VODACOM BULLETJIE DAY CELEBRATES 25 YEARS

Vodacom Bulletjie Day is an occasion that has cemented itself on the Pretoria rugby calendar with young rugby players from all corners of the Blue Bulls catchment area coming together to enjoy a fun day out with the family.

 

This year’s instalment was particularly special as Vodacom Bulletjie Day celebrated 25 years with just over 6000 young and enthusiastic rugby players descending on Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, 2 June.

 

Marguerite Prinsloo, Blue Bulls Company: Events Co-Ordinator, explained how the day really encapsulates the family atmosphere of rugby.

 

“Vodacom Bulletjie Rugby is all about fun, family and entertainment and what better place to have this wonderful event, sponsored by Vodacom, than here at Loftus Versfeld, home of the Vodacom Bulls.”

 

Johan Schoeman, Founder of Vodacom Bulletjie Rugby, noted that Vodacom Bulletjie Day is a great opportunity for young players at the world’s largest mini-rugby day.

 

“We all know that this Vodacom Bulletjie Day is definitely the largest mini-rugby day in the world. There was approximately 22000 parents coming through the day from 08:00 until 17:00 and the end result you can see. What a wonderful opportunity.”

 

Steven Mabogwane, Bulletjie Rugby Coach, thanked Vodacom for their efforts in making Vodacom Bulletjie Day a success.

 

“As a father, as a coach, we are very happy to be here and we would like to thank Vodacom for putting smiles on our kids’ faces and for sponsoring this event. We can’t wait to come back next year.”

 

VICTOR TO COACH REVIVED JVL LOFTUS 200 TEAM IN 2018

The iconic Loftus 200 team will revive this year with a match planned against the Currie Cup team of the Valke on 7th July 2018 at Loftus Versfeld. The JVL Loftus 200 team was established in 1986 as an invitational team featuring leading club players from within the BBRU club structures and have recorded many an impressive victory over Currie Cup teams in the past.

The team will be coached by Victor Matfield with another legendary Blue Bulls Akona Ndungane as Team Manager. Victor will be assisted by Carlton League coaches Gert Mulder of QBR and Marinus van der Watt from Naka Bulls Rugby Club.

According to Mr Willem Strauss, President of the Blue Bulls Rugby Union, the JVL Loftus 200 team will fill the vacuum which was created by the cancelling of the National Amateur Tournament. “With the JVL Loftus 200 Team we want to create a pathway for club players to the Blue Bulls Currie Cup squad. It is also part of our strategy to align the structures within the BBRU with one another, thereby broadening the base from which representative teams could be selected”. “I also believe that the days of contracting huge number of players are not financially viable anymore and that we need to create an additional pipeline for players with potential via our schools and club structures, as well as initiatives such as Loftus 200, to eventually progress to professional squads of the Bulls.

Victor Matfield said his blood will always be blue and that he is glad to contribute to the development of young players with potential to play at a higher level. “There are always players, especially at semi-professional club level, that deserves a second chance at professional rugby. This is also a great opportunity for the late developers to get exposure.”

Dr Eugene Hare, Chief Executive Officer of the BBRU confirmed that a second match is planned for JVL Loftus 200 later in the year to give even more exposure to the top club players in the Union. Dr Hare also confirmed that the Blue Bulls Reserve League Team, as well as Limpopo, selected from the non-Carlton league clubs, will play a number of representative matches during this year.

VODACOM BULLS FIGHTING FOR A PLAYOFF SPOT

The Vodacom Bulls returned to Loftus after losing against the Jaguares and they have no choice but to correct their ship in Round 15 of Vodacom Super Rugby.

 

Cause for concern for the Vodacom Bulls camp would not be so much that they were outplayed by the Jaguares, but more because of the inconsistency in performances. There was a night and day difference between the team that beat the Cell C Sharks and the one that fronted up to the Jaguares. As they like to say in sport, ” the team just didn’t pitch up on the day”. The team seemed to lack urgency and cohesion and the coaches will be hoping to put that down to the long travel time to Argentina, rather than any kind of rugby-related issue.

 

The men from Pretoria did score two tries towards the end of their Argentinean dogfight that added some gloss to the loss but it goes without saying that they let themselves and the Loftus faithful down.

 

The Winning Formula

 

After getting a proverbial hiding from the Emirates Lions last weekend, the Brumbies are also facing a must-win situation in Pretoria.

 

Head to head, the Brumbies hold a considerable advantage over the Vodacom Bulls as they have only lost seven of the 19 matches played but the home team did record an emphatic 44-23 win against their foes from Down Under when they last met at Loftus Versfeld in 2014. The average score is 30-26 to the visitors with the Brumbies scoring an average of four tries to three per game.

 

The Brumbies will be without Rory Arnold as he was red carded for his dangerous tackle on Springbok pivot, Elton Jantjies, and was subsequently banned for three weeks.

 

The visitors will not be too perturbed about him missing out as they have a number of stalwarts in their team including lock Sam Carter, flank David Pocock, flyhalf Christian Lealiifano and wing Henry Speight who have enough experience to know how to win matches.

 

This is one of those games where if the Vodacom Bulls fire anywhere close to 100%, the Brumbies will stand very little chance of a win.

 

Team News

 

On the home front, Vodacom Bulls head coach John Mitchell has welcomed back regular captain and inside centre Burger Odendaal. His return sees Handrè Pollard shift back to flyhalf while Manie Libbok moves to the bench.

 

Amongst the forwards, Nic de Jager starts at blindside as Thembelani Bholi is rested on the bench. On the topic of bench warmers, lock Ruben van Heerden takes over from the injured Hendre Stassen while there is a possible Vodacom Super Rugby debut for prop Mathys Basson who replaces Frans van Wyk.

 

VODACOM BULLS TOURING SQUAD TO ARGENTINA

Vodacom Bulls coach, John Mitchell, named a squad of 26 players to travel to Buenos Aires, where they will meet the Jaquares in Vodacom Super Rugby clash on Saturday.
The squad included only two players that has not featured in the tournament this season, with Edgar Marutlulle and Matthys Basson added to the squad.

 

Marutlulle has 31 caps to his name already though, while Basson could make a first appearance for the Vodacom Bulls if he is named in the match day squad.
Regular captain Burger Odendaal, was also withdrawn due to a rib injury, and was replaced by JT Jackson, with Handre Pollard taking over the captaincy.
The coach opted for an extra prop, hooker and scrumhalf.
“We are very aware of the importance of this trip. We will be facing a team playing with massive confidence and having their best run in the competition, so it will be a massive task to beat them at home. That said, we have set ourselves some targets this year and winning in Buenos Aires will take us a step closer to achieving those. So, we know what is at stake,” Mitchell said.
The squad is:
Backs: Warrick Gelant, Travis Ismaiel, Johnny Kotze, Divan Rossouw, Jesse Kriel, JT Jackson, Handre Pollard (c), Manie Libbok, Embrose Papier, Ivan van Zyl, André Warner.
Forwards: Themelani Bholi, Nic De Jager, Roelof Smit, Marco van Staden, Jason Jenkins, RG Snyman, Handre Stassen, Trevor Nyakane, Conraad van Vuuren, Matthys Basson, Mox Mxoli, Frans van Wyk, Jaco Visagie, Edgar Marutlulle, Adriaan Strauss.

BULLS

Pollard to lead Vodacom Bulls in Buenos Aires, Libbok to start

Handre Pollard will lead the Vodacom Bulls in Buenos Aires when they take on the Jaguares in their crucial Vodacom Super Rugby clash at Estadio Jose Amalfitani.

 

Pollard takes over the captaincy from Burger Odendaal, one of three players out injured from the team that beat the Cell C Sharks in Pretoria last weekend and will slot in at inside centre. This will hand a starting debut to Manie Libbok at flyhalf.

 

Libbok made six appearances off the bench for the Vodacom Bulls already.

 

Injured lock, Lood de Jager, will be replaced by Jason Jenkins who will partner RG Snyman for the first time this year.

 

The flanker berth vacated by Jenkins will be filled by Thembelani Bholi, with Handre Stassen taking over the impact role Bholi had against the Cell C Sharks.

Vodacom Bulls coach, John Mitchell named Trevor Nyakane as loose head in place of the injured Lizo Gqoboka, with Conrad van Vuuren moving into the no three jersey.

 

Former Junior Springbok, JT Jackson, has been named on the bench and will make his Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Super Rugby debut if he takes to the field.

 

“This is a nice challenge for us. We have belief in what we do and where we want to go and that will motivate us on Saturday. The injuries are part of rugby and we need to adapt to play without those three players. Rugby is a team effort anyway and this gives the likes of Manie, JT and Hendre a nice opportunity to express themselves.”

 

The team (with Vodacom Super Rugby caps and points) is: Warrick Gelant (29, 55), Travis Ismaiel (36, 50), Jesse Kriel (56, 55), Handre Pollard (c; 42, 379), Johnny Kotze (30, 30), Manie Libbok (6, 2), Ivan van Zyl (13, 0), Marco van Staden (11, 5), Thembelani Bholi (25, 5), Roelof Smit (23, 10), RG Snyman (34, 10), Jason Jenkins (37, 35), Conraad van Vuuren (12, 0), Adriaan Strauus (154, 95), Trevor Nyakane (89, 15). Replacements: Jaco Visagie (31, 5), Mox Mxoli (4, 0), Frans van Wyk (11, 0), Hendre Stassen (2, 0), Nic de Jager (24, 15), Andre Warner (10, 10), JT Jackson (0, 0), Divan Rossouw (9, 15).

VODACOM BULLS TO FRONT UP AGAINST CELL C SHARKS

VODACOM SUPER RUGBY – ROUND 12

Lessons were learnt in the Vodacom Bulls 29-17 loss to the DHL Stormers last weekend with the Capetonians controlling the match upfront. The men from Pretoria have reloaded and will be looking for blood as they keep one eye on the knockout stages of the competition.

It was not all doom and gloom for the Vodacom Bulls as they continue to play an attractive brand of rugby with the team attacking with intent. An area of concern will be defending directly after they have scored as it is in this area that they’ve struggled in recent weeks.

But in fairness, nothing can be taken away from the performance of the DHL Stormers on the day. They look a completely different side when they play on their home ground and having captain, Siya Kolisi, celebrating his 100th cap gave them that extra bit of motivation to get the job done.

TEAM NEWS

The Vodacom Bulls will want to return to winning ways at Loftus Versfeld when they host the Cell C Sharks in Round 13 of Vodacom Super Rugby.

The Cell C Sharks have kept a relatively unchanged match day squad from the one that beat the Highlanders last weekend with head coach, Robert du Preez, making only two changes.

Flank Jacques Vermeulen comes in for Philip van der Walt on the side of the scrum while hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle will warm the bench in place of Franco Marais.

The Vodacom Bulls will have to contend with another opposing team milestone as Ralepelle will play in his 100th Vodacom Super Rugby match should he come off the bench while barnstorming inside centre, Andre Esterhuizen, will earn his 50th cap and the visitors will want to make it a winning memory for them.

The Vodacom Bulls welcome back wing Travis Ismaiel and prop Trevor Nyakane as head coach, John Mitchell, adjusted his team ahead of this crucial derby. Marco van Staden starts at no.8 with Thembelani Bholi joining Divan Rossouw on the bench.

 

VODACOM BULLS TO ASSIST IN RAISING FUNDS FOR INJURED PLAYERS

The Vodacom Bulls return to Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, 12 May as they host their KZN counterparts, the Cell C Sharks in what is lining up to be another epic South African derby.

Supporters will be part of something special at Loftus Versfeld as the Vodacom Bulls will do their part in raising awareness for the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players’ Fund, who assist catastrophically injured rugby players to be able to live fulfilling lives.

The rugby loving public are sincerely asked to donate via the dedicated SMS line (SMS “Rugby” and your name to 49701 at R30/SMS – network and admin fees apply) or to the Vodacom Blue Bulls players who will walking around with collection tins. Every bit counts and the #BullsFamily can go a long way in assisting this great cause.

Vodacom’s Smiles for Tries is an initiative close to the Vodacom Bulls’ hearts, and will be looking to increase their contributions with a few more tries (Vodacom donates R3000 for every try scored by a South African team). We are also proud to announce that young Adriaan de Jongh, a 7-year-old recipient of the foundation, and a dear friend to the Vodacom Bulls will be leading the team out on Saturday afternoon.

There will not only be rugby to watch but the little ones can burn off some energy in the extended kids’ corner on the D Field, with our customised giant inflatable and tonnes of kids activities.

Loftus Versfeld has not forgotten the adult supporters who can enjoy a refreshment in the beer garden on the D field before the game. Our all new Castle Corner is a great way to enjoy your Vodacom Bulls experience, and the only place at Loftus that you can indulge in ice cold beer while watching the game (other than in a suite). No U18s and tickets must be pre-purchased.

We encourage you to make use of the safe and secure parking at Loftus Park. Parking tickets cost R100 and is the perfect way to start your afternoon at Loftus Versfeld as the Vodacom Bulls take on the Cell C Sharks in Round 13 of Vodacom Super Rugby.

Warner to start for Vodacom Bulls in Cape Town

Andre Warner will start at scrumhalf for the Vodacom Bulls against the DHL Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday in their crucial Vodacom Super Rugby clash at DHL Newlands. Cape Town-born Warner comes in for Ivan van Zyl, who will play off the bench.

The halfback started the first four matches of the competition before picking up an injury and has made some solid contributions off the bench since, including a try against the Rebels two weeks ago.

The much-anticipated North/South derby will test the Vodacom Bulls, head coach, John Mitchell, said.

“There are more than log points to play for. We are always striving to improve on our previous effort and to grow as a team. That will again be the case. This will be as tough as SA derbies go, no doubt, which will be a good test for our discipline and game management.”

Burger Odendaal, who will captain the Vodacom Bulls for the eighth time this year, said the team is looking forward to the challenge.

“Playing the Stormers is always a special challenge, playing them at Newlands even more so. We love to test ourselves against our peers and this will be such an occasion. I am confident that we will deliver a performance that we and our supporters can be proud of.”

The provisional team (with Vodacom Super Rugby caps and points) is: Warrick Gelant (27, 50), Johnny Kotze (28, 25), Jesse Kriel (54, 50), Burger Odendaal (c, 40, 15), Divan Rossouw (8, 15)/Travis Ismaiel (34, 50), Handre Pollard (40, 358), Andre Warner (8, 10), Thembelani Bholi (23, 5)/Marco van Staden (9, 5), Jason Jenkins (35, 30)/Thembelani Bholi (23, 5), Marco van Staden (9, 5)/Roelof Smit (21, 5), Lood de Jager (58, 15), RG Snyman 32, 10), Trevor Nyakane (89, 15), Adriaan Strauss (152, 95), Lizo Gqoboka (35, 10).

Replacements: Jaco Visagie (29, 5), Frans van Wyk (9, 0)/Nqobisiwe Mxoli (2, 0), Conrad van Vuuren (10, 0), Hendre Stassen (2/0)/Roelof Smit (21, 5), Ivan van Zyl (11,0), Manie Libbok (5, 2), Divan Rossouw (8, 15)/Travis Ismaiel (34, 50).

Notes: 

Adriaan Strauss will extend his South African record for Vodacom Super Rugby matches to 153.

Gqoboka, Jenkins added to Vodacom Bulls pack

Lizo Gqoboka will earn a first start in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition this year and Jason Jenkins will start at flank for the first time when the Vodacom Bulls take on the Highlanders at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Gqoboka came off the bench in all eight matches so far this season, but with the suspension of Pierre Schoeman, now gets a chance to make an impression in the starting pack.

Jenkins will move off the bench to flank in place of injured Roelof Smit, resulting in a re-shuffled loose trio. Marco van Staden moves back from the back of the scrum in his fetcher role, while Thembelani Bholi moves into no8, with Jenkins wearing the no7 shirt for the first time.

Gqoboka’s bench spot is filled by Conrad van Vuuren, who is back from suspension, while Hendre Stassen comes in for Jenkins and could add to his two caps for the Vodacom Bulls. Nic de Jager also makes a return to the side via the bench, replacing Shaun Adendorff. Travis Ismaiel has returned to full match fitness and will start on the bench, replacing Duncan Matthews. Embrose Papier is also back into the match day squad at scrumhalf in place of Andre Warner, who took a knock against the Rebels.

Vodacom Bulls coach, John Mitchell, said he is keen to get to see how the team goes against the Highlanders.

“They have won four of their last five matches against us, so will have some confidence on how to approach this match. They have delivered some strong performances as well during the year. That makes for a proper contest and a very good test on our progress. We are improving and that is nice, but we need to improve week by week.”

Burger Odendaal, who leads the Vodacom Bulls for the seventh time this season, insisted that the squad is growing in ability.

“We are getting things right more and more. There will always be room for improvement, but we made some encouraging steps in our progress to become the best we can be. The Highlanders are playing great rugby and we cannot wait to go out there and test ourselves against them.”

The Vodacom Bulls team (with Vodacom Super Rugby caps and points) is: Warrick Gelant (26, 50), Divan Rossouw (7, 15), Jesse Kriel (53, 45), Burger Odendaal (c; 39, 15), Johnny Kotze (27, 25), Handre Pollard (39, 347), Ivan van Zyl (10, 0), Thembelani Bholi (22, 5), Jason Jenkins (34, 25), Marco van Staden (8, 5), Lood de Jager (57, 15), RG Snyman (31, 10), Trevor Nyakane (87, 15), Adriaan Strauss (151, 95), Lizo Gqoboka (34, 10). Replacements: Jaco Visagie (28, 5), Frans van Wyk (9, 0), Conraad van Vuuren (9, 0), Hendre Stassen (2, 0), Nic de Jager (21/15), Embrose Papier (5, 0), Manie Libbok (5, 2), Travis Ismaiel (33, 50).

 

Notes

  • Adriaan Strauss will extend his South African record as most capped Vodacom Super Rugby player (and hooker) to 152 matches.
  • The average score for the Vodacom Bulls against the Highlanders is 24-29.

 

 

VODACOM SUPER RUGBY: New loose trio combination for Vodacom Bulls

Vodacom Bulls coach, John Mitchell, named a largely unchanged squad to face the Rebels in a Vodacom Super Rugby clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The coach had to tweak his loose trio combination due to an injury to Hanro Liebenberg, with Marco van Staden moving from the side to the back of the scrum and Roelof Smit starting in the number six jersey again in the only change to the starting team in Durban last weekend.

Smit, who started on the bench in that match, Van Staden and Thembelani Bholi will start together as a combination for the first time this season, although they did so for most of the match in Durban after Liebenberg left the field injured.

Mitchell included Shaun Adendorff on the bench. Adendorff will make a first appearance for the Vodacom Bulls this year.

“We are back again at Loftus Versfeld and playing in front of our home fans. We have another opportunity to show that we are a team that play till the very end and that is an exciting opportunity for this squad,” said Mitchell. “We are gaining some momentum and are improving all the time. We are not the finished product yet though and hard work and commitment remains important for us.”

Vodacom Bulls captain, Burger Odendaal, said the Rebels showed their class already. “We have seen them playing some really good rugby so far this season. They are a well-drilled unit and are getting better and better as the season progresses. We need to keep on improving as well, as we have set our standards very high and we are not where we want to be yet.”

The players also welcomed back the home crowd. “Nothing beats playing at Loftus. We are lucky to have passionate support and I sincerely hope the crowds will turn up to get behind us.”

The Vodacom Bulls team (with Vodacom Super Rugby caps and points) is: Warrick Gelant (25, 50), Johnny Kotze (26, 25), Jesse Kriel (52, 40), Burger Odendaal (c; 38, 15), Divan Rossouw (6, 10), Handre Pollard (38, 339), Ivan van Zyl (9, 0), Marco van Staden (7, 5), Thembelani Bholi (21, 50), Roelof Smit (20, 5), Lood de Jager (56, 15), RG Snyman (30, 10), Trevor Nyakane (86, 15)), Adriaan Strauss (150, 90), Pierre Schoeman (31, 15). Replacements:  Jaco Visagie (27, 5), Lizo Gqoboka (33, 10), Frans van Wyk (8, 0), Jason Jenkins (33, 25), Shaun Adendorff (3, 0), Andre Warner (7, 5), Manie Libbok (4, 2), Duncan Matthews (7, 15).

Notes:

  • Adriaan Strauss will extend the South African record for most appearances in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition to 151.
  • Jesse Kriel is the only Vodacom Bulls player who has played every minute of every match so far (560 minutes). In fact, Kriel, who debuted against the Rebels in the last match of 2014, has played in all matches in the 2015 Vodacom Super tournament and in 2016 and 2017 only missed one match.
  • The Vodacom Bulls last three home games against Australian sides have seen a total of 28 tries scored, crossing for 17 themselves and conceding 11.