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/ 30 May 2008

The Boks’ battle plan

The nature of Test rugby is that it tends to run in four-year cycles, centred on the mammoth spectacle of the World Cup. The Springboks face the next three-and-a-half years as World Cup defending champions, a lofty pedestal that has proven very difficult to defend in the past.

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/ 16 May 2008

Bok beauty contest begins

It looks like the closely fought endgame of the Super 14 might turn Saturday’s announcement of the 45-man Springbok squad into something of a damp squib. Springbok coach Peter de Villiers will want to avoid disrupting the semifinal preparations of the Sharks and Stormers and will postpone naming players from those squads.

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/ 29 January 2008

Rookie coach Drotske spoilt for choice

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske, in announcing his side to play the Sharks in a warm-up match in Bloemfontein on Friday night, has admitted that he was still undecided on a number of positions. Springbok Meyer Bosman gets the nod at inside centre ahead of Herkie Kruger, and former Bull Jacques-Louis Potgieter is preferred to Conrad Barnard at flyhalf.

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/ 29 December 2007

SA teams face tricky Super 14 build-up

The early stages of the 2008 Super 14 competition could be especially challenging for the five South African franchises — three of the teams have new coaches, and the training of all five has been affected to various degrees by the resting of their Springboks after the United Kingdom tour.

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/ 29 November 2007

Muller to lead Boks in Baa-baas clash

South Africa have made three changes for Saturday’s non-cap international against the Barbarians at Twickenham — Jake White’s last match as coach of the world champions. Bismarck du Plesis takes the place of World Cup-winning captain John Smit after the hooker’s French club, Clermont Auvergne, refused to release him for this fixture.

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/ 21 November 2007

Kankowski set for Springbok debut

South Africa captain John Smit and star wing Bryan Habana are among nine members of the Springboks’ victorious World Cup final starting XV named to face Wales in Saturday’s one-off rugby union international at the Millennium Stadium. Although several players are missing from the two-match tour, the side still contains plenty of experienced campaigners.

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/ 13 November 2007

Three injured Boks withdraw from tour

Forwards Danie Rossouw, Wickus van Heerden and Gurthro Steenkamp withdrew injured on Monday from South Africa’s short rugby tour of Britain. Star scrumhalf Fourie du Preez also looks like staying home and missing the Test against Wales at Cardiff and the celebration match with the Barbarians at Twickenham on December 1.

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/ 6 November 2007

Skinstad quits rugby ahead of tour

The Springbok rugby selectors, who on Tuesday sat down to pick the side for the two-match tour of Wales and England later this month, will not have included loose forward Bob Skinstad in the touring team. The 50th Springbok captain has retired with immediate effect. It is unlikely that Skinstad will be replaced for the short tour.

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/ 29 October 2007

Cape Town welcomes winning Boks

Capetonians turned out in their tens of thousands on Monday to salute the victorious Springboks on the final leg of their national victory tour. There were scenes of near-hysteria as the Boks made their way through the city centre in an open-top bus. Businesses shut down, and young and old lined the streets, crammed on to balconies.

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/ 27 October 2007

Cheetahs edge Lions in Currie Cup thriller

Three yellow cards, two of them on the advice of the touch judges, played a huge part in the Absa Currie Cup final played at Vodacom Park in Bloemfontein on Saturday, which saw the Free State Cheetahs beat the Lions 20-18. The Cheetahs, with the victory, retained their hold on the Currie Cup that they had shared with the Blue Bulls in the 2006 final.

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/ 25 October 2007

Cheetahs set for forward tussle

With five forwards and only two backs on the bench, it does not take a rocket scientist to predict that the Cheetahs will play it mostly tight in Saturday’s Absa Currie Cup final against the Lions in Bloemfontein. And the Lions are aware of it. ”They will probably try and make a statement with their forwards, but we’ll just play our own game,” said Lions coach Eugene Eloff.

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/ 18 October 2007

Boks look to clear final World Cup hurdle

Unbeaten South Africa face defending champions England in a mouth-watering Rugby World Cup final at the Stade de France on Saturday, a re-match of the pool match the Springboks won with consummate ease. But both sides have been quick to play down the significance of that record 36-0 rout, achieved when England were without talismanic flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson.

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/ 13 October 2007

Are the Pumas baiting the Boks?

How much do Argentina have left in the tank? The answer should be clear in the second half of a ferocious forwards clash between the Pumas and South Africa on Sunday. Cracks appeared among the Pumas last Sunday when they let slip a 19-6 lead around the hour mark to give Scotland a sniff at victory. The Springboks are too dangerous for anybody to afford easing off at any time.

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/ 12 October 2007

CJ back to prop up Bok Cup hopes

South Africa prop CJ van der Linde will start against Argentina in the World Cup semifinal at the Stade France in Paris on Sunday after recovering from a knee injury. The 27-year-old tighthead prop is the only change to the starting XV that beat Fiji in last Sunday’s quarterfinal — Jannie du Plessis drops to the bench as the Springboks attempt to reach their second final.

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/ 6 October 2007

Boks primed and ready for Fiji

There’s no disguising this one. South Africa against Fiji should be a mismatch of a Rugby World Cup quarterfinal. Fiji would have to produce the perfect game to upset South Africa and advance to the semifinals. So that’s what coach Ilie Tabua is asking his squad to do. Fiji qualified for their first World Cup quarterfinal since the inaugural edition in 1987 with a 38-34 upset over Wales.

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/ 5 October 2007

Back to basics for the Springboks

South Africa play Fiji in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals in Marseilles on Sunday with a game plan based around a return to basics in a bid to nullify the Pacific Islanders’ flair and raw talent. The Springboks are sure to dominate the set-piece, Fiji having suffered in the scrum throughout their pool games against Japan (35-31), Canada (29-16), Australia (lost 55-12) and Wales (38-34).

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/ 3 October 2007

Bok World Cup prop worries ease

South Africa coach Jake White said on Wednesday that injured prop CJ van der Linde will be fit to face Fiji in the World Cup quarterfinals. Van der Linde had picked up a knee injury and had been considered a doubtful starter for Sunday’s game at the Stade Velodrome.

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/ 3 October 2007

Boks tackle World Cup prop crisis

South Africa are facing a front-row crisis ahead of Sunday’s World Cup quarterfinal clash against Fiji. BJ Botha has already been forced out of the competition with knee ligament damage suffered in the 64-15 Pool A win against the United States last week, while fellow tighthead prop CJ van der Linde has bruising on one of his knees.

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/ 2 October 2007

Injury scare for CJ van der Linde

South Africa faced a further worry over their slim prop resources on Tuesday after tighthead CJ van der Linde limped out of training ahead of Sunday’s World Cup quarterfinal against Fiji. Van der Linde injured his right knee in a mauling session and was unable to complete the session.

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/ 1 October 2007

Boks not looking too far ahead

Coach Jake White insists the Springboks are keeping their eyes on the ball as they face the tantalising prospect of a dream run to the Rugby World Cup final. The South Africans take on quarterfinal surprises Fiji in Marseille on Sunday and should they win they have a semifinal against either world number four Argentina or Scotland for a place in the October 20 final in Paris.

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/ 15 September 2007

Cheetahs beat lions in error-filled match

It was not a pretty game to watch or one to remember as the Free State Cheetahs and the Lions made far too many mistakes in a Currie Cup game in Bloemfontein that was eventually won by the home side 24-19. The stars of the night for the hosts were undoubtedly Marius Joubert (centre), Heinrich Brüssow (replacement flanker) and Jannie du Plessis (prop).