#BullsFamily bids farewell to flank Josh Strauss

The Blue Bulls Company would like to confirm that it has reached a mutual settlement with flank Josh Strauss regarding his departure from Loftus.

The Scottish international joined the Vodacom Bulls in 2019 and featured strongly in the 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby competition before it was halted due to Covid-19.

Contrary to media reports, there has been an open line of communication between BBCo Director of Rugby Jake White, and Strauss’ management agency over the last few months.

Strauss was open and honest in informing the Vodacom Bulls that he would be looking at other offers from overseas clubs, due to the financial strain after salary cuts across the board in South African Rugby.

He also strongly emphasised that the travel and distance between him and his family in Cape Town were starting to take its toll and that he was looking forward to spending more quality time with them.

White thanked Strauss for his commitment and wished him well, “Josh is a great guy and I truly respect his decision to put his family first. It’s a tough situation to be in, working and living far away from your kids and not seeing them as often as you like. We fully understand his situation and would like to sincerely thank him for his commitment and efforts while at the Bulls, and wish him everything of the best with his path ahead.”


#BullsFamily lock in Manjezi 

The Blue Bulls Company can confirm that 25-year-old lock forward Sintu Manjezi will join the Vodacom Bulls from the Toyota Cheetahs from 1 July.

Manjezi has stamped his authority in the Guinness PRO14 in recent seasons as a tough as nails and uncompromising lock in the Toyota Cheetahs’ pack. His core strength in the scrum coupled with his prowess at lineout time and ability to poach the ball off the ground makes him a valuable asset to the Vodacom Bulls. He is also versatile as he can pack down on the side of the scrum when called upon.

The 1.98m and 114kg former St. Andrews Grahamstown scholar started his career in the colours of the Eastern Province Kings and made his Vodacom Super Rugby debut for the Southern Kings in 2015.

He also cut his teeth in the FNB Varsity Cup, South Africa’s premier university competition, in the colours of FNB NMMU before shifting to the Tafel Lager Griquas.

The gifted lock forward made the move to Bloemfontein at the end 2018 where he represented the Toyota Cheetahs in the PRO14, routinely showing up his European opponents, and assisted the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in lifting the Currie Cup during last season’s successful campaign.

The #BullsFamily can expect big things with the signing of Manjezi as Director of Rugby, Jake White, continues to add firepower amongst the tight five. “Sintu is a talented player for the future and is a powerhouse that packs all the skills that make a good lock. He can slot in at lock or as a loosie, and I firmly believe that he has what it takes to play at the highest level..”



Du Plessis joins #BullsFamily as Head of Junior Rugby

The Blue Bulls Company is excited to announce that former Grey College 1st XV coach, Wessel du Plessis, will join the #BullsFamily as Head of Junior Rugby with Director of Rugby, Jake White, continuing his mandate of revitalising all of the franchise’s structures.

The 35-year-old Du Plessis represented the Toyota Free State Cheetahs U20s and 7s teams before injuries curtailed his playing career and started his coaching career in 2004 with the Free State U17 team before shifting into the building industry for several years.

In 2010, Du Plessis joined Grey College as a teacher and in 2014, he was appointed the 1st XV coach. Under his tutelage, Grey College continued to dominate the South African school rugby scene, consistently beating the likes of Affies and Paarl Boys, while providing a conveyor belt of quality rugby players that have gone on to achieve at the highest levels.

His ability was recognised by SA Rugby when he was appointed head coach of the SA Schools A team earlier in 2020 before the rugby season was shelved due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Du Plessis expressed his desire to make an immediate impact with the Vodacom Bulls junior players and thanked the #BullsFamily for showing faith in his ability as a coach.

“I’m passionate about helping young rugby players realise their potential and being able to do that within a professional environment such as the Vodacom Bulls is just the cherry on top. The junior structures at Loftus Versfeld are impressive while the players are of exceptional quality as evident by Loftus being the current home to the SA Rugby U21 and U19 Championship trophies. I’m looking forward to working with the next generation of Vodacom Bulls players and a heartfelt thank you must be given to the BBCo for this opportunity,” said Du Plessis.

White added that although the Vodacom Bulls are the flagship team at Loftus that an emphasis must be placed on grooming the next Vodacom Super Rugby stars.

“Creating a winning culture starts at the bottom and it is important to invest in the future of Vodacom Bulls rugby. When I joined the #BullsFamily, I stated my intention of improving the schools and club rugby structures and appointing a coach of Du Plessis’ calibre is a step in the right direction. I look forward to working with Du Plessis as the Vodacom Bulls look to the future,” said White.


#BullsFamily: Carr has joined the group

The Blue Bulls Company can confirm that the athletic loose forward Nizaam Carr will join the #BullsFamily and will link up with the team as soon as the COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions are relaxed.

The 29-year-old former Bishops Diocesan College scholar is no stranger to the South African rugby landscape as he stamped his authority in Vodacom Super Rugby while playing in the colours of the DHL Stormers where he represented the franchise at almost every level.

Carr has established himself as an uncompromising and hard as nails no.8 but can pack down on either side of the scrum with his versatility coupled with his insatiable ability on the field making the Springbok an asset in any squad.

Carr has certainly been rewarded in silverware for his deeds on the field as he helped DHL Western Province to two Currie Cup titles in 2014 and 2017 after winning the FNB Varsity Cup title with the University of Cape Town in 2011.

In 2018, he joined the Wasps in the English Premiership where he quickly became a fan favourite and flourished on the heavier fields while adding different elements to his overall skillset. He returns to South Africa having unfinished business with the Springboks as he would ultimately want to add to his five appearances in the Green and Gold.

Director of Rugby, Jake White, expressed his delight in Carr’s signing and is looking forward to working with the talented loose forward.

“Nizaam needs little introduction and I’m happy that he has decided to continue his career with the Vodacom Bulls. His ability to perform under pressure will only benefit the franchise while his experience will be used to mentor the younger loose forwards in the squad as well. He has done well in England and it is great to have his talent back on South African soil again,” said White.



Hendricks continues hunt at Loftus

The Blue Bulls Company is proud to announce that crowd favorite Cornal Hendricks has re-signed with the Vodacom Bulls, committing his immediate future to the #BullsFamily. The 32-year-old Springbok wing won over rugby lovers around the country with his intense energy on the field and his strong finishing skills.

Jake White, director of rugby at the Blue Bulls Company on retaining the services of the wing, “Cornal offers the full package and is the epitome of what a world-class wing should be. He has an amazing work rate and is one of the best finishers in the country. His approach and attitude to the game, his team, and life, in general, is an example for anybody. We are proud to have him pledge the next part of his rugby journey with us.”


Vodacom Bulls establish Relief Fund

The Blue Bulls Company and Blue Bulls Rugby Union are proud to announce the establishment of the Vodacom Bulls Relief Fund, which is aimed at assisting employees and those that serve in club and community rugby in our region.

This essential and ground-breaking initiative in the rugby industry has been kick-started by the generosity of our amazing shareholders, Remgro and Mr. Patrice Motsepe, together with our main sponsor Vodacom. Collectively they have contributed R1,5 million to get the project off the ground.

Willem Strauss, President of the Blue Bulls Rugby Union, outlined the importance of the fund, while also hailing the shareholders and sponsor as heroes, “There are hundreds of dedicated people that pour their hearts and souls into keeping rugby alive and well in our communities. For many of them, this is their only source of income, and at a time like this, with no rugby action, this fund is literally the difference between a meal or not.

“I’d like to humbly and sincerely express our gratitude to our shareholders Remgro, Mr. Motsepe, and our title sponsor Vodacom. Their contribution re-emphasizes their commitment to all Blue Bulls stakeholders and not just the Professional game. This combined effort highlights the amazing synergy and relationship between the three shareholders and Vodacom. We are honored to have partners that understand the needs of the people and the community.”

Pieter Uys, Chairman of the Blue Bulls Company, reiterated the importance of the fund, “It is important in these difficult times to make a difference and to support our Blue Bulls people and clubs as they are the heart of our wonderful brand. Sustaining the support structures at clubs and community levels during this time is essential for the future of the game in the region. It not only assists the individuals involved but also ensures a smooth restart when we get to that stage. I’d like to once again thank the shareholders for their generosity, and especially Vodacom for showing that they are more than a sponsor to the #BullsFamily.”

Michelle van Eyden, Executive Head of Sponsorship at Vodacom added, “Since 2004 we have been a proud member of the Vodacom Bulls family and have been privileged to work with the passionate rugby people in this community, through the highs and the lows. This is a tough time for so many of these amazing people, but they still give everything for the game they love. As a member of the #BullsFamily, we are humbled to be able to support the Vodacom Bulls Relief Fund, and give back to them.”


Reuniting another set of Kriel brothers

The Vodacom Bulls will be reuniting another set of Kriel brothers at Loftus, as we confirm the signing of exciting fullback David Kriel who joins the #BullsFamily from the DHL Stormers. He will link up with his younger brother Richard and the rest of the team on 1 November as Director of Rugby, Jake White, continues to re-engineer the ‘Blou-Masjien’.

The 21-year-old weighs in at 94kgs and stands at a whopping 1.94m. He is an ominous threat with ball in hand while his height becomes an obvious advantage when contesting the high ball.  As with all the other Kriels linked to the Bulls over the last few years, his younger brother and the more famous twins Jesse and Dan, he is a hard-running physical back with an immense work rate.


The #BullsFamily would have seen glimpses of the former Grey College scholar’s potential when he squared off against the Vodacom Blue Bulls U21 in last year’s SA Rugby U21 Championship final and although he had to settle for second place then, he was without a doubt a standout performer on the day.


Director of Rugby, Jake White, expressed his delight in Kriel’s signing and expects big things from him when rugby resumes.


“David is a solid choice at fullback or centre so to have his signature not only bodes well for the Vodacom Bulls but is also a sign that youngsters can see the value in joining us. I look forward to seeing him grow at the #BullsFamily as he is destined for bigger things in his young career,” said White.

Younger brother Richard, is also looking forward to sharing the same colours, and is obviously excited as he joked about their reunion, “This is great news, as we now get to put an end to the age old family debate about who’s our mum’s favourite,” he laughed, “David is an amazing rugby player, but more importantly an overall lekker guy who will slot into our #BullsFamily culture perfectly. He has had a huge impact on me, and I’m really glad we get to take these next steps together.”


#BullsFamily bid Libbok farewell

The Vodacom Bulls confirm that flyhalf Manie Libbok has decided to continue his career in Durban with the Cell C Sharks after five years of dedicated service to the #BullsFamily.

Libbok, who can also play at fullback and has dabbled on the wing and centre, certainly made his mark at Loftus Versfeld with his never-say-die attitude and his energetic nature. The 22-year-old former Junior Springbok and SA Schools star represented the franchise at every level before stamping his authority in Vodacom Super Rugby.

“Libbok is a great young player, and will grow into something very special. We respect his decisions and wish him well with the next steps in his career,” said Director of Rugby, Jake White.

The #BullsFamily wish Libbok all the best with his future endeavours and thank him for the memories made and loyal service to the Vodacom Bulls.


White adds Breakdown Specialist to new coaching setup

Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White, today confirmed his much anticipated senior coaching group, after what may best be described as an overhaul of the BLOU MASJIEN since his induction into the role in March earlier this year.

White heads up the group, with his trademark hands-on approach, rolling up the director sleeves and grabbing the head coach whistle. This comes as no surprise, as he has always eluded to the fact that he would lead from the trenches.

What will probably be the talking point of this group, is the creation of a new dedicated position for a breakdown specialist. This new role will be filled by the veteran warrior Nollis Marais, an experienced campaigner among various coaching roles at the Blue Bulls Company. Marais is no stranger to high-pressure roles, as he filled the head coach position at this level in 2017.

White outlined the importance of the role, “Teams have always had consultants or forwards coaches addressing the breakdown as part of their broader roles. This will become a key focus area for us going forward, especially with the breakdown laws being changed. It also speaks to the type of rugby we will be looking to play. Nollis has been around the block and knows exactly what we need. I have no doubt that he is the perfect man for this job.”

World Rugby announced a breakdown guideline to assist with the implementation of existing laws revolving around one of the most dynamic facets of the game with Marais ensuring that all teams that fall under the banner of the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls can adapt to and successfully implement on the field.

A new face to the group is Joey Mongalo, who joins the #BullsFamily as the defense coach, after a decade with the Emirates Lions and Xerox Golden Lions where he served several roles including defense and attack for the Vodacom Super Rugby, Currie Cup, SuperSport Rugby Challenge and junior teams where he assisted in winning silverware including back-to-back SA Rugby U19 Championship titles.

He also served as an assistant coach to the Junior Springboks in 2016; Director of Coaching at King Edwards the VII School in Johannesburg and the Defence Coach of FNB Wits in the FNB Varsity Cup.

Mongalo has developed a unique perspective as a coach and stands by his philosophy which makes him the perfect candidate to join the #BullsFamily but he is no stranger to Loftus Versfeld as he represented the union in the Currie Cup and various junior campaigns that wielded an SA Rugby U20 Championship title and two SA Rugby U21 Championship titles. He also spent a year as the Blue Bulls Company Marketing Assistant.

Russel Winter was officially announced as forwards coach last week, while current backline coach Chris Rossouw continues his work with the backs. Pine Pienaar moves out of his role as a defense coach, and into the role of technical advisor.

White is also in the process of addressing the need for a new scrum coach, “The BBCo will also be looking to announce a new scrum coach shortly, as we have agreed to release Daan Human to the Springboks. He has done some amazing work with the pack, as can be seen on the field, and undoubtedly be missed at Loftus. We have already engaged a few candidates and are confident that we will announce a suitable replacement shortly.”

The junior structures are integral to the BBCo and form a formidable part of the overall brand success. The BBCo will also be announcing the Junior coaching and management team within the next few weeks.



Ismaiel returns to Loftus Versfeld

The Vodacom Bulls are delighted to announce the return of one of Loftus’ favourite sons as the quickfire Travis Ismaiel returns to Pretoria after a short stint with Harlequins in the English Premiership.

Ismaiel needs no introduction to the #BullsFamily as he established himself as the incumbent left-wing for several seasons before his move abroad.

A Bulls man through and through, Ismaiel has represented the franchise at every level from U19 to Vodacom Super Rugby with the 27-year-old former Hoërskool Tygerberg scholar earning 39 Vodacom Super Rugby caps and scoring 10 tries.

Ismaiel continued to shine at Loftus Versfeld which saw him make his Springbok debut in 2018 against Wales in Washington DC after turning out for South Africa A against the English Saxons in 2016. His national duty had thus come full circle as he assisted the Junior Springboks to glory in 2012 when they won the World Rugby U20 Championship in Cape Town.

Director of Rugby, Jake White, stated that it bodes well for the Vodacom Bulls that players of calibre such as Travis can see value in re-joining the team, and is looking forward to working with him when rugby returns.

“Travis is a quality player that I believe has unfinished business in Super Rugby and beyond, so it is great to see him returning to Loftus Versfeld. He has a knack for finding the try line and has scored some scintillating tries for us in the past so I’m looking forward to working alongside him.”