More alignment sessions planned as Bok camp wraps up
As the 14 players present at the Springbok training camp in Cape Town in the last three weeks wrapped up their activities in Stellenbosch on Friday, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber announced that he would host alignment sessions over two days with another eight players in Cape Town this weekend.
These camps are part of the Boks’ preparations for the Rugby World Cup in France in September and October, where they will attempt to defend their world champions title.
As the initial group returns to their franchises following an eight-week regeneration block, which included a four-week rest period and another four-week rugby and physical development block, another eight players – Joseph Dweba (hooker), Deon Fourie (utility forward), Marco van Staden (flanker), Evan Roos (No 8), Herschel Jantjies and Grant Williams (scrumhalves), Manie Libbok (flyhalf) and Sbu Nkosi (wing) – will be involved in two days of off-field sessions on Saturday and Sunday.
“We’ve planned to host alignment sessions – some in person such as at these two camps, and others online with the overseas-based players – to ensure that everyone is on the same page in terms of what is expected of them, where we are as a team and the areas of our game that we would like to improve,” said Nienaber.
“With the players we are actively tracking being scattered around the country and the world, it means we need to be innovative in the way we interact with them. But the most important factor is that we have regular communication with them as we work toward the Rugby World Cup.
“The players attending the sessions over the weekend have been participating in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship, so we are pleased to get this opportunity to work with them face-to-face.”
Commenting on the training camp hosted in Cape Town and Stellenbosch in the last three weeks, Nienaber said he was satisfied that they had achieved their objectives.
“We were fortunate to have this camp. It was crucial from a rest, rugby and development perspective for the players,” said the Springbok coach.
The focus during this period was to develop their physical capabilities as well as their fundamental skills, and the players will now return to their franchises for the closing stages of the Vodacom URC and the Heineken Champions Cup.”
Nienaber added: “It was excellent in the sense that we had on-field sessions and off-field alignment sessions, which allowed us to analyse where the game is at this point and what we have to work on, and we were pleased to see the collaboration between the coaches and players.
“We’ll now keep a close eye on how the players kick on from this and implement what they learned at franchise level.”
The Springboks will kick off the 2023 international season against Australia in Pretoria on Saturday, 8 July, in the opening round of the shortened Castle Lager Rugby Championship, which will be followed by clashes against New Zealand at the Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland a week later, and Argentina in Johannesburg on Saturday, 29 July.
In August, the Boks will travel to Buenos Aires to take on the Pumas before facing Wales and the All Blacks in Rugby World Cup warm-up matches in Cardiff and London in the final build-up to the World Cup.
South Africa will launch their Rugby World Cup title defence on Sunday, 10 September, against Scotland in Marseille, which will be followed by pool matches against Romania in Bordeaux (17 September), Ireland in Paris (23 September) and Tonga in Marseille (1 October).
The Rugby World Cup quarter-finals will be played on the weekend of 14/15 October, with the semi-finals on 20/21 October and the final on Saturday, 28 October.
Nienaber will announce his Rugby World Cup squad on Tuesday, 8 August.
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
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