Bakkies Botha

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 Arno Botha and Marcell Coetzee of the Bulls lift the Currie Cup after the win over the Sharks in the final at  Loftus Versfeld. Photograph: Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images

Another new dawn beckons with the revamped United Rugby Championship kicking off this weekend and this time there really do appear reasons for optimis(...)

Last Wednesday week’s dry run for the first Test between the South African As and the Lions was perhaps not only a foretaste of what’s to come but als(...)

Toulouse scrumhalf Jean-Marc Doussain gets his box-kick away against Clermont last week. Connacht face Toulouse this weekend, while Ulster will meet Clermont in back-to-back matches in December. photograph: Thierry Zoccolan/AFP Photo/Getty Images

Here come the French. The renewal of Euro hostilities pits the four provinces against six of the seven French entries in this season’s Champions Cup, (...)

Billy Vunipola of Saracens charges upfield during their defeat of Wasps 24-17 in the  Champions Cup semi-final. Photograph:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Saracens 24 Wasps 17 It is nine years since an English club lifted Europe’s premier club trophy but Saracens sense their time approaching. On their (...)

Mike McCarthy’s form this season suggests he is capable of extending his career. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Saturday’s European Champions Cup game at the Aviva Stadium is a landmark game for Mike McCarthy. Since making his professional senior debut for Wasps(...)

New Zealander Maa Nonu in action for Toulon against Agen at the weekend: what Toulon are doing, while amazing to watch, is concocted in Mourad Boudjellal’s office. Photograph: Bertrand langlois/AFP

With the big picture barely sketched by Leo Cullen and Girvan Dempsey, a trip to Toulon is hardly the time for experimentation. This calls for an accu(...)

England give South Africa a guard of honour after the Springboks destroyed them 36-0 in Pool A of the 2007 World Cup. Photograph: Getty

In 2007 England came to the World Cup more in hope of defending their crown than with any real expectation. In the four seasons which had passed sinc(...)

 Paul O’Connell has signed for Toulon, the Top 14 club have confirmed.

With the words of AP McCoy and Brian O’Driscoll ringing in his ears, Paul O’Connell has been confirmed a Toulon player until the summer of 2017. Fre(...)

Toulon celebrate winning the European Champions Cup after beating Clermont Auvergne at Twickenham on Saturday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho.

So Toulon are entitled to be labelled the European Cup’s greatest ever team? For a club which only competed in one Heineken Cup prior to its current t(...)

Paul O’Connell: Toulon’s owner Mourad Boudjellal linked him  with the French club. Photograph: INPHO/Dan Sheridan.

Mourad Boudjellal, the owner and president of Toulon, has stoked the rumours linking Paul O’Connell with the three-in-a-row European champions by hint(...)

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