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Note to Editors: A rights-free image of Evan Roos being tackled by JD Schickerling of the DHL Stormers is attached. Photo credit: Ashley Vlotman, Gallo Images.

Junior Springbok coach Chean Roux would have been excused if he experienced some form of déjà vu on Tuesday when the SA Rugby Academy squad took on his old team, the DHL Stormers, in a friendly hit-out that would have stood the youngsters in good stead as they stepped up their preparations for the rest of the season.

Roux, who is also at the helm of the SA Rugby Academy, represented the Capetonians in Vodacom Super Rugby during his playing days. He was very grateful to his former team-mate and current DHL Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck, for agreeing to the “friendly match” in Bellville.

The SA Rugby Academy squad gathered in Stellenbosch last week Wednesday for the second of three training camps, and the session against the DHL Stormers marked their second “live” hit-out against opposition teams, in line with the Academy’s objective to develop top-class players.

The teams took to the field at DHL Western Province’s High Performance Centre in Bellville, where Roux had the opportunity to guide his team hands-on during a series of short breaks.

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· Dynamic South African companies SSG Holdings, Blu Approved & M4Jam team up to sponsor SA Rugby’s flagship national championship for non-university clubs

· The 2019 SSG Gold Cup, Presented by Blu Approved & M4JAM, will kick off on Saturday 9 March with matches in Worcester, George, Uitenhage, Durban, Welkom, Springs, Roodepoort and Pretoria

· Strength v strength, six-week, 32-match competition culminates in Grand Final on 13 April

· Sponsorship forms part of SA Rugby’s long-term strategy to reboot club and amateur representative rugby

The Springboks’ 2007 Rugby World Cup winning captain, John Smit, has thrown his weight behind the revival of club rugby, with confirmation that the Gold Cup has secured a trio of dynamic sponsors for 2019.

The Gold Cup — SA Rugby’s flagship national championship for non-university clubs, which has become known for its big crowds and flamboyant rugby — will kick off on Saturday and be known as the SSG Gold Cup, Presented by Blu Approved & M4Jam.

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With a clear focus on meeting and exceeding its transformation objectives, Western Province Rugby has revised its coaching and team management structures.

These revisions will ensure that Western Province Rugby will make the best strategic use of their coaching resources while simultaneously establishing a clear succession plan in developing its coaching talent for the future.

“The simple objective of the revised structures are to ensure that we utilise our current resources in the most optimal way, developing and securing world-class coaching talent that aligns with our transformation goals,” said Western Province Rugby Group CEO, Paul Zacks.

With Director of Rugby Gert Smal set to leave at the end of March in order to take up a new opportunity with Toyota Verblitz in Japan, his roles and responsibilities will be collectively handled by the CEO, the Senior Professional Head Coach and the High Performance Manager.

The changes to the DHL Stormers management in 2019 have seen Riefaat Jappie (Strength and Conditioning Coach), Norman Laker (Defence Coach), and Dawie Snyman (Assistant Coach – Backs) come into the set-up. They join Head Coach Robbie Fleck, Russell Winter (Assistant Coach – Forwards), Human Kriek (Technical Analyst) and Team Manager Chippie Solomon in the DHL Stormers management for the 2019 Vodacom Super Rugby campaign.

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The Springbok Sevens team will face Fiji in Las Vegas on Sunday evening, not in the Cup competition of the HSBC Las Sevens as they had hoped, but rather in the semi-final for fifth place.

South Africa were eliminated 29-10 by the USA in the Cup quarter-finals in Las Vegas, where Fiji, Australia and England also fell by the wayside at the same stage of the competition. The USA, New Zealand, Samoa and Argentina will contest the Cup semi-finals the fifth tournament of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

Earlier on the second day, the Blitzboks delivered a commanding 29-12 win over the English in their final match to top their pool. However, they were blown away by a determined USA in the Cup quarters, trailing 19-0 at the break and then 29-0 before two late tries eased the pain a little.

Sunday’s matches will be significant for the overall standings, as all teams have their eyes firmly focussed on a top four spot on the overall World Series log, which will bring automatic qualification for the Olympic Games in Japan in 2020.

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Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard was in commanding form on Saturday as he piloted the Vodacom Bulls to an impressive 30-12 derby win over the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg, while the DHL Stormers clinched a second straight Vodacom Super Rugby win thanks to their hard-fought 16-11 triumph over the Cell C Sharks 16-11 in Durban.

In some other round three action, the Sunwolves beat the Chiefs 30-15 in Hamilton for their maiden away win of the competition, the Crusaders notched up their 18th successive win thanks to a 22-12 success over the Reds in Brisbane, while the Jaguares won their home game 23-19 against the Blues.

Pollard steers Vodacom Bulls to victory over Emirates Lions in Joburg


The Vodacom Bulls gave a powerful performance to hand the Emirates Lions a second successive defeat with their 30-12 triumph on Saturday afternoon in Johannesburg.

Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard pulled the strings as he delivered a commanding performance in the No 10 jersey, kicking six penalties and a conversion for a personal tally of 20 points. Duane Vermeulen (No 8) and Warrick Gelant (No 15) were the try scorers for the Pretoria outfit.

The visitors led 14-0 at the break thanks to a superior effort from the forwards, which enabled them to starve the home side from any meaningful possession and territory.

Although the Highvelders improved in the second stanza, it was however the Vodacom Bulls, and Pollard in particular, who kept the scoreboard ticking with some impressive goal-kicking.

Front rankers Carlu Sadie and Dylan Smith (replacement) dotted down for the red and white jerseys, captained for the first time by hooker Malcolm Marx in the injury absence of regular skipper Warren Whiteley.

In next weekend’s action, the Emirates Lions host the Jaguares for their second home match (15h05) while the Vodacom Bulls take on the Cell Sharks at Loftus Versfeld (17h15).

Emirates Lions (0) 12, Vodacom Bulls (14) 30 Continue reading

The DHL Stormers stunned the Emirates Lions with a last-gasp try in their Vodacom Super Rugby derby in Cape Town on Saturday afternoon, the Cell C Sharks notched up their second win in a row when they defeated the Blues in Durban, while the Jaguares defeated the Vodacom Bulls in the final fixture of this weekend’s second round action.

Cell C Sharks sink their teeth into Blues in Durban


Replacement Curwin Bosch scored an intercept try in the last few minutes to secure a second straight bonus-point win for the Cell C Sharks in their first home game of the campaign in Durban on Saturday.

The home side gave a good attacking and defensive display in the first half which allowed them to build a deserved 19-0 lead at the break. Aphelele Fassi, Robert du Preez and Akker van der Merwe each scored a try in the opening half that was marked by some slick handling and strong mauling by the coastal outfit.

The visiting Blues played much better in the second half and scored their only try through replacement Tanielu Tele’a, while flyhalf Oteri Black also had a try disallowed. Ruan Botha was yellow-carded in the 77th minute but the hosts were able to hold onto their lead for their second win. The Cell C Sharks host the DHL Stormers in Durban next Saturday (17h15). Click on the scores to access the full match details.
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Riders during stage 1 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held from Hermanus High School in Hermanus, South Africa on the 20th March 2017 Photo by Ewald Sadie/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS PLEASE ENSURE THE APPROPRIATE CREDIT IS GIVEN TO THE PHOTOGRAPHER AND SPORTZPICS ALONG WITH THE ABSA CAPE EPIC ace2016

Riders during stage 1 of the 2017 Absa Cape Epic Mountain Bike stage race held from Hermanus High School in Hermanus, South Africa on the 20th March 2017
Photo by Ewald Sadie/Cape Epic/SPORTZPICS

Espargaró Swaps Leathers for Lycra at the Absa Cape Epic

The Spanish MotoGP star will swap his Aprilia RS-GP for an Orbea OIZ as he lines up to take on the 2019 Absa Cape Epic alongside Ibon Zugasti for the Orbea Factory Team.

Cape Town, 21 February 2019 – Though best known for his exploits around a race track, on two petrol powered wheels, the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini MotoGP rider, Aleix Espargaró, will be swapping to two self-propelled wheels for the 2019 Absa Cape Epic. As Espargaró is making his debut he required a partner with experience in the Untamed African Mountain Bike Race, hence he will be joined by three-time finisher Ibon Zugasti in the Orbea Factory Team.

The MotoGP season gets underway with the Grand Prix of Qatar on the 10th of March. There is a two week break between the opening round and the second race, the Gran Premio Motul de la República Argentina, allowing Espargaró to fit the Absa Cape Epic into his busy schedule. “MTB stage races are getting super famous in Spain and every year there are more and more races on the calendar. In Spain we say that the Absa Cape Epic is like the Le Tour of mountain biking, so it’s the dream of every cyclist” he explained as to why he is so eager to take part.

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Springbok Sevens coach Neil Powell has selected the 20-year-old debutant Sako Makata in the Springbok Sevens team for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens tournaments in the USA and Canada next month.

The former Stirling High School player will become the 176th Blitzbok since the inception of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 20 years ago when he takes to the field at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas on Friday, 1 March.

Earlier this month, 21-year-old JC Pretorius was handed his debut in Sydney and with Makata joining him in the forwards, the Blitzboks will travel with a youthful squad to Las Vegas, where South Africa will face Japan, Chile and England in Pool D of the tournament.

Powell also recalled Ryan Oosthuizen, Mfundo Ndhlovu and Muller du Plessis to the travelling 13-man squad that will depart for the USA on Friday, totalling four changes to the side what placed fifth in Sydney in their previous tournament.

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Pic: zimbio

Pic: zimbio

Wing Sergeal Petersen will make his DHL Stormers debut in the Vodacom Super Rugby encounter against the Emirates Lions at DHL Newlands on Saturday.

Petersen starts on the right wing in one of four changes to the DHL Stormers starting line-up for the South African derby, which kicks off at 17h15 on Saturday.

The other changes to the backline see Jean-Luc du Plessis start at flyhalf, with Damian Willemse shifting to fullback in place of the injured Dillyn Leyds and Joshua Stander coming onto the replacements bench.

The only change to the forward pack is in the second row, with Chris van Zyl at lock in place of the injured Salmaan Moerat.

Fit-again Springboks Frans Malherbe and Eben Etzebeth are among the replacements, along with flank Jaco Coetzee who is also set to get his first run of the campaign.

DHL Stormers Head Coach Robbie Fleck said that his team is looking forward to playing in front of the DHL Newlands Faithful.

“It is always special to play at DHL Newlands in front of our passionate fans, so we will be giving it everything we have got on Saturday.

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With time running out to make it into playoff contention, the Toyota Cheetahs will feel the heat on Sunday when they line up against the Scarlets in a crucial Guinness PRO14 match in Wales.

The Toyota Cheetahs, with only six games left to work their way into the top three in Conference A for a possible playoff spot, and Scarlets are among the 11 teams in the gripping race for playoff places – although the Scarlets are in a different conference – meaning neither team will give an inch in what is expected to be a nail-biting clash in Llanelli.

In stark contrast to the Toyota Cheetahs, who suffered their first defeat after a five-match winning run last week, the Scarlets have battled to find their rhythm, which has seen them register only one victory in their last six matches. But the Welshmen will draw inspiration from the fact that they have suffered only one defeat at home this season.

The sides will enter the match equal on log points (36) with the Scarlets boasting seven victories to the Toyota Cheetahs’ six, but while the visitors have been more effective on attack with 57 tries to the home side’s 45, the Scarlets will rely on their solid defence to keep the visitors at bay after conceding 18 fewer tries in their 15 matches.

With a number of top performers in the competition in the Toyota Cheetahs’ team, including try-scoring machine Rabz Maxwane (most tries in the competition) and Junior Pokomela (most lineout steals), the visitors have the manpower to return to their winning ways.

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