Boks change for France Test with Libbok on bench
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.”
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.”
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
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%.
- 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.
- 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.
Scott Robertson appointed All Blacks Head Coach from 2024
Scott Robertson will become the All Blacks Head Coach from 2024.
The 48-year-old father of three was appointed following a robust interview process and will announce further key appointments to his coaching and management team in coming months before officially taking up his new role following the conclusion of the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Robertson has been appointed for four years from 2024 through to the end of the 2027 Rugby World Cup and will succeed current All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster, who will lead the All Blacks through the conclusion of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France. Robertson’s appointment was confirmed at an NZR Board Meeting on Tuesday morning.
“It’s an honour to be named as the next All Blacks Head Coach,” Robertson said. “It’s a job that comes with a huge amount of responsibility, but I’m excited by the opportunity to make a contribution to the legacy of the black jersey. To represent your country, as a coach or player, is the ultimate honour in sport and it’s humbling to be given that opportunity. I can’t wait.”
Robertson, who played 23 Tests for the All Blacks as a loose forward between 1998 and 2002, has compiled an impressive coaching resume. Following, retirement from the professional game in 2007 Robertson commenced his coaching career with the Sumner Rugby Club in Christchurch, before moving into an Assistant role with Canterbury in 2008 and then taking over as Head Coach in 2013, where he went on to win three Premiership titles between 2013 and 2016,. He has guided the Crusaders to six consecutive Super Rugby titles as Head Coach since 2017. Prior, to that he coached New Zealand U20s to a Junior World Championship crown, and most recently he coached the famous Barbarians FC to a win over the All Blacks XV last year.
“Having significant time to plan for 2024 and beyond is crucial to setting the All Blacks up for success during the next World Cup cycle. I have a job to do with the Crusaders and that will be my main focus through to the completion of DHL Super Rugby, but I will now have the opportunity to work with NZR to get some key appointments in my coaching and management team finalised, so we can hit the ground running next year.“
NZR Board Chair Dame Patsy Reddy said:
“We were very happy with the calibre and quality and quality of the people involved and would like to thank all of those who took part in the process. The decision to appoint the next All Blacks Head Coach ahead of the Rugby World Cup was not taken lightly, but we believe it was the right decision for New Zealand Rugby and the All Blacks and will set the team up for future success.
“We congratulate Scott on his appointment and look forward to working together in 2024, but have also been clear that New Zealand Rugby’s full support this year will be focused on the current All Blacks coaching team as we look toward the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.”
NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson said:
“I’d like to congratulate Scott on his appointment. His coaching record speaks for itself in terms of success, but what came through strongly during the interview process was his innovative approach to the game, his passion for his players, and his desire to add to the All Blacks legacy. We firmly believe he is the right person to lead the team in 2024 and beyond.”
BIO – Scott Robertson
As a player Robertson was capped 23 times in Tests for the All Blacks as a loose forward between 1998 and 2002. He made his debut against Australia in Christchurch in 1998 and was a member of the 1999 Rugby World Cup squad, playing in a 101-3 pool win over Italy. He moved into coaching with the Sumner Rugby Club and quickly transitioned into the Canterbury NPC environment where he was part of the team that won five titles between 2008 and 2012. Robertson was then elevated to Head Coach where he guided the team to three NPC Premiership titles between 2013-2016. Even greater success followed in Super Rugby, where he has guided the Crusaders to six consecutive Super Rugby titles as Head Coach since 2017. In 2015, the New Zealand Under 20s won the Junior World Championship title with Robertson as Head Coach, and last year coached the famous Barbarians FC to a win over the All Blacks XV.
England side to face Ireland in Six Nations
Captain Owen Farrell will start at fly half, Manu Tuilagi returns to the side at inside centre with Henry Slade at outside centre. There is a first England start for Henry Arundell on the left wing, Anthony Watson is at right wing, and Freddie Steward is full back.
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In the forward pack Lewis Ludlam is named vice-captain and is flanker alongside Jack Willis. Alex Dombrandt is at No. 8. In the same front row that has started each game of the championship, vice-captain Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler are at prop and Jamie George is at hooker. David Ribbans starts at lock with Maro Itoje.
Dan Cole is in line to make his 100th appearance for England after being named as replacement. Cole made his England debut in the Six Nations in February 2010. He has gone on to play in three Rugby World Cups and has won three Guinness Six Nations titles.
Nick Isiekwe and Joe Marchant return to the bench, along with Jack Walker, Mako Vunipola, Ben Curry, Alex Mitchell and Marcus Smith.
“We travel to Dublin to face an Ireland team on Saturday that has the chance to secure a Grand Slam Championship victory at home for the first time” said Borthwick.
“We know that after the bitter disappointment of the display against an exceptional France team last week, we will have to be much improved to meet the challenge of playing the side presently ranked number one in the world.
“However, I have witnessed an England squad determined to make amends for the defeat at Twickenham, and I am confident that the team announced today will once again want to show the sort of resilience and attitude that brought us victory in Wales.”
Team to face Ireland
15. Freddie Steward
14. Anthony Watson
13. Henry Slade
12. Manu Tuilagi
11. Henry Arundell
10. Owen Farrell (C)
1. Ellis Genge (VC)
2. Jamie George
4. Maro Itoje
6. Lewis Ludlam (VC)
7. Jack Willis
16. Jack Walker
17. Mako Vunipola
18. Dan Cole
19. Nick Isiekwe
20. Ben Curry
21. Alex Mitchell
22. Marcus Smith
23. Joe Marchant
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Ireland Squad Named For Guinness Six Nations Super Saturday
Ireland will take on England at a sold-out Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening (Kick-off 5pm) for the chance to claim the Guinness Six Nations Championship title, the Triple Crown and a fourth Men’s Grand Slam title.
World Player of the Year Josh van der Flier will win his 50th cap on Saturday. He lines out in an unchanged back row as Caelan Doris is named to start alongside him and Peter O’Mahony.
In the front row, Dan Sheehan has been passed fit and will start with Andrew Porter and Tadhg Furlong on either side of the scrum. Rob Herring comes in on the bench in place of Ronan Kelleher.
Ryan Baird, who came on for the injured Iain Henderson in Scotland, will partner James Ryan in the second row with Kieran Treadwell named in the replacements.
Captain Johnny Sexton will be partnered at half-back by Jamison Gibson Park and Robbie Henshaw comes into the centre to play alongside Bundee Aki. The back three of Hugo Keenan, Mack Hansen and James Lowe start for a fifth consecutive Six Nations fixture.
Sexton equalled Ronan O’Gara’s Six Nations Championship all-time points scorer record (557 points) against Scotland and can become the outright top points scorer against England this weekend.
Jimmy O’Brien come into the match day 23 to join Cian Healy, Tom O’Toole, Jack Conan, Conor Murray and Ross Byrne who all featured last weekend in Murrayfield.
Ireland’s final game of the Championship will be broadcast live on VIRGIN and ITV television and RTE and BBCNI radio.
IRELAND Team (v England, 2023 Guinness Six Nations Championship, Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Saturday 18th March, 2023, KO 17.00 (IST))
15. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 29 caps
14. Mack Hansen (Connacht/Corinthians) 13 caps
13. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 61 caps
12. Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 45 caps
11. James Lowe (Leinster) 19 caps
10. Johnny Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 112 caps (c)
9. Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 24 caps
1. Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 52 caps
2. Dan Sheehan (Leinster/Lansdowne) 16 caps
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 64 caps
4. Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) 10 caps
5. James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 52 caps
6. Peter O’Mahony (Munster/Cork Constitution) 93 caps
7. Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 49 caps
8. Caelan Doris (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 27 caps
16. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 33 caps
17. Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 122 caps
18. Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 8 caps
19. Kieran Treadwell (Ulster/Ballymena) 10 caps
20. Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 37 caps
21. Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 104 caps
22. Ross Byrne (Leinster/UCD) 18 caps
23. Jimmy O’Brien (Leinster/Naas) 4 caps
Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography
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