Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Rugby World Cup 2015 off to a record-breaking star

  • Tournament proving to be the most accessible Rugby World Cup to date, attracting record numbers in stadia and fanzones and through broadcast and social engagement figures
  • Total match attendance nears the one million mark, including record-breaking attendances at Wembley Stadium and The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
  • Nearly 400,000 spectators attend the official fanzones to soak up the atmosphere of the tournament
  • #RWC2015 trends globally on all match days and official Rugby World Cup App downloaded by more than two million fans
  • Rugby World Cup 2015 set to be the biggest tournament to date with sales of more than 2.39 million  
  • Limited tickets for great matches still on sale at tickets.rugbyworldcup.com 
Rugby World Cup 2015 organisers England Rugby 2015 and Rugby World Cup Limited today announced record-breaking engagement at the halfway point of the pool stage, as total match attendance approaches the one million mark.

The fantastic tournament atmosphere and compelling rugby is capturing the hearts and minds of fans nation and worldwide, with official fanzones full to capacity, #RWC2015 trending globally on all match days, and TV viewing figures reaching record levels.

Rugby World Cup 2015 is on track to be the biggest Rugby World Cup to date, and total match attendance figure to date has reached 972,921, helped by two record-breaking attendances at Wembley Stadium - 89,267 fans attended the Ireland v Romania match there, surpassing the previous weekend's record-breaking Rugby World Cup crowd of 89,019 for New Zealand v Argentina.

The most competitive tournament to date, it is not just the top teams that are attracting the attention. Playing in front of packed stadia, teams including USA, Georgia, Japan and Namibia have received strong support with Romania playing in front of 140,000 fans across just two pool matches.

The official fanzones throughout England and in Cardiff have seen fans keen to soak up the match atmosphere and feel part of the international event, with 378,000 visitors to date passing through the doors since opening. Brighton's Madeira Drive set the standard during Japan's electrifying 34-32 Pool B win over South Africa which saw 20,000 fans visit the fanzone to enjoy the action. The Cardiff Arms Park fanzone atmosphere was electric as Welsh fans relished their team's 28-25 defeat of host nation England. Leicester, Manchester, Milton Keynes and Newcastle will all be opening up their fanzones to fans in the coming weeks as Rugby World Cup 2015 comes to their area.

Rugby World Cup Limited has confirmed the tournament has attracted some of the highest broadcast audience figures around the globe, including in Japan, the host nation for Rugby World Cup 2019. The 20 million audience there for Japan v Scotland represents the second-highest ever national TV audience in Rugby World Cup history, behind the 20.7 million viewership for the Rugby World Cup 2007 France v England semi-final. In the UK, a peak audience of 9.4 million UK viewers tuned in to host broadcaster ITV's coverage of the Rugby World Cup 2015 opening ceremony and kick-off match between Fiji and England on 18 September. The England v Wales match was watched by an average of 10.4 million viewers, the largest rugby audience in the UK since the 2007 final.

Overall, Rugby World Cup 2015 is shaping up to be one of the most spoken about sports events on the planet with social media activity on track to surpass the total volume achieved across the whole of New Zealand 2011 by the end of this weekend. The official Rugby World Cup App, available at www.rugbyworldcup.com, has already been downloaded by more than two million fans. The digital content offering, delivered in four languages, has seen more than 18 million visitors to rugbyworldcup.com and one million users of the official #RWC2015 hashtag as it has trended globally on all match days, and video views on social platforms in excess of 60 million.

World Rugby Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: "Rugby World Cup 2015 is proving to be a very special and record-breaking global celebration of rugby that has fan experience at heart. This is already the most talked about rugby event ever on social media and the most talked about sporting event of 2015 in the UK, and there is no doubt that the unforgettable moments are inspiring new audiences around the world to get active and get into rugby.”

England Rugby 2015 Managing Director Stephen Brown said: "We're delighted that fans new and old have taken Rugby World Cup 2015 to their hearts, and are embracing all the excitement, drama and passion that comes with hosting such an exciting world-class event on home soil. We are thrilled to secure two Rugby World Cup record breaking attendances within the first two weeks of the tournament and approach a total of one million fans enjoying such compelling rugby in our match venues. There is a true celebration of rugby taking place across the country, and to see nearly 400,000 fans pass through our fanzones on matchdays and non-matchdays, really reflects the reach of this event.  We're confident that this is just the start and with a limited number of tickets for some great matches still on sale at www.rugbyworldcup.com/tickets fans can still be part of the action.”

Fans are being urged to snap up the remaining tickets via official channels so as not to miss out on the spectacle. Tickets are still available at www.rugbyworldcup.com/tickets and supporter tours and hospitality are available at www.rugbyworldcup.com/supportertours and www.rugbyworldcup.com/hospitality respectively.

Fans can also take advantage of the Official Resale Service via www.rugbyworldcup.com/tickets if they can no longer attend matches. This is the official, safe and secure way to sell to tickets to fans at face value. 

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

2016 Cape Town Cycle Tour entry applications open tomorrow

A reminder to all prospective 2016 Cape Town Cycle Tour riders: Online entry applications open on Wednesday, 09 September 2015 at 1pm and will stay open for two and half weeks, closing on Monday, 28 September at 1pm.

Entry applications amount to an indication of interest only and do not ensure entry.  Cycle Tour entries will be awarded at random, regardless of whether interest is registered on the first or the last day of the application period.

In August 2015, the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust (CTCTT), organisers of the annual iconic event, announced a new online entry application process for 2016 which has been introduced to eliminate the quick sell-out of entries and improve cyclists’ overall experience.  David Bellairs, a CTCTT director, says: “This is the first time Cycle Tour has moved away from the first-come-first-serve entry mechanism, and we believe this new system will ensure a more equitable and inclusive process for all prospective riders.  We want to remind applicants that they do not need to rush to be the first in line as soon as the portal opens. Instead, they are able to apply for an entry at their convenience during the allocated period, giving all eager riders a fair chance to access the online portal to register their interest and to update their details at the same time.”

The Cape Town Cycle Tour takes place on Sunday, 06 March 2016 and is limited to 35,000 riders.  All entry applicants must follow the clear three-step process to apply for a 2016 entry. 

How to apply for a public entry to the 2016 Cape Town Cycle Tour:

·         Entry application:
From Wednesday, 09 September at 1pm until Monday, 28 September at 1pm, prospective local and international riders can apply, free of charge, for an entry at www.capetowncycletour.com.

·         Entry confirmation:
During the week of 2 October, successful applicants will receive an email notification from the Cycle Tour Events Office, advising them that their application has been successful. 

·         Securing an entry:
Successful applicants will have until Monday, 26 October at 1pm to make payment which will secure their entry.  Payment not received by this date, or should the applicant opt to decline the entry awarded to them, will result in that entry being made available to a previously unsuccessful rider.  Local general entries will cost R470 per rider.

Corporate Group entries will no longer be available this year, so those who have made use of these in the past will need to follow the public entry application process.  A certain number of the entries will be made available via charity groups at varying costs and unsuccessful applicants or corporate group riders are encouraged to support a worthy cause by entering via one of the successfully listed charities.

Follow @CTCycleTour on Twitter or like the official Cape Town Cycle Tour page on Facebook (www.facebook.com/CTCycleTour) for regular updates.

For any event queries, or assistance with entries, please contact the Cycle Tour Events Office during office hours on 087 820 7223 or visit www.capetowncycletour.com

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Tough day for SA quartet in Europe

 Danielle du Toit from Gauteng North and Woo-Ju Son from Gauteng; credit Sally Greasley / WGSA

It was day of struggles, tough conditions and frustration for the four South African juniors competing in international championships in Sweden and Germany on Wednesday.

Ivanna Samu traded places with compatriot Kaleigh Telfer at the Annika Invitational Europe, while Woo-Ju Son slipped and Danielle du Toit continued to battle in the RB German Junior.

Samu from Ruimsig overtook Telfer to lead the home challenge with a 74 in the second round at Bro-Bålsta GolfKlubb.

The reigning Nomads SA Girls champion birdied the first and negated the damage of a triple bogey at eight and two birdies with further gains at nine, 13 and 14.

Samu will start the final round in a tie for 25th on three over 149 with Line Hansen from Denmark and Fiona Liddell from Germany.

Telfer from Bryanston offset three bogeys with three birdies, but a double bogey saw her sign for a 76 and she trails Samu by one stroke.

Overnight leader Sophie Lamb from England held on to pole position with a 71, but will contend with Ana Pelaez from Spain, who fired a 69 to grab a share of the lead.

“The weather was quite up and down,” said Womens Golf South Africa president Karen Olivant.

“It rained for most of the first nine holes and the wind was really gusting, but the sun came out after the girls turned and then it got really hot.

“Ivanna and Kaleigh are really enjoying the experience, especially making so many new friends and the workshops with Annika after the rounds.”

Meanwhile Gauteng golfer Woo-Ju Son lost her footing and Danielle du Toit from Gauteng North continued to struggle to come to terms with the par-72 layout at Golfclub Heidelberg.

Son opened with a 74 in the Global Junior Golf Tour event to tie for third, but slipped to joint 14th on 12 over 156 after carding an 82 in round two.

Woo-Ju hit her drives beautifully but birdies were very hard to come by,” said Womens Golf South Africa vice-president Sally Greasley.

“She played steady golf, but dropped three shots on the front nine. Her chipping and putting woes continued on the back nine continued and she missed short putts for par at 10 and 12.

“She stemmed the bleeding with four pars and made her first birdie at the tough par five 17th after hitting a fantastic second shot into the green.

“The 18th hole is uphill all the way and Woo-hit another great shot into the green to set up a birdie chance, but her putt lipped out and she closed with a bogey.

“Danielle had another lacklustre day and signed for another 85. She picked up a birdie at three, but pulled her drive at four and went out of bounds. She followed the bogey with a triple at the fifth.

“Her par at six was the only ray of sunshine amid a string of bogeys and she turned six over. Matters didn’t improve on the back nine and she just couldn’t find any momentum.

“They know they are both better golfers than their scores reflect and both girls headed straight for the putting green after the round because they know the pins will be tough on the last day. I am pleased that Danielle, despite all the struggles, is staying very positive and embracing the experience.”

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Incredible 1st and 2nd place for MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung

The 2nd stage of the Tour of Denmark would see MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung put in an incredible team performance, resulting in a 1st and 2nd finish on the stage! Edvald Boasson Hagen was our victorious rider while Kristian Sbaragli finished in 2nd place.

It would be a long stage at 235km in length but in the end it all came down to the final 30km's. The early breakaway riders had just been caught after our African team, particularly Nic Dougall and Theo Bos, and Astana had done the majority of the early chasing. Countless attacks then went off the front in the closing kilometers but each time the aggressors were pegged back, most often by our riders as we looked to set up the bunch sprint.

Even when we hit the final 3 laps of the local 4.5km circuit, riders kept flying off the front. Jaco Venter and Andy Stauff followed just about everything in order to keep the race together and then Jacques Janse van Rensburg also put in a massive turn on the circuits climb to bring back a dangerous move on the final lap. With just 2.5km to go, the umpteenth attack came from Magnus Cort Nielsen (Denmark), and he quickly built up a sizable gap. It was only thanks to Gerald Ciolek burying himself on the front that the Nielsen was eventually caught inside of 1km to go.

Ciolek kept going up until the final corner at 400 to go and then it was down to Edvald and Kristian for the sprint. Edvald went pretty long, starting his sprint at around 300m to go with Kristian on his wheel. Our Norwegian champion had such an intense turn of speed though that nobody was going to be able to come around him. There was no reason for Kris to try and come around either as he comfortably crossed the line in 2nd to give our team our first ever 1, 2 finish in Europe. It is also our 15th victory of the season.

Edvald Boasson Hagen - Rider
It was a pretty long stage but I felt really good. The final was hard enough to suit our team and the guys were excellent in chasing down all the small attacks. Gerald was fantastic to lead us out into the final kilometer and to make sure Cort Nielsen was brought back. I had a good position in the final corner and just took it from there. I am really happy to take this win and it's also extra nice to have Kris finish 2nd. 

Michel Cornelisse - Sport Director
It is always great when a plan comes together and works perfectly. Many times the plan doesn't always work out but today it did and we can only be very happy with our victory. Yesterday we were a bit disappointed with the results but today made up for it. We also pulled back 10 seconds on the GC so now a top 5 overall is still possible. The team were really excellent. 

About MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung 
Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung was founded in 2007, steadily working its way up from a regional team to now being a Continental Pro team with bases in South Africa and Italy. MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung’s goal is to give talented African riders a path into the pro peloton while raising funds for Qhubeka. In 2015, MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung are inviting you to help them mobilise 5,000 kids on bicycles. To contribute to the#BicyclesChangeLives Campaign, click here.

Qhubeka is an Nguni word that means “to progress”“to move forward”. Qhubeka (qhubeka.org) is World Bicycle Relief's program in South Africa. World Bicycle Relief (worldbicyclerelief.org) is a global non-profit organization dedicated to advancing education, health and economic opportunities by providing simple, sustainable transportation. Since World Bicycle Relief’s founding in 2005, it has delivered more than 220,000 specially designed, locally assembled bicycles to people in need. To contribute to the#BicyclesChangeLives Campaign, click here.

MTN (mtn.co.za) is a long-time supporter of Qhubeka and the team. Launched in 1994, the MTN Group is a leading emerging market operator, connecting 219.2 million subscribers in 22 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Learn more about the team at www.teammtnqhubeka.com.
Enjoy our fanzone at www.teammtnqhubeka.com/Fanzone.

Gearing up for Tsogo Sun Amashova cycle challenge

Durban is gearing up for thrilling action at the Tsogo Sun Amashova Durban Classic 2015 on 18 October. Offering prize money of over R100 000, the race, which is one of South Africa’s largest cycling events, runs from Pietermaritzburg City Hall to Durban through spectacular scenery, ending at Masabalala Yengwa Avenue, with the prize giving at Tsogo Sun’s Suncoast.

The main Tsogo Sun Amashova race is 106km long, with two shorter ‘fun ride’ options of 35km,  which starts at Hillcrest and ends at Suncoast, and the 65km half challenge, which starts at Cato Ridge and ends at Suncoast. All three races will have full road closure.

This is the second year that Tsogo Sun is the headline sponsor of the race and last year’s Tsogo Sun Amashova proved a huge success, drawing a record number of over 10 000 entries, and enticing South African’s to experience the thrill of the race while enjoying a family beach weekend away.

“The Amashova has been going for 29 years – but the headline sponsorship by Tsogo Sun has given it a new lease on life, adding activities and appeal to the event and attracting the attention of riders from elsewhere in the country and even from Europe,” says Noëleen Bruton, Director of Marketing Group of Tsogo Sun. “We are  proud to be associated with this  fantastic KwaZulu-Natal tradition – and we anticipate pulling out all the stops to ensure that all our Amashova guests experience a brilliant weekend away.”

Once again, the fun Mini Shova for children will take place the day before the big race at Suncoast, with distances of 1km for 3-5 year olds and 5km for over 5s – giving the children the opportunity to share in the thrills of the weekend.

As the headline sponsor, Tsogo Sun has created a series of exciting accommodation packages at its different hotels in Durban and uMhlanga, and transport has been arranged by the race organisers to the main race start from Durban to Pietermaritzburg, as well as safekeeping for bikes both before and after the race. “Both the race and a weekend in Durban are exciting! This is a wonderful opportunity for riders and their families to make an adventure of the weekend, enjoying the challenge of the race, the magnificent countryside, as well as the attractions of the area – and there are many!” says Bruton.

Says Neil Fraser, Group Sales Director of Tsogo Sun, “This second Tsogo Sun Amashova Durban Classic underscores our belief in this cycle challenge as one that has enormous potential for growth and appeal to our target market. Cycling has grown to the point where it has now become ‘the new golf’ in South Africa. We believe our partnership with Amashova is giving the race the opportunity to grow to a cycle challenge that appeals to a far wider audience of novices, serious riders and families. We’re looking forward to our second bigger and better than ever Amashova – and to welcoming a host of new riders to the starting line – and of course to our many hotels in the area.”

Annie Batchelder, Race Director for the Tsogo Sun Amashova, says the Amashova is South Africa’s oldest classic cycle race. “It’s become a favourite for many of our top cyclists – and we’ve no doubt it will continue to grow in popularity and size with Tsogo Sun behind it.” Batchelder says the race has also contributed significantly to local communities with its social investment programmes, which includes having built a road safety bike park at Ethembeni School in Inchanga, and many other projects.

Serious and casual riders from KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, and elsewhere in the country are encouraged to get their entries in for the Tsogo Sun Amashova as well as their bookings for great value accommodation package deals at Tsogo Sun’s hotels. All bookings can be done on www.shova.co.za.

Rambo continues dream season with hat-trick

Christiaan Bezuidenhout stitched up his third title on the country’s premier golf development Tour with wire-to-wire victory in the IGT Tour’s Pro Squad Classic on Wednesday.

Bezuidenhout had to contend with strong winds in the final round at Centurion Country Club, but the Wanna Be A Champion player prevailed to triumph on five-under-par 211 less than two weeks since he claimed a five-stroke victory in the Sishen Open.

The 19-year-old Delmas golfer closed with a three over 75 to finish well clear of Sunshine Tour regular TJ Bekker, Conway Kunneke and NJ Arnoldi.

The former number one ranked amateur in South Africa turned pro in March. In addition to three victories, he boasts three runner-up finishes and two third places in 10 starts in six months. His worst finish was a tie for 11th in the Gary Player School for Champions Classic in June.

“My main aim has been to gain consistency and to learn to produce under pressure, because it is a very different kind of pressure when you play for money,” he said.

“I am really pleased with my preparation for the European Tour’s First Stage Qualifying in September. I have a lot of work to do before I leave, but I feel that I am moving in the right direction.”
Bezuidenhout said the conditions were tough and definitely affected his performance.

“It’s winter, so the fairways are hard and the greens even harder,” he said.

“The wind varied between three and four clubs, and you constantly had to adjust your game plan, because it changed direction so much. It was incredibly difficult to control the ball and get anywhere near the pins, but I didn’t help myself, either.”

Bezuidenhout followed a birdie at the par-five 12th with three bogeys on the trot.

“I hit three bad shots in a row and got punished for it, but I kept it in play after 15 and turned two over and got back to level with two quick birdies after the turn.”

Disaster struck when his tee shot at six rolled into the hazard and walked off with a triple bogey.

“By this time I was really mad at myself for making so many rookie errors,” he said.

“I guess the adrenaline was still pumping and I hit a huge tee shot at seven. I had 180 meters to the pin and I hit an eight-iron to two feet and made the birdie, only to drop at again at the eighth.

“I still had a nice lead, so I decided just to lay up at 18 instead of trying to drive the green, and two-putted for par.”

Bezuidenhout said he found it difficult to celebrate after such a poor round.

“A win is a win, but I have to be honest, I’ve never played that badly and won,” he grimaced.

“Anyhow, onwards and upwards, as they say.”

GFG Academy’s Bekker carded a 73, Wanna Be A Champion stable-mate Arnoldi battled to a 75 and Kunneke signed for a frustrating 76 to share second on 215, while amateur Ruan Korb from Centurion Academy returned a 74 to take sole fifth on three over.

Meanwhile Danie Pretorius and amateur Chris van Tonder made the most of their early tee time

First out of the blocks, Pretorius from the Robbie Stewart Golf Academy enjoyed a string of seven birdies after a bogey at 11 and Van Tonder also mixed seven birdies with three bogeys.

The duo posted a pair of 68s to vault to joint sixth on four over alongside professional Siphiwe Siphayi (75) and amateurs Jandre Fullard (75) and Andrew Williamson (77).


(All players RSA unless otherwise specified; amateurs indicated as AMA)

211 - Christiaan Bezuidenhout 68 68 75

215 - TJ Bekker 72 70 73, NJ Arnoldi 69 71 75, Conway Kunneke 69 70 76

219 - Ruan Korb (AMA) 74 71 74

220 - Chris van Tonder (AMA) 79 73 68, Danie Pretorius 78 74 68, Jandre Fullard (AMA) 73 72 75, Siphiwe Siphayi 73 72 75, Andrew Williamson (AMA) 72 71 77

221 - Pieter Kruger 74 75 72, Matthew Vogel 72 72 77

222 - Keegan Steyn (AMA) 73 74 75, Gideon Pienaar 74 71 77

223 - Herman Minnie 82 71 70, Carlos Arroyo (AMA) 73 73 77

224 - Garth Wolter 74 74 76

225 - Andi Dill (AMA) 71 80 74, Pieter Muller (AMA) 77 74 74, Bryn Flanagan 70 72 83

226 - Ted Hendriks 71 75 80

227 - Divan Marais (AMA) 78 74 75, Simon Kruger 77 74 76, Christiaan Pretorius 74 79 74, Hilton Hughes (AMA) 77 76 74, Carrie Park (AMA) 73 73 81, CJ Levey (AMA) 71 74 82

228 - Louis Taylor (AMA) 76 74 78, Sheldon Steyn ZIM 73 73 82

229 - Andre Van Heerden (AMA) 79 77 73

230 - Tyron Mc Comb 73 79 78, Gregory Royston (AMA) 74 77 79, Niel Meyer 76 77 77

231 - Michael Jooste (AMA) 76 77 78, Gary Daoust (AMA) 77 77 77, Ruan Conradie (AMA) 78 77 76

232 - Wian Verster 76 78 78

233 - Gareth Akers (AMA) 77 76 80

234 - Reynhard Reynecke (AMA) 77 74 83, Peetie van der Merwe (AMA) 77 74 83, Shaun van Tonder 78 76 80

235 - Marc de Jager (AMA) 79 74 82, Niel Theron (AMA) 79 77 79, Cole Dodgen (AMA) 75 81 79

237 - Maxime Deffontaine (AMA) BEL 75 81 81

238 - Slade Fick (AMA) 77 78 83

239 - Mark Bright 76 79 84

242 - Ryan Ciapparelli 75 81 86

245 - Zillan Du Pisani (AMA) 80 76 89

WDN - Joubert van Eeden (AMA) 77 76 WDN, Godfrey Mphaga 78 75 WDN, Hendrikus Stoop (AMA) 81 71 WDN

N/R - Jaco Mouton 72 80 N/R

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Doping in Athletics

Athletics looks set to be plunged into a new doping crisis after IAAF test data leaked to two news organisations showed hundreds of suspect samples from athletes, including Olympic and world championship medallists, the BBC reported on Sunday.

Britain's Sunday Times newspaper and German broadcaster ARD/WRD say they had been given access to the results of 12,359 blood tests given by more than 5,000 athletes over 11 years. When analysed by scientists, the tests showed more than 800 athletes had given blood samples that were "highly suggestive" of doping or "abnormal", reported the BBC, who added they had also seen the documents.

Although abnormal blood tests are not in themselves proof of doping, the release of the data will be an embarrassment to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) less than a month before its world championships in Beijing.

"We have to wait for the transcript of this before commenting," IAAF General Secretary Essar Gabriel told reporters on Sunday. IAAF President Lamine Diack, who is stepping down later this month, said he was not aware of the programme.

"If you have seen it you can tell me what it says," he said, speaking at the International Olympic Committee session in Kuala Lumpur.

The IAAF introduced biological passports for athletics as part of its drug testing regime in 2009, which help in the detection of abnormal fluctuations in red blood cell counts. Athletes, most notoriously in cycling, have used blood transfusions and the stimulating agent Erythropoietin (EPO) to increase their red blood cell count, which can help improve performance in endurance events.

The BBC report said a third of medals in endurance events at the Olympics and world championships between 2001 and 2012 were won by athletes who have recorded "suspicious tests".

Cheating by the use of banned substances has long been a scourge of athletics, from the systematic doping in the former East Germany, through Ben Johnson's disqualification from the 1988 Olympics to the BALCO scandal in the United States.

Sebastian Coe, who is expected to be elected the new president of the IAAF later this month, has said he will set up a new anti-doping body specifically for athletics. The Briton is running against fellow former Olympic champion Sergey Bubka in the election, which will take place on Aug. 19 in Beijing.