Late change for Boks before physical French Test
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus said physicality and sticking to their structures would be vital when they line up against France in Marseille on Saturday in their second Castle Lager Outgoing Tour Test, while the Boks were forced to make a late change after Jasper Wiese had been withdrawn from the squad.
Erasmus explained that Wiese had a suspected concussion, which means Kwagga Smith has been promoted from the replacements to the No 8 jersey, while Deon Fourie has been called up to the bench.
“We were waiting on Jasper to pass the required concussion protocols, and given the late decision, we though it made sense to select Deon on the bench,” said Erasmus.
“We didn’t foresee Jasper not being available, as we thought he had a very good chance to play. But this is the first time we encountered such a situation and with these concussion protocols I’m sure it will happen more going forward.
“We opted for Kwagga because he is an out-and-out No 8, and when we train, he is our second choice No 8. Over and above that he can cover a few positions.”
Of the challenge France posed, Erasmus said: “They kick a lot, and they have a lot of belief in what they do. They also have a good coach and young team that remains steady when things go well or not, so it is going to be a good test for us.”
Kolisi shared Erasmus’ views: “I think the physicality is going to be the biggest aspect this weekend. Both teams are physical, and France, in particular, know what they are good at, and they do those things well. They also know how to impose their plan on opposition teams.
“We’ll certainly try to match that. The scrums and lineouts are going to be important aspects of this game, so it is going to be a tough match.”
Kolisi added: “France’s game plan has definitely changed over the years. They kick more and they save their energy to play in your half.
“They have strong forwards, so they have good set pieces, and they have everything one wants in a team. That said, we have also evolved as a side, and we are looking forward to testing ourselves against them.”
Kolisi said this match was not only important for the Boks to test themselves, but also to experience playing in Marseille before the Rugby World Cup next year.
“Playing against France on their home patch a year before the World Cup is good for us all because everyone will get a taste of what it will be like next year,” said Kolisi.
“It’s going to be a massive game with the fourth ranked team playing against the second ranked team in the world, and as the Springboks we want to win every game and make the country proud. We may have lost last week’s Test and the SA ‘A’ game, but there is pressure every week, and we need to adapt to it.”
Erasmus adopted a different view to the criticism leveled at the team about their goal kicking and said: “Playing international rugby brings extra pressure, and the only way one can get things right, such as the goal kicking, is to know what to expect and to experience kicking at this level.
“We are going through the same things we experienced as a team as in 2018 and the important thing is that if we reach a stage next year where we lose three goal kickers, we would have been in that situation before and we will be prepared.”
Jones to leave Springboks after RWC campaign
Springbok assistant coach Felix Jones will part ways with the team at the end of the 2023 season due to personal reasons after seeing out his contract following the conclusion of the Rugby World Cup in France.
Jones, who will join England’s coaching team next season, said his young family was the main consideration in his decision following more than four years with the Boks.
SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus said while it was sad for the entire South African rugby fraternity to lose Jones’ expertise, he understood the reasons for his decision, and wished him luck as he continues his coaching career in the UK next season.
Jones joined the Springboks in 2019 as a defence consultant, accompanying the team to Japan where they lifted the Webb Ellis Cup. He then continued with the side on a four-year contract as an assistant coach in 2020.
During this time, Jones was based in UK, where he kept a close eye on the European-based Players of National Interest and dealt directly with them on a regular basis, as well joining the team on full national duty during competitions and training camps.
The former Ireland fullback’s coaching stint with the Springboks so far has seen him assist the team to Rugby World Cup glory, as well as a series victory over the British & Irish Lions.
“It’s a big loss for the Springboks to lose a coach of Felix’ calibre,” said Erasmus.
“While we are saddened by the decision, we know how difficult it was for him to make that call and we fully understand the reasons. He’s been an asset to the Springboks in the last few years and the way he has evolved in his role and willingly took on additional responsibilities to ensure that the team functioned as optimally as possible in his areas of expertise, has been admirable.
“We know Felix will remain fully committed to the Springboks’ cause and give everything as we attempt to defend our Rugby World Cup title in France, and hopefully we can make it a special and memorable send-off for him later this year.”
Jones said his time with the Springboks will always remain one of the highlights of his career.
“Coaching the Springboks is one of the biggest privileges in rugby and I intend to do everything I can to ensure the team is successful until the day my contract comes to its natural end,” said Jones.
“The last four years has been an incredible journey for me and my family, both professionally and personally, I am indebted to so many people at the Springboks and in South Africa for that.
“My commitment to the Springboks until the end of the Rugby World Cup is unquestionable, and Rassie, Jacques (Nienaber – Springbok head coach) and the entire Springbok team know that.
“The next five months are going to be exciting and demanding, and I’m looking forward to preparing for the World Cup with this coaching team.”
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.
- Kick off at Aviva Stadium is 5pm
- Cole’s Most Memorable Matches
- Famous Fixtures: England v Ireland
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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