Starting berth for Combrinck against Connacht

The Vodacom Bulls have named their side to face Connacht Rugby in Round 2 of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship on Friday. The South African side will take on the Irish team at The Sportsground in Galway, with kick-off at 20h35.

Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White, has made a handful of changes to the team that featured in the opening round last week. Arguably, the most notable of the changes include Springbok, Ruan Combrinck, earning his first starting berth for the side after making his debut off the bench during the domestic Carling Currie Cup campaign.

Combrinck will start at fullback, alongside another new starter in Stravino Jacobs, who will don the No11 jersey.

The forwards will buckle down with a new-look front row as loosehead prop Lizo Gqoboka, hooker Joe van Zyl and tighthead prop Jacques van Rooyen will be part of the starting XV.

“We have another tough encounter ahead of us. To face two top Irish sides back-to-back is no easy challenge,” said White.

“Connacht is a strong, well-coached side; and they will be looking to bounce back from their defeat to Cardiff in the opening round.

“We have also put the defeat to Leinster behind us, and we look forward to testing ourselves, again this week, against another quality outfit in the Vodacom United Rugby Challenge.”

The match will be televised on SuperSport.


The Vodacom Bulls team is:

Starters: Ruan Combrinck (Tuine), Cornal Hendricks (Northam), Lionel Mapoe (Pretoria), Harold Vorster (Northam), Stravino Jacobs (Harlequins), Johan Goosen ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Zak Burger (Tuine); Lizo Gqoboka (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Joe van Zyl (Harlequins), Jacques van Rooyen (Tuine), Walt Steenkamp (Betway Centurion), Ruan Nortje (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Marcell Coetzee (CAPT, ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Arno Botha (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Elrigh Louw (FNB Tuks)

 Replacements: Bismarck du Plessis (Betway Centurion), Simphiwe Matanzima (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Mornay Smith (Betway Centurion), Janko Swanepoel (Pretoria), Jacques du Plessis (FNB Tuks), Embrose Papier (FNB Tuks), Chris Smith (Harlequins), Stedman Gans (Northam)


‘We can only get better from here’ – Arno Botha

Vodacom Bulls loose-forward, Arno Botha, is confident that the side will improve in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship. Botha, one of a handful of players in the squad who are familiar with playing in Europe following a two-year stint at Irish club, Munster, indicated that the side was not deflated by the defeat to four-time champions, Leinster Rugby, in the opening round at the weekend.

“We can only get better from here. We just need to make the step up,” he said. “It’s not going to be a train-smash, we will make that step up. It’s not the end of the world, it was only the first game and there are still 20 more games to play.”

The Vodacom Bulls will now face another Irish outfit, Connacht Rugby, in Round 2 in Galway on Friday.

The 29-year-old Botha expects another touch encounter this week. “They say that playing in Connacht (Galway) is like playing in Kimberley, but totally different. It’s not going to be dry and hot, but it’s going to be cold and wet.

“We know they will just keep coming at us, and it will be a nice battle. It will be wet and we will have to be more clinical.”

The Vodacom Bulls’ match against Connacht Rugby will kick off at 20h35 on Friday, and it will be televised on SuperSport.

Duane Vermeulen leaves Vodacom Bulls

The Vodacom Bulls can confirm the departure of captain and Springbok loose-forward, Duane Vermeulen, who will be joining Irish team, Ulster Rugby.

The 35-year-old joined the Vodacom Bulls in 2020, where he had an immediate impact as he led the Tshwane-based side to the Carling Currie Cup title and was also instrumental in the journey to the final of the 2020/21 United Rugby Championship.

Vermeulen, who is currently representing the Springboks in the Rugby Championship in Australia, will officially join Ulster Rugby at the conclusion of the end-year Test matches.

Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White, said: “We are sad to see Duane leaving the Vodacom Bulls. He has been a key figure in our setup since his arrival in 2020 and his influence, both on and off the field, has been immense. We wish him the very best for his future at Ulster Rugby.”

Vodacom Bulls sign Bismarck du Plessis

The Vodacom Bulls have finalised an exciting signing with the acquisition of experienced Springbok hooker, Bismarck du Plessis.  The 2007 World Cup-winning hooker, who has a total of 79 tests to his name, will join the Tshwane-based side following a six-year stint at French club Montpellier.

The 37-year-old’s road to Loftus Versfeld began in his home province, Free State, where he represented the Toyota Cheetahs in 2003 before moving to the coast to join the Sharks, where he spent the next decade from 2005. It was in 2015 that his tenure at Montpellier began.

“We are really pleased to have secured Bismarck’s signature,” said Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White.

“Bismarck is the calibre of player we want here at Loftus – somebody who has a lot to offer on the field of play, and also vast experience that he can impart on the youngsters. There is no doubt that guys like Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Joe van Zyl, Johan Grobbelaar and Schalk Erasmus will gain plenty from his presence.”

Vodacom Bulls U20 expect tough WP battle

The Vodacom Bulls Under-20 side is bracing themselves for a tough SA Rugby Under-20 Championship encounter when they take on their DHL Western Province counterparts at DHL Newlands on Friday. 

Following their emphatic 56-8 victory over Toyota Free State U20 last weekend, the Tshwane-based side will go into the match with their tails up, hoping to retain their spot at the top of the log table. 

The rivals from the Cape will be equally charged after they too claimed a powered 65-0 win over Eastern Province U20 a week ago.

Once again, the Vodacom Bulls U20 side will be led by Rynard Mouton as the captain. 

Vodacom Bulls U20 head coach, Wessel du Plessis said: “The players showed what they are capable of with the dominant performance that was produced against the Toyota Free State U20 side last week. This week we have been working on improving even further on the things we did well, while rectifying areas that need tweaking. 

“It will be a tough match against DHL Western Province. They have also had some good performances, especial their result from last week. We expect them to come hard at us, and we will need to be equal to the task.”

The match in Cape Town will kick-off at 12h00. 

The Vodacom Bulls U20 side to take on DHL Western Province U20 is: 


Jandre Burger
Tharquin Manuel
Canan Moodie 
Niel Beukes 
Bayanda Ngubane 
FC du Plessis
Tiaan Fourie 
Cameron Hanekom 
Willie Potgieter 
Rynard Mouton – Captain 
Ruan Delport

Raynard Roets 
Sebastian Lombard 
Keagan Potgieter 
Cebo Dhlamini 


Gideon Serfontein 
Tielman Nieuwoudt 
Ntokozo Hlope 
Hardus Rothmann 
Chulumanco Mfakadolo 
Johan Muller 
Sonwabo Sokoyi 
Geraldo Flusk 
Eric Basson