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CJ Stander To Retire At End Of Season

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(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

CJ Stander has confirmed that he will retire from professional rugby at the end of the season.

The news will come as a surprise to many, but it is a decision that the soon-to-be 31-year-old has given a lot of time and thought to.

The Ireland and Lions capped back row is calling time on his rugby career at the end of the season after reaching significant milestones in the respective green and red jerseys.

Stander made his 50th appearance for Ireland against Scotland at the weekend in the Six Nations, while he reached 150 caps for Munster when lining out against Leinster at the end of January.

Citing family reasons as the driver behind the decision CJ is in the fortunate position to retire from rugby on his own terms.

CJ Stander Statement

All professional sports people are told “you will know when the time is right to hang up your boots”.

It’s a sentiment one cannot fully comprehend until that day arrives. For me, that time has come, and I hereby publicly announce my retirement from all forms of rugby. I will be available to represent Munster until 27 June 2021 when my contract expires, and for International duty, until the end of the mid-year Test window.

During the lockdown, I did a stocktake of what matters most to me in life. My faith, family and this incredible game I have played since I was six years old easily topped the list. However, I came to the realisation that my commitment to rugby has started to take an unfair toll on my family, who both in Limerick and South Africa have made considerable sacrifices for more than 25 years to allow me to live my dream.

I am not saddened by my decision. I’ve had a full and utterly enjoyable rugby career, and I can now look back on a journey that offered me rewards, memories and surprises beyond anything I could have scripted for myself. I wouldn’t change a thing. The 150 matches I played for Munster were some of the most precious and formative experiences of my life. My blood will remain Munster Red long after I have said my goodbyes to the people of Limerick.

I have just played my 50th Test for Ireland. I have never considered myself a foreigner in an Irish jumper, but I knew this environment would only reward hard work, devotion and the forging of authentic relationships. My first steps towards the Test arena were taken from the welcoming midst of the people of Limerick. In 2012, arriving as a 22-year-old who only had two kitbags flung over his shoulders and a limited command of English, I had to commit myself to a new family who immediately adopted me as one of their own. Limerick became my home.

It was during a freezing training session at Munster towards the end of 2020 that I just knew I had entered the final stretch of my career. I asked myself whether I was still enjoying this enough to earn the continued support of Munster and Ireland, and to justify the sacrifices my family was making. From a performance perspective, the answer was yes. But I always had the intent to retire while I was still playing some of my best rugby. I also knew I wanted my daughter Everli to grow up around her family in South Africa. When all these intentions and considerations intercepted each other during that training session, I discussed the implications thereof with coach Johann van Graan and the Irish Rugby Union. I deeply appreciate that they tried to persuade me otherwise, but I knew it was time. I will be playing my final matches as a professional athlete with contentment and gratitude for what was and for what lies ahead in the next chapter of my life.

I have many people to thank, and I will do most of the thanking in a private setting. For now, I want to say thank you to my parents, Jannie and Amanda, my brother Janneman, my wife Jean-Marié, my daughter Everli, and my family-in-law as well: Ryk (Sr), San-Marie, Ryk, and Elsje. Your boundless love and support carried me.

Thank you to my agent, Gerrie Swart. You convinced me that Limerick was a great fit for me, and you have never been more right about anything. I also sincerely value your guidance during this transitional time.

I reserve a special word of thanks to the late Anthony “Axel” Foley. Your impact on my personal and professional life remains as tangible today as it was when you were still with us.

Thank you to Johann van Graan for being such a powerful and formative force in my life. You first started coaching me when I arrived for training in Pretoria as a 17-year-old. Now, 14 years later, we’re having an Irish pint to celebrate a lifelong friendship.

Thank you to the people of Ireland, my larger rugby family in Limerick, the Irish Rugby Union, Joe Schmidt, who first selected me to play for Ireland, Andy Farrell, who continued to back me, and every teammate and member of management I have had the honour of sharing a dressing room with.

Not only has my English (marginally) improved thanks to your intervention, but you also pushed me to become a better player, man, husband and father. As I now shift my focus squarely back to my family, I do so hoping that I’m leaving the Irish jersey in an even better space than when I first inherited it. Ireland has enormous talent breaking through the ranks, and it is now time for me to step back and allow a new generation of players to answer Ireland’s call.

Article from Munster Rugby


URC

Vodacom URC and CVC shining a light on Community Upliftment Projects

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The Vodacom United Rugby Championship are launching the URC Unity Awards on Tuesday, to recognise the great work done by players and teams within their communities and for charitable causes.

Rugby World Cup final referee Nigel Owens will be part of the judging panel that will consider the candidates and come up with two worthy winners.

The Unity Awards, which are sponsored by the CVC Foundation, are associated with Vodacom URC’s Take on Tomorrow campaign, which looks to inspire change through the power of rugby and acknowledge the impact players and teams from the 16-side league make off the field.

The programme oversees projects aimed at engaging directly with communities across the five Vodacom URC territories – Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Italy and South Africa.

To shine a light on the work players and teams are doing to uplift their communities and support their chosen charities, the Vodacom URC has now introduced the following Unity Awards.

  • The Difference Maker Award – presented to the player who has been recognised for outstanding commitment to a charitable or social cause.
  • The Community Impact Award – presented to the team whose community programme has been recognised for its impact in their region/province.

The winners of these awards will receive £5,000 from CVC Foundation to donate to their cause of choice (player) or to invest in their community programme (team).

As well as Nigel Owens, the independent judging panel is a dedicated group that also features Jane Howard, CSR Manager at CVC, Sports Broadcaster Emma Dodds and URC Head of Operations Amy Monaghan.

CVC CSR Manager Jane Howard said: “The CVC Foundation is delighted to be able to support the Vodacom United Rugby Championship in their efforts to shine a light on the incredible work the clubs and players are doing to make an impact in their communities.

“As a member on the Judging Panel, I have read through the submissions and have been so impressed by the incredible work being done. CVC applauds the Vodacom URC clubs and players in their efforts.”

The nominees for the awards will be announced on Tuesday, 6 December, with the winners to be revealed on Wednesday, 21 December. The award presentation to the winning club and player will then take place ahead of Christmas derby games in Round 10.

United Rugby Championship CEO Martin Anayi said: “We are acutely aware of the fantastic community programmes that our clubs have established locally and the deserving causes that our players contribute to as well. As a league, our mission is to celebrate and highlight their successes across our platforms so that our fans can appreciate their impact away from the pitch.”

About Take On Tomorrow

The Take on Tomorrow programme is inspired by the mission to celebrate the diversity and national cultures of the URC while using the league’s platform to champion for a healthier, stronger, unified next generation. 

The programme will advance and celebrate the power of URC rugby as a tool for social change by using our international platform to support the efforts of clubs, players, fans and leading charities as they change lives of young people across the five territories in which we play.

Content & Images from – Vodacom Bulls Rugby


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URC

Hooker Roberts joins tour in South Africa

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Wales international hooker Bradley Roberts has officially linked up with the Dragons RFC tour party in South Africa.

Roberts, who featured for Wales in the international Test with Georgia this autumn, flew out to link-up with the Men of Gwent on Monday.

Dragons have now travelled south as they prepare to face reigning champions the DHL Stormers in Round 9 of the BKT United Rugby Championship this Saturday afternoon (kick-off 12noon UK).

Head Coach Dai Flanagan said: “Bradley met up with the squad in Johannesburg and joined us on the flight to Port Elizabeth. He will be around the match day squad.

“It’s great to have him with us. The more quality players we can have around the group the better and we expect a few more to join us for the European game.

“Several boys were involved in three or four games for Wales so it’s important they get some down time.

“With the intensity of international rugby, we must manage them for the rest of the season.

“It’s the mental stress and expectation that takes it out of you so they will go away and take some time before they come back into the group in the coming weeks.”

Content & Images from – Dragons Rugby


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URC

Squad Update | Preparations Begin For Edinburgh Away

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The Munster squad started preparations at the HPC today ahead of Friday night’s URC round 9 game away to Edinburgh at the Dam Health Stadium.

Along with the 23-man squad involved in the win over Connacht, there were 10 Munster players in AIL action for their clubs at the weekend.

Patrick Campbell, Conor Phillips, Eoin O’Connor, Dan Goggin and Fionn Gibbons featured for Young Munster in their win over Dublin University with Phillips scoring the match-winning try.

Ethan Coughlan and Kieran Ryan helped Shannon defeat UCD with Ryan touching down in the victory.

Jack Oliver was in action for Garryowen as they were defeated by Lansdowne.

In Division 1B, James French lined out for Highfield in their loss to Malone.

In Division 2A, Evan O’Connell was in action for UL Bohs as they were defeated by Blackrock College.

On the injury front, Mike Haley failed his HIA on Saturday night and will enter the graded return to play protocols.

Peter O’Mahony passed his HIA but was removed due to a facial/blood injury and will return to training this week.

Jack Crowley will go for a scan today for a lower leg/calf complaint.

Continuing to rehab: Conor Murray (groin), Stephen Archer (ankle), Tom Ahern (shoulder), RG Snyman (knee), Fineen Wycherley (shoulder), Paddy Kelly (head), Jack Daly (knee), Jack O’Sullivan (knee), Andrew Conway (knee), Keynan Knox (knee).

Tickets

Champions Cup Round 1

Sunday, December 11

Munster Rugby v Stade Toulousain, Thomond Park, 3.15pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 10

Monday, December 26

Munster v Leinster, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 12

Friday, January 6

Munster v Emirates Lions, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

Champions Cup Round 3

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Munster Rugby v Northampton Saints, Thomond Park, 3.15pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 14

Friday, February 17, 2023

Munster Rugby v Ospreys, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 15

Friday, March 3, 2023

Munster Rugby v Scarlets, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets here

URC Round 16

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Munster Rugby v Glasgow Warriors, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets here

Images & Content from Munster Rugby


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