South Africa Rugby Championship Squad


South Africa Rugby Championship Squad

Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has named his 35-man squad for the upcoming 2018 Rugby Championship. A plethora of Test regulars return to the South Africa side after having not featured in their 2-1 series win over England in the summer.

The Lions quartet of Malcolm Marx, Warren Whiteley, Ross Cronje and Lionel Mapoe all come back into the squad for the first time this year. Bath forward Francois Louw, Lwazi Mvovo and the man mountain Eben Etzebeth also return to the squad.

Erasmus said: “Eben and Warren have been out of the Bok mix for a while because of injury so it’s very pleasing to have them back in the squad, while Malcolm has regained his good form with the Lions since recovering from his injury.”

In relation to Etzebeth, he said: “He has trained with us since the Stormers had their bye before their last (Super Rugby) match,” Erasmus said.

“He has done every single physical thing. He is functionally up there and definitely one of the fittest guys in the squad, that I can promise you, just by looking at his stats and the way he has trained.”

There are also several young players selected in the squad, including Damian Willemse, Marco Van Staden and Cyle Brink.

“It is also pleasing to again add some young players who been showing good form and consistency for their franchise teams during Super Rugby,” Erasmus added.

South Africa Rugby Championship Squad

2018 Rugby Championship Squad

Forwards: Cyle Brink, Jean-Luc du Preez, Thomas du Toit, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Steven Kitshoff, Siya Kolisi (captain), Francois Louw, Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi, Franco Mostert, Tendai Mtawarira, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Marvin Orie, RG Snyman, Akker van der Merwe, Marco van Staden, Warren Whiteley

Backs: Lukhanyo Am, Ross Cronjé, Faf de Klerk, Aphiwe Dyantyi, André Esterhuizen, Elton Jantjies, Jesse Kriel, Willie le Roux, Makazole Mapimpi, Lionel Mapoe, Lwazi Mvovo, Embrose Papier, Handré Pollard, Ivan van Zyl, Damian Willemse

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Rugby giant Siya Kolisi wins July vote for sports brilliance


Siya Kolisi has won the July Laureus Sporting Moment of the month competition after a vote by thousands of sports fans around the world.

Kolisi‚ who comes from Zwide township in Port Elizabeth‚ was named SA’s first black Springbok Test captain by coach Rassie Erasmus ahead of the 2-1 series win over England in June.

In his first match as Bok captain‚ Kolisi led the Boks to victory over England at Ellis Park, where he donned the iconic No6 jersey worn by former president Nelson Mandela after the Springboks won the 1995 Rugby World Cup Final at Ellis Park.

For the Laureus Sporting Moment of the Year, he joins ski-jumping legends Sven Hannawald and Kamil Stoch; rugby player Doddie Weir; Rochdale football star Joe Thompson; and double-amputee Xia Boyu, who climbed Mount Everest.

Every month from March to December the public select their favourite moment from a shortlist of four videos‚ chosen by the sporting legends of the Laureus World Sports Academy.

Monthly winners then go head to head in a final public vote, with the winner being announced at the 2019 Laureus Awards ceremony.

Tackle height in rugby union to be lowered in Championship Cup trial


The height of a legal tackle in rugby union will be lowered next season in a significant trial designed to make the game safer.

The Rugby Football Union’s second-tier Championship Cup competition will be played under new laws, with the height of a legal tackle below the armpits rather than the line of the shoulders.

It comes after the latest English rugby injury audit revealed a rise in injuries and concussion in the professional game.

It is understood there had been a plan to have the whole of the Championship season played under the new guidelines, but that was not approved by the clubs.

“We believe lowering the height of the tackle will benefit both the ball carrier and the tackler,” RFU professional rugby director Nigel Melville said.

“The Championship Cup provides an opportunity for us to assess the impact of lowering the height of the tackle on the elite adult game.

“It will be a critical part of helping us develop game-wide approaches to concussion and injury reduction.”

Governing body World Rugby has already started a similar trial, with the height of the tackle in the World Rugby Under-20 Trophy moved from “the line of the shoulders to below the nipple line”.

“We applaud the RFU and the Championship Cup clubs for embracing this important trial,” chairman and former England captain Bill Beaumont said.

“The global game is committed to an evidence-based approach to injury prevention. The outcomes from this trial will provide comprehensive data and feedback to inform our continued commitment to further reducing concussion risk in rugby.”

In March, English rugby chiefs produced an eight-point action plan after the annual injury report revealed “significant challenges” for player welfare.

This trial, the first of its kind in the UK, is therefore a response to growing concern about the dangers of rugby union, especially regarding brain injuries and concussion.

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Despite their shared origins, people rarely care about football and rugby simultaneously.  Yeah, both sports involve tackling for possession of an oblong ball, occasionally kicking it through some posts, and even the fields look similar.  Indeed, it’s less the minute differences that pull supporters from one sport to the other, but often their point of exposure.  American football is huge in the USA, while rugby is still seen as mostly a strange deviant from across the pond, but with raised awareness about the dangers of concussions, there has been a steady drop in football participation.

Players are looking for alternatives. Rugby might seem like a bad place to look, but plenty of people consider it a safer sport.

We answer the question down below IS RUGBY REALLY SAFER THAN FOOTBALL ?

Differing Tackling Approaches

The rising concussion crisis in the NFL has received plenty of media coverage, as has the impact football has on even high school athletes.  Professional players can generate 1,600 pounds of force in a tackle, much more than needed to cause a concussion. Football players achieve that sort of force through mostly athleticism, of course, but some of it comes down to their tackling approaches.  They are able to throw their entire body into the tackle, since they feel more secure because of their padding.

Additionally, in football, every yard is crucial.  That means that in football tackling, it’s imperative to stop the offense immediately, so they aim higher in their tackling in order to halt  all forward momentum.  It’s exactly this sort of sudden stopping that causes concussions.

Rugby tackling, however, has evolved to protect padless and helmetless players.  Several football teams have trained on how to rugby tackle, which focuses on low, shoulder-lead impact.  However, rugby tackles are controlled; players are never throwing their entire body into the tackle, so they’ll never achieve that same level of force as takedowns during football games.

Preparation for Contact

In rugby, you can only pass the ball backwards or parallel, never forward.  This means that rugby players are running up to the ball and seeing defenders coming at them.  They can prepare for contact, and rugby players are often taught how to fall correctly.  Hitting the ground in the right position is not only important for players’ health, but to give their team the best ball placement as well.

Football, however, is a different story.  Forward passes are encouraged, so this results in players looking behind them for the ball seconds before being mowed down.  They can also be tackled while still in the air, which would be illegal in rugby.  Although football players have more padding to protect the rest of their body from the tackle, they have no time to evaluate how they will take the blow.

Rugby Is Far From Perfect

Don’t run over to your local rugby little league just yet.  While rugby does have many safety advantages over football, it also has its own problems.  One of the major features of rugby is the scrum, a mass of opposing bodies that half of the players from each team participate in.  It involves locking your shoulders with your teammates and pushing against your opponents.  While the scum is highly regulated, that doesn’t completely prevent injuries.  If football’s problem is concussions, rugby’s is spinal injuries, frequently as a result of improper scrum.

Every contact sport is going to have significant risk.  Making the decision between football and rugby specifically will be obvious for some, and more of a toss up for others.  Ultimately, rugby has a better record of teaching players good habits to minimize their risk, but it is also not nearly as available or popular as football is in the United States. Colleges generate multi million dollar profits from their football programs; the NFL’s annual revenue could pay for 10 Pluto missions.  Despite safety concerns, football is not going anywhere.  You likely will have more opportunity to play football or find leagues that you would with rugby.

Whichever sport you choose for yourself or for your child, make sure you have the proper safety equipment.  Both sports mandate a mouthguard, that is non-negotiable.  Rugby’s only other safety equipment is a scrum cap, a thin cap worn by certain members of the scrum to prevent cauliflower ear.  Football players’ padding is much more extensive, but it is absolutely necessary if they intend to play the sport to its full potential.

Although  both sports necessitate some safety equipment, that’s not enough of a reason to throw them out entirely.  You need to be made aware of the risks, prepare for them yourself, then make your own decision.

Siya Kolisi’s journey from township to Test star

New South Africa captain Siya Kolisi had a tough upbringing but wants to inspire others to succeed

When he was young, Siya Kolisi’s favourite toy was a brick. His friends had toy cars but he would have as much fun, if not more, pushing his brick around in the Zwide township of Port Elizabeth (PE). These days he travels the world pushing in scrums but he never envisioned earning his living playing sport.

“I loved playing with that brick,” says the 26-year-old South Africa flanker. “I just enjoyed life when I was young and wanted to be happy with the things I had. I never dreamed of being a rugby player. All I wanted was to have a good life and make a good life for my family.”

Reflecting on his childhood, Kolisi insists he was given the most important things in life, “love and support”. He also uses the word “tough” frequently yet admits he didn’t realise it was so hard at the time; it was simply all he knew.

He was raised by his paternal grandmother and would wake not knowing if he would eat that day. He would go to school because he would get a meal there but had to stop attending when he was ten to look after his sick grandmother, who then died in his arms. Many of his friends fell into smoking and drinking.

“There weren’t a lot of people to look up to so you had to be strong,” he says. “Rugby was my way out.”

Siya Kolisi’s journey from township to Test star

CARDIFF, WALES – DECEMBER 02: Wales scrum half Aled Davies (l) and Rob Evans chase Springboks player Siya Kolisi during the International between Wales and South Africa at at Principality Stadium on December 2, 2017 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

He first tried the sport aged seven. Most of his family played so it was natural that he would sign up for his local club in the township, African Bombers. Five years later his talent was spotted and he was offered a scholarship to Grey Junior School in PE and latterly the high school.

He “didn’t speak a word of English” when he first arrived but did a language exchange with one of his classmates, Nicholas Holton teaching him English and Kolisi teaching Holton Xhosa. The two are still firm friends – Kolisi’s son is named after him and Holton was best man at his wedding.

From school, Kolisi progressed through the rugby ranks to Western Province and then the Stormers before making his international debut against Scotland in 2013. He was named vice-captain for the Springboks last year by Allister Coetzee and was one of his country’s standout performers in what was a poor season.

Related: 100 best players in the world

He is acutely aware of how much his life has changed, saying: “My first goal was to get a meal at the end of the day. Now I set much higher goals. I want to be one of the best players in the Springbok team and one of the best players in the world.”

The back-rower’s ambitions don’t end on the field; he relishes his role-model status and wants to inspire others. While some sportsmen can feel burdened by the responsibility of setting an example, Kolisi embraces it.


“I don’t see rugby as a job – I love doing what I do and I want to inspire as many people as I can, especially those from the same background as me. It’s not about the pay cheque; I want to help people as much as I can. That’s why I’ve organised a new changing room at African Bombers. I like giving back. That’s my purpose in life and I use rugby as a platform.

“It’s vital people are an example for younger kids, show them how you can make it in South Africa so they don’t have to look elsewhere for role models, to America or other countries. No matter where you come from, if you put hard work in you can achieve.

“Kids in South Africa hopefully see people like me make it and give back to less fortunate people. I hope people get opportunities and I hope they don’t forget where they came from and give back. We should all work together.”

Kolisi, though, does not necessarily want children to follow his own route to sporting stardom. Rather than have to leave townships to get access to a better education, high-end coaches and so on, he would like to see that provided in those areas, to give opportunities to less fortunate children where they live and where their families are.

“If you take all those guys out of townships, who will kids look up to?” he asks, his reasoning spot-on.

Siya Kolisi’s journey from township to Test star

Stormers flanker Siya Kolisi (C) celebrates after scoring a try during the Super Rugby Super XV match between Stormers (South Africa) and Jaguares (Argentina) at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town on February 17, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / RODGER BOSCH (Photo credit should read RODGER BOSCH/AFP/Getty Images)

He returns to Zwide when he can and it is on one such visit that he found his half-siblings. His mother died when he was 16 and his half-brother Liyema and half-sister Liphelo moved in with their dad. When he passed away they were taken in by social workers.

Kolisi spent seven years trying to find them and on one visit to the township with Holton in 2014 he was pointed to where they were staying. The reunion was emotional but he was clear in his desire to make them part of his family with wife Rachel and son Nicholas. He has now adopted them and they all live in Cape Town, with their newborn daughter expanding the family further.

Being in conversation with Kolisi not only makes you wish more sportsmen used their profile for greater things but also forces you to question your own life and achievements. How can you better yourself? So it seems fitting to end with a piece of advice from the man who has done so much in his 26 years and will no doubt do more with the rest of his life.

“The most important thing is to work hard. I was running on talent for a while and those who worked harder than me were catching up and getting past me. No matter how talented you are, you still have to work hard.”

This article originally appeared in the February 2018 edition of Rugby World magazine. Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.