Vodacom Bulls bid farewell to Kruger

The Blue Bulls Company would like to confirm that they have reached a mutual settlement agreement with Springbok lock Juandré Kruger. The 35-year-old lock forward re-joined the Vodacom Bulls late last year and added five more Vodacom Super Rugby caps to contribute towards the 31 caps earned between 2011 and 2013 before the Covid pandemic put paid to the regular season.

Kruger developed a reputation of being a lineout maestro and no-nonsense tight forward while at Loftus Versfeld, and it was while representing the Pretoria franchise that he received his Springbok call-up, where he went on to earn 17 caps in the Green and Gold.

He also represented the Vodacom Blue Bulls and DHL Western Province in the Currie Cup before heading to Europe where he represented RC Toulon, Racing Metro 92, Northampton Saints and the Scarlets. The big lock racked up a total of 91 appearances collectively for the Vodacom Bulls and Blue Bulls.

“Kruger has always been the utmost professional. He has been exemplary as a player in terms of his work ethic, dedication, and passion for his craft. We wish him all the best with his future endeavours,” said Vodacom Bulls CEO, Edgar Rathbone.

Kruger humbly thanked the #BullsFamily for the part they played in his career, “I will always cherish my time spent in a Vodacom Bulls jersey, and would like to wish the players, staff and management at Loftus everything of the best going forward. I’d also like to say a massive thank you to all those that have helped shape me as a player and as a person.”

Grobbelaar returns for DHL Newlands excursion

Johan Grobbelaar makes a return to the Vodacom Bulls pack and will start at hooker for their opening Carling Currie Cup clash against DHL Western Province at DHL Newlands on Saturday, 28 November 2020.

The recently crowned Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked champions now set their sights on the Carling Currie Cup which the Pretoria franchise last won in 2009, and they will be determined to bag a full house of points in what marks DHL Newlands swansong season.

Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White has tweaked his match day squad with the inclusion of Grobbelaar while Chris Smith retains the no.10 jersey after an impressive showing last week.

The rest of the starting line-up remains unchanged.

Amongst the replacements, Corniel Els shifts to the bench and will provide cover at hooker while Clinton Swart retains the number 22 jersey.

“We achieved our first goal of the post-pandemic season and now we shift our focus to securing the Currie Cup with a massive target on our backs,” explained White.

“There are a few teams that can travel to Newlands as favourites, which makes our job harder. Couple that with the fact that Western Province are always a difficult team to face, home or away, and fans can expect a true old school North-South Derby” he added.

Kick-off is 19:00.

Vodacom Bulls: 15. David Kriel, 14. Travis Ismaiel, 13. Stedman Gans, 12. Cornal Hendricks, 11. Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10. Chris Smith, 9. Ivan van Zyl, 8. Duane Vermeulen (c), 7. Arno Botha, 6. Marco van Staden, 5. Ruan Nortje, 4. Walt Steenkamp, 3. Trevor Nyakane, 2. Johan Grobbelaar, 1. Jacques van Rooyen.

Replacements: 16. Corniel Els, 17. Gerhard Steenekamp, 18. Marcel van der Merwe, 19. Sintu Manjezi, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Clinton Swart, 23. Marco Jansen van Vuren.

Vodacom Bulls ready for the “last dance” in Vodacom Super Rugby

Chris Smith will earn his first start at flyhalf when the Vodacom Bulls host the Phakisa Pumas in their final Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, 21 November 2020.

This match marks the first meeting between the teams at Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked level, with the Vodacom Bulls determined to maintain their winning streak as they secured victories in their previous three matches including a come from behind win against the Emirates Lions a fortnight ago.

The Vodacom Bulls have been impressive on the attack as the team has registered 17 tries while only conceding seven. Equally impressive is their defense as they have only conceded 3.4 clean breaks 14.4 defenders beaten thus far, according to Opta Stats.

The inclusion of Smith means the incumbent Morné Steyn gets a well-deserved break with Clinton Swart providing cover off the bench. The rest of the backline remains unchanged.

Amongst the forwards, Springbok flank Arno Botha will wear the seven jumper with Elrigh Louw dropping out of the matchday squad.

Corniel Els starts at hooker with Joe van Zyl on the bench in a direct swap as incumbent Johan Grobbelaar still nursing an injury.

“Due to the Covid pandemic affecting proceedings and the match between the DHL Stormers and Cell C Sharks being cancelled, we find ourselves in a more fortunate position than expected. Even though this is not an ideal situation for the tournament and the teams, we all understand that the safety and well-being of all involved comes first,” said Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White.

“We as a team want to ensure that if we are to be named champions then we want to do it the right way, with a win against a good Pumas team,” he added.

Kick-off is 14:00 and will be televised live on the SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby channels.

Vodacom Bulls: 15. David Kriel, 14. Travis Ismaiel, 13. Stedman Gans, 12. Cornal Hendricks, 11. Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10. Chris Smith, 9. Ivan van Zyl, 8. Duane Vermeulen (C), 7. Arno Botha, 6. Marco van Staden, 5. Ruan Nortje, 4. Walt Steenkamp, 3. Trevor Nyakane, 2. Corniel Els, 1. Jacques van Rooyen.

Replacements: 16. Joe van Zyl, 17. Gerhard Steenekamp, 18. Marcel van der Merwe, 19. Sintu Manjezi, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Clinton Swart, 23. Marco Jansen van Vuren.

 

Steenkamp LOCKED in for Vodacom Bulls debut

Walt Steenkamp has been named at lock and will make his debut for the Vodacom Bulls when they travel to Johannesburg to face the Emirates Lions in Round 5 of Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday, 7 November 2020.

The 25-year-old Steenkamp slots in at no.5 in the absence of former Junior Springbok Ruan Nortje who is being rested due to a little injury niggle. Steenkamp has stuck his hand up during training and now gets his opportunity to impress in a team that is enjoying its current brand of play.

The lineout has proven an effective attacking platform for the men in blue, with the Pretoria-based franchise boasting a 95% success rate while only losing fewer than one lineout on their own throw-in four matches to date.

The rest of the matchday team remains the same as the Vodacom Bulls look to remain consistent in their performances with two matches left before the conclusion of Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked.

“The players have done well in correcting the ship after a slow start against the Griquas and Cheetahs which is testament to their desire to go the whole nine yards and secure silverware. However, our job is not yet done and we will have to have our wits about us when we face the Lions who will be confident after a strong performance last weekend,” said Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White.

Kick-off is 19:00 and will be broadcast live on the SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby channels.

Vodacom Bulls: 15. David Kriel, 14. Travis Ismaiel, 13. Stedman Gans, 12. Cornal Hendricks, 11. Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Ivan van Zyl, 8. Duane Vermeulen (C), 7. Elrigh Louw, 6. Marco van Staden, 5. Walt Steenkamp, 4. Jason Jenkins, 3. Trevor Nyakane, 2. Johan Grobbelaar, 1. Jacques van Rooyen.

Replacements: 16. Joe van Zyl, 17. Gerhard Steenekamp, 18. Marcel van der Merwe, 19. Sintu Manjezi, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Chris Smith, 23. Marco Jansen van Vuren.

 

 

 

Nyakane to front up against DHL Stormers

World Cup-winning prop Trevor Nyakane will anchor the scrum in the only change to the starting team when the Vodacom Bulls host the DHL Stormers at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, 31 October 2020.

There are few rivalries as intense as the North-South derby, and the Vodacom Bulls will be looking to make amends for their 13-0 loss against the same opponents earlier this year before the pandemic put paid to the regular Vodacom Super Rugby season.

The starting team will look towards the abrasive yet dynamic style of play that Junior Springbok lock forward Ruan Nortje brings to the table.

Nortje has made 20 carries and 21 tackles thus far and finds himself one of only two players to do so after three rounds of Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked.

There is a further change amongst the finishers with Springbok loose forward Nizaam Carr replacing fellow Springbok Arno Botha.

“The Stormers tend to be our measuring stick and beating them is non-negotiable amongst the players. We’ve come off a comfortable win, while our opposition for Saturday had to scratch and claw their way past the Pumas, so the stage is set for a hard and bruising affair,” said Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White.

Kick-off 19:00.

Vodacom Bulls: 15. David Kriel, 14. Travis Ismaiel, 13. Stedman Gans, 12. Cornal Hendricks, 11. Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Ivan van Zyl, 8. Duane Vermeulen (C), 7. Elrigh Louw, 6. Marco van Staden, 5. Ruan Nortje, 4. Jason Jenkins, 3. Trevor Nyakane, 2. Johan Grobbelaar, 1. Jacques van Rooyen.

Replacements: 16. Joe van Zyl, 17. Gerhard Steenekamp, 18. Marcel van der Merwe, 19. Sintu Manjezi, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Chris Smith, 23. Marco Jansen van Vuren.

 

 

Vodacom Blue Bulls U21 named to defend title

Vodacom Blue Bulls U21 head coach, Hayden Groepes, has named his matchday squad that will face off against the Xerox Lions in the SA Rugby U21 Championship final at Emirates Airline Park on Friday, 30 October 2020.

Groepes made one change to the starting team that demolished the Cell C Sharks U21 a fortnight ago as regular captain and openside flank Jaco Labuschagne makes way for Hendri du Toit.

Prop Kudzwai Dube takes over the captaincy for this crucial encounter against the only team that had the men in blues’ number during the round-robin stage of the competition.

On the bench, WJ Steenkamp fills the vacancy left by Du Toit while Keagan Johannes and Dawid Kellerman take over from Ross Braude and Marnus Potgieter respectively.

“We’ve reached the final off the back of hard work and commitment to the game plan, but our toughest assignment lies ahead. Finals are a whole different game and in this instance, we’re facing the only team to have beaten us. This the best motivation we could ask for,” said Groepes.

Kick-off is 14:00.

Vodacom Blue Bulls U21: 15. Richard Kriel, 14. Stravino Jacobs, 13. Diego Appollis, 12. Jay-Cee Nel, 11. Sebastiaan Jobb, 10. David Coetzer, 9. Bernard van der Linde, 8. Divan Venter, 7. Keenan Opperman, 6. Hendri du Toit, 5. Janko Swanepoel, 4. Jordan van Dyk, 3. Eduan Swart, 2. Janco Uys, 1. Kudzwai Dube (C).

Replacements: 16. Keano Hendricks, 17. Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 18. Nolan Pienaar, 19. Uzile Tele, 20. WJ Steenkamp, 21. Keagan Johannes, 22. Ruben Beytell, 23. Dawid Kellerman.

 

 

Van der Merwe to start against Cell C Sharks

Marcel van der Merwe will get his first start in Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked, after re-joining the #BullsFamily from France earlier this year, when the Vodacom Bulls host the Cell C Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, 24 October 2020.

Director of Rugby, Jake White, has tinkered with his matchday team, most notably amongst the backs, that will front up against the Durbanites.

Youngster David Kriel shifts to fullback in place of the injured of Gio Aplon in a move that will have the #BullsFamily salivating at his potential with the no.15 jersey being his preferred position.

Springbok Travis Ismaiel will take over from Kriel on the right wing while Blitzbok Kurt-Lee Arendse will also get his first opportunity in Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked, after showcasing his silky skills against the same opposition the team faced at Vodacom Super Hero Saturday.

There is also a new centre combination as Springbok Cornal Hendricks shifts back to inside centre while Blitzbok Stedman Gans will man the outside centre channel on game day.

The final change in the backline sees Ivan van Zyl and Embrose Papier swapping places with the former shifting to the bench.

The forwards remain relatively unchanged with Elrigh Louw handed his first start at blindside flank with Arno Botha to provide cover off the bench.

Springbok Marcel van der Merwe replaces another Springbok in the shape of Trevor Nyakane in the starting lineup, with Nyakane dropping to the bench.

“We’ve got another opportunity this week against the Sharks but we need to be better than we were in Bloemfontein. We cannot afford to depend on a late comeback to save our graces which means dominating all phases of play from the first kick-off,” said White.

Vodacom Bulls: 15. David Kriel, 14. Travis Ismaiel, 13. Stedman Gans, 12. Cornal Hendricks, 11. Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Ivan van Zyl, 8. Duane Vermeulen (C), 7. Elrigh Louw, 6. Marco van Staden, 5. Ruan Nortje, 4. Jason Jenkins, 3. Marcel van der Merwe, 2. Johan Grobbelaar, 1. Jacques van Rooyen.

Replacements: 16. Joe van Zyl, 17. Gerhard Steenekamp, 18. Trevor Nyakane, 19. Sintu Manjezi, 20. Arno Botha, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Chris Smith, 23. Marco Jansen van Vuren.

Big Duane back for Toyota Cheetah

Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White, has made five changes, including handing exciting and hard-hitting centre Clinton Swart his debut, to his starting line-up to face the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday evening, as Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked heads into round two.

Regular captain Duane Vermeulen resumes the no.8 jersey with Tim Agaba getting a rest this week while the powerful Johan Grobbelaar gets a starting opportunity in the middle of the scrum alongside Trevor Nyakane and Jacques van Rooyen.

The tenacious Springbok Embrose Papier replaces fellow Springbok scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl who drops to the bench, with Papier starting his first match of the Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked campaign, while Jade Stighling slots in on the left wing in place of Travis Ismaiel.

Swart will man the inside centre channel alongside Cornal Hendricks who shifts to outside centre with Stedman Gans moving to the bench, where his knack for exploiting gaps will be utilised when the backs of opposition start to tire.

All eyes will be focused on the midfield combination of Swart and Hendricks to face the Toyota Cheetahs as their pace and strength will in all likelihood come in handy against a Free State outfit brimming with confidence after handing the Phakisa Pumas a massive defeat last week.

The bench has also been tweaked with U21 star Joe van Zyl set to receive his first senior cap if he is called upon while Gerhard Steenekamp replaces the injured Lizo Gqoboka, who sustained a calf injury against the Tafel Lager Griquas.

Nizaam Carr is the final change amongst the replacements with the Springbok loose forward coming in for Elrigh Louw.

“We struggled to get going against the Griquas and we cannot afford the same against a strong Cheetahs team. We were fortunate to walk away with last week’s win and we need to do better by implementing our style of play in this clash as soon as possible,” said White.

Vodacom Bulls: Gio Aplon, 14. David Kriel, 13. Cornal Hendricks, 12. Clinton Swart, 11. Jade Stighling, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Embrose Papier, 8. Duane Vermeulen (C), 7. Arno Botha, 6. Marco van Staden, 5. Ruan Nortje, 4. Jason Jenkins, 3. Trevor Nyakane, 2. Johan Grobbelaar, 1. Jacques van Rooyen.

Replacements: 16. Joe van Zyl, 17. Gerhard Steenekamp, 18. Mornay Smith, 19. Sintu Manjezi, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Ivan van Zyl, 22. Chris Smith, 23. Stedman Gans.

Vodacom Blue Bulls U21 adjust for Xerox Lions clash today

The Vodacom Blue Bulls U21 team has been named to face the Xerox Lions U21 in their SA Rugby U21 Championship Round 3 match at Emirates Airline Park today, Monday 12 October.

Head coach, Hayden Groepes, has once again made a host of changes as he continues to rotate his squad during the shortened 2020 edition of the competition.

The backline has been tweaked with Dylan Schwartz, Gerswin Mouton and Stravino Jacobs starting at fullback and on the wings respectively, while David Coetzer gets his first start at flyhalf after playing off the bench against Toyota Free State Cheetahs last week.

The forwards also sees significant changes as WJ Steenkamp makes a return in the no.8 jersey while Keenan Opperman starts in place of the incumbent blindside flank and captain, Jaco Labuschagne.

Jordan van Wyk partners Janko Swanepoel in a new-look second-row combination with Eduan Swart returning to the front row alongside Janco Uys and Kudzwai Dube with the latter leading the team against a strong Lions outfit.

Dewald Donald, Wian Otto, Uzile Tele, Johan Mulder, Ruben Liebenberg and Qamani Kota have been named on the bench.

“I was impressed by how the team stuck to our game plan and ground out the bonus point win against Free State. The team that will face the Lions has been tweaked, but the same diligence and work ethic will be expected from them. We are fortunate to have a talented squad, who are committed to our cause and know what they need to do to secure the win,” said Groepes.

Kick-off is 15:30.

Vodacom Blue Bulls U21: 15. Dylan Schwartz, 14. Gerswin Mouton, 13. Sebastian de Klerk, 12. Jay-Cee Nel, 11. Stravino Jacobs, 10. David Coetzer, 9. Keagan Johannes, 8. WJ Steenkamp, 7. Keenan Opperman, 6. Hendri du Toit, 5. Janko Swanepoel, 4. Jordan van Wyk, 3. Eduan Swart, 2. Janco Uys, 1. Kudzwai Dube.

Replacements: 16. Keano Hendricks, 17. Dewald Donald, 18. Wian Otto, 19. Uzile Tele, 20. Jaco Labuschagne, 21. Johan Mulder, 22. Ruben Liebenberg, 23. Qamani Kota.

 

Botha to lead powerful Vodacom Bulls team in Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked opener

Experienced loose forward Arno Botha will lead a Vodacom Bulls team jam-packed with Springboks, Blitzboks, and Junior Springbok talent against the Tafel Lager Griquas in the opening round of Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, 10 October 2020.

The backline remains relatively unchanged from the Vodacom Super Fan Saturday team that was triumphant against the Cell C Sharks two weeks ago.

The only change sees the fleet-footed David Kriel starting on the left wing as he makes his debut for the Vodacom Bulls.

Springboks Gio Aplon, Cornal Hendricks, Travis Ismaiel, Morné Steyn, and Ivan van Zyl are expected to shine on game day as their collective experience and ability to break the defensive line will be a cornerstone on the attack.

Amongst the forwards, Blitzbok Tim Agaba starts at no.8 where he links up with Springbok flankers Botha and Marco van Staden while locks Jason Jenkins and Ruan Nortje continue their partnership in the second row. Regular skipper Duane Vermeulen picked a slight knee niggle last weekend and is been rested as a precaution.

The front row will be propped up by the forever smiling World Cup-winning prop Trevor Nyakane and Vodacom Super Rugby stalwart Jacques ‘Policeman’ van Rooyen, who will also be making his Vodacom Bulls debut.

The bench is no different in terms of explosive talent with Springbok prop Lizo Gqoboka and Junior Springbok Johan Grobbelaar at hooker eager to return to action after injury layoffs, while lock Sintu Manjezi, flank Elrigh Louw and flyhalf Chris Smith are also set to make their Vodacom Super Rugby debuts.

“It’s been months of preparation and weeks of training with the players and management excited to get going. We have a mission, we’ve set high standards, and now is the time for the Vodacom Bulls to stamp their authority on this competition,” said Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White.

“The experience amongst our players allows us to implement our game plan quickly and with a solid foundation. I’m extremely excited for all the players making their debuts and looking forward to watching them grow,” he added.

Kick-off is 19:00.

Vodacom Bulls: 15. Gio Aplon, 14. Travis Ismaiel, 13. Stedman Gans, 12. Cornal Hendricks, 11. David Kriel, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Ivan van Zyl, 8. Tim Agaba, 7. Arno Botha (C), 6. Marco van Staden, 5. Ruan Nortje, 4. Jason Jenkins, 3. Trevor Nyakane, 2. Corniel Els, 1. Jacques van Rooyen.

Replacements: 16. Johan Grobbelaar, 17. Lizo Gqoboka, 18. Mornay Smith, 19. Sintu Manjezi, 20. Elrigh Louw, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Chris Smith, 23. Marco Jansen van Vuren

Non-playing subs: 24. Jan Uys, 25. Duane Vermeulen, 26. Jade Stighling.

 

Press Conference Audio Link: https://we.tl/t-NvKp1nlvr3