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Vodacom Blue Bulls flyhalf Manie Libbok and his iCOLLEGE Pumas counterpart, Chris Smith, were in superb form in the opening round of the Currie Cup Premier Division on Friday and helped steer their teams to vital bonus point victories.

The Vodacom Blue Bulls defeated the Toyota Free State Cheetahs 34-12 in Bloemfontein for an invaluable away-win, while the iCOLLEGE Pumas outplayed Tafel Lager Griquas 42-19 in Nelspruit as the Currie Cup – proudly brought to you by DirectAxis Financial Services and Nashua – got off to an exciting start.

Libbok scored 17 points for his team, while Smith earned 22 points in a memorable Currie Cup debut, with both players scoring tries and keeping the scoreboard ticking with accurate goal-kicking.

The Free Staters broke out of the blocks quickly against the Vodacom Blue Bulls as Joseph Dweba scored from enterprising play in the second minute, but the visitors cancelled this out in the 13th minute as Libbok crossed the chalk. The two converted tries proved to be the only points of the first half, which saw the teams enter the break level at 7-7.

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There are six changes to the DHL Western Province U19 team to face Leopards U19 in Potchefstroom on Saturday.

Following their comfortable win against EP Elephants U19 at Boland Landbou near Paarl last week, DHL Western Province U19 coach Nazeem Adams has made four changes in the forwards and two among the backs for the encounter, which kicks off at 11h00 at the Fanie du Toit Sportsgrounds on Saturday.

In the backline wing Christian Ambadiang and outside centre David Kriel are back in the starting line-up, with scrumhalf Lucky Dlepu, flyhalf Chris Schreuder and outside back Aydon Topley on the replacements bench.

In the forward pack flank Marcel Theunissen, lock Herman le Roux and props Hugo Pienaar and Dian Bleuler all make their return for the trip to Potchefstroom.

Adams said that his team is determined to show that they can perform away from home in Potchefstroom.

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Arch-rivals Border and Western Province will meet in the blockbuster match in an action-packed weekend in the A Section of SA Rugby’s Women’s Interprovincial Competition, while the B Section will kick off this weekend.

Free State and the Blue Bulls get proceedings underway in the A Section on Friday in Bloemfontein, and on Saturday, KwaZulu-Natal host on Eastern Province in Sydenham, while defending champions Western Province will meet 2017 runners up, Border, at the BCM Stadium in East London.

An epic clash is expected between Border and Western Province. Apart from the fact that it is a table-topping clash, one of the sides may suffer their first defeat of the season, and there has been an intense rivalry between the teams in the last few seasons, which has seen them battle it out in the last two finals.

Eastern Province and KwaZulu-Natal have each won one of their last two encounters and with only two pool rounds remaining before the playoffs, both sides will be determined to come out on top.

The Blue Bulls and Free State are in search of their first victory of the season when they cross paths in Bloemfontein, and with both sides having to win all three of their remaining matches to keep alive their slim hopes of advancing to the top two, they will be determined to get the result.

The fact that the last-placed side will drop to the B Section next season as promotion-relegation comes into play, will serve as extra motivation to ensure that they are not at the foot of the log table.

In the B Section all eight teams will be determined to get their seasons off to a strong start as they will have only three pool rounds to secure their place in the final.

The teams will once again be split into two groups of four. Group 1 will comprise of Griquas, SWD, the Griffons and Boland, and Group 2 features the Golden Lions, Leopards, Limpopo and the Pumas. The top-placed team in each group will advance to the final.

SWD and the Griffons will get the B Section underway in George on Saturday, which will be followed by clashes between the Boland and Griquas in Caledon, Limpopo and the Pumas in Polokwane, and the Golden Lions and Leopards in Johannesburg.

Women’s Interprovincial A Section Round 3 fixtures:

Friday, 17 August:

16h30: Free State v Blue Bulls – Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein

Saturday, 18 August:

10h00: KZN v Eastern Province – Jaguars Rugby Club, Sydenham

15h00: Border v Western Province – BCM Stadium, East London

Women’s Interprovincial B Section Round 1 fixtures:

Saturday, 18 August:

11h30: SWD v Griffons – Outeniqua Park, George

14h00: Boland v Griquas – Caledon Sports Grounds, Caledon

15h00: Limpopo v Pumas – Old Peter Mokaba Stadium C-field, Polokwane

15h30: Golden Lions v Leopards – Milo Park, UJ Stadium, Johannesburg

The domestic rugby scene will move up a gear from Friday as the Currie Cup – proudly sponsored by Nashua and Direct Axis – kicks off what promises to be more than two months’ top-class action between the best seven provincial teams in the country.

The opening clash of the 2018 season will be in Nelspruit, where the iCOLLEGE Pumas will host Tafel Lager Griquas at 17h00, while the Toyota Free State Cheetahs and Vodacom Blue Bulls will meet in Bloemfontein at 19h00.

Defending champions, DHL Western Province, 2017 runners-up, the Cell C Sharks, and the Xerox Golden Lions have byes this weekend. But all the teams are fully aware that every match will count this season, as they battle it out in a gripping single round, which will culminate in the semi-finals and final on consecutive Saturdays, 20 and 27 October respectively.

The iCOLLEGE Pumas and Tafel Lager Griquas, who were involved in a pulsating SuperSport Rugby Challenge Final recently, have met in the Currie Cup Premier Division 22 times dating back to 1997, with the Nelspruit side winning only eight of those encounters. But they will be determined to make the most of their home ground advantage on Friday.

The last three clashes between the sides were closely-fought, with the biggest winning margin six points, which will set the scene for a gripping battle at the Mbombela Stadium.

The iCOLLEGE Pumas team will feature Marnus Schoeman, who was a member of the Emirates Lions Vodacom Super Rugby squad, in what will mark his 30th match for the side and his first appearance in the jersey in 20 months. Stefan Ungerer and Chris Smith will dictate play in the halfback pairing.

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Dillyn Leyds will start at flyhalf and take over the captaincy for DHL Western Province in their pre-season encounter with Montpellier in Millau on Thursday.

Leyds will direct the team in the No.10 jersey, as stand-in captain for regular skipper Chris van Zyl who is unavailable due to injury, in the final warm-up match ahead of DHL Western Province’s Currie Cup title defence, which kicks off against Toyota Free State Cheetahs at DHL Newlands on August 25.

They will be up against a formidable Montpellier squad, which featured the likes of Springboks Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis, Frans Steyn, Ruan Pienaar and Johan Goosen, as well as French international Alexandre Dumoulin in their last warm-up game.

Last season’s Top 14 runners-up should provide a serious test for DHL Western Province in the pre-season friendly at the Parc des Sports de Millau, with kicks-off at 19h00 on Thursday.

Leyds is partnered at halfback by experienced scrumhalf Jano Vermaak, with Dan Kriel and JJ Engelbrecht in midfield.

SP Marais moves to fullback, with Sergeal Petersen and Craig Barry outside him on the wings, while there are five backs on the extended bench, with Herschel Jantjies, Josh Stander, Paul de Wet, Dan du Plessis and Duncan Saal all set to make an impact in the second half.

Up front Ramone Samuels is at hooker, with props Michael Kumbirai and Ali Vermaak either side of him.

In the second row Salmaan Moerat links up with JD Schickerling, while in the loose trio Chris Massyn and Kobus van Dyk are the flanks, with Juarno Augustus at No.8.

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Adrian Alberts has shrugged off the injury niggle which ruled him out of action for the Aon Under-18 International Series opener over the weekend and will lead the SA Schools side in their second match of the series, on Tuesday against France.

This match, at Stellenberg High School in Durbanville, kicks off at 16h00. Wales and England’s U18 sides square off at 14h15 at the same venue.

SA Schools coach Sean Erasmus made 12 changes to his side that beat Wales by 43-40 at Boland Landbou on Friday. Only outside centre and vice-captain, Muzi Manyike, and the halfback pair of Juan Mostert (flyhalf) and Thomas Bursey (scrumhalf), will start again.

“All the players in the squad have worked hard and deserve a chance to get some game time,” said Erasmus.

“It’s good to have Adrian back and I’m looking forward to see him play with Lunga Ncube in the middle row, while we’ve also decided to use Sibusiso Sangweni at flank, to give us an extra option at the back of the lineout.

“The boys have seen France’s impressive performance against England and we know we’re in for a massive challenge on Tuesday, but we have shown that we’re a team with character in coming back to beat Wales, so I’m excited about the match.

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The Border Under-18 and Western Province U16 girls’ teams successfully defended their Women’s Youth Training Centre (YTC) Festival titles at Florida Park in Ravensmead, Cape Town, on Saturday, as the top junior women showcased their talent in the annual Women’s Month celebration.

The tournament started on Friday, with the Border U18 team kicking off their campaign with a comprehensive 39-5 victory against KwaZulu-Natal, which they built on the following day to defeat Western Province 5-0 in an epic clash. This was enough to book their place in the final against Eastern Province, who beat Griquas and SWD in their pool matches.

Border proved too strong for their Eastern Cape counterparts in the final as they delivered a solid performance on attack and defence to secure a 25-10 victory.

In the U16 category, Western Province delivered a strong showing in their opening match against the KwaZulu-Natal for a 28-5 victory, while it came down to a coin toss against Border to book their place in the final, as the teams finished the tightly-fought match level at 0-0.

The Capetonians went up against Eastern Province – who overcame SWD and the Blue Bulls in the round-robin phase – in the final, and they succeeded in delivering another dominant showing for a 22-12 victory to emerge victorious for the second year in a row.

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Youth development was under the spotlight on International Youth Day, 12 August.

Cape Town, 13 August 2018 – Creating long-term opportunities through sustainability, the blossoming list of internationally recognised marathons around the country are making major contributions to multiple South African industries, and it is fitting that International Youth Day was celebrated in the build-up to the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon.

The annual day of recognition for youth around the world was celebrated yesterday, six weeks before the country’s most prestigious 42.2km race is held in the Mother City on Sunday, September 23.

With the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon leading the way after retaining IAAF Gold Label Status this year, domestic road races are acting as a game changer which have expanded their reach well beyond the realms of sport and provided real value in the nation’s continuous growth.

Offering world-class organisation, lucrative prize purses and widespread media coverage, a handful of local marathon contests are able to attract globally recognised elite athletes and large mass fields, boosting the economy and providing opportunities in local communities and beyond.

Along with the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, and other races across a variety of distances between 10km and 90km, well established 42.2km races held in various provinces around South Africa have established their place among the best in the continent.

Playing a central role in the growth of the sport, the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon’s flagship race over the classic 42.2km distance will continue to have a significant impact on the Mother City.

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Hooker Scarra Ntubeni will captain DHL Western Province in their pre-season match against Narbonne in Millau on Saturday.

The first encounter of DHL Western Province’s pre-season trip to France will see them face the Pro D2 outfit at the Parc des sports de Millau, with kick-off at 20h00 on Saturday.

Skipper Ntubeni will be joined in the front row by props Caylib Oosthuizen and Carlu Sadie, with the Ali Vermaak, Chad Solomon, Neethling Fouche and Michael Kumbirai all providing cover on the extended bench.

The second row will feature two former SA Schools and Junior Springbok captains in Ernst van Rhyn and Salmaan Moerat, who was a late addition to the touring group after being released from the Springbok training squad.

The loose trio will see flanks Chris Massyn and Johan du Toit link up with the powerful Juarno Augustus, with Kobus van Dyk and the versatile Ramone Samuels set to make an impact off the replacements bench.

In the backline Paul de Wet and Josh Stander form the halfback pairing, with Dan Kriel and SP Marais in midfield.

At the back Sergeal Petersen will make his first appearance for DHL Western Province having fully recovered from injury, with Duncan Saal on the right wing and Craig Barry at fullback.

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Pic: Gallo Images

Pic: Gallo Images

Muzi Manyike will lead the SA Schools from outside centre at Boland Landbou near Paarl when they get their Aon Under-18 International Series underway against Wales on Friday. England face France earlier in the day in the four team series.

Lock Adrian Alberts, named as captain of the SA Schools team for the series, will not be in action due to a slight strain. Hooker Jean-Jacques Kotze was named as Manyike’s back-up for this match.

Manyike, head boy of Jeppe Boys’ High in Johannesburg, represented the Bidvest Walton Golden Lions at the Coca-Cola Under-18 Craven Week held in July and according to SA Schools Head Coach, Sean Erasmus, was named in that position for a particular reason.

“We looked at the squad and where our strengths are and picked particular players in positions where they will help to boosts those good attributes,” said Erasmus.

“We feel that our outside backs and back three hold some attacking threats and would like to use that to our advantage.

“Muzi will play an important role in that regard, not only as captain, but as communicator in that role.

“We want to provide a framework within which the team must play, but we also want the players to express themselves in the process. We had a limited number of days together as a team, so we focussed on the basic structures and fundamentals,” he explained.

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