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The Springboks play their last match of the season on Saturday against Wales in Cardiff, but captain Eben Etzebeth said his side will not need any extra motivation for the clash in the Principality Stadium.

The South Africans have gone on to register victories over France and Italy after their defeat against Ireland in the opening match of the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour.

On Saturday, the Springboks will play their 13th Test of the international season and Etzebeth said he and his team are very motivated for their contest against the Welsh, which will be played in front of a crowd of more than 65 000, with the stadium roof closed for the occasion.

“Every Test is a special occasion for us as players, so we don’t need any special motivation,” said Etzebeth.

“There’s some stiff bodies out there, but training has gone very well and we looking forward to the match against a very good Welsh side.

Saturday is another opportunity to play in the Green and Gold, and the next time the team will be playing is only in seven months’ time when England comes to South Africa, so we are going out to enjoy it and give it a great effort.” 

Looking back at the season, the Springbok skipper said: “When Warren Whiteley was injured in June, I thought I’d get the opportunity to lead the side for one game.

“However, that opportunity has now extended to 11 matches and I am just enjoying the experience of leading the side and playing with a great bunch of players.”

The 26-year-old towering lock will lead the Springboks for the 11th consecutive time on Saturday in what will be his 67th Test for South Africa. The match kicks off at 16h30 (SA time) and will be televised live on SuperSport.

The Springboks will host England in three Tests in Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and Cape Town during the Castle Lager Incoming Series next June.

It will be England’s first visit to South Africa in six years and SA Rugby confirmed on Friday that the three Tests will be played at Emirates Airline Park on 9 June, the Toyota Stadium a week later on Youth Day, before the tour will culminate with the third Test at DHL Newlands on 23 June.

England last visited these shores in 2012 when the Springboks won the first two of the three Tests, while the final encounter ended in a draw.

“Under Eddie Jones the English have re-established themselves as one of the powerhouses of World Rugby – they have only lost one Test in the last two seasons,” said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.

“Our history against England goes back more than a century and we are looking forward to welcoming them back to South Africa next year in what promises to be a tough tour.

“In 2012, they played in Johannesburg, but it’s been 10 years since they last visited Bloemfontein, while the Test in Cape Town will be England’s first visit to the Mother City since 1998.”

England have not won a Test in South Africa since the two teams clashed in Bloemfontein in 2000. Out of the 13 previous Tests between the Springboks and England in South Africa, the visitors have won three, while one ended in a draw.

Castle Lager Incoming Series 2018 – South Africa v England:
9 June: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
16 June: Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein
23 June: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Kick-off times will be confirmed in due course.

Pic: sarugbymag.co.za

Pic: sarugbymag.co.za

Warrick Gelant and Dan du Preez will get their first starts for the Springboks in the final Test of 2017, against Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday.

The inclusion of the exciting Gelant is one of five changes to the starting line-up announced by Springbok coach Allister Coetzee on Thursday for the last match of the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour.

Gelant was impressive when he came on as second half replacement against Italy last week for his Springbok debut and has replaced Courtnall Skosan on the left wing for his first start.

There are four changes amongst the forwards. Steven Kitshoff replaces the experienced Tendai Mtawarira, who is suffering from a groin injury and not available for selection.

Malcolm Marx has shrugged off his shoulder problem and takes over the hooker duties from Bongi Mbonambi, who moves to the bench.

Siya Kolisi is back in the side after missing the Italy Test because of paternal leave, and he comes in for Francois Louw on the side of the scrum, while Du Preez will also earns his first start in the No 8 jersey as replacement for Duane Vermeulen.

Louw, Vermeulen and Franco Mostert (lock) are back at their overseas clubs and not available because this match falls outside the World Rugby Test window. Continue reading

The Springbok Women’s Sevens team suffered three disappointing defeats on Day One of the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series opener in Dubai, losing their pool A matches against New Zealand, USA and France.

The South Africans were outmuscled in their opening match against the leading team in the world, losing 40-0 to New Zealand. They seemed set to beat USA, leading with the last play of the match, but the American side scored a long range try that sealed South Africa’s fate with a 19-15 win.

In their last match on Day One, the Springbok Women’s Sevens could not handle the physicality of France and were outplayed 31-5.

Coach Renfred Dazel still saw some positives in their performances and is looking to a better showing on Day Two of the Emirates Airline Dubai Sevens.

“We need these tournaments, seeing that we are not a core member on the circuit, because you can only improve if you play the best teams in the world. We had three tough matches lined up, but the learning curve was steep. New Zealand smashed us and France also won easily, but I thought we had the match in the bag against USA, only for them to score that late try,” Dazel said. Continue reading

The Springbok Sevens team will be aiming for success in the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, Commonwealth Games and Rugby Sevens World Cup in the next year, but Blitzboks coach Neil Powell maintains they will approach each of those with the utmost respect and will take nothing for granted.

“We are aiming to be successful in all three,” said Powell.

“Each of those will have unique challenges, so we will have to treat each on its merits. It all starts in Dubai on Friday and we must focus on the first things first.

“It is a long season and we have planned accordingly. We will be looking to rotate players this year in order to keep everyone fresh for each of those challenges.”

Powell knows a strong start in Dubai will go a long way in setting the tone for the busy season.

“A strong start here will give us confidence and momentum going into our home tournament in Cape Town next weekend, so we will be looking to build a solid foundation here,” said Powell.

“It will be a bonus for us if we achieve the results, but the focus will be on the way we play and execute.”

The Blitzboks are defending champions in Dubai and the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, and know they can expect a huge onslaught from all their opponents, but Powell is happy with his team’s preparations. They face Uganda, Kenya and Canada in Pool A on Friday.

“We prepared well and the guys look hungry. I am a bit nervous myself, but perhaps that is a good thing,” Powell said.

The Springbok Women’s Sevens team are determined to set up the rest of their season with a solid performance at the Emirates Airlines Dubai Sevens, the first tournament in the HSBC World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series for 2017/18, according to national team captain, Veroeshka Grain.

Although not a core team on the World Series and playing on invite in Dubai, South Africa will compete in the Commonwealth Games in March and have qualified for the Rugby World Cup Sevens, to be played in San Francisco in July next year.

With those events as motivation, it will be important for them to play well, Grain feels.

“We have to set the tone and we have this opportunity here in Dubai to do that,” said Grain.

“We are not a core team, so need to use this opportunity to get our season going with the Commonwealth Games and Rugby World Cup Sevens in mind. A good start is paramount for us.”

Their last outing saw them win the Rugby Africa Sevens in Tunisia in September and preparations since then have gone well.
Grain feels a top eight finish, despite being ranked 12th in the tournament, is not wishful thinking. Continue reading

The Springbok Sevens team have tasted success at the Emirates Airlines Dubai Sevens as recently as last year, but for Blitzboks captain Philip Snyman and his team, that is nothing more than a pleasant memory.

In fact, said the 47-tournament stalwart, it all starts afresh come Friday when they face Uganda in their opening match. Snyman is also expecting the 2017/18 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series to be more competitive than ever before, and a very tough defence of their overall series title.

“Dubai has been a happy hunting ground for us in the past, but this is a new season and everyone are starting with fresh minds and bodies,” said Snyman.

“Even our squad, as experienced as we are, came back together with new energy and new vigour.

“We will see a lot of the teams more settled this season, with not as many new faces and coaches as was the case last year when we started the season here in Dubai.

“So it is definitely going to be tougher this time around. We need to be at our best from the start.”

Snyman said the Blitzboks enjoyed the glory of being champions in 2016/17, but it now is something for the history books: “We already left last season behind when we started our new pre-season camp. We needed to make that mind shift. The focus now goes to that first match against Uganda. We need to be ready for that match and take it from there.”

After winning the HBSC World Rugby Sevens Series with the Blitzboks earlier this year, Ruhan Nel did not relax and enjoy the fruits of his labour, but rather jumped straight into the blue and white hoops of DHL Western Province for their SuperSport Rugby Challenge campaign.

This move was rewarded when the Capetonians won the inaugural tournament, but more silverware awaited Nel, who represented the Xerox Golden Lions and Tafel Lager Griquas at wing earlier in his career.

Playing at inside centre, outside centre and wing for DHL Western Province in the Currie Cup, Nel then lifted South Africa’s premier domestic trophy as well, giving him a unique triple for the year.

Now back with the Blitzboks for another World Series, his thirst for trophies is far from over, Nel confirmed in Dubai, where the South Africans are preparing for the Emirates Airlines Dubai Sevens tournament, the first of the 2017/18 series.

“The fifteens certainly helped me improve my contact skills and physicality, while I found it easier to identify space and to get my defensive alignment correct, thanks to my sevens experience, so the benefit worked both ways. “I certainly feel that I had the best of both worlds. “

Nel performed very well for the Blitzboks last season, playing in all 10 tournaments and becoming a regular starter for the team, so it is not surprising that he is looking for another solid contribution.

“It is always an honour to play for the Blitzboks and this new season brings new challenges,” said Nel. Continue reading

Griquas Women’s Youth Training Centre (YTC) coach Ronald Maarman is not scared to take on massive challenges and loves to encourage players to find creative ways to train and to make the most of their opportunities, despite the limited training facilities in the region.

The training centre – based in the Northern Cape town of Springbok – is one of eight located throughout the country with the purpose of bolstering the women’s game by developing a bigger pool of players and grooming them for top-class rugby.

Through the programme players from the ages of 14 to 18 years participate in regular training sessions and matches and have access to conditioning and healthy eating plans. The other seven centers are based at the Blue Bulls, Border, Eastern Province, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo Blue Bulls, SWD and Western Province rugby unions.

Since the inception of the Griquas YTC in March 2016, the programme has grown to include 384 participants, and Maarman hopes to see this grow to over 600 in the next year. Continue reading

Springbok Sevens forward Kwagga Smith is not only determined to add another successful stint with the Blitzboks to his already impressive rugby CV, he also wants to improve his skill set as a player, something he is almost guaranteed to do in the next couple of months on the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.

The 2017/18 series starts on Friday, when the Emirates Airlines Dubai Sevens opens the ten tournament showpiece and for Smith, who experienced the ups and downs of rugby in 2016, it is another opportunity to grow and to improve as a player.

“It was a great year for me, considering all the teams I played for did well,” Smith said shortly after the team arrived in Dubai.

“Dubai was fairly significant in that, as it was where it all started for the Blitzboks, getting the win and starting the season on a winning note. After that I also experienced a first win in Wellington, another box ticked off my bucket list with the boys.”

Smith tasted tournament victories in three of the four tournaments he played for South Africa in the series and continued to impress in the fifteens code, playing for the Emirates Lions. Continue reading

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