Claassen, Kockott lift Castres
- 19 May 2014
SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the past weekend's English Premiership, Celtic Pro12 and French Top 14 matches that involved South African players.
– Saracens, with former Boks Neil de Kock (scrumhalf) and Schalk Brits (hooker), and the England-qualified South Africans Mouritz Botha (lock) and Matt Stevens (prop), recorded a 31-17 over Harlequins at Allianz Park to book their place in the final, thus keeping their dreams of the Premiership and European Cup double alive.
– The 14-man Northampton Saints snatched a 21-20 victory over the Leicester Tigers in a dramatic and ill-tempered match. They will face Sarries in the final.
– Formers Sharks scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, lock Johann Muller and flank Robbie Diack started for Ulster in their semi against Leinster, who had Bok fullback Zane Kirchner coming off the bench in the 66th minute. Ulster led 9-0 at one stage, but Leinster wiped out the deficit in the last moments of the match with a fortuitous try which handed them a 13-9 win. Meanwhile, Leinster announced that hooker Richardt Strauss will be out of action for 'a number of months' after he had surgery on a hamstring injury sustained against Edinburgh last week.
– Ex Lions No 8 Josh Strauss was in the Glasgow Warriors run-on team which beat Munster 16-15 to reach their first ever Pro12 final. Former Bulls flank CJ Stander and ex-Bok BJ Botha started for Munster.
FRENCH TOP 14
– Toulon defeated Racing Métro 16-6 in their semi-final at Lille's Grand Stade to reach their third consecutive Top 14 final. Boks Bryan Habana (wing), Bakkies Botha (lock) and Juan Smith (flank) and former Sharks hooker Craig Burden were named in Toulon's starting XV, while their compatriot, scrumhalf Michael Claassens, made an appearance from the 68th minute. Locks Juandré Kruger and Francois van der Merwe and flank Bernard le Roux and eighthman Jacques Cronjé were in Racing's team and ex-Bok prop Brian Mujati joined them in the 68th.
– No 8 Antonie Claassen scored a try and former Sharks scrumhalf Rory Kockott kicked four penalties and a conversion in Castre's tight 22-19 semi-final win over ex-Bulls centre Wynand Olivier's Montpellier. The result ensured there will be a repeat of last year's final, when Castres and Toulon squared off.
– It's advantage London Wasps after they beat Stade Français 30-29 in the first leg of their tussle for a spot in the new European club competition next year. Ex-Cheetahs and Bok flank Ashley Johnson scored one of Wasps' three tries and Bok flyhalf Morné Steyn and former Sharks centre Meyer Bosman started for Stade. Prop Heinke van der Merwe came on as a Stade substitute in the 50th minute. They play the second leg in Paris on Saturday.
– Stade Français' Carl Wegner is set to return to South Africa to link up with the Cheetahs. It is believed he will be back in Bloemfontein soon, as he wants to play Currie Cup.
– Cheetahs lock Andries Ferreira will join Italian side Zebre at the end of the season.
– The newly relegated French club Perpignan received more bad news after media reports circulated that star wing Wandile Mjekevu has been approached by an unnamed South African franchise, believed to be the Stormers, and looks all but set to leave the club. Team-mate and former Stormers scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage is also said to be wanting out.
– Midi Olympique report that Castres are closing in on Agen and ex-Sharks utility back Louis Ludik in a possible two-year deal.
Photo: Francois Lo Presti/AFP
What we’ve learned
Five lessons from the past weekend's Super Rugby final, according to CRAIG LEWIS.
‘Canes defence pressured Lions’
What former Bok coach NICK MALLETT had to say on SuperSport about the Super Rugby final and the Springbok squad.
Boks have lost identity
The Springboks desperately need a leadership that will provide honesty, innovation and clear direction, writes CRAIG LEWIS.