START OF SUPER 12 COMPETITION

Gardens Captain, Clyde Theron, receiving the Super 12 trophy in 2014
Gardens Captain, Clyde Theron, receiving the Super 12 trophy in 2014

RUGBY clubs from Eastern Province and Border will again vie for regional honours when the prestigious Eastern Cape Super 12 competition kicks off on Saturday, February 13.
This annual tournament is one of the flagship programmes of the Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture (DSRAC), in partnership with the EP and Border rugby unions.

The tournament excludes sides included in the Gold Cup and the Varsity Cup, but will represent the cream of Eastern Cape club rugby as six EP teams and six Border sides line up in a clash for regional bragging rights.
In a statement announcing the tournament, the DSRAC said: “Rugby in our two provinces is played by both rural and urban clubs. We pride ourselves as being the home of ‘black’ rugby because nowhere else in this country will you find a number of players being produced as is the case in Eastern Cape.

“Each year BRFU and EPRU play their own club league competitions, where the champions and top clubs are determined, but no club tournament was played between the two unions.
“Therefore, a great need was identified for clubs to play across the provinces of SARU. This was done to revive, revitalise and promote rugby at club level. The profile and relevance of amateur rugby is increased by these tournaments that reward aspirant players and clubs.

“It provides the role-players (the provinces and EC Government) the opportunity to promote the game in our areas. But it also creates a solid layer of elite competition that will showcase the best players in our province.”

A number of provincial players have emerged from the ranks of the Super 12 in the last five years. They include Ntando Kebe (Bulldogs, Southern Kings), Oliver Zono (Bulldogs), Billy Dutton (Bulldogs), Lundi Ralarala (Bulldogs), Ntabeni Dukisa (Griquas), Michael Makase (Bulldogs, Southern Kings), Makazole Mapimpi (Bulldogs), Samora Fihlani (Griffons), Mihlali Mpafi (Bulldogs), Yanga Xakalashe (Bulldogs)

An indication of strength of the competition is that the two clubs who met in last year’s final, champions EL Police and Uitenhage outfit Gardens, will meet in the first round this year, having been drawn in the same group.
The 12 teams have been divided into three groups of four and will play three round-robin games to decide which teams advance to the playoffs.

At the conclusion of the round-robin, the top two from each pool will qualify for the playoffs, as well as the best third-placed teams. The eight teams will contest the quarterfinals, followed by the semifinals and the final.
“Players and clubs are passionate about this developmental competition and are further excited to have another opportunity to be part of this six-week long rugby competition”, said Phillip Joseph of the Eastern Province Rugby Union.

The fixtures for Saturday (February 13) are:
A section: Berlin Tigers v Spring Rose, Progress v Winter Rose.
B section: Gardens v EL Police – venue TBC, Brumbies v Buffalos
C section: Walter Sisulu Univ v Park, Trying Stars v Breakers

Southern Kings team announced for Cheetahs game

Southern Kings coach, Deon Davids
Southern Kings coach, Deon Davids

The Southern Kings team will run out against the Toyota Cheetahs on Friday under the leadership of Steven Sykes.

Announcing his extended 26-man squad for the game at a press conference this afternoon, head coach Deon Davids said he was looking forward to the Kings first game against another Vodacom Super Rugby side this season.

Up front, Davids has replaced hooker Edgar Marutlulle, who is out with an injury to his ear, with Martin Bezuidenhout, while prop Jacobie Adriaanse, who is out due to a concussion, is replaced by Tom Botha.

Captain of the team Sykes partners with JC Astle at lock, who steps in for Schalk Oelofse who is out with a tight calf muscle.

The loose trio once again consists of Chris Cloete, Thembelani Bholi and Jacques Engelbrecht.

Ntando Kebe and Elgar Watts are again at scrumhalf and flyhalf respectively. Malcolm Jaer moves onto left wing, in place of Michael Makase, with Shane Gates moving up from the bench to inside centre and Stefan Watermeyer moving to outside centre.

Luzuko Vulundlu  returns to right wing, while Jurgen Visser remains at fullback.

Davids said he was looking forward to the game against the Cheetahs.

“This is our first Super Rugby team that we are playing against, and we want to see how the team performs against a super rugby side,” he said.

Davids said the game against the SWD Eagles on Friday last week had been beneficial in testing a few combinations and seeing some of the players that were coming back from injury on the field.

“It is always nice to win, but for us it was good to get the match exercise under our belt and also see guys who haven’t played in a while come through,” he said.

Davids said the team would be focusing on their set pieces, and would be looking at retaining possession from set pieces through the phases.

He said the team would also be looking at how to capitalise on opportunities and convert them into points.

The Southern Kings will play against the Toyota Cheetahs at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Friday, 17 February 2016. Kickoff is at 7pm.

The Southern Kings Team:

15           Jurgen Visser

14           Luzuko Vulundlu

13           Stefan Watermeyer

12           Shane Gates

11           Malcolm Jaer

10           Elgar Watts

9              Ntando Kebe

8              Jacques Engelbrecht

7              Thembelani Bholi

6              Chris Cloete

5              JC Astle

4              Steven Sykes ©

3              Tom Botha

2              Martin Bezuidenhout

1              Schalk Ferreira

 

16           Sti Sithole

17           Martin Ferreira

18           Vukile Sofisa

19           Cornell Hess

20           CJ Velleman

21           Stephan Willemse

22           Junior Pokomela

23           Leighton Eksteen

24           Theuns Kotze

25           JP du Plessis

26           Siyanda Grey

Kings bolster super rugby squad

EP Kings Flyhalf, Elgar Watts.
EP Kings Flyhalf, Elgar Watts.

The Southern Kings officially kicked off their 2016 season on Monday, with a number of players from the Border Bulldogs, South Western Districts and Sharks joining the team on trial ahead of their return to Super Rugby in February.

The new players on trial from Border include loose forwards Billy Dutton (26) and Onke Dubase (26), hooker Mihlali Mpafi (24), wing Michael Makase (25) and scrumhalf Ntando Kebe (27).

SWD players included Leighton Eksteen (21), who has played at scrumhalf, flyhalf and fullback, and Luzuko Vulindlu (28) who has played at centre and wing.

Sharks players include hooker Monde Hadebe (25) and centre Lukhanyo Am (22).

Southern Kings Chief Operating Officer, Charl Crous, said these players had joined them on a trial basis, and that a final squad would only be announced towards the end of January.

Crous also confirmed that tighthead prop, Jacobie Adriaanse, who recently returned to South Africa having spent time with French Top 14 side Montpellier, had been signed. He said the Kings had also secured the services of lock Schalk Oelofse (27) who was on loan from SWD for the season.

“We are still in the process of negotiating with other players and with the other unions, but we have made significant progress over the December break and things are looking positive, with more player announcements expected over the coming weeks,” said Crous.

Head coach, Deon Davids, said there was a sense of quiet optimism among the players at the first orientation meeting this morning.

“The players are all very positive and excited about the season ahead,” he said.

Davids said the first week would focus on testing, as well as team building, with a number of workshops also planned. He said more rugby orientated training would begin in earnest from next week.

Southern Kings squad that started training yersterday in Port Elizabeth.
Kings squad (provisional): Jacobie Adriaanse, Schalk Oelofse, Malcolm Jaer, Siyanda Grey, JP du Plessis, Stefan Watermeyer, Elgar Watts, Louis Fouche, Shane Gates, James Hall, Kevin Luiters, Aidon Davis, Sipato Junior Pokomela, Cyril-John Velleman, Stefan Willemse, Thembelani Bholi, Cornell Hess, Steven Sykes, Tyler Paul, Schalk Ferreira, Tom Botha, Edgar Marutlulle.

On trial: Billy Dutton, Onke Dubase, Mihlali Mpafi, Michael Makase, Ntando Kebe ( all from Border), Leighton Eksteen, Luzuko Vulindlu (both SWD), Monde Hadebe, Lukhanyo Am (both Sharks).