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Vodacom Bulls herd braced for Sharks challenge



The Vodacom Bulls have added three new faces to the match-day 23 from a week ago as the Pretoria outfit prepares for a stern New Year’s Eve test in the form of the Cell C Sharks in Durban.

Simphiwe ‘power-pack’ Matanzima will start at loose-head prop supported by Johan Grobbelaar and Mornay Smith in the front row whilst the second and back row remains the same as the one that did duty the week before. At the back, Bernard van der Linde slots in at scrum-half with Embrose Papier moving to the impact squad, as Chris Smith starts at fly-half. Springbok duo, Johan Goosen [15] and Kurt-Lee Arendse [11] will run out at left wing and full-back respectively.

Springbok speedster, Canan Moodie will start at right wing with Harold Vorster and Cornal Hendricks pairing up at inside and outside centre respectively. Hooker, Jan-Hendrik Wessels and utility back, David Kriel complete the list of new faces in the match-day 23.

The 2022/23 Vodacom United Rugby Championship round 11 clash against the Durban team is pencilled for 16h45pm kick off, at the Kings Park Stadium, and will be broadcast live on SuperSport Rugby.

BBCo. Director of Rugby, Jake White said the fixture is not a do-or-die but an opportunity to register another good performance in the competition.

“Looking at their team, it is easy to see why they are the strongest provincial team in the competition,”

“We are going to play against nine Springboks, we did it in Cape Town last season again the SA’A side when nobody gave us a chance. Again, the uniqueness of this competition is that anybody can beat anybody, whether you are 11th on the log playing the top-ranked side, you can still get the result,”

“We are going there to give it our full go. We have to play the best rugby to give us the best possible opportunity to get into the playoffs and everybody knows that if you play good rugby in the final few weeks of the competition, you have a good chance at winning the tournament,”

On Johan Goosen at full-back, White said: “Last time we played them we actually picked Smith and Goosen at 10 and 15 and the combination worked, we played reasonably well. Giving us two kickers and two passes, two kicking options which help us a lot. There is also a chance of rain tomorrow and that will suit us a bit with the two at fly half and full back.”

“Our selection is not a reaction to them but it is because it is a tactic that worked for us when we played them at home and we would like to see it work again from a combination of two guys who understand each other,”

“Sometimes you have to package things differently in order to get the best out of your players.”

On Bernard van der Linde at 9, the Vodacom Bulls mentor said: “It will be an interesting game because of the chance of rain and his ability to kick. He played well for us against Lyon and it will be good to see him in the field again for us.”

Asked about starting Simphiwe Matanzima starting, White responded: “A guy like Simphiwe, I felt after Saturday, I have not given him enough game time. I could see the frustration in his eyes that he did not have enough time to stamp his authority. He scrummed really well and I was probably conservative in giving the front row more time since they played so well. So, I felt I needed to give Simphiwe more time this week,”

“This will be a good test for him, scrumming with Grobbies and Mornay and this will be a good test for him to see how he plays as a starter,”

“He is a loosehead prop chomping at the bid to start and he is ready to give us a good game. Sometimes when you create competition at certain positions, you get different results out of each person.”

Asked about the possible outlook of the playoffs, White responded: “We beat the Sharks at Loftus with a bonus point and if they win their match over the Stormers and we win tomorrow in Durban, we then jump up as favourites to win the conference, so there is a lot of permutations still ahead between now and the end of the competition,”

“We are still in December, in a competition that runs until May and there is a lot of rugby to be played.”


1. Simphiwe Matanzima, 2. Johan Grobbelaar, 3. Mornay Smith, 4. Ruan Vermaak, 5. Ruan Nortje (c), 6. Marco Van Staden, 7. Cyle Brink, 8. Elrigh Louw, 9. Bernard van der Linde, 10. Chris Smith, 11. Kurt-Lee Arendse, 12. Harold Vorster, 13. Cornal Hendricks, 14. Canan Moodie, 15. Johan Goosen


16. Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17. Gerhard Steenekamp, 18. Sebastian Lombard, 19. Janko Swanepoel, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Lionel Mapoe, 23. David Kriel

MANAGEMENT: Jake White – Director of Rugby, Nollis Marais – Breakdown, Russell Winter – Forwards, Chris Rossouw – Backs, Elias Bennett – Team Manager, John-William Meyer – Technical Analyst, Dr Herman Rossouw – Team Doctor, Lance Lemmetjies – Senior Physiotherapist

Content & Images from – Vodacom Bulls Rugby


Dan McFarland departs Ulster Rugby



Dan McFarland departs Ulster Rugby

3 minutes ago


Ulster Rugby and the IRFU can confirm that Dan McFarland will step down from his position as Head Coach.

After joining the club in 2018, McFarland has been the longest-serving Head Coach for the province in the professional era, with the club reliably securing play-off rugby in URC and EPCR competitions during his time at the helm, including reaching the PRO14 final in 2020.

Ulster Rugby CEO, Jonny Petrie, said:

“We would like to thank Dan for his determination in driving forward the professional squad over the past six seasons, and I would like to wish him and his family the best for the future on behalf of all at Ulster Rugby.”

The change to the Senior Men’s coaching set-up is with immediate effect, with Ireland U20s Head Coach, Richie Murphy, to link-up with the province as interim Head Coach until the end of this season following the Under-20s Six Nations. Bryn Cunningham, Head of Rugby Operations and Recruitment at Ulster Rugby, will also assume greater management responsibilities within the performance function during this time.

Assistant Coach, Dan Soper, will oversee operations next week ahead of Ulster facing Dragons at Kingspan Stadium in Round 11 of the BKT United Rugby Championship.

Petrie continued: “With Richie coming to Ulster in the coming weeks, ahead of the squad travelling to South Africa, our focus will be on consistently performing to the best of our abilities at this crucial time of the year.”

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Edinburgh snap up Tigers lock



Lock Carmichael joins from Tigers

Edinburgh Rugby today secured the signing of promising 20-year-old Leicester Tigers lock Rob Carmichael on a three-year deal.

The 6ft 11in second-row arrived in the capital today on an initial loan until the end of the season, before the long-term move becomes permanent this summer.

Carmichael was born and raised in Hong Kong after his Scottish father, and English/Welsh mother, emigrated to Asia just under 30 years ago. He came through the ranks at Sandy Bay RFC before the family returned to the UK in 2019.

That year he joined the Tigers academy, making two Premiership Cup appearances alongside representing England U20, remaining eligible for Scotland by ancestry.

On joining Edinburgh Rugby, Carmichael said: “This is a massive move for me and an incredible opportunity I’ve been given. I’m delighted to join and I’m really glad I’ve been able to make the move to Edinburgh early on loan. I’ve only heard great things about the club.

“I’ve wanted to live in Scotland my whole life so I’m glad I’m able to make the move now. Edinburgh is an incredible city, while my parents and whole extended family are really excited that I’ve joined a Scottish club.”

Combining education with an academy contract at Tigers, Carmichael played BUCS Super Rugby at University of Nottingham where he studied Sports Science.

The towering lock was named in the England U20 squad for the 2023 U20 Six Nations where he featured in all five fixtures for the Red Roses.

Carmichael continued: “I’ve got a lot to learn about Edinburgh. I’ve only visited a couple of times but everything I’ve heard about the city and the club has been really positive. I couldn’t be more excited to move up.

“I think it’s going to be great for my development and I can’t wait to learn off the experienced second-rows at the club. I just want to add as much as I can to the team and see how much I can improve as a player. I know I’ve got loads to learn.”

Carmichael linked up with the club’s senior squad today as preparations continue for Edinburgh Rugby’s next BKT United Rugby Championship match against Ospreys at Hive Stadium on Friday 1 March.

Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach Sean Everitt said: “We’re delighted to welcome Rob [Carmichael] to the club. He’s a player with great raw ability who has all the physical tools to succeed at the next level.

“We’ve been looking at Rob for a while given his Scotland links and we’re thankful to Tigers who’ve released him on an initial loan. He’ll be able to get his feet in the door and hit the ground running ahead of joining on a long-term deal this summer.”

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Ulster ready for Ospreys challenge in Wales



Ulster ready for Ospreys challenge in Wales

4 minutes ago

Fixture News

Head Coach, Dan McFarland, has named his Ulster side to take on the Ospreys at Stadium in Round 10 of the BKT United Rugby Championship.

The province returns to action in the URC for the first time since defeating league leaders, Leinster Rugby, at the RDS Arena on New Year’s Day.

Ireland internationals Iain Henderson, Jacob Stockdale, Tom Stewart and Nick Timoney are back with the team, following their release from the Ireland team’s Guinness Six Nations camp.

The experienced front row sees Andrew Warwick start at loosehead, with John Andrew at hooker and Marty Moore starting at tighthead prop.

In the second row, Academy products, Harry Sheridan and skipper Iain Henderson, pair up as Ulster’s locks.

The back row sees David McCann start at blindside flanker. Marcus Rea starts at openside flanker, with Ireland international, Nick Timoney, starting at eight, as Ulster aim to win the battle at the breakdown in Swansea.

McFarland opts for the talented half-back pairing of Nathan Doak at scrum-half and Jake Flannery at ten.

Jacob Stockdale returns from international camp to start on the left wing as he hopes to continue his try-scoring form, with the winger having dotted down six tries this season in the URC so far.

The young and dynamic centre partnership sees Jude Postlethwaite join James Hume in the engine room of the backfield.

Mike Lowry starts on the right wing, with Will Addison completing the backfield at full-back.

Ulster can call on a wealth of talent and experience from the bench, with a 5:3 split that features a two time Rugby World Cup winner and a current Ireland international.

Tom Stewart is named on the bench as he returns from Ireland duty for the match.

Springbok prop, Steven Kitshoff, is named alongside Scott Wilson, Cormac Izuchukwu, Matty Rea, Dave Shanahan, Luke Marshall and Ethan McIlroy to complete Ulster’s replacement options.

Ospreys v Ulster, Round 10 of the BKT United Rugby Championship, Sunday 18 February, 3pm, Stadium (live on ViaPlay and

With the URC celebrating the people and communities behind the professional players competing in the league through its Origin Round this week, Ulster Rugby recognises the important role of clubs and schools in player development, with 11 of this weekend’s starting 15 having come through the Ulster pathway.

(15-9) Will Addison (Upper Eden RFC), Mike Lowry (Dromore RFC), James Hume (Instonians RFC), Jude Postlethwaite (Lisburn RFC), Jacob Stockdale (Ballynahinch RFC), Jake Flannery (Kilfeacle RFC), Nathan Doak (Lisburn RFC);

(1-8) Andrew Warwick (Ballymena RFC), John Andrew (Ballymena RFC), Marty Moore (Barnhall RFC), Harry Sheridan (Civil Service RFC), Iain Henderson (C) (Belfast Academy RFC), David McCann (Cooke RFC), Marcus Rea (Ballymena RFC), Nick Timoney (Blackrock RFC).

Replacements: Tom Stewart (Belfast Academy RFC), Steven Kitshoff (Maties RFC), Scott Wilson (Dromore RFC), Cormac Izuchukwu (Tullamore RFC), Matty Rea (Ballymena RFC), Dave Shanahan (Clontarf RFC), Luke Marshall (Ballymena RFC), Ethan McIlroy (Ballynahinch RFC).

For more info on #GrassrootsToGreatness, visit the URC website.

*For the URC Origin Round, details of each player’s first club are listed above.

Images & Content – Ulster Rugby

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