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The Springboks are looking forward to measure themselves against the best team in the world when they meet the All Blacks on Saturday in Albany, according to Springbok coach Allister Coetzee.

The Springboks and Wallabies played to a 23-23 draw over the weekend in Perth, and the result means that the South Africans are the only unbeaten team this year, after their first six Tests of 2017.

On Saturday the Springboks face their toughest test of the year when they meet the number one ranked team in world rugby, on their home turf in New Zealand.

“New Zealand is the benchmark,” said Coetzee.

“This contest is an exciting opportunity for our young team to measure ourselves against the best rugby team.”

Coetzee also pointed towards the growth of the current Springbok side this year, following a disappointing 2016.

“This is a different side compared to last year,” he said.

“We have showed a lot of improvement up to now and last weekend in Perth was another opportunity for the side to gain experience. However, we are now facing a team who doesn’t seem to have any weaknesses.

Continue reading

The Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) will hold its first South African conference during the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon week, on 14 and 15 September.

Key stakeholders from around the world will participate in the conference, which will give African and South African road-race organisers, local governments, municipalities and federations the opportunity to listen and learn from experts in the field of road races and trail events. Creating economic appeal, sports tourism, marketing the event and adhering to international standards will all be addressed by leaders in the field.

AIMS is a member-based organisation of more than 400 of the world’s leading distance races in over 100 countries and territories. It endeavours to cultivate and promote distance running throughout the world, and works with the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) on all topics relating to international road races, while also sharing knowledge and expertise within the association. Its aim in Africa is to forge stronger relationships with races, structures and governments on the continent.

Local conference delegates will be able to engage and network with organisations from around the world while sharing in the latest findings from the organisers of the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, Africa’s first IAAF Gold Label marathon.

Janet Welham, race director of the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, says, “There are many criteria to having a successful race, and this conference will cover key aspects of putting together a spectacular event, and showcase Africa as the top destination to compete in. The conference will provide us with the opportunity to share our knowledge and lessons learnt around the challenges facing African races, to elevate and gain recognition of Africa’s events worldwide.”

AIMS president Paco Borao will open the conference, and will be joined by Aleck Skhosana, Athletics South Africa (ASA) president, Alessio Punzi, IAAF Road-Running Manager, Anroux Marais, Western Cape Government Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, and Dr Laurine Platzky, Western Cape Government Deputy Director and many other highly esteemed presenters.

The conference will provide delegates with the opportunity to witness first-hand how the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon has become an iconic city marathon by enabling them to be a part of all planned activities over the course of the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon week and weekend. “All delegates are invited to our expo at the V&A Waterfront on 15 and 16 September, and they will also have free entry to the 4.2km fun run on 16 September, and the 10 km Peace Run or the marathon on 17 September,” says Welham.

Africa is my home, this is my race. It’s Cape Town, must run it!

To find out more, go to http://www.capetownmarathon.com/aims-africa-conference-2017 or email aims@capetownmarathon.com

Rights Mkhari and Zinhle Ndawonde will face a baptism of fire in the Rugby Africa Sevens in Tunisia on Saturday and Sunday as they make their Springbok Women’s Sevens debuts in the tournament that doubles up as the Rugby World Cup Sevens Qualifier.

Springbok Women’s Sevens coach Renfred Dazel on Monday made three personnel changes to the team that participated in the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series Qualifier in Hong Kong in April.

Mkhari and Ndawonde, who have been training with the team since late last year, have earned call-ups to the team along with Eloise Webb, who made her debut in the Dubai Women’s Sevens Series in December. They replace Marithy Pienaar, Nomsa Mokwai and Phumeza Gadu in the squad.

Pienaar and Mokwai, who recently returned from injury layoffs, both participated in the Hokkaido Invitational Sevens in Japan this past weekend as members of the SA Select Women’s Sevens team. Continue reading

All currently available public tickets for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship Test between the Springboks and the All Blacks at DHL Newlands on October 7 have been sold.

Public match tickets went on sale at 12h00 on Monday and were sold out in less than an hour, ahead of the All Blacks’ first visit to DHL Newlands since 2008.

The first Test match between the Springboks and All Blacks, at DHL Newlands, took place in 1928, with the All Blacks winning 13-5. The Castle Lager Rugby Championship Test this year will be only the 10th encounter between the two teams at the second oldest active Test venue in the world.

Western Province Rugby group CEO Paul Zacks said that the enthusiasm of the DHL Newlands Faithful will make this Test one to remember.

“The passion of the DHL Newlands Faithful for rugby is well-known and once again they have proven their loyalty.

“This Test match will be a special occasion and one we are all looking forward to very much,” he said.

President of the Western Province Rugby Football Union, Mr Thelo Wakefield, said that it is a pleasure to welcome the All Blacks back to DHL Newlands once again.

“It is wonderful to have the Springboks up against the All Blacks at DHL Newlands once again in what will be the latest chapter of rugby’s greatest rivalry,” he said.

The SA Select Women’s Sevens on Sunday finished the Hokkaido Invitational in Japan on a disappointing note as they suffered defeats in both their matches to finish the tournament in eighth position.

The team faced a tough challenge in the Plate semi-final against the Hokkaido Barbarians in their opening match on Sunday at the Hokkaido Barbarians Jozankei Ground and went down 19-0 as they battled to match the home team physically and to use their opportunities on attack.

Their hopes of finishing the tournament on a high note in the seventh and eighth place playoff were also dashed as the Diana Barbarians dominated to earn a 22-0 victory.

The Canada Maple Leafs defeated Japan Women’s 7s Development in the final to win the title.

Commenting on the tournament SA Select Women’s Sevens coach Jongi Nokwe said: “It was always going to be a challenging tournament for us given the young team we brought over and our limited preparation time, but I am pleased with the attitude the players showed.

“The players will take a lot of lessons from the tournament both on and off the field, with the main one from a match perspective being that one has to front up physically in every game.”

SA Select Women’s Sevens Hokkaido Invitational Sevens day one results:

Hokkaido Barbarians 19-0 SA Select (Plate Semi-final)

Diana Barbarians 22-0 SA Select (7th/8th place-playoff)

DHL Western Province and the Xerox Golden Lions this weekend leaped into third and fourth place respectively on the Currie Cup Premier Divusion log in a vital boost for their semi-final hopes, while the Cell C Sharks matched the seven-match winning run they last achieved in the 2010 season.

DHL Western Province ran riot on attack in the first half against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in Cape Town on Saturday and earned their bonus point in 20th minute en route to a 36-0 halftime lead.

The visitors tightened up their defence in the second half, while the hosts opted to give their replacements a run. This resulted in DHL Western Province adding only three tries after the break, while the Toyota Free State Cheetahs’ scored twice in the last 10 minutes, which saw them go down 57-14.

Two tries in the last 10 minutes allowed the Cell C Sharks to pip the Steval Pumas 27-25 at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday in what marked their seventh successive victory in the Currie Cup – sponsored by DirectAxis and Nashua.

The first half was close with the visitors taking a 15-8 lead thanks to two tries to one by the hosts, despite two yellow cards. The Steval Pumas fought back strongly after the break and scored two tries in five minutes, but this was cancelled out by the log-leaders in the dying minutes for a bonus-point win.

In Kimberley, meanwhile, the Xerox Golden Lions built on a solid first-half showing against Tafel Lager Griquas to secure a 34-17 bonus point win on Friday. Continue reading

Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen suffered a broken arm in Saturday’s enthralling 23-23 draw between the Springboks and the Wallabies in Perth and he will be replaced by uncapped Wilco Louw of the DHL Western Province.

Oosthuizen sustained the injury in the second half of the thrilling encounter which ended in a draw after both sides scored two converted tries and three penalties each. He will visit a specialist in Durban on his return to South Africa.

Louw is due to join the Springbok squad on Monday evening in Auckland.

The draw means that the Springboks are now in second place on the Castle Lager Rugby Championship log, three points behind New Zealand, who they play next weekend in Albany, North Harbour.

Afterwards, Springbok coach Allister Coetzee said he was disappointed with the result but pleased with the players’ effort on the night. The Springboks fell behind 10-20 just after halftime but showed great fighting spirit to grab a 23-20 lead towards the end.

A successful Wallaby penalty locked the scores at 23-all, while Springbok pivot Elton Jantjies had his drop kick charged down after the final hooter.

“The Springboks will never be happy with a draw,” Coetzee told media at the post-match press conference. Continue reading

The Cell C Sharks will hunt their seventh successive Currie Cup victory – a feat they last achieved in 2010 – when they travel to Nelspruit to take on the Steval Pumas on Friday evening as the competition – sponsored by Nashua and DirectAxis – enters the ninth round.

The KwaZulu-Natalians, who leaped to the top of the table last weekend, have been in fine form this season, with their only defeat so far in the opening round of the competition against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs.

They will, however, face a determined Steval Pumas outfit looking to return to winning ways after being pipped by one point last week. The Cell C Sharks won the last three matches between the sides, which included a 29-0 victory in the second round.

But the Steval Pumas emerged victorious in Nelspruit in 2014 and 2015, which will boost their confidence. The Lowvelders have made five changes to their team for this match, which includes the return of fullback Justin van Staden to the starting XV, while prop De-Jay Terblanche will achieve a special milestone as he plays his 170th match for the union.

The Cell C Sharks welcome back Springbok flyhalf Curwin Bosch in one of four changes to the starting team, with the others being the inclusion of props Thomas du Toit and Ross Geldenhuys in the front row and Garth April at fullback. Continue reading

Loosehead prop Ali Vermaak will earn his 50th cap for DHL Western Province in the Currie Cup match against Toyota Free State Cheetahs at DHL Newlands on Saturday.

Vermaak returns from injury for the encounter, which kicks off at 15h00 on Saturday, in one of five changes to the DHL Western Province team following their bye last week.

The 28-year-old prop is joined in the front row by hooker Ramone Samuels, with Chad Solomon on the replacements bench alongside Michael Kumbirai.

The only other changes to the forwards come among the replacements, with Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Kobus van Dyk providing loose forward cover.

In the backline Jano Vermaak returns from Springbok duty to take his place at scrumhalf, while there are two changes at the back with Craig Barry making his Currie Cup debut at fullback and Werner Kok on the wing.

DHL Western Province Head Coach John Dobson said that after the bye week his team is determined to make a strong start to the second half of their campaign.

“It is vital that we produce some good rugby this weekend in order to gain some momentum going forward. Continue reading

Former Springbok winger Jongi Nokwe will coach a young SA Select Women’s Sevens team at the Hokkaido Invitational Sevens in Japan on Saturday and Sunday as regular coach Renfred Dazel prepares his team for the Rugby World Cup Sevens Qualifier in Tunisia on 16 and 17 September.

The development tournament features 12 teams, eight of which are local Japanese clubs, and one each from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.

Nokwe, who occupies the role as the Western Province Women’s assistant coach, will guide the side featuring mainly SA Rugby Women’s Interprovincial and Youth Training Centre players, while Springbok Sevens players Marithy Pienaar, Nomsa Mokwai and Kirsten Conrad will offer guidance and experience in the squad.

The SA Select Women’s Sevens finished third in the Hokkaido Invitational Sevens in September last year after going down to Waikato of New Zealand in the semi-final.

Nokwe was excited about the opportunity to guide the team and said: “We have a young and exciting team, and for some of the players it is the first time they travel overseas, so it is an exciting experience for the whole squad.” Continue reading

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