He is amongst the fastest of really fast men in the Springboks Sevens squad and come the Safari Sevens in Nairobi this weekend, Angelo Davids will also be amongst the bravest.
The 20-year-old star winger for the Blitzboks and DHL Western Province, will take the field at RFUEA Grounds in the Kenyan capital at hooker for his team, something that has Davids as excited as when he made his debut in Hong Kong earlier this year.
The move to the forwards was mooted by Blitzbok coach Neil Powell, who realised that the striking power of Davids wide out could be limited due to the presence of Siviwe Soyizwapi and Seabelo Senatla, amongst other fast guys in the squad.
Powell has moved strike runners to the forwards before, most notably Werner Kok, with the former World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year now also comfortable doing his bit in the scrum and lineout.
Davids is keen to make this a successful move too.
The Springboks have reverted to the starting XV and replacements that recorded a 49-3 victory over Italy a fortnight ago for the do-or-die Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Japan in Tokyo on Sunday.
It means 13 changes to the starting XV from the one which concluded the Boks’ pool campaign with a 66-7 demolition of Canada in Kobe last Tuesday.
Only Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and Damian de Allende – who switches from outside centre back to the more familiar inside centre position – are retained from the Kobe XV.
They are joined in the line-up by the balance of the starting XV from the seven-try-to-nil overwhelming of Italy in what has become a familiar ‘senior’ line-up.
“We were satisfied with the performance against Italy and want to build on that,” said Rassie Erasmus, South Africa’s director of rugby.
“We have been improving and building momentum this season and we will be looking for further improvements this weekend.
Experienced South African referee, Jaco Peyper, will have a memorable 50th Test appearance with the whistle on Sunday after being appointed to take charge of the Rugby World Cup quarter-final between Wales and France at the Oita Stadium in Japan.
This feat makes him only the third South African referee to officiate 50 Tests, with Craig Joubert and Jonathan Kaplan being the others.
World Rugby announced that Wayne Barnes (England) has been appointed as the referee for the Springboks’ quarter-final against Japan at the Tokyo Stadium, also on Sunday.
The two other quarter-finals will be refereed by Nigel Owens of Wales (New Zealand v Ireland at Tokyo Stadium) and Jérôme Garcès of France (England and Australia at the Oita Stadium).
The 39-year-old Peyper was set to reach this milestone last weekend in the pool stages between England and France, but the match was cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis.
The Springbok Women’s Sevens team travelled to Tunisia with one mission – to claim the Rugby Africa Women’s Sevens crown – so it was very rewarding for the team to arrive back in Cape Town with that feat accomplished, according to Imbokodo captain Zintle Mpupha.
The squad returned home earlier on Tuesday with gold medals around their necks and the knowledge that they are the top team on the continent.
“There is a feeling of joy, of achievement and of content amongst the group,” said Mpupha.
“We wanted to go and win this as that would set-up the rest of our season nicely. We can now continue in our quest to try and qualify for the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.”
Mpupha, who earlier in the year also helped the Springbok Women to qualify for the Rugby World Cup New Zealand in 2021, said the foundation needed to be laid as the team prepare for their next challenge, which will be tournaments in Dubai and Cape Town in November and December. Continue reading
Damian Willemse, the DHL Stormers utility back, will fly out to Japan to join the Springbok Rugby World Cup squad following the injury withdrawal of Jesse Kriel.
Kriel sustained a hamstring injury in the opening match of the tournament against New Zealand and although the condition has improved it was insufficient to put him in contention for either of the remaining two pool games.
Willemse, 21, who is on loan to Saracens in England, will join the squad in Japan on Thursday. He won all of his five caps in 2018.
“Damian would have been more involved with us this year but for injury, but he is familiar with our systems and should have no problem slotting in.
“He has the ability to play in a number of positions in the back division, while other players can cover Jesse’s No 13 jersey,” said Rassie Erasmus, South Africa’s director of rugby.
“I feel for Jesse. He has been in the match-day 23 for almost every match since I took over and is a model professional. He was a key member of the squad.”
Willemse is the second replacement in the Springbok squad. Prop Thomas du Toit had previously replaced Trevor Nyakane.
Boland and Griquas will battle it for top honours in the Iqhawe Week at Paarl Gymnasium on Thursday after finishing the second round of matches on Tuesday among four unbeaten teams.
The other two undefeated sides in the development tournament for Under-15 boys – which is a joint initiative between the SA Rugby Legends Association and SA Rugby – were Eastern Province and the Sharks.
Boland dominated their match against the Leopards on Tuesday and touched down five times for a rewarding 33-7 win, while Griquas also continued to show their class, with their effective attack earning them six tries against Western Province for a 38-12 victory.
Eastern Province stamped their authority from the outset against the Pumas and used their try-scoring chances well to cruise to a 37-7 victory, while the Sharks overcame a tightly-fought first half against SWD to continue their winning ways, scoring four tries to two for a 24-12 victory.
The Springboks have rotated their squad for Saturday’s must-win cross-border battle with northern neighbours Namibia, making 13 changes to the starting line-up that appeared in the opening Rugby World Cup clash with New Zealand.
Rassie Erasmus, director of rugby, gives first appearances in the competition to nine players while Makazole Mapimpi (left wing) and Lukhanyo Am (centre) are the only players from the 23-13 reverse against New Zealand, to make back-to-back starts.
In addition, six of the opening day starting XV re-appear on the bench – including captain Siya Kolisi – while all of last Saturday’s replacements (with the exception of injured Jesse Kriel) are in the starting lineup.
The starting XV features nine of those who started the opening match of the international season; a 35-17 victory over Australia in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship in July.
One of the newcomers to the starting line-up is Schalk Brits, who moves to a new role in the back row at No 8. Brits captains the team for the second time having led the Springboks in the 24-18 victory over Argentina in Pretoria.
Thomas du Toit was en route from France to Nagoya, Japan, on Monday after being called up as an injury replacement to the Springbok Rugby World Cup squad.
The 24-yearold Cell C Sharks prop replaces the unfortunate Trevor Nyakane who tore his right calf in the 23-13 defeat by New Zealand in Yokohama on Saturday night.
Du Toit, who was on a short-term loan to Toulouse, was on standby and had been involved in preparations right up until the team’s departure for Japan.
He is expected to join the squad in Nagoya on Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s very tough on Trevor,” said Rassie Erasmus, director of rugby. “He has had a great season and added value whenever he took the field. It’s a blow to him and the team, but it’s also an opportunity for Thomas and for Vincent [Koch] who now have the chance to step up.”
The Springboks continue their Rugby World Cup campaign against neighbours Namibia in Nagoya on Saturday (kick off 11h45 SA time).
The Springboks will field an unchanged 23 for the first time since the last Rugby World Cup for their opening match of the 2019 version in Yokohama on Saturday (kick-off at 11h45 SA time).
Rassie Erasmus, director of rugby, on Wednesday named the same starting XV and eight replacements that defeated Japan, 41-7, in Kumagaya two weeks ago for the eagerly awaited clash against New Zealand.
No 8 Duane Vermeulen will be appearing in his 50th Test as one of 22 players who will, in fact, be appearing in their fourth match together this season.
The combination also fought to a 16-16 draw with the same opposition in Wellington before beating Argentina, 46-13, in Salta on their way to the Castle Lager Rugby Championship. The one exception is fit-again captain Siya Kolisi, who replaced Kwagga Smith to lead the side out against Japan.
The last time South Africa named an unchanged 23 was 51 matches ago – against New Zealand in the 2015 Rugby World Cup semi-final. The combination had beaten Wales 23-19 in the quarter-final, only to lose at Twickenham by two points a week later.
“We’ve found some consistency and some momentum in a number of ways this season,” said Erasmus, “and one of them is in selection.
Babalwa Latsha said the Springbok Women were ready to measure the progress they have made as a team since the 2021 Rugby World Cup Qualifiers in Gauteng in August as the clock winds down to Saturday’s Test against Spain at the WJ de Wet Stadium in Despatch.
The team have been in Port Elizabeth since Sunday, 8 September, where they have been preparing for the Test and a friendly match between the SA Select Women and Spain Invitational XV – which the visitors won 17-5 last Saturday – but the intensity rose dramatically this week as the team switched in full Test mode.
“We are very excited about the game,” Latsha, Springbok Women’s captain, said at a coaching clinic at Mzontsundu High School in Kwazakele on Wednesday.
“We have been building to this test against Spain and the next two against Scotland for some time now. Our preparation started before the World Cup Qualifiers last month, so we are keen to see how far we have come as a team since then.
“Our training sessions here in Port Elizabeth have been going well and we are all on the same page in terms of what we need to do on the field and what is required of us at training. So it is now a matter of transferring that onto the field.”
Latsha relished the opportunity to showcase their skills in a region that is widely regarded as the heartland of women’s rugby in South Africa, and said: “It is fantastic to play in the Eastern Cape, especially since this is the powerhouse of women’s rugby.
“We are looking forward to the locals coming to see what we have to offer. I think the match is going to be a good spectacle for all of the Eastern Cape to enjoy.”