#BullsFamily bid Libbok farewell

The Vodacom Bulls confirm that flyhalf Manie Libbok has decided to continue his career in Durban with the Cell C Sharks after five years of dedicated service to the #BullsFamily.

Libbok, who can also play at fullback and has dabbled on the wing and centre, certainly made his mark at Loftus Versfeld with his never-say-die attitude and his energetic nature. The 22-year-old former Junior Springbok and SA Schools star represented the franchise at every level before stamping his authority in Vodacom Super Rugby.

“Libbok is a great young player, and will grow into something very special. We respect his decisions and wish him well with the next steps in his career,” said Director of Rugby, Jake White.

The #BullsFamily wish Libbok all the best with his future endeavours and thank him for the memories made and loyal service to the Vodacom Bulls.


White adds Breakdown Specialist to new coaching setup

Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White, today confirmed his much anticipated senior coaching group, after what may best be described as an overhaul of the BLOU MASJIEN since his induction into the role in March earlier this year.

White heads up the group, with his trademark hands-on approach, rolling up the director sleeves and grabbing the head coach whistle. This comes as no surprise, as he has always eluded to the fact that he would lead from the trenches.

What will probably be the talking point of this group, is the creation of a new dedicated position for a breakdown specialist. This new role will be filled by the veteran warrior Nollis Marais, an experienced campaigner among various coaching roles at the Blue Bulls Company. Marais is no stranger to high-pressure roles, as he filled the head coach position at this level in 2017.

White outlined the importance of the role, “Teams have always had consultants or forwards coaches addressing the breakdown as part of their broader roles. This will become a key focus area for us going forward, especially with the breakdown laws being changed. It also speaks to the type of rugby we will be looking to play. Nollis has been around the block and knows exactly what we need. I have no doubt that he is the perfect man for this job.”

World Rugby announced a breakdown guideline to assist with the implementation of existing laws revolving around one of the most dynamic facets of the game with Marais ensuring that all teams that fall under the banner of the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls can adapt to and successfully implement on the field.

A new face to the group is Joey Mongalo, who joins the #BullsFamily as the defense coach, after a decade with the Emirates Lions and Xerox Golden Lions where he served several roles including defense and attack for the Vodacom Super Rugby, Currie Cup, SuperSport Rugby Challenge and junior teams where he assisted in winning silverware including back-to-back SA Rugby U19 Championship titles.

He also served as an assistant coach to the Junior Springboks in 2016; Director of Coaching at King Edwards the VII School in Johannesburg and the Defence Coach of FNB Wits in the FNB Varsity Cup.

Mongalo has developed a unique perspective as a coach and stands by his philosophy which makes him the perfect candidate to join the #BullsFamily but he is no stranger to Loftus Versfeld as he represented the union in the Currie Cup and various junior campaigns that wielded an SA Rugby U20 Championship title and two SA Rugby U21 Championship titles. He also spent a year as the Blue Bulls Company Marketing Assistant.

Russel Winter was officially announced as forwards coach last week, while current backline coach Chris Rossouw continues his work with the backs. Pine Pienaar moves out of his role as a defense coach, and into the role of technical advisor.

White is also in the process of addressing the need for a new scrum coach, “The BBCo will also be looking to announce a new scrum coach shortly, as we have agreed to release Daan Human to the Springboks. He has done some amazing work with the pack, as can be seen on the field, and undoubtedly be missed at Loftus. We have already engaged a few candidates and are confident that we will announce a suitable replacement shortly.”

The junior structures are integral to the BBCo and form a formidable part of the overall brand success. The BBCo will also be announcing the Junior coaching and management team within the next few weeks.



Ismaiel returns to Loftus Versfeld

The Vodacom Bulls are delighted to announce the return of one of Loftus’ favourite sons as the quickfire Travis Ismaiel returns to Pretoria after a short stint with Harlequins in the English Premiership.

Ismaiel needs no introduction to the #BullsFamily as he established himself as the incumbent left-wing for several seasons before his move abroad.

A Bulls man through and through, Ismaiel has represented the franchise at every level from U19 to Vodacom Super Rugby with the 27-year-old former Hoërskool Tygerberg scholar earning 39 Vodacom Super Rugby caps and scoring 10 tries.

Ismaiel continued to shine at Loftus Versfeld which saw him make his Springbok debut in 2018 against Wales in Washington DC after turning out for South Africa A against the English Saxons in 2016. His national duty had thus come full circle as he assisted the Junior Springboks to glory in 2012 when they won the World Rugby U20 Championship in Cape Town.

Director of Rugby, Jake White, stated that it bodes well for the Vodacom Bulls that players of calibre such as Travis can see value in re-joining the team, and is looking forward to working with him when rugby returns.

“Travis is a quality player that I believe has unfinished business in Super Rugby and beyond, so it is great to see him returning to Loftus Versfeld. He has a knack for finding the try line and has scored some scintillating tries for us in the past so I’m looking forward to working alongside him.”


Schalk Erasmus joins #BullsFamily

The Vodacom Bulls are excited to announce that DHL Western Province hooker, Schalk Erasmus, will make the move to Pretoria as of June 2020 or as soon as travel restrictions allow. He signed a three-year contract that will see him at Loftus Versfeld until October 2023.

Erasmus is no stranger to Pretoria as the 22-year-old dynamic front-rower was schooled at Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool (Affies) where he also represented the Blue Bulls at various age-group Craven Weeks and the SA Schools team in 2016 before opting to study at Stellenbosch University where he tasted FNB Varsity Cup glory with FNB Maties in 2018 and 2019.

His star continued to rise in 2018 as he made the trip to the World Rugby U20 Championship in France where he helped the Junior Springboks claim a bronze medal.

The following season would be the year that Erasmus was promoted to senior rugby as he made his Currie Cup debut off the bench against the Tafel Lager Griquas while also turning out for DHL Western Province in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge.

Erasmus thanked his former team for the memories while touching on his move North.

“I enjoyed my time in the Cape. Memories made and a few rugby goals of mine ticked off but I’m excited about something different and I believe Loftus is the place for the experience. I’m looking forward to getting stuck in with my new #BullsFamily as soon as possible.”



Winter is here!

Experienced forwards’ coach, Russell Winter, will join the Vodacom Bulls as one of Director of Rugby, Jake White’s, assistant coaches as the #BullsFamily continues to build an experienced and talent-laden player and management group.

Winter enjoyed a long and fruitful playing career as the 44-year-old former loose forward represented the Cats and Cell C Sharks in Vodacom Super Rugby and the Xerox Golden Lions in the Currie Cup and Vodacom Cup. His energetic and intelligent playing ability was complemented by his astute leadership as he captained the Cats and Xerox Golden Lions in the Vodacom Cup.

Nationally, he turned out for the Blitzboks at the Hong Kong Sevens and Commonwealth Games in 1998 while he toured Europe with South Africa A in 2001.

He also played for the Newcastle Falcons in the English Premiership before trading his boots for a coaching career.

Winter returned to the Xerox Golden Lions in 2011, where he coached the Vodacom Cup and U21 teams which included silverware in 2013 (Vodacom Cup) before moving to the Cape in 2016 as the forwards’ coach of the DHL Stormers and DHL Western Province.

Winter shares a remarkable relationship with White that spans over two decades with the latter being a major force in Winter’s decision to attend Jeppe High School for Boys. His move to Loftus Versfeld marks another relationship milestone with the duo sharing similar coaching philosophies.

Winter expressed his delight in joining the Vodacom Bulls and added that he is excited to implement his vision once rugby resumes following its suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Bulls have always been a special team that have enjoyed success at the highest level. I’m excited to be part of this #BullsFamily that shares so many values that I hold dear. I look forward to doing everything in my power to assist in making the Vodacom Bulls a team that not only produces the results on the field, but also goes above and beyond in making our supporters proud.”

White stated that it will be special to have Winter as an assistant coach that sees their relationship come full circle after it began in the early 1990s.

“I watched Russell grow from strength to strength as a player and continued to watch him grow as a coach. We’ve spoken at length about his role within the #BullsFamily and he is eager to get started with the forwards as soon as we can train again.”


Lemang Agricultural Services collaborates on project with British American Tobacco to train and develop new era tobacco farmers

Centurion, 21 May 2020 – The Emerging Farmer Initiative was launched by British American Tobacco South Africa (“BATSA”) in 2011 to facilitate transformation within the tobacco industry in South Africa. Since inception, the initiative has been funded by BATSA. The project creates new era farmers i.e. tobacco producers within previously marginalised communities in suitable agricultural areas of South Africa.

These new era farmers produce sun-cured Virginia tobacco and food crops (vegetable, maize and bean production) on a rotational farming basis to ensure that their crops mix provides a sustainable source of financial and food security and have a positive impact for their communities.

The groups of farmers successfully cultivated sun-cured Virginia tobacco, which is then sold to BATSA through Limpopo Tobacco Processors. The ultimate goal of this project is to technically grow the farmers, provide incubation and farmer development, financial administration and central purchasing services. By doing this, Lemang Agricultural Services, a division of AFGRI Agri Services, then creates suitably trained, experienced and sustainable new era tobacco farmers who can successfully progress to the status of commercial tobacco farmers.

The initiative currently empowers 150 farmers in total, farming at 15 sites in five provinces; Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, touching 4,300 beneficiaries, offering support through incubation, training and mentorship.

Each of the new era farmers is at various stages of development with continuous training and practical guidance from mentors. Beyond empowering the new era farmers to become experienced, an extension of the programme is to empower the new era farmers to become successful business owners by offering assistance and training in business development, financial and administrative assistance at Lemang’s Training Academy, Vastfontein.

Lemang Agricultural Services will project manage the total programme with a tobacco agronomy team and support from Lemang’s existing team.

Once cigarettes and other tobacco products can be sold again, the tobacco farmers supported by this great initiative stand to benefit enormously, allowing the crop already harvested to be sold and duly processed. This will ensure that money is put back into the farmers’ pockets, and averting further economic hardships for them and their families. This will also allow the new era tobacco farmers to plan accordingly for the season ahead, with the hope of prosperity into the future.


Introducing Axl, the ground-breaking online platform enabling the rental of agricultural machinery in South Africa

Centurion, 20 May 2020 – AFGRI Agri Services, one of the country’s leading agricultural services companies, is again leading the charge in the sector, with the unveiling today of a new disruptive agtech platform, the first of its kind in South Africa, known simply as “Axl”.

This online platform is designed to enable the convenient rental of farm equipment, facilitating the contract between the renter and the owner in a few simple steps, all without either having to set foot outside their own door.

In a nutshell, Axl allows farmers to find, rent, and pay for agricultural equipment through a secure online portal, enabling service providers – equipment owners, retailers, and contractors – to build their business and grow revenue streams and optimising the process of renting out their machines. Axl provides world-class payment solutions that ease the cash-flow challenges for service providers while connecting renters to a quality rated service.

Access to the right machinery at the right time is a critical success factor for farmers. “Whether it is a small, emerging, or large commercial farmer, this is an ongoing challenge for farmers of all sizes. Especially now, as the global pandemic has left global supply chains under immense pressure, uncertainty remains in the minds of our customers and currency volatility has resulted in the increase in equipment costs,” says Niki Neumann, the head of AFGRI’s strategic innovation division, AFGRI Technology Services (“ATS’’), which has developed this product, along with AFGRI Equipment.

“We have decided to open the platform up sooner than originally planned due to the increased need for an alternative solution. As with all new products we expect some teething issues, however, we have already had successful rentals via the platform.”

Axl’s first customer and a member of AFGRI’s Future Farmer Forum, Hardu Prinsloo, shares his experience using the service, “It’s always very fulfilling to be part of something new that can make a difference to agriculture as a whole.”

“When we set about developing the concept, we understood that with farming comes many unforeseen challenges, we wanted to build a community of quality-rated equipment service providers to be there for farmers when they need them the most. Uncertainty and change are something we will never see the back of, it is inherent in our lives now and going forward. We are adapting and excited to embark on this journey with our Axl customers,” says Neumann.

AFGRI Equipment branches will be the first to offer the rental service to their customers. However, the platform is for all South African farmers and equipment owners, including contractors and retailers alike.

UNIGRO customers have the added benefit of using their revolving credit or production facilities to pay for rentals via the Axl service. “Axl is an exciting platform, and UNIGRO is excited to integrate its financial services offering in support of the platform.  If a quality product offering like Axl enabled with convenient access to finance, delights our customers then we have been successful,” according to Ross Simmonds, the Managing Director of UNIGRO.

Axl goes beyond an online service – it breaks down the traditional barriers to accessing mechanisation for all farmers; it is creating a secure and shared environment and encourages us to do more with less. In times like these, this has never been more important.

According to Patrick Roux, the Managing Director of AFGRI Equipment, the platform is an exciting product. “It will further allow equipment owners to fully utilise their equipment throughout the year, and I am optimistic that this platform will change the way we utilise farm equipment in the future.”

He said that by launching Axl during the lockdown, AFGRI Agri Services can support farmers through uncertain times in a way not offered in the sector before now. ‘’In the long-term, the aim is to deliver an innovative digital service that both enables our customers to drive sustainability, profitability, and productivity for their business. We are positively transforming the equipment market for the better, starting now.”

Quite simply, Axl keeps the wheels turning.

For more information, visit https://axl.app

Steenkamp signs with Vodacom Bulls

The Vodacom Bulls confirm that lock Walt Steenkamp will join the team as of November 2020 after he signed a two-year deal with the #BullsFamily. The towering 24-year-old lock forward, who stands 2.03m at 121kg, had been gaining valuable experience in the Guinness PRO14 for the Toyota Cheetahs before opting to ply his trade in Pretoria.

Steenkamp made his mark in the FNB Varsity Cup in the colours of NWU-Pukke, where he made a valuable contribution in 2016 when the Potchefstroom-based university clinched the final against FNB Maties in overtime. In 2018, he was awarded the prestigious “Player that Rocks” award, before moving on to the Currie Cup First Division, where he made a massive impact for the Leopards.

The mobile yet imposing lock made the trip to Bloemfontein where he continued to impress for the Toyota Cheetahs especially on the heavier European fields. His arrival at Loftus Versfeld will most certainly benefit the second row as Director of Rugby, Jake White, continues attracting experience to Loftus Versfeld.

Steenkamp is looking forward to putting on the Bulls jersey, “ It’s a big step in my career, and there are certainly some big shoes to fill, but I look forward to putting on the Bulls jersey and making the Loftus faithful proud. I’m also excited about working with a coach like Jake, it is a great opportunity for me and I hope to grow from strength to strength under his leadership.”

Steenkamp is a soft-spoken and humble young man, with a rather dry sense of humour, but becomes a different animal when he crosses the white lines on to the playing field… similar to most other locks that have donned the Vodacom Bulls jersey


Grobbelaar, Steenkamp and Uys recommit to Vodacom Bulls

The exciting trio Johan Grobbelaar, Gerhard Steenekamp, and Muller Uys have recommitted their playing futures with the Vodacom Bulls as the franchise continues to build an electrifying squad under Director of Rugby, Jake White.

The young trio has already had a taste of Vodacom Super Rugby action this season before the COVID-19 pandemic put paid to competitive rugby. Their skillset and hunger for more only boost the Vodacom Bulls playing stocks as they continue to cut their teeth in the Southern Hemisphere’s premier rugby competition.

Grooming the next generation of youthful talent is a critical pillar in the success of any team, and is something that the #BullsFamily have taken immense pride in over the years.

Johan Grobbelaar established himself as a hooker for the Vodacom Bulls junior teams with the 22-year-old Junior Springbok equally adept on the side of the scrum. He made his Currie Cup debut in 2017 before earning a call up to Vodacom Super Rugby in 2018 with the dynamic hooker amassing 8 caps since.

Gerhard Steenekamp made his Vodacom Super Rugby debut off the bench against the DHL Stormers this season and is in the unique position to be the understudy of two Springbok props in Trevor Nyakane and Lizo Gqoboka. His powerful scrummaging ability is one of many skills as he has shown his immense mobility as a front-rower and ball skills that could rival a backline player.

Muller Uys stood up in last year’s SA Rugby U21 Championship as he led his team all the way to the final where they emphatically overthrew their DHL Western Province counterparts to lift the silverware. His prowess as a no.8 was rewarded this season as he made his starting Vodacom Super Rugby debut against the Highlanders, followed by another scintillating performance against the Reds before the team had their Australasian tour cut short due to the current pandemic.




Free trial period for eAccounts during lockdown Level 4

Dear valued client,

Free trial period for eAccounts during lockdown Level 4

A great opportunity exists for UNIGRO clients who are not yet using our eAccounts platform to sign up for free during May 2020.

Our eAccounts fees have been suspended, creating a unique opportunity to use this world-class platform for your financial transactions, including convenient access to funding. eAccounts provides real-time transactional capability and access to relevant account information.

For an easy tutorial on what eAccounts offers and how to use it, please take a look at the short video on our YouTube page, at https://youtu.be/Km1zn-RLb5s

Tried it and don’t like it? If eAccounts is not for you, then simply deregister before the end of May – there is no charge for signing up, usage or deregistering during this period.

Stay safe.

Kind regards


Ross Simmonds

MD, UNIGRO Financial Services