Vodacom URC playoffs ticket sales open at Loftus

The Vodacom Bulls on Tuesday opened their ticket sales for their Vodacom United Rugby Championship playoff match against the Cell C Sharks which will be played at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, June 4. The Tshwane-based side confirmed a home quarterfinal spot when they defeated Welsh side, Ospreys, in a crucial encounter in Swansea at the weekend.

The Vodacom URC on Monday confirmed the championship’s playoff schedule, verifying the kickoff time for the South African derby as 13h45 at Loftus Versfeld.

Supporters will now have the opportunity to purchase their tickets for the decisive encounter as sales opened at 08h00 on Tuesday.

The Vodacom Bulls, who have for the past few Vodacom URC matches, have had some of the cheapest tickets to a rugby match. The side has kept their commitment to their faithful supporters by continuing with the sale of tickets from as little as R25 for the match.

Blue Bulls Company CEO, Edgar Rathbone, confirmed the opening of ticket sales: “We have had widespread interest and queries about our sale of tickets for the all-important Vodacom URC quarterfinal against the Cell C Sharks. We are happy to now confirm to our supporters that tickets are now available for purchase for that game scheduled for next week Saturday.

“In our effort to thank our supporters for their backing over the past two years, which have been very hard due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had slashed our ticket prices to make them some of the most affordable. We remain committed in ensuring that our fans have affordable access to premier rugby, and, as such, we will continue to have our tickets starting at a low cost of R25.

“We are proud of our director of rugby, Jake White, his coaching staff and players for their hard work in getting the Vodacom Bulls to this point. At the start of the season, it would have been hard to imagine that the side would reach this stage. However, the team remained focused, committed and had no doubts regarding the success they could gain and the targets they had set. We wish them well.”

In accordance with government regulations, as per the Government Gazette, stadiums are at this stage permitted to accommodate 50% of their capacity, and this will be the case for the Vodacom URC quarterfinal.

Tickets are available for sale at the Loftus Versfeld ticket office and online at bulls.ticketpro.co.za.


WARNING: Fake rugby tickets on circuit

The South African rugby fraternity is cautioning rugby lovers about purchasing fake match-day tickets from fraudulent websites that have no rights to sell any rugby tickets in SA.

SA Rugby, franchises and unions have received numerous queries and complaints recently about dubious websites, such as Viagogo, who have been unlawfully selling tickets for as much as up to 400% of the selling price for the authentic tickets sold on reputable websites or the official ticket offices.

Not only is this fraudulent activity hampering the economic status of the SA rugby fraternity that is still trying to recover from the recent impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is further concern for the swindling of unsuspecting lovers of the game of rugby.

It is advisable that any fans who would like to purchase tickets to do so via the unions’ official channels.

SA RUGBY WOMEN’S PREMIER DIVISION: Blue Bulls Women wary of dangerous Boland Dames

The Blue Bulls Women will be in action this weekend when they take on Boland Dames in an SA Rugby Women’s Premier Division clash at the Boland Stadium in Wellington.

The women from Tshwane have enjoyed a good start to their campaign, claiming three consecutive victories, with the most recent being a 21-13 win over Cell C Sharks Women last weekend, which ensured that they remained unbeaten thus far. The Boland Dames will be looking to bounce back after suffering a 32-15 defeat to defending champions, Border Ladies, in a clash in Mdantsane last Sunday.

The Blue Bulls Women will go into the fixture wary of the dangers posed by the fifth-placed Boland side and will be hoping to improve from the misfortunes from the previous season which saw this weekend’s home side claiming a double, winning both encounters in 2021 – a 23-19 win in Pretoria and a 21-0 victory in Wellington.

The match will kick-off at 13h00 on Saturday.

 The Blue Bulls Women’s team to face Boland Dames is:

STARTERS (15-1):
Nonnie Shongwe, Kirsten Eastes, Daphne Scheepers, Lynn Subke, Elizabeth Jansen van Rensburg, Rumandi Potgieter, Vuyolwethu Vazi, Thandeka Shongwe, Kyla de Vries, Anathi Qolo, Sibonelo Letsela, Zandile Khumalo, Thantaswa Macingwane, Lebogang Ralebona.

IMPACT (16-23):
Tyler-Jane Coleman, Doreen Mkhabela, Thulisile Bukula, Feranah Burger, Nthabiseng Marutla, Mahlatse Nkhumishe, Seshile Maguga, Layla Arrison.  

VODACOM URC: All to play for in Vodacom URC clash between Vodacom Bulls and Ospreys

There will be all to play for when Ospreys host the Vodacom Bulls at Swansea.com Stadium in Wales on Friday night. A win for the Vodacom Bulls will keep their hopes alive of potentially securing a home Vodacom United Rugby Championship quarter-final, pending the permutations of other fixtures over the weekend, while Ospreys will be gunning for the Welsh Shield which they are scrambling for together with domestic rivals, Scarlets.

Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White, has selected a strong side for the Vodacom URC Round 18 clash which will be the last opportunity for the SA-based side to run out before the playoffs stages.

The team will see the return of utility back, David Kriel, who will earn a starting berth at wing, while Cornal Hendricks will also be in the starting XV, partnering with Harold Vorster to make up the midfield combination.

On the bench, backup flyhalf, Juan Mostert, and centre Stedman Gans will have an opportunity to make an impact as substitutes, while Springbok scrumhalf Embrose Papier is likely to spark things in the latter stages of the game.

A strong reserve bench of forwards will include the likes of Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Simphiwe Matanzima, Robert Hunt, Janko Swanepoel and Arno Botha.

“There is a lot to play for in this match, so we expect a huge battle against a motivated Ospreys side that will be looking to claim the Welsh Shield with a win over us,” said White ahead of the game.

“We expect the match to be a tough encounter, with Ospreys set to be, as always, competitive in the set pieces. We have seen what they are capable of, and they will no doubt want to get a good result in front of their home crowd.”

The match will kick-off at 21h10 and it will be televised on SuperSport.

The Vodacom Bulls team to face Ospreys is:

STARTERS (15-1):
Canan Moodie (Pretoria, David Kriel (Tuine), Cornal Hendricks (Northam Rhinos), Harold Vorster (Northam Rhinos), Madosh Tambwe (Pretoria), Chris Smith (Harlequin), Zak Burger (Tuine); Elrigh Louw (UP Tuks), Cyle Brink (Betway Centurion), Marcell Coetzee (ABE Midas Naka Bulle, CAPT), Ruan Nortje (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Walt Steenkamp (Tuine), Mornay Smith (Betway Centurion), Johan Grobbelaar (UP Tuks), Gerhard Steenekamp (ABE Midas Naka Bulle).

IMPACT (16-23):
Jan-Hendrik Wessels (Pretoria), Simphiwe Matanzima (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Robert Hunt (Harlequin), Janko Swanepoel (Pretoria), Arno Botha (ABE Midas Naka Bulle); Embrose Papier (UP Tuks), Juan Mostert (Harlequin), Stedman Gans (Northam Rhinos)

VODACOM URC: Brutal scrum battle expected against Ospreys in crucial Vodacom URC clash

The Vodacom Bulls expect a tough battle when they face Ospreys in a crucial encounter in Swansea on Friday night. While the South African side will be hoping that a win will put them in a good position for a potential home quarter-final, the Welshmen will also have plenty to play for – to claim the Welsh Shield ahead of rivals, Scarlets, will be a priority.

The Vodacom Bulls, among other areas of play, have pin-pointed the scrums, where Ospreys have proven to be potent, as an area that will be hotly contested, believes the side’s in-form loosehead prop, Gerhard Steenekamp.

“They have a very good pack, and we have done our preparation for what lies ahead,” said the 25-year-old front-rower.

“So, we must just ensure we bring out our best this weekend, and that’s all we can do – to give our best.”

Steenekamp also acknowledged the importance of having former Scarlets and Vodacom Bulls legend, Werner Kruger, as part of the team’s coaching personnel. The retired prop’s knowledge of Welsh rugby and scrums has proven invaluable for the Vodacom Bulls.

“It’s (scrums) one aspect of the game that we’ve really worked hard on, and I think it’s because we have a pack that’s played longer together – so we are also getting our rhythm,” said Steenekamp.

“It really helps a lot having someone like Werner Kruger in our camp. He recently played in Wales, so he knows their mindset. All that insight and knowledge helps, and our scrum is something we have really worked on.”

The match will be played at the Swansea.com Stadium, kicking off at 21h10 (SA time) and it will be televised on SuperSport.

The Vodacom Bulls will later today announce their match-day squad for the encounter.


VODACOM URC: Strong 28-man Vodacom Bulls squad for Ospreys clash

A 28-man Vodacom Bulls squad will be preparing for their crucial Vodacom United Rugby Championship against Ospreys in Swansea this week. Although a playoff spot has already been secured, the Tshwane-based side travels to Wales where they will want to put themselves in a good position for a potential home quarter-final spot, depending on permutations of other exciting fixtures this weekend, should they secure a victory in their final round-robin match on Friday night.

Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White, has selected a strong group for the one-week tour which includes one of the side’s newest recruits, Ruan Vermaak, who joined the side late last week from Japanese team, NTT Red Hurricanes.

“We have an important tour where we will face a dangerous Ospreys team in their own backyard. We are at a crucial stage of the competition – the business end of the round-robin stages and on the verge of the playoffs, with plenty to play for in terms of securing home quarter-final spots,” said White.

“Be that as it may, the focus is on playing well as a group this week and to start building good momentum going into the playoffs.”

The match will be played at the Swansea.com (Liberty) Stadium, kicking off at 21h10 on Friday.

The Vodacom Bulls 28-man touring squad is:

Arno Botha, Bismarck du Plessis, Cyle Brink, Dylan Smith, Elrigh Louw, Gerhard Steenekamp, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Janko Swanepoel, Johan Grobbelaar, Marcell Coetzee (CAPT), Mornay Smith, Robert Hunt, Ruan Nortje, Ruan Vermaak, Simphiwe Matanzima, Walt Steenkamp.

BACKS (12):
Canan Moodie, Chris Smith, Cornal Hendricks, David Kriel, Embrose Papier, Harold Vorster, Juan Mostert, Keagan Johannes, Madosh Tambwe, Marco Jansen van Vuren, Stedman Gans, Zak Burger

CARLING CURRIE CUP: Exciting Vodacom Bulls team for Sigma Lions clash

Bismarck du Plessis will make a return to play with a starting berth for the Vodacom Bulls when they take on the Sigma Lions in a Carling Currie Cup clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. The veteran hooker will form part of an exciting front row after completing a three-week suspension.

The 37-year-old will be lining up alongside Lizo Gqoboka, who will also captain the team, at loosehead prop and Dylan Smith, who gets his first start in the blue jersey, at tighthead prop.

Juan Mostert will earn his first start for the Vodacom Bulls, earning a spot at flyhalf in the exciting backline which will also see Kabelo Mokoena, who was part of the successful UP Tuks team that recently claimed the Varsity Cup title.

The Vodacom Bulls expect a tough challenge from a Sigma Lions side that will be motivated against one of their oldest rivals at Loftus Versfeld.

“We are looking forward to a hard game against the Sigma Lions this week. We have also an exciting team, led by Lizo, that we have assembled for this match. We have a good mix of experience with Bismarck also back in the mix and the likes of Stedman Gans and Marco Jansen van Vuren in the backline,” said Vodacom Bulls head coach, Gert Smal.

“There is a lot of history and a rivalry that spans for decades between these two teams. Every time the Vodacom Bulls meet the Sigma Lions it is expected to be a game full of spark. They (Sigma Lions) will undoubtedly throw everything at us and will bring the competitiveness we have known between these two sides over the past 84 years.”

The match will kick off at 17h00 and it will be televised on SuperSport.

Tickets for the match are available on www.ticketpro.co.za or at the Loftus Versfeld ticket office from R25. Children under the age of 18 get free entry, with free entry tickets available at the gate.

There will be plenty of entertainment with a kids entertainment area, a beer garden for adults and there will be live entertainment pre-match from Martin Bester and Band.

 The Vodacom Bulls team to face the Sigma Lions is:

STARTERS (15-1): James Verity-Amm (Pretoria), David Kriel (Betway Centurion), Stedman Gans (Northam Rhinos), Marco Jansen van Vuren (Pretoria), Kabelo Mokoena (UP Tuks), Juan Mostert (Harlequin), Keagan Johannes (UP Tuks); Muller Uys (UP Tuks), Reinhardt Ludwig (UP Tuks), Jaco Labuschagne (Pretoria), Janko Swanepoel (Pretoria), Raynard Roets (UP Tuks), Dylan Smith (Tuine), Bismarck du Plessis (Betway Centurion), Lizo Gqoboka (ABE Midas Naka Bulle, CAPT)

IMPACT (16-23): Sidney Tobias (Northam Rhinos), Cebo Dlamini (Harlequin), Francois Kloppers (UP Tuks), Ruan Delport (Betway Centurion), Stephan Smith (UP Tuks); Bernard van der Linde (UP Tuks), Diego Appollis (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Richard Kriel (Tuine).

Vodacom Bulls secure star Springbok S’busiso Nkosi!

The Vodacom Bulls confirmed yesterday that they have made a key inclusion to their player resource with the signing of Springbok winger, S’busiso Nkosi. The 2019 World Cup-winning star is set to join the side from Tshwane-based side from July 1, where he will be set to make a positive contribution to the team when they kick-off their second season in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship which will begin in the second half of the year.

“We are obviously delighted to have a player of Sbu Nkosi’s calibre joining our ranks at the Vodacom Bulls,” said Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White.

“He is a proven quality player who is respected internationally based on his track record for the Cell C Sharks and on the international stage for the Springboks. To be able to secure the services of a World Cup-winning player will be a big boost for us. We are confident that we have plenty to gain from Nkosi where he will contribute alongside some of our senior players and also be able to impart his knowledge and experience onto our young talent, whom I am convinced will be eager to learn from him.”

The 26-year-old Nkosi was born in the Mpumalanga town of Barberton and completed his schooling at Jeppe High School for Boys.

In 2016 the elusive winger was part of the Junior Springbok team that finished fourth at the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Manchester, England. He then went on to represent the Cell C Sharks, making over 60 appearances for the coastal side before signing for the Vodacom Bulls.

Nkosi has represented the Springboks since 2018, earning a total of 16 caps so far.

“I am thrilled to be joining the Vodacom Bulls, where I will play alongside some of the most exciting talent in the country while working under some of the globally respected coaches,” responded Nkosi.

“I have had some of my best years at the Cell C Sharks where I also became a Springbok. I think I have served my time and contributed what I could at the franchise. I am most grateful to the Cell C Sharks – the coaches, players and staff – for some of the most memorable years in Durban and the support given to me. Of course, the fans have always been a big part of my career. Without their support I would never have enjoyed my time over the years as I have done.

“I now have an opportunity for a fresh start in Tshwane, where I hope to make a positive impact and give my best in the effort to assist the Vodacom Bulls remaining a force in South African rugby and also becoming one of the top rugby sides globally.”

Nkosi will join the Vodacom Bulls at the conclusion of the current Vodacom United Rugby Championship season and will officially become part of the team on July 1.

Wacker Neuson cultivates new AFGRI Equipment dealership to step up compact equipment foothold in Southern Africa

Wacker Neuson has announced the appointment of their new dealership, AFGRI Equipment, a move that sees the premium quality light and compact equipment specialist expanding its agricultural & construction footprint across the Southern African region.

Established in 1963, AFGRI Equipment is a prominent retailer of leading global agricultural, golf and turf equipment and construction brands in Africa and Australia. The organisation has branches in the provinces of Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the Northern and Western Cape, the North West, and the Free State as well as cross border in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Swaziland.

Dennis Vietze, Managing Director for Wacker Neuson Sub-Saharan Africa, explains how the new dealership agreement was cultivated: “AFGRI Equipment decided to approach us in their quest for a partner to complement their range of premium products and to have a more comprehensive customer offering. AFGRI will complement its product range with Wacker Neuson excavators, wheel loaders and telehandlers. Their strong presence and expansive footprint in the agricultural, and recently acquired John Deere Construction & Forestry space were among the numerous factors that encouraged us to enter into this dealer partnership. Moreover, their incredible service and strong customer relationships have earned them an excellent reputation in the industry.  As outstanding service and long-term customer relationships have always taken prominence at Wacker Neuson, we recognised the mutual synergies prevalent between the two companies.”

“AFGRI Equipment is excited to be a part of the Wacker Neuson distributorship,” says Managing Director, Patrick Roux. “This agreement allows us to sell and support world-class products that have built a following in South Africa over the last 40 years. Wacker Neuson’s product offering also aligns very well with AFGRI Equipment’s current portfolio to specifically focus on compact construction equipment which enables us to enter this segment within the agriculture and construction industry.” Roux adds that while customers in the compact construction sector have for the longest time enjoyed many options in terms of product offerings, the popularity of the Wacker Neuson range and the versatility of applications will serve to further enhance the customer experience above that of competitor offerings.

Roux also points to Wacker Neuson’s renowned engineering design and state-of-the-art manufacturing that leads to ultra-reliable equipment for the end-user. “As can be expected from a company that has its roots in Germany and has been long been involved in the South African market, substantial investments have been made in parts distribution, technical training facilities, and most importantly, personnel development. This, combined with AFGRI Equipment’s legendary aftersales service, makes for a compelling customer proposition.”

The dealership agreement, which became official on April 1st, 2022, will see the rollout of Wacker Neuson equipment to AFGRI in two phases. “During the first phase we will be focusing on Wacker Neuson Telehandlers, Wheeled Loaders, and Excavators to meet the large need for these machines within the agricultural space,” affirms Roux.

In terms of what customers can look forward to from the three Wacker Neuson machines, which will be available from all 23 AFGRI branches, Roux notes that the Wheeled Loader, coupled with all-wheel steering, will adapt well in the market and is suitable for a wide variety of industries owing to its versatility and manoeuvrability. The Compact Excavator he says finds particular favour with plant hire and urban development businesses as it is easy to transport at lower costs and easy to manoeuvre, particularly in tight spaces. “The Telehandler is popular in all segments of the construction industry as well as in numerous agricultural applications,” notes Roux adding that the reliability and serviceability of these machines are exceptional.

AFGRI is responsible for the full service of all Wacker Neuson equipment, including after-market support. Roux confirms that AFGRI Equipment has already embarked on a full training schedule for Parts and Service professionals to service the market. According to Roux, the wide footprint of their current branch network straddling over 23 locations across South Africa, along with their 175 fully qualified technicians and 93 apprentices, will play a critical role in upholding the exceptional service that AFGRI customers have become accustomed to. “These highly skilled individuals work mostly on-site and make use of 145 fully kitted service vehicles to achieve this task. We look forward to welcoming existing Wacker Neuson customers to the AFGRI Equipment experience.”

Wacker Neuson is providing all relevant training, including sales and after-sales. “Initial training was done via our online platform as well as on-site at AFGRI Equipment,” says Vietze. “Training will also be available at our new state-of-the-art Training Academy which we are proud to announce is due for completion in June. We are currently conducting training every two weeks to make sure that the AFGRI Equipment team is confident with the Wacker Neuson brand and our sales and after-sales processes.”

Introductory, product, and technical training has been coordinated by Wacker Neuson staff members and Roux has been impressed by the company‘s overall training experience. The ability and passion of the training personnel have been amazing with some members of the team having in excess of 30 years of technical, product, and competitor experience. With further training sessions already scheduled, we are looking forward to engaging with the Wacker Neuson team.”

“Wacker Neuson is very excited about the partnership with AFGRI Equipment. We see unlimited potential in the Wacker Neuson-AFGRI relationship which will be further strengthened by our shared synergies to the benefit of both companies, ultimately adding tremendous value for customers and end-users,” concludes Vietze.

CARLING CURRIE CUP: Vodacom Bulls fully focused on Sigma Lions Carling Currie Cup clash

The Vodacom Bulls are fully focused on their upcoming Carling Currie Cup fixture against cross-Jukskei rivals, the Sigma Lions, when the two sides meet at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

With the side from Tshwane having cemented a spot in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship playoffs, and also holding a commanding position in the Carling Currie Cup, which is also nearing the knockout stages, much talk in the public has been around the team being on the verge of playing playoff matches in two competitions.

However, Vodacom Bulls’ lock, Janko Swanepoel, stressed that his side was fully focused on this weekend’s domestic derby despite the team having to travel to Swansea in Wales next week for a crucial Vodacom URC encounter against Ospreys.

“All the focus is on the Sigma Lions this week, because every game in the Carling Currie Cup is important for us, just to keep that top spot on the log,” said Swanepoel ahead of Saturday’s game.

“We take it game for game, and after the Sigma Lions, then we will start focusing on the Ospreys game.”

The Vodacom Bulls are on the back of an important 48-38 win over the Windhoek Draught Griquas last weekend at home. Despite the bonus-point win, the side had a few lessons to take from the game, including not letting their guard down before the final whistle.

“So, for us, it is important to focus for the full 80 minutes. We need to begin like we did against Windhoek Draught Griquas last week and just stick to that. We are chasing the full 80 minutes this weekend against the Sigma Lions,” said the Vodacom Bulls lock.

The opposition for this weekend may not have had the best of results so far this season, but the 22-year-old Swanepoel believes that does not take away the danger posed by the side from Johannesburg when they square up.

“We cannot take the Lions lightly,” said the second-rower.

“We saw how they played last week. They almost beat the Toyota Cheetahs (losing 35-26). It was just the discipline that cost them in the final few minutes of the second half.

“So, we must just prepare for a tough game, and you can never know what might happen.”

Swanepoel has been an instrumental figure in the Vodacom Bulls team this season – both in the Carling Currie Cup, where he has featured as one of the frontline players and in the Vodacom URC, where he has often provided cover for the evergreen duo of Ruan Nortje and Walt Steenkamp.

He will once again prove to be a crucial cog in the Blue Machine forwards pack when they take on their Jukskei rivals.

The Vodacom Bulls will name their team for the match on Friday.

The match will kick off at 17h00 on Saturday and it will be televised on SuperSport.