Gqoboka, Jenkins added to Vodacom Bulls pack

Lizo Gqoboka will earn a first start in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition this year and Jason Jenkins will start at flank for the first time when the Vodacom Bulls take on the Highlanders at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Gqoboka came off the bench in all eight matches so far this season, but with the suspension of Pierre Schoeman, now gets a chance to make an impression in the starting pack.

Jenkins will move off the bench to flank in place of injured Roelof Smit, resulting in a re-shuffled loose trio. Marco van Staden moves back from the back of the scrum in his fetcher role, while Thembelani Bholi moves into no8, with Jenkins wearing the no7 shirt for the first time.

Gqoboka’s bench spot is filled by Conrad van Vuuren, who is back from suspension, while Hendre Stassen comes in for Jenkins and could add to his two caps for the Vodacom Bulls. Nic de Jager also makes a return to the side via the bench, replacing Shaun Adendorff. Travis Ismaiel has returned to full match fitness and will start on the bench, replacing Duncan Matthews. Embrose Papier is also back into the match day squad at scrumhalf in place of Andre Warner, who took a knock against the Rebels.

Vodacom Bulls coach, John Mitchell, said he is keen to get to see how the team goes against the Highlanders.

“They have won four of their last five matches against us, so will have some confidence on how to approach this match. They have delivered some strong performances as well during the year. That makes for a proper contest and a very good test on our progress. We are improving and that is nice, but we need to improve week by week.”

Burger Odendaal, who leads the Vodacom Bulls for the seventh time this season, insisted that the squad is growing in ability.

“We are getting things right more and more. There will always be room for improvement, but we made some encouraging steps in our progress to become the best we can be. The Highlanders are playing great rugby and we cannot wait to go out there and test ourselves against them.”

The Vodacom Bulls team (with Vodacom Super Rugby caps and points) is: Warrick Gelant (26, 50), Divan Rossouw (7, 15), Jesse Kriel (53, 45), Burger Odendaal (c; 39, 15), Johnny Kotze (27, 25), Handre Pollard (39, 347), Ivan van Zyl (10, 0), Thembelani Bholi (22, 5), Jason Jenkins (34, 25), Marco van Staden (8, 5), Lood de Jager (57, 15), RG Snyman (31, 10), Trevor Nyakane (87, 15), Adriaan Strauss (151, 95), Lizo Gqoboka (34, 10). Replacements: Jaco Visagie (28, 5), Frans van Wyk (9, 0), Conraad van Vuuren (9, 0), Hendre Stassen (2, 0), Nic de Jager (21/15), Embrose Papier (5, 0), Manie Libbok (5, 2), Travis Ismaiel (33, 50).



  • Adriaan Strauss will extend his South African record as most capped Vodacom Super Rugby player (and hooker) to 152 matches.
  • The average score for the Vodacom Bulls against the Highlanders is 24-29.



VODACOM SUPER RUGBY: New loose trio combination for Vodacom Bulls

Vodacom Bulls coach, John Mitchell, named a largely unchanged squad to face the Rebels in a Vodacom Super Rugby clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The coach had to tweak his loose trio combination due to an injury to Hanro Liebenberg, with Marco van Staden moving from the side to the back of the scrum and Roelof Smit starting in the number six jersey again in the only change to the starting team in Durban last weekend.

Smit, who started on the bench in that match, Van Staden and Thembelani Bholi will start together as a combination for the first time this season, although they did so for most of the match in Durban after Liebenberg left the field injured.

Mitchell included Shaun Adendorff on the bench. Adendorff will make a first appearance for the Vodacom Bulls this year.

“We are back again at Loftus Versfeld and playing in front of our home fans. We have another opportunity to show that we are a team that play till the very end and that is an exciting opportunity for this squad,” said Mitchell. “We are gaining some momentum and are improving all the time. We are not the finished product yet though and hard work and commitment remains important for us.”

Vodacom Bulls captain, Burger Odendaal, said the Rebels showed their class already. “We have seen them playing some really good rugby so far this season. They are a well-drilled unit and are getting better and better as the season progresses. We need to keep on improving as well, as we have set our standards very high and we are not where we want to be yet.”

The players also welcomed back the home crowd. “Nothing beats playing at Loftus. We are lucky to have passionate support and I sincerely hope the crowds will turn up to get behind us.”

The Vodacom Bulls team (with Vodacom Super Rugby caps and points) is: Warrick Gelant (25, 50), Johnny Kotze (26, 25), Jesse Kriel (52, 40), Burger Odendaal (c; 38, 15), Divan Rossouw (6, 10), Handre Pollard (38, 339), Ivan van Zyl (9, 0), Marco van Staden (7, 5), Thembelani Bholi (21, 50), Roelof Smit (20, 5), Lood de Jager (56, 15), RG Snyman (30, 10), Trevor Nyakane (86, 15)), Adriaan Strauss (150, 90), Pierre Schoeman (31, 15). Replacements:  Jaco Visagie (27, 5), Lizo Gqoboka (33, 10), Frans van Wyk (8, 0), Jason Jenkins (33, 25), Shaun Adendorff (3, 0), Andre Warner (7, 5), Manie Libbok (4, 2), Duncan Matthews (7, 15).


  • Adriaan Strauss will extend the South African record for most appearances in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition to 151.
  • Jesse Kriel is the only Vodacom Bulls player who has played every minute of every match so far (560 minutes). In fact, Kriel, who debuted against the Rebels in the last match of 2014, has played in all matches in the 2015 Vodacom Super tournament and in 2016 and 2017 only missed one match.
  • The Vodacom Bulls last three home games against Australian sides have seen a total of 28 tries scored, crossing for 17 themselves and conceding 11.

Heart of Zambia’s agriculture

FOR a moment, forget about the Zambia Agricultural and Commercial Show, a five-day event organised by the Agricultural and Commercial Show Society of Zambia (ACSZ) in Lusaka leading to Farmers Day, a public holiday.
Think about the Agritech Expo.
But what is it about?
“In the heart of Zambia’s agri-hub, Agritech Expo Zambia is the ultimate business-to-business buying platform for agricultural professionals, from small-scale farmers to commercial enterprises, to engage and conduct business with some of the world’s leading suppliers to the agricultural industry,” the Agritech website reads.
“Establishing a marketplace for regional and international industry professionals, young agripreneurs and farmers of all scales come together in one location to conduct exclusive agribusiness transactions while being educated on the latest global industry trends to advance into the next generation of food production.
“From live crop trials and machinery demonstrations to technical and practical workshops and business lounges for commercial players, Agritech Expo presents the gateway to industry innovations with the leading outdoor exhibition in the region for the agri community. Agritech Expo is simply the only professional business-led event servicing the needs of the entire agri-value chain in Zambia and its neighbouring countries.”
That is what it simply is about.
The Agritech Expo, which started five years ago, has developed into an influential agricultural trade show exposing both small-scale farmers and commercial enterprises to up to date with industry practices.
The concept of the expo was taken from South Africa’s Nampo Agricultural Trade Show, an annual event held in Bothaville since 1974. The show, which is also known as Nampo Harvest Day or Nampo Oesdag, is organised by Grain South Africa and features a large variety of agricultural machinery and livestock.
This year’s Agritech Expo Zambia, which started yesterday under the theme ‘Resilience part of Zambian nature: Applauding every step forward towards the modernisation of Zambian agriculture’, will be officially opened by President Edgar Lungu today at the Golden Valley Agricultural Research Trust (GART) in Chisamba.
Some of the invited guests include Minister of Agriculture Michael Katambo, Minister of Fisheries and Livestock Kampamba Mulenga, the Farmers Expo Board chairman, Ashok Oza, and Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) president Jervis Zimba.
The expo will provide agricultural producers and the public an opportunity to experience what modern agriculture looks like and to witness what is new on the market.
Agritech Expo is owned by ZNFU and enjoys support from Government as well as other stakeholders.
This year’s event has attracted about 20,000 farming professionals and visitors, over 270 local and international exhibitors with 3,500 high-profile delegates, large-scale farmers and about 150 members of the press.
Therefore, the emphasis by Government to make agriculture a major contributor to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) of the country has further enabled GART Research Centre to increase the number of land to be occupied at this year’s expo from 20,000 in the last five years to 70,000.
The expo is a landmark event for Zambia’s agriculture sector, providing a business-to-business platform for agricultural professionals, from small-scale farmers to commercial enterprises by enabling them to engage and conduct business with some of the world’s leading suppliers to the agricultural industry.
The show, which started as a small-scale venture has grown to be one of the most sought after agriculture expos in the region coming in second after South Africa’s Nampo Harvest Day.
There is no doubt that this year’s Agritech Expo is poised to transform the agriculture sector through the provision of innovative services by various exhibitors.
Government has continued to support the event through the provision of better policies and initiatives that are aimed at boosting agriculture in the country.
President Lungu has been championing the economic diversification agenda and the need for Zambia to embrace agriculture and tourism, among other sectors, to help lift the country out of poverty.
That is why the Agritech Expo is welcome.
Despite an outbreak of the Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) in Chibombo and Chisamba districts, the expo is on. Or as they say, all roads lead to Chisamba.
However, the exhibition of cattle and other livestock species will not be allowed at this year’s Agritech Expo.
Consequently, the initiative by Government and ZNFU to subject all participants, including their vehicles, to screening before entering the main arena will help contain the outbreak.
The Agritech Expo is expected to bring with it many financial benefits that will trickle down to other economic sectors such as the National Road Fund Agency (NRFA) through the collection of tolls due to increased traffic during the expo period.
And as Zambia focuses more on diversifying its economy, there is need to invest more in the agriculture sector as it plays a strategic role in the development of the country.
Therefore, there is no secret that technology improvement or innovative development should be adapted and applied to the scientific requirements of farmers and agricultural industries to attain better outputs.
Since farming is a scientific business, the Agritech Expo is the way to go if Zambian farmers are to increase their productivity and profitability to promote sustainable food security for the country.
This year’s platinum sponsors are Afgri and John Deere, Saro and Ursus are gold supporters, with the Zambia Daily Mail being the premier media partner.

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Vodacom Bulls team to face Cell C Sharks in Durban

RG and Lood to lock horns in Durban

Regular Vodacom Bulls lock combination, RG Snyman and Lood de Jager, will reunite in Durban on Saturday, when the Vodacom Bulls will lock horns with the Cell C Sharks in Round Seven of the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament.

Snyman last played for the Vodacom Bulls in Hamilton a month ago and De Jager in Christchurch three weeks ago before injury broke up the partnership that played together so impressively in the opening four rounds of the competition.

With his premier lock pairing available for selection again, Vodacom Bulls coach, John Mitchell, moved Jason Jenkins to the bench and Ruben van Heerden out of the match 23 for this important clash.
He also recalled a fit-again Andre Warner, who will replace Embrose Papier as back-up scrumhalf.

“We have all to play for,” said Mitchell when he named his team in Pretoria on Thursday.

“One thing we can bank on is that this will require a huge effort from our side if we want to beat the Sharks at home. They will not make it easy for us or allow us to rule the game. This will be hard work and we need to be prepared for that.”

The coach welcomed back the lock pairing. “Both has played very well and has grown as a combination, so I am pleased to have both back again. They bring a nice mix to our skill set and I am expecting them to be influential in the match.”

Vodacom Bulls captain, Burger Odendaal, said they could not afford to lose momentum again during the next couple of weeks. “We started well, then lost our way and with us bouncing back nicely against the Stormers, it is time to kick on. The week’s rest has done all of us well, so we are keen to go and record a win in Durban. We have the players and the game plan to be very competitive against a strong Sharks team.”

The team (with Vodacom Super Rugby caps and points) is: Warrick Gelant (24, 35), Johnny Kotze (25, 20), Jesse Kriel (51, 40), Burger Odendaal (c; 37, 15), Divan Rossouw (5, 10), Handre Pollard (37, 333), Ivan van Zyl (8, 0), Hanro Liebenberg (24, 15), Thembelani Bholi (20, 5), Marco van Staden (6, 5), Lood de Jager (55, 15), RG Snyman (29, 10), Trevor Nyakane (85, 15), Adriaan Strauss (149, 85), Pierre Schoeman (30, 15). Replacements: Jaco Visagie (26, 5), Lizo Gqoboka (32, 10), Frans van Wyk (7, 0), Jason Jenkins (32, 25), Roelof Smit (19, 5), Andre Warner (6, 5), Manie Libbok (2, 0), Duncan Mathews (6, 15).

•The Vodacom Bulls are undefeated in their last five games against the Sharks (W4, D1); their longest ever run without a loss against them.
•Adriaan Strauss will extend his Vodacom Super Rugby record to 150 games, the most of any South African in the tournament.


The Vodacom Blue Bulls Currie Cup squad accompanied by John Mitchell and a number of Vodacom Super Rugby players will have three training sessions at clubs in the Pretoria region.

According to Mr Willem Strauss, President of the Blue Bulls Rugby Union, this forms part of a strategy to reconnect the team with the community. “We want to create heroes and role models for our club communities and supporters, and we hope that this strategy will contribute,” Strauss elaborated.

The team will be training at the various clubs, which will be followed by a signing session and an opportunity for the club players and coaches to interact with Mitchell and the professional players.

Trainings sessions will be held at Tuine Rugby Club on 19 April 2018, Noordelikes Rugby Club where Dragons are based on 3 May 2018 and at Centurion Rugby Club on 17 May 2018. We trust that this will lead to more training sessions at clubs in future.