Source: DRB

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South Africa

The Boks are to visit Europe to play a series of matches in preparation for the Africa Cup, which acts as a qualifier for the RWC in 2025. Louis Koen has announced a squad of 32 to undertake the tour.

Their schedule:

Depart 7 March
Two training sessions with Scotland and Wales before a test match v Spain in Valladolid on 23 March.

Finally (no precise date or location yet offered): test v USA in London

Return: end of March

This excellent news is spoiled only by the fact that the Boks are the stand-out team in the whole of Africa. Which other nation(s) might have enjoyed such a tour?

Germany

The DRB are making another attempt to reignite their women’s 15s programme. They have arranged a test against Belgium in Aachen on 2 March. Their new head coach is Gareth Jackson. He becomes the first paid coach (more or less full-time?), thanks to support from Heidelberg RFC, very much the heart and centre of German rugby. He takes charge of the 15s and the 7s squads.

Training sessions are scheduled for 18 and 25 February.

The team now go under the pseudonym “Phönix”, which hints strongly at a rebirth of the 15s initiative.

Six Nations Officials

World Rugby has announced the names of the officials to take charge of the 2024 championship.

There are very few surprises, but Joy Neville will take charge of her final match before retirement from the field of play. She takes the France-Italy game in Paris. After that she will take charge of Connacht’s referees development programme.

One variation this year is the number of referees given two matches (Aurélie Groizeleau, Clara Munarini, Hollie Davidson, Maggie Cogger-Orr and Sara Cox). You could see that as a wish to ensure the highest standards of refereeing right through the series. In past years most referees have had to settle for a single appointment.

On the debit side, Rachel Horton (South Africa) becomes the only woman to act as TMO (two matches). This is an ongoing blind spot in women’s rugby.

World Rugby’s efforts to spread the game are seen in the nationalities of the ARs. They include representatives from Belgium, Germany, Portugal and Zimbawe.

Congratulations to all the appointees.

Latin Challenge

Last weekend saw the completion of the brief set of four matches between two Italian and two Spanish franchises. The Italian squads came away with three wins out of four, so congratulations to Sitges on overcoming Zebre away from home.

Results:

Round One
Iberians Sitges 12 Benetton Rugby 19; Iberians Valencia 13 Zebre Parma 19

Round Two
Benetton Rugby 41 Iberians Valencia 12; Zebre Parma 5 Iberians Sitges 26

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