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Springboks switch to Test mode at Durban camp

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The Springboks made the big switch to Test mode on Wednesday as they returned to the training field in Durban at the first of two preparation camps this month to kick into gear for the international season.

This camp, which includes 15 players, will conclude on Friday, while the second preparation camp – which will feature players from the DHL Stormers who are preparing to face Munster in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship Grand Final in Cape Town next weekend – will run from Monday 29 to Wednesday 31 May.

The group of players – which includes centre Lukhanyo Am, wing Makazole Mapimpi, hooker Bongi Mbonambi, utility forward Kwagga Smith and fullback Willie le Roux – assembled in Durban on Tuesday evening and got straight into the swing of things on Wednesday morning with field training sessions, gym, and team meetings.

They will have a further two field training sessions on Thursday and one on Friday before returning home.

“It was fantastic to see how excited the players and members of team management were to return to the national set-up when we arrived in Durban,” said Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber.

“This is a massive season for us and judging by the players’ enthusiasm to get back to the training field, we are excited about the journey ahead as we prepare for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, our Rugby World Cup warm-up matches and the international showpiece in France.

“With these players having completed their franchise and club commitments, they can now turn their attention fully to the international season.”

Nienaber added: “We have a small group of players at this camp, but this affords us the luxury of giving them special attention. As we said at our first training camp in February, every minute with the players is crucial for us to get our structures and systems in place to ensure that we peak at the right time during the World Cup.

“We’ll have a bigger group of players at the next camp and at our Castle Lager Rugby Championship training camp in June, but this week will assist us greatly in putting the groundwork in place.

“Having a few injured players here such as Siya (Kolisi) and Eben (Etzebeth) is also a bonus, as they’ll participate in all our team meetings, while our medical team have already started working with them.”

Pieter-Steph du Toit at a training session on Wednesday morning in Durban.

Pieter-Steph du Toit at a training session on Wednesday morning in Durban.

The Springboks will begin their official preparations for the Castle Lager Rugby Championship at a training camp in Pretoria from Monday 12 to Friday 30 June. They will kick off their 2023 international season against Australia at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, 8 July.

The second Test of the condensed version of the Castle Lager Rugby Championship is against the All Blacks at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland (15 July), before the Boks will return to South Africa for the closing match of the competition against Argentina in Johannesburg (29 July).

The Springboks will play three Rugby World Cup warm-up matches: against Argentina in Buenos Aires (Saturday, 5 August), Wales in Cardiff (Saturday, 19 August) and New Zealand in London (Friday, 25 August) respectively.

They will then make their way to France for the international extravaganza where they face Scotland in Marseille (Sunday, 10 September), Romania in Bordeaux (Sunday, 17 September), Ireland in Paris (Saturday, 23 September) and Tonga in Marseille (Sunday, 1 October) during the pool stages.

Players invited to Springbok camps (in alphabetical order): Lukhanyo Am (Cell C Sharks), Kurt-Lee Arendse (Vodacom Bulls), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz), Thomas du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Jaden Hendrikse, Siya Kolisi (all Cell C Sharks), Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz), Makazole Mapimpi, Bongi Mbonambi (both Cell C Sharks), Canan Moodie (Vodacom Bulls), Ox Nche (Cell C Sharks), Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs), Marco van Staden (Vodacom Bulls), Grant Williams (Cell C Sharks).

Springbok 2023 fixtures:

Castle Lager Rugby Championship:
Saturday, 8 July – Springboks vs Australia (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
Saturday, 15 July – Springboks vs New Zealand (Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland)
Saturday, 29 July – Springboks vs Argentina (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)

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

RWC fixtures:
Sunday, 10 September – Springboks v Scotland (Stade Marseille, 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 Marseille, 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


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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