions and tours, such as the Castle Lager Incoming Series and the Castle Lager Rugby Championship. Continue reading

A strong Springbok Sevens team will be in action as part of Team South Africa at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia, where they will defend the title they won four years ago.

At the same time, the Springbok Women’s Sevens team will be in action for the first time at this international showpiece, which takes place from 4 to 15 April.

SASCOC has named the South African team to represent the country at the prestigious event, which for the first time will include a women’s sevens competition. In all, Team South Africa athletes will do battle across 16 codes.

Seven members of the team to Glasgow in 2014, will be back for another taste of Commonwealth Games action. They are Kyle Brown, Justin Geduld, Cecil Afrika, Werner Kok, Branco du Preez, Kwagga Smith and Seabelo Senatla.

The Blitzboks have been drawn in Pool A with Scotland, Papua New Guinea and Malaysia for the sevens tournament, which is scheduled for 14-15 April at the Robina Stadium. The Springbok Women’s Sevens will face New Zealand, Canada and Kenya in their pool matches. 

The Rugby Sevens teams are: 

Men: Tim Agaba, Philip Snyman, Dylan Sage, Kwagga Smith, Werner Kok, Kyle Brown, Branco du Preez, Rosko Specman, Justin Geduld, Cecil Afrika, Seabelo Senatla, Ruhan Nel, Siviwe Soyizwapi (travelling reserve).

Women: Nadine Roos, Eloise Webb, Unathi Mali, Megan Comley, Zintle Mpupha, Veroeshka Grain, Zenay Jordaan, Marithy Pienaar, Mathrin Simmers, Christelene Steinhobel, Chane Stadler, Zinthle Ndawonde, Aseza Hele (travelling reserve).

Fortunes may have been won and lost in Las Vegas, but Springbok Sevens players Branco du Preez and Stedman Gans only have good memories of this iconic city.

Last year, Du Preez played in his 50th tournament for the Blitzboks in the Sam Boyd Stadium and to add to the occasion, claimed a gold medal as South Africa won the tournament. Gans make his Blitzboks debut at the same tournament after travelling to the USA as replacement player and then taking over from the injured Justin Geduld.

“This is one of my favourite tournaments, no doubt,” admitted Du Preez, who has been part of three tournament-winning squads at this venue.

“I like the fact that the pitch is slightly smaller and play a bit more direct. We have done well in the past and I am determined to contribute to another successful effort.”

Du Preez also values the time with the squad: “We are a bunch of friends, doing our best for each other and this tournament is just another opportunity to do that.”

In 2017, Gans was ecstatic after his debut for the Blitzboks also resulted in a tournament win.

“I was pleased then to be part of the team and I am pretty pleased to be here now,” said Gans. Continue reading

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