Coetzee returns to lead Vodacom Bulls against DHL Western Province

Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White, has opted for consistency ahead of the Carling Currie Cup clash against DHL Western Province after making minor changes to the team that emerged victorious against Sigma Lions last Sunday.

The Vodacom Bulls will head into the clash in Cape Town on Friday night with a new front row as props Gerhard Steenekamp and Mornay Smith are handed starting berths, replacing the previous match’s starters, Simphiwe Matanzima and Jacques van Rooyen.

Marcell Coetzee, who was a late omission from the team last week due to illness, makes a return in the No.6 jersey and will retain the captaincy.

Springbok loosehead prop, Lizo Gqoboka, slots back into the match-day 23 as bench cover following his release from the national team camp.

The side will also receive a boost in the form of Nizaam Carr, another late casualty last week who was withdrawn on match-day after picking up a niggle ahead of the Jukskei Derby.

White said ahead of the game: “The North versus South derby never fails to produce exciting, quality rugby. We expect nothing less this week in Cape Town.

“We have had a good few days of training after our fixture on Sunday, where we have had time to work on a few critical areas of improvement as well as enhancing the aspects where we fared well. DHL Western Province is a combative side that are also strong contenders for the title, so we will need to be at the top of our game on Friday night.”

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

The Vodacom Bulls team is as follows:



David Kriel (Betway Centurion)
Cornal Hendricks (Northam)
Lionel Mapoe (Pretoria)
Harold Vorster (Northam)
Richard Kriel (Tuine)
Johan Goosen (ABE Midas Naka Bulle)
Zak Burger (Tuine)
Elrigh Louw (FNB Tuks)
Muller Uys (FNB Tuks)
Marcell Coetzee (ABE Midas Naka Bulle) – Capt
Ruan Nortje (ABE Midas Naka Bulle)
Walt Steenkamp (Betway Centurion)
Mornay Smith (Betway Centurion)
Johan Grobbelaar (FNB Tuks)
Gerhard Steenekamp (ABE Midas Naka Bulle)

Schalk Erasmus (Tuine)
Lizo Gqoboka (ABE Midas Naka Bulle)
Jacques van Rooyen (Tuine)
Janko Swanepoel (Pretoria)

Nizaam Carr (Betway Centurion)
Keagan Johannes (FNB Tuks)
Chris Smith (Harlequins)
Sibongile Novuka (ABE Midas Naka Bulle)

Double-header confirmed for Cape Town on Saturday | Vodacom Bulls get chance to be part of the Castle Lager Lions Series

South Africa ‘A’ and the Vodacom Bulls will join the action of the Castle Lager Lions Series, as SA Rugby confirmed an epic double-header at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday, with the match between the DHL Stormers and the British & Irish Lions taking place later at the same venue in the Mother City.

SA ‘A’ will kick off at 13h00 against the Vodacom Bulls, while the match between the DHL Stormers and the British & Irish Lions will take place at the scheduled 18h00. Both encounters will be broadcast live on SuperSport.

The Vodacom Bulls, who missed out on playing against the tourists on Saturday (due to positive COVID tests in their camp), will now get an opportunity to be part of the Castle Lager Lions Series.

“We’ve been looking at options to get the Springboks an additional match to help with their preparations for the Tests, as well as an opportunity for the Vodacom Bulls to be part of the series, and we’re very grateful that this game will take place,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.

“It’s obviously not what we had planned when the fixtures were first scheduled, but due to the pandemic, the situation is very fluid. Having said that, a double-header in Cape Town on Saturday is certainly something to look forward to and we’d like to thank everyone involved in making it a reality.”

SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus was pleased to have an additional fixture following the cancellation of the Springboks’ second Test against Georgia last weekend.

“We want to be as well prepared as possible when we meet the British & Irish Lions in the Castle Lager Lions Series, and this additional match offers us an invaluable opportunity to work on our structures, while at the same time offering the players an opportunity to stake a claim for places in the Test team,” said Erasmus.

“We had hoped for three matches in the build-up to the Test series, and the match against the Vodacom Bulls means we will get exactly that before we line up against the tourists.

“The Castle Lager Lions Series is a massive occasion for players and rugby fans as it only comes around every 12 years, and we must be as well prepared as possible when we run onto the field.”

Both fixtures are subject to final PCR testing for the DHL Stormers squad on Saturday morning.

‘Plan B’ for British & Irish Lions’ Saturday fixture | Vodacom Bulls replaced by the Cell C Sharks

The British & Irish Lions will play back-to-back matches against the Cell C Sharks, it was announced on Thursday.

SA Rugby and the Lions have agreed to replace the Vodacom Bulls with the Cell C Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday (kick-off 18h00 SAT, 17h00 BST) after the former was ruled out because of COVID-19 infections.

The Lions beat the Cell C Sharks 54-7 at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on Wednesday in the second match of the Castle Lager Lions Series. The tourists had opened their account at the same venue with a 56-14 victory over the Sigma Lions on Saturday.

“The choice of the Cell C Sharks was dictated by the fact that they have been in a bubble, have returned negative tests throughout, and were prepared to take on the fixture,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.

“No other team in the country could meet those conditions right now – without going into a five-day lockdown. It is not an ideal situation, but COVID-19 has made sure that we do not live in an ideal world.”

The change has meant that the Cell C Sharks’ match against the Sigma Lions in the Carling Currie Cup on Saturday has been cancelled with a decision on the points allocation to be confirmed.

“We’re very grateful to the Sharks for agreeing to play us again this Saturday at Loftus Versfeld,” said Ben Calveley, Managing Director for The British & Irish Lions.

“We have further COVID-19 testing scheduled for today and tomorrow. The results of those tests will determine whether we will be able fulfil this fixture, but, as it stands, we are optimistic.

“We remain committed to the Tour in South Africa and determined to rise to the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Lions match versus Vodacom Bulls on hold due to COVID-19

The British & Irish Lions’ Castle Lager Lions Series match against the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday has been postponed with a view to rescheduling or to accommodate an alternative opponent, while the Springboks’ second Test against Georgia on Friday is also being reviewed.

Four Bulls players and one member of management returned positive tests which, in combination with their close contacts, made it impossible for them to field a team, according to Series safety protocols.

Series regulations make provision for additional midweek matches to be added on agreement between the organisations.

Meanwhile, four positive results among the Georgian team and four additional positive tests among Springbok players (Marvin Orie, Frans Steyn, Handre Pollard, and Frans Malherbe) plus six among management, including head coach Jacques Nienaber, and one masseuse, have further complicated planning.

The latest medical data from the Springbok and Georgian teams will be assessed by the Medical Advisory Group (MAG) on Wednesday morning.

“These positive results are a setback and have underlined the danger of transmissibility of the delta variant,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SA Rugby.

“The Springboks’ second Test against Georgia is now in serious doubt, but we will wait for the MAG to consider the data and we will make the final decision tomorrow.

“The priority is to maintain the integrity of the Test series and we will continue to focus on that.”

A further update will be issued on potential alternative opponents for the Lions and on the Springboks’ second Test against Georgia as soon as the positions are finalised.

The British & Irish Lions’ match against the Cell C Sharks at Emirates Airline Park on Wednesday, KO 19h00 (18h00 BST) will take place as scheduled.


Mapoe returns to Vodacom Bulls

Springbok centre, Lionel Mapoe, will make a return to Loftus Versfeld in an exciting signing by the Vodacom Bulls, effective from July 1. The 32-year-old will add a wealth of experience to the side he turned out for in 2013. He has represented the Springboks in 14 Tests, while also having previously featured for the national Sevens, Under-20 and SA ‘A’ sides.

Mapoe’s professional career began at the Free State Cheetahs before moving to rivals across the Jukskei, where he represented the Xerox Golden Lions and amassed over 100 Vodacom Super Rugby caps for the Emirates Lions.

Following a stint in Japan where he featured for the Kubota Spears, the hard-running centre has been plying his trade in France, representing Stade Francais since 2019.

“We are pleased to have a player of Lionel’s calibre joining this exciting Bulls team. His record on the rugby field speaks for itself, and we have no doubt that his wealth of experience and expertise will be beneficial to the success of this team,” said Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White.

Combrinck becomes #TrueToTheBlue

In an exciting acquisition, the Vodacom Bulls have landed the services of Springbok winger, Ruan Combrinck, who will arrive at Loftus Versfeld on July 1.

The 31-year-old speedster comes with a reputation of having a nous for scoring tries for the Springboks in the 7 Test matches he featured in, the Xerox Golden Lions and Emirates Lions, as well as French club, Stade Francais.

Combrinck’s arrival will not only add depth to the outside backs, but his experience since making his professional debut for Western Province in 2010 will be invaluable for the Tshwane side.

“Any team will be fortunate to acquire a gem like Ruan, who has proven his outstanding abilities over the years. His signing will add to the depth of this team, and we have no doubts that his on-field, as well as his off-field capabilities, will contribute to the Vodacom Bulls reaching greater heights,” said Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White.

Vodacom Bulls confirm that Nizaam Carr will be leaving

The Vodacom Bulls confirms that Nizaam Carr will be leaving Loftus at the end of July and heading back to his former club in England, Wasps RFC.

“Dear Nemo… Thanks for putting in the hard yards. Thanks for the big hits and intense work rate… thanks for being an amazing part of our leadership group and thanks for the laughs and tears we shared… but most importantly, thanks for being #TrueToTheBlue”

Vodacom Bulls beef up for New Nation Pumas battle

Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White, will once again take the reins for the Carling Currie Cup clash against the New Nation Pumas, following his return from Italy.

Simphiwe Matanzima is the only player in this weekend’s match-23 that played in last weekend’s Currie Cup match against DHL Western Province, with the bulk of the squad now expectedly being made up of the players that represented in the Rainbow Cup final last weekend.

Hooker Schalk Erasmus will be propped up in the front row by Springbok Lizo Gqoboka and Mornay Smith, with Walt Steenkamp and Janko Swanepoel adding their weight to the tight five. Gerhard Steenekamp and Johan Grobbelaar will get a well-deserved break this weekend after putting in weeks on the trot in the Rainbow Cup.

The Loose trio remains unchanged from the one that did battle in Italy a week ago, with Marcell Coetzee once again leading the boys in blue from the back of the scrum. Nizaam Carr and Ruan Nortje will don the number six and seven jerseys respectively, and will no doubt bring the intense work rate that we have come to expect from them.

Ivan van Zyl and Chris Smith will continue their half-back pairing. While Cornal Hendricks gets a new mid-field partner in Harold Voster. Voster will be making his Vodacom Bulls debut this weekend after racking up a host of caps for the Lions between 2014 and 2019. His last stint before joining the Vodacom Bulls was in Japan for the Panasonic Wild Knights.

Madosh Thambwe and Stravino Jacobs will once again be patrolling the wings, with Gio Aplon returning in the number 15 jersey. The 38-year-old Aplon has fully recovered from a knee injury and is looking as sensational as he always has.

White, is excited about the weekend ahead, “the young and inexperienced group fought hard last weekend against a quality Province team, and even though the result didn’t go our way they still managed to secure a bonus point. This weekend is a big game for us, and we will be looking to get back to winning ways. The Pumas are coming off the back of a good win and they will be looking to hurt us, but we know what is expected of us.”

The game kicks off at 19h00 this evening and will be broadcast live on SuperSport.


  • Gio Aplon (Betway Centurion)
  • Madosh Tambwe (Pretoria)
  • Harold Voster (Northam)
  • Cornal Hendricks (Northam)
  • Stravino Jacobs (Harlequins)
  • Chris Smith (Harlequins)
  • Ivan van Zyl (Tuine)
  • Marcell Coetzee (ABE Midas Naka Bulle – C)
  • Ruan Nortje (ABE Midas Naka Bulle)
  • Nizaam Carr (Betway Centurion)
  • Janko Swanepoel (Pretoria)
  • Walt Steenkamp (Betway Centurion)
  • Mornay Smith (Betway Centurion)
  • Schalk Erasmus (Tuine)
  • Lizo Gqoboka (ABE Midas Naka Bulle)


  • Sidney Tobias  (Northam)
  • Simphiwe Matanzima (ABE Midas Naka Bulle)
  • Jacques van Rooyen (Tuine)
  • Muller Uys (FNB Tuks)
  • WJ Steenkamp (Tuine)
  • Zak Burger (Tuine)
  • FC du Plessis (Betway Centurion)
  • David Kriel (Betway Centurion)
  • Robert Hunt (Harlequins)
  • Ruan Delport (u20)
  • Jaco Labuschagne (Pretoria)
  • Keagan Johannes (FNB Tuks)
  • Marco Jansen van Vuren (Pretoria)



Jake pays tribute to the ’95 Boks

Today, 24 June, marks the 26th anniversary of the Springboks lifting the IRB World Cup trophy at Ellis Park in 1995. The world watched in awe as Kitch Christie and his heroic squad defeated an amazing All Blacks team in one of the most memorable rugby matches in our history.

Director of Rugby at the Vodacom Bulls, Jake White, today paid tribute to the heroes in that squad, “I was at the stadium that day, and can clearly remember how intense the atmosphere was. Ellis Park was packed to the rafters and the crowd was really into it. They got behind the Boks at every opportunity, and when Francois lifted that cup it was truly deafening.”

“Not only was the side packed with amazing talent, but they also had one of the most inspirational coaches in Kitch Christie. Kitch was my mentor and has had an unbelievable impact on me as a coach and personally. Here at Loftus, we pride ourselves on heritage and history, so we mustn’t forget just how big of an impact that game and Kitch has had on our rugby today.”

“There were so many moments in that game that stand out, from Madiba walking onto the field, the massive tackles on Jona Lomu, the Joel drop goal, and just the overall guts shown by the team… but the one that will forever be etched in my memory is watching Kitch being lifted onto the shoulders of the players with the trophy aloft in one hand.”

“From myself and everybody at Loftus, a massive thank you to the ’95 Boks for paving the way forward.”

Swanepoel ‘slots’ in for Vodacom Bulls 

Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White continues to test combinations and positions, with Ruan Nortje shifting to blindside flank opening up space for lock Janko Swanepoel to start in the engine room against the Cell C Sharks at Jonsson Kings Park on Saturday, 12 June 2021.

Nortje’s move to the side of the scrum is a result of the injury to Elrigh Louw, while Springbok loose forward Marcell Coetzee takes over the captaincy and no.8 jumper from the injured Duane Vermeulen, with Marco van Staden covering openside flank against their Durban based opposition.

The rest of the starting line-up remains unchanged.

Springbok Nizaam Carr and Junior Springbok Muller Uys have received call ups to take the places of Swanepoel and Van Staden on the bench respectively.

The trip to Durban marks the end of the PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA regular season, with the Vodacom Bulls going into the game in pole position to contest the North vs South final. The Bulls will be looking to go all out in retaining the top spot, as the Pretoria franchise shifts a gear going into a knockout rugby mindset.

“We have approached this match as if it were a semi-final. Nothing less than a win is good enough. The boys need no further motivation and despite a few injuries, come Saturday we will be focused and determined to execute our plan,” said White.

Kick-off is scheduled for 18h15 with the match being televised live on SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby channels.

Vodacom Bulls:

  • David Kriel (Betway Centurion)
  • Madosh Tambwe (Pretoria)
  • Marco Jansen van Vuren (Pretoria)
  • Cornal Hendricks (Northam)
  • Stravino Jacobs (Harlequins)
  • Morné Steyn (Tuine)
  • Ivan van Zyl (Tuine)
  • Marcell Coetzee (ABE Midas Naka Bulle – C)
  • Ruan Nortje (ABE Midas Naka Bulle)
  • Marco van Staden (Pretoria)
  • Janko Swanepoel (Pretoria)
  • Walt Steenkamp (Betway Centurion)
  • Mornay Smith (Betway Centurion)
  • Johan Grobbelaar (Tukkies)
  • Gerhard Steenekamp (ABE Midas Naka Bulle)


  • Schalk Erasmus (Tuine)
  • Jacques van Rooyen (Tuine)
  • Trevor Nyakane (Harlequins)
  • Nizaam Carr (Betway Centurion)
  • Muller Uys (Tukkies)
  • Keagan Johannes (Tukkies)
  • Clinton Swart (Tukkies)
  • Gio Aplon (Betway Centurion)
  • Robert Hunt (Harlequins)
  • Jan Uys (Pretoria)
  • Dawid Kellerman (Pretoria)
  • Richard Kriel (Tuine)

Match officials:

  • Referee: AJ Jacobs
  • AR1: Jaco Peyper
  • AR2: Griffin Colby
  • TMO: Stuart Berry