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Pienaar Back at Montpellier but for How Long?

Ruan Pienaar has returned to Montpellier but there is no certainty that he will stay

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Photo by THIERRY BRETON/AFP/Getty Images

Ruan Pienaar has returned to training at Montpellier following his six-week compassionate leave following the death of his sister.

However, his future with the French side appears to be uncertain.

The former South African No 9, hasn’t played for the Top 14 side since their Champions Cup loss to Edinburgh in January and coach Vern Cotter has confirmed Pienaar needs to get back up to speed physically after his time away.

“Because he hasn’t done anything physical, his first aim will be to get back on form in the space of three weeks. Then if the team needs him he’ll bring all his experience with him,” he said.

In any case, there was a mid-season split among the team’s dressing room and the former Ulsterman was apparently involved. The team are also currently sitting in ninth in the Top 14 table, having gone all the way to the final last year.

With only six games remaining in the regular season and with Pienaar currently not up for selection it looks unlikely that he will play again this season.

All of this coupled with the fact that his contract in France running out next year it appears that the scrum-half may look at other options, with a return to the Pro14 on the cards as the Cheetahs are linked wit him.

Hopefully, the half-back will not only get back in shape but be back playing regularly with whatever team and back to his spectacular self.

Top 14

Nakarawa Sacked by Racing 92

Racing 92 have confirmed that star lock Leone Nakarawa has been sacked by the French giants

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(Photo by REMY GABALDA/AFP/Getty Images)

Fijian lock Leone Nakarawa has been sacked by French powerhouse Racing 92 the club has announced.

The star second-row, regarded by many as the best player in his position on the planet failed to report back to club duty following his country’s Rugby World Cup pool stage exit as he was reportedly helping build a house for his family in the Pacific Islands. 

It was reported previously that Racing had tried to get in contact with the Fijian during his absence from the club, but were unable to reach him and in a statement by the club today they confirmed he had been dismissed of his role. 

“After a few days thinking about the legal deadlines, Jacky Lorenzetti has decided to break Nakarawa’s contract. This decision, taken in consultation with the sporting director of the club, follows on from the proven disciplinary manoeuvres of Nakarawa who, in particular, did not show up at the resumption of the training programme on October 28. Nakarara, moreover, refused to answer the messages that the club addressed to him after having noted his unjustified absence and was willing to fix the date of his return,” the statement read. 

Having been named the 2018 European Cup player of the year and being seen as a leader among the dressing room, Racing admitted they were unimpressed by the example he was setting for the younger players and thus came to their conclusion. 

“His abandonment of his post for more than two weeks has been a serious prejudice to Racing… moreover, it is a deplorable example for Racing players as his title of best player in the 2018 European Cup should have encouraged him to be exemplary. At Racing, the only star is the team and the individualistic attitude of Nakarawa is inconceivable. It indicates a total lack of team spirit and a characterised insubordination. In the interests of preserving the institution of Racing, this decision of rupture was imperative,” the statement ended. 

The 31-year-old joined the Top 14 outfit in 2016 following a stint with the Glasgow Warriors and on the back of winning an Olympic gold medal in Rio in sevens with Fiji. 

However, his behaviour has lead to an unhappy ending in France, although his absence from the game may be short-lived as he is rumoured to be on the radar of some English Premiership teams following his Racing departure.

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Champions Cup

Kolbe Aims for Two More Gold Medals

Fresh off the back of his Rugby World Cup victory with South Africa, Cheslin Kolbe has confirmed that he has ambitions to add two further gold medals to his cabinet

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South African Rugby World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe has admitted he would like to win not only the Champions Cup but also Olympic gold with the Blitzbokke in 2020.

The flying-winger, who was also part of Toulouse’s Top14 winning team last season, as well as the Springboks Rugby Championship winning squad before the World Cup has set his sights on those two competitions in particular. 

“There are two more things I would still love to achieve and that’s probably winning the European Champions Cup and hopefully the Olympics with South Africa. I will keep on working hard and if there’s a door that opens or an opportunity that comes my way I’ll just make sure that I’m ready for whatever opportunities,” he said after being crowned the Top14 player of the year at Monday’s awards ceremony. 

The 26-year-old has previous experience with the South African Rugby Sevens having featured during their 2016 Olympic campaign and admitted that he is hopeful he can be a part of the set-up once again, but it is yet to be discussed. 

“I haven’t discussed it in person with SA Rugby. It’s something I would love to be a part of. It’s another big event. It’s probably one of the biggest stages of rugby or sport. If it does it happen, it happens,” he added. 

As well as being part of winning teams this year, and claiming last night’s top prize, Kolbe was also nominated for World Rugby player of the year, which he lost out to Springbok teammate Pieter-Steph du Toit and is thankful for the players he has had around him during his successful year. 

“It’s been a phenomenal season, not just for me but for my club and for my country, winning the Top 14, The Rugby Championship and then World Cup in one year I’m really blessed. I couldn’t have done this without all my team-mates. I give credit to all of them because if they didn’t create opportunities for me as a winger to finish off I wouldn’t be standing here now,” he finished. 

Kolbe will be hoping to hear from the Blitzbokke soon with regard to his chances of featuring at the Olympics next year, however, before then he will be not only trying to achieve his goal of Champions Cup success but help Toulouse climb the Top14 table where they currently sit in eighth position.

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International

Steyn’s Rugby Career Could be Over

Double World Cup winner Frans Steyn could be set to call time on his career early following his latest triumph

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(Photo by PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)

Springboks great Frans Steyn looks likely to at least pull the curtain down on his European career in order to return to his homeland.

The two-time Rugby World Cup winner, who managed to pick up medals from the 2007 edition of the tournament and this year’s one, beating England in both finals, is currently contracted to French Top 14 giants Montpellier. 

However, it is believed that he has held discussions with the club about ending his contract come the end of January instead of when it is supposed to expire in July and speaking to South African news-outlet Volksblad, he seems keen on settling down in his homeland. 

“Rugby has always been an inspiration for the Afrikaners, especially for farmers. If we had a bad week, if we watch good rugby on Saturday, then everything is better again. Only good rain, a good rugby weekend gives us the power to face Mondays again. It is a privilege that many farmers do not have. We know what to do in the future and what we need to have in place. We want to raise our children here and are attached to the rural feel that Bloemfontein offers. We want our children to have a good experience here as my wife and I had when one grew up here,” he said. 

The 32-year-old has a family farm in Bloemfontein and it is understood this is not the first time he has made the suggestion to return to the area, but it now looks more likely than ever that he will get what he likes. 

Steyn is expected to return to the French club next week, where he would play until January before his possible move back to South Africa. 

At this time it is unknown whether the back would continue his rugby career with local professional side the Cheetahs, who play in the PRO14, or whether he will end his career early, having played at the top level for such a long time already.

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