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Lawrie: Van der Merwe arrival has already energised the squad



Speaking to the media, Forwards Coach Stevie Lawrie hailed the winger’s early impact, with Van der Merwe in contention for his ‘second debut’ this coming weekend.

“Duhan’s looking magic,” said Lawrie. “The boys are energised to have him and we’ve already had some comedy moments from him in a couple of meetings.

“He’s been referencing his super strength! he’s brought a bit of energy and a bit of fun.

“It’s great to have Duhan back in with the group. It creates a lot of competition within the back three but also, he brings his own energy and his own vibe. The boys really like him. I’m excited for him to be in the mix for selection this week.”

Van der Merwe re-joins a team with a different playing style than he was perhaps used to under the previous regime.

With a new fast track at DAM Health Stadium, the winger will slot into a backline who’ve enjoyed playing with creativity and freedom, instilled by Head Coach Mike Blair.

“He played for Cockers here before, went to Worcester to play for Steve Diamond and now he’s back here to play for Mike. And he played for Mike before at Scotland.

“But I see Duhan slotting in just fine. I think he’ll enjoy the shapes that we’re running and how we can get him on the ball. He’s a devastating runner.

“At Worcester he was one of the top line-breaking wingers in world rugby. His stats are very impressive. I think he’ll go well under Mike and Mike will enjoy thinking of ways to get him on the ball.”

Van der Merwe returns to a positional group that is perhaps the most competitive in the playing group.

Winger Darcy Graham has already ran in six tries in four matches while Argentine international Emiliano Boffelli has returned to the capital XV following a hugely successful Rugby Championship campaign with Los Pumas.

“How good was the wee man [Darcy] at the weekend? “continued Lawrie.

“He could beat a man in a phone box. He was brilliant. He’s on form just now. And there’s quite a nice balance there in terms of individuals.

“Whoever’s in the back three knows they need to perform. And from a coach’s perspective that’s a positive place to be.”

Van der Merwe’s return brings an added boost to the squad as the capital side gear up for Saturday night’s Scottish x Italian Shield conference match-up with Benetton.

Having been edged out by Emirates Lions on Friday night, Edinburgh will be keen to return to winning ways at DAM Health Stadium where they’ve only lost two league fixtures since moving in last season.

“I think we’ve played some tough teams, for sure, but we’ve also reflected on how ruthless we can be. Mike’s spoken about it – what we’re controlling, and how we’re going to get ourselves over the line in these tight games.

“Because we had opportunities to win that game at the weekend, probably similar to Bulls away, and we’ve just fallen short. That’s the straightforward fact.

“We’re probably looking around our contact area and how physical we can be when we’re actually in the opposition finish zone, inside their 22 – how we can be more efficient or more ruthless.

“Last year, Scarlets first game of the season was one that could have gone either way. We were on the right side of that result, now we’ve found ourselves on the wrong side of a couple of results.

“So it’s important this weekend against Benetton that we play with the confidence and belief that’s in the group, but that we’re also just physical, and able to play on top of them when we get into their 22.

“We conceded a number of turnovers, not through overplaying – it was more things like getting stripped or going off our feet – things that we feel were in control of that didn’t quite click at the weekend. So we’ve got a real laser focus on that this week.”

Content & Images from – Edinburgh Rugby

Champions Cup

Leinster give update on Sexton injury



Leinster Head Coach Leo Cullen has issued an injury update ahead of Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup match against Ulster in Aviva Stadium.

Over 48,000 tickets have already been sold for the match. You can buy the last remaining tickets for the Round of 16 clash here.

Johnny Sexton will see a specialist on Tuesday and have a procedure on the groin injury picked up in Ireland’s Guinness Six Nations game against England which will likely keep him sidelined for the remainder of the Leinster Rugby season.

Garry Ringrose, Hugo Keenan and Caelan Doris will continue to follow the Graduated Return to Play Protocols this week.

Ed Byrne came through the game at the weekend with no issues after his return from a knee injury.

There are no further updates on:
Jamie Osborne (knee), Rónan Kelleher (shoulder), Joe McCarthy (ankle), Cormac Foley (hamstring), Martin Moloney (knee) and  Charlie Ngatai (hamstring)

Images & Content from Leinster Rugby

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Our Boks are Back



Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby Neil Powell has the pleasure of a full squad to select from and has chosen a Springbok-heavy side to take on Scarlets this Saturday at the Parc Y Scarlets in Wales.

After an enforced break due to this year’s Rugby World Cup, the Springboks have been unleashed on the Vodacom United Rugby Championship once more as they look to maintain a hold on a place in the knock-out rounds.

Scarlets have not quite enjoyed the success this season they would have hoped for and languish near the bottom of the log, in 14th position. Last year’s fixture, at Hollywoodbets Kings Park, ended in a 37-20 victory for the Cell C Sharks, a bonus point win with many of the same players who will do duty in this season’s clash, almost exactly a year later.

However, we know that no team can be written off and the Springboks in the Cell C Sharks side will be bringing their own level of intensity, leadership, character and standards that will drive their team-mates to deliver a special performance.

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi leads the team out and his all-Bok front row of Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi and Thomas du Toit will be called upon to deliver results upfront. Throw in Eben Etzebeth and you know this is a pack that will back down for nothing.

An athletic and mobile back row will provide impetus on attack while Springbok halfbacks Jaden Hendrikse and Curwin Bosch will be called on to direct traffic. Then there’s the powerful duo of Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Lukhanyo Am to keep everything in the midfield under control, while the likes of Makazole Mapimpi and co, will be called upon to deliver the killer blow.

Cell C Sharks
1. Ox Nche
2. Bongi Mbonambi
3. Thomas du Toit
4. Eben Etzebeth
5. Emile van Heerden
6. Siya Kolisi (c)
7. Vincent Tshituka
8. Phepsi Buthelezi
9. Jaden Hendrikse
10. Curwin Bosch
11. Makazole Mapimpi
12. Rohan Janse van Rensburg
13. Lukhanyo Am
14. Werner Kok
15. Boeta Chamberlain

16. Kerron van Vuurren
17. Ntuthuko Mchunu
18. Carlu Sadie
19. Gerbrandt Grobler
20. Sikhumbuzo Notshe
21. Grant Williams
22. Ben Tapuai
23. Thaakir Abrahams

Content & Images from – Cell C Sharks Rugby

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Ulster ready for arrival of Bulls in Belfast



Ulster ready for arrival of Bulls in Belfast

6 minutes ago

Match Previews

Ulster go into Round 16 of the BKT United Rugby Championship against Vodacom Bulls hoping to make it three wins in succession, as they hunt down a top two finish in the league.

Dan McFarland’s men have fared well against South African opposition this season, becoming the only northern hemisphere team to win both away games against the Emirates Lions and the Cell C Sharks, as well as dominating DHL Stormers at Kingspan Stadium back in January.

Tickets are still available for Saturday’s big game at

The win against Stormers was the last time the Ulster men ran out at Kingspan Stadium as the province faced a three match away block after the international break.

The stakes are high as Ulster currently sit third in the URC table on 54 points, knowing a win could see them draw level with DHL Stormers, currently in second on 59 points. A win would only increase Ulster’s hopes of securing a home advantage in the URC Play-Offs.

Meanwhile, the Bulls, who sit in sixth position, will hope to turn their form around after a tough spell of results, and with returning Springboks in their squad they will be looking to cause an upset in Belfast.

Ulster Forwards Coach Roddy Grant told reporters at the media briefing earlier this week that the province will be looking to continue their positive form:

“We feel refreshed, we’ve had a good week of training and everybody is raring to go this Saturday in front of a home crowd. Bulls are a good side, full of big physical guys, and our focus is fully on them.”

Vermeulen to captain Ulster against old side

Springbok Duane Vermeulen skippers the Ulster men against a side he knows all too well, having captained the Bulls when he played for them from 2019- 2021.

Leading the front row against the South African opposition, Ballymena man Andy Warwick starts at loosehead prop and is joined by Tom Stewart at hooker, who is back with the province after being part of Ireland’s Grand Slam winning training squad. They will be packing down with Jeff Toomaga-Allen at loosehead prop.

Kieran Treadwell, who featured for Ireland in the Grand Slam win against England, is back starting in the second row alongside experienced Wallaby lock, Sam Carter.

David McCann and Nick Timoney join Vermeulen in the back row, with both flankers hoping to continue their positive form from the last match against Cardiff.

Nathan Doak keeps the 9 shirt after a Player of the Match performance against Cardiff where he scored a try and slotted six out of six conversions. Billy Burns joins him at fly-half, hoping to build on a good try-scoring performance against Cardiff.

The midfield is kept the same as last time out, as young pair Stewart Moore and James Hume keep their places in Ulster’s centre positions.

The back three sees a welcome return for explosive winger Rob Baloucoune who hasn’t featured for Ulster since early January. He is joined by Jacob Stockdale and full back Mike Lowry.

McFarland has opted for a six-two split on the bench with John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Gareth Milasinovich, Alan O’Connor, Harry Sheridan and Marcus Rea named as forward options, and John Cooney and Jude Postlethwaite covering the backline.

Ulster team to face Vodacom Bulls, Round 16 BKT United Rugby Championship, Saturday 25 March at Kingspan Stadium (KO 7 35pm), live on BBC NI, RTÉ, Viaplay and

(15-9) Mike Lowry, Rob Baloucoune, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns, Nathan Doak;

(1-8) Andy Warwick, Tom Stewart, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Kieran Treadwell, Sam Carter, David McCann, Nick Timoney, Duane Vermeulen (Captain).

Replacements: John Andrew, Eric O’Sullivan, Gareth Milasinovich, Alan O’Connor, Harry Sheridan, Marcus Rea, John Cooney, Jude Postlethwaite.

Images & Content – Ulster Rugby

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