With the Rugby World Cup countdown heading towards 100 days out, New Zealand has already suffered the loss of livewire utility back Damian McKenzie.
But at last weekend, Erasmus saw South Africa’s player of the year last year flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit leave the field with a shoulder injury in the Stormers’ 24-23 win over the Bulls at Newlands.
Pressure on Players
It was not immediately clear how bad the injury was but it highlighted the concerns for coaches as the Investec Super Rugby season builds towards its most crucial stage with the competitiveness increasing and putting more pressure on players.
Another injury in the same game was suffered by Bulls centre Jesse Kriel, also a Springbok certainty, who left the field with a lower leg injury.
Adding to the concerns was the inability of Lions Captain and No 8, Warren Whiteley, to take the field against the Crusaders in Christchurch.
A player who has been bedevilled by injuries in recent seasons, the knee injury that kept him from the Crusaders game was a new injury and again its severity has not been disclosed.
While the Springboks have an adequate back-up at No 8 with Duane Vermeulen on hand, Whiteley’s leadership is regarded as essential for their side.
Concerns in Australia
Similar concerns have been seen in Australia where Brumbies loose forward David Pocock has been able to play only 138 minutes of Super Rugby this year.
He returned home early from the Brumbies tour of South Africa and Argentina as a precaution and it was anticipated he would be available for this weekend’s home game with the Blues.
Having suffered from a lingering neck injury during the latter stages of 2018, he had concussion issues earlier this year and has been troubled by a calf injury.
Japan launches Matsuri Project
On the subject of the World Cup, the Japan Rugby Football Union and Japan Rugby 2019 have launched the Rugby Matsuri Project 2019, a new programme which will see Rugby themed events taking place across Japan to celebrate the Game’s biggest year.
The Rugby Matsuri Project 2019 provides local governments, the Rugby community and the wider Japan community with the opportunity to take part in the celebration of Rugby in 2019 and create a true Matsuri or festival feel across the country.
Applications are open via the official website at www.rugbymatsuriproject2019.com
Rugby World Cup ‘Festival of Rugby 2015’ was a success story for the Host Nation, uniting host cities and further afield in a celebration of Rugby and friendship with events ranging from rugby festivals to rugby-themed ‘bake-offs’ concerts and community events.
Rugby 2019 Logo
Approved events will receive the original logo/event mark which will certify the event as an official Rugby Matsuri Project 2019 event. The logo comprises a cherry blossom, which is symbolic of Japan, and a Rugby ball in the centre. It was also created to look like a ‘mon’ or a Japanese emblem/crest to make it both eye-catching but also to add a more Japanese element to it. The subtleness of the design will appeal to all.
- Damian McKenzie
- Logo Source: RWC 2019 Website