NATIONAL TEAMS
The SA Rugby (PTY) Ltd report

SA ‘A’ vs Argentina

Springok and Lions winger Dean Hall scored an exhilarating try three minutes after the hooter had sounded to deny the touring Argentinians victory before a packed crowd of 13,000 at Puma Park in Witbank in June. The tourists came back from 18-0 and 32-12 deficits to take a 36-35 lead with their fifth try three minutes before the end of normal time. Hall’s winner gave the SA "A" side a 42-36 win.

SA "A" began well as Butch James, out of top class rugby for nine months following suspension and a shoulder operation, took just four minutes to find his range and give South Africa a lead they would relinquish only three minutes from the end of regulation time. That lead was extended a further four minutes later when Bulls hooker Danie Coetzee barged over. Dean Hall got the first of two tries as he set off from just outside his own 22 on a run of breath-taking power, weaving and surging through the Argentinean defence and touching down in the right corner.

It took another Butch James penalty before the South Americans struck back. After a lengthy build-up, Martin Durand took advantage of some poor defence to score the first points. SA "A" replied with a try by flanker Hendro Scoltz, who dotted down after Robbie Fleck had made a razor sharp diagonal run that parted the Pumas defence.

Diego Giannantonio crossed for a converted try at the close of the half to close the gap.

Immediately after the break, prop Lawrence Sephaka restored the SA "A" points margin with a try, but after that it was almost all Argentina. The visitors touched down three times - through Jose Nunez Piossek, Hernan Senillosa and Pedro Sporleder - in the next half hour, while all SA A could mange was a single Gaffie du Toit penalty. That was before Hall's extra time heroics sealed the match.

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SA Under-21s

IRB World crown claimed at home

The South African Under-21 team narrowly defeated New Zealand in the semi-finals and then Australia in the final to capture the inaugural International Rugby Board (IRB) Under-21 World Cup at the end of a two-week festival in July.

The home side emulated - if not surpassed, the achievements of the 1999 under-21 vintage that captured the forerunner to the World Cup, the SANZAR/UAR tournament in Argentina - by winning the final at Ellis Park in front of 18 000 spectators.

South Africa, captained by Sharks centre Clyde Rathbone and coached by former Springbok technical adviser Jake White, built their victory on a foundation of powerful forwards, tight defence and the deadly boot of flyhalf Swys Swart. In five matches South Africa conceded just five tries while the Australians conceded eight and New Zealand nine. Similar virtues took the senior team to World Cup glory in 1995 and at the same venue on the night of June 28, almost seven years to the day that Francois Pienaar's men did South Africa proud, the Baby Boks beat Australia 24-21 in a tense and entertaining final. The South Africans dominated most of the match and moved into a commanding 24-9 lead with less than a quarter of an hour remaining. But the toll of their tough semi-final against New Zealand just three days before began to take effect and Australia forced their way back into the match with two late tries. As gold jerseys surged at the green line, the Baby Boks had to dig deep with a final defensive effort, ensuring that the trophy came to South Africa. It sparked joyous on-field scenes similar to those in 1995.

In the tension-filled and brutally physical semi-final between SA and New Zealand, the latter appeared to be out of the match midway through the second half before replacement flyhalf Shaun Webb ran in two tries to give the Colts an 18-16 lead as normal time elapsed. After being awarded a penalty seven minutes into injury time, the Baby Boks secured good field position and when a New Zealand player went offside at a ruck, Swart (who finished as the tournament's leading points scorer with 107) stepped-up to slot a kick which required skill and nerve to give the hosts a 19-18 win. Australia swept Wales aside in the other semi-final.

In their pool matches, South Africa defeated Romania 135 -0, France 28-9 and Ireland 42 - 22.

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SA Sevens

Chester’s boys claim silver

Former Rugby World Cup hero Chester Williams introduced a whole new dimension to sevens rugby in South Africa. He followed his instincts, he set out on a path that brought pride back into Sevens rugby, which included a second place overall in the 2001/2002 IRB Sevens Series and a Bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester in September. Williams and his support staff equipped the players with a structured game plan, high fitness levels and a dogged defensive line that took them to levels never experienced before. It was a great year for Brent Russell who used the platform as a stepping stone to fame in the 15-man game. He was only one of a crop of really good performers though, as players such as Jean de Villiers, Anton Pitout, Jorrie Müller, Fabian Juries and Dale Heidtmann showed. Russell was drafted into the squad for the opening round of the IRB Series in Durban. He and Neil Powell became key players for the rest of the campaign; Russell scoring 46 tries to be the tournament's leading scorer. He was later voted International Sevens Player of the Year.

South Africa reached the semi-finals in Durban and in Santiago and made a first final appearance in Mar del Plata (losing 24-7 to Fiji) to move to second on the Series log - a position they were never to surrender. However, beating New Zealand was always going to be their biggest test and, after losing 14-12 to a score after the final hooter from the reigning champions in the Brisbane semi-final, Williams predicted that the Kiwis would be conquered the next time they met. It turned out to be in Wellington, heartland of New Zealand's sevens rugby, when, in a perfect game of sevens the Boks stunned the huge crowd in beating the Kiwis 26-10 in the semi-final. South Africa took a historic first ever tournament win in the Series by beating Samoa 17-14 in the final. The Blacks gained revenge in Beijing (winning 43-14 in the final). Disappointing results followed in the premier event of the series, the Hong Kong sevens when they failed to make the quarter-finals for the first time and in Singapore, where they lost to England in pool play. They got back onto the podium a week later in Kuala Lumpur losing to New Zealand again (29-5). Another defeat by the Kiwis followed in the London final before they finished the series with a loss toFiji in the Cardiff quarter-finals. They travelled to Manchester as serious medal contenders in the Commonwealth Games. All went well in pool play, but poor play in the semi-finals against Fiji saw the Boks contest the bronze medal with Samoa. South Africa won 19-12 to secure their first rugby medal at the Games.

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SA Under-19s at FIRA Junior World Championships

The South African Under-19’s had to settle for third place at the 2002 FIRA Junior World Championships as am outstanding New Zealand combination claimed their third title in the four seasons since making their first appearance in the competition, routing an outclassed French side 71-18 in a one-sided final.

The competition’s real final had been played out at the semi-final stage when South Africa - arguably the second best team in the competition - were beaten almost as comfortably by New Zealand 41-9. The defending champions pulled away in the second half after being held to a 14-9 halftime advantage. All South Africa’s points in the match came from the boot of Blue Bulls flyhalf Derick Hougaard who ended the competition as his side’s leading scorer with 47 points from a try, nine conversions, seven penalties and a drop goal. Top try scorer for South Africa was Lions centre Jaque Fourie who finished with five tries. Both players later went on to represent their respective Provinces with distinction in the Bankfin Currie Cup.

The semi-final defeat condemned the young SA side to the third and fourth place play-off where they easily disposed of Argentina 55-19. South Africa were captained by Luke Watson, son of Cheeky Watson, who earned ‘notoriety’ in the 1970s by refusing to conform to apartheid laws that prevented whites and blacks playing rugby together.

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SuperSport Club Championships

Shimlas (University of the Free State) brought back fond memories of their heydays in the 1970s when they captured the Supersport Club Championship with a hard-fought win over the PUK-Rugby Institute (Potchefstroom University) in Bloemfontein in July. Although the team did not have the same high-calibre list of names that the glory sides of two decades before could boast, there were certainly enough talented players on view to reinforce the claim that the Free State is still one of the best breeding grounds of rugby talent in the country. Flyhalf Conrad Barnard certainly lived up to that theory when he produced a near flawless display in the final to guide his troops to a 34-26 win by contributing 29 points on his own. He struck ten out of ten kicks at goal to add to the lone try by Phillip Burger while Pukke, who were perhaps the more dominant side in the tight phases, scored two tries through Pieter Jordaan and Henry van Niekerk. Shimlas' victory earned them their third national club title, putting them second on the all-time winning list, albeit still well behind the ten victories of Stellenbosch University (Maties), who, as ever, started the tournament as favourites. In theecond round of competition, however, they were beaten 27-18 by a spirited Ceres team.

Shimlas booked their place in the final with a nailbiting 30-25 win over Ceres while Pukke had a similarly bruising 45-38 win over RAU.

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National Women’s Championships

Falcons take historic first title

Exactly a year after women’s rugby was launched in South Africa, the first women’s inter-provincial competition was held in Port Elizabeth, culminating on National Women’s Day, 9 August 2002. The tournament, featured all fourteen provincial teams, with the Falcons coming out on top.

In the first round of the competition, the Falcons, Natal and the Blue Bulls looked promising, with resounding victories over their opponents. Joining them in the next round’s winners’ section were the Golden Lions, the Mighty Elephants, Border, Western Province and South Western Districts. The third and final day of the tournament saw Boland, the Golden Lions and the Blue Bulls, walk away with wins in their section. The Falcons proved formidable competitors, beating Natal 36-0 to come out as overall winners, with the Mighty Elephants squeaking a win in extra time to secure third place.

Not only was this event the inaugural women’s tournament, but all referees and touch judges were also women.

Since its launch in 2001, women’s rugby has grown rapidly from 65 teams to an estimated 150 women’s clubs currently up and running around the country. From this tournament, an elite squad of 40 players was selected to receive specialised training and conditioning before being reduced to the 30 most talented players, building towards the creation of a national squad. The women underwent scientific assessment and testing and were given individual training programmes for the off-season. Plans for 2003 include games against international development sides.

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39th Coca-Cola Craven Week

One of the highlights of the 2002 Coca-Cola Craven Week, held in Pietermaritzburg in July, was the performance of Investec Western Province. They had the luxury of several outstanding players, particularly among their backs. Their captain and scrumhalf, Paul Delport, went one better than last year when he was the understudy for the No 9 jersey in the SA Schools team. This year he was not only selected as the No 1 scrumhalf in the SA Schools team, but was also appointed as captain. Apart from Delport the five other stars in the Western Province back-line were fly-half Ettienne Duvenhage, inside centre Earl Rose, wingers Enwill Alexander and Frank Wagenstroom, and fullback Hennie Daniller. Rose, Alexander and Daniller, together with loose-head prop Schalk Ferreira joined Delport in the SA Schools team, while Duvenhage and Wagenstroom, together with fellow team-mates Pieter Louw and Leon Karemaker were selected for the SA Academy team.

The fact that six Province backs were selected for the two representative teams, underlined exactly where Province's strength lay. In total Western Province scored 12 tries, 11 by their backs and one by flank forward Mathew Kretzmann.

Province, the Falcons and Border were also the only teams that ended the week undefeated but it was against the Free State Cheetahs that Western Province played the competition's 'final'. These two teams were head and shoulders above the rest of the teams. A star-studded Free State - to all intents and purposes a Grey College team playing in the Cheetah strip - were beaten 31-16.

The much-fancied home team did not quite live up to expectations and the young Sharks suffered two losses. They nevertheless manage to contribute no less than seven players to the SA Schools and Academy teams that were selected after conclusion of the week. The Free State, a much better team than the young Sharks, could only match the latter's seven players to these two teams.

The Blue Bulls Country Districts and the Border Country Districts made their debut at the 22-team strong tournament that also featured the 14 provincial unions, Namibia and Zimbabwe and four regional teams were selected on broadly the same geographical basis as the four South African Rugby Super 12 teams, the Eastern Coastal XV, the Western Cape XV, the Central Tigers and the Northern Kudus. The excellent performance by the Blue Bull Country Districts team was one of the features of the week.

A third feature of the 2002 Craven Week was the outstanding individual performances of many of the black players of those teams where the previously disadvantaged communities traditionally played rugby.

The players of Western Province, Border, Griquas and, to a lesser extent, Boland and the SWD Eagles, spring to mind. In many games black players were the star performers for their teams.

Free State scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, son of fasmous Springbok Gysie, was the top scorer during the Week with 44 points from a try, six conversions and nine penalties. His selection as reserve scrum-half for the SA Schools team was just reward for one of the outstanding individual performances. The Falcons' fullback, De Wet Nortjé, was second with 41, followed by Blue Bulls centre Pieter Spamer (32), and Jurgens Kruger, the Leopards flyhalf, and Alwyn Burger, Western Cape XV centre, who both scored 30 points.

Luvo Songidashe, Border's right wing, scored the most tries (5). Songidashe thoroughly deserved his place in the SA Schools' team after consistent above-par performances and in the face of stiff competition from many other excellent wingers on display.

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SA Schools and Academy XVs

SA Schools XV

Hennie Daniller (WP); Luvo Songidashe (Border), Adrian Penzhorn (KZN), Earl Rose (WP), Enwill Alexander (WP); Thembani Mkokeli (Border), Paul Delport (WP) (capt); Wium Arlow (Pumas), Derick Kuün (BB), Martin Sithole (Pumas), Cliff Milton (BB), Jaydon Hull (KZN), Riaan Vermeulen (FS), Bismarck du Plessis (FS), Schalk Ferreira (WP). Replacements: Chilliboy Ralepele (BB), Brandon Squires (KZN), Wilhelm de Jager (Pumas), Jerry Sofoko (BB), Ruan Pienaar (FS), Peter Grant (KZN), and Onke Poni (Border). Manager: Dries van der Wall (FS)

SA Academy team

Johan Pietersen (FS); Frank Wagenstroom (WP), Andries Strauss (FS) (capt), Ncdedo Koyana (Border), Sakuwe Jaji (Border); Ettienne Duvenhage (WP), Luke Songwiqi (KZN); Pieter Louw (WP), Leon Karemaker (WP), Henri Mathonzi (Pumas), Anthonie Claassen (KZN), Reinhard Rall (FS), Abraham Mouton (Boland), Pellow van der Westhuizen (Pumas), Dumisani Qina (Border). Replacements: Deon Koen (Griquas), Sagoni Mxoli (KZN), Nicolai Blignaut (Border), Ampie Lourens (Griquas), Charles Joseph (Boland), Darryl Murray (Griquas), Shagan Windvogel (FS). Manager: Zola Yibi (Border)

Results

SA Schools XV 12 T: Wiam Arlow, Hennie Daniller. C: Earl Rose. France 3. P: Arnaud Mathet (July 27, 2002, Absa Stadium, Durban).

SA Schools XV 49 T: Martin Sithole, Adrian Penzhorn (2), Hennie Daniller, Brandon Squires (2), pen try. C: Earl Rose (4). P: Rose (2). Wales U19 0 (August 17, 2002, Ellis Park, Johannesburg).

SA Academy XV 26 T: Ettienne Duvenhage, Johan Pietersen, Frank Wagenstroon. C: Andries Strauss. P: Strauss (3). France U19 30 T: Arnaud Mathet, Gerland Gambetta, Yanmnick Lucas, Maro Baget. C: Mathet (2). P: Mathet (2). (July 20, 2002, Wellington).

SA Academy XV 21 T: Ettienne Duvenhage, Shagon Windvogel. C: Andries Strauss. P: Strauss (3). Wales U19 20 T: Gavin Evans, Steve Ireland, Richard Fussell. C: Lee Jones. DG: Matthew Jones. (August 10, 2002, Absa Stadium, Durban).

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Saturday, November 17 2018
19:20 - Scotland vs South Africa
Murrayfield, Edinburgh
Saturday, November 24 2018
19:20 - Wales vs South Africa
Principality Stadium, Cardiff

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