Vermeulen leads the charge at SA Rugby Awards

Duane Vermeulen led the charge as the Vodacom Bulls almost made a clean sweep at the annual SA Rugby Awards for the 2020 season, with the Springbok No 8 being named Player of the Year for a second time.

Vermeulen walked off with two awards, including the overall gong for SA Rugby Player of the Year, while the Vodacom Bulls, champions of Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked and the Carling Currie Cup, won in almost every other category.

Stedman Gans, who made a successful transition from the Blitzboks to star for the Vodacom Bulls after the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series was cancelled, was named Springbok Sevens Player of the Year, for his role as the Blitzboks’ won two tournaments out of six to finish second overall on the standings.

Wandisile Simelane, a former Junior Springbok star who got his first taste of senior rugby in green and gold in the successful Castle Lager Springbok Showdown before going on to star for the Emirates and Xerox Lions in the local competitions, was named Young Player of the Year.

The 34-year-old Vermeulen, who led the Vodacom Bulls to two titles last season, including the Carling Currie Cup for the first time since 2009, also won the Vodacom Super Rugby / Unlocked Player of the Year Award for 2020.

It was therefore no surprise that the Vodacom Bulls were named Team of the Year and their Director of Rugby, Jake White, was Coach of the Year.

Cornal Hendricks capped a brilliant season by walking away with the accolade for Carling Currie Cup Player of the Year, and Jaco Peyper was named the OUTsurance Referee of the Year.

“It was a very tough season but Duane was superb – not only on the field, where his performances were on par with the very high standard we’ve become accustomed to from him, but he also led the Vodacom Bulls with aplomb as our teams had to navigate numerous new curve balls and challenges,” said Mr Mark Alexander, President of SA Rugby.

“I would like to congratulate Jake and the Vodacom Bulls on their season, as well as Wandisile, Cornal, Stedman and Jaco, but I also have to acknowledge all our teams and players who worked tirelessly under difficult circumstances to ensure that we saw some rugby on local soil in 2020.

“A lot of hard work went into making the season a reality and I would like to thank everyone who played a part in making it happen, especially our broadcast partner and sponsors, who stuck with us through tumultuous times.

“The pandemic has been disruptive to people from all walks of life and apart from the hard work done in training, first at home and later back at their team bases, it was heartening to see our players rolling up their sleeves and also helping fellow South Africans who are not as fortunate. We saw yet again that we are stronger, together.”

Commenting on Vermeulen’s exploits in Vodacom Super Rugby and Unlocked, Liam Dobell, Head of Rugby at Vodacom, said: “Vodacom is proud to recognise Duane Vermeulen as the Vodacom Super Rugby and Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked Player of the Year.

“This was no ordinary rugby season, and Duane showed himself to be no ordinary player. In the most challenging of times, he still found a way to unlock his talent and passion for rugby, and in so doing helped to keep us all connected in our shared passion for the game.”

Arné Rust, Brand Director of Carling Black Label, hailed Hendricks’ exploits on and off the field during a difficult year: “Cornal Hendriks is a Champion among Champions, his performances on the field in the Carling Currie Cup and even off the field with initiatives like the Cornal Hendriks Foundation are an inspiration to us all.

“We continue being very proud sponsors of such an amazing tournament that showcases and rewards the Champions in the Carling Currie Cup,” added Rust.

OUTsurance CEO, Danie Matthee, congratulated the experienced Peyper on his award: “Congratulations to Jaco Peyper for a great performance throughout a challenging year. There’s no denying the impeccable quality of the SA Rugby Referees and we’re proud to invest in growing this talent even further.”

The winners and finalists for 2020 are:

SA Rugby Player of the Year: Duane Vermeulen

Finalists: Curwin Bosch, Cornal Hendricks, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Steyn

 SA Rugby Young Player of the Year: Wandisile Simelane

Finalists: Curwin Bosch, Stedman Gans, Ruan Nortje, Dylan Richardson

Springbok Sevens Player of the Year: Stedman Gans

Finalists: Angelo Davids, Selvyn Davids

Team of the Year: Vodacom Bulls

Finalists: Cell C Sharks, Springbok Sevens

Coach of the Year: Jake White

Finalists: Sean Everitt, Neil Powell

Vodacom Super Rugby and Unlocked Player of Year: Duane Vermeulen

Finalists: Frans Steyn, Marco van Staden

Carling Currie Cup Player of the Year: Cornal Hendricks

Finalists: Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen

OUTsurance Referee of the Year: Jaco Peyper

Burger joins the #BullsFamily

The Blue Bulls Company is delighted to announce the signing of Zak Burger, who joins the Vodacom Bulls effective March 2021 and has signed on until 2024.

The 22-year-old former Paarl Gimnasium scholar has enjoyed several seasons in the colours of the Tafel Lager Griquas where he proved to be a thorn in the side of opposition teams with his high tempo, in-your-face style of play.

Burger represented both DHL Western Province and the Cell C Sharks at junior level before moving to Kimberley after the 2018 U20 World Championship where he earned four Junior Springbok caps and scored two tries.

“Zak has had a phenomenal last few months in Kimberley and we’re keen to add his ability to the collective depth at Loftus. He has consistently performed for the Peacock Blues and his acquisition is exactly the type of player we want to attract to Loftus,” said Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White.

Youthful Vodacom Bulls named to face EP Elephants

The Vodacom Bulls will take to the field sporting a team that is dominated by the next generation of stars when they host the EP Elephants in a preparation match at Loftus Versfeld on Sunday, 28 February 2021.

Director of Rugby, Jake White, named flank Nizaam Carr as captain and the experienced Springbok will lead not only the team but a forward pack that is bursting at the seams in terms of talent.

Joe van Zyl (hooker) and Gerhard Steenekamp (prop) were used throughout Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked and the Carling Currie Cup while lock forward Janko Swanepoel continues to gain valuable game time.

The only new face amongst the backs is recently signed wing Madosh Tambwe who is set to earn his first match in the blue of the Vodacom Bulls with the halfback pairing Embrose Papier and Chris Smith continuing in their partnership.

The sensational Stravino Jacobs is not ready to hand over his starting role and is expected to be a menace on the wing after an impressive run in the victorious Carling Currie Cup campaign.

The replacements emulate the starting team with Jan-Hendrik Wessels set to add fresh legs in the front row while Raynard Roets and Uzile Tele covering lock and flank respectively.

Keagan Johannes and Diego Appollis will ensure that the attacking flair is unrelenting on match day.

“Upping the players’ game time is central to our approach during our preparation series and our team for Sunday emulates that. These guys have toiled under the hot sun biding their time and their opportunity has now come. We know what they can produce and we are looking forward to how they seize their chances,” said White.

Kick-off is 15:00 and the match will be televised on SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby channels.

Vodacom Bulls: 15. David Kriel, 14. Madosh Tambwe, 13. Marnus Potgieter, 12. Marco Jansen van Vuren, 11. Stravino Jacobs, 10. Chris Smith, 9. Embrose Papier, 8. WJ Steenkamp, 7. Tim Agaba, 6. Nizaam Carr (c), 5. Janko Swanepoel, 4. Jan Uys, 3. Mornay Smith, 2. Joe van Zyl, 1. Gerhard Steenekamp.

Replacements: 16. Janco Uys, 17. Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 18. Gerhard van der Merwe, 19. Raynard Roets, 20. Uzile Tele, 21. Keagan Johannes, 22. Jandre Burger, 23. Diego Appollis, 24. Reinhardt Ludwig, 25. Werner Gouws, 26. Dawid Kellerman.

#BullsFamily bids farewell to Van Zyl

The Vodacom Bulls today confirmed that Springbok scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl will depart Loftus Versfeld to join the English club, Saracens, at the end of June.

Van Zyl joined the Vodacom Bulls in 2014, directly after finishing school across the road at Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool.

The 25-year-old former Junior Springbok made his first-class debut during the 2015 Vodacom Cup campaign and followed this up with his debut in the Carling Currie Cup later that year and his Vodacom Super Rugby debut the following year.

Van Zyl established himself as a sturdy scrumhalf, unafraid of roughing it up with the forwards and providing a crisp pass that serviced his backline effectively.

In 2018, his hard work and relentless pursuit of perfection earned him a Springbok call-up where he made his debut against Wales in Washington DC and has subsequently amassed six caps in the green and gold.

“Ivan has led our backline alongside the veteran Morné Steyn, extremely well and his keen sense of the game has served our game plan perfectly. His direct approach, speed, and strength will be a massive boost for Saracens and we know that he will be an asset to them and wish him well,” said Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White.

Van Zyl expressed his gratitude to the #BullsFamily: “I’ve always wanted to play for this team, having grown up in Pretoria and watching the likes of Fourie du Preez and company. I must thank all involved at Loftus Versfeld for backing me and allowing me to chase my dreams. It’s not goodbye but rather until we see each other again and I wish all my fellow Vodacom Bulls players the best of luck.”

Tambwe joins the Vodacom Bulls

The Blue Bulls Company is delighted to announce the signing of the electrifying quick Madosh Tambwe effective immediately with the utility back making Loftus Versfeld his home until June 2023.

Tambwe, who was born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, joins from the Cell C Sharks and stands at 1.86m and weighs in at 92kgs.

The 23-year-old former Parktown Boys’ High School scholar made a name for himself at the Xerox Lions where his try-scoring ability and strength on the wing allowed him to move quickly up the ranks.

Tambwe represented the Xerox Lions at U19 and Currie Cup level while he also forced his way into the Emirates Lions’ Vodacom Super Rugby squad in 2017.

Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White said: “Madosh is an amazing talent, and is a welcomed addition to our backline stock where his talent will benefit the collective strength. We are excited to start working with him and see his skills on the field.”

Jake says thanks to the fans!

Dear #BullsFamily24,

To start with, you would notice that I have addressed this letter to ‘#BullsFamily24’. We’ve been saying it for many years now, as a supporter of the Vodacom Bulls you are part of OUR FAMILY… a family 2,4 million strong.

You would have also noticed the number ‘24’ on all of our marketing, communication, and around the stadium over the last few months. The explanation of ‘24’ becomes a lot easier now, with our short-term goals being achieved. ‘24’ was a dream… a vision… a target… a goal. We used the number as an image and a symbol to work towards, one that inspired every single member of the team, management, and staff.

The significance of 24 means different things to different people, but the main ones are aligned:

  • We worked towards and achieved our 24th Carling Currie Cup title.
  • When broken up the ‘4’ was the goal for the amount of Vodacom Super Rugby titles.
  • While the ‘2’ was significant of the number of senior titles for the season (Carling Currie Cup and Vodacom Super Rugby).
  • The ‘4’ was also relevant to the number of overall titles at senior and junior levels (U19, U21, Carling Currie Cup, and Vodacom Super Rugby).
  • It was also a tribute to player number 24, that was the guy that just didn’t make it into the match 23… his attitude and how he approached the week was essential to the spirit in the team.
  • Most of all… the Vodacom Bulls have always played with an extra player (figuratively), let’s call it our player 24… and that was you, the fan that never stopped believing in us even through the toughest of times… all 2,4 million of you.

On behalf of everybody at Loftus, I want to sincerely and humbly express our gratitude for your unwavering support. Thank you for investing your time and energy into us… thank you for showing patience and belief, and most importantly thank you for sharing in the ups and downs of this journey.

The 2020/21 season will go down in our history as the strangest season ever but will be noted as a successful one. That chapter is over, and we must now move forward onto the next one. We look forward to our new journey heading into Pro Rugby and sharing these moments with you.

Regards,

Jake White

Vodacom Bulls look to experience for final

Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White, has named a matchday squad jam-packed with experience while keeping consistency in the team’s selection ahead of their Carling Currie Cup final clash against the Cell C Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, 30 January 2021.

The forwards remain relatively unchanged with the only change coming at hooker as Johan Grobbelaar gets the starting nod with Schalk Erasmus providing cover on the bench.

Duane Vermeulen will again lead the team from the back of the scrum alongside his successful loose forward partnership with Elrigh Louw and fellow Springbok Marco van Staden.

Springboks Trevor Nyakane and Lizo Gqoboka prop up a strong Vodacom Bulls’ scrum while adding firepower in loose play.

The backs are unchanged as Marco Jansen van Vuren continues in his role at outside centre after a successful outing against the Xerox Lions as a late injury replacement for Blitzbok Stedman Gans.

Morné Steyn’s experience will contribute towards the collective strength of this team as he continues to rack up points with his boot while unleashing a backline that carries a massive punch, spearheaded by Springbok Cornal Hendricks and Blitzbok Kurt-Lee Arendse.

Former schoolboy sensation Stravino Jacobs has excelled under his baptism of fire in his first season as a senior player and will be keen to add to his brace that he scored in the semifinal last weekend.

The replacements have an important job in providing fresh legs and this weekend’s match will prove the ultimate test with stalwarts such as Jacques van Rooyen and Arno Botha standing by to inflict as much damage as possible while Springbok Embrose Papier and Chris Smith will be primed to open up the match in the latter stages.

“We have secured a place in the final but we still have 80 minutes to play. There are no second chances in playoff rugby and our opponents are just as eager to lift this coveted trophy. Our job is to prevent this from happening and ensuring that the Carling Currie Cup returns to Loftus Versfeld,” said White.

Kick-off is 15:00 and will be televised live on the SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby channels.

Vodacom Bulls: 15. David Kriel, 14. Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13. Marco Jansen van Vuren, 12. Cornal Hendricks, 11. Stravino Jacobs, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Ivan van Zyl, 8. Duane Vermeulen (C), 7. Elrigh Louw, 6. Marco van Staden, 5. Ruan Nortje, 4. Sintu Manjezi, 3. Trevor Nyakane, 2. Johan Grobbelaar, 1. Lizo Gqoboka.

Replacements: 16. Schalk Erasmus, 17. Jacques van Rooyen, 18. Mornay Smith, 19. Jan Uys, 20. Arno Botha, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Chris Smith, 23. Marnus Potgieter, 24. Nizaam Carr, 25. Gerhard Steenekamp, 26. Keagan Johannes, 27. Jade Stighling.

Vodacom Bulls return to full strength for Xerox Lions semi-final

Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White, has named a full-strength matchday squad that will face the Xerox Lions in their Carling Currie Cup semi-final at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, 23 January 2021.

Stravino Jacobs retains his spot on the left wing as a revamped backline sees the return of David Kriel (fullback) while Cornal Hendricks and Stedman Gans resume their successful partnership in the midfield.

Kurt-Lee Arendse is set to continue his attacking form on the right wing while Ivan van Zyl and Morné Steyn continue with their halfback pairing as the latter celebrates a ton of provincial matches for the Vodacom Bulls.

Steyn’s contributions to the Vodacom Bulls at the provincial level has been one of dedication and loyalty with all his appearances having been in the light blue jersey.

His 76 Carling Currie Cup caps alongside 18 Vodacom Cup appearances coupled with five sanctioned friendlies is testament to not only his immense talent but also his professionalism.

Amongst the forwards, Duane Vermeulen resumes the captaincy and will man the back of the scrum alongside Elrigh Louw and Marco van Staden as blindside and openside flank respectively.

Sintu Manjezi has been named at no.4 lock while his partner Ruan Nortje continues in his role as lineout coordinator in the no.5 jumper.

The young yet incredibly talented Schalk Erasmus will have the confidence knowing that his role at hooker will be aided by two Springbok props in Lizo Gqoboka and Trevor Nyakane.

The bench is littered with players who have given their all when called upon and this weekend’s finishers are no different with Arno Botha, Jacques van Rooyen, Embrose Papier and Chris Smith set to provide vitally important fresh legs in a crucial match.

“We have reached the business end of the Carling Currie Cup and I must commend our entire squad on getting us to this point. Every player in our ranks has contributed to our cause with enthusiasm and a never say die attitude,” said White.

“Focusing on this weekend has been in our minds for the last two weeks and we have done all we can in terms of preparation. We know how to win and we have to just that against a team that has pushed us each time we’ve played them,” he added.

Vodacom Bulls: 15. David Kriel, 14. Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13. Stedman Gans, 12. Cornal Hendricks, 11. Stravino Jacobs, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Ivan van Zyl, 8. Duane Vermeulen (C), 7. Elrigh Louw, 6. Marco van Staden, 5. Ruan Nortje, 4. Sintu Manjezi, 3. Trevor Nyakane, 2. Schalk Erasmus, 1. Lizo Gqoboka.

Replacements: 16. Johan Grobbelaar, 17. Jacques van Rooyen, 18. Mornay Smith, 19. Jan Uys, 20. Arno Botha, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Chris Smith, 23. Marco Jansen van Vuren.

Vodacom Bulls announce extended squad for Xerox Lions encounter

Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White, has named an extended squad in preparation for the Carling Currie Cup clash against the Xerox Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Wednesday, 6 January 2021.

The larger than normal group is mainly due to the fact that the team is still awaiting a few Covid19 test results.

The final match day squad will be trimmed and finalised as soon as possible.

“It’s been an interesting and challenging season to say the least, with the past two weeks probably being our most testing yet. We haven’t had a lot of time together following the isolation protocols, which doesn’t make it ideal going into a crunch game like this one,” White explained.

“Having said that, we’re just excited to be able to play again and get our campaign back on track.”

Kick-off is 16:00 and will be televised live on the Super Sport Grandstand and Rugby channels.

Vodacom Bulls extended match day squad: Lizo Gqoboka, Schalk Erasmus, Trevor Nyakane, Jan Uys, Ruan Nortje, Marco van Staden, Elrigh Louw, Duane Vermeulen, Embrose Papier, Chris Smith, Stravino Jacobs, Cornal Hendricks, Marnus Potgieter, Jay-Cee Nel, David Kriel, Johan Grobbelaar, Jacques van Rooyen, Marcel van der Merwe, Walt Steenkamp, Arno Botha, Tim Agaba, Ivan van Zyl, Morne Steyn, Keagan Johannes, David Kellerman, Jade Stighling, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Joe van Zyl.

Big Marcell Coetzee joins #BullsFamily

The Blue Bulls Company is excited to announce the signing of 29-year-old Springbok loose forward Marcell Coetzee, effective July 2021.

 

Coetzee has penned a three year deal and returns to South Africa after five seasons with GUINNESS PRO16 club Ulster where he quickly became a fan favourite and mainstay in the starting line-up. The former Port Natal High School scholar also represented the Cell C Sharks in Vodacom Super Rugby and the Currie Cup before a short stint with Honda Heat in the Japanese Top League before moving to PRO16.

 

Jake White, director of rugby at the BBCo, “Marcell is a phenomenal player and any team in the world would be ecstatic to have a player of his calibre joining its structures. He has grown from strength to strength over the years, and is currently playing some of the best rugby of his life. He’s excited about being back in South Africa, and making Loftus his home.”