Category Archive: South Africa Rugby

South Africa Rugby News

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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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/feb/06/joost-van-der-westhuizen-obituary

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 rugby world has seen, but the bravery he displayed in his fight against motor neurone disease was more inspiring still

Among the most iconic 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 aged 45, ranked among the finest scrum-halves the rugby 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

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/feb/06/joost-van-der-westhuizen-died-south-africa-rugby-union

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

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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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/feb/06/joost-van-der-westhuizen-south-africa-rugby-great-dies

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.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/dec/11/england-sevens-south-africa-australia-cape-town

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 victory against a South Africa team at its lowest ebb.

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 and while Howley now has the Six Nations to try to introduce some attacking nous, and advance his claim to take over from Gatland in 2019, the game may be up for Allister Coetzee.

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

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/nov/26/wales-south-africa-autumn-internationals-match-report

Nov 22

Rugby’s disciplinary mess deepens as body count rises and grey areas grow | Robert Kitson

Rugby is now cleaner but no safer and as New Zealand’s brutal, bruising clash with Ireland – and the citings that followed – showed, something must change

Playing rugby is always going to hurt. That is why some people play it, just as boxers, racing drivers and mountaineers take their own calculated risks. The tricky bit comes when it is not your misjudgment that causes serious injury but someone else’s. At that point people rightly start asking hard questions and the blurred lines of contact sport have to be re‑examined.

New Zealand’s massively physical game against Ireland in Dublin has generated just such a debate. It was inevitably going to be intense, given the All Blacks’ reputation was on the line. As their coach, Steve Hansen, said: “It wasn’t pretty but it never is when you have to win.” Note the word “have”. There was simply no way the visitors could be beaten by Ireland twice within a fortnight. The Irish had also developed a taste for famous victories. Blood was liable to be spilt either way.

Related: Rugby union autumn internationals: talking points from the latest action

Related: England hint at attacking riches to rival pomp of Woodward era in defeat of Fiji

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2016/nov/22/new-zealand-ireland-rugby-discipline-citing-brutal

Nov 20

Ireland nurse wounds after New Zealand prevail in bruising encounter

• Ireland 9-21 New Zealand
• World Rugby have questions to answer following catalogue of injuries

Those eagerly awaiting this match, which was anyone in the world with a passing interest in rugby, were not to be disappointed but the repercussions of a ferocious contest are likely to be felt for some time. Most immediately, there is the injury count. Ireland came off worse, with Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw almost certainly out of the match against Australia on Saturday. CJ Stander and Rob Kearney are further doubts, while New Zealand will most likely be without Sam Cane and Ben Smith for the final date of their tour, against the French in Paris.

Cane’s ankle was twisted in a ruck; Sexton’s hamstring (not the one he has had so much trouble with) gave out; Henshaw and Stander went off, the former on a stretcher, for head injury assessments and never returned. That was all by the 25-minute mark. Smith was later withdrawn with a broken finger that punctured the skin, and Kearney was another to have his head assessed.

Related: Malakai Fekitoa ensures All Blacks get their revenge against Ireland

Related: Ireland 9-21 New Zealand: rugby union autumn internationals – as it happened

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/nov/20/ireland-new-zealand-match-report-autumn-internationals-rugby-union

Nov 19

Italy celebrate famous first win over sorry South Africa

• Italy 20-18 South Africa

Italy claimed their first victory over South Africa on Saturday, beating the demoralised southern-hemisphere giants 20-18 in Florence.

A delirious home crowd gave their team, ranked 13th in the world, a standing ovation after the match as the visitors – ranked fourth – formed a lonely huddle in the middle of the field, reminiscent of their shock loss against Japan in last year’s World Cup.

Related: England v Fiji: rugby union autumn internationals – live!

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/nov/19/italy-beat-south-africa-first-time

Nov 18

Rugby union autumn internationals: what to look forward to this weekend

Fijians are on display for and against England, Ireland are looking to make history (again), Scotland have a Six Nations point to prove and Emily Scarratt returns

With Billy Vunipola declared fit to start against Fiji, it is little surprise that Eddie Jones delayed naming his starting XV by 24 hours. Leaving the Wales match – the day after the Premiership final – aside, Vunipola has started in every game under Jones and while he is not the only player to do so, he is the most important. A leaner, meaner Vunipola, making carries in areas that hurt the opposition, has been the bedrock of Jones’s side and without him England would have needed to find other means of breaking the gain line. His selection though means there is just one change in the pack and another chance for Teimana Harrison to stake his claim as England’s No7 while behind the scrum, perhaps more by circumstance than design, Jones’s lineup genuinely excites. Elliot Daly’s selection on the wing does not hurt England’s firepower and with Alex Goode at full-back, facing the side against whom he dazzled on his first home start four years ago, the hosts should have the capacity to play with real swagger. The concern, with two fly-halves already on the pitch, is that – much like in the first half against Uruguay last year – England look to throw the ball around from the outset and are not direct enough. It is hard however, to see Jones, who has been at pains to point out that he does not want his side to take Fiji on at their own game, allowing that to happen.

Related: England forced to delay naming team against Fiji because of injuries

Related: New Zealand’s Steve Tew: ‘We will not change our culture overnight’

Related: Rob Howley calls up six Lions for Wales Test against Japan

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2016/nov/18/rugby-union-autumn-internationals-england-fiji-ireland-all-blacks

Nov 17

Player exodus threatens international rugby and European unions | The Breakdown

Talks over a global calendar are all very well, but the international game is being undermined by clubs, mainly in the Top 14, taking advantage of its instability

Brighton is an unlikely setting for a rugby revolution, but Japan’s 34-32 victory against South Africa there in the World Cup last year showed how the old order was changing. There had been shocks before, not least Western Samoa beating Wales in Cardiff in 1991, but the toppling of the Springboks, twice winners of the tournament and who had never before lost to a tier two nation, brought a giant crashing to the ground.

Related: From Tonga to Twickenham: Mako and Billy Vunipola’s incredible journey | Andy Bull

Related: Rugby union’s rewards have never been higher but risks have never been greater

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/nov/17/europe-south-africa-slide-australia-international-rugby-union-reckoning

Nov 13

Eddie Jones shuns confetti caps to ensure Fiji will feel England’s full force

Persuading experienced Test players to aim higher is easier said than done but the England coach is consistently making it happen and after beating South Africa there will be no letup in the next autumn against Fiji

Imagine if this had been the opening game of a World Cup, rather than the first weekend of the 2016 autumn series. A year ago England were hopeful but slightly uncertain of their best way forward. Now their confidence is at its highest in years, with 10 straight wins reeled off under Eddie Jones and little sign of a hiatus. Peaking between World Cups, once New Zealand’s trademark, is becoming England’s domain.

It is reaching the point where even moderate performances are starting to yield significant results. Jones was right to give Saturday’s four-try effort over a painfully limited South Africa side only a pass mark but he was equally conscious of the wider ramifications. Between them his three predecessors as the England coach failed to secure a win over South Africa in 12 attempts over a decade. Not only has Jones’s side broken that drought but this was the second-highest number of Red Rose points scored against the Boks in history.

Related: England v South Africa: five things we learned from the autumn international | Paul Rees

Related: Fiji out to make amends against England on return to Twickenham

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/nov/13/eddie-jones-england-south-africa-fiji

Nov 13

Allister Coetzee faces growing to-do list to transform South Africa | Andy Bull

The Springboks coach insists his team will not lose their aura, but after their defeat to England he faces a lot of work to halt their slide

Back at the start of the month, South Africa’s head coach, Allister Coetzee, was asked about the “aura” of his side. The Springboks had lost five of the nine games they had played since the last World Cup, going down to Ireland in Cape Town, Argentina in Salta, Australia in Brisbane, and New Zealand in both Christchurch and Durban, the last of those a 42-point thrashing, the worst defeat they had ever suffered at home. “The Springboks will never lose their aura,” Coetzee said, “definitely not.” Coetzee, who spent 22 years playing the game and another 20 coaching it, takes the long view. Just look at England over the last 12 months, he said. The wheel will always keep turning.

South Africa’s latest defeat, 37-21 to England at Twickenham, means they have lost five of their last six. Asked how he felt about that aura now, Coetzee picked out one thing that he felt gave him some hope. “When the Springboks give up, that’s when they will have lost their aura,” he said. He admired the way they rallied from 30-9 down in the final quarter, through tries by Johan Goosen and Willie le Roux. “When the team doesn’t give up, when they keep fighting, I draw comfort from that.” It all sounded a little hollow.

Related: England v South Africa: five things we learned from the autumn international | Paul Rees

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2016/nov/13/allister-coetzee-south-africa-england-to-do-list

Nov 13

England v South Africa: five things we learned from the autumn international | Paul Rees

Ben Youngs was integral to England’s speed against South Africa but Dylan Hartley’s leadership was also a key factor in the victory

Eddie Jones said before the match that playing South Africa was like a physical game of chess, but England played draughts against them, moving a big pack around by getting the ball quickly from the breakdown. Joe Launchbury was named the man of the match for a typically selfless performance in which the second row involved himself in everything, but the player the Springboks would have liked to have gone down with a bug before the game was the scrum-half Ben Youngs. He was winning his 62nd cap without ever having establishing himself as the clear choice in the position but his work rate has increased under Jones. He got to the breakdown quickly to ensure continuity and he committed defenders to give those outside him space. He set up two of his side’s four tries by spotting the out-of-position flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit lurking uncertainly around rucks and throughout was led by his eyes.

Related: Eddie Jones uses Ali inspiration to outfox lumbering South Africa | Andy Bull

Related: South Africa’s thin confidence popped by farcical Charlie Chaplin try for England | Michael Aylwin

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2016/nov/13/england-south-africa-autumn-international-rugby-twickenham

Nov 12

Eddie Jones uses Ali inspiration to outfox lumbering South Africa | Andy Bull

Head coach draws on Rumble in the Jungle tactics to ease England to long overdue victory against the Springboks and extend his winning run to 10 games

This being Remembrance weekend, the match began with a minute’s silence and England’s players wore red poppies as well as red roses. But the game marked another, far more trivial, anniversary too, one that went unlamented. It was a year and a day since Stuart Lancaster quit as England’s head coach after the debacle of the World Cup. In terms of personnel, this England XV was not all that different from some that Lancaster fielded during his four years in charge. The pack was pretty much exactly the same as the one he picked in the autumn of 2013, only with Mako Vunipola at loosehead instead of Joe Marler. In pretty much every other respect, though, England were unrecognisable from the side who were booed by their own fans at this stadium 12 months ago.

Eddie Jones’s England are still unbeaten, and, following on from their Six Nations grand slam and their series whitewash in Australia, have achieved another notable victory – a first against South Africa since 2006 and the penultimate match of Andy Robinson’s career as head coach. Since then, England had played South Africa in 12 games under three different coaches – Lancaster, Martin Johnson, and Brian Ashton – and the best result they had managed was a 14-all draw in Port Elizabeth at the fag-end of their 2012 tour. Despite that, Jones, who spent two years working as a technical adviser for the Springboks, seemed so confident that he had South Africa’s measure you could almost have called him cocksure.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2016/nov/12/england-eddie-jones-south-africa

Nov 12

South Africa’s thin confidence popped by farcical ‘Charlie Chaplin’ try for England | Michael Aylwin

The Springboks came to bully England but the scars inflicted by All Blacks thrashing were brutally exposed by a moment of slapstick at Twickenham

So, South Africa remained unbeaten against England for a week shy of 10 years, a run of 12 matches. It was an impressive record. It is something to cling to. And they will take anything just now.

This was a dispiriting prick of the balloon – and balloon-thick is South Africa’s confidence at the moment. Now they must add the 37 points conceded here to the 57 they shipped last time out a month ago to the All Blacks – at home in Durban. Lob in a host of other indignities over the last couple of years – to Argentina, Japan and Ireland, among others – and you begin to wonder how they managed that 10-year unbeaten run against England.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2016/nov/12/south-africa--england-twickenham-autumn-internationals

Nov 12

England 37-21 South Africa: player ratings from Twickenham

Ben Youngs burst into bloom for England at Twickenham setting up two tries with superb breaks, while South Africa’s Francois Venter struggled in defence

Mike Brown, full-back, 6/10 Usual solidity at the back, first defender beaten on the counter and assists for tries. His assist for the game-breaking second won’t feature on a highlights reel, but they all count.

Related: Ben Youngs runs show as England end 10-year jinx against Springboks

Related: Eddie Jones says England have to be better after South Africa victory

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/nov/12/england-south-africa-player-ratings-twickenham

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