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April 30, 2013

Toulon wrap up Habana deal

Posted by Jeremy Inson on 04/30/2013

Heineken Cup finalists Toulon have confirmed that South Africa wing Bryan Habana will be their latest big-name signing.

"After Australian wing Drew Mitchell, South African Bryan Habana will garnish the ranks of the Red and Black for the next two seasons,” the club said on its website.

Habana wants to remain in contention to add to his 83 Springbok caps despite his deal with Toulon meaning he has been removed from their list of contracted players. In recent years Ruan Pienaar and Francois Steyn have won caps despite not playing in South Africa.

April 24, 2013

Scotland confirm autumn Test line-up

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 04/24/2013

Scotland have announced a three-Test line-up for November with games against Japan, South Africa and Australia all confirmed.

The venue for the match against Japan is yet to be announced, with the game taking place on November 9, but both South Africa and Australia will play their matches against Scotland at Murrayfield. Scotland will face the Springboks on November 17 and then the Wallabies on November 23.

"We're delighted to be able to confirm our Test matches for this November and are finalising some special season-long ticket packages for our supporters at present," a Scotland spokesman said. "This season our cumulative attendance for Murrayfield Test matches was more than 300,000. That speaks volumes both for the depth of support for an improving Scotland team and also for our determination to structure our ticket prices so that we give every family in Scotland the opportunity to watch international rugby in the flesh."

April 22, 2013

JP Pietersen close to Japan deal

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 04/22/2013

Sharks and Springboks winger JP Pietersen will use the latter part of this year to play in Japan.

Pietersen, who has 48 caps for the Boks and is currently sidelined with an ankle injury, will journey to the Far East after this season’s Super Rugby competition and will return before the start of the 2014 championship. The arrangement will see him miss the Currie Cup but he will be available for Springboks selection if called upon.

“It’s not all finalised yet,” Pietersen's agent James Adams told Supersport, “But this is a monster deal, one of the biggest ever done in SA, although finances isn’t the reason why he has decided on this move. JP also had interest from both Toulon and Stade Francois but chose the Japanese option because it allowed him to play for the Sharks as well, and he is very loyal to them.”

April 11, 2013

Wales reveal November Test schedule

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 04/11/2013

The Welsh Rugby Union has confirmed that Wales will play both Argentina and South Africa this coming November.

Wales crashed to four defeats on the bounce last November and they will hope to fare better this time around. The WRU has also announced that Wales will face a Tier Two nation alongside the two southern hemisphere giants with the dates yet to be confirmed.

April 9, 2013

Montpellier keen on recruiting Robert Ebersohn

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 04/09/2013

Top 14 side Montpellier have approached Cheetahs centre Robert Ebersohn over a potential switch ahead of next season.

Reports on SA Rugby Magazine's website state that Montpellier are keen for the centre to join them after his Super Rugby duties come to an end, but he is contracted with the Free State Cheetahs until after the Currie Cup. Ebersohn has confirmed that Montpellier are interested but the lure of Springbok rugby could persuade him to stay in South Africa.

"My ultimate goal is to play for the Springboks, and I have to be based in South Africa to achieve that," Ebersohn said. "Montpellier approached my agent a couple of weeks ago, and he passed on the news to me. At this stage, there is no way I can give them a final decision because we're only seven games into the Super Rugby campaign.

"I also can't join them at the end of Super Rugby, so I don't know if that changes things. If the Cheetahs do really well this season, that will encourage me to stay. Heyneke Meyer also encouraged me to keep going. It's well-known that he prefers bigger and more physical players, but he told me not to give up. He said he will consider me if I do well consistently."

March 28, 2013

Schalk Burger hospitalised with meningitis

Posted by Jeremy Inson on 03/28/2013

South Africa flanker Schalk Burger has been admitted to hospital with bacterial meningitis.

His family announced the news, saying; "We as a family herewith would like to advise all the fans, supporters, sponsors and employers of Schalk that he was yesterday afternoon diagnosed as having contracted bacterial meningitis following an operation to reduce pressure on a nerve that was influencing the performance of his calf muscle.

"Given a successful recovery, he will remain in hospital for the next 14 days and where after it will be at least another six weeks before he will be fit for playing."

The World Cup winner has missed most of the last two seasons. Last year he injured a knee on the opening match of the season and then strained a calf muscle earlier this year.

March 15, 2013

Bekker to join Japanese club Kobelco Steelers

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 03/15/2013

South African lock Andries Bekker will move to Japanese club Kobelco Steelers at the end of the 2013 Super Rugby season.

Bekker has won 29 caps for South Africa and is the most-capped Stormers player in the history of Super Rugby.

The 29-year-old second-row hopes to prolong his career with the move to Japan.

March 4, 2013

Morne Steyn on verge of Stade Francais switch

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 03/04/2013

Springbok fly-half Morne Steyn has reportedly put pen to paper on a three-year deal with Stade Francais.

The Bulls are expected to announce the switch later on Monday, according to reports in the South African press, in a move that will bring an end to his time in South Africa. Back in January, Steyn's agent Johan van Greune confirmed to Eyewitness Sport that the fly-half was moving to the Top 14 but remains hopeful of pulling on the famous green jersey in the future.

Van Greune said: "'Morné has spoken to Heyneke [Meyer], they have discussed this. Obviously it is difficult to make commitments from Heyneke's side. That's one of the reasons he chose to go to France. It does open the door for him to play for the Springboks in the future,"

February 20, 2013

Gary Gold confirms Michael Claassens exit

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 02/20/2013

Bath boss Gary Gold has confirmed that scrum-half Michael Claassens will leave the club at the end of the season.

Claassens has been at the west country club since 2007 and has been strongly linked with a move to Toulon. "Michael won’t be at the club next year," Gold told the Wiltshire Times. "He’s been outstanding. Mike’s been seven years here and I still think he’s playing good enough rugby to take on a new challenge, whatever that challenge is.

"It’s no other reason than a lifestyle change. It’s probably his last professional job before he returns home and he was quite keen to get a taste of another culture. He goes with our blessings and our massive appreciation for what he’s done for the club. We’re sad to see him go, but he goes with our blessings."

February 14, 2013

Cape Town Stadium move still on

Posted by Graham Jenkins on 02/14/2013

The Western Province Rugby and Football Union insist that a move from their traditional Newlands home to the Cape Town Stadium is edging closer but remains someway from coming to fruition.

The Cape Argus reports that the proposed relocation of both the Western Province and Stormers sides from the 50,900 capacity Newlands to the 64,100 venue built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup has been a long-running saga with negotiations breaking down and being rebuilt over the course of the last three years. But WPRFU president Thelo Wakefield insists that “the wheels of the state were slowly turning” and that they would eventually "get there."

He revealed that there were still a few key issues to be resolved "namely the financial stability and the various suit holders, season ticket holders and all the other stakeholders."

February 12, 2013

Frans Steyn to take over Sharks captaincy

Posted by Jonny McLeod on 02/12/2013

Francois Steyn will take over the Sharks captaincy in place of Keegan Daniel ahead of the new Super Rugby season.

Daniel suffered a knee injury in last weekend’s 71-8 warm-up win over the Leopards and will be out of action until April.

"Frans becomes the ideal candidate for the captaincy in terms of experience," coach John Plumtree told the franchise’s website. "He has the respect of the players, leads by example and he’s a winner. We know that everyone will get behind him and support him."

February 11, 2013

South Africa's Juan Smith forced to retire

Posted by Jonny McLeod on 02/11/2013

South Africa flanker Juan Smith has been forced to retire from the game due to an Achilles injury, according to reports.

The 31-year-old, who has been capped 69 times by South Africa, has been plagued by the injury since February 2011. He made a recent comeback appearance for the Cheetahs against the Stormers in a pre-season match, but subsequent scans on the injury have led him to quit the game. Smith is expected to make an official announcement on Tuesday.

The South Africa flanker reportedly told Die Volksblad: "Were it not for the fans and my family, then I probably would have made the decision to retire much earlier. It was the fans who gave me the courage to - after several disappointing operations - attempt to make a comeback to the rugby field this year.

"I appreciate all the support I received through the years from my family, Bok- and especially Free State supporters. There are possibilities but I haven't taken any decisions. I need to assess the physical and mental impact of my injury over the past few years. I'm first going to go for a week's vacation."

February 8, 2013

South Africa great Jan Ellis dies

Posted by Jeremy Inson on 02/08/2013

South African rugby has paid tribute to former Springbok flanker Jan Ellis who has died of cancer in Pretoria aged 71.

“Our condolences go to Jan’s family and his friends,” South Africa Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins said. “Jan Ellis was one of the greatest Springbok loose forwards of any era. He was one of those unbelievably tough Springbok forwards for which our country is renowned.”

Ellis won his first cap against New Zealand in Wellington in 1965, aged 22 and didn’t lose his place until his was 34. He won 34 caps for the Springboks and scored seven tries before he ended his Test career after the 16-7 win over the All Blacks in Durban in 1976.

February 1, 2013

Former SARU boss Louis Luyt dies

Posted by James Bass on 02/01/2013

Former South African Rugby Union president and politician Louis Luyt has died aged 80, according to reports.

The often controversial Luyt became president of the then South African Rugby Football Union (SARFU) in the early 1990s and was instrumental in the Springboks' reintegration into the international game and in bringing the 1995 Rugby World Cup to the country. However, he stepped down in 1998 after being accused of racism and financial mismanagement.

Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU) issued a statement saying that it was “with great sadness” that the union had learnt of the passing of the former Lions boss, “one of South Africa’s most iconic rugby figures”.

January 16, 2013

Bath confirm Toulon interest in Claassens

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 01/16/2013

Bath Rugby boss Gary Gold has revealed that scrum-half Michael Claassens is in discussions with Toulon about a move at the end of the season.

Claassens' contract is up at the end of the current campaign and Top 14 big-spenders Toulon have been linked with a move for the half-back. They are preparing for life without Jonny Wilkinson, who looks set to retire in the summer, and could sign Claassens to step in at No.9 which would free up Frederic Michalak to shift to fly-half.

"He's been open and honest with us and he is in talks," boss Gold told the BBC about Claassens. "I'm sure Michael will tell us as soon as anything can be confirmed."

January 15, 2013

Morne Steyn set to join Stade Francais

Posted by Jeremy Inson on 01/15/2013

South Africa fly-half Morne Steyn is reportedly set to sign for French aristocrats Stade Francais.

Steyn, 28, is contracted to the Blue Bulls until October, but he is hopeful that he can negotiate a premature exit at the end of the Super Rugby season, so that he can line up for the start of France's Top 14 in September.

"There is a deal on the table and we're waiting for final paper work," Styen's agent Johan van Greune told Eyewitness News Sport. The final decision to move to Stade Français has also not been taken by Morne. His contract to play for the Bulls is until the end of this year.

"We're waiting for a pre-contract from Stade Français, and then I need approval from the Bulls so that he can leave after Super Rugby, because obviously his contract is until the end of October. So, there are still a few things to be done before there's an actual contract signed."

Steyn will continue to make himself available to Springboks' coach Heyneke Meyer, similar to the way his compatriots François Louw, Ruan Pienaar, Heinke van der Merwe, Gurthro Steenkamp and Schalk Brits have done in the past year. "Morne has spoken to Heyneke and they have discussed this," Van Greune added. "Obviously it is difficult to make commitments from Heyneke's side. That's one of the reasons he [Steyn] chose to go to France. It does open the door for him to play for the Springboks in the future."

If he does sign he will be the latest player to move to the Top 14 after Juandre Kruger joined Racing Metro, and Bryan Habana signed for Toulon, in the past month.

January 9, 2013

Tigers move for South African lock

Posted by Tom Hamilton on 01/09/2013

Leicester Tigers have agreed a deal to sign South African-born lock Sebastian De Chaves, according to reports in the Leicester Mercury. The lock is in line to replace fellow South African Rob Andrew rather than England second-row Geoff Parling who is rumoured to be on Gloucester's radar.

De Chaves is currently on Mont-de-Marsan's books in the Top 14 but he revealed on Twitter that he had penned a deal to join the Tigers.