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Lood out for Stormers clash


Bulls and Springbok lock Lood de Jager has been ruled out of Saturday’s Super Rugby derby clash against the Stormers with a calf injury.

De Jager sustained the injury in the defeat to the Crusaders last Friday and compounds the Bulls’ problems in the second-row with RG Snyman having broken a cheekbone in the previous match against the Chiefs.

Bulls coach John Mitchell may be forced to turn to Ruben van Heerden or Hendre Stassen in the second-row alongside Jason Jenkins this week.

Meanwhile, Stormers scrum-half Dewaldt Duvenage is a major doubt for the clash with a rib injury, but fortunately for the men from Cape Town, Jano Vermaak returns from injury at the perfect time.

Bulls suffer more injuries in defeat


The loss on Friday against the Chiefs will hurt even more today with some more players added to their injury list.

The Bulls had build up a great lead in the first half just to again gave it all away in the second half on Friday in their second tour match.

To add to the misery they have now lost star lock RG Snyman who will be out for 4 to 6 weeks and Warner who picked up concussion during the match.

They will be replaced by Hendré Stassen and Ivan van Zyl for the next game.


Odenaal back for Bulls against Chiefs


Vodacom Bulls captain, Burger Odendaal, is back in the starting line-up to face the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday after missing the previous two Vodacom Super Rugby clashes against the Emirates Lions and Reds due to injury.

He takes over the captaincy from Handré Pollard and the inside centre berth from Johnny Kotze for this match, the first of two the visitors will play in New Zealand.

Vodacom Bulls Head Coach, John Mitchell, made a number of changes to the team that came up short against the Reds in Brisbane, with the return of Odendaal the most significant.

Mitchell opted for Divan Rossouw on the left wing, where he replaces Duncan Matthews in the other change to the backline. Up front, Trevor Nyakane comes in for Frans van Wyk at tighthead and Thembelani Bholi is back at flank, with Hanro Liebenberg moving to no8 where he takes over from injured Nic de Jager.

De Jager had to return home due to a broken rib and his replacement, Tim Agaba, is bracketed as a replacement with Jason Jenkins, who played off the bench in Brisbane.

A final call on Jenkins, who has a niggle, will be make closer to the game and if he is ruled out, Agaba is due to make his Vodacom Super Rugby debut for the Vodacom Bulls.

Mitchell also tweaked his finishers for this clash. Conraad van Vuuren is back on the bench in place of promoted Nyakane, while Manie Libbok is another potential debutant for the Vodacom Bulls. He comes in Marnitz Boshoff, while Kotze will cover the midfield and outside backs.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for us playing the Chiefs in Hamilton,” said Mitchell, who represented Waikato as a player.

“They have been one of the leading teams in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition over the last couple of years and this is a massive step-up from where we were a year ago. We have definite plans on how to approach this match and how to try to beat the Chiefs. We will have to do a couple of things well to achieve that, including playing as a unit,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell was excited about the possible debut for Libbok. “Manie is such an exciting talent and I believe he will make an impact in this tournament.”

It will also be 50 up for Adriaan Strauss. The hooker will play in his 50th match for the Vodacom Bulls (97 for Toyota Cheetahs as well) and will extend his South African record for Vodacom Super Rugby appearances as a hooker to 147 when he takes to the field.

Odendaal was confident about the squad’s mental and physical approach.

“We are ready to go and show our abilities. For us to win here, our courage and determination will be tested, but knowing this squad and the way we are developing as a group, I have enough confidence to know that we will be very competitive on Friday.”

The team (with Vodacom Super Rugby caps and points) is: Warrick Gelant , Travis Ismaiel, Jesse Kriel, Burger Odendaal, Divan Rossouw, Handré Pollard , Andre Warner, Hanro Liebenberg, Thembelani Bholi, Roelof Smit , Lood de Jager, RG Snyman, Trevor Nyakane, Jaco Visagie, Pierre Schoeman

Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Lizo Gqoboka, Conraad van Vuuren, Jason Jenkins /Tim Agaba, Marco van Staden, Embrose Papier, Manie Libbok, Johnny Kotze

Bulls touring sqaud


The Vodacom Bulls announced a 27-man touring squad for the Australasian leg of their Vodacom Super Rugby campaign, including 15 forwards and 12 backs. Head coach John Mitchell selected an exciting and well-balanced squad, that he firmly believes are the right men for the job.

The team will first travel to the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane to take on the Queensland Reds, before heading to New Zealand to take on the Chiefs at the Waikato Stadium, with their final stop in Christchurch facing the mighty Crusaders.

The Vodacom Bulls Super Rugby touring squad 2018:

FORWARDS: Pierre Schoeman, Lizo Gqoboka, Trevor Nyakane, Conraad  van Vuuren, Frans van Wyk, Jaco Visagie, Adriaan Strauss, Jason Jenkins, RG Snyman, Lood de Jager,  Roelof Smit, Marco van Staden, Thembelani Bholi, Hanro Liebenberg, Nic de Jager

BACKS: Andre Warner, Embrose Papier, Handre Pollard, Marnitz Boshoff, Manie Libbok, Burger Odendaal (captain), Jesse Kriel, Johnny Kotze, Travis Imaiel, Divan Rossouw, Warrick Gelant, Duncan Matthews

Rassie lures back Koch for Bulls and Boks


Springbok prop Vincent Koch maybe on his way back and will be joining the Bulls after returning from England in June.

We have heard the rumors that Rassie Erasmus is on a mission to get certain overseas players back in SA so that they can form part of his plans to build the Springboks up again and to be competitive in 2019 World Cup.

Sources have confirm with All out Rugby that the 27-year old prop has agreed to cut his stint at Saracens short and move back home.

This is not just good news for the Springboks but also for the Bulls who has been struggling with quality props the past few years.

Erasmus is also set to speak to Vermeulen, JP Pietersen, Jan Serfontein, Frans Steyn, Bismarck du Plessis, Juan de Jogh, Willie le Roux and Faf de Klerk.

Erasmus was at Twickenham on Saturday, scouting England’s performance against Wales in preparation for a three-Test tour to South Africa by the Roses in June.

It is understood that Erasmus is eager to recall key overseas-based players who have not accrued the minimum of 30 Test caps required to be eligible for Springbok selection.

Bulls Boks will play in weekend match against Jaguares


Bulls coach John Mitchell will have the luxury to pick his strongest possible team for Saturdays pre-season match against the Jaguares.

He will welcome back his Springboks as only De Jager future in the warm ups so far this year.

This means the likes of Pollard, Kriel, Gelant and Nyakane will all play apart in the last warm-up match before the season kicks off later this month.

‘We are three weeks away from competition, and we have a week up our sleeves, so we will need to start introducing our Japanese, Test and injury returnees,’ Mitchell said. ‘By the time we get to competition, we must make sure that all our players have at least 120 minutes of rugby under their belts.’


Snyman, Smit to start for Vodacom Bulls


Springboks RG Snyman and Roelof Smit will both start for the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday in Wellington when they face the DHL Stormers in a Vodacom Super Rugby friendly.

Snyman has returned from his club duties in Japan recently and Smit, who proved his fitness off the bench last weekend against the Cell C Sharks in Polokwane after an injury lay-off, will both be keen to make an early statement to Vodacom Bulls coach, John Mitchell.

The duo represented the Springboks against the British Barbarians in 2016 in a match played in London and both could play significant roles in the Vodacom Bulls pack as Mitchell moulds his squad for the forthcoming Super Rugby tournament.

The coach made a number of rotational changes to the side that played the Cell C Sharks in Polokwane last weekend, with the halfback pairing of Andre Warner and Marnitz Boshoff starting and Embrose Papier and Manie Libbok reverting to the bench.

Only Divan Rossouw (fullback), the midfield pairing of Burger Odendaal and Johnny Kotze, Hanro Liebenberg (loose forward) and lock Ruben van Heerden has been retained from the starting team, with a host of players who came off the bench in Polokwane now getting a run-on opportunity in the Wellington clash.

“A number of players who did not start last weekend get a change to do so this week and will get some valuable game time under the belt,” Mitchell explained.

“We are still building towards the start of the competition and our performance will be work in progress towards that. We know we are playing against a very capable side, but that is the whole purpose of matches like these. There is nothing on offer, but so much to learn for both sides.”

Kick-off in Wellington is at 16h00.

The squad is: Divan Rossouw, Andell Loubser, Johnny Kotze, Burger Odendaal (c), Duncan Matthews, Marnitz Boshoff, Andre Warner, Jano Venter, Hanro Liebenberg (v/c), Roelof Smit, RG Snyman, Ruben van Heerden, Conraad van Vuuren, Jaco Visagie, Pierre Schoeman. Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Lizo Gqoboka, Frans van Wyk, Lood de Jager, Marco van Staden, Thembelani Bholi, Embrose Papier, Manie Libbok, JT Jackson, Dries Swanepoel, Jade Stighling, Franco Naude.

No place for Potgieter and Paige in Bulls sqaud


Vodacom Bulls head coach, John Mitchell, on Monday named 38 players as well the leadership for the 2018 Vodacom Super Rugby season. The coach named midfielder, Burger Odendaal and loose forward, Nic de Jager, as co-captains.

The squad is made up out of 21 forwards and 17 backs, with 11 of those being Springboks and furthermore includes a host of Junior Springboks. Springbok Sevens forward Tim Agaba has also been included and will join the squad after the Blitzboks return from tournaments in Sydney and Hamilton.

Only a handful of players do not have any Vodacom Super Rugby experience, among those outside back Divan Rossouw, midfielder JT Jackson, flyhalf Manie Libbok, scrumhalf Embrose Papier and lock Aston Fortuin.

The Vodacom Bulls will be involved in two warm-up matches this weekend as they take on the Cell C Sharks in Polokwane on Saturday at 18h00, and the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg earlier at 15h00.

“We have made tremendous progress with our processes over the last couple of months and we will be ready for whatever comes our way during Super Rugby 2018,” said Mitchell

“I don’t want to make any promises on how the team will perform this year, we will be solely focussed on the process.

It’s about marginal gains for us, stacking good stuff on good stuff daily as we continue to ensure excellence.  It’s not about the end but rather the daily effort combined at the end. Our purpose is to fill Loftus and put smiles on people’s faces. We will be working very hard to achieve that.”

“I am confident that we have worked smartly and laid a solid foundation. This squad will develop and improve and one needs to be realistic about it, but we are all in agreement about the way forward.

We will be connected, we want to be respected and not just liked and therefore one of our main focus areas during this process will be to remain honest and never forget to enjoy it and have fun.

We want to serve our fans, supporters, shareholders and sponsors – we want to earn back their respect and get the Vodacom Bulls to bind us together as one.”

The Bullls also confirmed that we have parted ways with loose forward Jacques Potgieter after lengthy discussions on his future.

Potgieter has decided not to partake in Vodacom Super Rugby during 2018, and rather take a sabbatical to focus on his family and spend time with his wife, boy and soon to be born twins.

We would like to sincerely thank him for his contributions to the team both on and off the field, and wish him well with his future endeavours.

He will make an announcement later in the year regarding his future.

The Vodacom Bulls Super Rugby squad is:

Outside Backs: Warrick Gelant, Duncan Matthews, Travis Ismaiel, Jamba Ulengo, Jade Stighling, Divan Rossouw.

Midfielders: Burger Odendaal, JT Jackson, Francois Brummer, Jesse Kriel, Johnny Kotze

Flyhalves: Handre Pollard, Marnitz Boshoff, Manie Libbok

Halfbacks: Ivan van Zyl, Andre Warner, Embrose Papier

Loose Forwards: Roelof Smit, Ruan Steenkamp, Hendre Stassen, Hanro Liebenberg, Jannes Kirsten, Nic de Jager, Tim Agaba.

Locks: Jason Jenkins, Ruben van Heerden, RG Snyman, Lood de Jager, Aston Fortuin.

Props: Pierre Schoeman, Conraad van Vuuren, Frans van Wyk, Matthys Basson, Lizo Gqoboka, Trevor Nyakane.

Hookers: Jaco Visagie, Adriaan Strauss, Edgar Marutlulle

Disgruntled quintet drag Bulls to court


Five former Blue Bulls Company employees will fight their retrenchment in the labour court of appeal.

The BBC retrenched several staff members towards the end of 2017 because of financial restraints.

Now former employees Tim Dlulane (team manager), Pine Pienaar (defence coach), Nqubeko Zulu (U21 team manager), Dewey Swartbooi and Denzil Frans (both U19 coaches) have decided to take the matter to court after a Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) hearing failed to reach a favourable outcome.

ALSO READ: ‘Bulls treated me like a dying horse’

At the conclusion of the arbitration hearing, the Bulls presented the quintet with improved ‘retrenchment settlement’ packages, which were immediately turned down.

‘The issue was unresolved at the hearing and we have the right to go to the labour court. Unfortunately, it [the court proceedings] will obviously take a while,’ Piet Heymans, CEO of the Sport Employers Unite trade union told Rugby365.com.

‘It will be a very interesting case. We are of the opinion that these five employees were targeted and that the selection criteria [for determining who is retrenched] is vague and unreasonable. What we feel very strongly about is the process used by the BBC. They will have to explain themselves in court.’

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Photo: Johan Rynners/Gallo Images

Preview Super Rugby 2018 – Vodacom Bulls


One of the sides I do feel particular excited about this year is the Vodacom Bulls who have not done well the last couple of years in Super Rugby.

The franchise have gone through allot of changes which contribute to their poor form on and off the field.

In any team sport you have cycles with some teams preparing well when players leave and others struggle. It will be fair to say the Bulls struggled the last two years with not planning for the player exodus and not recruiting well either.

Their is some ill-feeling in the union as well with Xander Janse van Rensburg who is not a popular man at the moment and also by some account the one responsible for most of the Blue Bulls and Bulls problems.

At the end of the day we can name a 100 reason for the Bulls poor form in Super Rugby but at the end it comes down to the players and the coaches showing us on the field.

The Bulls have a international coach in Mitchell who has been working with the players since the Currie Cup last year, so no excuses anymore.

The Bulls currently have a wider training squad which they have been working with since November last year.

Part of Mitchell team will be Skills, attack and kicking Hayden Groepes, Forward Coach & Lineouts Pote Human and Forward Coach & Scrums Gary Botha.

His wider squad is:

Props: Pierre Schoeman, Trevor Nyakane, Lizo Gqoboka, Conraad van Vuuren, John-Roy Jenkinson, Frans van Wyk, Mox Mxoli, Matthys Basson, Gerhard Steenekamp (Apprentice, injured).

Hookers: Jaco Visagie, Adriaan Strauss, Edgar Marutlulle, Johan Grobbelaar, Jan-Henning Campher, Corniel Els (injured)

Locks: Jason Jenkins, RG Snyman (both Japan), Lood de Jager, Aston Fortuin, Ruben van Heerden, Eli Snyman, Abongile Nonkontwana

Loose Forwards: Roelof Smit, Jacques Potgieter (Japan), Hanro Liebenberg, Ruan Steenkamp (injured), Jannes Kirsten, Nic de Jager (Japan), Hendre Stassen (injured), Tim Agaba (SA Sevens), Thembelani Bholi, Shaun Adendorff, Boom Prinsloo, Marco van Staden, Denzil Hill (apprentice), Eduan Lubbe (apprentice), Jaco Bezuidenhout (apprentice), Kwezi Mafu (apprentice), Ryno Pieterse (apprentice).

Scrumhalves: Rudy Paige, Ivan van Zyl (injured), Andre Warner, Embrose Papier, Theo Maree

Flyhalves: Handre Pollard, Marnitz Boshoff, Manie Libbok, Tony Jantjies, Tinus de Beer.

Midfielders: Jesse Kriel, Dries Swanepoel, Johnny Kotze, Ulrich Beyers, Stedman Gans (SA 7s), Burger Odendaal, Francois Brummer (Japan), JT Jackson (injured).

Outside backs: Warrick Gelant, Travis Ismaiel, Jamba Ulengo, Duncan Matthews, Jade Stighling, Franco Naude, Divan Rossouw, Andell Loubser (apprentice).

First glance over this squad feels like a quality unit and with the injury god staying on their side the Bulls can may as well be a contender this year.

There are a few players we can a look out for this year with Warrick Gelant one of the names that makes any rugby supporter smile.

Gelant got his change finally last year with Coetzee but still has allot to grow this year to make a Springbok number 15 jumper his.

The ability and skills of the player has been brilliant last year and the one thing Mitchell and Co needs to help him improved is his defence.

As a Springbok fan we need Handre Pollard to have a big year as well. Jantjies had to carry all the weight the last couple of seasons and with the World Cup approaching we need options at ten.

Pollard have a brilliant eye for the game and with great feet and hands add that extra option at ten we so desperately need.

He is not afraid to to attack the line and have a monster boot when on song.

The final player I expect more from this year is Burger Odendaal. It seems all he needed was a quick stop at the barber and his rugby will improved.

He has been brilliant for the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup and not just a great play maker in the team but also lead the team as captain well.

He is a proper big and strong boy who can turn on the speed if needed. Was massively impressed by his defence and attack in the Currie Cup and expected him to take another step forward in this years Super Rugby.

Off the field the Bulls have set the tone as well with their away strip which incorporate the local Sundowns Football Club.

This for me was a stroke of genius to not just bring all supporters together but to help make rugby a sport for all people in Pretoria.

Their has been a long standing relationship between the Bulls and Sundowns and it is great to see two different sport codes in partnership for their supporters.

The Bulls have always been the team which most South Africans through all races have supported and they have just added to that with this away kit

It is not going to be easy for the Bulls with new coaches and players but they have enough to make the Loftus faithful smile again and come to the stadium.

Bulls should make the play-offs and anything can happen from there.

Pre-Season matches:

27 January
Lions vs Bulls
Bulls vs Sharks
3 February
Stormers vs Bulls
10 February
Bulls vs Jaguares

Bulls away Jersey


Rugby catches football fever this weekend ahead of the Sundowns vs Pirates match as technical partner PUMA unveils the 2018 Vodacom Bulls Away kit in blue, white and yellow – a tribute to fellow city sporting giants Mamelodi Sundowns, the CAF Champions League winners and most successful team in the PSL era.

Not being one to shy away from a bold shirt design, the Vodacom Bulls will face their opponents in true Bafana Ba Style fashion emulating the Brazilians flair on field whilst carrying the same elements found on the Bulls Home kit – a 20180 graphic on the chest in celebration of the Rugby Union’s 80year anniversary in 2018 – ultimately opening up the doors for football and rugby fans to join the Bulls as one family.

“Great uniforms are based on teams, not individuals and because PUMA is extremely privileged to be the official technical partner of both Bulls and Sundowns, we are in the position to exercise our creative license in terms of team kit design,” said PUMA Marketing Director Brett Bellinger.

“We believe this one-of a kind kit is going to be a sought-after collector’s item for both rugby and football fans, especially those who follow both of the city’s giants – two of the strongest sporting brands in South Africa.”

CEO of the Bulls Company, Barend van Graan, said: ““The Vodacom Bulls have always believed in a bigger dream of uniting Tshwane, one that ensures that we fight to uphold the pride of our city. Both teams represent this beautiful city and we believe that sharing our colours is a great way of expressing that. This alignment no doubt also shows an amazing unity, not only between the brands but also the sporting codes. The bold move also shows the Vodacom Bulls’ willingness to embrace and unite, to be leaders and torch bearers in the process of continually unifying our people.”

Bold progress in kit design doesn’t have to hamper tradition. PUMA is taking this statement to new levels with an Away kit representative of new traditions which are culturally rich with the intention of strengthening their commitment to fans and supporters.

The Vodacom Bulls Away jersey will hit stores 1 February 2018 for R799 at PUMA stores, Totalsports, The Cross Trainer, Sportsmans Warehouse and selected retailers nationwide.



Bulls add to pre-season matches


The Vodacom Bulls have added another pre-season match as they prepare for this years Super Rugby which kick off in February.

They have added a match against the Jaguares at Loftus on the 10 February which will make it four matches to get things right for the men from Pretoria.

John Mitchell has been hard at work to turn a dismal 2017 around for the Bulls. With four pre-season matches Mitchell will have enough time to use his full squad and see where players are at.

Super Rugby is not a sprint and you need a full fit squad to get close in winning this thing and Micthell knows that.

The Bulls will play the against the Lions and Sharks on the 27 January before taking on the Stormers in the USA.

A week later they will end the pre-season against the Jaguares.

The Los Angeles game is part of a double header in the US, featuring the US National team against an Argentine XV in the other game as the Bulls look to take their brand to new markets.

Bulls pre-season fixtures

27 January v Emirates Lions, Johannesburg

27 January v Cell C Sharks, Polokwane

3 February v DHL Stormers, Los Angeles

10 February v Jaguares, Loftus Versfeld.

New Bulls kit revealed


Official technical partner PUMA has unveiled the 2018 home kit for the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls, with a design in celebration of the Rugby Union’s 80 year anniversary.

PUMA has also designed a new badge, which will be positioned over the heart of the jersey and will see all the Union’s teams, from Vodacom Super Rugby all the way down to U19 Championship, play under the same badge for the first time. Giving rise to the mantra One Legacy, One Family, One Dream, One Badge, One Kit.

Paying homage to the original Bulls kit from 1938, the new outfit for Vodacom Super Rugby, Supersport Rugby Challenge and Currie Cup tournaments stays true to the blue and white strip in a two-tone manner with the front of the entire kit baring Bulls’ blue and the back a crisp white.

A 20180 graphic on the chest signifies the 80 years of heritage and will be communicated through the launch of the year-long “Our heritage drives our future” campaign, created to excite and engage with fans, consumers and customers through innovative activations as well as digital and retail executions.

View the campaign video here:

“We have drawn inspiration from this 80 year milestone and forged one badge, providing the #BullsFamily with a kit that will hopefully go down in history as a must have collector’s item for fans,” said PUMA Marketing Director Brett Bellinger.

CEO of the Blue Bulls Company, Barend van Graan: ‘PUMA have once again outdone themselves in producing an awe-inspiring kit for the new season. In 2018 we celebrate our 80th anniversary, and we will be looking to pay tribute to our proud heritage. We firmly believe PUMA has truly captured the essence, and are looking forward to running out in this timeless classic ”.

The Vodacom Bulls Home Jersey will hit stores 30 November 2017 for R799 at PUMA stores, Totalsports, The Cross Trainer, Sportsmans Warehouse and selected retailers nationwide.

#BullsFamily #20180

Vodacom Bulls name wider training squad


Vodacom Bulls Executive Rugby and Head Coach, John Mitchell, on Wednesday announced his first wider training squad for the 2018 Vodacom Super Rugby season and included new signings Frans van Wyk and Thembelani Bholi (flank) in the group that will assemble for pre-season training.

Mitchell included a number of new faces to the squad as well as players still plying their trade in Japan, most notably locks RG Snyman and Jason Jenkins. Two Blitzboks, Tim Agaba and Stedman Gans, is also in the group, although preparing with the Springbok Sevens in Stellenbosch at the moment.

“We are all pretty excited to get the pre-season underway and start putting the hard yards in,” Mitchell said. “The squad shows a good combination of old hands and young upstarts and they all know one thing, no spot in the final squad is guaranteed. Everyone will have to contribute and work very hard to make it into the final group and that will bring some competition in the squad, something that can only benefit us in the long run.”

The Vodacom Bulls will play three warm-up matches in 2018. The squad will be split to face the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg on 27 January, and the Cell C Sharks in Polokwane on the same day. They will then head out to a first-ever match in the USA, when they will face the DHL Stormers at Stub Hub Centre in Los Angeles on 3 February.

The wider squad is: 

Props: Pierre Schoeman, Trevor Nyakane, Lizo Gqoboka, Conraad van Vuuren, John-Roy Jenkinson, Frans van Wyk, Mox Mxoli, Matthys Basson, Gerhard Steenekamp (Apprentice, injured).

Hookers: Jaco Visagie, Adriaan Strauss, Edgar Marutlulle, Johan Grobbelaar, Jan-Henning Campher, Corniel Els (injured)

Locks: Jason Jenkins, RG Snyman (both Japan), Lood de Jager, Aston Fortuin, Ruben van Heerden, Eli Snyman, Abongile Nonkontwana

Loose Forwards: Roelof Smit, Jacques Potgieter (Japan), Hanro Liebenberg, Ruan Steenkamp (injured), Jannes Kirsten, Nic de Jager (Japan), Hendré Stassen (injured), Marco van Staaden, Tim Agaba (SA Sevens), Thembelani Bholi, Shaun Adendorff, Boom Prinsloo, Denzil Hill (apprentice), Eduan Lubbe (apprentice), Jaco Bezuidenhout (apprentice), Kwezi Mafu (apprentice), Ryno Pieterse (apprentice).

Scrumhalves: Ivan van Zyl (injured), Andre Warner, Embrose Papier, Theo Maree, Rudy Paige

Flyhalves: Handre Pollard, Marnitz Boshoff, Manie Libbok, Tony Jantjies, Tinus de Beer.

Midfielders: Jesse Kriel, Dries Swanepoel, Johnny Kotze, Ulrich Beyers, Stedman Gans (SA 7s), Burger Odendaal, Francois Brummer (Japan), JT Jackson (injured).

Outside backs: Warrick Gelant, Travis Ismaiel, Jamba Ulengo, Duncan Matthews, Jade Stighling, Franco Naude, Divan Rossouw, Andell Loubser (apprentice).

The Vodacom Super Rugby Management team:

Head Coach and Defense: John Mitchell

Skills, attack and kicking: Hayden Groepes

Forward Coach & Lineouts: Pote Human

Forward Coach & Scrums: Gary Botha

Baggage and Kit Master: Elias Bennett

Team Doctor: Dr Herman Rossouw

Team Physios: Lance Lemmetjies & Pieter du Plessis

Senior Rehab specialist: Juandre Williams

Strength & Conditioning Coaches: Jacus Coetzee and Ghafoer Luckan

Technical Analysist at Super Rugby: John William Meyer

SuperSport Challenge and U21:

Head Coach and Backline: David Manuel

SuperSport Challenge, U21 and U19 kicking: Divan Strydom

Forward Coach:  Anton Leonard

Scrum Coach: Gary Botha

Defense: John Mitchell

Team Manager and Technical Analysist: Vainon Willis

Baggage and Kit Master:  Zama Dyidi

Team Doctor:  Dr Gerhard Louwrens

Team Physio: Kyle Meyer

Junior Rehab specialist: Yusuf Vahed

Strength and Conditioning Coach: Shaun du Toit


Vodacom Blue Bulls Under 19:

Head Coach and Forwards: Nollis Marais

SuperSport Challenge, U21 and U19 kicking: Divan Strydom

Backline Coach:  Bevin Fortuin

Scrum Coach: Gary Botha

Defense: John Mitchell

Team Manager and Technical Analysist: Curtley Prins

Baggage and Kit Master:  Akhona Faleni

Team Doctor:  Dr Gerhard Lourens

Team Physio: Um’r Ismail

Junior Rehab specialist: Yusuf Vahed

Strength and Conditioning Coach: Henri-Charl Terblanche


All Professional Teams Coordinator Operations and Logistics: Hendy Seerane

Admin P.A to all professional teams: Karin Visser

Medical P.A to all professional teams: Heidi Visagie

Mental Coach and Psychologist to all professional teams: Dr Jannie Botha

Storeroom and Equipment Manager all teams: Andries Kabinde

Tim Dlulane chats to Sport24 – Xander is toxic


In an exclusive interview, TIM DLULANE talks about being axed by the Bulls as senior team manager, why provinces are hampering SA Rugby’s transformation plans and the Springboks’ end-of-year tour.

Sport24 asked: After over a decade of loyal service, how does it feel to be let go?

Tim Dlulane: It’s part of life, but it hurts. I added value to the organisation for 12 years, but in the end they treated me like a dying horse.

I stand by what I said in terms of the Bulls’ retrenchment process being a smokescreen. In his statement, Barend van Graan said the retrenchment process was done in accordance with the Labour Relations Act and managed by an independent lawyer.

However, I feel the retrenchment process was flawed in that I was included on the list of high performance employees when I wasn’t one – I was a permanent employee.

I raised that concern to the legal representative of the company and she said she would address my concerns with the board, but never got back to me. Another reason I felt the retrenchment process was flawed is because only two consultations were done as a group and, during the final one, I was informed that I was one of the employees selected for retrenchment.

I think the fact that I didn’t get along with high performance manager Xander Janse van Rensburg had a role to play in my axing. I’m still a Blue Bull and can’t be against the brand, but Barend and Xander are the two individuals who wanted to get rid of me.

They think they own the company, but they are only employees and their contracts will be over at some stage. Barend is already nearing retirement age and his stay at the Bulls won’t last forever. I must point out that John Mitchell’s arrival didn’t play a part in me losing my post.

He was as surprised at the news as I was. He approached me and said: “Tim, I have just been told that you are under retrenchment – how are you holding up?” He came to me personally and wished me all the best. He added that he had been dismissed a number of times over his career and knows that it’s not an easy situation.

I was actually enjoying collaborating with John because he is someone who doesn’t see colour when working with individuals and he wants to bring out the best in each person.

Sport24 asked: Bakkies Botha questioned Janse van Rensburg’s value. Your view?

Tim Dlulane: He played a major role in terms of what went wrong at the Bulls over the last few seasons and has created a toxic environment.

I believe he was the person that put my name forward for retrenchment. Barend has had to back him because he is the head of the department. Heyneke Meyer sold Xander to Barend as the messiah of recruitment. Heyneke – the former Bulls coach and director of rugby – took a liking to Xander and introduced him to Barend after the former told him that he had been following his career and wanted to learn from him.

Xander started off scouting, recruiting and contracting junior players for the Bulls and was later promoted at the union. His title from 2012 has been high performance manager, but ever since his appointment he has acted as if he owns the Blue Bulls Company.

Barend has stood by Xander when everyone else has been against him. Barend has to stand behind Xander because they are there together, but I believe a time will come when they no longer have the power. I’m not the only one who has raised concerns about Xander’s suitability.

I don’t feel he is qualified for what he is doing at the Bulls. Almost everyone at the Bulls question Xander and you have to ask why Barend cannot see that he is being fooled by him.

Sport24 asked: Of the five employees retrenched, four are black. What does it say?

Tim Dlulane: I believe the Bulls are living in denial in terms of not embracing change. As much as my former employers think I’m a fool, I’m not.

Everybody in rugby knows what’s happening at the Bulls. Either Barend is being misled by the company’s representatives or he is living in denial that transformation must come. As a sport, we need to stand together behind SA Rugby and help transform the game from the bottom up.

Our Super Rugby teams need to become transformed so as to ensure that when the 2023 Rugby World Cup comes around, nobody is talking about transformation. Do the Bulls really want to transform or are they presenting a facade to the rest of South Africa? I believe most of the unions in the country are failing SA Rugby in terms of their transformation plans.

If, as a province, you want to transform, you can’t just transform on the field of play. Barend has said that the Bulls support SA Rugby’s policy in terms of meeting targets by fielding players of colour, but what about black administrators, board members and coaches?

The Bulls board is not transformed – there is only one black individual represented. If the unions don’t change their way of thinking and remain living in denial, SA rugby will continue to be failed by the provinces at large. Blacks are the minority in the sport, but according to the country’s demographics we are the majority, so somewhere there is a disconnect.

The provinces must make sure that they appoint coaches of colour as assistants to the head coaches and ensure that there is a pool of black players emanating from junior structures. As a player of colour, I always related better to a white coach if the message was sent by his black assistant.

It’s tough for black players because they don’t have the adequate personnel to support them. At times, you need someone of your same colour to say, “hang on in there,” and not have to deal with someone who’ll treat you as if you don’t belong.

Black players need those who can stand in their corner and say: “Yes, you had a bad game, but I know you can do better.” Do the white coaches do that for the black players? The answer is an emphatic no.

My experience as I player was that I related better to a black coach or manager because he understood my background. We can’t hide from the fact that blood is thicker than water.

Sport24 asked: You played once for South Africa in 2004. What did it mean to you?

Tim Dlulane: I had the opportunity to live my dream and represent the Springboks. In terms of ability, I knew that I deserved to be there and was capable of playing at the highest level.

I worked hard to reach that point and my dream came true when I took to the field to play against Wales in Cardiff. However, to be clear, my selection for that Test was forced by government and, as much as I was capable, it was not then coach Jake White’s decision to include me.

White had to back the government’s point of view. If there was no policy in place, I wouldn’t have been in the Springbok setup. The reality is that black players weren’t afforded the same opportunities as their white counterparts.

That was a given during my professional playing career and I’ll say that with authority. I will be forever grateful to Brian van Rooyen, who stood his ground and enforced policy, but he was not the favourite and his term was cut short.

During his tenure, he stuck to his guns and once said to me: “Tim, as long as I’m SA Rugby president I’ll make sure that you are afforded equal opportunity.” Allister Coetzee needs a deep pool of black players from which to select at Test match level.

It’s not the duty of the Springbok coach to develop black players. Siya Kolisi is shining for the Springboks because he is backed unconditionally at his province. I’m of the view that you can only truly flourish as a player if you having the backing at your union.

Kolisi was entrusted with the Stormers captaincy, and I believe it’s only a matter of time before he becomes Springbok captain. I’m rooting for him to lead out the Springboks at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. Siya is a tremendous performer and an outstanding player and leader. He’s grounded and everybody knows that he deserves to be there.

Sport24 asked: Your assessment of the Springboks’ chances on the end-of-year tour?

Tim Dlulane: After losing narrowly to New Zealand in their last Test, the Springboks will want to carry on where they left off when they tackle Ireland next Saturday.

Owing to the momentum the Boks have generated, I’m hoping that they will be able to make a clean sweep on their year-end tour to the UK, France and Italy. The way they performed against New Zealand was outstanding and the culture of this team is coming together.

All of a sudden, they are playing like a band of brothers. It’s unfortunate to lose Jean-Luc Du Preez to injury because he is an outstanding player, who was playing tremendously well.

However, injury is part and parcel of the game. We have to accept that injuries are out of everyone’s control and he will be determined to come back stronger. The fact that the Boks have replaced him with Ruan Botha comes down to wanting more options in the lineout.

I believe it was a wise move from the selectors because you need a specialist lock as cover. Pieter-Steph du Toit is set to reprise his role in the loose forward position on the northern hemisphere tour. He is an athlete and is capable of fulfilling the flank role as he is both mobile and physical.

In my book, you can successfully convert a lock to flank if you put them through the necessary training in order to get to grips with what is required on defence.

Du Toit was found wanting on a defensive front when he played blindside flank for South Africa against England at Twickenham during the 2016 end-of-year tour, but he delivered a much improved performance against the All Blacks at Newlands.

As a collective, the Boks are in high spirits, but having toured Europe myself, the weather conditions will prove challenging. As South Africans, we are used to the sunny weather, but at this time of the year it’s cold and wet up north.

The Boks will have to get used to those conditions and adapt accordingly. Coetzee’s men will need to focus on the mission at hand and do what it takes to grind out the results.

The key is to play a more territory-based, forward dominated game. The tourists will need to be more conservative and take care of ball possession. If the Springboks are able to adapt their tactical approach to suit the conditions, I believe they will win all four of their fixtures.

Thanks to

Gelant hat-trick sink Sharks in Durban


The Bulls outscored the Sharks to take their first win away from home when they beat them 30-17 on Friday night. Gelant scored a hat-trick of tries to sink the Sharks in the Shark-tank.

The Sharks and the Bulls started the return to Super Rugby after the June Internationals and kick off the last few rounds in Durban.

With the Sharks certain off a play-off spot and the Bulls just playing for pride it was a game to look forward to and more dangerous for the Sharks than the Bulls as the Bulls had nothing to lose.

Supporters from both side just wanted their sides to show some intend to run the ball and score tries and that is what the two teams tried to do on the night.

It was the Bulls with the better start showing a bit more in the first ten minutes of the match and scored the first try from a mistake from the Sharks at their own lineout.

This gave them a 5-0 early lead in the match.

The game then came to life with the Sharks replying with a try of their own through Thomas Du Toit. This gave them a 7-5 lead.

With the Sharks on the break-out the Bulls turned it around and score from the turnover to take back the lead 12-7 after 20 minutes.

The Bulls did not take long to extend the lead after a Sharks slotted a penalty over with Serfontein showing his class and sending his fullback over for the try.

The Sharks had their chances but Bulls defence hold them and some silly mistakes on attack prevent any points coming from it.

The Bulls kept the lead going into the break and great first half from the visitors.

The Sharks did not had a good start to the second half giving away allot of penalties and got a yellow card for repeated penalties against them.

The Bulls extend the lead with a penalty to 20-10.

It was the Sharks that scored against the run of play after they caught the Bulls asleep with a quick lineout to make the lead only 3 points.

Serfontein was again in the frame sending Gelant over for his third try of the match and a 10-point lead for the Bulls leading the Sharks 27-17 after 60 minutes.

The Bulls extend their lead to 30-17 with a penalty as both teams made more mistakes on attack.

The Bulls kept the lead till the end and got their first away win this season.

Jan Serfontein was again outstanding and my Man of the Match.


Sharks – Tries: Thomas du Toit, Curwin Bosch. Conversions: Bosch (2). Penalty: Bosch.
Bulls – Tries: Nic de Jager, Warrrick Gelant (3). Conversion: Tian Schoeman (2). Penalties: Schoeman (2)

Official: John Mitchell join Bulls (Video)


The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd confirmed on Thursday evening that decorated international rugby coach John Mitchell has been appointed as their new Executive of Rugby.

This appointment is the next step in the unfolding turnaround strategy announced by the company two weeks ago.

Barend van Graan, CEO of the BBCo, explained that the appointment is merely a next step in the turnaround strategy: “We are working hard to ensure sustainable and long term success for the Vodacom Bulls. As part of the process, we have now appointed the best candidate to take over the reins at the Vodacom Bulls. We are also continuing with the rest of the process, to listen to people whose insights will help our turnaround succeed. We are working towards achieving success as a team on every front, to grow our supporter base and to earn trust in our brand”.

“I said from the start that this would be a thorough process. We looked at options both internally and externally, and had various other discussions and forums to ensure we would identify the correct candidates. The signing of a coach with the magnitude and experience of Mitchell is a massive coup for us, as his coaching credentials and achievements speak for themselves. I’m sure John will be able to add immensely in terms of our goals to win trophies and more importantly to help the continued development of our coaches and players.”

The 53 year-old dad of three, who was born in Hawera New Zealand, boasts an impressive record both as a player and as a coach. Mitchell played in six matches for the All Blacks, captaining them on three occasions. As a coach he lead them to several memorable victories with an amazing success rate of over 80%, which included 2002 and 2003 Tri-Nations Championships, third place 2003 IRB World Cup and also the Bledisloe Cup in the same year.
“I enjoy challenges and this surely is a serious challenge, but one that excites me tremendously”, said Mitchell.

“I have coached against the Vodacom Bulls and the Springboks many times before. They have a rich history of success, tradition and a legacy that surely surpasses most within SA Rugby and perhaps even world rugby. I am well aware of the responsibilities that come with this job, but I am also excited about the opportunities and the talented players at the Vodacom Bulls.”

Gert Wessels, president of the union, was also excited about the appointment, “It’s been a tough year at Loftus, and some big decisions had to be made. The Bulls Board and Executives decided to implement a strategy, which will have an immediate effect on the short term with the least disruption on players and coaches and further exacerbate an already dire situation. I have no doubt that John is the man to take the Vodacom Bulls forward and establish strategies that will benefit the Bulls in the long term, and I am rather excited about having a man of his caliber on a our team. He is a humble man, who epitomizes rugby values and what this beautiful game stands for, and I firmly believe that he will be an asset to our structures.”

John Newberry, Chairman of the board, elaborated on Nollis Marais’ role going forward, “Nollis will remain in his role as the Currie Cup Head Coach. The BBCo have invested a lot of time and resources in him over the past six years, and he has come through our ranks and has achieved many successes with the various teams over the years. He is a great coach and a true Blue Bull at heart.

“This appointment will strengthen his hand and ensure that he still adds value and remains a vital part of our system. We value his efforts, his commitment and ability to adapt to the changes, but most importantly his potential to walk the path forward with this brand. He is a integral part of this system and will fulfill a very important role in Mitchell’s management team.”

The Blue Bulls Company would also like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to our sponsors: Vodacom, Afgri, Isuzu, Puma, as well as all the other associates, but most importantly to our supporters for showing their loyalty through this process.

Van Graan and Mitchell on Bulls short list


Johann van Graan and John Mitchell are on the Bulls’ short list to replace Nollis Marais as coach.

The Bulls have lost eight out of 11 Super Rugby matches this season, including a 51-14 defeat to the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.

According to Rapport newspaper, Van Graan impressed the Bulls board with a presentation at Loftus last Friday.

Van Graan was a Springbok assistant coach under Heyneke Meyer and is the son of Bulls CEO Barend.

Mitchell, the former All Blacks coach who is currently with the USA Eagles, is another contender for the job. The New Zealander has experience coaching in South Africa with the Lions, and lives in Durban.

Rapport claims that the Bulls asked Meyer to come on board immediately to help Marais until the end of the season. However, the former Bok coach’s duties as managing director of Carinat Sports Marketing meant he was unable to do so.

Thank to

Vodacom Bulls institute a turnaround plan



The Vodacom Bulls have instituted a turnaround plan toimprove its performance on and off the field. As a first step in the implementation of its turnaround, the Bulls management is embarking on wide-ranging consultation.

The economic headwinds in South Africa are very strong and the consequent financial effects contribute to the challenges faced by the Bulls and rugby in SA.

Most importantly however, we acknowledge weaknesses that have been exposed in our system, including on the field of play; reflecting in our results and the performance of the team. We have to change, improve andmost importantly put a process in place to ensure the success of the turnaround.

As a first step we will be taking advice from various role players in the industry, former players, coaches and various other forums, to ensure we implement the best possible solution.  Furthermore we will also be engaging the support of all the role players in the implementation of this plan through the turnaround process.

The Blue Bulls Company will be communicating the progress of this process in due course as we move forward.

Boom now a Bull


Loose forward Boom Prinsloo has joined the Bulls on a two-year deal until the end of the 2019 season.

The 28-year-old will link up with his new teammates on Monday as his contract with the Bulls comes into effect immediately.

But according Netwerk24.com, Prinsloo will not play any part in the remainder of the Bulls’ Super Rugby campaign because he has already represented the Cheetahs in the competition this year. He played in two matches – against the Bulls and the Jaguares – before he suffered an injury.

One of Sanzaar’s rules dictate that a player may not represent a team if he had already been named in the match 23 of a different side in the same season. It is believed the Bulls are in contact with Sanzaar about the possibility of playing Prinsloo at some stage this year.

Prinsloo has plied his trade in Bloemfontein for the past 10 years, having presented Free State at U18, U19 and U21 levels, the Shimlas in the Varsity Cup and the Cheetahs at Currie and Super Rugby levels.

‘It was a difficult decision, but it was time to for career move,’ said Prinsloo. ‘I’ll always be thankful to the Free State Rugby Union for what they’ve done for and the opportunities they’ve granted me over past 10 years.’

‘I just think it’ll do me good to play in a different environment and the Bulls are a big union that have accomplished a lot in Super Rugby.’

Thanks to

Pollard recover after surgery


Springbok and Bulls flyhalf Handre Pollard underwent ankle surgery on Monday.

The Bulls announced last week that Pollard had suffered an injury to his right ankle in training and would be sidelined for between eight and 10 weeks.

Pollard is therefore unlikely to be unavailable for the Springboks’ three-Test series against France in June.

The 23-year-old has had a tough time with injuries of late, having missed the entire 2016 season after rupturing knee ligaments.

He played 20 Tests for the Springboks between 2014 and 2015, with his last international appearance coming against Argentina in the third-place playoff at the Rugby World Cup in England.

Meanwhile, Bulls team doctor Herman Rossouw said there were no new injury concerns following the weekend’s 20-14 win over the Cheetahs in Pretoria.

The Bulls have a bye this week, before hosting the Crusaders at Loftus Versfeld on May 6.


Potgieter injury add to Bulls worry


The Bulls will be without back-row Jacques Potgieter for this weekend’s Super Rugby game against the Jaguares due to a hamstring strain.

Potgieter, who only returned last week against the Sunwolves, is now sidelined once again as the Bulls’ season reaches a vital stage.

In other injury news, prop Jacobie Adriaanse is suffering from a concussion but isn’t yet ruled out of Saturday’s game at Loftus Versfeld.

However, John-Roy Jenkinson, Ruan Steenkamp, Dries Swanepoel, Arno Botha, JT Jackson and Jonny Kotze all remain on the sidelines.

Bulls head coach Nollis Marais does have centre Ulrich Beyers back in training while prop Conraad van Vuuren should return by next week

Marais fears for his job


Bulls coach Nollis Marais has admitted the pressure on his job is mounting after Saturday’s 21-20 loss to the Sunwolves in Tokyo.

The defeat means the Pretoria-based side have won just once in six matches and are in the ignominious position of being the only South African side to have lost to the Sunwolves.

Marais believes his side’s poor display was down to their inability to execute the basics correctly, for which they were duly punished.

“We made too many errors; kicking for touch, kicking directly out, small little things that cost us and they changed a lot of things in the game,” said Marais.

“We are going home where we have a lot of games and we will focus on getting things right for the Jaguares next weekend. The only thing that we can do for now is to get ready for that match against the Jaguares.”

The former U21 coach, who made the big step up to coaching the senior team last year, is well aware that he is not meeting the expectations of a union who have high expectations.

“I think every coach’s job’s is on the line. If you win one out of six matches I will always feel that you are under pressure,” the Blue Bulls coach said.

“It doesn’t matter because this is Super Rugby and people expect a lot from coaches. I know that our board has a lot of faith in me but the results need to prove it and we must fix things before our next match at the weekend.”

A lack of discipline cost the Loftus side dearly in the end, as Jan Serfontein was sin-binned in the last quarter.

“I have to review it. Unfortunately it cost us in the end. The last time we played with 14 guys it inspired us but 14 guys today was difficult to defend.

“I thought it was an excellent tackle by Jamba Ulengo to prevent a try but unfortunately we got a yellow card,” said the 45-year-old.

He added that he is unsatisfied with performances of certain players.

“I feel unsatisfied by certain performances but you have to look at it as the whole team and at the end of the day we were not good enough to win on the day.

“The players know that they did not produce the results. We have nine games to go in the competition and I think about six or seven of those matches are at home.

“The supporters must stick with the team because they know exactly what to do to get out of this situation.”

Woeful Bulls goes down against Sunwolves


The Bulls manage to get to a new low when the Sunwolves beat them on Saturday in Tokyo with a 21-20 win.

The Sunwolves started the match as we have seen them the whole year with ball in hand and puuting pressure on their opponents early one.

The Bulls was caught napping from a kick and Sunwolves quickly moved the ball to the wing and scored the first try of the match to lead the Bulls 5-0.

A penalty gave the Sunwolves another three points before Burger Odendal ran straight through the Sunwolves defence to score the Bulls first try. This gave the Sunwolves a lead of 8-7 after 15 min.

The Sunwolves implemented a good kicking game with the wet field to put the Bulls under pressure and forcing penalty and turnovers.

The two teams struggled to put long enough phases together losing the ball in contact or at crucial times giving away turnovers.

The Sunwolves kept the Bulls out in the last few minutes of the first half and had the lead going into halftime 11-10.

The Bulls started the second half much better but indecision on attack just led to more mistakes and a change for Sunwolves to exit their tewenty two.

The Bulls were the first to put points on the board in the second half with a penalty taking the lead for the first time in the mtch 13-11.

Both teams tried to play a kicking game which did not work and it took the Bulls till the 65 minute to get over the line after a turnover.

This gave them a lead of 20-11.

The Bulls got a controversial yellow card when Serfontein was send off giving the Sunwolves the opertunity to get over for their first try in the second half.

That reduced the score to 20-18 with 10 minutes to go.

The Sunwolves got a penalty over with 7 minutes to go and kept that lead to give the Bulls another loss on tour and their first win of the season.


Sunwolves – Tries: Rahboni Warren Vosayaco, Takaaki Nakazuru. Conversion: Yu Tamura. Penalties: Hayden Cripps (2).
Bulls – Tries: Burger Odendaal, Travis Ismaiel. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (2). Penalties: Schoeman (2), Francois Brummer.

Oom Rugby-Pollard is no playmaker


Oom Rugby is looking this week at Springbok Handre Pollard 

Hi guys, this past weekend was a great few days of rugby, especially because I was privilege to be at Ellis Park with the passionate Lion supporters to watch the wonderful Sharks game. What a lekker experience and performance from both teams! And in Hamilton earlier that day, the Bulls lost but show lot more focus and intent against the Chiefs.

This game was also interesting because the Bulls defence was much better, but then on attack sometimes they just did not always click. One thing they did that work well was that they “changed direction” often after a ruck – so they play one way but then at the next ruck they switch and play back the other way, especially after a set piece. I am sure this was pre-planned for how the Chiefs defenders fold from ruck to ruck. Often the first receiver with this switches was the excellent Burger Odendaal who many times find space on the short side.

But on a few other occasions when the Bulls was playing more traditional off 10, from ruck to ruck, the backs did not seem to be able to make anything happen.

When I had a closer look I notice that sometimes the problem seem to be Handre who often stand too deep, or should I say he distribute too deep. Take a look at the picture below.

Handre is about to pass the ball but he do it so early that the aggressive Chiefs defenders can now just change direction and attack the remaining Bulls runners. It is like a hospital pass for his whole backline.

If Handre was taking the ball flatter, or if he was coming up faster and playing later, then there is more mystery and the inside Chief defenders must stay where they are to see what is going to develop. We take away their time. It is no use to run your moves early and deep, and the opposition can just wait and watch and then attack the final receiver.

Below is a example of nice flatness and running onto the ball by Lood of all people. Take a look.

Lood is taking the ball in motion and he is quite flat and close to the Chiefs defensive line. They must cover him – he is a option to carry, but he can also pass inside and outside. Chiefs can not drift or shift outside – you can see the difference.

But guys now I want to tell you something that I find very, very interesting…

I have a strong feeling that the reason Handre does not usually play flatter or later is because he can not do it.

I watched him very closely, and guys he is not comfortable trying to pick runners when he is playing late and close to the opposition defence. He seem to get flustered and get a tunnel vision and then often his execution suffer. His passes drop short or they go high, as we see in two quick examples below from the Chief game.

Now I know you are thinking that this is a big claim to make. I am in the essence saying that Handre can not fulfil the role of a modern flyhalf. But guys, what if I tell you that I notice this tendency in Handre two years ago and that I collected some video clips of it back then already because I find it so interesting.

Handre will take the ball flat, but when he have to pick a runner he mess up the pass or he will rather just not pass at all and go into contact. Below is three quick examples from old games.

So I will stick my neck out and say that Handre is not a guy who is able to play flat. It is not fear – we know he is hell of a tough guy. I feel it is a mental and perception thing that some guys is able to do and some not.

When he is presented with multiple options, with crowded space, under pressure, he is often unable to make a quick choice and execute his decision effectively. It is as if there is too much going on. And as I say, his “fail safe” often is just rather to take contact and not pass at all.

I know what I am saying and I do not take it lightly. I am saying that he possibly lack an important skill that is needed to be a international flyhalf. A 10 must be able to vary his depth and play deep and flat and bring his strike options into play right at the faces of the opposition.

Maybe coaches can work with him, maybe it is something that will come with time, and of course maybe I am totally wrong!

But when I ask myself why Handre don’t play flatter, and when I look at the evidence I have seen over the years, this game finally cement it for me that it is not something I feel he can do effectively. It is something that sometimes burden the Bulls backs, and I am sure we do not want it to burden the Bok backs.

Take care guys, and we will chat again soon.

Thanks to

Bulle se All Black-SOS


I apologise to our non Afrikaans members. I couldn’t find an English version of this article. This was reported on Netwerk24.

’n All Black gaan nou die Bulle help om hul rugby reg te ruk.

Wayne Smith, Dave Rennie, Graham Henry en Tony Brown, al vier top-afrigters in Nieu-Seelandse rugby, word deur die Bulle geteiken om Nollis Marais as hoofafrigter te adviseer en by te staan met die vernuwing wat die Superrugby-franchise glo van hom weer ’n gerekende rugbykrag sal maak.


’n Onberispelike bron het dié week aan Rapport bevestig dat die Bulle hoop om een van dié vier All Blacks as ’n konsultant Loftus Versfeld toe te lok. Gesprekke is reeds begin om een van die vier deel van die Bulle se voorbereiding te maak.

“Die Bulle beplan allermins om weg te beweeg van die sterk punte van Suid-Afrikaanse rugby,” het die bron gesê.

“Die modewoord is eerder kruisbestuiwing. Hulle wil by die beste leer om hulle weer een van Suid-Afrikaanse en Bok-rugby se steunpilare te maak. Bok-rugby is gesond as die Bulle en die Westelike Provinsie sterk is; gaan kyk gerus terug na die geskiedenis van Suid-Afrikaanse rugby.”

Die Stormers was die eerste Suid-Afrikaanse span wat hom tot die kundigheid van ’n top-Kiwi-breier gewend het. Hulle het die gewese hulpafrigter van die Blues, Paul Feeney, aangestel.

“Die Bulle wil doelbewus iemand betrek wat tans deel van die binnewerking van Nieu-Seelandse rugby is. Die Bulle glo dat hulle op die regte pad is, maar soek nog daardie skakelaar wat hulle sal laat kliek.”

Smith, Rennie en Brown lyk na die drie voorste kandidate omdat hulle nog in alle fasette van afrigting betrokke is.

Rapport verneem dat John Plumtree se naam ook as ’n kandidaat genoem word om as ’n konsultant deur die Bulle betrek te word. Geen gesprekke het egter nog tussen dié gewese afrigter van die Haaie en die Bulle plaasgevind nie.

Nieu-Seelandse afrigters is wêreldwyd in aanvraag. Vern Cotter (Skotland, Montpellier), Warren Gatland (Wallis, Britse en Ierse Leeus) en Joe Schmidt (Ierland) is almal op internasionale vlak as breiers betrokke by toetsspanne.

* Wayne Smith

Wayne Smith word as een van die skerpste rugbybreine ter wêreld beskou. Hy is tot ná vanjaar se Rugbykampioenskap die All Blacks se aanvals- en verdedigingsafrigter. Hy was ’n hulpafrigter van Steve Hansen toe die All Blacks die Wêreldbeker in 2011 en 2015 gewen het. In 2000 en 2001 was hy die hoofafrigter van die All Blacks.

Dié voormalige All Black-losskakel het in 1998 en 1999 as hoofafrigter van Canterbury en die Crusaders sy merk as Super 12-kampioen gemaak.

* Dave Rennie 

Dave Rennie het Wellington in 59 wedstryde as ’n senter verteenwoordig.

As afrigter het hy eers sukses behaal met die All Blacks se o.20-groep wat van 2008 tot 2010 onder hom die wêreldkampioen was.

As hoofafrigter van die Chiefs het sy Superspan in 2012 en 2013 die reeks gewen.Rennie, wat ook vroeër genoem is as ’n moontlike keuse om Allister Coetzee as Springbok-afrigter te vervang, sal vanaf die einde van die jaar die Skotse klubspan Glasgow Warriors se hoofafrigter wees.

* Graham Henry

Graham Henry is ’n voormalige All Black-hoofafrigter wat deesdae grootliks as ’n konsultant by spanne betrokke is. Leinster en die Jaguares is die mees onlangse spanne by wie hy betrokke was. Hy word ook soms deur Nieu-Seelandse spanne betrek.

Die hoogtepunt van sy loopbaan was toe die All Blacks onder sy afrigting die Wêreldbeker in 2011 verower het. Hy het verskeie ander spanne soos Auckland, die Blues, Wallis en die Britse en Ierse Leeus afgerig.

* Tony Brown

Tony Brown is ’n voormalige All Black-losskakel en word as een van die wêreld se voorste aanvallende afrigters beskou.

Sy loopbaan as afrigter het by die klubspan Panasonic Wild Knights begin.

Nadat hy van 2013 een van die Highlanders se hulpafrigters was, is hy vanjaar as die hoofafrigter aangestel.

Chiefs win Bulls


The Chiefs just had too much for the Bulls as they beat them 28-12 on Saturday in New Zealand.

The Bulls had a great start with Burger Odendal that broke twice to get the Bulls into the Chiefs twenty two and force a penalty to get a 3-0 lead first up.

The Bulls kept the pressure on Chiefs and ball in hand to force another penalty and Pollard happy to take the points and stretch the Bulls lead to 6-0 after 10 min.

The Bulls intend was to run the ball andthey looked good playing with the ball as well. The Chiefs got their first points on the board through a penalty from a scrum.

The Bulls showed much more intend to run the ball and speed it up which was putting much better pressure on the Chiefs and playing more in the right areas of the field.

Pollard slotted over another penalty and took his team lead to 9-3 after 29 min. The Bulls defensive effort in the first half have been the best it was all season.

The Bulls went into the break with the lead of 9-3.

The second half sarted well for the Bulls as the kept having good moments on attack and the Chiefs getting frastrated more as the game goes on.

The Chiefs then worked some magic with Stevenson that left Ulenga cold and the first try of he night.

That gave the Chiefs the lead of 10-9 after 51 min.The teams traded peanlties to take the score to 13-12 fter 62 min.

It was the Chiefs turn to put the pressure on the Bulls and playing in their half of the field forcing a penalty to extend the lead to 16-12.

The Chiefs then got their mojo back as they scored  brilliant try under the sticks to take the score to 23-12 after 72 min.

The Bulls were running out of gas and the Chiefs stepped it up a notch and scored another to take the lead to 28-12 after 78 min.

The Bulls did try till the end but at the end did not had enough to beat the Chiefs as the went down 28-12.


Chiefs 24 (3)

Tries: Shaun Stevenson, Damian McKenzie, Atu Moli

Conversions: Aaron Cruden (2)

Penalties: Cruden (3)

Bulls 9 (12)

Penalties: Handre Pollard (4)

Brilliant Blues second half to good for Vodacom Bulls


The Blues put a brilliant second half performance together on Saturday beating the Bulls 38-14 after the two teams went into the break at 7-all.

The Blues quickly put their marker down with a try in the third minute after they used quick hands down the line to get pass some ordinary Bulls defense.

This gave them a 7-0 lead and put the Bulls on the backfoot early on.

The Bulls tried to play with ball in hand but played behind the advantage line and with no real urgency in their back play which made it easy to defend.

With perfect conditions on the pitch both teams handling was a bit shocking and too many mistakes on attack which made the game very scrappy.

Pollard put the Bulls in the perfect position with a penalty kick and with a great drive from the Lineout the Bulls worked their way over to get their first try and level the scoreboard at 7-all.

The Blues got back in the Bulls half straight after the try and gave up a penalty kick for points to go for the line which they were unable to convert into a try.

The rest of the half both teams had their opportunities but every time they seemed to build on something, handling errors or penalties stop the good work being done.

They went into halftime with the score at 7-all and still all to play for in the second forty minutes.

The second half started again like a heavyweight boxing match with the two teams trying to find that punch.

The Blues got into the right area of the field again and with some poor defense from the Bulls they found the gap and scored the second try to take the lead to 14-7 after 46 min.

With the Bulls given away silly penalties they gave the Blues again the opportunities in their twenty-two and they worked hard but got their third try to take the lead to 19-7 after 57 minutes.

The Blues did receive a yellow card to give that slight believe that they can comeback in the match after a neck-roll on Kriel.

Just as you thought the Bulls had the upper hand they let a 14-man Blues side rip through some poor defense and score their forth try.

The Bulls seemed to fall apart in their defense at this stage as the Blues just kept ball in hand and scored their fifth try to stretch the lead to 31-7 after 70 min.

The problems continued for the Bulls with a brilliant try from the Blues as they almost run the full length of the field to score another try and made it the worst second half performance from the Bulls this season.

The Blues too the lead after that try to 38-7 after 75min.

The Bulls did manage to score a late try through Paige but that had little defence to a great Blues performance in that second half.

The Blues won the game at the end with 38-14.

The scorers:

For Blues:
Tries: Pulu, Duffie 2, West, Moulds, Nanai
Cons: Francis 2, West 2
Yellow Card: Tupou

For Bulls:
Tries: Gqoboko, Paige
Cons: Pollard, Schoeman

Strauss back as captain for Bulls


Regular captain Adriaan Strauss will resume in his familiar role for the Vodacom Bulls on their Vodacom Super Rugby trip to New Zealand and Japan when he takes over the captain’s armband from Handré Pollard for the three week trip.

The squad of 27 will face the Blues on 25 March, Chiefs on 1 April and Sunwolves in Tokyo on 8 April.

Vodacom Bulls coach Nollis Marais also named a standby group if any replacements need to be called, with two former Springboks, Jacques Potgieter and Arno Botha, amongst them. Botha will travel with the side if Renaldo Bothma, who was cited against the Sunwolves, is given a suspension.

“It is going to be a massive challenge for us. The Blues are one of the most destructive teams around and the Chiefs are the form team in the competition in recent years. To then travel to Japan to face the Sunwolves will also test our resolve. We realise the importance of good results on this trip, so will be keen to make the most of it,” Marais said.

The travelling squad is:

Props: Pierre Schoeman, Trevor Nyakane, Lizo Gqoboka, Jacobie Adriaanse, John-Roy Jenkinson. Standby: Martin Dreyer, Andrew Beerwinkel

Hookers: Adriaan Strauss, Jaco Visagie, Edgar Marutlulle

Locks: RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Lood de Jager

Loose Forwards: Ruan Steenkamp, Renaldo Bothma * – Pending citing; Hanro Liebenberg, Jannes Kirsten, Nic de Jager. Standby: Jacques Potgieter, Arno Botha

Scrumhalves: Rudi Paige, Piet van Zyl. Standby: Ivan van Zyl

Flyhalves: Handre Pollard, Tian Schoeman. Standby: Francois Brummer.

Centres: Dries Swanepoel, Burger Odendaal, Jan Serfontein. Standby: Johnny Kotze

Back three: Jamba Ulengo, Travis Ismaiel, Warrick Gelant, Jesse Kriel. Standby: Jade Stighling.

Sunwolves made Bulls work hard for first win


The Bulls made hard work on Friday night when they beat the Sunwolves at Loftus 34-21.

It was the first win for the Bulls outfit for the season and the best result they could wish for after the two first losses against the Stormers and Cheetahs away.

The task got a little bit harder for the Bulls when Renaldo Bothma was send off with a red card in the 42 minute of the game for a dangerous high tackle. Their can be no complaints from the Bulls on that decision.

Jan Serfontein got a double on his return to the rugby field after a long layoff due to injury. Pierre Schoeman and Jason Jenkins also scored tries for the Bulls with Pollard and Schoeman adding the extra points with the boot.

The Sunwolves as they did last week gave the Bulls a hard time throughout the match and even though they played with an extra man in the second half showed that they have improved allot since that first game against the Chiefs.

The Bulls struggled in the collisions and at the breakdowns which did not create or gave the backline enough good ball to lay with. The lineouts was not perfect and at with the scrums they never really dominated.

Defense was again poor from the Bulls and the Sunwolves exposed it when they scored just before the break.

The Sunwolves finished strongly and nearly claimed a losing bonus point when Liaki Moli scored after full-time, but the TMO ruled that the ball had been lost forward.

With the Bulls going on tour now, they will have to improve a hell of allot if they want to win against the New Zealanders on the road.

The scorers:

For Bulls:
Tries: Serfontein 2, Schoeman, Jenkins
Cons: Pollard 3, Schoeman
Pens: Pollard, Schoeman
Red Card: Bothma

For Sunwolves:
Tries: Fukuoka, Quirk
Con: Ogura
Pens: Cripps 4


Gelant gets his first start for Bulls


Vodacom Bulls coach Nollis Marais made wholesale changes to his team to face the Sunwolves at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Friday, naming different combinations in his back three, midfield, half-backs, loose trio, lock pairing and front row.

The Vodacom Bulls will play their first match at home in this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby tournament and will host the visitors from the Far East with a much changed side from the one that lost to the Toyota Cheetahs two weeks ago.

Amongst the backs, the return of Springbok World Cup midfielder, Jan Serfontein, is the most significant. He will play his 49th Super Rugby match, but only his first in the season, after a delayed start due to injury. He replaces Dries Swanepoel in the midfield..

Warrick Gelant will also earn a first start for the year in place of Jesse Kriel, who will start off the bench, while Piet van Zyl will start at scrumhalf for the first time this season. Ivan van Zyl will deputise for his namesake in his debut for the season, with Rudy Paige being rested.

Up front, Lood de Jager, has now recovered from the concussion he sustained in the opening weekend of the season, and will start at lock with Jason Jenkins. RG Snyman reverts to the bench. Renaldo Bothma is also promoted to a starting berth in place of Jacques Potgieter, who is rested due to concussion, while Pierre Schoeman and Lizo Gqoboko again trade jerseys, with the latter playing off the bench.

Edgar Marutlulle will make a first start at hooker in Super Rugby for the Vodacom Bulls after playing off the bench in the first two weeks. He replaces Jaco Visagie, who drops out of the match day squad.

Two regulars from last season will make a first appearance off the bench. Adriaan Strauss and Jannes Kirsten recovered from injury and take over from Marutllule and Ruan Steenkamp respectively.

Steenkamp will start at six in place of Nick de Jager, who drops out of the match day squad.

According to Marais, the return of so many fit players allowed him to make wholesale changes.

“The likes of Jan will be keen to get going, while those who is starting for the first time this season will enjoy the extended time on the field. I believe this will freshen up our effort, which did not deliver the right results for us in the opening two matches. The Sunwolves were unlucky against the Cheetahs and gave the guys in Bloem a bigger fright than we did. We cannot underestimate them and there can be no excuses, but for us to deliver a good performance.”

Vodacom Bulls captain, Handré Pollard, welcomed the fact that they will be playing at Loftus Versfeld for the first time.

“This is our home and we cannot slip up here, especially if we want to bring the crowds back to Loftus. We had a slow start, but I am confident that we will pick up the pace from here and will be running with the leading pack soon,” said Pollard.

“There was good energy in training the last couple of days and I am keen to see how the guys perform Friday night.”

The Vodacom Bulls team is (with caps and points): Warrick Gelant (6, 5); Travis Ismaiel (19, 30); Jan Serfontein (48, 65), Burger Odendaal (20, 10); Jamba Ulengo (12, 30); Handré Pollard (c, 27, 254), Piet van Zyl (70, 65); Hanro Liebenberg (10, 15), Renaldo Bothma (19, 20), Ruan Steenkamp (2, 0); Lood de Jager (41, 5); Jason Jenkins (15, 10); Trevor Nyakane (72, 15), Edgar Marutlulle (27, 20), Pierre Schoeman (11, 0). Replacements: Adriaan Strauss (132), Lizo Gqoboko (11, 0), Jacobie Adriaanse (28, 0), RG Snyman (14, 10), Jannes Kirsten (15 (10), Ivan van Zyl (2), Tian Schoeman (24, 75), Jesse Kriel (33, 10).

Cheetahs hold off Bulls fightback to take win


The Cheetahs at the end had to hold off the Bulls to secure their first win 34-28 on Saturday.

Bulls and Cheetahs matches is always a difficult one and the two teams were desperate to get a win behind their name after both lost last week in week one.

It was the Cheetahs that had the perfect start after putting all the pressure on the Bulls through some great attacking play to send Swart over for his first try from the Cheetahs and the game.

That gave the Cheetahs a 7-0 lead after just 4 minutes in the game.

The Bulls did not wait to reply to that Cheetahs try when Jenkins ran through like a centre to score their first try. The conversion was missed which gave the Cheetahs a 7-5 lead after 6 min.

With the Bulls making a mistake from the kick-off the Cheetahs took full advanatage to score their second try of the match.

Pollard got a penalty over to reduce the lead to only 14-8.

It seemed that the penalty from Pollard gave them new energy, putting most of the pressure on the Cheetahs. They forced another penalty which Pollard kicked over.

The Cheetahs asnwered back with a forward drive from lineout to get over for another try and extend their lead to 21-11 after 32 minutes.

The Cheetahs made the game a bit faster and hit the middle of the rucks to give Oupa Mohoje his second try of the match.

Pollard got three points back just before halftime with a penalty which put the scoreboard to 28-14 at the break.

The second half started as the first ended with the Cheetah to run the Bulls down and the Bulls defending most of the time.

With the ball going up and down the field it was the Cheetahs to score next through a penalty and extend the lead to 31-14 after 50 min.

With twenty minutes to go the Bulls still looked out of sorts and not making any headway into the Cheetahs lead.

It was the Bulls that broke the through with the next try when Piet van Zyl went over for the Bulls second try. The Cheetahs still led by 31-21 after 67 min.

It took not take long for the Bulls to score another one and get the lead down to 31-28 after 69 min. The Cheetahs replied with a penalty to stretch the lead again to 34-28 after 73 min.

Too many mistakes on attack from Bulls as their handling and passing let them down was a major cause for not getting over advantage line.

The Cheetahs could keep the Bulls from scoring again and took their first win of the season. The Bulls playing both matches away from home are still winless and some hard work to do.

The scorers:

For Cheetahs:
Tries: Swart, Mohoje 2, Basson
Cons: Zeilinga 4
Pens: Zeilinga 2

For Bulls:
Tries: Jenkins, Van Zyl, Ulengo
Cons: Schoeman 2
Pens: Pollard 3

SR Preview – Cheetahs v Bulls


The last game of the weekend sees the Cheetahs hosting the Bulls in Bloemfontein with bot teams coming off  a lost last weekend.

The Cheetahs can feel very unlucky to have lost the game against the Lions as they had  the opportunities to win the match with the Bulls that have lost their match against the Stormers upfront and in the first forty minutes of the match.

Cheetahs coach Smith has made two changes to his side to face the Bulls with Tshego Nche starting at prop and Marais who will move to the bench. Ryno Benjamin also comes in for the injured Petersen and Ruan van Rensburg will make his debut from the bench.

The Cheetahs will surely target the Bulls scrum and make sure they get enough quality ball to their backs.

Bulls coach Nollis has drafted in Jason Jenkins to replace De Jager and made a switch at prop for the game.

Lizo Gqoboka comes in for Pierre Schoeman at loosehead prop. Renaldo Bothma will fill the vacancy on the bench left by the promotion of Jenkins.

In an early rotational move by Marais, Schoeman and Gqoboka switch around, with the Springbok tourist from last year starting and Schoeman, a try-scorer against the Stormers, coming off the bench.

Nollis team has been criticized during the week for the way Nyakane played at three and he got the nod again from his coach. Time will tell if this is the right move with Trevor struggling at this stage in the position.

Many experts believe it is just a few things Trevor needs to fix which will make him very competitive in the position.

It looks like another great game to look forward too as we end week 2 of Super Rugby.

Prediction: The Bulls did enough last week to come in as favorites and we will give the match to them with 7 points


Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Burger Odendaal, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Handre Pollard (c), 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Nick de Jager, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Renaldo Bothma, 20 Ruan Steenkamp, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Warrick Gelant

Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Ryno Benjamin, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Uzair Cassiem, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (c), 1 Tshego Nche

Replacements: 16 Elandré Huggett, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Danie Mienie, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Niell Jordaan, 21 Zee Mkhabela, 22 Niel Marais, 23 Ruan van Rensburg

Vodacom Super Rugby Log


Stormers get the perfect start against Bulls


It was one of the better matches of the weekend when the Stormers beat the Bulls on Saturday 37-24.

The game started with a crazy pace and the Stormers were quickly in the faces of the Bulls putting huge pressure on the Bulls.

They enjoyed early territory with the Bulls having to defend for all they were worth.

With a few opportunities the Stormers could not get passed the Bulls scrabbling defense. It was the Bulls on attack with Etzebeth getting a turnover in their own half and a quick tap from penalty resulted in a try for SP Marais.

That gave the Stormers a 7-0 lead. The Stormers kept the pressure on and moved quickly back into Bulls half and forced another penalty which Du Plessis kick over.

That took the score to 10-0 after 20 min.

The Stormers kept the pressure and played in Bulls half and with a great little touch from Viljoen, Kolbe got over for the Stormers second try.

This gave the Stormers a 17-0 lead and the Bulls struggling. The Stormers just kept on the pressure and scored their third try just before the half time hooter with Carr going over.

The Stormers had a good 24-0 lead going into the break.

The Bulls came out in the second half and put pressure on the Stormers from the start and scored their first try.

The Stormers hit back immediately and scored their forth try through their captain Kolisi in the corner which gave them a 29-5 lead.

It took the Bulls not long to get their second try as they got into the Stormers half from the restart. They scored their second try through Schoeman to take the led down to 29-12.

The Stormers got another penalty before the Bulls scored their third try which got the scoreboard to 32-17 after 62 min.

Some brilliant play from Stormers team interacting between forwards and backs got Leyds over in the corner to take the score to 37-17.

The Stormers kept the pressure on to try and get that bonus point try but Bulls defense hold strong.

At the end it was the Bulls that scored the final try of the match with the Stormers winning the game 37-24.


Stormers – Tries: SP Marais, Cheslin Kolbe, Nizaam Carr, Siya Kolisi, Dillyn Leyds. Conversions: Jean-Luc du Plessis (3). Penalties: Du Plessis (2).
Bulls – Tries: Hanro Liebenberg (2), Pierre Schoeman, Piet van Zyl. Conversion: Pollard, Tian Schoeman.

SR Preview – Stormers v Bulls


It is a north versus south derby in the last match of the opening weekend of Super Rugby when the Bulls travel to Cape Town to face the Stormers on Saturday, where they have not won since 2011.

One always expect a huge match against these two teams when they face in Super Rugby or Currie Cup and you can expect the same come Saturday evening. The Stormers had some great result in the pre-season matches but that normally counts for nothing especially when you open your account against a great Bulls side.

The Stormers have been hit in pre-season with some crucial injures which will see EW Viljoen starting the match on the wing. We also see that the back three will consist of SP Marais, Kolbe and Leyds.

With a great kicking game these three can expect some major bombs on them from the Bulls and a part of the game where the men from Cape Town have lost games before.

Viljoen will be partner with De Allende in the midfield with Vermaak partnering with Jean-Luc du Plessis at half back.

Kolisi is joined in the loose trio by Nizaam Carr and Rynhardt Elstadt, whilst vice-captain Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit will be in the second row and up front props Wilco Louw and JC Janse van Rensburg will flank hooker Bongi Mbonambi.

The Stormers have two debutants on the replacements bench in the form of hooker Ramone Samuels and utility back Dan Kriel.

The start of a new season is always an exciting time and for us to play at Newlands makes the occasion all the more special,” said head coach Robbie Fleck.

We are determined to show our faithful fans what we can do in what should be a cracking game on Saturday.

For the Bulls Lood De Jager will make his first appearance for the Bulls in Super Rugby after he moved in the off-season from Bloem to Pretoria.

He will be partner with RG Snyman and it will be a great tussle between Etzebeth, Du Toit and Snyman, De Jager.  The Bulls are boost with five Springboks in their team for Saturday and will want these players to make that step up against the Stormers.

De Jager is one of four newcomers to the Bulls team in their opening fixture of the competition.

Edgar Marutlulle and Jacobie Adriaanse (Lions and Southern Kings) have already played at this level and will make their Bulls debuts when called upon from the bench, while back-up flanker, Ruan Steenkamp will make his Bulls and Super Rugby debut if he takes to the field.

Pollard returns after a year on the sideline to lead the team for the first time as captain

Bulls coach, Nollis Marais, was keen to get the season underway, despite the massive challenge they face in round one.

You need to beat the best teams in the competition if you want to win it and to be honest, there will be no easy games,” he said.

The Stormers will pose a massive challenge, no doubt, but that will be a good benchmark for us at the start of our campaign. We have realistic expectations this year and with a good start, we believe we can still be involved come the final weekends.”

Marais was happy with his squad, despite missing a number of players.

We are without proven players such as Adriaan (Strauss), Arno (Botha), Jan (Serfontein) and Roelof (Smit), but that is the nature of this competition. Fact is, we have some serious talent in this group and we owe it to ourselves and our supporters to do justice to that,” Marais said.

Pollard promised a competitive effort.

Look, this is one of the classic matches on the calendar and we look forward to this challenge. The Stormers are a class team and playing them at home is probably the toughest start of all in the competition,” he said.

That said, we have the belief in the squad and the confidence that we can do well this year. We now need to go out there and show our worth.”

Prediction: The Bulls just look good this year and the young players from last season are one year stronger and wiser. The Stormers can be a great team on the day but I do not see any game breakers in this team.  I believe Pollard will control the match and steer his team to their first win since 2011 at Newlands. Bulls to win by 10 plus points.


Stormers: 15 SP Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siya Kolisi (c), 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Dewaldt Duvenage, 22 Dan Kriel, 23 Rob du Preez

Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Travis Ismaiel, 10 Handre Pollard (captain), 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Nick de Jager, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Trevor Nyakane , 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman

Replacemenst: 16 Edgar Marutlelle, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Lizo Gqoboka, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Ruan Steenkamp, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Warrick Gelant

Bulls without Serfontein for Stormers clash



The Vodacom Bulls will have to face the DHL Stormers without Jan Serforntein when they travel to Cape Town in their season opener of this years Super Rugby competition.

It was decided to give Serfontein another week in rehab. Martin Dreyer and Shuan Adendorff will join Serfontein on the side line this weekend with Adendorf and Dreyer carrying minor niggles. All three players will be ready for the second match against the Toyota Cheetahs next week.

James Kirsten, Arno Botha and Adriaan Strauss are still making progress with their rehab and will join the squad in three weeks.

The Bulls long term injuries are Roelof Smit who went under the knife and he is only expected to return in April. Conraas van Vuuren injured his ankle in pre-season on will only be back in six weeks.

The Bulls coach Marais is positive for their opening clash against the Stormers at Newlands, where the Bulls last won in 2011 in Super Rugby.

Marais told Super Sport that his team is far from an end product but are ready to take both the Stormers and Cheetahs on away in the first two weeks of Super Rugby.


The New Zealand sides are way better than us on the breakdown intensity. It’s something we took out of that match, if we want to beat them, then we need to get the breakdown intensity right,” coach Nollis Marais explained.

“We learnt a lot from them. I spoke to Dave Rennie as well and there are a lot of small things we need to fix to get much better if we want to compete against them.

Still, while the Bulls have progressed under Marais and are playing significantly different to the sides of the past, they still aren’t at the level they want to be, and Marais knows all too well that the breakdown is a key area to getting the other things right.

There is definitely progress but we aren’t exactly where we want to be. There are definitely aspects at the breakdown, for instance, where we need to improve,” he added.

You can see there is a totally different intensity with the New Zealand teams, we have tried to simulate it, but we’re still not quite there. It was never such a big focus for us because we had big ball carriers in the past and we got over the advantage line with them. Now that everyone is the same size, then those defensive aspects need to be better, and the smaller things need to be better.

“We are a lot better at those aspects, and we saw it against the Chiefs, we had them at times, but we need it consistently, and not 30 minutes of the game. That is what we need to work hard on at the moment.”

Coaches, of course, are never happy with the amount of preparation they get, but Marais believes his side are ready for the Stormers.

I’d like another month, another few warm-up games but we are ready for the Stormers,” he said.

“It’s getting to that situation now where players don’t want to train anymore, they want to play. I could see against the Chiefs, that night when we went out there, they went out too flat in the 80 minutes.

“They need to play now, its been a long pre-season and they are raring to go. From a coaching side we always want more preparation but the guys are raring to go.

“I think the expectations on the Bulls will always be great, especially because we have a number of players back that we didn’t have last year. Handre, Jacques Potgieter are both back and there will be an expectation with that.

“And yes, you do tend to put pressure on yourself to do well. Last year we didn’t make the playoffs and we desperately want to make them this year.

“The next two games that we play against the Stormers and Cheetahs will be vitally important. There is a big expectation not just from the fans, but from us as the management.

“We expect big things from the team.”

The Bulls moment of truth comes on Saturday where a hostile Newlands waits for them.

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Vodacom Bulls squad confirmed


The Vodacom Bulls on Monday named 46 players in their Vodacom Super Rugby squad for the 2017 season, including injured skipper Adriaan Strauss and new signings Johnny Kotze (DHL Stormers), Jacques Potgieter (Cell C Sharks) and Conraad van Vuuren (Toyota Free State).

Potgieter, who re-joins the Vodacom Bulls after stints with the Waratahs, Sharks and Japan’s Sanix Blues, is one of 12 Springboks in the squad, with Namibian international, Renaldo Bothma, adding further international experience.

Adriaan Strauss, who retired from international rugby at the end of last year, will again lead the side, but with the hooker recovering from back surgery and not expected back for the opening weeks of the tournament, Handré Pollard will take the reins.

The Springbok pivot missed all of last year through injury, but is now fully recovered.

Strauss (132 matches) is by far the most experienced player in the squad, with Trevor Nyakane (70), and Piet van Zyl (68) the only other players past 50 caps.

Jan Serfontein (48) and Arno Botha (46) could pass that milestone soon while a number of new faces could debut in 2017.

Luther Obi, Jade Stighling, JT Jackson, Tony Jantjies, Duncan Matthews, Kefentse Mahlo, Sibahle Maxwane and Andre Warner are the backs that could make their first Super Rugby appearances, while forwards Shaun Adendorff, Ruan Steenkamp, Conraad van Vuuren, John-Roy Jenkinson and Corniel Els could also feature in the competition for the first time. Prop Martin Dreyer did play for the DHL Stormers in previous seasons, but has not yet played for the Vodacom Bulls in the competition.

Vodacom Bulls coach, Nollis Marais, is excited about the season and expressed happiness with the squad.

“It is exciting times for us and we are keen to get going. A lot of the players have experienced Super Rugby last season for the first time, so they will have a much better understanding ofwhat to expect. We have one or two players out with injury still, but that gives another guy the opportunity to grow and gain experience,” Marais said.

The Vodacom Bulls squad for 2017 is:

Backs: Ulrich Beyers, Warrick Gelant, Jesse Kriel*, Travis Ismaiel, Luther Obi, Jamba Ulengo*, Jade Stighling, Duncan Matthews, Kefentse Mahlo, Sibahle Maxwane, Johnny Kotze, Dries Swanepoel, Burger Odendaal, JT Jackson, Jan Serfontein*, Francois Brummer, Tony Jantjies, Tian Schoeman, Handre Pollard* (c), Ivan van Zyl, Piet van Zyl*, Rudy Paige*, Andre Warner, Hanro Liebenberg, Arno Botha*, Nick de Jager, Renaldo Bothma**, Jannes Kirsten, Jacques Potgieter*, Roelof Smit***, Shaun Adendorff, Ruan Steenkamp, Lood de Jager*, RG Snyman***, Jason Jenkins, Trevor Nyakane*, Conraad van Vuuren, John-Roy Jenkinson, Martin Dreyer, Jacobie Adriaanse, Pierre Schoeman, Lizo Gqoboko***, Adriaan Strauss*, Edgar Marutlulle, Corniel Els,Jaco Visagie.


**Namibian international

***Springbok tourist vs Barbarians

Players In: Johnny Kotze (Stormers), Jacques Potgieter (Cell C Sharks), Conraad van Vuuren (Toyota Free State).

Players Out: SP Marais, Bjorn Basson, Dan Kriel (all DHL Stormers), Lappies Labuschagne, Deon Stegmann, Grant Hattingh (all Japan), Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Marcel van der Merwe (France), Werner Kruger (Wales), Callie Visagie, Bandise Maku (retired).

Super Rugby Preview – Vodacom Bulls


Super Rugby champions by 2018; this is what the Blue Bulls are aiming for. 2016 was a year the Bulls took a new direction, rebuilding the squad and a new coaching staff who are Bulls through and through.

The Bulls began to make several tweaks to their approach with an emphasis on moving the point of contact and an ever evolving offload game. The Loftus outfit’s defensive efforts went up a notch but fell short as was their overall accuracy.

The hopes from Bulls’ fans are always high, and the Blue Bulls should be aiming for the play-offs this season. The challenging of facing the New Zealand sides will make it an even more exciting season. This will allow the side to gauge progress and current standing.

The big positive going into the 2017 season is the return of Handre Pollard who is expected to spearhead arguably the most talented backline in South Africa. Pollard has struggled to be the general in the green and gold. The former Paarl Gym starlet is set to not just captain the side in the absence of Adriaan Straus and the Blue Bulls will be out to set a marker as the ‘premier’ side in South Africa.

The Bulls will benefit from some considerable depth in the year as they boast quality in most of the squad. Nollis will be a bit worried when he looks at his tighthead options with the inconsistent Trevor Nyakane expected to anchor the Blue Bulls scrum. The primary move to tighthead could be the due to the quality the Bulls have at loosehead with Lizo Gqoboka and Pierre Schoeman.

The Bulls have also recruited astutely from their junior sides and from the Cheetahs; especially bringing in Lood de Jager who will be hoping to regain his form in the blue shirt.

With Strauss out, there will be an opportunity for former Kings’ star Edgar Marutlulle to get some game time if he can wade off Jaco Visagie at hooker. The depth in the second row, the loose forwards and backline get better for the Pretoria outfit. This is a squad littered with aped, power, skill and potential. The perfect ingredients are available to Nollis Marais and his chefs. Will he be able to cook up a mouth-watering meal?

The Currie Cup saw the Bulls continue to evolve in their new approach to the game. A reluctance to play too expansive as they looked to feed off the errors of opposition and counter attack coupled with aggressive defence and breakdown excellence. Roelof Smit led the breakdown onslaught; with the team hunting as a pack despite the Bulls falling short in the Currie Cup final. Warrick Gelant, Handre Pollard, Hanro Liebenberg, Travis Ismaiel, Adriaan Strauss and RG Snyman set to be the sparks that ignite the Blue Bulls in Super Rugby.  They should expect a successful campaign this year. The key question will be; how do they stop the New Zealand charge?

The Bulls must play the Bulls way with accuracy.

Gain-line denying tackles, aggressive breakdown contests, accurate tactical kicking and a chase line to match. The Bulls squad is full of quality, youth and experience. 2017 will be a step in the right direction as the Bulls look to return to their glory days.

Benedict’s Blue Bulls XV – Gelant, Ismaiel, Serfontein, Odendaal, Ulengo, Pollard, van Zyl, Botha, Liebenberg, Smit, Snyman, de Jager, Nyakane, Strauss and Gqoboka.

Bench – Marutlulle, Schoeman, Adriaanse, Potgieter, Adendorff, Paige, Schoeman and Kriel.


The warm-up fixtures for 2017 are:

8 February: Chiefs (Brisbane)

10/11 February: Brisbane 10’s.


The extended Vodacom Bulls training squad


Utility backs: Duncan Matthews, Divan Rossouw, Manie Libbok, Jesse Kriel, and Earll Dowrie.

Fullbacks: Warrick Gelant, Ulrich Beyers

Wings: Luther Obi, Kafentse Mahlo, Irvin Ali, Andell Loubser, Jamba Ulengo, Jade Stighling, Travis Ismaiel, Sibahle “Rabs” Maxwane.

Centres: Dries Swanepoel, Jan Serfontein, Franco Naude, Burger Odendaal, JT Jackson, and Boeta Hamman.

Flyhalves: Francois Brummer, Tony Jantjies, Joshua Stander, Tian Schoeman, Handré Pollard.

Scrumhalves: Ivan van Zyl, Andre Warner, Embrose Papier, Rudy Paige, Piet van Zyl.

Loose Forwards: Renaldo Bothma, Hanro Liebenberg, Freddy Ngoza, Arno Botha, Nic de Jager, Abongile Nonkontwana, Ryno Pieterse, Jannes Kirsten, Ruan Steenkamp, Shaun Adendorff, Roelof Smit, Jacques Potgieter, Eduan Lubbe, Marco van Staden.

Lock: Eli Snyman, Hendre Stassen, Lood de Jager, Jason Jenkins, Ruben van Heerden, RG Snyman.

Props: Jacobie Adriaanse, Conraad van Vuuren, John-Roy Jenkinson, Martin Dreyer, Trevor Nyakane, Pierre Schoeman, Gerhard Steenekamp, Lizo Gqoboka, Nqoba Mxoli.

Hookers: Jaco Visagie, Edgar Marutlulle, Corniel Els, Adriaan Strauss, Alandre van Rooyen.


Lood gets first start for Bulls


New signing Lood de Jager will make his first appearance for the Bulls against the Chiefs in Brisbane on Thursday.

De Jager, who moved from the Cheetahs, will form a lock combination with RG Snyman in a team that will also see the return to Bulls colours for Jacques Potgieter, who won the Super Rugby title with the Waratahs a couple of years back.

Handré Pollard is also taking the field for the first time in more than a year and will lead the side, Jesse Kriel was named at fullback and Trevor Nyakane will start at tighthead in the match against the Chiefs.

‘We don’t have much time left in the pre-season, so it will be important for certain combinations to work well in this match,’ Bulls coach Nollis Marais said. ‘The Chiefs are a formidable team and this will be an important match to see where we are at this early in the season.’

Bulls – 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Handré Pollard (c), 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Nic de Jager, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Edgar Maruthlule, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Jason Jenkins, 19 Ruan Steenkamp, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Tian Schoeman, 22 Warrick Gelant, 23 John-Roy Jenkinson, 24 Jacobie Adriaanse, 25 Renaldo Bothma, 26 Francois Brummer, 27 JT Jackson.

Vodacom Bulls off to Brisbane


The Vodacom Bulls squad that will play the Chiefs in Brisbane and then contest the Brisbane Global Tens next weekend, has been named.

Flyhalf Handré Pollard will captain the squad and is set to make a return to the playing field after more than a year, with new signings, Johnny Kotze, Shaun Adendorff and Jacques Potgieter, also included in the squad.

The pre-season match against the Chiefs is at Ballymore Stadium in Brisbane on Thursday, 9 February.

At the Brisbane Global Tens, played at Suncorp Stadium on 11/12 February, the Vodacom Bulls have been grouped with the Brumbies and Highlanders and depending on results, either the Western Force, Hurricanes or Toulon.

“This will be an interesting trip for us, as we have not done this before,” said coach, Nollis Marais. “It does give us time together to work as a squad and that is very valuable, especially this time of our pre-season. The guys are keen to give it a go and we have a clear understanding of what we want to achieve on this trip.”

The squad is:

Warrick Gelant, Jade Stighling, Jamba Ulengo, Travis Ismaiel, Luther Obi, Burger Odendaal, Jesse Kriel, Johnny Kotze, JT Jackson, Dries Swanepoel, Francois Brummer, Handre Pollard (c), Tian Schoeman, Andre Warner, Ivan van Zyl, Piet van Zyl, Rudy Paige, Renaldo Bothma, HanroLiebenberg (v/c), Ruan Steenkamp, Shaun Adendorff, Nic de Jager, Jacques Potgieter, Jason Jenkins, Ruben van Heerden, RG Snyman, Lodewyk de Jager, Jacobie Adriaanse, John-Roy Jenkinson, Trevor Nyakane, Lizo Gqoboka, PierreSchoeman, Corniel Els, Edgar Marutllule, Jaco Visagie, Adriaan Strauss.

Bulls win over young Lions in Harare



In the earlier game in Harare on Saterday the Bulls got a comfortable win of 38-17 over the Lions in their first warm-up match.

The Lions send a very young team to Zimbabwe and the Bulls had very little trouble in getting the victory over their Gauteng Neighbors.

The Bulls led 21-10 at the break with Bothman and De Jager going over for tries with the Lions getting a penalty try in the first forty.


In the second half, Jamba Ulengo, Hanro Liebenberg and Shaun Adendorff all added their names to the try-scoring tally as the Pretoria-based side came away with the desired result.

The Bulls are set to kick off their Super Rugby campaign against the Stormers on 25 February, while the Lions will get their season underway with a clash against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on the same day.

Bulls – 15 Manie Libbok, 14 Luther Obi, 13 Johnny Kôtze, 12 JT Jackson, 11 Rabs Maxwane, 10 Tony Jantjies, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Renaldo Botha, 7 Hendre Stassen, 6 Nick de Jager (c), 5 Abongile Nonkontwana, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Subs: 16 Francois Brummer, 17 Franco Naude, 18 Pierre Schoeman, 19 Corniel Els, 20 Coenraad van Vuuren, 21 RG Snyman, 22 Shaun Adendorff, 23 Hanro Liebenberg, 24 Ivan van Zyl, 25 Tian Schoeman, 26 Burger Odendaal, 27 Dries Swanepoel, 28 Jamba Ulengo, 29 Stade Stiglingh, 30 Warrick Gelant.

Lions squad – Le Roux Baard, Ruan Brits, Jean-Luc Cilliers, Ashlon Davids, Bobby de Wee, Hacjivah Dyamani, JP du Preez, Dean Gordon, Wiehan Jacobs, Marco Janse van Vuren, Pieter Jansen, Kyle Kruger, Gerrie Labuschagne, Jan-Louis Le Grange, Koch Marx, Siya Masuku, Stean Pienaar, Jarryd Sage, Pieter Scholtz, Victor Sekekete, Bheki Shongwe, Sthi Sithole, Adré Smit, Wayne van der Bank, Morne van den Berg, Gerdus van der Walt, Jano Venter, Jaco Willemse.

Pollard will captain Bulls


The Bulls have announced that fly-half Handré Pollard will be captaining the Super Rugby franchise going into the 2017 campaign.

Regular captain and hooker Adriaan Strauss is still recovering from surgery and expected to miss the first few games of the competition.

The young fly-half is no stranger to leadership roles, as he performed a sterling job of captaining the junior Boks on several occasions, and has always been part of the leadership group at Loftus Versfeld over the last few years.

“Handré is an amazing rugby player and a natural born leader, and we are privileged to have a young man of his caliber in our system,” said coach Nollis Marais.

“He has a strong personality and a great vision for the game, as he has shown time and time again, at all levels. Couple that with the respect he has earned from the players and the vital experience he has gained with the Springboks, and his appointment becomes obvious.”

Pollard will be deputised by Hanro Liebenberg, another youngster who had the honour of captaining the junior Boks as well as the Blue Bulls at both junior and Currie Cup levels.

Bulletjie Line Dance



The Vodacom Bulls’ charismatic mascot, Bulletjie, has joined forces with local artists Rea le Roux and Thabiso Mac Rapapali, in producing ‘The Bulletjie Line Dance’.

The song, together with the easy to do dance, was developed to simply put a smile on fans faces, especially the younger ones. It launched on Tuesday 24 January on the Ruben Delmage show on GrootFM, and was well received by fans around the country.

Rea le Roux, one of the artists involved, express her delight to be involved: “I’ve always loved doing fun stuff like this, and being a massive Vodacom Blue Bulls Fan just made it so much easier. I have enjoyed every second of the process, from developing dance moves to recording, and even shooting the video. My biggest satisfaction will now come from watching thelittle ones learning the dance moves.”

Thabiso Mac Rapapali, also was quick to express a similar sentiment: “My passion for Vodacom Bulls is obvious, as most Loftus Patrons would have noticed on game days when I take the mic as one of the stadium announcers. I was honored when the Bulls approached me to be involved in this project, and I really hope the fans enjoy it as much as I do.”

Trevor at tighthead, Jesse at fullback


Vodacom Bulls coach Nollis Marais will give Jesse Kriel the opportunity to establish himself at fullback, while he sees Trevor Nyakane’s future at tighthead prop.

Speaking to Netwerk24, Marais spoke about playing the first few games without skipper Adriaan Strauss, but also confident in his plans for Springboks Kriel and Nyakane.

“The plan is to use both Jesse and Warrick Gelant at fullback.

“We have the option to move to Jesse to centre if there are injuries, but I believe there is enough depth in the midfield with the likes Burger Odendaal, Jan Serfontein, Dries Swanepoel, JT Jackson and Johnny Kotze in the mix.

“I’d like to see Jesse establish himself as the last line of defense.

“Trevor has bought the idea of making the no. 3 jersey his own. The plan is to rotate Pierre Schoeman and Lizo Gqoboka at loosehead like we did in the Currie Cup.”

Schoeman, also speaking to Netwerk24, said he was fired up for the challenge: “The fact that I played Super Rugby last year makes me calm, because now I have a better idea of what to expect,” Schoeman said.

“The competition is tough and I know I will have to try and improve constantly. We know how important it is going to be to lay a strong foundation with our scrummaging. That’s where everything starts.”

The Bulls contracted Springboks will not play in their warm-up game against the Lions on 28 January in Harare, but the plan is to take on the Chiefs with a full-strength team in Brisbane on February 8.

A highly anticipated game given that it is likely to see Handre Pollard make his long awaited return from injury.

“In our two warm up games, we are up against teams that play at pace, which will be very valuable for our guys. Especially against the Chiefs given that we play the New Zealand teams this year,” said Marais.

2017 Super Rugby squads

Super Rugby Squads for 2017

Botha leave Bulls for Ulster


Ulster announced the signing of Blue Bull Arno Botha, who will join the side after the 2017 Super Rugby campaign.

Botha will join the Province on a two-year deal and can operate either as a flanker or number eight.

He has made 46 Super Rugby appearances for the Bulls and is currently vice-captain for the franchise, where he has spent his entire professional career.

The 25-year-old captained South Africa U-20s in the 2011 World Championships in Italy and was also named as their Player of the Year.

He made his debut for the Springboks against Italy in June 2013, but suffered a knee injury just four minutes into his second test, against Scotland, later that month.

Commenting on Botha’s arrival, Director of Rugby Les Kiss said: “Arno was tipped to be a future Springboks captain from a young age but his career was somewhat curtailed by injuries after he made his international debut in 2013. Those injuries are behind him now and he has regained his best form over the past 12 months,” Kiss told the Ulster website.

“His leadership and abrasiveness will be key attributes for us over the next couple of seasons. He is very aggressive in attack and his ability to get over the gainline will be especially good for us. Arno is also strong in defence, he’s a nuisance at the breakdown and he’s a good lineout option, so he has a very well-rounded game.

“He is an ambitious young man and he is determined to make an impact with us. He is a serious competitor who is willing to work hard to earn his jersey. I believe he will settle well in our environment and become a huge fan favourite here at Kingspan Stadium.”

Blue Bulls High Performance Manager Xander Janse van Rensburg thanked Botha for his contribution to the side.

“Arno received a very good offer from Ulster. We have been in constant discussions with Arno about his future since 2016,” Van Rensburg told the Blue Bulls website.

“We want to thank him for his contribution, we are thankful and proud of what he has done. The situation is that we can’t financially make an offer close to what he’s currently earning. Luckily we have great players coming through that we will be investing in,” Janse van Rensburg said.

“He is still a big player for us in the coming months and we are expecting some meaningful contributions from him as we embark on a tough Vodacom Super Rugby campaign.”

The Story Behind The New Bulls Super Rugby Jersey


MyPlayers has a chat with PUMA Rugby Sponsorship manager Gys van Zyl, who tells us the story behind the planning and launch of the 2017 Bulls Super Rugby home and away kit.

Vodacom Bulls Super Rugby Jersey 2017, MyPlayers

How long have you been PUMA Rugby Sponsorship Manager and what do you oversee?

I have been in the position from November 2014 and as a sports lover, I really enjoy every moment of working for PUMA SA and having the opportunity to work with some world class athletes and teams. In short, I am responsible for rugby sponsorships as a whole & developing the rugby marketing strategy & plans.

PUMA have built a good relationship with the Bulls. What make the two parties great partners in rugby?

The Vodacom Bulls are a household name and have been a powerhouse in SA Rugby since their formation in 1938. PUMA is a well-established global sports brand and both have a rich sporting history. The mutual understanding of the power that sport has to unite under one belief strengthens the partnership under one common goal, to drive rugby and sport forward.

The Bulls jersey has evolved over time, especially under Puma’s vision. What are you specifically proud of during this revolution?

PUMA does not accept the norm, we trust our instincts, we take risks and we are forever pushing the boundaries and changing the game. PUMA and The Vodacom Bulls were first with the “pink” kit in Super Rugby, then changed the game again with the Camo Kit. It’s safe to say PUMA, together with The Vodacom Bulls, are leading the pack with our innovations and designs, and together we are only going to get faster and push the status quo in rugby.

Vodacom Bulls Super Rugby Jersey 2017, MyPlayers

What is unique about the 2017 Bulls jersey?

We have incorporated our well established 7cm form stripe into a reimagined evoCLASSIC print, onto the shoulders of the player’s kit across all PUMA sports teams – giving all PUMA teams globally – the same look and feel. Drawing inspiration from our heritage, we changed the neckline of the jersey, adding a button as a final touch for a classical, neat finish to the player’s kit as well as replica.

What have the players and coaches’ feedback been like?

Since the launch of the kit on Thursday evening, 24th November 2016, we have just received positive feedback from players, coaches as well as the media. We raised a few eyebrows in the past with the pink and the camo kit, but for 2017, we went back to the roots of The Vodacom Bulls, staying true to the blue and introducing an all-new navy blue kit as the away strip and the traditional blue as the home strip for Super Rugby 2017.

How involved are the players/coaches during your planning process?

PUMA comes up with the design of the jerseys and presents a few options to The Vodacom  Bulls & board of directors. Once sponsors logos have been applied, the Bulls management will give us the go ahead and production will commence. Apart from fittings beforehand with blank garments – to ensure players are comfortable when performing – the new kit is not seen by the players until the campaign shoot or the launch of the new jersey.

Why should Bulls fans buy this jersey?

Hint: The scale is tipping in favour of the away jersey. It is not something we have done before. Heritage is the inspiration behind the 2017 design, it’s a kit for male, female, young and old. Be sure to get yours at any Participating PUMA stores, including Menlyn Mall Centurion, Kolonnade, Atterbury, Canal Walk, V&A Waterfront, Gateway, Rosebank, Braamfontein, Pavillion, Mall of Africa as well as Sportsmans Warehouse, Totalsports & various independent retailers across the country.

What are you looking forward to ahead of the Bulls’ 2017 season?

With Springbok rugby at an all-time low, I genuinely believe that the 2017 Vodacom Bulls squad has the ability to ignite the spark in rugby again, making all fans proud to be a Vodacom Bulls supporter and helping our beloved Springboks to be a force in world rugby again like we once were.


Vodacom Bulls Super Rugby Jersey 2017, MyPlayers


Blue Bulls report card


The 3-time Super Rugby had a disappointing end to their Currie Cup campaign, but they must be optimistic ahead of Super Rugby 2017, writes Benedict Chanakira


The Loftus side could have had a very different game on their hands, had Piet van Zyl or Burger Odendaal opted to use their inside support runners. The Bulls’ inability to be accurate still proves to be a hindrance and should be a point of focus in pre-season. The Pretoria outfit has been impressive, continues to develop and must take heart from the 2016 season. This is a process for the Blue Bulls and their skills have continued to improve at the different stages.

APPROACH: B – The Bulls have a reputation of a kicking game, coupled with abrasive forwards and line out dominance. This has not changed, though the appointment of Nollis Marais heralded change. The Bulls have slowly integrated some minor attacking tweaks to their play and have reinforced the waning/outdated areas that saw them lack behind.

SQUAD DEPTH: BThe return of star players Handre Pollard, Jan Serfontein, Warrick Gelant, and Jesse Kriel will bolster the side and give them a lot more x-factor, experience and edge. The Bulls have at least two quality players in each position.

It is Pollard’s return which is greatly anticipated with the pivot’s vision and guile set to galvanize the side and a much more exciting backline.

The finalists thrived off applying pressure at the breakdown, through a stellar kicking game with young Tiaan Schoeman in particular finding the grass on several occasions while added to his arsenal some pin point kicks off the tee. Schoeman will provide some pressure on Handre Pollard if he improves on his temperament.

SET-PIECE AND BREAKDOWN: A+They had  a willingness to play a far more balanced game this year as they stuck to their strengths of set piece dominance with their scrum and breakdown efforts improving and thriving under the tutelage of Blue Bulls legend Gary Botha – step up young Roelof Smit who had a stellar season. Smit has been a pillar for the Bulls as he topped the turnover charts with 22. The collective effort of the entire squad must not be underestimated with the Bulls proving most ferocious at the breakdown. This has enabled the Loftus side to score several tries off their turnovers.

Roelof in particular conceding a paltry 3 penalties on his way to tournament high 22 turnovers. In context, pinching the ball every 18, 3 minutes. Adding to his ability to slow down the ball, he has been the standout fetcher in the tournament. Making 62 tackles and missing just 2, the backrow forward has shown immense form. He completes an ever improving Blue Bulls pack that scours the breakdown together, developing offload skills and showing a strong scrum and line out. Their aggressive ruck contests and bone-crunching tackles allowed them to get to the final. Hanro Liebenberg, Shaun Adendorff, Lizo Gqoboka and Pierre Schoeman highlight the strength of the Bulls pack.

ATTACK AND SKILLS: BThe Bulls look to keep the ball alive and their offload game was unmatched in the Currie Cup. It has played a significant part in their try scoring exploits while playing in the right areas. The quality of young Jamba Ulengo has shone the most in this aspect. Ulengo scored seven tries and created six proving destructive out wide as he broke through tackles, achieved gain line success, scored tries and ran exceptional support lines. He used his array of skills ranging from evasive footwork, speed, power and vision. The winger alongside Travis Ismaiel, Ulrich Beyers combined to lead a destructive counter-attacking trio.

Ulengo has been the pioneer for the squad as the players are combined work rate, eye for a gap, dominating physical contests, handling skills and defensive commitment to advance their game.

TRANSFORMATION: AThe Loftus side made massive progress in blooding young talent and bringing it through the system while adhering to the transformation requirements. Aided by their excellent development work which doesn’t just include players of color but all players that need aid in rugby, the Bulls won the Development work award at the SA Rugby awards. Fielding six players of color starting and one on the bench, add a few more quality players of color coming through the ranks the Bulls have been excelling in this department.

The Bulls will face a stern examination next season when they take on the New Zealand sides in the tougher conference. What lies ahead requires a lot more clinical and precise approach. They are far from a complete side, but they are in the right direction. There is an evident mind shift and the Currie Cup was an opportunity for them to learn and prepare for Super Rugby. The Blue Bulls are ticking the right boxes and are on course to be the best once again.

Kotze signs with Blue Bulls


The Blue Bulls on Thursday confirmed the signing of midfielder Johnny Kotze until the end of October 2018.


The elusive try-scoring centre is currently playing for Western Province and represented Stormers in the Super Rugby competition in the last couple of seasons.

The Bulls also confirmed contract extensions to a number of players. Current Bulls locks RG Snyman and Jannes Kirsten signed on until 2018 and 2019 respectively.

Highly rated tighthead prop Martin Dreyer also agreed to stay in Pretoria until the end of the 2017 Super Rugby season. Dreyer, who played for the Stormers in 2016, made his provincial debut for the Blue Bulls in 2016 and impressed all.

The Blue Bulls Company’s High Performance Manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg, also confirmed the signing of a number of junior players into senior contracts.

Divan Rossouw, who debuted for the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup this year and Junior Springboks Franco Naude and Jan-Henning Campher will all be available till the end of the 2018 season.

Naude formed a formidable partnership with fellow Junior Bok and Blue Bulls player JT Jackson this year and Janse van Rensburg is excited about their futures.

“We are really lucky to get an exciting and experienced player like Johnny Kotze into the squad, as it will no doubt extend our depth in the midfield,” said Janse van Rensburg.

“He brings some versatility and unpredictability to the party. That said, we predict a bright future for Franco and JT, who have already showed that they have an appetite for hard work and winning titles.

“They work well together as a combination as well and they will learn a lot from the senior guys like Jan Serfontein, Burger Odendaal and Dries Swanepoel. In fact, they will keep everyone on their toes.

“It is also great to have RG and Jannes staying on. They are clearly destined for greater things and it is great to know that they will keep on showing their immense talents in our squad.”

Travis Ismaiel, The Blue Bulls’ deadliest weapon


Travis Ismaiel is one of the wingers that has glided under the radar in this year’s Super Rugby, writes Benedict Chanakira


What the winger offers is an imposing frame and subtle brilliance and the best outside back at Loftus and he holds the potential to be their biggest trump card. The Blue Bulls are laden with talent in their back line with players with international pedigree like Jesse Kriel, Handre Pollard and Jan Serfontein.

Young stars that have emerged in that squad includes Jamba Ulengo the 100kg unit and Warrick Gelant the dancing gazelle.

Ismaiel has gone somewhat unnoticed on several occasions but has emerged as the Bulls biggest weapon from the back.

Travis speaks glowingly about what is close to his heart, ‘”I am a chilled, laid back person and family orientated man. My daughter is definitely my motivation and I have a dream and I am chasing it.

The 24 year old was brilliant for the Bulls this season, he has always been a player here and there. Efficient at junior Currie Cup level but never quite set the world alight but Travis was at hand to earn a solitary cap in the talented 2012 Baby Boks side due to an injury.

The winger is an all-round weapon and he has managed to rack in the meters with only SP Marais has managed to make more. He has been able to break the line twelve times which leaves him top alongside Jesse Kriel and Jamba Ulengo.

“I believe I am a strong finisher, have remarkable work-rate and use my physicality well in matches.” This is all evident when the winger plays.

Ismaiel tops the try scoring charts with six alongside skipper Adriaan Strauss at the franchise and his try against the Cheetahs at the end of the season is one to remember as he stretched over with a few defenders on him, a demonstration of his explosiveness, power and strength.

This is something further highlighted as he racks up 31 defenders beaten. His handling and evasive skills are also impressive as he has often managed to find support with an offload.  Only Jan Serfontein has one more offload with 7 in the backs than Travis.

The Blue Bulls continue to evolve their game with the winger a key player in their plans going forward. Currently recovering from a groin niggle as he looks to return on the pitch soon.

One would point at his missed tackle count of 14 which shows a weakness in that department, however consideration must be made to the fact wingers often chase kicks and considering the Blue Bulls kick often one could make sense of this statistic which can be deceptive.

The Bulls are at a fragile stage of their development and it’s quite a joy to see them add wingers who offer all-round skills from being explosive through contact, power, speed, high-ball prowess, a rugby brain and a willingness to keep defenders guessing.

Ismaiel has the potential to be a Springbok and will no doubt be knocking on that door. His performance in the SA A games were enough to highlight his brilliance.

On his selection for the SA ‘A’ squad, “It was a special experience. I got to play with new guys and also had to deal with different coaching methods. I managed to learn certain lessons in this rugby journey and it was exciting. I enjoyed my season. It was great, an injury free run which gave me the opportunity to play often and it was exciting playing with Warrick and Jamba at the beginning of the season.”

When quizzed on where he wants to be in five years? “I will be 29 years,” as he quipped, after we exchange a roar of laughter, he speaks of his goal to wear the green and gold and to become a regular in the Springbok team. The shy, silent assassin is the Bulls’ best outside back and he is quietly gaining a strong reputation.

Keep an eye on him as he looks to develop and become one of the World’s best.

Match Preview: Brumbies v Bulls


This week will be the Vodacom Bulls biggest challenge on tour when they face the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday, writes Jacques Nortier

Brumbies v Bulls

With a great win to start their tour in Australia against the Force last week the Bulls will have to quickly get over the win as the Force has not been the strongest side in this year in Super Rugby. People like to play down the Bulls win over the Force due to the poor form the Force has shown this year but to win any game on tour in Super Rugby is good and they did it in style as well.

For the past few weeks the Bulls have slowing been building as team and show much progress in aspects of their game which was a huge worry in the beginning of the season. They have been the most improved side for me at this stage and have been making a habit of winning as well which is always nice to have this momentum half way through the season. The most improve aspect of the Bulls game have been there scrums and line outs. Although it is not up to the standard we expect it to be they are being competitive in those two set pieces which give them more opportunities on attack.

The Bulls with a game in hand are trailing the Stormers in African Group 1 by only one single point which means they can got top of the log this weekend if they can get over the Brumbies.

That the Bulls have firstly the players and game to get a win over the Brumbies is a sure thing and their are rumors that things are not so good in the franchise and it always filters through to the players. The Brumbies have also been blowing hot and cold this year which makes them very inconsistent and even the coach this week went to SANZAAR referee boss to complaint about interpretation of certain laws which the coach feels they are wrongly penalize for.

The Brumbies is a quality side with quality Wallaby players in their team and they do not lose too many games during a season and more so not at home so this will be a upset of the Bulls can come away with the win.

The Bulls were great last week at the breakdowns and they did thing with purpose and at speed which give them the opportunity to control the game which they will need to replicate this week again. The Brumbies have a great pack and will challenge the Bulls at scrums and line outs wit the Bulls that will have to be able to counter their driving line outs which they score a lot of tries from.

Prediction: How I would love the Bulls to keep on winning and take the Brumbies on Friday(Go Bulls!!!) but the mind say that the Brumbies will take this at home by 4 points, but I so hope I am wrong like normal


Brumbies – 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Robbie Coleman, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Nigel Ah Wong, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Jarrad Butler, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Les Leuluailii-Makin, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Blake Enever, 21 Jordan Smiler, 22 Joe Powell, 23 James Dargaville.

Bulls – 15 SP Marais, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Arno Botha, 6 Lappies Labuschagne, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Subs: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Lizo Gqoboko, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Dan Kriel.


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