CARLING CURRIE CUP: Vodacom Bulls preparing to match up physically against Airlink Pumas

The Vodacom Bulls are expecting a challenging battle when they take on a “settled” Airlink Pumas in their Carling Currie Cup encounter at Loftus Versfeld on Friday night. The side from Tshwane is on the back of a satisfactory win over a strong Sigma Lions team a fortnight ago where they fought hard on their way to a 43-37 victory over their provincial rivals.

The Airlink Pumas, like every other season, have proven to be a thorn in the flesh of a number of teams throughout the current campaign which includes wins over top sides like the Cell C Sharks.

Vodacom Bulls assistant coach, Hayden Groepes, indicated that there would be no difference in the contest between what they had to take on against the Sigma Lions and what they expect from the Airlink Pumas this week.

“To be honest, I don’t think there will be much of a difference. We are going to have to match-up physically,” said Groepes.

“I thought we did pretty well against the Sigma Lions where we had to manage the game and had to match-up in that final 40. There will be no difference against the Airlink Pumas. That will be our most important aspect – we will have to match-up physically and we will have to build pressure with and without the ball in hand.

“What the Airlink Pumas have as a strength is that they are a settled side. There might be some challenges that we may experience against the Pumas which we did not have against the Sigma Lions, but I believe we have got to look after ourselves and make sure that our processes are in place coming into Friday’s game.”

The big question ahead of Friday night’s clash, like every other week, is whether the Vodacom Bulls will field a team that is full of players who have been participating in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship or will be resting those players ahead of the crucial quarterfinal scheduled for next week against the Cell C Sharks.

Groepes responded: “Between director of rugby, Jake White, and Carling Currie Cup head coach, Gert Smal, they would like to make sure that the full squad is running fit. I believe the players will look to get some good time under the belt for those who need some game time.”

The Carling Currie Cup has proven to be a two-horse race for the top spot on the log between the Vodacom Bulls and Toyota Cheetahs. The two sides will square up against each other in the final round of matches before the semifinals, and there is increasing interest whether the team from Tshwane already has one eye on that top-of-the-table clash scheduled for June 11.

“The Toyota Cheetahs are the unbeaten side in this competition at the moment. I think where we are, we have got to focus on the Pumas this week and make sure that we do the job on Friday night, firstly,” said Groepes.

“We still have about three weeks to prepare for the Toyota Cheetahs and when we get there, hopefully, we will be very well-prepped.”

The Vodacom Bulls will announce their team to face the Airlink Pumas on Thursday.

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


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 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)

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 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).

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.

Vodacom Bulls honour local clubs with special training session this Thursday

The Vodacom Bulls will, on Thursday, honour the role of club rugby with all players training in their local club colours ahead of the weekend’s Carling Currie Cup match against the Sigma Lions. The Tshwane-based side has continuously expressed the importance of club rugby in contributing to the success of the professional setup.

With the domestic World Sports Betting (WSB) Carlton League going into its second round of matches this weekend, and a number of Vodacom Bulls contracted players set to feature in the matches once again, the players will train in their club kit on Thursday.

“This is a good gesture by our professional side as they pay homage to our clubs who form a crucial part of our pipeline,” said Blue Bulls Rugby Union (BBRU) president, Willem Strauss.

“The synergy between the Vodacom Bulls and our clubs has contributed to ensuring that our club system is among the best in the country. This has resulted in our leagues attracting broadcasters and commercial partners.

“Very few leagues can boast having their clubs featuring as many professional players as we see in this region. This is part of the reason why the World Sports Betting Carlton League is arguably the premier domestic club competition in South Africa.”

Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White, also commended the role clubs and the World Sports Betting Carlton League play as a pipeline for the professional side. “We see a strong club structure as absolutely crucial in creating a strong, healthy and competitive professional setup as well,” he said.

“The WSB Carlton League and our local clubs have been great in affording a number of our players quality game time while also producing a number of players who have graduated to the professional team. It is also great that each of our players is assigned to a club.

“It is important that these two structures continue to work hand-in-hand to grow the game of rugby and ensure continued success of our clubs and the Vodacom Bulls.”

The WSB Carlton League will feature some quality matches this weekend, with he pick of the games being a clash between reigning champions, ABE Midas Naka Bulls, and back-to-back Varsity Cup title-holders, UP Tuks. The match will be televised on SABC.

Members of the media are invited to the training session at 14h00 on Thursday where they will have an opportunity to take photographs, view the training session and also interview selected players.

CARLING CURRIE CUP: Strong Vodacom Bulls team for Windhoek Draught Griquas clash

The Vodacom Bulls have selected a strong team to take on Windhoek Draught Griquas in a crucial Carling Currie Cup encounter at Loftus Versfeld tomorrow.

The side from Tshwane sits at the top of the Carling Currie Cup table and will be out to retain their log-leading status ahead of the unbeaten Toyota Cheetahs as well as the Cell C Sharks.

The Vodacom Bulls will be expecting a strong challenge from the Windhoek Draught Griquas, who will be looking to turn around the result from the previous fixture between the two sides when the men in blue claimed an emphatic 27-53 victory away from home in Kimberley in March.

The Vodacom Bulls have reinforced their arsenal with personnel who have been consistent performers for the side in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship.

“We have no doubt that we have a very tough fixture this weekend against a Windhoek Draught Griquas side that has shown what they are capable of. They are always a tough side to beat and we are certain that they will come out guns blazing this weekend,” said Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White, ahead of the match.

“We are trying to have a good balance in this team, as evidenced by our selection. We have given a few of the guys who have been playing Vodacom URC some time out while others we will continue to add value to the Carling Currie Cup.”

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

The Vodacom Bulls team to take on the Windhoek Draught Griquas is:

STARTERS (15-1): Canan Moodie, Stravino Jacobs, Cornal Hendricks, Harold Vorster, Madosh Tambwe, Chris Smith, Embrose Papier; WJ Steenkamp, Cyle Brink, Arno Botha, Reinhardt Ludwig, Walt Steenkamp, Robert Hunt, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Lizo Gqoboka.

IMPACT (16-23): Schalk Erasmus, Simphiwe Matanzima, Dylan Smith, Ruan Nortje, Muller Uys, Keagan Johannes, Juan Mostert, Stedman Gans.

VODACOM URC: Vodacom Bulls expect confident Benetton team at Loftus, says Burger

Benetton Rugby will come to Loftus Versfeld full of confidence when they take on the Vodacom Bulls in a Vodacom United Rugby Championship Round 16 match on Saturday.

Not only did the side from Treviso get one over their Tshwane-based opponents when they squared up in the final of the Rainbow Cup last year, but a number of their players were involved when the Italy national side recently claimed a historic victory over Wales in the Six Nations this year.

Vodacom Bulls scrumhalf, Zak Burger, is wary of the dangers posed by the Italian side and expects a challenging battle when the two teams meet at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday afternoon.

“Going up against Benetton, we know that they are a good team. They won the Rainbow Cup last year and they have all of their international players back now from the Six Nations,” said Burger ahead of the weekend’s clash.

“So, we know that it is going to be a very hard match and we know that we are going to have to be really clinical and take our chances whenever they are presented to us.

“In this Benetton team, there are about 12 players that were in that Italy team that beat Wales in Cardiff. They are obviously full of confidence now after winning that game. I really think that it’s going to be a very hard battle for us this coming Saturday.”

The 23-year-old scrum-half has made some weighty contributions to the Vodacom Bulls team this season.

He is pleased with both his personal improvement and the strides his team has been making since the start of the Vodacom URC season.

Burger further added that there were lessons he and the Vodacom Bulls troops learned from their most recent match – a narrow defeat to the DHL Stormers a fortnight ago.

“What we took out from our previous game is that we were not clinical enough,” shared the nippy halfback.

“Games like that are like a test match and you have to take your chances whenever you get them. On that day we did not take enough of our chances. We have to be clinical this weekend against a good Benetton side.”

The Vodacom Bulls will announce their team for the weekend on Friday.

The match will kick off at 14h00 and it will be televised on SuperSport.

Loftus Versfeld will be a hive of activity with children under the age of 18 being allowed to enter the stadium for free. Tickets for children will be collectible at the stadium entry gates. Adults can purchase their tickets for as little as R25 per ticket.

There will be plenty of entertainment on the day with a kiddies area on the D-field and a beer garden for adults.

Rugby fanatics can also look forward to a curtain-raiser match that will signal the start of the 2021 Women’s Premier Division competition when the Blue Bulls Women take on Border Ladies at 11h40.

There will also be an afterparty at the beer garden with entertainment from popular Jacaranda FM DJs Mack Rapapali and Thabiso Khambule aka Lallie.

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#Loftus25K R25 tickets for Vodacom Bulls v Ulster clash at Loftus

Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White, was summoned to the CEO’s office on Tuesday morning after committing to a ticket price drop for his side’s Vodacom United Rugby Championship match against Irish giants, Ulster Rugby, at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday… and he was given a pat on the back.

“This is unheard of. Where in the world have you seen a premier match between two sides which so much history and accolades opening their stadium at such low ticket prices,” was Vodacom Bulls CEO, Edgar Rathbone’s response to the news that broke in the early hours of Tuesday.

This is after White, in a live radio interview with Martin Bester on Jacaranda FM’s breakfast show, committed to lowering ticket prices for the game to start at R25 for the match.

“We are hoping to get a big crowd. The government has given us the go-ahead to open up to 50% of the capacity, which is 25 000 for us at Loftus. Hopefully, we will try to get those numbers up this weekend,” White initially shared.

“Let’s make sure that we get 25 000 people at Loftus. I’m committing that we’ll make it start from R25 a ticket, and we are hoping that all the schools, clubs, and supporters of rugby in the area will come.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the crowd back. I don’t see a reason why this cannot be achieved. I’ve met a lot of Vodacom Bulls supporters who have been saying they want to come to watch the team. I’m sure this will be a great initiative. If we can get 25 000 at the stadium, it will just show how much we love our rugby.”

Rathbone did not give White his marching orders for the commitment but instead supported the director of rugby’s decision to offer supporters, who have been starved of live rugby for two years, an opportunity of a lifetime.

“This is the least we can offer our supporters who have stood by us for a long time. We at the Vodacom Bulls back the decision made by Coach Jake White in an effort to get fans back in their numbers at our sporting venues.

“We are looking forward to seeing the Loftus faithful flocking the stadium this Saturday and witnessing top quality rugby in a premier competition like the Vodacom URC.”

Should the target of 25 000 be met on Saturday, this will be a record match attendance figure in the Vodacom URC this season. The highest attendance figure in the competition this season after the Vodacom Bulls’ visit to Aviva Stadium last September, where just over 19 000 spectators were in attendance.


BREAKING NEWS! Vodacom Bulls sign Ruan Vermaak

The Vodacom Bulls are pleased to announce the signing of former Junior Springbok lock, Ruan Vermaak, who is set to be the latest recruit at Loftus Versfeld.

The 23-year-old will join the Vodacom Bulls effectively from July 1 in what will be the beginning of a three-year journey with the Tshwane-based side.

Vermaak is a former SA Schools ‘A’ player and was part of the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg before joining the Japanese side, NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes, in 2021, where he has been under the tutelage of former Springbok and Vodacom Bulls player, and emirates Lions coach, Johan Ackermann. He is known as a hard-working individual and brings with him versatility which has seen him not only play at lock but also feature in the loose-forwards.

“We are excited to have a young, talented, and versatile player like Ruan Vermaak joining our ranks as we continue to build and strengthen our squad,” said Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White.

“We do not doubt that Ruan will add immense value to the team and the future of Vodacom Bulls rugby. We are also confident that he will continue to grow to become one of the top rugby players in South Africa.”