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Wing JJ Engelbrecht and flank Kobus van Dyk will start for the DHL Stormers against the Rebels at DHL Newlands on Friday.

The DHL Stormers are back home at DHL Newlands following three away games and will face the Melbourne side in a match that kicks off at 15h05 on Freedom Day.

Engelbrecht’s inclusion on the left wing is the only change to the backline, while in the forward pack Van Dyk is at blindside flank, with Pieter-Steph du Toit shifting to lock where he will partner Chris van Zyl.

Cobus Wiese and Seabelo Senatla both make their return from injury on the replacements bench.

DHL Stormers Head Coach Robbie Fleck said that his team is looking forward to playing at DHL Newlands once again.

“It is always good to be back at DHL Newlands and playing in front of our faithful supporters who have played a big role in our three wins at home this season,” he said.

DHL Stormers: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Craig Barry, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 JJ Engelbrecht, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Cobus Wiese, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 SP Marais, 23 Seabelo Senatla.

SA Rugby President, Mr Mark Alexander, on Tuesday said record-breaking Springbok wing Bryan Habana, who announced his retirement from the game at the end of the European season, is “one of the greatest South African sportsmen of all time”.

The 34-year-old Habana, the second-most-capped Springbok of all time with 124 Test caps, announced that he will hang up his boots later this year.

Habana, a Rugby World Cup winner in 2007, made his Test debut against England at Twickenham in November 2004, when he scored the first of his 67 Test tries – the most ever by a Springbok.

He amassed 118 Vodacom Super Rugby caps and scored 56 tries at this level in the colours of the Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers. He also played four tournaments for the Springbok Sevens team in 2004 and 2016.

Apart from the Rugby World Cup, Habana also tasted success in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship (previously named the Tri-Nations), Vodacom Super Rugby and the Currie Cup.

He is the only player since rugby unity in 1992 who has won the prestigious SA Rugby Player of the Year Award three times – in 2005, 2007 and 2012. Habana was also named the World Rugby Player of the Year in 2007.

Provincially, before moving to Toulon in France in 2013, Habana played 21 times for the Xerox Golden Lions in 2003 and 2004, scoring 17 tries; 14 times for the Vodacom Blue Bulls between 2005 and 2009, scoring nine tries, and eight times for DHL Western Province from 2010 to 2012, scoring twice.

“We have been privileged to have witnessed the career of Bryan Habana, who will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the great legends of Springbok rugby,” said Mr Alexander.

“During a career that spanned more than a decade and a half, he stood out as one of the most professional players ever to don the Springbok jersey, and over the years Bryan has been central to many of the most memorable occasions in the era of professional rugby.

“We will never forget every time he delighted us by crossing the try-line or putting in yet another bone-crunching tackle, but those close to him will also remember the Bryan that was a true professional, always going about his task giving 100%.

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Mountain bikers of all ages and skills are heading towards the Nelspruit area to experience SA’s newest and most breathtaking trails.

The area around Nelspruit and White River is one of the most stunning areas in South Africa. Home to some of the country’s unique natural wonders, such as the Blyde River Canyon and the Kruger National Park, it is a paradise for nature lovers – and now for sports enthusiasts as well.

Officially launched in February by the MTO Group, the area is also home to the White River MTB Trails, a new addition to South Africa’s fast growing world-class off-road cycling spots. Located across MTO’s forestry lands, among rolling hills, the trail has already been attracting local and international attention for its stunning beauty, relaxing atmosphere and incredible trails.

“These are some of the most beautiful areas in the country,” said Guy Turner, who along with Francois Lourens and André Visagie are among the local riders who helped design the trails. “What’s nice is through these initiatives you are allowing South Africans to see some really stunning secrets of nature. You just can’t access these by cars.”

The trail consists of over 40 kilometers of loops, from which numerous single-track trails snake off and back on again. These have been handpicked with care. Turner is part of a group of local mountain bikers who have been exploring the areas for years, discovering new areas and potential tracks. This was done unofficially, yet when MTO learned of their adventures, it didn’t shut them down. Instead it teamed up to formalise the tracks. Continue reading

Note to editors: Attached are audio notes (Afrikaans and English) of Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell on the forthcoming HSBC Singapore Sevens. Attached are two rights-free images of the Springbok Sevens team at training in Singapore (Credit: David van der Sandt).

“Let the team do the work.” That is the message from Neil Powell, to his Springbok Sevens team as they find themselves in a potentially difficult situation before in this weekend’s HSBC Singapore Sevens tournament, to be played at the National Stadium on 28-29 April.

The Blitzboks have arrived for the tournament, the eighth of ten in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, with a combination of young guns who played in Hong Kong, and a number of more senior players who featured at the Commonwealth Games a week later in Australia.

The Hong Kong team claimed bronze, while the team in Australia missed out on a podium place by finishing fourth.

“We have one group of guys who are very keen to maintain their form from Hong Kong and show they deserve a permanent spot in the team, and another group itching to redeem themselves after the disappointment of Australia,” Powell said after a solid training session in hot and rainy conditions in Singapore.

“It is great to have 12 players all wanting to prove a point; the danger will be if they wanted to do so as individuals. So the message is a simple one, play as a team and we will achieve more.

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No less than 56 tries were scored across the rugby fields of South Africa as the SuperSport Rugby Challenge kicked off in impressive fashion this weekend.

On Sunday, 22 of those came from the Wolfson Stadium in Kwazakhele, Port Elizabeth – the venue of the first Rugby Festival, which is unique to the SuperSport Rugby Challenge.

In the main match, DHL Western Province started the defence of their title in impressive fashion, beating the EP Elephants 59-12, scoring nine tries to two. The vision of the visiting backs to spot gaps in the EP defence proved decisive, with three of their first half tries coming from such play, to contribute to a 26-7 lead at the break.

The second half saw more excellent tries from the Cape side as they used their bench to good effect.

Earlier on Sunday, the Boland Cavaliers romped home 51-24 (halftime 8-17) against the Border Bulldogs, also at the Wolfson Stadium. It was expected that the East London team would be coming in cold due to their lack of preparation, but their start surprised all.

Two tries in the first half gave them some momentum and when Athenkosi Manentsa scored his second for Border early in the second half, they were still in the match. That competiveness disappeared quickly though as the heat and lack of preparation then started to affect the Bulldogs efforts.

The Boland side started to score at will, and winger Charles Mayeza bagged himself a hat-trick.

Four matches were played on Saturday. Continue reading

This from enca.com:

The Premier Soccer League (PSL), has condemned the lawlessness that broke out at the stadium on Saturday night.

At the end of the Nedbank Cup semi-final between hosts Kaizer Chiefs and Free State Stars, hundreds of supporters invaded the pitch and the security was unable to cope adequately with rampaging fans.

The PSL, the governing body for professional football in South Africa, said in a statement it strongly condemned the “acts of hooliganism and violence during the fixture between Kaizer Chiefs and Free State Stars.

‘Hooliganism and thuggery of this nature have no place in football and acts of violence perpetrated by individuals are witnessed last night cannot be tolerated.

‘The League will work closely with law enforcement to ensure that those responsible for this hooliganism are subjected to judicial processes.”

Minister of Sport and Recreation, Toko Xasa says she was appalled by the behaviour of spectators at the game.

In a statement on Sunday, she condemned the violence.

Full story here:

https://www.enca.com/sport/sports-minister-xasa-demands-answers-on-mabhida-stadium-violence

A 73rd minute try by Thomas du Toit handed the Cell C Sharks a hard-fought 24-17 victory in their Vodacom Super Rugby derby over the DHL Stormers in Durban on Saturday, adding to good victories by the Emirates Lions and Vodacom Bulls over Australian opposition this weekend.

The Emirates Lions were clinical in their 29-0 dismantling of the Waratahs in Sydney on Fridaymorning and in doing so, set a unique new South African Vodacom Super Rugby record – they became the first-ever SA side in the history of the competition to keep their opponents scoreless while on tour abroad – in 118 SA victories on foreign soil. It was also the Emirates Lions’ first-ever triumph in Sydney.

The Highvelders defended resolutely to keep the Waratahs from breaching their line in the opening quarter and they led 7-0 at halftime through a Madosh Tambwe try. They were able to wrap up matters after the interval thanks to tries from Kwagga Smith, Harold Vorster and Marnus Schoeman.

Experienced hooker Adriaan Strauss scored his fifth try of the season while further efforts from Jesse Kriel, Divan Rossouw and Andre Warner secured the Vodacom Bulls a well-deserved 28-10 bonus-point success over the Rebels in Pretoria.

John Mitchell’s side played some enterprising rugby at times to clinch their third consecutive win after leading 21-3 at the interval.

Saturday’s feature match in Durban between the two local coastal rivals delivered a typical hard-fought derby and it was a key moment halfway through the second half that helped the Cell C Sharks to finally gain the upper hand over their Cape rivals, who led 7-3 at the break. Continue reading

Rolling substitutions will be available to coaches for the first time in senior professional rugby in South Africa in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge, which kicks off with six matches this weekend.

This decision was taken following law workshops held by SA Rugby’s Referee Department in Johannesburg and Cape Town with the SuperSport Rugby Challenge head coaches from all the provincial unions (the Vodacom Blue Bulls were unable to attend), where this use of a law amendment was unanimously agreed to.

Teams will be allowed to use 12 rolling substitutions during each match, of which four must be reserved for players in the front row.

At the workshops, it was also agreed that any team that causes uncontested scrums, will be reduced to 14 players on the field until the end of the match, while coaches will have the option of selecting four or five forwards on their seven-man bench.

“The workshops were very interesting as it gave us an opportunity to listen to the coaches and how they see things happening on the field from a law and refereeing angle,” explained Banks Yantolo, SA Rugby’s Referee Manager.

“The decision to allow rolling substitutions, which we’re already using in our Under-19 Provincial Championship, was done with player welfare and safety, especially at scrums, as well as reducing the likelihood of uncontested scrums to protect the integrity of the game, in mind.”

Tickets for the third and final Test of the Castle Lager Incoming Series between the Springboks and England at DHL Newlands in Cape Town will go on sale at 12h00 on Monday, 7 May.

Host union Western Province announced on Friday that the bulk of publicly available seats have been reduced in price from last year’s Test. Tickets to the final Test of the Boks’ first series under SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus, start from as little as R100 for scholars and R150 for standing room.

Seating tickets for a large proportion of the stadium will cost between R450 and R875 each, which is lower than in 2017, while the price for top category tickets will be unchanged at R950.

Only tickets bought from Computicket (outlets and online) will be valid for this match. Computicket is the only licenced outlet which may sell tickets to DHL Newlands. Tickets obtained from any other source may not be valid.

WP Rugby Group CEO Paul Zacks said that following the success of the sold-out Test between the Springboks and the All Blacks in 2017, the clash against England promises to be another special occasion at DHL Newlands.

“Anyone who has watched a Test at a packed DHL Newlands knows that the atmosphere is something unique to experience,” said Zacks.

“We are looking forward to hosting another epic Test match both on and off the field and are happy to confirm that most publicly available seats have been reduced in price from last year.”

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A host of new players, coaches and venues will again highlight the SuperSport Rugby Challenge in 2018, when this exciting and ground-breaking competition kicks off this weekend.

It is the second year of this rugby extravaganza, which connects communities with their rugby heroes like no other, and will see the first of five Rugby Festivals again taking the game to the doorstep of those who follow it so passionately.

DHL Western Province, who won the inaugural title in front of a packed home crowd at Florida Park in Ravensmead, Cape Town last year, will again be one of the favourites to claim the overall crown, but one thing learnt from that campaign, was that nothing can be taken for granted in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge.

The defending champions will be part of the first Rugby Festival, on Sunday at the Wolfson Stadium in Kwazakhele, outside Port Elizabeth. Two other teams in the South Section, Border Bulldogs and Boland Cavaliers, will provide plenty of thrilling action as well, with the traditional Gold Cup qualifying match between local clubs Progress and Gardens ensuring the stadium will be packed from early on.

Last year, a number of provinces from smaller cities delivered good wins over the bigger, metropolitan unions, and with matches again played over the length and breadth of South Africa and in Namibia, rugby will be back in the heartland of the country.

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