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Vodacom Bulls sign Premiership star

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The Vodacom Bulls are happy to announce the signing of Premiership and Champions Cup winner, Jannes Kirsten. The multifaceted forward will join the Pretoria-based Vodacom Bulls from 1 July 2023 with his initial stay pencilled in till June 2026.

Kirsten – a former South African Under-20s international – is no stranger to Loftus, having made his mark playing for the Vodacom Bulls, both in Super Rugby and the Currie Cup. The 29-year-old has the Vodacom Bulls DNA, being the younger brother of one Frik Kirsten, a prop who made 81 appearances for the club between 2008 and 2014.

Since moving to England in 2019, the lock/back-rower has made a mammoth 75 appearances for his current side, the Exeter Chiefs. Forming part of the core group that would help the English club claim a historic double, winning both the Gallagher Premiership and Heineken Champions Cup during the 2019/2020 season. A season where Kirsten became an instrumental figure on the field and a proven champion off it.

Blue Bulls Company (BBCo.) Chief Executive Officer, Edgar Rathbone said the news of Kirsten joining the herd is good for South African rugby and not just the Vodacom Bulls.

“We know Jannes very well and understand the impact he can have. We appreciate that he has gone on to play in Europe, in different conditions against some of the best rugby stars in that part of the world, so the experience he returns with will be invaluable to us. He knows Pretoria very well and having him return means that he sees us as the place he can call home and so we are really glad to see him return to be united with his family,”

“The introduction of South African teams in European competition has meant that now more than the years before, we are seeing a few more locally produced quality players looking to make a return because they still have the opportunity to compete against some of the best in the Northern Hemisphere whilst adding value to the game in their own backyard,”

“We appreciate that he is a versatile player, who can slot in at lock and flank and that will add to our dynamic options, strengthening our rugby offering. We look forward to welcoming him in July and are confident that he will continue being the world-class player that we have seen become, wearing our stripes” concluded Rathbone.

Reflecting on his time at the Chiefs, Kirsten said: “The past four years have been an unbelievable experience, not just in terms of my rugby, but my own personal life. Coming to Exeter was obviously a new challenge for me, but it’s one that has brought me so much.

“The club, the city, the people, they have all been amazing and I will leave at the end of the season with only happy memories. What I have been able to achieve is something I am very proud of and the friends I have made will be life-long.

“South Africa, however, is home for me and the time is right for me to go back there and continue the next chapter of my rugby career. Heading over to Pretoria just a few weeks ago with the Chiefs was very special, particularly as I never thought I would run out at Loftus as a visiting player.

“Also, getting the opportunity to show my homeland to my teammates and the staff that travelled was something I will remember. The Chiefs will always hold a big place in my heart and between now and the end of the season I will be doing everything possible to ensure my time here finishes on a high note.”

Everybody at Loftus is excited and cannot wait to welcome Jannes home.

Content & Images from – Vodacom Bulls Rugby


URC

Ulster ready for Dragons in Origin Round at Kingspan Stadium

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Ulster ready for Dragons in Origin Round at Kingspan Stadium

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Assistant Coach, Dan Soper, has named the Ulster team to take on Dragons RFC at Kingspan Stadium in Round 11 of the BKT United Rugby Championship (KO 7 35pm).

The province returns to URC action at home for the first time since the Interprovincial derby victory over Connacht at Kingspan Stadium before Christmas.

Ulster Rugby Academy graduate, James Hume, will captain his province from a centre partnership that sees him paired with 21-year-old Jude Postlethwaite.

Springbok and double Rugby World Cup winner, Steven Kitshoff, starts at loosehead prop and is joined by hooker, Tom Stewart, and fellow prop, Tom O’Toole, who returns to the team for the first time since being called up to Ireland Head Coach Andy Farrell’s Guinness Six Nations squad.

The second row sees young talents Cormac Izuchukwu and Harry Sheridan come together as the two locks.

The back row is unchanged from last time out against Ospreys, with David McCann, Marcus Rea and Nick Timoney retaining their places.

Ulster opts for the experienced half-back partnership of John Cooney and Billy Burns.

Academy products, Mike Lowry and Ethan McIlroy, start on the right and left wing respectively.

Will Addison completes the back field as he starts at full-back.

The bench sees a welcome return to action for lock, Kieran Treadwell, who returns after an injury sustained against Harlequins in January.

John Andrew, Andrew Warwick, Scott Wilson, Kieran Treadwell, Sean Reffell, Nathan Doak, Luke Marshall, Jacob Stockdale form the replacement options from the bench.

Ulster Rugby v Dragons RFC, Origin Round 11, BKT United Rugby Championship, 7 35pm, Saturday 2 March, live on Viaplay and BBC Radio Ulster.

With the URC celebrating the people and communities behind the professional players competing in the league through its Origin Round this week, Ulster Rugby will be celebrating the important role of clubs and schools in player development with a programme of events at Saturday’s home game. For more info, visit: https://ulster.rugby/content/ulster-rugby-celebrates-urc-origins-round-against-dragons

(15-9) Will Addison (Upper Eden RUFC), Ethan McIlroy (Ballynahinch RFC), James Hume (C) (Instonians RFC), Jude Postlethwaite (Lisburn RFC), Mike Lowry (Dromore RFC), Billy Burns (Walcot RFC), John Cooney (Gonzaga College);

(1-8) Steven Kitshoff (Maties RFC), Tom Stewart (Belfast Academy), Tom O’Toole (Ashbourne RFC), Cormac Izuchukwu (Tullamore RFC), Harry Sheridan (Civil Service NI RFC), David McCann (Cooke RFC), Marcus Rea (Ballymena RFC), Nick Timoney (Blackrock College).

Replacements: John Andrew (Ballymena RFC), Andrew Warwick (Ballymena RFC), Scott Wilson (Dromore RFC), Kieran Treadwell (Chipstead RFC), Sean Reffell (Bromley RFC), Nathan Doak (Lisburn RFC), Luke Marshall (Ballymena RFC), Jacob Stockdale (Ballynahinch RFC).

Images & Content – Ulster Rugby


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URC

Darcy Graham injury update

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Darcy Graham injury update

Darcy Graham will be out of action for three to four months with the Scotland internationalist set to undergo surgery to repair a groin injury next week.

Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach Sean Everitt said: “We really feel for Darcy [Graham] because he is a player that puts his heart and soul into rugby. He loves playing for this club while he is a proud Scotsman who takes great pride in representing his country.

“We’ve got every confidence Darcy will work his way back from next week’s surgery with the same drive and determination in which he trains and plays.”

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Match Preview: Ospreys

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Match Preview: Ospreys

Get set for Friday night’s crucial BKT United Rugby Championship clash against Ospreys at Hive Stadium (1 March, kick-off 7.35pm) with our match preview.

GET TICKETS

Tickets can be purchased right up until kick-off HERE. Gates open at 6pm ahead of a 7.35pm kick-off.

WHAT’S ON

There’s plenty on the go at Hive Stadium as match night returns to the capital!

  • Live music from Dead Sea Souls
  • Support our Services activity in the Fan Zone
  • Live URC action in the Clubhouse
  • Get a photo with the Calcutta & Doddie Weir Cups in The Clubhouse

Read our What’s on Guide HERE.

TEAM NEWS

Mark Bennett makes his 100th appearance for the club as one of four changes made to the capital XV for the visit of Ospreys.

Mark Bennett takes the place of James Lang who drops to the bench, with Matt Currie moving to the 12 jersey.

Ben Vellacott – who skippers the side – starts in place of Ali Price, with the British & Irish Lion selected on the bench.

Sam Skinner returns from Scotland camp taking the place of Marshall Sykes, who is also named among the replacements.

Tom Dodd starts at blindside flanker in place of Jamie Ritchie who is retained by Scotland.

Full team news can be read HERE.

WHAT’S BEEN SAID

Head Coach Sean Everitt said: “We’re excited to be back home at Hive Stadium for what is a hugely important fixture for the club.

“With the log so tight and teams around us playing each other this weekend, a win is imperative in maintaining our push for a top-eight finish.

“Ospreys are playing with no fear, and they’ll travel north with plenty of confidence, but we’re at home where we love to play under the lights. It’s Friday night and the Edinburgh supporters will be out in full force – it’s set to be a brilliant occasion.”

He continued: “We’re delighted to see Mark [Bennett] make his 100th appearance for the club. He’s been a brilliant servant to Edinburgh Rugby and thoroughly deserves a start on a special night for him personally.”

THE STORY SO FAR

Its’s tight at the top…

With a 7-3 record, Edinburgh sit in fifth place in the Championship on 30 points.

With a 6-4 record, Ospreys sit in seventh place in the Championship on 29 points.

That makes Friday night’s clash at Hive Stadium massive in terms of each team’s aspirations for a top eight finish.

Ospreys are flying high having won 5-in-a-row, while Edinburgh have lost just one game at home so far this season and will be hoping for a massive win to keep momentum going heading into the business end of the year.

LAST TIME OUT

Edinburgh claimed a decisive 45-21 victory over the Welsh region in the final home game of last season – check out highlights below:

DID YOU KNOW

Edinburgh Rugby’s only two defeats in the last seven rounds of the BKT United Rugby Championship were at home to Benetton in Round 6 and away at Glasgow in Round 8.

Edinburgh’s only defeat in their last five fixtures against Welsh regions in the Championship was 14-42 at Scarlets in February 2023.

Ospreys have won their last five first team fixtures since their 5-38 defeat at Montpellier in Round 2 of the EPCR Challenge Cup.

Ospreys only victory outside of Wales in the BKT United Rugby Championship since October 2021 was on their visit to Zebre in January 2023.

Ospreys have won just once in Scotland since March 2017: 25-10 against today’s opponents, Edinburgh, at Scottish Gas Murrayfield in October 2020.

Edinburgh won 45-21 the last time the two sides met, at Hive Stadium in April 2023.

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Content & Images from – Edinburgh Rugby


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