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South Africa scrap 30 Cap Rule in huge selection shake up

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Photo by MARTY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images

South African rugby have announced a complete change to their contracting system in order to try and prevent the loss of talented players.

A large number of players will be taken into succession next year where they will be ranked by position. The initiative will see the next generation of talent brought into the succession to widen the pool.

Those who play their rugby in the country will receive top up payments from their provinces, funded by SA Rugby.

This also has seen them scrap the 30-cap rule for overseas based players, which meant that in order to turn out for the Boks while playing abroad you must already have 30+ caps for the country.

Director of rugby at SA Rugby, Rassie Erasmus, explained that this has been a long time coming.

“We have been agonising over how to keep players in the country since the game went professional more than 20 years ago and the bottom line is that the rand is too weak and the economy of South African rugby too small to compete,” he said.

SA Rugby has also written to all the leading foreign clubs and leagues where their players head to and have informed them that they will be enforcing the requirements of World Rugby’s Regulation 9.

Regulation 9 prescribes when and how frequently club players must be released for international duty and Erasmus went on to talk about the financial benefits this strategy will have while stating the flaws in the old one.

“A South African player can earn more from a two-month contract in Japan than he can if he were to win the World Cup with the Springboks this year. That’s the reality we have to face up to,” he said.

“In recent years we have focused on trying to retain a small number of high-profile players. But it has been a small group and many of those players end up leaving anyway. Last season those contracted players only appeared for 38 percent of their available time,” he added.

He went on to speak about how in this structure as many as 75 players could be involved in oppose to the small pool of players involved before.

“Once we have done our work, the new strategy could see as many as 75 players in Springbok succession planning and being financially rewarded for it. We had to disrupt the model,” he said.

Erasmus then went into the details of the new system involving overseas clubs.

“We have told the overseas clubs that we will be enforcing Regulation 9 and will be requiring our players for up to 14 weeks of the year. If the clubs don’t like that then they have the option of not signing the player,” he said.

He moved onto the biggest advantages of changing things up next.

“The only solution that would keep everyone happy would be if we had enough money to pay the players we wanted to keep as much as they wanted to receive – but that’s not the world we live in,” he said.

Aside from the financial difficulties the reality is that SA Rugby want players who are dedicated enough and passionate enough to abide by the new rules and put on the green jersey.

“We’ve got to deal with the practical realities and stay focused on our objective, which is to field the best available 23 players who really want to play for the Springboks and who are prepared to make sacrifices whether they are playing here or overseas,” said Erasmus.

“We only have a limited budget to do that, but we have many players who have the potential to become Springboks. This way, we can give them that message in a practical way. They will know that there is a future for them with the Springboks and that they can move up the succession ladder if their play merits it,” he added.

He finished by discussing how this will give the players more hunger to play.

“This way we incentivise and encourage a broader group, subsidize the franchises by giving a larger number of players additional income and put in place proper succession planning,” he said.

The new system is great in theory and it will certainly change the face of South African rugby, and who knows if it works well, we could see more countries apply similar structures.

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Former Springbok coach Jake White has applauded the new system making the following comments in his column ‘All About Rugby’

“This should have been done a long time ago. If we had taken a stand on Regulation 9 when our players first started going overseas, European clubs would quickly have realised that signing South Africans is risky business,”

“We should never have allowed a situation where players with 30 or more caps could go overseas and still be regulars for the Boks. Running out for the Springboks and wearing that jersey should always be the pinnacle of any South African player’s career. But it’s like a parent that lets their child cross the line for a while and is now putting their foot down – better late than never!


“There’s no club in the world that wants to sign a player knowing that he could be missing at important parts of the season. What’s going to happen now is that those European clubs are going to think twice about signing SA players because they could be pulled out of the squad every time there’s a national team selection. And the spin-off from that is you’re going to get more talent staying in South Africa and developing the next generation of players.

“However, to get this right, it’s crucial that SA Rugby doesn’t allow certain players to occasionally excuse themselves from Tests without retiring from international rugby, because that will make a mockery of this plan.”

International

3 changes for Boks

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(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber made three changes to his starting team and six in total to the matchday squad for the key encounter.

Two of these changes are in the front-row, where Kitshoff – who made his Test debut against Ireland in 2016 – will mark his career milestone next to Frans Malherbe (prop) and Bongi Mbonambi in a new-look combination for the hosts.

Ox Nché – who packed down with Trevor Nyakane (prop) and Mbonambi last weekend – was ruled out due to the neck niggle he picked up in the first Test, but fortunately for Nienaber, Mbonambi’s hamstring strain has recovered sufficiently for him to start the match.

The other change in the starting XV was at No 8, where Wiese earns his first Test start after making his debut off the replacements bench against Georgia earlier this month.

Nienaber opted for a six-two split on the bench, which sees Nyakane and Vincent Koch provide cover at prop, while Marco van Staden takes over from Rynhardt Elstadt as loose forward cover along with Kwagga Smith, while Herschel Jantjies and Damian Willemse will provide support in the backline.

Damian de Allende, who retains his midfield partnership with Lukhanyo Am, will take one step closer to earning his half century of caps, as he runs onto the field in his 49th Test, while Lood de Jager (replacement lock) will earn his 47th cap if takes the field.

Steven Kitshoff will earn his 50th Test cap for South Africa.

“This is a massive game for us; it is do or die in order to stay in the race to win the series and we selected a team that offers continuity in selection, but also that we thought would be the best suited to achieve the objectives we have set for this match,” said Nienaber.

“Ox did well in the scrums last week and has been ruled out due to injury, but fortunately we have a world class player in Steven who can step into the starting team. The fact that this will mark his 50th Test will make this occasion even more important for him.”

Of decision to opt for a six-two split on the replacements bench, Nienaber said: “We have had an extra week on the training field after a few disruptive weeks in the build-up to the opening Test, so we are confident that the players in the squad will be able to deliver on the physicality and grit that will be required in this match.

“We need to be better in every area of the game this week, and the set pieces will be crucial in laying the foundations we need to execute our game plan effectively.

“We also spoke about our discipline and the aerial battle as a team, and we intend to work as hard as possible at training this week to correct the errors that cost us last week.”

Nienaber expected another epic battle against the British & Irish Lions, and he said the Boks were in the right frame of mind to bounce back from the disappointment they endured last week.

Frans Malherbe will start at tighthead prop, with Trevor Nyakane warming the bench.

“We disappointed ourselves last week, and we all know how important it is to bounce back with a strong performance and show our fighting spirit and pride as a team and nation,” said the coach.

“For most players the Castle Lager Lions Series is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we desperately want to win the series, so we will fight as hard as we can on the field to win this week so that we can achieve that goal.”

Ben O’Keeffe from New Zealand has been appointed as the referee for the match, with Mathieu Raynal (France) and Nic Berry (Australia) serving as his assistant referees, while Marius Jonker (South Africa) will be the television match official.

Springbok team to face the British & Irish Lions at Cape Town Stadium:
15 – Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz) – 63 caps, 60 pts (12t)
14 – Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse) – 15 caps, 40 pts (8t)
13 – Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks) – 16 caps, 15 pts (3t)
12 – Damian de Allende (Munster) – 48 caps, 30 pts (6t)
11 – Makazole Mapimpi (Cell C Sharks) – 15 caps, 70 pts (14t)
10 – Handré Pollard (vice-captain, Montpellier) – 50 caps, 477pts (6t, 78c, 93p, 4d)
9 – Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks) – 31 caps, 25 pts (5t)
8 – Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers) – 1 cap, 0 pts
7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Stormers) – 57 caps, 25 pts (5t)
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain, Cell C Sharks) – 52 caps, 30 pts (6t)
5 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat) – 41 caps, 5pts (1t)
4 – Eben Etzebeth (Toulon) – 87 caps, 15 pts (3t)
3 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers) – 40 caps, 5pts (1t)
2 – Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers) – 38 caps, 40 pts (8t)
1 – Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers) – 49 caps, 5pts (1t)

Replacements:
16 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears) – 35 caps, 30 pts (6t)
17 – Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls) – 44 caps, 5 pts (1t)
18 – Vincent Koch (Saracens) – 21 caps, 0 pts
19 – Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks) – 46 caps, 25 pts (5t)
20 – Marco van Staden (Vodacom Bulls) – 3 caps, 0 pts
21 – Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Júbilo) – 8 caps, 5 pts (1t)
22 – Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers) – 12 caps, 25 pts (5t)
23 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) – 8 caps, 5pts (1t)

Facts and Stats:

  • Handré Pollard needs two penalty goals to equal Jackie Snyman’s record of six career penalty goals against the British & Irish Lions.
  • The Springboks need four tries to reach 100 tries against the British & Irish Lions in this 48th Test between the sides since 1891.

Miscellaneous:

  • The total Test caps for the Springbok starting line-up is
  • There are 238 caps in the backline with 365 caps amongst the forwards. On the bench there are a further 159
  • The average caps per player in the backline are 34, the forwards 45 while the players on the bench average 19.

Source – South Africa Rugby

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PREVIEW: All Blacks v Fiji

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Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

The Steinlager Series ends on a high in Hamilton as the All Blacks face an incredibly physical and skillful Fijian side who will be eager to improve on the 57-23 score line from Dunedin last week.

Match details: All Blacks v Fiji, Saturday 17 July, 7.05pm (NZT), FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton

Played: 6

First game: All Blacks 74, Fiji 13 (27 May 1987)

Last game: All Blacks 57, Fiji 23 (10 July 2021)

Referee: Damon Murphy

FIJI NO SURPRISE PACKAGE

While Fiji’s strong performance in the first Test came as a surprise to some fans, it wasn’t to the All Blacks according to first five-eighth Richie Mo’unga. “We knew what we were going to get and for those who didn’t know, the New Zealand public who don’t watch European rugby, these guys are rock stars over there,” Mo’unga said. Despite a hampered build-up to the first Test with some players not coming out of MIQ until the week of the Test, Fiji pressured the All Blacks in many facets of the game and trailed by just eight points with 20 minutes to go. Fiji Head Coach Vern Cotter believes his side can get even better with another week of preparation under their belt. “The ingredients are there, a brave performance…you can build something from that,” Cotter said.

ARDIE AND ANTON MILESTONES

It will be a night to remember for Ardie Savea and Anton Lienert-Brown who both bring up 50 Tests for the All Blacks. Both players debuted in 2016 as youngsters and have quickly become regular starters and leaders in the All Blacks. Lienert-Brown said it was even more special for him to celebrate the milestone in Hamilton. “This region is probably the reason I am here. It has given a lot to me so to do it at FMG Waikato Stadium is special so I am very grateful.”

BREAKDOWN CHALLENGE

Fiji excelled at the breakdown last week in Dunedin and will be looking to edge the All Blacks again in this crucial area. It’s no secret that the All Blacks have been working hard during the week to improve their work at the breakdown and the addition of Ardie Savea to the starting line-up for the first time in 2021 will no doubt boost the All Blacks ability to compete in the tackle zone. Assistant Coach Brad Mooar outlined a simple formula to success at the breakdown: “I think it’s more about just winning the race, beating the opposition to the breakdown, making good decisions and execution as a ball carrier, supporters’ anticipation, and getting into that breakdown,” Mooar said.

STATCHAT

This will be the All Blacks 600th Test in the team’s rich history. The first All Blacks Test match was against Australia way back in 1903.

COACH’S CHAT

Hear from All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster on the 23 players named to face Fiji in Hamilton.

WATCH

Watch the action live on Sky Sport in New Zealand and click HERE for international broadcast details.

TEAMS

 

All Blacks (caps in brackets):

1: George Bower (2) 2: Codie Taylor (57) 3: Nepo Laulala (30) 4: Scott Barrett (41) 5: Samuel Whitelock – captain (124) 6: Akira Ioane (3) 7: Ardie Savea (49) 8: Luke Jacobson (4) 9: Aaron Smith (98) 10: Richie Mo’unga (23) 11: Sevu Reece (9) 12: David Havili (4) 13: Anton Lienert-Brown (49) 14: Will Jordan (4) 15: Damian McKenzei (29)

Reserves: 16: Dane Coles (76) 17: Ethan de Groot (1) 18: Angus Ta’avao (15) 19: Brodie Retallick (82) 20: Shannon Frizell (13) 21: Brad Weber (8) 22: Beauden Barrett (90) 23: Rieko Ioane (35)

Fiji:

1.Peni Ravai, 2. Samuel Matavesi, 3. Mesake Doge, 4. Temo Mayanavanua, 5. Leone Nakarawa (C), 6. Johnny Dyer, 7. Mesulame Kunavula, 8. Peceli Yato, 9. Frank Lomani, 10. Ben Volavola, 11. Nemani Nadolo, 12. Eneriko Buliruarua, 13. Waisea Nayacalevu, 14. Setareki Tuicuvu, 15. Kini Murimurivalu.

Reserves: 16. Mesulame Dolokoto, 17. Eroni Mawi, 18. Leeroy Atalifo, 19. Albert Tuisue, 20. Kitione Kamikamica, 21. Moses Sorovi, 22. Teti Tela, 23. Manasa Mataele.

Source – All Blacks Rugby

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6 Nations

World Rugby applies 50/22 law trial globally, bolster concussion protocol

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World Rugby announced on Wednesday five law trials which will start next month, including a so-called “50/22” kicking adaptation.

The 50/22 change allows a team to gain a throw-in inside the opposition’s 22-metre area by kicking the ball to touch with at least one bounce from their own half.

The rule was used in recent Super Rugby tournaments and its primary intention is to “encourage the defensive team to put more players in the backfield, thereby creating more attacking space and reducing defensive line speed”, according to the sport’s governing body.

The other laws to come into force on a temporary basis from August 1 include a goal-line drop-out if the ball is held up in the in-goal area, if there is a knock-on from an attacking player in the same area or an attacking kick is grounded by the defenders in their own in-goal.

There are also restrictions on attacking players latching onto team-mates from a ruck and clean-outs which target or drop weight onto the lower limbs at the breakdown.

Michael Hooper with a textbook tackle close out a certain try

The final trial allows for a one-player latch before contact, but the individual must “observe all of the requirements for a first arriving player, particularly the need to stay on their feet”.

World Rugby has also moved to strengthen concussion protocols, with independent specialists set to review cases when Test players return to action after a head injury.

They will launch a panel of Independent Concussion Consultants (ICCs) to provide expert opinion on whether players are ready to return to action after head knocks.

The global governing body will fully fund the process for Test-level competitions, with ICCs asked to rule when players look to return to action 10 days or fewer after a concussion or on players deemed higher risk due to previous head-injury history.

Source – Australia Rugby

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