PRO14 Rainbow Cup kick-off confirmed

The Vodacom Bulls, Emirates Lions, Cell C Sharks and DHL Stormers’ first foray into Europe has been confirmed with the news that the PRO14 Rainbow Cup will kick-off on the weekend of 24 April, with fixtures for the first three rounds now established.

Three weekends of derby action will be followed by cross-hemisphere fixtures where the existing Guinness PRO14 teams will face SA’s ‘Super’ teams for the very first time.

The schedule has been designed to limit travel where possible with the opening three rounds accounting for derby fixtures across Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa and Wales.

Rounds 4 to 6 will see the four South African teams play their away games in Europe and those fixtures will be confirmed once all appropriate travel approvals have been confirmed by the relevant authorities and governments. The format means that no teams from Europe will travel to South Africa for Rainbow Cup games because of prevailing COVID-19 conditions.

“This is exciting news for the four franchises that will move into Europe and I’m sure they will be eager to get the ball rolling in terms of preparing to face a whole new set of opponents,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.

“We’ve seen the quality of rugby produced in the Guinness PRO14 this season, under difficult circumstances, and it will be great for our sides to test their mettle against some of the best club sides in the world, bringing with them new challenges.

“It’s disappointing that the teams from Europe won’t be able to come to South Africa yet, but there is a bigger picture in play and it will be good to get the ball rolling with the Rainbow Cup. Plans are being made for our teams’ away games later in the series.

“While the excitement is palpable, it’s also paramount to remember that we are living in extraordinary times and that forces outside our control can still put a damper on the plans, but we will cross that bridge should the need arise and we are working tirelessly with all relevant stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition into Europe for our teams.”

The PRO14 Rainbow Cup fixtures will be a foretaste of the rivalries to come later in the year when it is expected a significant number of players from the Welsh, Irish and Scottish clubs will be part of the British & Irish Lions touring party to take on the Springboks in South Africa.

The PRO14 Rainbow Cup will feature a total of six rounds (eight games per round) and will feature all teams ranked in a single log. The top two teams will then play each other in the PRO14 Rainbow Cup Final on 19 June.

David Jordan, Tournament Director, PRO14 Rugby said: “Everyone is glad that we can now put some certainty into the rugby calendar in what has been an unpredictable period.

“Planning for a cross-hemisphere competition where the situation has been so fluid has provided many challenges, but we believe we have found a solution that is practical and safe to deliver a unique competition that supporters can get excited about.

“Throughout the Guinness PRO14 season, we have liaised with our unions and their governments to ensure we are meeting the conditions set out for elite sport to operate. We are very grateful for that support, without which a cross-border competition such as ours could not have taken place,” added Jordan.

PRO14 Rugby is currently consulting with our broadcast partners to select kick-off times and will confirm the scheduling as soon as possible.




 24 April 2021

Vodacom Bulls v Emirates Lions

DHL Stormers v Cell C Sharks

Ulster v Connacht

Leinster v Munster

Benetton v Glasgow Warriors

Edinburgh v Zebre Rugby Club

Ospreys v Cardiff Blues

Dragons v Scarlets



1 May 2021 (EPCR semi-final weekend)

DHL Stormers v Vodacom Bulls

Cell C Sharks v Emirates Lions


8 May 2021

Connacht v Leinster

Munster v Ulster

Zebre v Benetton

Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh

Cardiff Blues v Dragons

Scarlets v Ospreys



 8 May 2021

Vodacom Bulls v Cell C Sharks

Emirates Lions v DHL Stormers


15 May 2021

Munster v Connacht

Leinster v Ulster

Benetton v Zebre

Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors

Scarlets v Cardiff Blues

Dragons v Ospreys


ROUND 4: Weekend of 29 May

ROUND 5: Weekend of 5 June

ROUND 6: Weekend of 12 June

FINAL: Weekend of 19 June

New combinations to face Cell C Sharks

Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White, continues rotating his squad as he named the group that will travel to face the Cell C Sharks in their final Preparation Series warm-up match at JONSSON Kings Park on Friday, 26 March 2021.

Springbok Nizaam Carr continues to wear the captain’s armband and will lead a forward pack that sees significant changes.

Blitzbok Tim Agaba comes into the starting lineup at blindside flank with Werner Gouws shifting to openside.

Janko Swanepoel will wear the no.5 jumper while there is a completely new front row in Springboks’ Marcel van der Merwe and Lizo Gqoboka while Schalk Erasmus gets another opportunity to impress in the no.2 jersey.

Richard Kriel (fullback), Madosh Tambwe (right wing), and Zak Burger (scrumhalf) retain their spots from last week’s thrilling win over against the DHL Stormers.

A new centre partnership will front up against the Durbanites with Marnus Potgieter and Dawid Kellerman entrusted with the responsibility while Diego Appollis will be on the hunt for tries on the left wing.

Lastly, veteran Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn returns to add valuable experience in what is a youthful backline.

The bench has also been adjusted significantly with Jacques van Rooyen being named as a replacement after starting last week.

Juniors Raynard Roets and Reinhardt Ludwig will cover lock and loose forward respectively, while Clinton Swart and Jay-Cee Nel have been named as utility back cover, with Keagan Johannes being named as the scrumhalf replacement.

“We have our last warm-up this week and we could not ask for better opposition in the Cell C Sharks. It’s our first meeting since our Carling Currie Cup final battle and they’ll want to get one over the champions,” said White.

“We’ve continued in our rotation with the focus being on gaining experience throughout our larger squad. The Sharks have a strong squad which ultimately provides the foundation for another tough encounter but the gents are more than ready to throw their bodies on the line to secure a victory,” he added.

Kick-off is scheduled for 19:00 with the match being televised live on SuperSport.

Vodacom Bulls: 15. Richard Kriel, 14. Madosh Tambwe, 13. Marnus Potgieter, 12. Dawid Kellerman, 11. Diego Appollis, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Zak Burger, 8. Nizaam Carr (c), 7. Tim Agaba, 6. Werner Gouws, 5. Janko Swanepoel, 4. Jan Uys, 3. Marcel van der Merwe, 2. Schalk Erasmus, 1. Lizo Gqoboka.

Replacements: 16. Janco Uys, 17. Jacques van Rooyen, 18. Mornay Smith, 19. Raynard Roets, 20. WJ Steenkamp, 21. Keagan Johannes, 22. Clinton Swart, 23. Jay-Cee Nel, 24. Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 25. Reinhardt Ludwig, 26. Bernard van der Linde, 27. Niel Beukes.

Experience returns for DHL Stormers game

Springbok prop Trevor Nyakane and a host of experienced seniors return to the Vodacom Bulls’ starting line-up for their Preparation Series meeting with the DHL Stormers at Loftus Versfeld on Friday, 19 March 2020.

Besides Nyakane coming in at prop, Ruan Nortje and Marco van Staden return at lock and openside flank respectively.

The backs see a host of changes with newly recruited scrumhalf Zak Burger getting his first opportunity in the colours of the #TrueToTheBlue.

Cornal Hendriks and Stedman Gans resume their midfield partnership with Marco Jansen van Vuren shifting to left wing and Marnus Potgieter being named on the extended bench.

Richard Kriel replaces his brother, David, at fullback with the latter being rested.

The bench also sees an influx of experience as Johan Grobbelaar, Jacques van Rooyen, Blitzbok Tim Agaba, and Springbok Morné Steyn all set to add fresh legs later in the match.

“The North-South derby is always a ferocious affair and this match will be no different. The fact that it is a warm-up does not make it easier. We’ve named a little more experience for this meeting which was always in the plan as we gather momentum to the upcoming season,” said Vodacom Bulls’ Director or Rugby, Jake White.

Kick-off is scheduled for 19h00 and the match will be televised on SuperSport. 

Vodacom Bulls: 15. Richard Kriel, 14. Madosh Tambwe, 13. Stedman Gans, 12. Cornal Hendricks, 11. Marco Jansen van Vuren, 10. Chris Smith, 9. Zak Burger, 8. Nizaam Carr (c), 7. Werner Gouws, 6. Marco van Staden, 5. Ruan Nortje, 4. Janko Swanepoel, 3. Trevor Nyakane, 2. Joe van Zyl, 1. Gerhard Steenekamp.

Replacements: 16. Johan Grobbelaar, 17. Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 18. Jacques van Rooyen, 19. Jan Uys, 20. Tim Agaba, 21. Keagan Johannes, 22. Morné Steyn, 23. Diego Appollis, 24. Nolan Pienaar, 25. Raynard Roets, 26. Marnus Potgieter.

Vodacom Bulls celebrate success with 2020/21 AwardS

The Blue Bulls Company held their combined awards ceremony for the 2020/21 season on the very field that saw them lift both the Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked and Carling Currie Cup trophies earlier in the season on Friday, 12 March 2021.

The evening took place under the stars of Loftus Versfeld in a picnic-styled celebration, perhaps the most fitting given the Vodacom Bulls’ firm belief in the #BullsFamily, where players, management, sponsors, stakeholders, and family came together to celebrate the on-field success of the franchise. The setting on the A-field also ensured that there was enough social distance between the guests and that all other Covid protocols could be strictly followed.

A special mention must go to Vodacom Bulls’ captain and Springbok World Cup-winning no.8 Duane Vermeulen as well as one of rugby’s greatest comeback stories, Cornal Hendricks, as they continued to rack up the accolades after winning SA Rugby’s Player of the Year and Carling Currie Cup Player of the Year in the past week.

Furthermore, the announcement of Marco van Staden and Hendricks as joint winners of Vodacom’s Players’ of the Year marks the first time in this franchises’ proud history.

The Blue Bulls Company would like to congratulate the following on their awards and the #BullsFamily as a collective for their continued support throughout the past year. Together, we returned to winning ways, and together we will move forward.

Under 21

Forward of the Year: Jordan van Dyk

Back of the Year: Stravino Jacobs

Player of the Year: Janco Uys

Carling Currie Cup

QUATRO Forward of the Year: Trevor Nyakane

QUATRO Back of the Year: Cornal Hendricks

AFGRI Player of the Year: Duane Vermeulen

Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked

Vodacom Forward of the Year: Ruan Nortje

Vodacom Back of the Year: Ivan van Zyl

Vodacom Player of the Year: Marco van Staden

Main Awards

BBCo Employee of the Year: Douglas Chauke

PUMA Most Improved of the Year: Stravino Jacobs

ISUZU New-comer of the Year: David Kriel

Team Man of the Year: Jan Uys

Vodacom Fans’ Player of the Year (APP): Duane Vermeulen

Vodacom Players of the Year: Marco van Staden and Cornal Hendricks


#BullsFamily bids farewell to Van Staden

The Vodacom Bulls has confirmed that sensational openside flanker Marco van Staden will be leaving Loftus Versfeld at the end of June to further his career with the Leicester Tigers in England.

Van Staden, more affectionately known as “Eskom” by his peers (for putting a few lights out during his career), quickly became a crowd favourite with his intense work rate and insane physicality on the field.

He excelled through the junior ranks at Loftus, working his way up and earning 29 Vodacom Super Rugby caps and featuring in 18 Carling Currie Cup matches. Add to that three appearances for the Springboks, and it is safe to say that the young man has had an electrifying start to his career.

Jake White, Director of Rugby at the Vodacom Bulls: “Marco is a phenomenal player, and is probably one of the most complete number 6s in the world currently. Situations like these are always met with mixed emotions, I never want to lose a player of his caliber, but I’m also excited and proud of the player he has become. We wish him all the best with his journey ahead and know he will grow from strength to strength and will be a massive asset for Leicester.”

Van Staden humbly thanked the Vodacom Bulls, “My time at Loftus has been amazing, to say the least. The Bulls have always backed me and helped me grow as a person on and off the field. I will forever be grateful for the opportunities and lessons from the #BullsFamily. To each and every person that has impacted my career thus far, the guys that I played with, the coaches and management, and the staff at Loftus, I sincerely thank you. I may be moving on, but I truly hope that our bond will remain.”

Vodacom Bulls aim for consistency in selection for New Nation Pumas clash

Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White, has opted for continuity in the selection of the starting line-up when the Vodacom Bulls travel to Nelspruit to square off against the New Nation Pumas in a Prep Series warm-up on Tuesday, 9 March 2021 at Mbombela Stadium.

Springbok Nizaam Carr continues in his role as captain which he performed superbly against the EP Elephants. The starting team is unchanged and is deadset on adding to their impressive form of last weekend.

The bench has been shuffled to allow more game time with Nolan Pienaar, Bernard van der Linde, Clinton Swart, Henco Beukes, Willie Potgieter, and Richard Kriel all set to add a powerful blow to the opposition later in the match.

“The boys did well last week and the coaching management were impressed in how they kept to the plan, even when the game opened up.”

“It could have become a free-for-all once we got legroom on the scoreboard but we want to simulate in-competition scenarios to help us better prepare for upcoming competitions and I must commend Nizaam and his leadership group for keeping the players focused on the objectives and outcomes we wanted to achieve.”

“This week will be no different and although the starting team hasn’t changed much, there’s a ton of new faces on the bench that want their boots on the field and to put their names forward. The last time we travelled to Nelspruit with a rather young and inexperienced team, we lost badly to a powerful and well-oiled Pumas bunch. I’m looking forward to seeing how this group has developed since then. We’re excited to get to Nelspruit and play our brand of rugby,” said White.

Kick-off is 19:00 and the match will be televised on SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby channels.

Vodacom Bulls: 15. David Kriel, 14. Madosh Tambwe, 13. Marnus Potgieter, 12. Marco Jansen van Vuren, 11. Stravino Jacobs, 10. Chris Smith, 9. Embrose Papier, 8. WJ Steenkamp, 7. Tim Agaba, 6. Nizaam Carr (C), 5. Janko Swanepoel, 4. Jan Uys, 3. Mornay Smith, 2. Joe van Zyl, 1. Gerhard Steenekamp.

Replacements: 16. Janco Uys, 17. Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 18. Nolan Pienaar, 19. Reinhardt Ludwig, 20. Werner Gouws, 21. Bernard van der Linde, 22. Clinton Swart, 23. Richard Kriel, 24. Henco Beukes, 25. Willie Potgieter, 26. Dawid Kellerman.

Vermeulen leads the charge at SA Rugby Awards

Duane Vermeulen led the charge as the Vodacom Bulls almost made a clean sweep at the annual SA Rugby Awards for the 2020 season, with the Springbok No 8 being named Player of the Year for a second time.

Vermeulen walked off with two awards, including the overall gong for SA Rugby Player of the Year, while the Vodacom Bulls, champions of Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked and the Carling Currie Cup, won in almost every other category.

Stedman Gans, who made a successful transition from the Blitzboks to star for the Vodacom Bulls after the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series was cancelled, was named Springbok Sevens Player of the Year, for his role as the Blitzboks’ won two tournaments out of six to finish second overall on the standings.

Wandisile Simelane, a former Junior Springbok star who got his first taste of senior rugby in green and gold in the successful Castle Lager Springbok Showdown before going on to star for the Emirates and Xerox Lions in the local competitions, was named Young Player of the Year.

The 34-year-old Vermeulen, who led the Vodacom Bulls to two titles last season, including the Carling Currie Cup for the first time since 2009, also won the Vodacom Super Rugby / Unlocked Player of the Year Award for 2020.

It was therefore no surprise that the Vodacom Bulls were named Team of the Year and their Director of Rugby, Jake White, was Coach of the Year.

Cornal Hendricks capped a brilliant season by walking away with the accolade for Carling Currie Cup Player of the Year, and Jaco Peyper was named the OUTsurance Referee of the Year.

“It was a very tough season but Duane was superb – not only on the field, where his performances were on par with the very high standard we’ve become accustomed to from him, but he also led the Vodacom Bulls with aplomb as our teams had to navigate numerous new curve balls and challenges,” said Mr Mark Alexander, President of SA Rugby.

“I would like to congratulate Jake and the Vodacom Bulls on their season, as well as Wandisile, Cornal, Stedman and Jaco, but I also have to acknowledge all our teams and players who worked tirelessly under difficult circumstances to ensure that we saw some rugby on local soil in 2020.

“A lot of hard work went into making the season a reality and I would like to thank everyone who played a part in making it happen, especially our broadcast partner and sponsors, who stuck with us through tumultuous times.

“The pandemic has been disruptive to people from all walks of life and apart from the hard work done in training, first at home and later back at their team bases, it was heartening to see our players rolling up their sleeves and also helping fellow South Africans who are not as fortunate. We saw yet again that we are stronger, together.”

Commenting on Vermeulen’s exploits in Vodacom Super Rugby and Unlocked, Liam Dobell, Head of Rugby at Vodacom, said: “Vodacom is proud to recognise Duane Vermeulen as the Vodacom Super Rugby and Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked Player of the Year.

“This was no ordinary rugby season, and Duane showed himself to be no ordinary player. In the most challenging of times, he still found a way to unlock his talent and passion for rugby, and in so doing helped to keep us all connected in our shared passion for the game.”

Arné Rust, Brand Director of Carling Black Label, hailed Hendricks’ exploits on and off the field during a difficult year: “Cornal Hendriks is a Champion among Champions, his performances on the field in the Carling Currie Cup and even off the field with initiatives like the Cornal Hendriks Foundation are an inspiration to us all.

“We continue being very proud sponsors of such an amazing tournament that showcases and rewards the Champions in the Carling Currie Cup,” added Rust.

OUTsurance CEO, Danie Matthee, congratulated the experienced Peyper on his award: “Congratulations to Jaco Peyper for a great performance throughout a challenging year. There’s no denying the impeccable quality of the SA Rugby Referees and we’re proud to invest in growing this talent even further.”

The winners and finalists for 2020 are:

SA Rugby Player of the Year: Duane Vermeulen

Finalists: Curwin Bosch, Cornal Hendricks, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Steyn

 SA Rugby Young Player of the Year: Wandisile Simelane

Finalists: Curwin Bosch, Stedman Gans, Ruan Nortje, Dylan Richardson

Springbok Sevens Player of the Year: Stedman Gans

Finalists: Angelo Davids, Selvyn Davids

Team of the Year: Vodacom Bulls

Finalists: Cell C Sharks, Springbok Sevens

Coach of the Year: Jake White

Finalists: Sean Everitt, Neil Powell

Vodacom Super Rugby and Unlocked Player of Year: Duane Vermeulen

Finalists: Frans Steyn, Marco van Staden

Carling Currie Cup Player of the Year: Cornal Hendricks

Finalists: Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen

OUTsurance Referee of the Year: Jaco Peyper

Burger joins the #BullsFamily

The Blue Bulls Company is delighted to announce the signing of Zak Burger, who joins the Vodacom Bulls effective March 2021 and has signed on until 2024.

The 22-year-old former Paarl Gimnasium scholar has enjoyed several seasons in the colours of the Tafel Lager Griquas where he proved to be a thorn in the side of opposition teams with his high tempo, in-your-face style of play.

Burger represented both DHL Western Province and the Cell C Sharks at junior level before moving to Kimberley after the 2018 U20 World Championship where he earned four Junior Springbok caps and scored two tries.

“Zak has had a phenomenal last few months in Kimberley and we’re keen to add his ability to the collective depth at Loftus. He has consistently performed for the Peacock Blues and his acquisition is exactly the type of player we want to attract to Loftus,” said Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White.