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INTERNATIONAL RUGBY STARS SHINE AT RUGBY TENS CHAMPIONSHIP

The second leg of the Rugby Tens Championship got underway at Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch on Friday 14 October in fine fashion. With five franchises, all of which boasting Women’s, Men’s, Girls and Boys teams, there was plenty of action in the winelands, and here is how it all played out.

ACADEMY

Much like a week prior, the San Clemente Rhinos took control of the Girls competition. Playing three games, the team won all three of their games. This included a comprehensive 26-5 win over the Balkans Honey badgers in their first  game, 14-0 win over the Blue Bulls Daisies and in their final game of the day a 19-5 win over the Serengeti Elephants.

Having made the Cup Final last weekend, the Daisies had mixed fortunes at Danie Craven Stadium. Their first game was nothing short of perfection, beating the Cape Town Wild Dogs 27-0 before that loss to the Rhinos and finished the day with a 10-17 loss to the Balkans Honey Badgers.

Cape Town struggled on the opening day in Stellenbosch. Not only did they lose heavily to the Daisies, but in their next game lost 34-0 to the Serengeti Elephants. For the Elephants, that result over the Wild Dogs was the perfect act to follow their 5-29 over the Balkans Honey Badgers that got the day into full flow.

In the Boys competition, much like last week, it didn’t go all the San Clemente Rhinos way. Their first fixture was a 7-0 loss to the Blue Bulls, their second a repeat of last week’s Cup Final with the Serengeti Elephants, Rhinos squeaking past their opponents 26-21. Later in the day when up against the Cape Town Wild Dogs, Rhinos would succumb to a 17-12 loss.

Similarly the Wild Dogs did not have a perfect day. While their afternoon win over Rhinos was a highlight, they did also lose to the Balkans Honey Badgers and Elephants in the days play. The Honey Badgers would go unbeaten in their two games, as after besting the Wild Dogs, the side put the Blue Bulls to the sword to win 36-12.

It was a difficult afternoon for the Bulls, who despite beating San Clemente in the opening session lost their final two games, the last of the day a 22-5 loss to Serengeti.

PROFESSIONALS

Women | Balkans Honey Badgers 24 – 5 Serengeti Elephants

A repeat of the Women’s Cup Final a week prior, it was the Balkans Honey Badgers that bested the Serengeti Elephants once more. In the first half, the Badgers continued exactly where they left off in Pretoria. Tries in the opening period came from South Africa international Veroeshka Grain, a second through Kaitlin Shave duly following before the half-time break.

Netherlands international Pleuni Kievit resumed the scoring and extended her team’s lead shortly after the second-half got underway. The Serengeti Elephants did get on the scoreboard thanks to an Elena-Riccarda Hennig score, the Austrian the beneficiary of a kick through from player-coach Aimee Sutorius. Any hopes of a comeback for the Elephants were soon dashed, as a superb Grace Okulu individual effort ended the contest.

Men | Blue Bulls 20 – 12 San Clemente Rhinos

As first halves go, there was little between last weekends Pretoria Cup winners, the Blue Bulls, and the San Clemente Rhinos. Following a dominant start, it was Rhinos who took the lead. With a scrum in a central position, Branco du Preez sent the ball to his right, Christiaan du Toit placing the ball down with ease. On the brink of half-time, the Bulls drew the game level with a score from Ruben Beytell.

In the second half, things really sprung into life. Immediately the Bulls took control with thanks to another Beytell score, that lead growing even more with a penalty from Ashwill Adams. Put out of touch with a JP Alberts move that the forward was heavily involved with, Mikey Te’o’s late score was nothing more than a consolation score.

Men | Cape Town Wild Dogs 7 – 17 Balkans Honey Badgers

Playing in their first game of the day, under the charge of Ryno Combrinck, the Cape Town Wild Dogs and Balkans Honey Badgers largely cancelled one another out in the first half. There was plenty of action in each half of the field, but it wasn’t until recent Namibia call-up Le Roux Malan left plenty of yellow jerseys in his wake that the Badgers took the lead.

That lead was briefly taken from Sean Erasmus’ side when Hilton Mudariki went over. Undeterred by going behind, tries duly came from Monty Dumond and Donovan du Randt, those efforts ultimately spelling victory.

Women | Cape Town Wild Dogs 45 – 0 Blue Bulls Daisies

To begin proceedings, there was a stunning score for Kenya Sevens international Janet Okelo. Weaving her way through defenders to get Justin Benn’s Wild Dogs off to the best possible start. Before the first 10 minutes was up, Nicole Strasko and Nomsa Mokwai had both crossed the whitewash.

There was little change to the order of things. Rachel Ehrecke’s try certainly set the tone, while further scores for Kaitlyn Broughton and Felicia Jacobs kept momentum solely in favour of the Wild Dogs. To bookend the fixture, Okelo scored once again, this time her power doing the talking and starting the team’s day off in the best possible way

Women | Balkans Honey Badgers 21 – 12 San Clemente Rhinos

In their second game of the day, the Balkans Honey Badgers went toe-to-toe with the San Clemente Rhinos. Coached by former Blitzbok captain Frankie Horne, the side went behind early on due to a try from Badgers captain Pleuni Kievit. Despite defending strongly, on either side of the half Rhinos would score, firstly through Christabel Lindo and then and then Sativa Tarau-Peehikuru.

Regardless of getting themselves back into the game, Rhinos could not hold on for a win. Kievit was one to cross for Richard van den Broek’s team as Grace Okulu’s score was the final nail in her opposition’s coffin.

Men | San Clemente Rhinos 20 – 5 Serengeti Elephants

In a pulsating half of action, it was Rhinos who took a firm grasp of the game between these two franchises. Eugene Hare would cross the try line twice, the South African scorching past his opposition with a relative ease, as Jack Rampton’s score put his team well out of reach. San Clemente’s lead would be cut to just 10 points before the break as Pat O’Toole rampaged rampaged over the whitewash.

It was a far quieter second half in the fixture, with only a Danny Tusitala yellow card and a Mikey Te’o penalty the only two bits of action to write home about.

Women | Cape Town Wild Dogs 21 – 5 Serengeti Elephants

After losing to the Serengeti Elephants in the second versus third fixture at Loftus Versfeld, the Cape Town Wild Dogs certainly had ample motivation coming into this game. Back on the scoresheet after the team’s opening win against the Blue Bulls was Rachel Ehrecke, Janet Okelo’s score before the break extending the team’s lead to 14 before the break.

Following some refreshments and some words from their coaches, both teams would register scores, however much of the damage was already done. Mathrin Simmers ended the Wild Dogs’ lead further by breaching the Elephants defence, as Serengeti’s consolation try would come from Rosie Kelly in the final play of the game.

Women | Blue Bulls Daisies 0 – 38 San Clemente Rhinos

Just as it was in their opening game of the day, the Blue Bulls Daisies left the field scoreless. Unable to cope with the sheer speed and power that the San Clemente Rhinos played with, Frankie Horne’s team raced into a 19-0 lead at the half. Sharon Auma made her presence known with an early run, the Kenyan scoring either side of a score for Piwokuhle Nyanda.

There was no letting up in the second period either. Thandeka Shongwe registered an effort first, before Suzuha Okamoto latched onto Chiharu Nakamura’s deft kick and Marie Saluzzo’s try was the final score of the match, sealing a comprehensive victory.

Men | Cape Town Wild Dogs 26 – 5 Serengeti Elephants

Getting into full flow after injury to Cape Town Wild Dogs back Brock Gallagher, it was Cape Town who took control. They did this firstly through New Zealander Angus Fletcher, while a well-worked try for Devereaux Ferris kept Ryno Combrinck’s team well on top

Within minutes of the second half underway, DTH van der Merwe’s team had renewed hope as Ryan James powered over. Much of this optimism was soon dashed when the always threatening Rosco Syster made his way across to dot down. Jack Gray’s try would add a little bit of extra gloss to Cape Town’s performance, who looked to be fully confident once again following their loss to the Blue Bulls in the Cup Final last weekend.

Men | Balkans Honey Badgers 14 – 26 Blue Bulls

Balkans Honey Badgers had well and truly recovered from their poor start in Pretoria to become one of the form sides in the Rugby Tens Championship. Against the Blue Bulls, the team received a real challenge and it was one that Sean Erasmus’ men were up to. Chaney Willemse opened things up for the Bulls.

Henco Martins and Le Roux Malan’s converted scores would give the Badgers a narrow load at the half, JP Alberts score not enough to bring the two teams level. In the second half it was one way traffic from the Bulls, with Ruben Beytell and Jack Hart’s tries handing the men from Pretoria another win.

Women | Blue Bulls Daisies 0 – 38 Balkans Honey Badgers

It was very much a case of ‘more of the same’ for both teams. As has become the norm, the Badgers ended the game as winners, while the Daisies came away with nothing. Three tries were scored, Danelle Snyders, Minonna Nunstedt and Kaitlin Shave all racing across to continue the momentum of a week prior at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.

To mirror the result of the San Clemente Rhinos’ win over the Blue Bulls a little earlier in the afternoon, Nunstedt would score a second, as Holland international Pleuni Kievit bagged a brace to end the team’s day on a high note.

Women | Serengeti Elephants 10 – 10 San Clemente Rhinos

For the first time in South Africa, there was a draw. It was two tries apiece for the San Clemente Rhinos and Serengeti Elephants, the teams sharing the spoils of an entertaining affair. It was the power of Piwokuhle Nyanda soon told for Rhinos, while Sativa Tarau-Peehikuru was the beneficiary of Christabel Lindo’s smart play to keep the ball alive on the left wing just meters away from the whitewash.

In the second half, after plenty of possession and momentum, the Serengeti Elephants got on the scoreboard through New Zealander Rosie Kelly and in the final play were pulled level thanks to Harmony Ioane’s try in the far right corner.

Men | San Clemente Rhinos 15 – 12 Cape Town Wild Dogs

In the town he calls home, JP du Plessis took to a brisk Danie Craven Stadium and registered back-to-back tries to give the San Clemente Rhinos a steady lead. Just prior to the break, the Cape Town Wild Dogs out themselves within three points thanks to a try for Zimbabwe international Hilton Mudariki.

Tries would be shared in the second half too. Rhinos put themselves out of reach with thanks to a weaving Sama Malolo try, as the Wild Dogs brought things to a close with a Corey Jones try having not relented in spite of being unable to turn the tide.

Men | Serengeti Elephants 7 – 12 Blue Bulls

While a low-scoring affair, there was plenty on the line from start to finish as the Blue Bulls continued their winning streak with this narrow victory. Their lead at the break was merely 7-0, their score coming from Ruben Beytell, the South African scoring his fifth and final on what was a good day for him personally.

To keep the team on the front foot, Henrique de Sousa took matters into his own hands with an intercept try and running in unopposed. It became a nervy finish when Roland Jones powered over for the Elephants, although the Bulls under the guidance of Gary Botha and Marius Eksteen van der Watt’s saw out the final minutes to prove why they are best in class.

 

POOL STANDINGS

MOMENTS OF THE DAY

BALKANS HONEY BADGERS WOMEN STAY UNBEATEN Pretoria Cup champions a week ago, the Balkans Honey Badgers Women’s side remain undefeated following three more games in Stellenbosch. Richard van den Broek’s side are very much the team to beat tomorrow and will get the action underway at Danie Craven Stadium tomorrow morning against the Cape Town Wild Dogs.

A TRY MADE IN JAPAN Perhaps the best try and moment of the day was when San Clemente Rhinos players Chiharu Nakamura and Suzuha Okamoto combined against the Blue Bulls Daisies. With their opponents rushing towards them, Nakamura smartly kicked the ball through to her international teammate in support, the moment looking to have passed prior to Okamoto collecting the ball and securing a try that helped the team recover from their earlier 21-12 loss to the Honey Badgers.

BLUE BULLS FIND EXTRA GEAR After winning the Pretoria Cup last weekend, there is a real sense that the Blue Bulls are eager for more silverware in Stellenbosch. Playing in the first men’s game of the day, the side beat San Clemente Rhinos 20-12, then repeating the same feat against the Balkans Honey Badgers and, lastly, the Serengeti Elephants. What was telling is that each of these games posed different tests, those tests all having been passed thus far.

JOHANNESBURG ARTIST PROVIDES TROPHY FOR RUGBY TENS CHAMPIONSHIP

This weekend at Danie Craven Stadium will see the 2022 Rugby Tens Championship come to a close. Following two weekends of action, where teams will have competed for the Pretoria and Stellenbosch Cups.

But not only are Women’s, Men’s, Girls and Boys teams to lift silverware at the end of each individual leg, their exploits on the field also count towards the Franchise Championship.

What the Franchise Championship does, is mean that every team attached to the San Clemente Rhinos, Cape Town Wild Dogs, Balkans Honey Badgers, Serengeti Elephants and Blue Bulls can contribute to the very final whistle.

Points are attributed to teams based on their final positioning. In Pretoria, those points were capped at 50%, but in Stellenbosch all 100% of points will contribute to a franchise’s overall points total.

After the first leg that took place at Harlequins Rugby Club and Loftus Versfeld Stadium, it is the San Clemente Rhinos who sit at the top of the pile. This is largely thanks to their Girls and Boys teams winning their Cup Finals, the Women and Men finishing in fourth and third respectively.

As things stand, it is the Blue Bulls in second, Serengeti Elephants in third, while the Balkans Honey Badgers and Cape Town Wild Dogs are joint last. Two days of action at Danie Craven is likely to change those standings significantly, and at the end of all that competition, the Franchise Championship trophy will be handed to the winning side.

Such an achievement deserves a special trophy. Designed and made by Johannesburg artist Dora Prévost, the artwork depicts a male and female hand coming together in a show of equality, unity and inclusiveness.

Equality is very much at the heart of everything that the Rugby Tens Championship does, the word amongst its simple strap-line of; Rugby. Equality. Entertainment.

“I was very excited about the project because it was all about equality between men and women and youngsters,” Prévost said.

A symbol of everything that the Rugby Tens Championship is hoping to achieve when it comes to equality and giving athletes the opportunity to compete on a level playing field in both the Professional and Academy setups, it is a message that very much spoke to the artist.

“When I do my art it is all about the message I try to portray,” Prévost said. “I designed the trophy as if it were a podium, two hands coming together, showing equality, showing that we are working together in the same way the game brings people together and the same way art brings people together around the world.”

To see the Franchise Championship trophy lifted, you can come to Danie Craven Stadium and buy tickets on the grate for R50 or watch for free on SABC and TV.RugbyTens.com.

To learn more about the competition, visit  rugbytens.com, or on Twitter,Instagram and Facebook.

Media release issued by Terras Communications on behalf of Rugby Tens Championship

For press assistance contact Lauren Terras on +27 82 785 2644 or e-mail lauren@terrascomms.com . For further information on Terras Communications visit www.terrascomms.com  

Jacques was the founder & webmaster of TheYellowCap.com and was a sports lover of note. He liked writing opinion pieces that matter. In honour of his legacy we will keep posting and keeping his dream alive. RIP 1977 - 2022

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