CARLING CURRIE CUP: Massive set piece battle expected against Pumas – Uys

The wait is almost over for what is expected to be an intense Carling Currie Cup battle between the Vodacom Bulls and Airlink Pumas at Loftus Versfeld tonight. The match will be a crucial one for the Vodacom Bulls who will want to preserve a spot at the top of the log going into the crucial round robin finale against the in-form and unbeaten Toyota Cheetahs in a fortnight. The Airlink Pumas, on the other hand, will want to safeguard their reputation as giant-killers in the domestic competition.

The Vodacom Bulls will be hoping to expand on their performance from their previous Carling Currie Cup fixture where they managed to secure an impressive win over the Sigma Lions at Fortress Loftus.

“We will carry a bit of confidence into this game. The Sigma Lions brought a quality side and we manned up against them, and it really went well,” said Vodacom Bulls loose-forward, Muller Uys, ahead of the game.

“So, with that said, I think we have a lot of responsibility in terms of backing that performance up against the Pumas this week.”

Uys, who will earn a starting berth at No8, indicated that they expect a huge battle upfront with the Airlink Pumas almost certain to target dominance in the set pieces.

“The Airlink Pumas are always a difficult one. They bring a massive set piece battle, and we will need to front up to that. They are always up for this game, it’s always a big one,” said the burly No8.

“At this stage there is no easy game. The Pumas are quality side and whatever they bring, we will have to counter.

“They will bring everything they have, but also, we are going to throw everything because we are also desperate for the win. This is an almost must-win game for us to put us in a good position to get a home final and being on top of the log.

“They are going to bring everything; we will also bring it all. At the end of the day, it will be about who wants it the most. So, it’s going to be a nice battle.”

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

The Vodacom Bulls team is:

STARTERS (15-1): James Verity-Amm (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), David Kriel (Tuine), Stedman Gans (Northam Rhinos), Marco Jansen van Vuren (Pretoria), Richard Kriel (Tuine), Morne Steyn (Tuine), Embrose Papier (UP Tuks); Muller Uys (UP Tuks), Reinhardt Ludwig (UP Tuks), WJ Steenkamp (Tuine), Janko Swanepoel (Pretoria), Ruan Vermaak (Harlequin), Robert Hunt (Harlequin), Bismarck du Plessis (Betway Centurion), Lizo Gqoboka (ABE Midas Naka Bulle, CAPT).

IMPACT (16-23): Sidney Tobias (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Simphiwe Matanzima (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Francois Kloppers (UP Tuks), Raynard Roets (UP Tuks), Stephan Smit (UP Tuks), Keagan Johannes (UP Tuks), Juan Mostert (Harlequin), Tharquinn Manuel (UP Tuks).

CARLING CURRIE CUP: Vodacom Bulls debut for Vermaak as Steyn returns to face Airlink Pumas

New Vodacom Bulls signing, Ruan Vermaak, will make his debut for the side when they take on Airlink Pumas in a Carling Currie Cup match at Loftus Versfeld on Friday night.

The 24-year-old lock will be in the starting lineup, where he will partner with Janko Swanepoel for the second-row pairing in an exciting Vodacom Bulls team that will be on duty in the side’s penultimate round robin match in the competition.

Lizo Gqoboka will once again lead the side as captain while veteran flyahlf, Morne Steyn, will make a return to action, starting in the No10 jersey and occupy the vice-captaincy role.

While the Vodacom Bulls will be fielding an exciting starting XV with familiar personnel who have performed well for the team throughout the campaign, there will be some anticipation for the unleashing of youthful talent from the bench which includes Francois Klopper, Stephan Smit and Tharquinn Manuel, all of whom who played a key role in the recent Varsity Cup success of the University of Pretoria.

The Vodacom Bulls will be expecting a tough encounter against a dangerous Airlink Pumas outfit.

“We have worked hard this week in preparation of a match that we have no doubt will be a huge challenge. The Airlink Pumas remain one of the most dangerous sides in the Carling Currie Cup, and history has proven that they never come to Loftus Versfeld short of motivation,” said Vodacom Bulls head coach, Gert Smal, ahead of the game.

“We look forward to seeing this team continue the good form they have shown and also to continue improving on areas that need improvement. We are not yet at our peak, and it is important that we continue to see positive adjustments in our game with each passing week.

“The Airlink Pumas are a dangerous, tough side. WE have no doubt that they will throw everything at us on Friday. We will have to be at our best if we want to overcome a spirited opposition like we have coming up this week.”

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

The Vodacom Bulls team to take on Airlink Pumas is:

STARTERS (15-1): James Verity-Amm (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), David Kriel (Tuine), Stedman Gans (Northam Rhinos), Marco Jansen van Vuren (Pretoria), Richard Kriel (Tuine), Morne Steyn (Tuine), Embrose Papier (UP Tuks); Muller Uys (UP Tuks), Reinhardt Ludwig (UP Tuks), WJ Steenkamp (Tuine), Janko Swanepoel (Pretoria), Ruan Vermaak (Harlequin), Robert Hunt (Harlequin), Bismarck du Plessis (Betway Centurion), Lizo Gqoboka (ABE Midas Naka Bulle, CAPT).

IMPACT (16-23): Sidney Tobias (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Simphiwe Matanzima (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Francois Kloppers (UP Tuks), Raynard Roets (UP Tuks), Stephan Smit (UP Tuks), Keagan Johannes (UP Tuks), Juan Mostert (Harlequin), Tharquinn Manuel (UP Tuks).

Vodacom URC playoffs ticket sales open at Loftus

The Vodacom Bulls on Tuesday opened their ticket sales for their Vodacom United Rugby Championship playoff match against the Cell C Sharks which will be played at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, June 4. The Tshwane-based side confirmed a home quarterfinal spot when they defeated Welsh side, Ospreys, in a crucial encounter in Swansea at the weekend.

The Vodacom URC on Monday confirmed the championship’s playoff schedule, verifying the kickoff time for the South African derby as 13h45 at Loftus Versfeld.

Supporters will now have the opportunity to purchase their tickets for the decisive encounter as sales opened at 08h00 on Tuesday.

The Vodacom Bulls, who have for the past few Vodacom URC matches, have had some of the cheapest tickets to a rugby match. The side has kept their commitment to their faithful supporters by continuing with the sale of tickets from as little as R25 for the match.

Blue Bulls Company CEO, Edgar Rathbone, confirmed the opening of ticket sales: “We have had widespread interest and queries about our sale of tickets for the all-important Vodacom URC quarterfinal against the Cell C Sharks. We are happy to now confirm to our supporters that tickets are now available for purchase for that game scheduled for next week Saturday.

“In our effort to thank our supporters for their backing over the past two years, which have been very hard due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had slashed our ticket prices to make them some of the most affordable. We remain committed in ensuring that our fans have affordable access to premier rugby, and, as such, we will continue to have our tickets starting at a low cost of R25.

“We are proud of our director of rugby, Jake White, his coaching staff and players for their hard work in getting the Vodacom Bulls to this point. At the start of the season, it would have been hard to imagine that the side would reach this stage. However, the team remained focused, committed and had no doubts regarding the success they could gain and the targets they had set. We wish them well.”

In accordance with government regulations, as per the Government Gazette, stadiums are at this stage permitted to accommodate 50% of their capacity, and this will be the case for the Vodacom URC quarterfinal.

Tickets are available for sale at the Loftus Versfeld ticket office and online at bulls.ticketpro.co.za.

 

WARNING: Fake rugby tickets on circuit

The South African rugby fraternity is cautioning rugby lovers about purchasing fake match-day tickets from fraudulent websites that have no rights to sell any rugby tickets in SA.

SA Rugby, franchises and unions have received numerous queries and complaints recently about dubious websites, such as Viagogo, who have been unlawfully selling tickets for as much as up to 400% of the selling price for the authentic tickets sold on reputable websites or the official ticket offices.

Not only is this fraudulent activity hampering the economic status of the SA rugby fraternity that is still trying to recover from the recent impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is further concern for the swindling of unsuspecting lovers of the game of rugby.

It is advisable that any fans who would like to purchase tickets to do so via the unions’ official channels.

SA RUGBY WOMEN’S PREMIER DIVISION: Blue Bulls Women wary of dangerous Boland Dames

The Blue Bulls Women will be in action this weekend when they take on Boland Dames in an SA Rugby Women’s Premier Division clash at the Boland Stadium in Wellington.

The women from Tshwane have enjoyed a good start to their campaign, claiming three consecutive victories, with the most recent being a 21-13 win over Cell C Sharks Women last weekend, which ensured that they remained unbeaten thus far. The Boland Dames will be looking to bounce back after suffering a 32-15 defeat to defending champions, Border Ladies, in a clash in Mdantsane last Sunday.

The Blue Bulls Women will go into the fixture wary of the dangers posed by the fifth-placed Boland side and will be hoping to improve from the misfortunes from the previous season which saw this weekend’s home side claiming a double, winning both encounters in 2021 – a 23-19 win in Pretoria and a 21-0 victory in Wellington.

The match will kick-off at 13h00 on Saturday.

 The Blue Bulls Women’s team to face Boland Dames is:

STARTERS (15-1):
Nonnie Shongwe, Kirsten Eastes, Daphne Scheepers, Lynn Subke, Elizabeth Jansen van Rensburg, Rumandi Potgieter, Vuyolwethu Vazi, Thandeka Shongwe, Kyla de Vries, Anathi Qolo, Sibonelo Letsela, Zandile Khumalo, Thantaswa Macingwane, Lebogang Ralebona.

IMPACT (16-23):
Tyler-Jane Coleman, Doreen Mkhabela, Thulisile Bukula, Feranah Burger, Nthabiseng Marutla, Mahlatse Nkhumishe, Seshile Maguga, Layla Arrison.  

VODACOM URC: Brutal scrum battle expected against Ospreys in crucial Vodacom URC clash

The Vodacom Bulls expect a tough battle when they face Ospreys in a crucial encounter in Swansea on Friday night. While the South African side will be hoping that a win will put them in a good position for a potential home quarter-final, the Welshmen will also have plenty to play for – to claim the Welsh Shield ahead of rivals, Scarlets, will be a priority.

The Vodacom Bulls, among other areas of play, have pin-pointed the scrums, where Ospreys have proven to be potent, as an area that will be hotly contested, believes the side’s in-form loosehead prop, Gerhard Steenekamp.

“They have a very good pack, and we have done our preparation for what lies ahead,” said the 25-year-old front-rower.

“So, we must just ensure we bring out our best this weekend, and that’s all we can do – to give our best.”

Steenekamp also acknowledged the importance of having former Scarlets and Vodacom Bulls legend, Werner Kruger, as part of the team’s coaching personnel. The retired prop’s knowledge of Welsh rugby and scrums has proven invaluable for the Vodacom Bulls.

“It’s (scrums) one aspect of the game that we’ve really worked hard on, and I think it’s because we have a pack that’s played longer together – so we are also getting our rhythm,” said Steenekamp.

“It really helps a lot having someone like Werner Kruger in our camp. He recently played in Wales, so he knows their mindset. All that insight and knowledge helps, and our scrum is something we have really worked on.”

The match will be played at the Swansea.com Stadium, kicking off at 21h10 (SA time) and it will be televised on SuperSport.

The Vodacom Bulls will later today announce their match-day squad for the encounter.

 

VODACOM URC: Strong 28-man Vodacom Bulls squad for Ospreys clash

A 28-man Vodacom Bulls squad will be preparing for their crucial Vodacom United Rugby Championship against Ospreys in Swansea this week. Although a playoff spot has already been secured, the Tshwane-based side travels to Wales where they will want to put themselves in a good position for a potential home quarter-final spot, depending on permutations of other exciting fixtures this weekend, should they secure a victory in their final round-robin match on Friday night.

Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White, has selected a strong group for the one-week tour which includes one of the side’s newest recruits, Ruan Vermaak, who joined the side late last week from Japanese team, NTT Red Hurricanes.

“We have an important tour where we will face a dangerous Ospreys team in their own backyard. We are at a crucial stage of the competition – the business end of the round-robin stages and on the verge of the playoffs, with plenty to play for in terms of securing home quarter-final spots,” said White.

“Be that as it may, the focus is on playing well as a group this week and to start building good momentum going into the playoffs.”

The match will be played at the Swansea.com (Liberty) Stadium, kicking off at 21h10 on Friday.

The Vodacom Bulls 28-man touring squad is:

FORWARDS (16):
Arno Botha, Bismarck du Plessis, Cyle Brink, Dylan Smith, Elrigh Louw, Gerhard Steenekamp, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Janko Swanepoel, Johan Grobbelaar, Marcell Coetzee (CAPT), Mornay Smith, Robert Hunt, Ruan Nortje, Ruan Vermaak, Simphiwe Matanzima, Walt Steenkamp.

BACKS (12):
Canan Moodie, Chris Smith, Cornal Hendricks, David Kriel, Embrose Papier, Harold Vorster, Juan Mostert, Keagan Johannes, Madosh Tambwe, Marco Jansen van Vuren, Stedman Gans, Zak Burger

Vodacom Bulls secure star Springbok S’busiso Nkosi!

The Vodacom Bulls confirmed yesterday that they have made a key inclusion to their player resource with the signing of Springbok winger, S’busiso Nkosi. The 2019 World Cup-winning star is set to join the side from Tshwane-based side from July 1, where he will be set to make a positive contribution to the team when they kick-off their second season in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship which will begin in the second half of the year.

“We are obviously delighted to have a player of Sbu Nkosi’s calibre joining our ranks at the Vodacom Bulls,” said Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White.

“He is a proven quality player who is respected internationally based on his track record for the Cell C Sharks and on the international stage for the Springboks. To be able to secure the services of a World Cup-winning player will be a big boost for us. We are confident that we have plenty to gain from Nkosi where he will contribute alongside some of our senior players and also be able to impart his knowledge and experience onto our young talent, whom I am convinced will be eager to learn from him.”

The 26-year-old Nkosi was born in the Mpumalanga town of Barberton and completed his schooling at Jeppe High School for Boys.

In 2016 the elusive winger was part of the Junior Springbok team that finished fourth at the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Manchester, England. He then went on to represent the Cell C Sharks, making over 60 appearances for the coastal side before signing for the Vodacom Bulls.

Nkosi has represented the Springboks since 2018, earning a total of 16 caps so far.

“I am thrilled to be joining the Vodacom Bulls, where I will play alongside some of the most exciting talent in the country while working under some of the globally respected coaches,” responded Nkosi.

“I have had some of my best years at the Cell C Sharks where I also became a Springbok. I think I have served my time and contributed what I could at the franchise. I am most grateful to the Cell C Sharks – the coaches, players and staff – for some of the most memorable years in Durban and the support given to me. Of course, the fans have always been a big part of my career. Without their support I would never have enjoyed my time over the years as I have done.

“I now have an opportunity for a fresh start in Tshwane, where I hope to make a positive impact and give my best in the effort to assist the Vodacom Bulls remaining a force in South African rugby and also becoming one of the top rugby sides globally.”

Nkosi will join the Vodacom Bulls at the conclusion of the current Vodacom United Rugby Championship season and will officially become part of the team on July 1.

CARLING CURRIE CUP: Vodacom Bulls fully focused on Sigma Lions Carling Currie Cup clash

The Vodacom Bulls are fully focused on their upcoming Carling Currie Cup fixture against cross-Jukskei rivals, the Sigma Lions, when the two sides meet at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

With the side from Tshwane having cemented a spot in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship playoffs, and also holding a commanding position in the Carling Currie Cup, which is also nearing the knockout stages, much talk in the public has been around the team being on the verge of playing playoff matches in two competitions.

However, Vodacom Bulls’ lock, Janko Swanepoel, stressed that his side was fully focused on this weekend’s domestic derby despite the team having to travel to Swansea in Wales next week for a crucial Vodacom URC encounter against Ospreys.

“All the focus is on the Sigma Lions this week, because every game in the Carling Currie Cup is important for us, just to keep that top spot on the log,” said Swanepoel ahead of Saturday’s game.

“We take it game for game, and after the Sigma Lions, then we will start focusing on the Ospreys game.”

The Vodacom Bulls are on the back of an important 48-38 win over the Windhoek Draught Griquas last weekend at home. Despite the bonus-point win, the side had a few lessons to take from the game, including not letting their guard down before the final whistle.

“So, for us, it is important to focus for the full 80 minutes. We need to begin like we did against Windhoek Draught Griquas last week and just stick to that. We are chasing the full 80 minutes this weekend against the Sigma Lions,” said the Vodacom Bulls lock.

The opposition for this weekend may not have had the best of results so far this season, but the 22-year-old Swanepoel believes that does not take away the danger posed by the side from Johannesburg when they square up.

“We cannot take the Lions lightly,” said the second-rower.

“We saw how they played last week. They almost beat the Toyota Cheetahs (losing 35-26). It was just the discipline that cost them in the final few minutes of the second half.

“So, we must just prepare for a tough game, and you can never know what might happen.”

Swanepoel has been an instrumental figure in the Vodacom Bulls team this season – both in the Carling Currie Cup, where he has featured as one of the frontline players and in the Vodacom URC, where he has often provided cover for the evergreen duo of Ruan Nortje and Walt Steenkamp.

He will once again prove to be a crucial cog in the Blue Machine forwards pack when they take on their Jukskei rivals.

The Vodacom Bulls will name their team for the match on Friday.

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

CARLING CURRIE CUP: Strong onslaught expected from Windhoek Draught Griquas in Carling Currie Cup clash

The Vodacom Bulls expect a tough encounter when they take on Windhoek Draught Griquas in a Carling Currie Cup clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. The side from Kimberley has been one of the strongest competitors in the domestic South African competition and currently occupy a spot in the top four positions on the log, alongside their opponents for the weekend, the Vodacom Bulls, as well as the unbeaten Toyota Cheetahs and Cell C Sharks.

The last time the Vodacom Bulls and Windhoek Draught Griquas squared up, it was the side from Pretoria that claimed the bragging rights with an encouraging 27-53 victory.

The side from the Northern Cape has since registered two back-to-back victories over the Sigma Lions, indicating their intentions of being challengers for the Carling Currie Cup title.

Vodacom Bulls assistant coach, Pine Pienaar, is wary of the threat that their opponents will pose in the return match on Saturday afternoon.

“This weekend we expect a strong onslaught from the Windhoek Draught Griquas,” he said ahead of the match.

“They are currently doing really well, and they had a great win against the Sigma Lions in Kimberley. On that day the Sigma Lions had a couple of their Vodacom URC players in the mix.”

With the Vodacom Bulls on a break in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship before their next fixture against Ospreys in Wales on Friday, May 20, the side is likely to make use of some of the players who have been in action in the cross-hemisphere competition this weekend while also attempting to find a balance in resting a few of their playing personnel.

“There will be guys resting this weekend, but there will also be some guys coming in for the Carling Currie Cup,” said Pienaar.

“For us it is about how well we can plan and how well we can manage our players.”

With the Vodacom Bulls sitting on top of the Carling Currie Cup table at the moment, many will believe that side from Tshwane is well on their way to defend their back-to-back titles in the domestic competition. However, the team is adamant that there is still plenty to play for before the playoff stages.

In addition, the side has also secured a spot in the Vodacom URC playoffs which will run concurrently with the finals stages of the Carling Currie Cup. Squad management will prove crucial as the side vies for success in both competitions.

“We see the Carling Currie Cup as a very important competition to play in. We are not in the semi-finals yet,” said Pienaar.

“We have four games left, starting with a quality challenge against Griquas. When we get closer to the Toyota Cheetahs game (the final round robin fixture) and then the semi-final and final, coach Jake White and coach Gert Smal will plan what to do.

“The challenge then will be the [Vodacom URC] semi-final and final that could potentially be overseas. But currently, we are just looking forward to this coming weekend and our planning.”

Coach Gert Smal will, on Friday, announce his team to take on the Windhoek Draught Griquas in their Carling Currie Cup encounter.

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