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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.”


6 Nations

England team to face Scotland in Six Nations opener

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Ollie Hassell-Collins will make his England debut at left wing, Max Malins returns to the side at right wing and Freddie Steward is named at full back.

Owen Farrell captains the side from inside centre and is joined in the midfield by Joe Marchant. Marcus Smith is at fly-half with Jack van Poortvliet at scrum half.

The front row is made up of vice-captain Ellis Genge and Kyle Sinckler with Jamie George at hooker. Maro Itoje and Ollie Chessum start at lock, while Ben Curry makes his second appearance for England at open-side flanker. Lewis Ludlam and Alex Dombrandt complete the back row.

Jack Walker is in line to make his England debut after being named as a substitute, Anthony Watson could make a first England appearance since March 2021, and if Dan Cole comes off the bench he will earn a 96th Test cap.

Mako Vunipola, Nick Isiekwe, Ben Earl, Ben Youngs and Ollie Lawrence make up the remaining replacements.

“There are few fixtures in the rugby calendar that excite both players and supporters alike more than the annual Six Nations meeting of the Auld enemy as they battle for the honour of lifting the Calcutta Cup,” said Borthwick.

“Another packed Twickenham will witness the start of the next chapter of English rugby in one of the most keenly contested tournaments in the world. There is no doubt this England team shares the supporters’ sense of eager anticipation.

“To a man, the players are determined to play with the commitment, fight and desire that is at the very heart of representing England, the sort of passion that our tremendous supporters rightly expect.”

England Match Day Squad

Starting

15. Freddie Steward

14. Max Malins

13. Joe Marchant

12. Owen Farrell (C)

11. Ollie Hassell-Collins

10. Marcus Smith

9. Jack van Poortvliet

1. Ellis Genge (VC)

2. Jamie George

3. Kyle Sinckler

4. Maro Itoje

5. Ollie Chessum

6. Lewis Ludlam

7. Ben Curry

8. Alex Dombrandt

Replacements

16. Jack Walker

17. Mako Vunipola

18. Dan Cole

19. Nick Isiekwe

20. Ben Earl

21. Ben Youngs

22. Ollie Lawrence

23. Anthony Watson


Images & Content from England Rugby
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6 Nations

Scotland name team to face England in 2023 Guinness Six Nations Opener

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Head coach Gregor Townsend has named his squad to face England in the opening fixture of the 2023 Guinness Six Nations this Saturday as Scotland bid to retain the Calcutta Cup.

Leading his side in the championship for the first time, blindside flanker Jamie Ritchie is joined at openside by Luke Crosbie, whose excellent recent form is rewarded with a second start for Scotland, with Matt Fagerson completing the back row.

In the second row, the experienced Richie Gray and Grant Gilchrist, who is named as Vice Captain, resume a partnership that impressed during last year’s Autumn Nations Series.

Pierre Schoeman starts at loosehead prop in what is a 17th consecutive international since his 2021 debut, with the evergreen WP Nel – who reached 50 caps in November – selected at tighthead and George Turner named at hooker.

In the back division, scrum-half Ben White will link up with stand-off Finn Russell, a year on from his try-scoring debut in the Calcutta Cup at BT Murrayfield.

Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones are named as a centre pairing, the former having scored his first tries for Scotland in November’s win over Argentina, with the latter having notched no fewer than four tries against England in as many games against them.

In the back three, Scotland’s record try-scorer Stuart Hogg continues at full-back, with Duhan van der Merwe and Kyle Steyn lining up on the wings.

Townsend has selected a bench with a 5-3 split between forwards and backs, with Glasgow Warriors clubmates Fraser Brown, Jamie Bhatti, Simon Berghan and Jack Dempsey, alongside Jonny Gray, listed as pack replacements. George Horne, Blair Kinghorn and Chris Harris complete the matchday squad as substitute options.

Scotland team to face England in the Guinness Six Nations opener on Saturday, 4 February at Twickenham, kick-off 4.45pm, live on STV and ITV

15. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) 96 caps

14. Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) 5 caps
13. Huw Jones (Glasgow Warriors) 31 caps
12. Sione Tuipulotu (Glasgow Warriors) 11 caps
11. Duhan van der Merwe (Edinburgh Rugby) 23 caps

10. Finn Russell (Racing 92) 65 caps
9. Ben White (London Irish) 9 caps

1. Pierre Schoeman (Edinburgh Rugby) 16 caps
2. George Turner (Glasgow Warriors) 30 caps
3. WP Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) 50 caps
4. Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors) 69 caps
5. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) – Vice Captain – 59 caps
6. Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh Rugby) – Captain – 36 caps
7. Luke Crosbie (Edinburgh Rugby) 2 caps
8. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) 28 caps

Replacements

16. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) 57 caps
17. Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) 25 caps
18. Simon Berghan (Glasgow Warriors) 31 caps
19. Jonny Gray (Exeter Chiefs) 72 caps
20. Jack Dempsey (Glasgow Warriors) 4 caps
21. George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) 18 caps
22. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby) 38 caps
23. Chris Harris (Gloucester Rugby) 39 caps

Tickets for Scotland’s match against Italy at BT Murrayfield in the Guinness Six Nations on Saturday 18 March are still available HERE

Images & Content – Scotland Rugby


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Springboks’ 2023 fixture list locked in

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South Africa Rugby - Image Credit Asics

The Springboks will kick off a bumper 2023 season against Australia in Pretoria in July in the opening round of the shortened Castle Lager Rugby Championship and will face Argentina in Johannesburg in their final match on home soil before the build-up to their Rugby World Cup defence starts.

In August, the Boks will travel to Argentina 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 global showpiece in France, which kicks off on the second weekend in September.

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber’s charges will kick off the international season on Saturday, 8 July, with their opening Castle Lager Rugby Championship Test against Australia at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, before travelling to New Zealand to face the All Blacks on Saturday, 17 July.

They will return to South Africa to wrap up their campaign against the Pumas at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg two weeks later, on Saturday, 29 July.

This will mark the first time since 2016 that the Boks host Australia in Pretoria, and the first time since 2013 that they take on Argentina in in Johannesburg, with South Africa having won both those fixtures, by 18-10 and 73-13 respectively.

The away match against Argentina is scheduled for Saturday, 5 August before they take on Wales at the Principality Stadium on Saturday, 19 August, and a second Test against New Zealand at Twickenham on Friday, 25 August.

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.

“Loftus Versfeld and Emirates Airline Park are iconic stadiums, and we thoroughly enjoy the fanatic support from the home crowds at these venues, so we are thrilled to start off what is a vital season for the team at these stadiums,” said Nienaber.

“These Castle Lager Rugby Championship matches are going to be crucial as we look to get our Rugby World Cup season off to a good start and playing against New Zealand away and Australia and Argentina on the highveld will be ideal for our preparation.

“All three sides will enter the international spectacle in France among a handful of teams that will be considered potential contenders for the title, so we are expecting a thorough test throughout the campaign.”

SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus added that the match against the Pumas in Argentina ties in nicely with their RWC preparations: “Playing against Argentina in South America is unique as they have a very passionate home crowd that brings the best out of their team, so that environment will serve as good preparation for our team with an eye on the Rugby World Cup, especially after getting a taste of the atmosphere we can expect at the international extravaganza in our match against France in Marseille last November.”

Nienaber said the national coaches have been hard at work with their planning for the international season where they will look to build on an encouraging 2022 season: “The coaches have hit the ground running this year and we’ll continue to put in the hard yards as we attempt to ensure that we leave no stone unturned before the World Cup.

“We are on course in terms of finalising our planning for the season and we are excited about returning to the training field,” added the Springbok coach.

An announcement on the venues of the Tests in New Zealand and Argentina, as well as the Boks’ training camps will be made in due course.

Springbok 2023 fixtures:

Castle Lager Rugby Championship:
Saturday, 8 July – Springboks vs Australia (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
Saturday, 17 July – Springboks vs New Zealand (venue TBC)
Saturday, 29 July – Springboks vs Argentina (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)

RWC warm-up fixtures:
Saturday, 5 August – Springboks v Argentina (venue TBC)
Saturday, 19 August – Springboks vs Wales (Principality Stadium, Cardiff)
Friday, 25 August – SA vs New Zealand (Twickenham, London)

RWC pool fixtures:
Sunday, 10 September – Springboks v Scotland (Stade Velodrome, Marseille)
Sunday, 17 September – Springboks v Romania (Stade de Bordeaux, Bordeaux)
Saturday, 23 September – Springboks v Ireland (Stade de France, Paris)
Sunday, 1 October – Springboks v Tonga (Stade Velodrome, Marseille)

Weekend of 14/15 October – Quarter-finals
Weekend of 21/22 October – Semi-finals
Saturday, 28 October – Final

Content & Images from – South Africa Rugby


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