Category Archive: South Africa Rugby

South Africa Rugby News

Sep 19

Two years to Japan’s World Cup and rugby union is in a state of confusion | Robert Kitson

Emtpy stadiums, threats to the 15-a-side game and the decline of the Springboks and Wallabies means that the possibility of only two teams being genuinely in contention come Japan 2019 is very real

Exactly two years from now the next Rugby World Cup will kick off in Japan, and World Rugby are starting to twitch, judging by their public warnings to local organisers about the sluggish pace of preparations. Get your pagoda in order now has been the theme ahead of this week’s two-years-to-go anniversary extravaganza at Shibuya 19 in central Tokyo.

Normally this would be a high-profile story but, right now, there seem to be more serious concerns, not least that Japan is at the heart of global geo-political tension with North Korea given a second missile test fired over the country in the past week. Rugby, meanwhile, has its own worrisome long-term problems to fret about. Those South Africans still shaking their heads at last weekend’s 57-0 thrashing by the All Blacks are not alone: the scoreline sent a shiver down every traditional rugby spine from Bloemfontein to Buenos Aires. The Springboks were supposed to be improving, the men in black still rebuilding. What if this yawning gap widens further between now and 2019? Only the most sand-obsessed ostrich could ignore the possible ramifications.

Related: Damp squib in Philadelphia exposes distance of American rugby dream

Related: Wallabies’ killer instinct eventually emerges in win over Pumas | Bret Harris

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Sep 13

England to finally face All Blacks in autumn 2018 after four year wait

• England to face New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Japan
• Eddie Jones says England must bridge gap with All Blacks

England will complete a four-year wait to face New Zealand when they clash with the world champions at Twickenham next year.

The fixture has been confirmed by the Rugby Football Union for 10 November and is the highlight of a mouth-watering 2018 autumn series that also features matches against South Africa, Japan and Australia.

Related: Wales’s Sam Warburton to miss autumn internationals with neck injury

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Sep 09

Wallabies draw with Springboks in Western Force protest Test

  • The Wallabies surrendered a 20-10 lead in the 47th minute
  • Western Force jerseys dominated and ‘Force’ chants were heard throughout

The Sea of Blue turned out in their droves as the Wallabies fought out an enthralling 23-23 draw with South Africa in Saturday night’s Rugby Championship Test in Perth.

The Wallabies led 20-10 in the 47th minute, courtesy of tries to Kurtley Beale and Tatafu Polota-Nau. But the home side looked destined for another heartbreaking loss when the Springboks produced a powerful second half to take a 23-20 lead. Bernard Foley nailed a clutch 40m penalty with nine minutes to go to level the scores, and the Wallabies smothered an after-the-siren drop-goal attempt from Elton Jantjies to deny South Africa victory.

Related: Western Force may be headed to Asia as Hong Kong backs rebel competition

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Aug 23

SA Rugby targets European Champions Cup for Cheetahs and Southern Kings

• Pair of South African sides entering Pro 14 not currently eligible for Europe
• ‘Our teams playing in Europe will be a process that will take two or three years’

The South African Rugby Union wants its teams who have joined the Pro 14 to compete in Europe in the coming seasons.

The Cheetahs and the Southern Kings linked up with the three Celtic unions and Italy after losing their places in Super Rugby, with the South African Rugby Union signing them up for an initial six years. If one of them wins the league this season, though, there will be no European Champions Cup place.

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Aug 18

Rugby Championship ready to launch with Sanzaar sailing into troubled waters | Gerard Meagher

Financial woes, political tumult and a spate of high-profile departures have left southern hemisphere rugby needing to prove that it is not circling the abyss

Three shockwaves hit southern hemisphere rugby within the space of 24 hours last week: Bristol announced the capture of Charles Piutau on a reported £1m-a-year contract, Western Force were axed by the Australian Rugby Union and the new-look Pro14 was launched in South Africa. It will not go down as the easiest of days at Sanzaar HQ as the Rugby Championship gets under way on Saturday.

For Sanzaar, these are difficult times. Super Rugby has been listing in recent years and while three of the 18 franchises have been jettisoned, there is still the creeping sense the competition has taken on too much water and that it could go under for good in 2020. Internationals offer some respite but look a little closer and there has been a step backwards since New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina contested the semi-finals of the 2015 World Cup.

Related: Tackle, tackle and then tackle again – how the Wallabies can upset the All Blacks

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Jun 21

Does the weakness of South Africa and Australia threaten future of the Lions? | The Breakdown

There is no longer a gap between the hemispheres but one between New Zealand and the rest – a shift that raises issue of the sustainability for the Lions

After the skirmishing comes the hand-to-hand combat. In an era when the expected is often thwarted, it is risky to consider the series between New Zealand and the Lions a foregone conclusion.

The All Blacks are the favourites because of their form this decade and the struggles the Lions have had there in the past, just two Test victories since winning the series in 1971.

Related: Lions strangled us and will test the All Blacks, says Chiefs coach

Related: New Zealand’s captain Kieran Read likely to be fit for first Test with Lions

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Feb 06

Joost van der Westhuizen obituary

One of rugby’s greatest scrum-halves who played a vital role in the historic 1995 World Cup final against the All Blacks

The 1995 World Cup final was the most momentous game in the history of rugby union, the match that helped unite Nelson Mandela’s new South Africa. At the heart of the Springboks’ 15-12 victory over the side many consider to be the greatest ever New Zealand team was the scrum-half Joost van der Westhuizen. Van der Westhuizen is perhaps second only to Wales’s Gareth Edwards in the pantheon of leading scrum-halves.

Van der Westhuizen, who has died of motor neurone disease aged 45, gave the pass that June day in Johannesburg for Joel Stransky to kick his winning drop-goal in extra time. But it was his tackle on the fearsome Jonah Lomu, who was in full flight, that sticks in the memory and at the game’s final scrum close to the All Blacks’ try-line it was Van der Westhuizen who was helping push the New Zealand pack backwards as the seconds ticked away.

Related: Joost van der Westhuizen will be remembered for inspirational spirit and dignity | Robert Kitson

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Feb 06

Joost van der Westhuizen will be remembered for inspirational spirit and dignity | Robert Kitson

South Africa’s World Cup-winner ranked among the finest scrum-halves the world has seen but the bravery he displayed in his fight against motor neurone disease was more inspiring still

Among the most memorable pictures in South African sport is an image of the hulking Jonah Lomu being tackled by the Springbok No9 Joost van der Westhuizen at a crucial juncture in the 1995 Rugby World Cup final. Two great players in their prime, then aged 20 and 24 respectively. Both, tragically, have now passed on within the past 15 months. Even athletic immortals do not earn immunity from real life’s sting.

Perhaps the ultimate tribute, however, is that both men will be remembered worldwide as much for the spirit and dignity they ended up showing off the field as what they achieved on it. Van der Westhuizen, who has died at the age of 45, ranked among the finest scrum-halves the world has seen but the bravery he displayed in his subsequent fight against the ravages of motor neurone disease was more inspiring still.

Related: Joost van der Westhuizen, South Africa rugby great, dies aged 45

Related: Joost van der Westhuizen obituary

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Feb 06

Joost van der Westhuizen, South Africa rugby great, dies aged 45

• World Cup-winning scrum half had motor neurone disease since 2011
• Van der Westhuizen was admitted to hospital on Saturday

Joost van der Westhuizen, the South African Rugby World Cup winner, has died aged 45. The former scrum-half had been living with motor neurone disease since 2011 and was admitted to a Johannesburg hospital on Saturday morning.

The J9 Foundation, the charity founded by Van der Westhuizen in 2012, confirmed that he had died at home, saying in a statement: “It is with great sadness that we confirm the passing of Joost. He passed away in his home surrounded by his loved ones. He will be sorely missed.”

Related: Joost van der Westhuizen will be remembered for inspirational spirit and dignity | Robert Kitson

Related: Joost van der Westhuizen obituary

RIP Joost van der Westhuizen. An incredible player and fighter to the end. The first of the new age 9’s.

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Dec 11

England seal Cape Town sevens after South Africa miss final-kick conversion

• England win 19-17 in final of second round of World Rugby Sevens Series
• Australia’s disappointing weekend ends with ‘consolation’ loss to Argentina

England beat South Africa 19-17 in Cape Town to win the second round of the 2016-17 World Rugby Sevens Series after Justin Geduld missed a conversion for the hosts with the last kick of the final.

Chris Dry got the Blitzboks off to a flyer, finishing off a fine move from halfway to touch down in the corner. Branco du Preez missed the conversion. England hit back through Richard de Carpentier, who covered half the pitch to score under the posts. Tom Mitchell’s conversion gave England a 7-5 lead.

Related: Global contract negotiator Michael Cheika remains key to Wallabies recovery | Rajiv Maharaj

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Nov 27

Wales’ flawed win leaves South Africa’s Allister Coetzee carrying the can

• Wales 27-13 South Africa
• Springboks coach will almost certainly be sacked in December

The last time South Africa lost all their autumn Tests they at least went down swinging. A 50-point defeat by England in 2002 was brutal, nasty even, and left Clive Woodward irate at the injuries incurred by the Springboks’ strong-arm tactics. Today it is only the Springboks licking their wounds.

A record eighth defeat in a calendar year, and only the third in 110 years by Wales, has proved the final straw and the South African Rugby Union has promised root-and-branch reform. Allister Coetzee looks likely to lose his job after he reports to his employers in mid-December but to suggest the buck stops with him is risible. Political interference – it was the sports minister who labelled the Springboks “a bunch of losers” after the defeat by Japan last year – outdated domestic infrastructure and the ever increasing player drain renders this South Africa’s lowest ebb.

Related: Wales and Tipuric boost Howley to leave South Africa and Coetzee gloomy

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Nov 26

Wales and Tipuric boost Howley to leave South Africa and Coetzee gloomy

• Wales 27-13 South Africa
• Ken Owens and Justin Tipuric score home side’s tries

It may go some way to earning Rob Howley the job permanently, but this was a victory for Wales straight out of the Warren Gatland playbook. All power and physicality, putting concerns of a lack of Welsh wizardry to one side, they fully warranted this comfortable win, albeit against a South Africa who continue to plumb new depths.

Ken Owens and the excellent Justin Tipuric scored the tries, but Leigh Halfpenny was metronomic from the tee and a youthful South Africa so redundant throughout. It was not plain sailing for Wales – it never is these days – but it was their best performance of the autumn.

Related: Keith Earls seals Ireland win over Australia to complete big-three sweep

Related: England and Owen Farrell dig deep to win 14-man battle with Argentina

Related: Stuart Hogg stars with two tries as rampant Scotland see off Georgia

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Nov 25

Embattled Wales and South Africa coaches seek a pick-me-up | Paul Rees

Both Robert Howley and Allister Coetzee have tried to move with the zeitgeist and change their teams’ structured style this year, but are facing significant pressure and media scorn

Robert Howley and Allister Coetzee are head coaches for whom victory at the Principality Stadium on Saturday afternoon may not be enough at the end of a year when they have tried to change the way their sides play and add a splash of colour. The result has been like an explosion in a paint factory, the muddle, rather than the middle, way.

They could be forgiven for feeling, in PG Wodehouse’s words, like a man who, chasing rainbows, has had one of them suddenly turn and bite him in the leg. Wales and South Africa have in recent years been exponents of structured rugby, preferring to impose themselves physically rather than take risks, but the zeitgeist now is a faster, more fluid game, playing to win rather than not to lose.

Related: Rugby union autumn internationals: 10 things to look forward to this weekend

Related: Gus Pichot: ‘The Fiji v England game wasn’t very good for rugby … it’s unfair’

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Nov 25

Rugby union autumn internationals: 10 things to look forward to this weekend

Elliot Daly in the spotlight for England, Ireland face a test of their consistency from the Wallabies and can Italy capitalise on Springboks upset?

On one hand, Eddie Jones’s decision to stick with Elliot Daly on the wing again makes sense – he was excellent against Fiji, singled out for praise by the head coach, has the necessary pace and is willing to go looking for the ball. On the other, Semesa Rokoduguni’s omission seems harsh: before last Saturday Daly had not started on the wing since March 2013 and you cannot help but wonder how his overlooked Wasps club-mate Christian Wade might feel. But Daly’s versatility is clearly valued by Jones and giving him more game time there feels like planning for all eventualities in, with the greatest respect to Fiji and Argentina, matches that really matter. It also feels like the transitional phase in moving Daly to full-back, where he has a great deal more experience for Wasps and where he could well end up cementing his place in the England XV. Mike Brown will not give up the shirt without a fight – indeed Jones will relish the very fact the he won’t – but the Harlequins full-back will be 34 when the 2019 World Cup begins whereas Daly will be in his prime. Anthony Watson appeared to be the favourite to take over from Brown not so long ago but having spent a couple of seasons developing into England’s most lethal finisher, it would be a waste to restart his international education in the No15 jersey, especially considering Daly’s ability to run from deep.
Robert Kitson: Daly’s pace and work-rate earn nod from Jones
England warned to remain disciplined against Argentina

Related: Wales need to think on their feet, rather than being told at half-time what to do | Paul Rees

Related: Steve Borthwick quietly helping to make England into a big noise

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Nov 24

South Africa go all in on youth policy for Test against Wales

• Allister Coetzee selects Springboks side with 260 caps between them
• ‘We are seeking revival, not redemption,’ says coach after Italy defeat

At the end of what he described as a terrible year, the South Africa coach, Allister Coetzee, has chosen the rawest Springboks side in the professional era for Saturday’s Test against Wales rather than rely on experience to secure the victory some believe he needs to keep his job.

The back division have a total of 40 caps, a figure reached by five of Wales’s backs, with the three-quarters sharing eight. There are three new caps and seven changes from the side who lost to Italy last Saturday. The front-rowers Tendai Mtawarira and Adriaan Strauss, the South Africa captain who is making his final international appearance, have more caps between them than their 13 team-mates combined.

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Nov 23

Wales to pit Taulupe Faletau against South Africa after 55-minute comeback

• Bath No8 has made one brief appearance since September
• ‘Toby looks like he hasn’t been out,’ says Wales’ Neil Jenkins

Taulupe Faletau is in line to make a Test return, despite playing less than an hour of competitive rugby in 12 weeks. The Bath No8 is on course to be involved when Wales complete their autumn series against South Africa on Saturday.

Faletau suffered a knee injury on his Bath debut against Northampton in early September. He was sidelined until last Friday’s match with Bristol – when he played for 55 minutes – and missed Wales’s matches against Australia, Argentina and Japan.

Related: Coach Allister Coetzee hopes defeat by Italy will galvanise South African rugby

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