Loftus to host 2023/24 quarterfinal – opponents yet to be confirmed


The Vodacom Bulls’ bonus point nine-try victory over the weekend against Benetton has solidified a Vodacom United Rugby Championship top-four finish for Jake White’s herd with still a round to play. That means Loftus will host the quarterfinal match on the weekend of 07/08 June 2024.

The only question still left to be answered is just where exactly in the top four the Tshwane outfit will finish, with just one more assignment before the knockouts begin. That is a trip down to the coast where the 2023/24 EPCR Challenge Cup finalists, the Hollywoodbets Sharks await in round 18.

Director of Rugby, White says the league is very competitive and has reached an exciting point.

“This year, the worst we can finish is fourth. That means it’s already a quarter-final. That’s an improvement on where we were last year,”

“We are there. There’s this thing of you can’t win the lotto if you don’t have the ticket. We still got a ticket and while you have a lotto ticket, there’s hope.”

He adds: “Are we where I would like us to be? No, if we had beaten Munster, we would be top of the log. That’s the margins of what we sit with. If we won that game with a bonus-point, we would be first or second. That’s how close it is. But there’s no doubt in my mind about the improvement. The players have grown massively over the last year.”





Only six teams have confirmed their places in the playoffs leaving four still in the running for the remaining two spots. Three of those teams are level on points with two set to square up in the final round whilst the two sides who have an outside chance face tough opposition who currently are in the top five, as it stands.

The herd (on 61 points) sits in second place on the log, two points behind table toppers, Munster Rugby and a point ahead of the 2023/24 Investec Champions Cup finalists, Leinster Rugby who are level on points with Glasgow Warriors who are fourth. The Stormers (on 54 points) occupy fifth place, one point ahead of Ulster who just confirmed their playoff spot in round 17. Three teams are tied on 49 points in Edinburgh Rugby (seventh), Benetton Rugby (eighth) and the men from the other side of the Jukskei, the Emirates Lions sitting ninth.

Excitement is in the air for the herd, who are looking to better last season’s run and have their eyes set on a massive finish.

“I am very excited about where we are and the four games that we have left – one round robin and three potential knockouts – if it goes according to what the log looks like now, it could go Sharks, Glasgow, Stormers and Leinster,” says the Vodacom Bulls mentor, White.

“I really do believe that we are good enough to beat any of those teams. That is the challenge, to get it right in four consecutive weekends” he concludes.


Whilst a playoff spot is confirmed, the Vodacom Bulls remain in the hunt for the South African Shield which is decided based on the most wins versus domestic teams. The Tshwane outfit leads Cape archenemies, the DHL Stormers by 3 points and nothing short of a win will seal a Shield victory for Jake White and his herd.

White says his side has set their eyes on a Shield win, over and above their overall objective.

“We want to win the conference (Shield) too, it is something we want to do and be the best side in South Africa. We once were the best side for a long time and lost that for the last two seasons but now we are going for the conference (much like the league) because we want to be the top South African side,”

“This is why there is a lot to play for against them (Sharks) but that doesn’t mean they are going to lie down, look at the names in their team. They are in that space where World Cup winners can go and win something else as well and we know South Africans find another gear when they know they can win something.”

White believes his side will go for it as they have proven in previous occasions.

“There is one thing we have done well since I have been here and that is we play well when we want something and the one thing this group of players has done, whenever we get to a knockout game is to do well… We have probably won more than we have lost when we needed to play for a win.”

Chamberlain joins the Vodacom Bulls

The Vodacom Bulls have acquired the services of utility back Boeta Chamberlain on an initial two-year deal from coastal outfit, the Hollywoodbets Sharks.

The 25-year-old Paarl Boys’ High alumni will call the capital his home until June 2026.

Chamberlain has featured in 51 franchise matches for the Durban-based side, 39 of which have been in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship where he has scored 158 points with 15 of those coming from the three tries the creative midfielder has dotted down.

Director of rugby, Jake White says acquiring versatile players is key to having squad balance. “We have signed Boeta from June this year and his arrival will give us variation and depth. One of the things we want to get to, especially at 10 is to have players who can cover more than one position. When you have a guy, who can play in two different positions – especially on your bench – then you do not have to take your 10 off. This has worked for multiple teams and there is logic to good sides leaving their flyhalf on for as long as possible and your bench can either play at 10 or another position,”

“We are not there yet but we are working on it, to ensure that we have the depth of versatile players at flyhalf that will give us balance to our 23.”

Boeta will arrive at Loftus on July 01.

Die GROOT GOOIMIELIES-dag is weer om die draai!

Vir tien dekades vier AFGRI al hierdie belangrike gewas. Ons teiken vir 2023 is om 100 000 metrieke ton op een dag by ons silos te ontvang. Kom verbeter jou leweringsrekord! Verlengde ure is geldig tydens oestyd. Ons kan nie wag om jou graan te ontvang nie.
Aan jou gebring deur AFGRI Grain Management.

Kom kuier saam met ons by Val Boeredag, 5 Julie!

Kom kuier saam met ons by Val Boeredag, 5 Julie. Dit beloof om ‘n fees te wees van landboumasjinerie in aksie, en heerlike kuiertyd vir elkeen in die gesin. So dagboek dit nou! Die eerste Woensdag in Julie – elke jaar.

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Listen: Moneyweb’s Simon Brown talks to AFGRI CEO, Normal Cilliers about the state of the agricultural sector

Afgri CEO Norman Celliers speaks about the company’s 100 years in business and the state of the agriculture sector. You can listen here: Drought puts agriculture boom years at risk – Moneyweb

The interview with Norman begins at about 13:50 into this segment.

We are here! Visit us at NAMPO 2023

We are thrilled to announce that NAMPO 2023 has kicked off! Come visit us from the 16th to the 19th of May at NAMPO Park, nestled in the scenic surroundings of Bothaville in the Free State. Join us in the delightful atmosphere at our E29 stand, where we’ll be serving up some freshly brewed coffee just for you. We can’t wait to meet up for a truly memorable experience.

See you soon! ☕

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Norman Celliers leads AFGRI through an impressive turnaround

Following a tumultuous and challenging period, the AFGRI Group has entered its centennial year restructured, refocused and re-aligned.

AFGRI is one of South Africa’s leading agribusinesses, playing a vital role in enabling food security by supplying a broad range of products and services across the entire agricultural value chain. Over the last 24 months a far-reaching and extensive turnaround programme has been successfully implemented to realign the group around its core focus of partnering meaningfully with those involved in the South African agribusiness industry by delivering tangible value to its clients.

Spearheaded by Norman Celliers, appointed as the Group CEO on 1 March 2021 to assist the shareholders and lenders through a specific mandate of turning the business around, and then leading the group on a sustainable growth path, AFGRI is now beginning to reap the rewards of the intensive restructure. This involved the group having to redefine and refocus on its core business, with a relentless focus – and effort spent – on formulating strategy and organisational re-alignment, including the disposal of non-core assets and restructuring the balance sheet, amongst others.

His unenviable task was to move AFGRI, one of the oldest agribusinesses in sub-Saharan Africa that this year celebrates 100 years of being in business, in a sustainable direction to support the crucially important agribusiness industry. This meant reverting back to the basics that have supported AFGRI for a century – farmers and their farming businesses.

“To say the group has faced tremendous challenges in the past two years, as we navigated through this non-negotiable restructuring in addition to battling those presented by Covid-19, is an understatement, but we are grateful to report that we have made it with the group now well positioned,” says Celliers, who before joining AFGRI was the CEO of the JSE-listed company, Zeder Investments Limited.

As such, he is certainly no stranger to leading or guiding large organisations – at its peak, the Zeder investment portfolio covered an indirect controlling influence over companies representing a combined underlying market capitalisation of more than R40 billion and an indirect underlying employee base of approximately 25,000 people. Having served as the Zeder CEO and chairman or non-executive director of some of South Africa’s leading agri- and food businesses, he is also no stranger to the complexities of the agricultural sector.

“Going back to basics is incredibly important – farming enterprises need to be supported by a multitude of services and products, the scale of which AFGRI has diligently supplied for the past century. This ranges in complexity from grain management and storage facilities, equipment sales and services, retail products, animal feeds and milling, to agricultural financial services and insurance. These core areas of expertise are what we have returned to,” Celliers explains.

This includes, amongst others, being operationally responsible for handling and servicing approximately 5 million tons of the grain value chain in South Africa. AFGRI is also the largest independent John-Deere dealer outside of North America, with operations in Africa and Australia.

The 24-month turnaround project included exiting or selling numerous non-core businesses in South Africa and select African markets. Celliers explains that the proceeds of the sales, restructuring parts of the business, and new strategic lending and banking relationships have assisted in reducing and restructuring debt across the group. “Every part of AFGRI was analysed and assessed in the context of our new strategy and focus. What remains today are operations in South Africa, Australia and select African markets.”

Celliers adds that with the extensive restructuring project now completed, AFGRI is poised to benefit going forward. “Notwithstanding the challenges, the aggressive refocus on the core business has ensured a group turnover that has grown to approximately R20 billion annually with attractive normalised operational profits,” he added.

That is despite its longstanding agri-lending business, UNIGRO, losing the Landbank debtors’ book two years ago as a result of the Landbank taking the book back to manage internally. “We have worked tirelessly to find a solution and are making progress. We are confident that AFGRI will soon be in a position to once again advance credit and reintroduce financial solutions to our core customers.”

Celliers concludes by saying that he is grateful and proud of the commitment shown by the executive team and approximately 5 000 people working at AFGRI. “Today the group is restructured, refocused and realigned not only internally but most importantly externally in respect of our customers, lenders and other stakeholders.

“Significant progress has been made in striving towards being the leading partner to the agricultural value chain, sustainably and sensibly. Our century of experience and agricultural knowledge cannot be underestimated and reverting back to our core focus, without distractions makes for a formidable agricultural support company – we are confident that we are entering the next chapter on a stable footing and are tremendously excited about the prospects that lie ahead.”

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