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Boks lead SA Rugby Awards nominations for 2022

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Three experienced Springboks – Lukhanyo Am, Eben Etzebeth and Siya Kolisi – were nominated for the coveted SA Rugby Player of the Year Award for 2022 for a second year running and will be up against Kurt-Lee Arendse and Frans Malherbe after the quintet of Boks earned the most votes in the nomination process.

SA Rugby announced the nominees in nine categories on Wednesday and the winners will be named in 2023, along with the annual OUTsurance Referee of the Year and the Provincial Women’s Player of the Year.

Springbok captain Kolisi won the award for a stellar 2021 season and along with Etzebeth, who became the seventh player to earn his 100th Springbok Test cap this year, and Am, whose influence was crucial before he picked up a season-ending injury in August, the trio were central to the Boks’ efforts in 2022.

Former Blitzbok star Arendse was sublime in his debut season for the Boks and scored seven tries in as many Tests, while the ever-reliant Malherbe, who played in his 50th Test this year, was a rock in the pack and he quietly went about his job of putting the Boks on the front-foot from first phase.

For the first time, media and SA Rugby stakeholders also voted for the Springbok Women’s Player of the Year, and the five nominees all played in the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in October – last year’s winner Lusanda Dumke, 2019 winner Aseza Hele, as well as Zintle Mpupha, Aphiwe Ngwevu and Nadine Roos.

The next generation of national players were nominated in the category for Young Player of the Year, which only takes into consideration Under-23s. They are Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Jaden Hendrikse, Canan Moodie, Evan Roos and Henco van Wyk.

Aphiwe Ngwevu, Nadine Roos, Lusanda Dumke, Zintle Mpupha and Aseza Hele.

Aphiwe Ngwevu, Nadine Roos, Lusanda Dumke, Zintle Mpupha and Aseza Hele.

Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu was also nominated in the category for Junior Springbok Player of the Year after he led the SA Under-20s to an unbeaten run in the Six Nations U20 Summer Series in Italy, while Suleiman Hartzenberg and Ruan Venter were also nominated for this award.

And the three Blitzboks who were nominated for the Springbok Sevens Player of the Year Award are Selvyn Davids, Zain Davids and JC Pretorius.

After a good season in which they won eight Test out of 13 and had close defeats to the top two teams in the world, the Springboks were nominated as one of the three Teams of the Year, with the DHL Stormers, winners of the inaugural Vodacom United Rugby Championship, and the Carling Currie Cup champions, the Airlink Pumas, the two other nominated sides.

These three teams’ coaches, John Dobson (DHL Stormers), Jacques Nienaber (Springboks) and Jimmy Stonehouse (Airlink Pumas) also got the most votes in the category for Coach of the Year.

The Airlink Pumas’ domestic triumph was reflected in the nominations for Carling Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year, with three men from Mpumalanga up against each other for the award – Sebastiaan de Klerk, Willie Engelbrecht and Devon Williams.

Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Jaden Hendrikse, Canan Moodie, Evan Roos and Henco van Wyk.

Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Jaden Hendrikse, Canan Moodie, Evan Roos and Henco van Wyk.

And in the final category, Jaywinn Juries and Duan Pretorius of eventual champions, the Down Touch Griffons, are up against Jaiden Baron of the Boland Kavaliers for the Carling Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year award.

Mr Mark Alexander, President of SA Rugby, congratulated all the nominees on their performances and achievements in 2022.

“As we returned to normal after a few tough years due to the pandemic, it was really heart-warming to see rugby played on weekends all over the country and abroad, by schools, clubs, provincial unions, our franchises and national teams,” said Mr Alexander.

“This list of nominees honour those players who performed brilliantly week in and week out and I would like to congratulate all of them on their achievements in 2022.

“All of our national teams enjoyed some form of success and again underlined our status as one of the top rugby nations in the world. With that comes big responsibility though and our men and women in green and gold did us proud this year.

“On the local front, we saw excellent rugby played across the board. The DHL Stormers were deserved champions of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship after winning an all-South African final against the Vodacom Bulls, and the two Carling Currie Cup competitions delivered some of the best action seen in recent years, with especially the Airlink Pumas and Windhoek Draught Griquas underlining the fact that there is no such thing anymore as ‘minnow teams’ in South Africa.

Selvyn Davids, JC Pretorius and Zain Davids.

Selvyn Davids, JC Pretorius and Zain Davids.

“Our most sincere gratitude also goes out to every player, coach, administrator, referee, sponsor and all other significant role players for playing their part in making the 2022 season one for the ages.

“Next year the Boks will be defending the Webb Ellis Cup at the Rugby World Cup in France, our other national teams will again have full schedules and our franchises will be continuing their participation in the Northern Hemisphere in the Vodacom URC, Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup, while the local season will also be jam-packed yet again.”

Like last season, when Evan Roos of the DHL Stormers walked away with the honours, the award for the Player of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship will be made at the conclusion of the competition next year.

The nominees are (in alphabetical order):

SA Rugby Player of the Year
Lukhanyo Am
Kurt-Lee Arendse
Eben Etzebeth
Siya Kolisi
Frans Malherbe

Springbok Women’s Player of the Year
Lusanda Dumke
Aseza Hele
Zintle Mpupha
Aphiwe Ngwevu
Nadine Roos

SA Rugby Young Player of the Year
Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (Junior Springboks / South Africa ‘A’ / DHL Stormers)
Jaden Hendrikse (Springboks / Cell C Sharks)
Canan Moodie (Springboks / Vodacom Bulls)
Evan Roos (Springboks / DHL Stormers)
Henco van Wyk (South Africa ‘A’ / Emirates Lions)

Springbok Sevens Player of the Year
Selvyn Davids
Zain Davids
JC Pretorius

Junior Springbok Player of the Year
Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu
Suleiman Hartzenberg
Ruan Venter

Team of the Year
Airlink Pumas
DHL Stormers
Springboks

Coach of the Year
John Dobson (DHL Stormers)
Jacques Nienaber (Springboks)
Jimmy Stonehouse (Airlink Pumas)

Carling Currie Cup Premier Division Player of the Year
Sebastiaan de Klerk (Airlink Pumas)
Willie Engelbrecht (Airlink Pumas)
Devon Williams (Airlink Pumas)

Carling Currie Cup First Division Player of the Year
Jaiden Baron (Boland Kavaliers)
Jaywinn Juries (Down Touch Griffons)
Duan Pretorius (Down Touch Griffons)

Content & Images from – South Africa Rugby


6 Nations

Wales team to face Ireland in Dublin named

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Senior men’s head coach Warren Gatland has named the Wales side to face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin in the third round of the 2024 Guinness Six Nations on Saturday 24 February (KO 2.15pm live on ITV and S4C).

There is one change to the starting XV that played England at Twickenham on 10 February, with Sam Costelow returning for Wales at fly half.

Among the replacements back-row Mackenzie Martin is in line to win his first senior cap this weekend and would become the 1,200th Wales men’s international.

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Tight-head prop Dillon Lewis would be making his first appearance of this Championship if called on from the bench.

Gatland said: “We are excited to go out to Dublin and test ourselves against one of the leading sides in world rugby. It’s a challenge we are relishing.

“We’ve made steps in the last couple of games and now it’s about building on that, learning from those experiences and taking that into this weekend.

“It’s about continuing to work hard, looking for accuracy in our performance across 80 minutes and also keeping our discipline.”

Wales senior men’s team to play Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin in the Guinness Six Nations, Saturday 24 February KO 2.15pm GMT. Live on ITV and S4C.
15. Cameron Winnett (Cardiff Rugby – 2 caps)
14. Josh Adams (Cardiff Rugby – 56 caps)
13. George North (Ospreys – 119 caps)
12. Nick Tompkins (Saracens – 34 caps)
11. Rio Dyer (Dragons – 16 caps)
10. Sam Costelow (Scarlets – 9 caps)
9. Tomos Williams (Cardiff Rugby – 55 caps)
1. Gareth Thomas (Ospreys – 27 caps)
2. Elliot Dee (Dragons – 48 caps)
3. Keiron Assiratti (Cardiff Rugby – 4 caps)
4. Dafydd Jenkins (Exeter Chiefs – 14 caps) Captain / Capten
5. Adam Beard (Ospreys – 53 caps)
6. Alex Mann (Cardiff Rugby – 2 caps)
7. Tommy Reffell (Leicester Tigers – 15 caps)
8. Aaron Wainwright (Dragons – 45 caps)

Replacements

16. Ryan Elias (Scarlets – 40 caps)
17. Corey Domachowski (Cardiff Rugby – 8 caps)
18. Dillon Lewis (Harlequins – 54 caps)
19. Will Rowlands (Racing 92 – 30 caps)
20. Mackenzie Martin (Cardiff Rugby – uncapped)
21. Kieran Hardy (Scarlets – 19 caps)
22. Ioan Lloyd (Scarlets – 4 caps)
23. Mason Grady (Cardiff Rugby – 8 caps)

Images & Content – Wales Rugby


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6 Nations

Jager and Ahern Join Ireland Squad Ahead Of Wales

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The Ireland squad re-assembled in Dublin on Sunday evening ahead of this weekend’s Guinness Men’s Six Nations Round 3 clash against Wales at Aviva Stadium (Kick-off 2.15pm).

Prop Oli Jager has joined the squad and Thomas Ahern has also linked up with Andy Farrell‘s side at the IRFU High Performance Centre this week.

Iain Henderson picked up a foot injury during Ulster’s URC game away to Ospreys on Sunday and there will be a further update later in the week.

The Ireland Match Day Squad to face Wales at Aviva Stadium will be named on Thursday at 2pm.

Ireland Squad – Wales Week: 

Backs (15):

Bundee Aki (Galwegians/Connacht)
Harry Byrne (UCD/Leinster)
Craig Casey (Shannon/Munster)
Jack Crowley (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Ciaran Frawley (UCD/Leinster)
Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster)
Robbie Henshaw (Buccaneers/Leinster)
Hugo Keenan (UCD/Leinster)
Jordan Larmour (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
James Lowe (Leinster)
Stuart McCloskey (Bangor/Ulster)
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)
Calvin Nash (Young Munster/Munster)
Garry Ringrose (UCD/Leinster)
Jacob Stockdale (Lurgan/Ulster)

Forwards (21):

Thomas Ahern (Shannon/Munster)*
Ryan Baird (Dublin University/Leinster)
Finlay Bealham (Buccaneers/Connacht)
Tadhg Beirne (Lansdowne/Munster)
Jack Conan (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Caelan Doris (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
Tadhg Furlong (Clontarf/Leinster)
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
Iain Henderson (Academy/Ulster)
Oli Jager (Munster)*
Ronan Kelleher (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Jeremy Loughman (Garryowen/Munster)
Joe McCarthy (Dublin University/Leinster)
Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster)(captain)
Tom O’Toole (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Andrew Porter (UCD/Leinster)
James Ryan (UCD/Leinster)
Dan Sheehan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Tom Stewart (Ballynahinch/Ulster)
Nick Timoney (Banbridge/Ulster)
Josh van der Flier (UCD/Leinster)

*Denotes uncapped player

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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6 Nations

O’Connell Gives Update On Keenan As Ireland Return To Training

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Hugo Keenan is Ireland’s main injury concern ahead of Saturday week’s Guinness Men’s Six Nations clash with Wales. The ever-influential full-back took a blow to his left knee during the win over Italy.

Keenan sustained the injury when falling awkwardly in a 52nd-minute tackle from Italian replacement Giosuè Zilocchi. He was replaced shortly afterwards by Harry Byrne, with Jack Crowley switching to the full-back position.

The 27-year-old Dubliner has become central to Andy Farrell’s plans in a short space of time, with his 15s international debut coming just over three years ago. He has accumulated more match minutes than any other player so far during Farrell’s coaching reign.

He has started 38 of Ireland’s last 42 Test matches, and Jimmy O’Brien and Michael Lowry are the only other players who have worn the number 15 jersey during that time.

Asked about Keenan’s likely availability for the third round of the Six Nations, Ireland forwards coach Paul O’Connell said: “Hugo didn’t train today, but he hasn’t been ruled out for the Welsh game yet.

“He’s progressing with his rehabilitation, he was there at training today and took part in the organisational bits, but I have no full update. He’s still available for selection for Wales, but I’m not sure what will happen in the next few days.

“He plays a big role, he’s obviously been injury-free for a long time. He’s an excellent player and in full-back, covering the back-field defensively, he has a lot of work to do in attack as well, recreating our attack by moving side to side.

“There’s a lot of IP (intellectual property) there that we might miss out on if he wasn’t playing. He also plays a big leadership role for us, he’s a very smart guy.

“He’s a problem-solver within the group and highly regarded within the group. Whether he’s there or not, he’ll continue to play that role.”

Keenan has had a strong start to the tournament, with his individual highlights including his try-saving tackles on Damian Penaud, including one which drove the French dangerman back a few feet, and an electric break against Italy from Craig Casey’s kick over the top.

He has an 85.7% tackle success rate, including two dominant hits and a turnover tackle. In attack, he has had gain-line success with two-thirds of his carries in the Championship, and has the team’s best tackle evasion rate of 47.1%.

If the Leinster star is ruled out when Ireland resume their campaign next week, the versatile Ciaran Frawley, Jordan Larmour, Jacob Stockdale, Calvin Nash, or indeed Crowley, could be options to fill the full-back berth.

Larmour, who returned to international action last Sunday for the first time since 2021, made nine starts at full-back between 2018 and 2020. Farrell handed him the number 15 shirt for his first game in charge of Ireland four years ago.

Last August against Italy, Frawley made his debut as a half-time replacement for O’Brien at full-back. He has started six times in the position for Leinster this season, with Stockdale, Nash and Crowley also having provincial experience in the back-field.

As O’Brien and Mack Hansen are also injury-enforced absentees, O’Connell admits that it could provide an opportunity to build more depth in that area if Keenan is unable to recover in time.

“It’s good for us in some ways because it makes us play someone else there if he doesn’t make it,” commented the Limerick man, who is in his fourth Men’s Six Nations campaign as part of the Ireland coaching group.

“I’m not sure yet, I don’t pay as much attention to the backs, but I’m not sure yet where  Hugo is at. As I said, he was around training today, so we’d be hopeful.”

Meanwhile, Garry Ringrose is on track to play some part against Wales at the Aviva Stadium having returned to training. He missed the opening two rounds due to a shoulder injury.

“Yeah it looks like it, he trained today,” O’Connell said of Ringrose. “We didn’t do a massive session today but he trained today and was in good shape.

“No one else sat out training, no, so they’re all good to go, I believe.”

That includes captain Peter O’Mahony (calf), Tadhg Furlong (calf), and Bundee Aki (knee), who all sat out the 36-0 bonus point victory over Italy as they recovered from their respective knocks.

Images & Content from Irish Rugby & Images © Inpho Photography


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