Tag Archives: province

Bryan Habana joins Toulon

Habana joins Jonny and Co at Toulon as South Africa star pens three-year deal with French side

By
Chris Foy

PUBLISHED:

13:54 GMT, 11 January 2013

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UPDATED:

14:01 GMT, 11 January 2013

Bryan Habana's move to Toulon has been confirmed with the World Cup-winning Springbok wing joining a host of other Galacticos on the Cote d'Azur, on a three-year deal.

The 29-year-old, who has amassed 83 caps, has scored 47 Test tries along the way in establishing himself as one of the most prolific finishers in the world game.

He was named the IRB Player of the Year in 2007, after being at the forefront of the Boks' successful World Cup campaign in France.

Catch me if you can: The South Africa star has joined Toulon on a three-year deal

Catch me if you can: The South Africa star has joined Toulon on a three-year deal

His career has taken him from the Pretoria-based Blue Bulls to Cape Town, where he has played for Western Province and the Stormers in Super Rugby.

Now, after years of being linked with a lucrative move to Europe, he has agreed to add his name to the stellar cast list at Toulon, alongside the likes of Jonny Wilkinson, Matt Giteau, Carl Hayman and Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe.

Here's Jonny: Wilkinson will be joined by Habana at Toulon

Here's Jonny: Wilkinson will be joined by Habana at Toulon

'I would like to thank everyone at Western Province for their support throughout my stay in Cape Town,' Habana said.

'I've had three great seasons in the Cape thus far, and I am looking forward to finishing off on a high before taking on a new challenge overseas.'

In the past, such a move would have removed a player from contention to be picked for South Africa, but that restrictive practice has been relaxed, which leaves the path clear for Habana to aim for a century of international appearances.

'Playing for the Boks is a huge part of my life and I would never turn
my back on my country,' he added.

'I will never stop giving 100 per cent on the field for any team I play for, and
if the Springbok coach picks me, I will be there. It's a wrench to
leave my home, even if only for a short while, but the chance to test
myself against different opposition in a new environment was difficult
to turn down.'

What Toulon will have at their disposal is a player renowned for his blistering pace, having reportedly clocked a time of 10.2 seconds for the 100metres. Such was the fixation with his raw speed that Habana was once pitted against a cheetah in a race.

Having made his Test debut against England at Twickenham in 2004, he soon established himself as a lethal try-scorer and equalled Jonah Lomu's World Cup record tally of eight at the 2007 tournament.

Four years later, he broke the South African record for international tries when he struck against Namibia in a pool match.

Toulon coach Bernard Laporte was in charge of France during the 2007 World Cup and he has made a strong push to recruit the Springboks who evidently caught his attention during that event across the Channel.

In addition to the previous signing of Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw is due to arrive at the club shortly, when he has finished his final season in Japan, while ex-Bok skipper John Smit has agreed to join Toulon from Saracens at the end of this season.

England set to face Eben Etzebeth after lock cleared of gouging offence

England set to face Enforcer Etzebeth after lock cleared of gouging offence

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UPDATED:

23:16 GMT, 21 November 2012


The new Enforcer: Eben Etzebeth

The new Enforcer: Eben Etzebeth

South Africa are banking on Eben Etzebeth, dubbed the 'enforcer' by head coach Heyneke Meyer, to maintain his dominance against England on Saturday.

The 6ft 8in lock was cleared to play at Twickenham after a four-hour hearing found him not guilty of an eye gouging offence against Scotland last Saturday.

Meyer emphasised the importance of the 21-year-old, who is looked upon as a replacement for World Cup winner Bakkies Botha, when he announced the same team that beat Scotland.

‘It’s great to have him back,’ Meyer said after Etzebeth missed training on Tuesday to plead successfully that any contact with the eye area of Scotland fly half Greig Laidlaw had been an accident.

Meyer claimed Etzebeth had become one of the world’s best locks in a very short period of time, having only made his debut this June in the series against England. So far on this tour, in games against Ireland and Scotland, he has not lost a line-out.

The eyes have it: Etzebeth clashes with Ireland lock Donnacha Ryan

The eyes have it: Etzebeth clashes with Ireland lock Donnacha Ryan

‘He’s really grown as an individual and is one of the enforcers in the team. He’s a physical guy and he brings a physical element to the pack even though he is a youngster,’ Meyer explained.

Meyer quashed talk among Springbok fans that the Etzebeth case had been some kind of conspiracy to upset his team, because the citing officer had been an Englishman, Alan Mansell.

‘The guy was just doing his job,’ Meyer said. ‘We were happy to go there to prove he (Etzebeth) was not guilty.'

South Africa team v England

Kirchner (Blue Bulls); Pietersen (Sharks), de Jongh (Western Province), de Villiers (Western Province, capt), Hougaard (Blue Bulls); Lambie (Sharks), Pienaar (Ulster); Steenkamp (Toulouse), Strauss (Free State), du Plessis (Sharks), Etzebeth (Western Province), Kruger (Blue Bulls), Louw (Bath), Alberts (Sharks), Vermeulen (Western Province).

Subs: Brits (Saracens), H van der Merwe (Leinster), Cilliers (Western Province), F van der Merwe (Blue Bulls), Coetzee (Sharks), Jantjies (Golden Lions), Taute (Golden Lions), Mvovo (Sharks).

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales).

Meyer said he had eased back on training this week because some of his players had looked jaded after a long season.

‘This last game is going to be a very tough game. But, having said that, I want these guys to really dig deep to have one more great performance out of them.

‘But I have to say that I am worried. I can see the guys mentally that it has been a long season. But these guys are warriors and really want to play for their country.’

South Africa have one injury doubt in wing JP Pietersen. He suffered a hamstring strain in the 21-10 win over Scotland and has been given until Friday to prove his fitness.

Rob Kearney named European Player of the Year after Leinster heroics

Kearney lands European Player of the Year award after Leinster's Heineken heroics

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UPDATED:

17:53 GMT, 21 May 2012

Leinster full-back Rob Kearney has been named the European Player of the Year after his outstanding contribution to the Irish province's latest Heineken Cup triumph.

The 26-year-old Ireland international started all nine of Leinster's games as they became the first side to retain the trophy thanks to their crushing 42-14 final victory over Ulster at Twickenham on Saturday.

Just champion: Rob Kearney (left) won the Heineken Cup with Leinster again

Just champion: Rob Kearney (left) won the Heineken Cup with Leinster again

Kearney scored six tries in total during the campaign, and proved the matchwinner in the semi-final win over Clermont Auvergne by setting up Cian Healy's try and slotting a monster drop goal.

He succeeds team-mate Sean O'Brien as the winner of the award.

Kearney said: 'This is a massively proud moment for me. To be recognised for your performances throughout the season is a dream come true especially when it's in a European context.

Flying form: Kearney attacks Ulster during Saturday's final at Twickenham

Flying form: Kearney attacks Ulster during Saturday's final at Twickenham

'While I'm delighted with the recognition, an individual player is powerless without the support of his teammates. So I owe this award to the Leinster squad, to the management and to the all staff at the club.'

Kearney and his team-mates will look to complete the double when they face the Ospreys in Sunday's RaboDirect Pro12 final.

Brian O"Driscoll"s Leinster can have a big impact for British Lions

Lions of Leinster: O'Driscoll's heroes chase double… and glory Down Under

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UPDATED:

22:08 GMT, 20 May 2012

Now that Brian O’Driscoll and his Leinster team-mates have sealed their status as the greatest force in the history of European club rugby, a maiden double is in their sights, then next summer they are poised to have a suitably major impact with the Lions.

On Saturday evening, a record Heineken Cup final crowd of 81,744 at Twickenham witnessed a showcase of the Irish province’s unparalleled brilliance in attack and defence. Poor Ulster were eventually torn apart as Joe Schmidt’s side scored five tries to claim the top continental title for a third time in four years, in brutally clinical fashion.

The Dublin-based team now stand second behind Toulouse in the pantheon of European success, but the manner and consistency of their era of dominance since 2009 — capped by this record-breaking final flourish — has lifted Leinster on to a new plateau, above even the French giants.

Hooker, line and sinker: Sean Cronin scores final try

Hooker, line and sinker: Sean Cronin scores final try

The top table; Leinster lift the Heineken Cup trophy at Twickenham

The top table; Leinster lift the Heineken Cup trophy at Twickenham

CALL TO ALTER HEINEKEN RULES

English and French clubs are expected to call on ERC, the organisers of the Heineken Cup, to reform qualification for the tournament.

They want eight clubs from each of the Aviva Premiership, France’s Top 14 and the RaboDirect Pro12 leagues to be eligible. At present nearly all Pro12 teams are guaranteed a Cup place — with 11 of 12 due to take part next season. In contrast, clubs from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14 face a fierce battle to win a place in the elite event.

However, any change in the qualification rules will require a unanimous vote.

On Sunday, they will face Ospreys in the final of the RaboDirect Pro12 League, at their home ground, and it will take a herculean effort by the Welsh visitors to halt this runaway juggernaut.

Flanker Sean O’Brien scored Leinster’s first try against Ulster and his power-carrying, ball-poaching routine earned the man-of-the-match award. Fitness permitting, he will undoubtedly be in the Lions squad for next summer’s tour to Australia, as will the electric full back, Rob Kearney, fly-half Jonathan Sexton, No 8 Jamie Heaslip and probably props Cian Healy and Mike Ross, too.

Yet, Schmidt himself has emerged as a contender to join a coaching team to be led by his fellow Kiwi, Warren Gatland. Having played a big part in French title success at Clermont Auvergne, he has transformed Leinster into champions of swashbuckling style along with formidable substance.

Yes we Cian: Leinster's Cian Healy scores his side's second try

Yes we Cian: Leinster's Cian Healy scores his side's second try

In addition, on this evidence, the icon of the Leinster clan will be going to Australia with the Lions again, if he is in one piece.

O’Driscoll had returned from knee surgery, but having recently stated his refusal to consider retirement just yet, at the age of 33 he produced a majestic performance at Twickenham. It was the veteran centre’s swerving break and sublime back-hand off-load which sent O’Brien clear to pave the way for Healy to touch down in the first half.

Hand of BOD: Leinster's Brian O'Driscoll offloads the ball

Hand of BOD: Leinster's Brian O'Driscoll offloads the ball

Asked what keeps him going, O’Driscoll said simply: ‘It’s medals . . . and trophies. It’s about being selfish and wanting more now. It’s a great feeling to have won three in four.

‘You play things through in your head so many times and you try not to think of the outcome but it is hard and there is a huge sense of relief when you do manage to win. Thankfully we managed to do it quite convincingly, more than the other two finals we were involved in. The pleasure of being involved with this group of players is that I know how hungry they are and I know how they will push one another.’

Passion: Ulster fans enjoyed their day out at Twickenham

Passion: Ulster fans enjoyed their day out at Twickenham

Ulster had plenty of attacking possession and were in touch into the final quarter courtesy of Dan Tuohy’s try, not long after referee Nigel Owens had awarded a penalty try to Leinster when a rumbling maul was illegally collapsed by their opponents.

But Schmidt’s men found another gear and finished with a flourish as front-row replacements Heinke van der Merwe and Sean Cronin went over in quick succession. For his province, this had been another red-letter day, but O’Driscoll could also see positive implications for Ireland, ahead of their three-Test tour of New Zealand.

Try time: Sean O'Brien of Leinster celebrates his side's first try

Try time: Sean O'Brien of Leinster celebrates his side's first try

On the charge: Ulster's Paddy Wallace tries to break through

On the charge: Ulster's Paddy Wallace tries to break through

‘We have to look to the fact that we had two provinces in the Heineken Cup final and use that confidence in the best possible way for the tour,’ he said.

‘We are fortunate that we have another game to think about this weekend but as soon as we get into camp we will switch on to the job of going there and trying to attain that first Test victory against the All Blacks.’

Ulster’s pride was dented by the result but they vowed to be better for the harsh experience, with outgoing coach Brian McLaughlin saying: ‘We have to learn from this and make sure days like this are the norm, not the exception.’

Last ditch: Ulster's Stephen Ferris makes a tackles on Leinster's Isa Nacewa

Last ditch: Ulster's Stephen Ferris makes a tackles on Leinster's Isa Nacewa