GARETH DUNCAN looks at the Saffas who impressed in the leagues around the world over the weekend.
Remember flyhalf Conrad Barnard?
He played a handful of Super Rugby games for the Sharks (2005) and Cheetahs (2008), and helped Griquas survive in the Currie Cup Premier Division since the minnows’ promotion in 2006.
His most memorable performance saw the Cheetahs nearly achieve their first overseas victory since Super Rugby readmission. He spearheaded the Bloemfontein franchise to a 17-0 half-time lead against the Chiefs in Hamilton before a second-stanza implosion saw the New Zealanders win 22-20.
He left South Africa for France in 2009, having scored 1012 career points.
At the age of 33, Barnard is still doing an impressive job for Agen. The club suffered four straight defeats at the start of the French Top 14 campaign, but the veteran’s boot helped them achieve a hat-trick of victories over the last three rounds.
He kicked 22 points in the 32-26 win over Grenoble and 23 points in the 28-16 triumph over Mont-de-Marsan. On Saturday, Barnard helped record a 19-15 victory over Bordeaux as he slotted 11 points via three penalties and a conversion.
Fullback Greg Goosen also added a three-pointer, while lock Ross Skeate started too. It was an ill-tempered clash which saw four yellow and two red cards issued.
Agen’s latest win sees them edge further away from the relegation zone. Barnard and his boot will be key in the club’s survival quest this season.
In other results, loosehead prop Gurthro Steenkamp came off the bench to help Toulouse to a 32-9 victory over Toulon. It was the latter’s first loss of the league campaign as they struggled without lock Bakkies Botha. Flank Joe van Niekerk also ran on for Toulon during the closing 40 after featuring among the reserves.
Scrumhalf Rory Kockott kicked four penalties in Castres’ 19-12 loss to reserve hooker’s Erasmus Jansen van Vuuren’s Montpellier. Flank Pedrie Wannenburg and prop Michael Coetzee also came off the bench for the losers.
Wing Ronnie Cooke, lock Naude Beukes, replacement flank Roland Bernard and reserve prop Albertus Buckle featured in Grenoble’s shock 27-13 victory over No 8 Jacques Cronje, reserve flank Bernard le Roux and replacement lock Francois van der Merwe’s Racing Metro.
In the English Premiership, Saffa-laden Saracens picked up a vital 18-16 win over defending champions Harlequins at the Stoop. Seven South African-born players featured in the victors’ match-day squad in inside centre Brad Barritt, hooker Schalk Brits, tighthead prop Petrus du Plessis, lock Alistair Hargreaves, No 8 Ernst Joubert, reserve hooker John Smit and replacement prop Matt Stevens.
Director of rugby Gary Gold and scrumhalf Michael Claassens’s Bath got over back-to-back defeats with a 31-10 win over the Sale Sharks at the Rec.
Tighthead prop Brian Mujati came off the wood in the second half to help the Northampton Saints to their fifth consecutive win. They beat lock Marco Wentzel’s London Wasps 24-6 to hold top spot on the log.
In the Pro12, wing DTH van der Merwe scored a try in Glasgow’s 22-19 win over locks Quintin Geldenhuys and Michael van Vuuren, and No 8 Dries van Schalkwyk’s Zebre. Former Lions captain Josh Strauss made his official debut for the victors at No 8.
Wing Hanno Dirksen’s Ospreys enjoyed a 30-15 win over props Wian du Preez and BJ Botha’s Munster.