Brumbies sign Jap back Tatekawa

Japanese utility back Harumichi Tatekawa is set to become the third player from his country to compete in Super Rugby after signing for the Canberra-based Brumbies, according to media reports on Sunday.

The 24-year-old, who can play at flyhalf or centre, would join Fumiaki Tanaka (Highlanders) and Shota Horie (Melbourne Rebels) in the southern hemisphere competition once his Kubota Spears team completed its Top League campaign, Kyodo news agency reported.

Wallabies great and Kubota Spears coach Toutai Kefu has declared Tatekawa, capped 20 times by the Brave Blossoms, as “the best Japanese player I’ve seen”.

“How that translates to Super Rugby is a bit unknown,” he told Canberra Times. “I think he can do it, he’s a talented kid. Skill-wise he can do everything and he’s a big, tough boy.”

The former No 8’s 1999 World Cup winning teammate and Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham appeared convinced of Tatekawa’s credentials.

“Another player in that 10-12 position is great for us, it allows depth and we’re quite lucky to have Haru,” Larkham told the newspaper which said Tatekawa’s arrival in Canberra was a part of a development plan.

“There’s going to be a lot of competition from those positions and Haru will definitely be pushing for one of those spots given his form for the Japanese team.”

“The standard of footy in Japan is a little bit less than Super Rugby, but I think individual players have the skills and when you put them in a good system you’ll see improvement,” he added.

The Brumbies enjoyed a successful 2013 Super Rugby campaign, winning the Australian conference and two tough playoff matches before going on to lose 27-22 to the Waikato Chiefs in the final.#

courtesy of SuperSport.com

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Cheetahs nab a couple Kings

The Cheetahs have announced that they have called up Kings duo Rynier Bernardo and Shane TeamsheetsGates ahead of the 2014 Super Rugby season.

The news was announced by EP Rugby CEO, Charl Crous earlier today:

“Both of them will train with the extended squad from today [Monday, November 11] through to the 13th of December, which is when the Cheetahs are expected to finalise their squad for the 2014 Super Rugby season,” he said.

Crous did however confirm that no matter if both players are selected for the final Cheetahs Super Rugby squad or not, they will continue to be EP Kings but will be on loan to Free State.

“Should they be selected, this will allow them to gain additional Super Rugby experience next year, before returning to EP Rugby to take part in the Currie Cup,” he said.

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Sharks win 2013 Currie Cup: Highlights

The Sharks defeated Western Province in the showpiece of South African domestic rugbyHighlights on Saturday, scoring two tries to one as they left Newlands with a 33-19 victory. Since the match, the Springbok squad for the tour of the UK and France has been chosen.

Highlander’s exodus is cause for concern

 RW StampThe Highlander are set to lose 7 star players in this year’s Super Rugby off season as a mass exodus begins in Otago.

Landers boss Roger Clarke has told the media that the exodus is nothing more than unfortunate timing and not because of their horror 2013 season.

“I think the fact that it’s all happened at the same time is probably a little bit unfortunate, But I think one of the things after you have a year like we’ve just had is that you’ve got to make changes. Part of that change we’ve identified is that we need a lot of youth.” he told Newstalk ZB.

in discussing All Black legend Andrew Hore’s departure, Clarke confirmed that they had a promising succession plan in the form of young eager hookers Liam Coltman and Brayden Mitchell.

“They were always part of a succession plan and that’s been judged by the coaches as time to implement that succession plan next year. The guys have been with us for three years and watching ITM Cup they’re starting to come to the fore.”

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Highlanders leaving: Andrew Hore (set to retire), Tony Woodcock (reportedly heading back to the Blues), Ma’a Nonu (unwanted in New Zealand), Tamati Ellison (signed with the Rebels for 2014), Hosea Gear (signed with French club Toulouse), Jamie Mackintosh (joined the Chiefs for 2014) and Kade Poki (signed for Japanese club Kubota Spears).

All Blacks beat strong Pumas

New Zealand laid down another marker in the Rugby Championship with an emphatic 28-13 win over Argentina in ResultsHamilton on Saturday.

The All Backs outscored the Pumas by three tries to one at a very wet Waikato Stadium.  However, there will be some concern over the leg injury suffered by All Black captain Richie McCaw, who hobbled off in the 60th minute and looked very uncomfortable.

More to come…

Mickey Arthur to coach the Force?

Former South African and Australian cricket coach Mickey Arthur is said to be in talks with Super Rugby’s Western RW StampForce about joining their coaching staff.

The Safa was axed from the Australian Cricket set up two weeks before the start of a disastrous Ashes tour that culminated in a 3-0 victory for England. However  he has expressed his wishes to stay in Perth with his family.

Arther has been reportedly speaking to Force Chief Executive Mark Sinderberry about taking over a development role within the franchise where he will focus on recruiting young talent.

“There are a couple of options out there. I’ve had a couple of discussions. I’ll see how that unfolds over the next few weeks I’m just hoping that one of the discussions I had last week comes to fruition because if it does, it will be quite exciting for me. The one thing my family said to me when all this happened was ‘Just understand, we’re not leaving Perth. We love Perth. We love WA [Western Australia]’. Whatever I do, I want to try to do it from here.” Said Arthur.

The 45 year old does have rugby connections and is said to have played a part in luring Sias Ebersohn to the Perth based franchise. He is also said to have a good relationship with coach Michael Foley.

”I’m very passionate about Rugby Union. I’ve jumped on the Western Force and talk a lot to Michael Foley, and I’m trying to help the Force with a little bit of recruitment from South Africa.” Concluded Arthur.

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WP makes two changes ahead of rampant Lions (team sheet)

Western Province has made two changes to their side as they head to Johannesburg to take on a Lions team who Teamsheetssmashed the Bulls in Pretoria last weekend.

–          Nic Groom replaces Louis Schreuder at no.9.

–          Springbok Tiaan Leibenberg returns at hooker in place of Scarra Ntubeni.

“Louis has been playing consistently well, and he’s had a few starting opportunities of late, but we thought it was the right thing to give Nic a start, I thought Nic did well against Griquas when he came on last week. Louis has been very good, but Nic brings something different (for us).” explained Coetzee.

Coetzee added: “We have a plan for Tiaan and Scarra (for the Lions match), we think it’s the right decision for this week to start with Tiaan and Scarra, who has been playing well, can add a lot from the bench.”

“Griquas were effective when they had the ball and put us under pressure (last week), but we’re expecting an even bigger challenge against the Lions in Johannesburg. I thought the Lions were awesome against the Blue Bulls last week, you don’t often go to Loftus and put 60 past the Bulls, but they played at a high tempo and will be a threat with their ball-in-hand approach,” concluded Coetzee.

Western Province enter the round four match up as the only unbeaten team in the competition, they currently hold the top spot on the table and will be looking to cement that spot against the Lions.

Lions vs WP, joburg, Saturday, KO 19:10 CAT (18:10 BST)

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Western Province: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Deon Fourie (captain), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Rohan Kitshoff, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Tim Swiel, 22 Michael van der Spuy.