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Boks change for France Test with Libbok on bench

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Former SA Under-20 flyhalf Manie Libbok has been included on the Springbok bench for Saturday’s Test against France in Marseille as head coach Jacques Nienaber named a team showing five changes and two positional switches from the side that ran out against Ireland last weekend.

The second Test on the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour kicks off at 22h00 (SA time) at the Stade Vélodrome, where Willie le Roux will slot back into the starting team at fullback, which sees Cheslin Kolbe move to the right wing and Kurt-Lee Arendse to the left wing, while Makazole Mapimpi has been named among the replacements. The other change in the backline sees Faf de Klerk start at scrumhalf in place of Jaden Hendrikse.

Nienaber also made changes to his forward pack, with tighthead prop Frans Malherbe packing down in a new-look front row next to Ox Nche (prop) and Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), while Franco Mostert makes the jump from the bench to the starting lineup to fill the void left by injured lock Lood de Jager.

Other changes amongst the replacements – where the uncapped Libbok has been named in the matchday squad in a Test for the first time – include Cobus Reinach, who will provide cover at scrumhalf, as well as Steven Kitshoff (prop), Malcolm Marx (hooker) and Marvin Orie (lock). Nienaber opted for a split of five forwards and three backs on the bench for this Test.

“One of the changes was injury enforced as Lood suffered a shoulder injury against Ireland, while we opted to make a few tactical personnel changes for the challenge that we expect France to pose,” said Nienaber.

“We know what each of the players in this squad can do, and we thought these combinations fit this specific game.

“A guy like Cobus will also bring a different dimension to our attack, and it a bonus that he knows the conditions in France and has also played with some of their players.

“Manie, meanwhile, has showed his big match temperament in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship and he has been training well since joining the team, so if he gets a run, it will be a great occasion to make his Test debut. It is going to be a challenging game, but it doesn’t get better than playing against the second ranked team in the world on your debut.”

Manie Libbok is the only uncapped player included in the match-23 for the Test against France.

Manie Libbok is the only uncapped player included in the match-23 for the Test against France.

Nienaber expected a big onslaught from the French and said this would be a good test for the team with an eye on next year’s Rugby World Cup, which will be hosted in France.

“France have showed in the last year what a force they can be, and they come off a morale-boosting victory against Australia, so we know we are in for,” said Nienaber.

“Facing France, who are ranked second in the world, on their home patch at what we expect will be a full stadium is great preparation for next year, as the players will experience first-hand what they are in for.

“We will also be playing at this stadium during the World Cup, so this match will be good for us in many ways.”

Looking at the threat France could pose, Nienaber said: “They have a good pack of forwards who pride themselves on their set pieces and talented backs who can spark something from nothing, so they will test us all around.

“That said, we know what our players are capable of, and if we had capitalised on more of our opportunities against Ireland we could have been on the right end of the scoreboard. The reality is that we lost against the best team in the world at home in front of a capacity crowd by three points.

“We’ve spoken about what went wrong last week and we are working hard on rectifying those areas so that we can we play our potential and make the nation proud this weekend.”

Franco Mostert and Bongi Mbonambi will both start against France on Saturday.

Franco Mostert and Bongi Mbonambi will both start against France on Saturday.

Springbok team to face France in Marseille:

15 – Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz) – 80 caps, 65 pts (13t)
14 – Cheslin Kolbe (Toulon) – 21 caps, 53 pts (10t, 1p)
13 – Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles) – 57 caps, 60 pts (12t)
12 – Damian de Allende (Wild Knights) – 67 caps, 45 pts (9t)
11 – Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls) – 4 caps, 15 pts (3t)
10 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 24 caps, 22 pts (1t, 4c, 3p)
9 – Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles) – 43 caps, 25 pts (5t)

8 – Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers) – 19 caps, 5 pts (1t)
7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz) – 65 caps, 15 pts (3t)
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain, Cell C Sharks) – 72 caps, 40 pts (8t)
5 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 60 caps, 15 pts (3t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Cell C Sharks) – 107 caps, 15 pts (3t)
3 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 55 caps, 5 pts (1t)
2 – Bongi Mbonambi (Cell C Sharks) – 53 caps, 55 pts (11t)
1 – Ox Nche (Cell C Sharks) – 16 caps, 0 pts

Replacements:

16 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) – 56 caps, 65 pts (13t)
17 – Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers) – 68 caps, 5 pts (1t)
18 – Vincent Koch (unattached) – 39 caps, 0 pts
19 – Marvin Orie (DHL Stormers) – 8 caps, 0 pts
20 – Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs) – 28 caps, 15 pts (3t)
21 – Cobus Reinach (Montpellier) – 22 caps, 40 pts (8t)
22 – Manie Libbok (DHL Stormers) – uncapped
23 – Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks) – 34 caps, 110 pts (22t)

Springbok record against France:

Played 44; Won 27; Lost 11; Drawn 6; Points for: 939, Points against: 662; Tries scored 105, Tries conceded 59; Highest score 52-10; Biggest win 42 points. Win % 61%.

Milestones:

  • Jesse Kriel is the only player in the squad who has scored more than one try against France. He is currently on three tries.
  • Siya Kolisi holds the most Test caps against France in the Springbok squad, with six Tests played.
  • Eben Etzebeth is the second most capped Springbok lock with 107 Tests.

Miscellaneous:

  • The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is 725.
  • There are 278 caps in the backline, with 447 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 255
  • The average caps per player in the backline are 39, the forwards 55, while the players on the bench average 31.

Content & Images from – South Africa Rugby


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Spencer looking to bring innovation to Sky Super Rugby Aupiki

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Former All Blacks and Blues first five-eighths Carlos Spencer hopes to pass on the sort of rugby that marked his career as a backs coach for the Blues women’s side in Sky Super Rugby Aupiki in 2023.

The 99-time Blues’ pivot played 44 Tests for the All Blacks and 89 games for Auckland during his career spanning the turn of the century. He also played for Northampton and Gloucester in the English Premiership.

Since building his coaching record after completing his rugby-playing career in South Africa in Gauteng, he has coached in the Republic, the United States and the Hurricanes in Wellington.

Now he has taken the chance to join head coach Willie Walker and fellow assistant coach Linda Itunu with the Blues.

Spencer, 47, said: “When I was playing, I always liked to bring a bit of innovation and ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking to the table. Now, as a coach, I want to encourage and help grow those same traits in our Blues wahine.”

Like most of New Zealand, he was caught up in the Black Ferns’ World Cup success, and he anticipates there will be a follow-on effect in Sky Super Rugby Aupiki.

“You’ve seen the rise of women’s rugby and the way the public got right in behind the Black Ferns.

“We’re at an exciting juncture for the sport, and I’m looking forward to getting involved and doing what I can to help grow and support women’s rugby.”

“I’ve known Willie [Walker] for a while. We’ve thrown the touch ball around and have a good relationship. He’s done some fantastic work with the Auckland Storm in the Farah Palmer Cup, and I’m looking forward to exchanging ideas and getting the backline humming.

“I don’t know Linda, but have seen her exploits on the field for many years with the Black Ferns – she was an enforcer on the field,”

Blues chief executive Andrew Hore said having Spencer on board with the Blues organisation was special, and was an example of harnessing the resources available within the franchise’s region.

Content & Images from – New Zealand Rugby


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Constructive talks between World Rugby, Erasmus

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World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin and World Rugby Director of Rugby Phil Davies met with South Africa Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus on Thursday and held positive discussions regarding recent events and match official communications in general.

Views were exchanged resulting in a better understanding of the respective positions.

There was agreement that further dialogue was needed in terms of enhancing the process that operates between teams and match officials to ensure all can play their part in creating great spectacles and avoid frustration but in a way that underpins the respect for match officials, coaches and players.

Further dialogue will continue after today’s final Springbok test of the year.

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Nienaber, Kolisi praise Boks for special win

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Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber and captain Siya Kolisi praised the team for their brave effort to earn their first win over England at Twickenham since 2014, and their first personal victories in London as they registered a rewarding 27-13 victory on Saturday.

The Boks built up an encouraging 14-3 halftime lead and managed to stretch it to 27-6 in the 57th minute before being reduced to 14 men for the last 20 minutes after replacement prop Thomas du Toit received a red card for a dangerous tackle. Despite this, the team hung on as if their lives depended on it to snatch the memorable victory.

The result saw the Boks win two of their four matches on the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour – with the two narrow defeats being against the first and second ranked teams in the world in Ireland and France.

“We’ve had a couple of special results as a team, but this was the first win for Siya and I at Twickenham, so it’s very special to us,” said Nienaber.

“The forwards were outstanding and created a good platform for our backs to attack, so all-in-all, it was a fantastic team effort.”

Kolisi echoed lauded the entire team for their efforts to make the victory possible.

“Sometimes we take it for granted what a special environment one is in and the great coaching team we have,” said Kolisi.

“When we got together with most of this coaching team in 2018, we all bought into the plans and the synergy and the way we work together is really special in this group.”

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi thanks the crowd after the Boks won at Twickenham.

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi thanks the crowd after the Boks won at Twickenham.

Nienaber was delighted with the way some of the young players rose to the occasion and said: “With this match being outside of the international Test window there were a whole lot of players who were not available for selection, but we have a lot of players knocking on the door and it was great to give those guys an opportunity tonight.

“It’s always good to give those players a chance under such pressure in front of a packed Twickenham, which can be pretty hostile, and they stood up today.”

Asked what he had told his players when they were reduced to 14 men, Kolisi said: “We actually said last week there is nothing we haven’t faced together as a group year. We’ve even been in situation when we had a red card, so the players knew what to do.

“Everyone knew they had to work harder to make up for the extra man, and the way the forwards played was great, and everyone did their bit to get the result.”

Wrapping up the tour, Nienaber said: “This was one of the most enjoyable four weeks we’ve had had even though we only got a 50% win record. The way the team, coaches, management and the game drivers made plans and worked tightly together with it was great, and we can take a lot from this going forward.”

The team will make their journey back to South Africa on Sunday and arrive on their home soil on Monday.

Content & Images from – South Africa Rugby


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