South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus has named a strong 26-man squad for the Springboks‘ latest training camp as they continue their preparations for the forthcoming international season.
Frans Steyn, Cobus Reinach, Marcell Coetzee and Rynardt Elstadt have been included in the squad that gathered in Pretoria on Sunday.
There are a handful of English-based players in the group, with Vincent Koch (Saracens), Franco Mostert (Gloucester), Faf De Klerk (Sale Sharks) and Cobus Reinach (Northampton Saints) all selected by Erasmus.
Players from the Bulls and Sharks who took part in the weekend’s Super Rugby quarter-final matches will join the camp in the coming days.
The Springboks kick off their shortened Rugby Championship campaign on July 20 against the Wallabies in Johannesburg facing New Zealand in Wellington a week later.
The Boks conclude the championship against Argentina on August 10 in Salta, while the two teams will meet again a week later in Pretoria in a one-off Test before South Africa report for Rugby World Cup training.
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The UAE will take on Thailand for the right to earn a spot back in Division I of the Asia Rugby Championship on Saturday after dishing out a gargantuan 82-7 pasting to minnows Guam on Wednesday.
Apollo Perelini’s side sauntered to a huge win in Hua Hin – a refreshing return to international action having missed out on the ARC last year due to an internal decision.
The UAE, ranked 70th in World Rugby’s hierarchy, a place below Guam (69th), made light work of their opponents, with Dubai Exiles No8 Jaen Botes and Dubai Hurricanes centre Sakiusa Naisau both crossing for hat-tricks.
It was a tight first 40 minutes saw the UAE taking a slender 19-7 lead into the break thanks to two tries from Botes, with Brian Ramiro dotting down for Guam’s only score of the match.
In the second half the UAE ran away with the match, scoring nine converted tries with Botes and Naisau both securing hat-tricks. Kinivilame Natuna also crossed for two tries while there was one each for Exiles duo Ed Armitage and Matt Mills, as well as Jebel Ali Dragons’ full-back Matt Richards and a score on his record-extending 26th UAE cap for the recalled and out of retirement Chris Jones-Griffiths.
Hosts Thailand beat Kazakhstan 38-20 in the second game of the day to set up a final with the UAE.
The winner of the match will gain promotion to Division I, taking a step closer to the top echelon of rugby in Asia, as well as also taking a step towards the – however unlikely – Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification process.
Thailand responded to the UAE result with an impressive win of their own against Kazakhstan.
Despite conceding the first try to Stanislav Paceyev, tries from Wuttikorn Kaewkhiao, Kin Laksanasompong (2) and Pooreepong Wachirabunjong gave them a 28-10 lead at the break.
Kazakhstan hit back with three tries of their own from Daulet Akymbekov, Abdrakhman Nazhibayev and Dastan Suleimenov to make things interesting, but a fifth Thailand try from Panupong Puangpun secured a 38-20 win for the hosts.
The win will impact Thailand’s World Rugby rankings with Kazakhstan sitting 14 places above them in 62nd before the match.
12:30 Guam v Kazakhstan
14:15 UAE v Thailand
British and Irish Lions fly-half Sexton came under fire in some quarters following an expletive-laden rant when departing the field late on during Ireland’s sluggish 26-16 Guinness Six Nations win in Italy.
Kearney and Sexton have linked up with Leinster and Ireland for the bulk of their careers, and the 32-year-old full-back defended his playmaker team-mate.
Sexton is famed for his frank approach with colleagues, and Kearney is adamant Ireland would not change the world player of the year.
“That’s Johnny, isn’t it? We’re a little bit used to it,” said Kearney of Sexton.
“We all get frustrated and we all show our frustration in different ways.
“I’ve played with Johnny for 15-odd years so I’m the wrong person to ask.”
When quizzed on how often he would cop a harsh word from the demanding Sexton, Kearney replied: “Weekly. Johnny understands the game very well and is very clear in how he wants to play it.
“That’s his way of communicating it.”
Ireland’s defence of their 2018 Six Nations title and Grand Slam faltered from the start, with their 32-20 Dublin loss to England a wake-up call after a stellar 12 months.
Patchy victories in Scotland and against Italy in Rome have followed, leading to head coach Schmidt to admit Sexton and scrum-half Conor Murray have been angry and frustrated with their form.
Ireland host France on Sunday, itching to kick-start a calendar year that culminates with the autumn’s World Cup in Japan.
Schmidt’s men may have to do without Robbie Henshaw this weekend though, with the Leinster star a doubt, having failed to recover from a dead leg.
Ireland took the unusual step of delaying confirmation of their wider squad for their Les Bleus encounter until Wednesday morning.
Henshaw has not featured since that opening-round England defeat, where he was deployed at full-back for just the second time in his Test career.
Fly-half Joey Carbery is still inching back to full fitness after hamstring trouble, while flanker Dan Leavy continues to nurse an ankle problem.
“Robbie Henshaw is improving more slowly than hoped and he will continue his rehab this week,” the Irish Rugby Football Union (RFU) confirmed in a statement.
“Joey Carbery is progressing well through his hamstring rehab and will be managed across the early part of the week.
“Andrew Conway has fully recovered from cramp suffered post the Italy game.
“Dan Leavy will continue to increase his running volume outside of team training in the early part of this week.
“The Ireland squad for round four of the championship will be confirmed tomorrow morning.”
Provided by Press Associations Sport