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Undaunted South African Super Rugby teams are finally getting a new home in the Rainbow Cup



The Springboks’ preparations for the British and Irish Lions Tour next year received a major boost as it was confirmed that 4 former Super Rugby teams would play in the Rainbow Cup against PRO14 clubs from the Northern Hemisphere.

The competition starts from 17 April next year. The Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stromers compete in games in the Northern Hemisphere against teams from South Africa and Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy.

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Aidan Park Turf, Aucklander’s Flock Stadium, is sold to collect its piece of sports history.

South Africa rugby director Rassie Erasmus said the timing of the Rainbow Cup was “perfect”, as it would provide stiff competition for the country’s best players ahead of the Lions tour.

“This will eventually bring our Super (Rugby) teams back to international competition after a year of absence and comes at an ideal time to prepare for the British and Irish Lions Tour,” Erasmus said.

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* * The Springboxes will still not attend the Rugby Championship as the game begins in South Africa
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He said, ‘This will be an edge in the domestic league and reminds our players of the different types of rugby when they live here.

“Our players will face a lot of players who will be on Warren Gatland’s roster and it will be very interesting to see our players adapt to the challenge.”

South African teams broke away from Super Rugby after NZ Rugby became clear as it wanted to move away from the competitive structure that had existed since 1996.

Following the cancellation of Super Rugby in March, NZ Rugby formed Super Rugby Auteroa and Rugby Australia also formed their separate league. This left the South African teams and Argentina’s Jaguars in the cold.

Springbok captain Sia Kolisi and South African rugby director Rassi Erasmus are celebrating winning the 2019 World Cup.

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Springbok captain Sia Kolisi and South African rugby director Rassi Erasmus are celebrating winning the 2019 World Cup.

Later, when Sanjar tried to start the Rugby Championship in Australia, the Springboks did not participate. As a result, the tournament was played between New Zealand, Australia and Argentina and was referred to as the Tri Nation.

The Springboks have not played since beating England in the 2019 World Cup final in Yokohama.

The Lions will play eight matches in South Africa from July 3 to August 7, the last three of which will be played against world champions Springboks.

The 16 teams of the Rainbow Cup will be divided into two groups of eight, consisting of two Irish, two South African, two Welsh, one Italian and one Scottish club.

Each team plays a game against each pool opponent and the teams that are at the top of their group face each other in the final on 19 June.

SA Rugby said negotiations were underway to allow South African teams to join PRO14 on a permanent basis, “and an update will be provided in due time”.

The current PRO14 season ends on March 27 with the finale.

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Super Rugby

Mental fatigue may be Boks’ most formidable opponent



Mental fatigue may be Boks’ most formidable opponent | SuperSport – Africa’s source of sports video, fixtures, results and news

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Ronan O’Gara not worried despite rocky start to La Rochelle reign



Ronan O’Gara says he isn’t worried despite a far from ideal start to his reign as head coach at La Rochelle.

O’Gara was promoted to the top job after Jonno Gibbes decamped to Clermont over the summer. O’Gara, one the game’s greats, earned his coaching stripes as an assistant at Racing, with whom he lost the final with in 2016 before moving on to the Super Rugby title-winning Crusaders.

But it’s not been a great start at La Rochelle.

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The French giants have fallen to three losses on the trot, albeit against some of the very best the French league has to offer. An opening game defeat at home to French champions Toulouse was followed by losses to Racing 92 and Clermont on the road.

The former Munster and Ireland great isn’t panicking though.

“It’s quite easy to understand this defeat, when you still lack precision,” O’Gara said following the defeat to Clermont. “You don’t have to look too far. We relaxed too easily in several key moments. There you go, game lost. But I’m not worried, I’ve seen some positive things. There is still a lot of work to be done. I am frustrated, disappointed for the players. We were not efficient.

“There was better to do. When you lack precision, you don’t deserve to win. It is clear to everyone. We released the pressure too easily on some key moments. And we lost.

“Three losses? No, I’m not worried. There is still a lot of work to be done and I hope to do it in this club and not another team. I am frustrated and disappointed for the players because the group has a lot of character and I love it.

“Our strategy was good but we lacked ambition to try when we had the advantage but it is difficult to find the balance between playing too much and not enough. We lacked skill in attack but we are under construction. We weren’t efficient at key moments.

O’Gara admitted it was up to him to turn the season around and his convince his team of the merits of his new system.

“It’s up to me to show the way to convince the players that it’s going to work.”

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United Rugby Championship: Here’s all the clubs Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors will be facing this season



The new United Rugby Championship is due to kick off on September 24.

The 16-team league, forged from an agreement between PRO14 Rugby and SA Rugby, replaces the Pro14 and will feature both Scottish professional clubs Edinburgh Rugby and Glasgow Warriors.

Although final positions will be decided by a single league table, teams are also divided into four regional pools: Italian & Scottish Pool – Benetton Rugby, Edinburgh Glasgow Warriors, Zebre Rugby Club; Irish Pool – Connacht, Leinster, Munster, Ulster; Welsh Pool – Dragons, Cardiff Rugby, Ospreys, Scarlets; South African Pool – Cell C Sharks, DHL Stormers, Emirates Lions and Vodacom Bulls.

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There will be 18 rounds of fixtures in the regular season comprimising six home and away fixtures played by each team in their pool. The remaining 12 games will be made from an even number of home or away games against the other teams in the league.

So Edinburgh and Glasgow will each play each other twice and each play Benetton and Zebre twice. The Scottish pro sides will then face the other 12 teams once only.

After 18 rounds of games, the top eight teams will qualify for the quarter-finals, followed by semi-finals and a final. Teams will be seeded from 1 to 8 and will receive home advantage according to their seeding for these fixtures.

The URC Grand Final venue will be decided later.

In arguably the most radical change the door is now open for the South African teams to qualify for the Heineken Champions Cup, Europe’s premier club rugby competition.

Eight teams from the United Rugby Championship will go into the following season’s Champions Cup.

Here is a profile of all the clubs taking part:

Edinburgh Rugby

Based: Edinburgh Rugby Stadium, Scotland

Captain(s): Grant Gilchrist and Stuart McInally

Key player: Hamish Watson, flanker – the 41-times capped Scotland international made his British & Ireland Lions debut this summer after being crowned the Player of the Tournament at the 2021 Six Nations.

Glasgow Warriors

Based: Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow, Scotland

Captain(s): Ryan Wilson and Fraser Brown

Key player: Ali Price, scrum-half – The English-born 25-year-old, who has won 24 caps for Scotland, played in all three British & Irish Lions tests during the recent tour of South Africa.


Based: Stadio Comunale di Monigo, Treviso, Italy

Head coach: Kieran Crowley

Captain(s): Dewaldt Duvenage and Michele Lamaro

Key player: Andries Coetzee, full-back – a key signing ahead of the new season, the experienced 31-year-old has been capped 13 times by South Africa and turned out 98 times for the Lions.


Based: Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria, South Africa

Captain(s): Duane Vermeulen

Key player: Johan Goosen, fly-haf/full-back/outside centre – produced a man of the match performance in helping Montpellier win the European Challenge Cup final in 2021, and scored 99 points in 8 Currie Cup appearances after joining Bulls this summer.

Cardiff Rugby

Based: Cardiff Arms Park, Wales

Head coach: John Mulvihill

Captain(s): Ellis Jenkins

Key player: Josh Adams, wing/full-back – the Wales international was one of the stars for British & Irish Lions this summer, scoring eight tries in three matches, including two hat-tricks


Based: Galway Sportsground, Ireland

Captain(s): Jarrard Butler

Key player: Bundee Aki, centre – the New Zealand-born Ireland internationals has been at the club sine 2014 and earned his first call up to the British & Irish Lions squad this year.


Based: Rodney Parade, Newport, Wales

Director of Rugby: Dean Ryan

Captain(s): Rhodri Williams

Key player: Ross Moriarty, flanker – the Wales international missed out on the British & Irish Lions selection this summer due to the strength of the back row, having previously been called up in 2017.


Based: Aviva Stadium and RDS Main Arena, Dublin, Ireland

Key player: Jonny Sexton, fly-half – the 36-year-old veteran is one of the highest points scorers in the history of rugby and won the World Rugby Player of the Year award as recently as 2018.


Based: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg, South Africa

Head coach: Ivan van Rooyen

Key player: Wandisile Simelane, outside centre – big things are expected from last year’s SA Rugby Young Player of the Year, who has burst through to the national ranks after a series of explosive performances for the Lions.


Based: Musgrave Park and Thomond Park, Ireland

Head coach: Johann van Graan

Captain(s): Peter O’Mahony

Key player: Simon Zebo, wing/full-back – one of the most exciting players in world rugby returns to his native Irish province after three years in France with Racing 92.


Based: Liberty Stadium, Swansea, Wales

Captain(s): Justin Tipuric

Key player: Alun Wyn Jones, lock – the world’s most-capped rugby union player, with 160 international appearances – 148 for Wales and 12 for the British & Irish Lions, who he has captained over the last three tours.


Based: Parc y Scarlets, Llanelli, Wales

Key player: Liam Williams, wing/full-back – regarded as one of the most exciting attacking talents in world rugby due to a combination of consistency and box-office entertainment. Featured in his second Lions tour this year.


Based: Jonsson Kings Park Stadium, Durban, South Africa

Captain(s): Phepsi Buthelezi and Lukhanyo Am

Key player: Siya Kolisi, back row – the 29-year-old Springboks World Cup-winning skipper is a hugely influential figure but will be missing from Sharks opening URC games due to his international commitments.


Based: Newlands Rugby Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa

Captain(s): Salmaan Moerat and ‎Ernst van Rhyn

Key player: Tim Swiel, fly-half – the former Harlequins and Newcastle Falcons star pulled off a couple of match-winning kicks in the Rainbow Cup


Based: Kingspan Stadium, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Head coach: Dan McFarland

Captain(s): Iain Henderson

Key player: Jacob Stockdale, wing/full-back – His footwork, pace, strength and ability to beat defenders make him a potent finisher as his title of Ireland’s most consistent try scorer testifies.


Based: Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma, Italy

Head coach: Michael Bradley

Captain(s): Giulio Bisegni

Key player: Luca Bigi, hooker – the current captain of Italy is fiercely proud player and leader and will be at the forefront of the set-piece battle.

The opening weekend fixtures are as follows:

Friday, September 24: Zebre v Lions, Cardiff v Connacht, Ulster v Glasgow Warriors.

Saturday, September 25: Benetton v Stormers, Edinburgh v Scarlets, Leinster v Bulls, Munster v Sharks.

Sunday, September 26: Dragons Vs Ospreys

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