Bulls announce their 2012 awards winner

Bulls CEO, Barend van Graan, gave thanks to their coaching staff and players as well as the BBC’s employees at a ceremony in Pretoria. It was a tough year for the bulls, who have been a regular powerhouse in SA rugby for the last decade. RW Stamp

“We did not achieve our expected strike rate with regards to trophies and titles with only our Under-21s, Women Sevens and Craven Week sides that won their tournaments, but it was still very successful in many ways.”

“Our Super Rugby side made the top six and play-offs of Super Rugby, the Currie Cup team played in the semi-finals and our Under-19’s made their final. A host of our players also represented the Springboks and a number of our junior players starred for the Junior Springboks in the winning of the IRB Junior World Championships,” Van Graan said.

“We lost a lot of our coaching staff to the Springboks as well, so in all, it was a good year for us in many ways. Our office staff excelled as well and I am happy that we could honour their contribution too.”

The various Players Awards were:

Super Rugby 2012

Players Player of the Year: Akona Ndungane

Most Promising Player of the Year: Arno Botha
Forward of the Year: Juandre Kruger
Back of the Year: Zane Kirchner

Currie Cup 2012
Players Player of the Year: Willie Wepener
Most Promising Player of the Year: Louis Fouche
Forward of the Year: Dewald Potgieter
Back of the Year: Akona Ndungane

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Preview: The Currie Cup Final

It’s the one we have all been waiting for, the 2012 Currie Cup final and what a final it promises to be. The rematch of the 2010 final between the Sharks and Western Province in Durban and both teams are hungry for that hollowed trophy. While both teams are laden with Springboks, the Sharks are strong favourites. But rule out WP at your peril, this young side are desperate to prove they have what it takes to rule nation.

Last week’s results:

Sharks 20 – 3 Blue Bulls

Golden Lions 16 – 21 Western Province

The Sharks have included all their Springboks in the starting team for Saturday’s final. Last week Sharks coach John Plumtree turned some heads by not including all of his Boks in the starting team but rather allowing them to rest after a gruelling Rugby Championship. This decision may well have paid off already as their opposition has lost three of their Springboks to injury over the last two weekends of Currie Cup rugby. The front Springbok front row of the Beast Mtawarira, Craig Burden (uncapped Bok) and Jannie de Plessis return to the starting side with the impressive Kyle Cooper and Wiehahn Herbst dropping to the bench. The second row comprises of Steven Sykes and Anton Bresler with Willem Alberts swapping with Jean Deysel on the flanks. The back line remains the same, however Odwa Ndungane comes onto the bench after recovering from injury.

Western Province has decided to run with rookie Center Damian de Allende at inside centre over Currie Cup vice-captain Marcel Brache who has held the position for most of the season. This is the only change to the starting line-up that beat the Lions with a last gasp try in last weekend’s semi-final. Coach Alistair Coetzee made it clear that de Allende was preferred over Brache in this instance for the physicality that he brings to the table, making this a “horses for courses” decision. Deon Fourie will continue as captain after re-committinbg his future to WP this week and the team comprises of 7 international players (6 Springbok and 1 Canadian) as well as 6 U21 players.

KEY MATCH UPS

There are three must watch matchups this weekend which I believe will determine the result of the game, they are as follows:

Keegan Daniels vs Duane Vermuelen: Daniels will want to prove that he is better than the man who took his place in the Springbok starting side, but Vermuelen will have other plans – starved of trophies and glory Duane will play like a man possessed. Much will be decided by how these two control the break down.

Jannie du Plessis vs Steven Kritschoff: The master vs the rising star, set pieced will play a massive role especially of mother nature does what she has been promising and brings a storm to the Final. If Kritschoff can withstand the pressure WP will have a great base to work from at scrum time.

Cobus Reinach vs Nic Groom: Two of the most exciting young players in the Currie Cup, both hungry to prove that they deserve a place in the Super Rugby squad, but neither have ever played in a match of this magnitude… who will cope with the pressure? We will see of Saturday.

THE HISTORY

2012: Sharks won 43-27 in Durban
2012: Sharks won 25-23 in Cape Town
2011: Western Province won 15-10 in Durban
2011: Sharks won 21-19 in Cape Town
2010: Sharks won 30-10 in Durban

PREDICTION

The Sharks are strong favourites of course, but in a final you just never know. Both teams have had their share of losses in major finals. The Sharks were beaten by the Chiefs in this year’s Super Rugby Final and they lost to the Golden Lions in last year’s Currie Cup Final. Western province have come top of the log (or their abouts) in Super Rugby in the last couple years but have been unable to convert that position into silverware, losing to the Bulls in the 2010 Super Rugby Final and being knocked out at the Semi-Final stage in the last two years (this year by the Sharks). They also lost against the Sharks in the Currie Cup Final back in 2010 and will be looking for revenge.

This will be a close one, the wet weather will help WP stem the attacking flair of the Sharks, but at Kings Park the Sharks have been unstoppable throughout this year. HOWEVER, it seems that 11 years without a trophy has mad WP hungrier than ever and the underdog tag will only help them in the build-up, I think we are in for an upset here! Western Province to win by 3 points.

THE TEAMS

Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain), 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Jandre Marais, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Odwa Ndungane.

Western Province – 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Don Armand, 6 Deon Fourie (c), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Deon Carstens, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Marcel Brache, 22 Joe Pietersen.

The Sharks host Western Province in Durban for the Currie Cup Final on Saturday, KO 17:00 CAT (16:00 BST)

Preview: EP Kings vs Free State Cheetahs

In the final leg of the annual Currie Cup promotion/relegation battle it is do or die for First Division Champions the EP Kings who host a Cheetahs side with a 39 point cushion. This means that if the EP Kings are to have a place in next yeas Currie Cup Premier Division, they will need to pull out a monster performance and win by a 40 point margin.

Last week’s result: Free State Cheetahs 53-14 Eastern Province Kings, Bloemfontein

The Free State Cheetahs have been forced to make several changed due to injury ahead of Fridays match, they have lost the serviced of yet another loose forward in the form of Pieter Labuschagne and will be replaced by Devon Raubenheimer. On the bench, U21 flank Hendrik Venter will provide cover for the “loosies”.Centre Andries Strauss, who will defer to the Kings after this match, has been ruled out after suffering concussion as well as a shoulder injury last Friday. This means that the ex captain will be replaced by Philip Snyman and Springbok Sevens star Ryno Benjamin replaces Nico Scheepers on the wing. Some good news for the men from Bloemfontein is that Perth bound fly half Sias Ebersohn will start after a minor head injury during last weekend match. This will be the last appearance Sias will make for the Cheetahs before he joins the Western Force early next year.

The EP Kings have had a complete overhaul of players in an attempt to salvage some pride going into 2013. While it is still mathematically possible for the Kings to win promotion to the Currie Cup Premier Division, it is highly unlikely after witnessing the way they were turned over by an injury ravaged Cheetahs side last week. They will have to win at home my 40 points or more in order to spend 2013 in South Africa’s highest level of domestic competition.The captaincy is taken over from returning Lock Darron Nell in the wake of Wayne Stevens injury and he replaces David Bullbring in the second row. Schalk Ferreira makes his return to action after injury by replacing Jaco Engeks at loosehead prop and Andre Schlechter starts the match at tighthead prop. Flank Devin Oosthuizen moves to no.8 and Conraad Britz starts in his place at openside. In the backs; Wesley Dunlop is replaced by George Whitehead and Tiger Mangweni returns to action after a rest week in the centres alongside Samoan Paul Perez. Michael Killian moves to fullback with Siviwe Soyizwapi and Norman Nelson taking their places on the wings.

PREDICTION

At home the Kings will be stronger, they are also respirate to salvage some pride before entering Super Rugby… However they just do not have the skill to beat a rampaging Cheetahs side. Cheetahs to win by 10.

THE TEAMS

Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Philip Snyman, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Davon Raubenheimer, 6 Hendro Scholtz, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, , 4 Francois Uys, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Marcel van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Carl Wegner, 19 Hendrik Venter, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Barry Geel, 22 Nico Scheepers.

EP Kings: 15 Michael Killian, 14 Norman Nelson, 13 Paul Perez, 12 Tiger Mangweni, 11 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Falie Oelschig, 8 Devin Oosthuizen, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Conraad Britz, 5 Rynier Bernardo, 4 Darron Nell (captain), 3 Andre Schlechter, 2 Hannes Franklin, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Frank Herne, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 David Bullbring, 19 Mpho Mbiyozo, 20 Scott Mathie, 21 Wesley Dunlop, 22 Scott van Breda.

The Cheetahs travel to Port Elizabeth with a 39 point lead on Friday to take on the EP Kings in their final promotion/relegation match, KO 19:10 CAT (18:10 BST)

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Currie Cup Final: Sharks name Bok filled side

The Sharks have included all their Springboks in the starting team for the Currie Cup final on Saturday against Western province in Durban.

Last week Sharks coach John Plumtree turned some heads by not including all of his Boks in the starting team but rather allowing them to rest after a gruelling Rugby Championship. This decision may well have paid off already as their opposition has lost three of their Springboks to injury over the last two weekends of Currie Cup rugby.

The front Springbok front row of the Beast Mtawarira, Craig Burden (uncapped Bok) and Jannie de Plessis return to the starting side with the impressive Kyle Cooper and Wiehahn Herbst dropping to the bench.

The second row comprises of Steven Sykes and Anton Bresler with Willem Alberts swapping with Jean Deysel on the flanks.

The back line remains the same, however Odwa Ndungane comes onto the bench after recovering from injury.

The Sharks host Western Province in Durban for the Currie Cup Final on Saturday, KO 17:00 CAT (16:00 BST)

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Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Tim Whitehead, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain), 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Craig Burden, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Jandre Marais, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Meyer Bosman, 22 Odwa Ndungane.

Currie Cup Promotion/Relegation Match: Injuries force Cheetahs to make changes

The Free State Cheetahs have been forced to make several changed due to injury ahead of their final Promotion/Relegation match against the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth on Friday.

The team looking to stay refuse the Kings entry to the Currie Cup Premier Division have lost the serviced of yet another loose forward in the form of Pieter Labuschagne and will be replaced by Devon Raubenheimer. On the bench, U21 flank Hendrik Venter will provide cover for the “loosies”.

Centre Andries Strauss, who will defer to the Kings after this match, has been ruled out after suffering concussion as well as a shoulder injury last Friday. This means that the ex captain will be replaced by Philip Snyman and Springbok Sevens star Ryno Benjamin replaces Nico Scheepers on the wing.

Some good news for the men from Bloemfontein is that Perth bound fly half Sias Ebersohn will start after a minor head injury during last weekend match. This will be the last appearance Sias will make for the Cheetahs before he joins the Western Force early next year.

The Cheetahs travel to Port Elizabeth with a 39 point lead on Friday to take on the EP Kings in their final promotion/relegation match, KO 19:10 CAT (18:10 BST)

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Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Rayno Benjamin, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Philip Snyman, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Davon Raubenheimer, 6 Hendro Scholtz, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, , 4 Francois Uys, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Marcel van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Carl Wegner, 19 Hendrik Venter, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Barry Geel, 22 Nico Scheepers.

Currie Cup Promotion/Relegation Match: Kings ring the changes ahead of must win match

The EP Kings have had a complete overhaul of players from the team that were demolished 53 – 14 by the Free State Cheetahs last weekend in an attempt to salvage some pride going into 2013.

While it is still mathematically possible for the Kings to win promotion to the Currie Cup Premier Division, it is highly unlikely after witnessing the way they were turned over by an injury ravaged Cheetahs side last week. They will have to win at home my 40 points or more in order to spend 2013 in South Africa’s highest level of domestic competition.

The captaincy is taken over from returning Lock Darron Nell in the wake of Wayne Stevens injury and he replaces David Bullbring in the second row. Schalk Ferreira makes his return to action after injury by replacing Jaco Engeks at loosehead prop and Andre Schlechter starts the match at tighthead prop. Flank Devin Oosthuizen moves to no.8 and Conraad Britz starts in his place at openside.

In the backs; Wesley Dunlop is replaced by George Whitehead and Tiger Mangweni returns to action after a rest week in the centres alongside Samoan Paul Perez. Michael Killian moves to fullback with Siviwe Soyizwapi and Norman Nelson taking their places on the wings.

The EP Kings host the Cheetahs in the final leg of the Promotion/Relegation battle on Friday, KO 19:10 CAT (18:10 BST)

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EP Kings: 15 Michael Killian, 14 Norman Nelson, 13 Paul Perez, 12 Tiger Mangweni, 11 Siviwe Soyizwapi, 10 George Whitehead, 9 Falie Oelschig, 8 Devin Oosthuizen, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Conraad Britz, 5 Rynier Bernardo, 4 Darron Nell (captain), 3 Andre Schlechter, 2 Hannes Franklin, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Frank Herne, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 David Bullbring, 19 Mpho Mbiyozo, 20 Scott Mathie, 21 Wesley Dunlop, 22 Scott van Breda.

Spies commits his future to the Bulls cause

The Blue Bulls received a welcome boost today when Captain and Springbok Pierre Spies together with the BBRU announced that he had extended his contract at the union until November 2015.

Over the past weeks there has been much speculation that Spies would make a lucrative move to France having been offered a contract at Toulon, however the Bulls giant quelled such rumours on his twitter account and in his official statement today:

“The Blue Bulls are my rugby home and also the environment in which I grew up. It will be an honour to again call it my rugby home for the next three years. I hope I can help write a memorable and successful part of the Bulls history during this time,” he said.

Blue Bulls CEO Barend van Graan joined Spies in his glee at the agreement and stated:

“Pierre is a second generation Bulls player and has already left a legacy with us. To have Pierre around for the next three years, a period in which we aim to re-enforce ourselves as a team of excellence, is wonderful news and I am pretty sure our supporters will be very happy about this,” he

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke then added:

“Pierre is a senior player and a leader who will have to carry a lot of responsibility in our vision and aim to once again become a title-winning team next season and beyond. I could not have asked for a better role model, person or player to help us become champions again,”

Spies’ illustrious career at the Bulls has seen him earn 17 Currie Cup caps scoring 20 points,  89 Super Rugby caps, 120 Points and three Super Rugby titles and has represented the Springboks on 50 occasions so far.

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