GARETH DUNCAN looks at the Saffas who impressed in the leagues around the world over the weekend.
While former Sharks and Lions scrumhalf Rory Kockott made a quiet exit from South African rugby after the 2011 Super Rugby campaign, the 26-year-old is headlining in France because of his impressive form for Castres this season.
A fortnight ago, he scored a try and kicked 14 points (a conversion and four penalties) in the club’s 28-13 win over Biarritz.
Last Friday, Kockott played his second match-winning role in Castres’ 16-13 edging of Clermont. The No 9 kicked two penalties and crossed the chalk for a telling try in the second half.
The result ended Castres’ two-match losing streak, which sees them jump up to sixth place on the log.
In other French Top 14 results, lock Bakkies Botha and flank Joe van Niekerk returned to Toulon’s starting line-up and the team resumed their impressive campaign with a 36-9 thumping of reserve prop Wikus Blaauw’s Biarritz. Toulon lost their first match of the season against Toulouse last weekend without the duo in their run-on XV.
Agen struggled without flyhalf Conrad Barnard as they fell to a 37-16 loss to fullback Scott Spedding, outside centre Sam Gerber and lock Dewald Senekal’s Bayonne. Lock Ross Skeate and fullback Greg Goosen started for the losers, with the latter adding 11 points (a conversion and three penalties) with the boot.
Hooker Gary Botha and loosehead prop Gurthro Steenkamp’s Toulouse grabbed three tries in the final quarter to steal a 34-32 away victory over scrumhalf Heini Adams’ Bordeaux.
In the Japanese Top League, scrumhalf Fourie du Preez and reserve flank Danie Rossouw helped defending champions Suntory Sungoliath to an easy 49-24 win over Kintetsu Rainazu. It was the club’s fifth consecutive victory, which sees them top the log.
Outside centre Jaque Fourie continued his fine form for the Kobe Steelers as he crossed the chalk in their 33-13 triumph over Yamaha Jubilo. It was the Springbok midfielder’s fourth try of the season. The Steelers are second in the standings.
Former Springbok lock Albert van den Berg scored a try in Canon Eagles’ 34-5 win over Kyushu. The veteran second-rower is still playing regularly at the age of 38.
Inside centre Wynand Olivier’s Ricoh Black Rams enjoyed their first victory of the campaign as they thrashed Sanix Fukuoka 50-17.
In the Pro12, lock Johann Muller captained Ulster to their fifth consecutive league win as they thumped Connacht 25-0 at Ravenhill. Hooker Rob Herring also ran on for the victors off the bench.
Hooker Richardt Strauss and looshead prop Heinke van der Merwe fronted Leinster’s 30-21 Irish derby win over front-rowers BJ Botha and Wian du Preez’s Munster. Strauss, who qualifies for Ireland this year, scored an early try in his first match since returning from injury.
Flank Josh Strauss helped Glasgow to an 18-3 victory over No 8 Andries Pretorius’ Cardiff Blues. It was the Scottish club’s third consecutive win.
Wing Tobie Botes’ Treviso shocked tighthead prop WP Nel’s Edinburgh with a 27-22 win at Murrayfield. Nel received a yellow card in the first half after Edinburgh were penalised seven times in the opening eight scrums.
In the English Premiership, Saffa-laden Saracens continued their chase in the top four of the table with a 28-23 win over London Welsh in Oxford. Hooker John Smit and tighthead prop Matt Stevens started for the victors, while prop Petrus du Plessis, lock Mouritz Botha, flank Nick Fenton-Wells and scrumhalf Neil de Kock featured off the wood.