Richie McCaw is still the fittest All Black

No one pushes harder than the skipper: Richie McCaw is still the fittest All Black

Is he the Terminator? Skipper is still the fittest All Black despite age and a history of injuries that would have stopped lesser men.

After a first day mostly spent being photographed and fitted out with new kit, day two of the All Blacks’ training camp had a decidedly more physical theme with the players put through brutal fitness testing.

Basic conditioning has been the one undisputed area where the All Blacks have continued to set global standards in the past few years.

The chasing pack has closed the gap on many fronts – perhaps some countries have even gone ahead in specific areas such as scrummaging – but when it comes to aerobic capacity, the All Blacks still believe they have an edge over the rest of the world.

It has been a hallmark of their game in the past two years to dominate the final 10 minutes of a test. It’s in those oxygen-starved final exchanges where they have come into their own – hauling back Ireland in 2013 and Australia last year.

The All Blacks are lean and they are fit.

But they want to be leaner and fitter.

World Cup games will go to the death. The final 10 minutes will be rich with opportunity if the All Blacks have the lungs and legs to take advantage and that was really what was being driven home yesterday – that all players have to keep pushing themselves harder and harder over the next few months.

And no one pushes harder than the skipper. Once again, as he always does, Richie McCaw led the way in the various running tests.

He was joined up front by veteran Andy Ellis and the two of them set the standards through a range of sprint repeats and endurance work.

McCaw and Andy Ellis, lead the way during the All Blacks squad team training session.
“You know you can’t stay with them so you try to keep as close to them as you can,” said fellow Crusader Ryan Crotty. “It is impressive – they are aerobic beasts those guys. They are fit. It is a strong part of their game and attributes they have to have to be able to play their game.”

Ellis, of course, has every reason to try to make an impression while he’s with the All Blacks as he remains an outside bet to force his way into the World Cup squad. At the moment, he’s ranked fourth in the pecking order – behind Aaron Smith, TJ Perenara and Tawera Kerr-Barlow.

Kerr-Barlow hasn’t played first-class football since he damaged his knee in South Africa last year but he is expected to play club games and for the Maori before being available to play for the All Blacks.

His resilience, mental strength and desire to work his way back to full fitness have impressed the selectors, but Kerr-Barlow still needs to jump the final hurdle of showing he’s back somewhere near his best.
source NZ Herald

Egon Seconds take up the whistle at the Coca-Cola Academy Week

Former rugby players, Monty Dumond, Egon Seconds, Jacques Nieuwenhuis and Mpho Matsaung will take to the field as referees in the Coca-Cola Academy Week at the Isak Steyl Stadium in Vanderbiljpark from 6 to 9 July 2015
Egon Seconds represented Western Province and Griquas; Matsaung and Nieuwenhuis played for the Valke.

Egon Seconds was a great wing in his day – fast, elusive, skilful. Now, 34 years of age he was Born in Cape Town and schooled at Hoërskool Voortrekker in Kenilworth, Egon Ryan Seconds made his debut for Western Province in 2001 when he was 20. He played for Western Province 88 times till 2008 when he went to Griquas for whom he played 23 times. In a five-year Super Rugby career, in days when there were fewer matches, he played 11 times. He played in 2001, 2002 and 2005 for the Springbok Sevens, including at the Commonwealth Games in 2002 when they won the bronze medal. In 2004 went on the SA A tour to Argentina, playing against Argentina A and the Argentinian Provinces. In 2009 he played for a Royal XV against the B&I Lions.

Nieuwenhuis also played international rugby for Namibia, which included appearances at the 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cups in France and New Zealand.

Nieuwenhuis will take charge of the clash between the Lions and Western Province on the opening day’s play on July 6

Egon Seconds will officiate the match between the Blouvalke and Nambia, Matsaung the match between Border CD and the Leopards, and Dumond the encounter between Griquas and Pumas CD.

Issued by SARU Corporate Affairs

Take a look at World Cup tickets 2015

With global excitement building ahead of Rugby World Cup 2015, Tournament Organisers, England Rugby 2015, today unveiled the official design that will feature on the tickets for the 48 matches.

The five variations were revealed by Rugby World Cup 2003 winning captain, Martin Johnson, at Twickenham Stadium. The unique design celebrates Rugby and the rich history of the Tournament, featuring the Webb Ellis Cup at its centre, alongside four Rugby World Cup winning captains: John Eales (Australia), Francois Pienaar (South Africa), Martin Johnson (England) and Richie McCaw (New Zealand) representing the nations who have been victorious at previous Rugby World Cups.

The ticket blends the striking Tournament look and feel with two Rugby images representing the heritage of the Game in England. Across the lower half of the ticket is a representation of the fans, who are at the heart of the Tournament. The four designs, developed in three colours, will be issued for all matches throughout the pool phase, Quarter and Semi-Finals as well as the Bronze Final. The tickets for the eight matches that will be played at the Millennium Stadium will also feature information in Welsh. A special gold design has also been developed for the Final and features one of the host nation’s most celebrated sporting moments, Jonny Wilkinson’s dramatic drop goal at the Final of Rugby World Cup 2003.

Boks and playing overseas ?

It was not that long ago that former Springbok coach Jake White made a sage remark about the South African Rugby Union’s decision to pick overseas players for the Springboks.

“You are making a rod for your own backs,” White warned the governing body. “This is going to come back and bite you.”

Saru, who for so long had been accused of being conservative, had actually been quite chuffed with themselves by breaking ranks with SANZAR colleagues Australia and New Zealand and giving coach Heyneke Meyer the option of picking our best players, wherever they reside. After all, professional soccer has been doing this for over a hundred years.

Australia have subsequently “half” followed the Saru lead by making elligble for the Wallabies players that have 60 or more caps. New Zealand, the best rugby country on the planet, stand firm.

White’s warning was that the best players would not hang around in South Africa for the traditional old golden handshake before finishing off with a swansong at a European club. Heck, rugby is a business and money has to be made while the body permits it.

And the players going to the likes of Japan are getting younger and younger. Last year Handre Pollard was the IRB Under 20 Player of the Championship. Now is he off to Japan.

Handre Pollard is tackled by Richie McCaw

You can’t blame the players. Once they have made enough of an impression on the national coach, off they go, knowing that the Springbok door is open.

The problem is that the flood of players to Japan – a choice option because their season allows the South Africans to (almost) get back in time for Super Rugby- means less classy players in the Currie Cup, our most important nursery of Springbok talent.

And if you go to Japan in your off-season, then, well, when do you have your off season!?

There is a tongue-in-cheek argument that rugby in Japan is sub-standard, and foreigners are restricted in their game time to give locals opportunities, and that gives the players a break from the intensity of Super Rugby. But it is a flimsy argument.

I recall John Plumtree complaining about how unfit his Japanese contingent were when they reported for Super Rugby duty, requiring a month of intense extra fitness training to get up to speed with the rest of the squad.

Three months of pre-season training with a South African Super Rugby franchise cannot begin to compete with relative loafing in Japan.

And then there is the problem of when the players actually arrive. The Japanese club knock-out competition takes place in February and that can sometimes mean a South Africa player misses up to four rounds of Super Rugby. He is not as fit as the other players, has missed the pre-season strategy sessions, and some crucial matches.

And there are going to be more and more of them arriving home late for Super Rugby. In fact a whole Cheetahs team following their agreement with Toyota.

There was recent talk that Andries Bekker might make a return to the Springboks after a three year stay in Japan and after having played no Super Rugby to keep up to scratch. Would he still be the same player after having not played against the best players in the world for so long? Jaque Fourie is to return to the Boks after four years in Japan, also having taken the long-term option of not returning for Super Rugby action. Can he possibly be a better player after four years of playing in a mediocre competition?

New Zealand, meanwhile, are resolute. Their best players remain in New Zealand to compete for the black jersey. Their Super Rugby teams remain the best, their National Provincial Championship is as strong as ever. They are the world champions.

Need we say any more on the subject?

by Mike Greenaway

#1995 RWC squad honored for “greatest day” in SA rugby history #1995reunited

South African Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins on Wednesday congratulated and thanked the Springbok squad involved in the 1995 Rugby World Cup as they celebrated the 20th anniversary of their epic World Cup final win in Johannesburg.

The Springboks won their first Rugby World Cup on 24 June 1995, beating New Zealand, 15-12, in a memorable final played at Ellis Park. The result unleashed a tide of goodwill and nation-building across South Africa, which a year earlier had celebrated democracy after decades of racial segregation.

“We proudly celebrate this day as a rugby family, because this team helped Nelson Mandela unite a country,” said Mr Hoskins. “It was a moment that astonished a nation and provided one of the foundation stones for the country we were to become. It was arguably the greatest day in our rugby history.

“Mr Mandela together with that Springbok team pointed the way to a new future for our people and 20 years later that day still has a massive resonance.

“We continue to salute the 1995ers for what they achieved as a rugby team and what they meant to a nation.”

Mr Hoskins said it was also a day to remember and honour the legacy of the fallen heroes from that day, President Mandela, the Springbok coach Kitch Christie and flanker Ruben Kruger.

“They will never be forgotten for their role they played in shaping the country and the game we love so much,” said Mr Hoskins.

The Springboks’ achievement and Mr Mandela’s support meant that the team enjoyed the full support of all South Africans for the first time. The newly elected South African president famously wore the jersey of Springbok captain, Francois Pienaar, at the final, provoking chants of “Nelson, Nelson” from the predominantly white crowd.

Pienaar, in his winning speech, declared that the team had not the support of the 60 000 people in the stadium; it had had the support of 43 million South Africans across the country.

On Wednesday, Pienaar said: “I will never forget the emotions in the change room before the match, when Mr Mandela entered and how every one of us got ready for this huge match – some of them quiet, some of them jumping around in the change room, others bringing massive energy to the squad.

“We had a sense this was big, but never in our wildest dreams did we think that this game would have such an impact on every single person in South Africa.”

The 1995 squad reunited at the same venue on Wednesday, now called Emirates Airline Park, to re-live the event that shaped the history of the country and that of rugby forever.

All available members of the team joined up for a team photograph in front of a banner reading, “Still One Team, Still One Country” recalling the famous 1995 team slogan, “One Team, One Country”, on the spot where flyhalf Joel Stransky kicked his famous match-winning drop goal.

In a social media first for South African rugby, supporters were able to relive the final on Twitter with live commentary by members of the team while the match was re-broadcast on SuperSport.

“They were a special team that achieved special things,” said Mr Hoskins. “This is their day and we honour them and thank them for a legacy from which we still benefit.”

Front row (from left to right): Chester Williams, Balie Swart, Kitch Christie (coach), Francois Pienaar (captain), Morne du Plessis (manager), James Small, Gysie Pienaar (assistant coach), Hennie le Roux, Andre Joubert.

Middle row: Garry Pagel, Ruben Kruger, Rudolf Straeuli, Mark Andrews, Kobus Wiese, Krynauw Otto, Hannes Strydom, Robbie Brink, Adriaan Richter, Os du Randt.

Back row: James Dalton, Marius Hurter, Christiaan Scholtz, Japie Mulder, Gavin Johnson, Joost van der Westhuizen, Brendan Venter, Chris Rossouw, Joel Stransky, Johan Roux.

Credit: SARU

Twenty years on photo 24 June 2015
Front row (from left to right): Chester Williams, Balie Swart, Joost van der Westhuizen, Francois Pienaar (captain), Morne du Plessis (manager), Christiaan Scholtz, Gysie Pienaar (assistant coach), Hennie le Roux, Pieter Hendriks.

Middle row: Garry Pagel, Rudolf Straeuli, Mark Andrews, Kobus Wiese, Krynauw Otto, Hannes Strydom, Robbie Brink, Adriaan Richter.

Back row: Naka Drotské, Marius Hurter, Japie Mulder, Gavin Johnson, Brendan Venter, Chris Rossouw.

Credit: Duif du Toit / Gallo Images

Issued by SARU Corporate Affairs

Mozambican saxophonist MOREIRA CHONGUICA to be awarded SUPERBRAND status

Award winning Mozambican saxophonist MOREIRA CHONGUICA has been selected to receive individual recognition by Superbrands Mozambique at a ceremony to be held in Maputo on Tuesday 30 June 2015. He is the first individual in Mozambique to receive this accolade. It has previously only been bestowed on companies.

Moreira Speaking at Music Exchange 2014 –

Superbrands is the world’s largest independent arbiter of branding. It identifies and pays tribute to exceptional brands by recognising, rewarding and reinforcing leading brands from all over the world. They have launched programmes in over 80 countries including all the key global markets. These programmes aim to identify those brands that are performing above and beyond others within the market. At the heart of each programme is an independent and voluntary council of leading experts comprising individuals with a deep appreciation of the “brandscape” in the country being examined.

In a world of global commerce and competition, excellence matters above all else. Outstanding brands distinguish themselves through collaborative enterprise, creative marketing, and superior products. These are exceptional brands which stand apart, elevating themselves to the prestigious distinction of being named a Superbrand. Participation in Superbrands is by invitation only, and offered to the most outstanding brands in their field. Attaining Superbrands Status strengthens a brand’s position, adds prestige, and reassures consumers and suppliers that they are buying the best brand in its category.

“I am deeply honoured to be recognized in this way by an organization such as Superbrands. For the past ten years my team and I have worked hard to ensure that the Moreira Chonguica brand stays relevant and focused. We will continue to raise our marketing standards and pursue excellence and professionalism in all our endeavours.” says Chonguica.

#1995reunited: Relive the Rugby World Cup final with the squad – on Twitter

In a social media first for South African rugby, supporters will be able to relive the 1995 Rugby World Cup final on Twitter tomorrow (Wednesday) – with live commentary by members of the team.

The 1995 squad, the South African Rugby Union (SARU), SuperSport and Twitter have come together to create a unique event to mark the 20th anniversary of the winning of the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

At precisely 15h00 tomorrow (June 24) SuperSport 1 will re-broadcast the final (at its original kick-off time 20 years ago) while simultaneously the squad will begin Tweeting their memories of the match and day.

The players and management will be at Emirates Airline Park (formerly Ellis Park) as part of their anniversary get-together and will be watching the match en masse and sharing their memories with followers.

A Twitter Tsunami is expected across South Africa as supporters tune in to television and social media to relive the day the future of the country was re-written. The match will also be re-broadcast on SuperSport 1 at 20h00 on Wednesday with additional commentary from the squad.

To be part of one of the social media events of the year supporters should follow the event through the hashtag #1995reunited and follow @Springboks for behind the scenes coverage.

Egon Seconds top try Scorer for WP all time with his mentor and good friend Chester Williams

Amongst the 1995 team’s verified accounts are

Marius Hurter @hurtenator
James Small @JamesTerenceSm1
Chester Williams @chessi_11
Morne du Plessis @MDuPlessisSSI
Kobus Wiese @4KobusWiese
Krynauw Otto @krynauwotto
Joel Stransky @stranners
Joost van der Westhuizen @9Joost
Andre Joubert @15Jouba

More accounts will be published on the Springboks’ social media platforms as they are verified.

Issued by SARU Corporate Affairs

Up to the northern hemisphere to play rugby. How sustainable is the player drain?

Rugby is a professional sport and the players must be able to earn a worthwhile income while providing millions with entertainment. No one can begrudge those players the lucrative offers from clubs in foreign lands. This is the nature of professional sport.

Year after year more players leave their country of birth to go and play rugby overseas. Every World Cup year sees a contingent of senior players calling quits on their domestic career as they have a fial go at World Cup glory before heading off for a lucrative payday in France, Japan, the United Kingdom and, to a lesser extent Italy.

Think of the South Africans we know are leaving in 2015 – the two du Plessis brothers, Pierre Spies, Deon Stegmann, Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger, Steven Kitshoff, Demitri Catrekillis, Schalk van der Merwe, Jacques du Plessis, Willem Liebenberg, Willem Alberts, Flip van der Merwe, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Heinrich Brüssow, Michael Rhodes are the names that come to mind immediately, although I am sure I have missed a few.

Some are heading off-shore for a three month stint of Japanese rugby before heading back to South Africa next year, names such as Marcell Coetzee, Francois Hougaard, JJ Engelbrecht, and Willie le Roux have all been linked to such a move. Pierre Spies is heading to Japan for three months to collect a couple of Yen before heading to Montpellier to join Jake and the Expatriates. (Sounds like the name of a pop band of some sort?)

Add the names of capped Springboks already playing elsewhere, such as Zane Kirchner, Frans Steyn, Fourie du Preez, JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie, Frans Steyn, Bryan Habana, Morne Steyn, Ruan Pienaar, Francois Louw, Andries Bekker, Juandre Kruger, BJ Botha, CJ Stander, Brian Mujati, Gurthro Steenkamp, Ricky Januarie and Pedrie Wannenberg.

Then there are the non-Boks:

Alistair Hargreaves, Brad Barrett, Quintin Geldenhuys, Petrus du Plessis, Neil de Kock, DTH van der Merwe, Louis Ludik, Rossouw de Klerk, Josh Strauss, Rob Herring, Robbie Diack, Antonie Claassen, Francois van der Merwe, Rory Kockott, Jannie Jornman, Deon Fourie, Frans Viljoen, Charl McLeod, Gio Aplon, Hendrik Roodt, Ross Skeate, Scott Spedding, Gert Muller, Peter Grant, Robert Ebersohn, Wynand Olivier, Pat Cilliers, Riaan Swanepoel, Peet Marais, Jono Ross, Morné Steyn, Meyer Bosman, Gerhard Mostert, Juan Smith, Ruaan du Preez, Riaan Smit, Jody Jenneker, Jandré Marais and Berend Botha, and scrumhalf Heini Adams all of whom are playing in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, or France.

A quick count tells me that is 74 South Africans playing in Europe. Some, such as Barrett, Kockott, Geldenhuys, and Spedding have switched allegiances and “become” English, French and Italian, and some, such as Josh Strauss, Diack, Herring and Stander are about to become “foreigners” and join the other side.

That is at least five top class teams of South African rugby players who are playing in Europe!

This problem is not restricted to South Africa and South Africans! We know that there are currently 46 Kiwis in the French Top 14 league clubs, with a further 23 playing in the English Premiership and another 31 in the Pro 12, the combined Irish, Welsh, Scottish and Italian leading division. Steve Hansen recently said that New Zealand is looking at losing 16 of the current 1st choice players for a World Cup squad of 31 after October. Fully half his squad is leaving!

Australia faces the same issue!

Australians that are heading north include Will Genia, James Horwill, Nick White, Jesse Moggs, Quade Cooper, Sam Wykes, and a couple more whose names escape me at the moment.

New Zealand are losing at least 10 current All Blacks, including Colin Slade, Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Charles Piutau, Francis Saiili, Tom Taylor, Frank Halai, Jeremy Thrush, and Ben Franks

Add in the uncertainty as to what Richie McCaw, Keven Mealamu, and Tony Woodcock are doing, they may retire completely or they may decide on a lucrative swansong up north somewhere.

A couple of other current All Blacks are still holding their cards close to their chests and we are not sure where the likes of Julian Savea, Sam Cane and Ryan Crotty are going.

Lest we forget: Most of the current Argentinean national rugby squad ply their trade in the north too!

If we consider the numbers of southern hemisphere players being sucked up north to play rugby in the professional leagues of Europe and Japan it is surprising that our sport survives at all. The moment we develop a young player to the point where he shows promise, his agent heads over to Europe to seek a contract for the youngster, foreign currency is so tempting and his commission is also paid in that currency, of course!

The more I think about the player drain to the north, the more I ask the question; How is this whole thing financially affordable?

Think of France! Just two Top 14 clubs, Toulon and Brive recorded a profit last season! Toulon €690,000, and Brive €202,000. The rest ran at a loss.

The two French professional rugby leagues, the Top 14 and the Pro D2, ran at a loss of €33,891,000 in 2014. That was an even bigger loss than the €32.5m of 2013. They are hoping a new TV broadcast deal worth €70 Million will help reduce their overall loss for 2015 to just €19 Million!

In South African Rand that 2014 loss equates to R467 Million, or more than half the annual budget of the entire SA Rugby Union, which actually runs at a small profit! If you are Australian, that is roughly $49,8 Million or $56,1 Million in New Zealand dollars.

Remember that the same kind of loss was reported in 2013, and a similarly large loss in 2012.

How is this sustainable?

A report released by the Direction nationale de contrôle de gestion (DNCG) – French rugby’s financial watchdog, outlined the massive amounts of money being spent across the country’s two professional leagues, the Top 14 and the Pro D2.

The report, which covers the spending of the top 30 clubs in France during the 2013/14 season, puts the average Top 14 club budget at €21.2m, with €7.4m of that supposedly going to player wages. The highest Top 14 club budget was close to €35m for the season.

The 2014 deficit is the highest since the creation of the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) in 1998, prompting the DNCG to comment that it “confirms the loss-making management of professional rugby as a whole.”

I ask again: How is this sustainable?

Any business that loses money simply cannot survive, and French rugby has consistently lost money for a long time! Yet they still continue to send out the agents and recruiters to gather as many southern hemisphere players as they can find. How?

Rugby finances in the UK is less easy to analyse as they do not have a central reporting authority such as the French DNCG, but we do know that the England RFU reported an overall loss of £9,5 Million for 2014. (R182 Million in South African terms.) This is the Rugby Union itself and not the clubs. From my research I can report that most of the professional clubs are teetering on the edge of bankruptcy year in and year out, some breaking even, but many running at a loss, some with enormous deficits, often helped out of the quagmire by sympathetic millionaire benefactors.

The reality is that Rugby in the UK is not a hugely profitable business. They have to compete with the massive marketing machine that is English Football and the big clubs like Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, and the like.

So how is their recruitment of foreigners financially sustainable?

Perhaps it is important to note that rugby in the UK is subject to a salary cap and that this cap is rigidly enforced by the RFU.

The reality is that even English clubs are struggling to compete with the salaries being offered on the other side of the Channel!

France is supposed to have a salary cap too, but we are told that most clubs only have a nodding acquaintance with those rules. Toulon are known to work their way around the salary cap by signing players for lower monthly wages – but offering massive win and performance incentives.

The French salary cap now sits at €10.5 million per annum until 2016, but the French clubs are already lobbying to have this figure increased, and already have another loophole where two “marquee” players – non-Frenchmen – can be recruited who are excluded from the salary cap.

Dan Carter has become the most expensive rugby player in history, signing a three-year deal with Racing for €1.5 million a season. Ma’a Nonu has signed on for two years in Toulon on an undisclosed contract understood to amongst the biggest at the French glamour club.

Player wage packets are considerable, even for lower-league players in France. Average wages in the Top 14 sit around €9000 (R124 000) a month, and the D2 average monthly salary is around half that. R124 000 per month is a very comfortable kick under the backside for a young rugby player.

I have to ask again, how is this sustainable? Where is the extra money to fund these enormous wage packets coming from when almost every one of the French clubs is running at a loss and the French Rugby Union is running at a loss too? How long before the French rugby financial bubble bursts? What happens if Greece pulls out of the Eurozone and the Euro collapses? How long can this go on?

credit – Sportsfire Daily sportsfiredaily

Something the DHL Stormers have never touched

Something the DHL Stormers have never touched ,and that Duane never ever lifted up

The view from the press box at Newlands June 2015

Thank you John Golaith for the picture

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