European Rugby round-up: Manoa joins Cardiff, Fainga'a to Connacht, Morgan links with Ospreys

Alex Broun 17/07/2018
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Samu Manoa in action for the USA Eagles

With the kick-off of the northen hemisphere season just six weeks away we look at the latest signings…

Cardiff Blues sign powerhouse USA back-row forward Samu Manoa from Toulon

The 33-year-old loose forward bolsters Cardiff’s ranks again, following the acquisitions of Dmitri Arhip and Jason Harries.

Manoa made his name with four seasons at Northampton, before switching to French giants Toulon in 2015.

New Blues head coach John Mulvihill expects Manoa’s arrival to ease the ball-carrying burden on fellow bruising back-rower Nick Williams.

“This is another significant signal of intent as we build towards the new season and a return to the European Champions Cup,” said Mulvihill.

“Samu is a big, physical man, who will compete with Nick Williams for the number eight jersey and bring an abundance of experience to our pack.

“I’m really looking forward to the next chapter and getting stuck in at Cardiff Blues,” said Manoa.

“They had a great season last year, winning the European Challenge Cup and sealing a return to the Champions Cup, so it is a great time to join.

“I have spoken to both John and Blaine (Scully, former Cardiff Blues player) at length, and have heard nothing but good things about the set-up at Cardiff Blues, the city itself and the region.”

Connacht secure signing of back row Colby Fainga’a from the Melbourne Rebels

The 27-year-old made his Super Rugby debut playing for the Brumbies when Andy Friend, now Head Coach at Connacht, was their Head Coach in 2010 and went on to play every game for the club in the 2011 season.

In 2014 Fainga’a joined the Rebels and in his first season was awarded the highest honour in the club when he was named the Players’ Player of the year.

The versatile back row has gone on to make 100 Super Rugby appearances, the latest coming in the Rebels clash with the Reds last weekend.

At international level, Fainga’a captained the Australian Under 20s side in 2011 and made 7 appearances that season.

“When I was Head Coach at the Brumbies, Colby signed his first professional contract with the club, so I have an in-depth knowledge of the qualities he brings,” said Friend.

“With 100 Super Rugby appearances under his belt, Colby brings massive experience. In addition to his versatility on the field he has a fantastic attitude off it and will be a big addition to Connacht in the seasons ahead.”

Wales Sevens star Luke Morgan to link up with Ospreys after RWC Sevens

The 26-year-old from Bridgend is Wales’ leading try- and points – scorer of all time in Sevens, and ended the 2017/18 World Rugby Sevens Series second in most tries scored (44) – with only the USA’s Carlin Isles touching down on more occasions (49) across the campaign.

Morgan, who came through the development pathway at the Ospreys and played one senior game for his home region as a teenager, follows former Wales Sevens teammate Sam Cross, who joined the Liberty Stadium based region last pre-season, with Cross’ move being made permanent in March.

Head coach Gareth Williams says the agreement with Ospreys is another example of the good relationship between the sevens programme and regional rugby, and how sevens aids player development as a part of the pathway.

“This is a great opportunity for Luke following his achievements on the World Series,” says Williams. “It’s another good example of what the programme can achieve in bringing players through during those formative years post-Academy.

Centre Dries Swanepoel joins the Cheetahs on a two year contract

In the same way as Grey College school mates and Cheetah stalwarts, Francois Venter and William Small-Smith, Swanepoel joined the Blue Bulls after matric. He played for their U19 team in 2012.

He received a call-up to the SA U20 side for the 2013 IRB Junior World Championship and scored five tries in 14 appearances for the Blue Bulls U21 side.

He made his Currie Cup debut for the Blue Bulls in 2014 and represented the side in their Vodacom Cup, Currie Cup and Super Rugby campaigns.

The former Grey College pupil represented the Free State at the 2009 Grant Khomo Week and at the Coca-Cola Cravenweek for U18’s in 2011, and was vice-captain of the SA School’s side that same year. He played for UP Tuks during the 2014 Vasity Cup scoring six tries in six starts.

Swanepoel had a small taste of the PRO14 when he joined Munster in April this year on a short term loan as cover for injuries at the Irish club.

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Zambia one step closer to Rugby Africa Gold Cup qualification after edging out Madagascar

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Zanbia have defeated Madagascar 31-29 to win the south section of the Rugby Africa Silver Cup.

Zambia has moved one step closer to Gold Cup qualification after beating Madagascar 31-29 at Mufulira Rugby Club on Saturday and clinching the Silver Cup south section.

Both Zambia and Madagascar came into the contest with a win each after beating Botswana.

The hosts were under pressure from the Islanders who had a better scoreline against Botswana, a situation which was evident to all local rugby fanatics in Mufulira, whose expectations were sky high.

Madagscar’s try scorers were Saidi Rakotoarimanana and Michael Raharijaona, who also added two conversions, three penalties and two drop goals.

The hosts scored tries via Bruce Saimbunji, Rodgers Mukupa and Edward Mumba.

Laston Mukosa kicked a conversion and two penalties, while Dean Zulu also notched up a conversion and two penalties.

Zambia will now go on to meet Algeria, the winner of the Silver Cup north section, to decide who qualifies for the Gold Cup next year.

“We shall ensure that the technical bench hits the ground running as we prepare for the game against Algeria at a venue to be announced,” said the Zambia Rugby Union president Gen Clement Sinkamba.

“We played and lost our first game against Algeria in November 2017, so the coaches will start assessing areas of concern before the team is recalled for residential camp.”

Prior to the Silver Cup south section finale, Zambia Women played Zimbabwe in an International friendly dubbed “Battle of the Zambezi” by local rugby enthusiasts.

Zambia scored a try by captain Shirley Mwami which was converted by Rennie Sunzu Wilima. Their neighbours Zimbabwe scored a penalty by Precious Marange.

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All Blacks boost Rugby World Cup hopes as Ardie Savea and Jordie Barrett re-sign till end of 2019

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Ardie Savea has re-signed with the All Blacks to the end of 2019

The All Blacks have been given a boost leading up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup with loose forward Ardie Savea and  utility back Jordie Barrett re-signing for the New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and Hurricanes.

24-year-old Savea and 21-year-old Barrett have recommitted through to the end of the 2019 season.

25-Test Savea made his Super Rugby debut for the Hurricanes in 2013 and All Blacks Test debut in 2016, while Barrett made his Super and Test debut in 2017. The youngest Barrett brother has played five Tests.

“Wellington is my home town and it’s great I can stay here and contribute as much as I can for the Hurricanes,” Savea said.

“Also, we all know how important next year is for the All Blacks with the Rugby World Cup in Japan and I really want to be a part of that campaign.”

“I’m really enjoying my rugby at the moment after missing the back end of last season,” added Barrett.

“Hopefully I can play my part in helping the Hurricanes go as far as we can this season and next, and if my form warrants it, I can also be involved in the All Blacks.”

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen greeted the news saying: “It’s great to have two young players recommitting to New Zealand Rugby and their Super club.

“Ardie and Jordie are both incredibly talented footballers in their own right, have been outstanding in our environment and done the jersey proud and we look forward to working with both of them.”

John Plumtree, who will take over as Head Coach of the Hurricanes in 2019, was delighted to have Barrett and Savea commit to the club for another year.

“It goes without saying that they are both world-class players,” he said.

“Ardie has become an important leader within the squad, even though he’s still quite young, while Jordie has quickly established himself as one of the best and most versatile players in the competition.

“They really want to stay at the Hurricanes and build on what we are doing so I really look forward to working alongside them to do that.”

Mini-Bios

Ardie Savea

Ardie Savea

Ardie Savea has continued to go from strength to strength in the All Blacks, playing 10 Tests in 2017, and all three Tests in the recent France Series. Savea burst onto the national scene in 2012 at just 18 years old when he made his provincial debut for Wellington. He impressed many with a series of electric performances at openside flanker and No. 8 and is blessed with speed and athleticism, while his ability to stay alive in the tackle is second to none. Savea made his Super debut in 2013, then played for New Zealand Under 20 and later that year toured with the All Blacks on their year-end tour as a non-playing apprentice. He finished the year winning the New Zealand Age Grade award. His leadership potential had been apparent for some time – he was head boy at Rongotai College, captained his First XV side, the New Zealand Schools side, and his Wellington provincial side.

Jordie Barrett in action against France

Jordie Barrett in action against France

Jordie Barrett

Born into a rugby-mad family, Jordie Barrett can play fullback, first-five or in the midfield and is a handy goal kicker. Jordie has been tagged for big things since his days at New Plymouth’s Francis Douglas Memorial College. A talented fast bowler in cricket, Barrett chose rugby and headed down south to Lincoln University to study commerce. In 2016, after just one season of Mitre 10 Cup rugby, he toured as an apprentice with the All Blacks to the Northern Hemisphere. In 2017 he made his Hurricanes debut, scoring 135 points including seven tries, in the Super season.  He made his All Blacks Test debut against Samoa and scored a try in the drawn Series decider against the British & Irish Lions. His outstanding season was cut short by a shoulder injury but he has returned in 2018 in sparkling form.

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