Congratulations abound as Vodacom Bulls’ White and Louw scoop SA Rugby awards

AFGRI joins the Vodacom Bulls in congratulating director of rugby, Jake White, and loose-forward, Elrigh Louw, for scooping the SA Rugby Coach of the Year and Carling Currie Cup Player of the Year awards for 2021, respectively.

SA Rugby announced the winners of the prestigious rugby awards yesterday.

White emerged as the winner in the coaching category, where he was nominated alongside Springbok mentor, Jacques Nienaber, and Springbok Sevens coach, Neil Powell.

Louw’s performances in a successful season for the Vodacom Bulls were recognised as he beat teammate, Johan Goosen, and DHL Stormers’ Evan Roos, for the Carling Currie Cup Player of the Year award.

“We are very proud of the feat achieved by Jake White and Elrigh Louw whose hard work and dedication has been rightfully recognised nationally,” said Blue Bulls Company CEO, Edgar Rathbone.

“These accolades are testament to the vision of growing the Vodacom Bulls to become a competitive, successful and top rugby franchise in South Africa and internationally. We are equally proud of the nominations of Johan Goosen, Jan-Hendrik Wessels (Junior Springbok Player of the Year) and the Vodacom Bulls (Team of the Year, alongside winners the Springboks and Springbok Sevens).

“Congratulations Jake and Elrigh! You continue to inspire us all to aim for greater success.”

Van Rooyen wary of Emirates Lions

The Vodacom Bulls are bracing themselves for another tough Vodacom United Rugby Championship encounter when they face the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.

The cross-Jukskei rivalry will be reignited as the two sides come face-to-face for the first time in the Vodacom URC, with both looking to claim the bragging rights.

Vodacom Bulls prop, Jacques van Rooyen, indicated that the side will be looking to bounce back from their nail-biting but “disappointing” 26-30 defeat to the DHL Stormers last weekend.

“We were obviously disappointed with the performance from last weekend,” Van Rooyen said.

“The Stormers really played well and started well. We took a good, long, hard look at ourselves and the way we wanted to play. We obviously did not get to do that in that game.

“We just have to try to get back to basics and make sure that everyone is on the same page. We have to make sure that for the upcoming games we are up to standard, that we start well and not make life difficult for ourselves, unnecessarily, by having to find ourselves chasing games.”

The 35-year-old Van Rooyen, who had started his career at Emirates Lions and spent his first five years of professional rugby at the franchise, will be most familiar with what to expect from the Johannesburg-based side.

“We know that the Emirates Lions, for the past few years, have had a good scrummaging pack and they like to attack you on your own ball as well their own feed. We know very well that every single scrum will be a battle,” he said.

When the two sides meet at Emirates Airline Park, the battle is always fierce. Van Rooyen expects the same on Saturday and also remains confident that the work the Vodacom Bulls have been putting in ahead of the derby will come to fruition on game day.

“Since I have been at the Vodacom Bulls, we have not had one easy game against them,” the burly prop said.

“[Emirates Airline Park] has been a tough ground for us to go play at. Obviously, their style of play, the tempo they play at, and now the coaches that they have brought in – you can see they are a lot more aggressive on defence. So, we know that is coming – they are very organised on defence.

“We have been working hard on what we want to do better. We want to make sure that we come to the party to ensure that we secure our ball and put them under pressure on their own feeds as well.”

Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White, will announce his squad to face the Emirates Lions on Friday.

The match between the two sides will kick-off at 15h00 on Saturday.


Brink to make Vodacom Bulls debut as Coetzee leads side against DHL WP tonight

Vodacom Bulls’ latest recruit, Cyle Brink, will make his debut for the side when they take on DHL Western Province in a Carling Currie Cup encounter tonight. The Vodacom Bulls head to Cape Town with a strong team for their second match of the 2022 campaign.

After getting the season off to a winning start in the opening match against the Pumas over the weekend, head coach, Gert Smal, selected an equally exciting match-day 23 for the traditional North versus South derby at DHL Stadium.

Prop Simphiwe Matanzima, hooker Bismarck du Plessis, and flanker Marcell Coetzee, who will captain the side, will be part of a powerful pack of forwards.

Veteran, Morne Steyn, will spearhead a thrilling backline which will include a centre pairing of Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe, while the back three will be made up of Sibongile Novuka and Canan Moodie, with James Verity-Amm starting at fullback.

Vodacom Bulls Carling Currie Cup head coach, Gert Smal, said: “We are up for a big challenge against a good DHL Western Province side, who are always very dangerous when playing at home.

“We are fortunate to have the opportunity to blend some valuable experience with some exciting youthful talent for this important fixture.

“We are looking forward to a tough physical battle and some entertaining rugby which we have become accustomed to when these two sides face each other.”

 The Vodacom Bulls team to face DHL Western Province is:

Forwards (1-8): Simphiwe Matanzima (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Bismarck du Plessis (Betway Centurion), Robert Hunt (Harlequins), Sintu Manjezi (Harlequins), Janko Swanepoel (Pretoria), Marcell Coetzee (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Cyle Brink (Betway Centurion), Muller Uys (FNB Tuks).

 Backline (9-15): Marco Jansen van Vuren (Pretoria), Morne Steyn (Tuine), Sibongile Novuka (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Harold Vorster (Northam), Lionel Mapoe (Pretoria), Canan Moodie (Tuine), James Verity-Amm (Pretoria).

 Replacements (16-23): Schalk Erasmus (Tuine), Jan-Hendrik Wessels (Pretoria), Sebastian Lombard (Betway Centurion), Reinardt Ludwig (FNB Tuks), WJ Steenkamp (Tuine), Keagan Johannes (FNB Tuks), FC du Plessis (Betway Centurion), Stedman Gans (Northam).


Vodacom Bulls secure Werner Kruger as front row consultant

The Vodacom Bulls are excited to announce the inclusion of former prop, Werner Kruger, as a coaching consultant focused on working with the team’s front row.

The 36-year-old former Springbok was, up until he retired from rugby last year, one of the most experienced tighthead props after having been capped well over 100 times each for the Vodacom Bulls in Super Rugby and the Carling Currie Cup before adding another century of caps at the Welsh club, Scarlets, where he ended his playing career.

“We are pleased to have been able to call on Werner Kruger as a consultant who will work with our front row, with immediate effect,” confirmed Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White.

“Werner was one of the most respected tighthead props, not only in South Africa but overseas as well where he became a legend at Scarlets in Wales. He is somebody who knows the Vodacom Bulls culture intimately and his expertise will be of great value to our group of props currently.

“We look forward to seeing his influence and have no doubt that with his contribution we are bound to see an improvement from our front row, particularly the props.”

Kruger’s playing career at the Vodacom Bulls began in 2003, spanning until his move to Wales in 2016, where he remained committed to Scarlets in Llanelli until last year.

He was part of the SA Under-21 team for two years in 2005 and 2006 before his selection for the Emerging Springboks team in 2010. Kruger earned four Springbok caps between 2011 and 2012.

Hendricks to lead strong Vodacom Bulls team in Carling Currie Cup opener

Cornal Hendricks will captain a strong Vodacom Bulls team in their opening match of the side’s Carling Currie Cup defence when they take on the Pumas at the Mbombela Stadium on Friday night.

Vodacom Bulls’ Carling Currie Cup head coach, Gert Smal, has selected a strong starting XV and an exciting group of replacements on the bench.

“We have put in some good, hard work over the past few weeks in preparation for the Carling Currie Cup, which promises to be a tough competition yet again this season. We are looking forward to seeing all of that work come together this weekend,” said Smal.

“The Pumas, particularly on their own turf in Mbombela, have always proven to be a tough opposition. We have no doubts that our match on Friday will be another hard-fought battle to kick-off the tournament.”

The match will kick off at 19h00 and will be televised on SuperSport.

 The Vodacom Bulls team to take on Pumas is:

Forwards (1-8): Gerhard Steenekamp, Johan Grobbelaar, Jacques van Rooyen, Walt Steenkamp, Ruan Nortje, Jaco Labuschagne, Elrigh Louw, Arno Botha.

Backline (9-15): Embrose Papier, Chris Smith, Richard Kriel, Cornal Hendricks (Capt), David Kriel, Madosh Tambwe, Kurt-Lee Arendse.

Replacements (16-23): Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Lizo Gqoboka, Robert Hunt, Sintu Manjezi, WJ Steenkamp, Zak Burger, Juan Mostert, Stedman Gans.


Vodacom Bulls announce coaching team for Carling Currie Cup

The Vodacom Bulls are pleased to confirm a skilled team of coaches that will oversee the Carling Currie Cup campaign alongside head coach, Gert Smal.

The Tshwane-based side last month announced the arrival of former Springbok assistant coach, Smal, at Loftus to spearhead the team to their domestic title defense.

The former Bok flanker will be ably assisted by competent coaching staff in the campaign which kicks off with a visit to Mbombela on Friday where the Vodacom Bulls will face the Pumas.

Former Vodacom Bulls Under-20 coaches Pine Pienaar (defence coach), Hayden Groepes (backs and attack coach), Edgar Marutlulle (scrum coach) will take up their reins in the Carling Currie Cup team.

“We are privileged at the Vodacom Bulls to have several talented coaches within our structures,” said Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White.

“A knowledgeable coach like Gert will certainly find comfort in being surrounded by an experienced coach like Pine Pienaar, a hard-working and committed individual like Hayden Groepes, and one of the most promising player-turned-coach in Edgar Marutlulle.

“We have no doubt that this team of coaches and the squad of players that we have will continue to fly the Vodacom Bulls flag high in the Carling Currie Cup this year.”

The Vodacom Bulls’ Carling Currie Cup coaching team is:

Head Coach – Gert Smal

Defence Coach – Pine Pienaar

Backs & Attack Coach – Hayden Groepes

Scrum Coach – Edgar Marutlulle

Steyn shifts focus from Bok kicks to Be that Dad

Morné Steyn had just come back from training with the Vodacom Bulls. He was still in his training kit when he went into the backyard with his two young boys. They’d given him a challenge – two forward somersaults on their trampoline. Steyn ran with that challenge like a pop pass from Marcell Coetzee and pulled it off to perfection. Why? Because he’s determined to “Be That Dad”.

That’s the spirit one of the most decorated Springboks in history is bringing to his life beyond the green and gold. And that’s also the spirit Steyn will bring to the 2022 Vodacom RED Father and Son Campout at Loftus Versfeld on the weekend of 5-6 March, when dads and their lads will take their shared love of rugby and build their bonds to be stronger than a Vodacom Bulls front row.

And such is the strength of the bond between Steyn and his sons that it played a major role in his decision to walk away from his Springbok family, and spend more time with his real family.

“It was a good time for me to finish it off. In 2009 I started with the British and Irish Lions series, and I finished off again with them. It was just a nice circle to finish the whole thing off,” Steyn says of this decision.

“My sons are now starting all of their school sport and it’s cricket and rugby matches now for them. It’s going to be great to be able to watch some of their games, and just to spend more time with my family in general.”

Steyn’s Vodacom Bulls family will still be very much in his plans though.

“I’ve signed another year with the Vodacom Bulls so I’ll be involved there until June 2023. That will keep me busy and sharp and able to keep up with youngsters. I just want to enjoy my rugby at the Vodacom Bulls. I have maybe two years left in me, and then I’ll probably be finished. We have a great team vibe at the Vodacom Bulls. There is a bright future for this team in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship. It honestly feels like we’re back at that stage of Vodacom Super Rugby from 2007 to 2010 where we’re building up a nice team. I think there is a great balance between the youngsters and experienced players like myself and Bismarck du Plessis and Marcell Coetzee. And I just want to enjoy my time there.”

But for now, Steyn wants his greatest focus to be on his role as a father. In an era when men are constantly being told to “Be All You Can Be”, Steyn has chosen to “Be That Dad”. That dad who shows up. That dad who stands on the sidelines of a school rugby field and helps his boys kick for posts. And who maybe also lends a hand to a few other boys who’ll inevitably join in.

“Whenever I want to kick a bit with my boys, then all the other kids want to join in. And that’s great. Then the dads also want to get involved and have a nice rugby chat.”

He’ll make the time to chat because Morné Steyn knows exactly what it means to all of them – himself included – to be part of this rugby family.

The return of the Vodacom RED Father and Son Campout promises to be bigger and better. Vodacom RED VIP clients and their sons will be given the exclusive opportunity to camp under the highveld skies at Loftus Versfeld. Great food, sweet treats, and other delightful eats will be provided, as well as fun and exciting activities to encourage quality time for fathers and their sons.

As a Vodacom RED VIP client, if you want to join Steyn at Loftus Versfeld and “Be That Dad”, then register on the Vodacom Bulls App between 10 January and 11 February 2022: