Botha to leave Vodacom Bulls after Vodacom Super Rugby campaign

The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Monday confirmed that loose forward Arno Botha will leave the franchise at the end of the 2017 Vodacom Super Rugby season. Botha will link up with Ulster.

The High Performance Manager of the BBC, Xander Janse van Rensburg, said that Botha, who has played for the Vodacom Bulls 46 times in his career so far, will finish the 2017 Vodacom Super Rugby season with the team before joining up with the Irish. “Arno received a very good offer from Ulster. We have been in constant discussions with Arno about his future since 2016.

“We want to thank him for his contribution, we are thankful and proud of what he has done. The situation is that we can’t financially make an offer close to what he’s currently earning. Luckily we have great players coming through that we will be investing in,” Janse van Rensburg said.

“He is still a big player for us in the coming months and we are expecting some meaningful contributions from him as we embark on a tough Vodacom Super Rugby campaign.”

Janse van Rensburg wished Botha well. “We know he will be successful with Ulster. He is a very professional player. Both parties are in unison that it’s the best move for him at this stage of his career.”

Botha said he was comfortable with the decision. “I have achieved such a lot with the Vodacom Bulls and will give my all to help the team to try and win the Vodacom Super Rugby title in 2017, something that has eluded me so far in my career. I am only leaving at the end of the campaign and is highly motivated to deliver for the team. The decision to move to Ulster was taken after considerable thought from my side and I feel it is the right time in my career to feel what rugby in the Northern Hemisphere is all about. Till then, I am as passionate about the Bulls as I have ever been.”

For more information, please call Xander Janse van Rensburg at 072 197 3136.

Vodacom Bulls and Puma reveal Super Rugby kit in classic Forever Blue

PUMA the official technical and apparel partner of the Vodacom Bulls has unveiled their new Vodacom Super Rugby Home and Away kits. The design of the kits marks a return to Blue for both Home and Away, as a tribute to the Bull’s proud heritage.

The traditional blue Home kit has a simple yet bold design, which looks back at designs worn by PUMA performance legends and teams, and features the classic PUMA owned 7cm Performance Stripe. Staying Forever Blue, the darker blue hue Away kit also pays homage to true Bulls tradition.

“The new Bulls kit pays homage to their rich heritage and by going back to the team’s colour of classic blue, PUMA has highlighted the true expression of what it means to be a Bull’s fan by staying Forever Blue. As technical sponsor we have no doubt the kit will inspire the Vodacom Bulls in 2017 and we support them every step of the way,” says PUMA South Africa’s Marketing Director, Brett Bellinger.

Barend van Graan, CEO of the Blue Bulls Company, says: “PUMA have once again outdone themselves in producing a kit that not only speaks to retro-design trends, but also pays homage to our proud heritage. Together, we have gone full-circle with innovative and ground-breaking designs, from shocking the country with the first pink rugby kit to be worn by a South African team to sporting green camouflage, and even breaking all boundaries with a striking black and orange away strip last year that once again got the rugby loving public talking. The 2017 kit is elegantly striking in its simplicity, and will no doubt resound with the loyal blue-blooded fans.”

The new Super Rugby replica shirt will be available for R799 at PUMA, Totalsports and The Cross Trainer stores as well as Sportsmans Warehouse.

With every purchase of a Vodacom Bulls shirt, PUMA are offering supporters a free Bulls rugby ball on Black Friday, 25 November 2016, only. Participating PUMA stores include Menlyn Mall Centurion, Kolonnade, Atterbury, Canal Walk, V&A Waterfront, Gateway, Rosebank, Braamfontein, Pavillion, Mall of Africa as well as Sportsmans Warehouse. Totalsports will participate in Black Friday by giving away the previous season’s jersey with every new Bulls jersey bought.

Pollard to return to training next month

Flyhalf Handré Pollard will join the rest of the Vodacom Bulls squad on 4 December for a pre-season camp in George and is expected to make a return to the playing field on 28 January 2017 when the Vodacom Bulls will face a South African Super Rugby opponent in Zimbabwe in their first match of the year.

Pollard missed the 2016 season due to knee and shoulder injuries, but he is amongst a host of players, including midfielder Jan Serfontein that has recovered well and will return to the squad at the training camp that will last till 16 December.

A big squad is currently training in Pretoria and Vodacom Bulls coach, Nollis Marais, will cut the numbers before they travel to George for the camp.

The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd confirmed on Friday that Irne Herbst and Dayan van der Westhuizen will be on loan to the Southern Kings for the 2017 Vodacom Super Rugby season.

“This is a great opportunity for them to play Super Rugby and continue their development and progress as players,” BBC’s High Performance manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg said.

“We realise the importance of depth if you want to win a Super Rugby title, but it is also in the best interest of South African rugby and the players to have them on the field and playing, so we have no problem with them playing at the Kings in 2017.”

A large number of junior players are currently with the squad and according to Janse van Rensburg, this is done on purpose.

“We have been bringing in juniors to train with the senior squad since 2011 and it works well for us. We will expose our Under-19 recruits like Hanru Sirgel, Kwezi Mafu, JC Pretorius, Jerome Bossr, Christiaan Strydom and Cabous Eloff to the senior group. We deem it important to create opportunities for youngster to be exposed to senior and Super Rugby training sessions and players. In order for us to fast-track them and make the gap smaller, they need to measure themselves against the top players and we believe its integral part of their growth and development as a player. We will be constantly doing this with all the junior players,” Janse van Rensburg confirmed.

Western Province Under-21 wing, Sibahle “Rabs” Maxwane and Junior Springbok and Free State Under-21 prop Conraad van Vuuren, has also joined the Blue Bulls, he confirmed.

The provisional warm-up fixtures for 2017 are:

28 January: South African Super Rugby opponent (Zimbabwe)

8 February: Chiefs (Brisbane)

10/11 February: Brisbane 10’s.

The extended Vodacom Bulls training squad is: 

Utility backs: Duncan Matthews, Divan Rossouw, Manie Libbok, Jesse Kriel, Earll Dowrie.

Fullbacks: Warrick Gelant, Ulrich Beyers

Wings: Luther Obi, Kafentse Mahlo, Irvin Ali, Andell Loubser, Jamba Ulengo, Jade Stighling, Travis Ismaiel, Sibahle “Rabs” Maxwane.

Centres: Dries Swanepoel, Johnny Kotze, Jan Serfontein, Franco Naude, Burger Odendaal, JT Jackson, Boeta Hamman.

Flyhalves: Francois Brummer, Tony Jantjies, Joshua Stander, Tian Schoeman, Handré Pollard.

Scrumhalves: Ivan van Zyl, Andre Warner, Embrose Papier, Rudy Paige, Piet van Zyl.

Loose Forwards: Renaldo Bothma, Hanro Liebenberg, Freddy Ngoza, Arno Botha, Nic de Jager, Abongile Nonkontwana, Ryno Pieterse, Jannes Kirsten, Ruan Steenkamp, Shaun Adendorff, Roelof Smit, Jacques Potgieter, Eduan Lubbe, Marco van Staden.

Lock: Eli Snyman, Hendre Stassen, Lood de Jager, Jason Jenkins, Ruben van Heerden, RG Snyman.

Props: Jacobie Adriaanse, Conraad van Vuuren, John-Roy Jenkinson, Martin Dreyer, Trevor Nyakane, Pierre Schoeman, Gerhard Steenekamp, Lizo Gqoboka, Nqoba Mxoli.

Hookers: Jaco Visagie, Edgar Marutlulle, Corniel Els, Adriaan Strauss, Alandre van Rooyen.

Lood de Jager to join Vodacom Bulls

The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Tuesday confirmed that Lodewyk (Lood) de Jager has agreed terms with them and will join the Vodacom Bulls on November 1st, 2016 on a 12-month contract.

The SA Rugby Player of the Year for 2015 is currently playing his trade in Bloemfontein, where he has played in 40 matches for the Toyota Cheetahs in the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament thus far. The 23-year old also has 20 test matches for the Springboks to his credit.

Commenting on the signing, BBC High Performance Manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg, expressed his delight with the signing.

“This is great news for us, not only because Lood is one of the best locks in the world, but also the fact that he sees the Vodacom Bulls as a team that will enhance his career and ambitions. This is a compliment to what we are trying to achieve and a massive boost to our vision to build something special again in Pretoria,” Janse van Rensburg said.

De Jager said he was keen to join the Vodacom Bulls, but still has unfinished business in Bloemfontein. “I am pretty excited about my future with the Vodacom Bulls and what they want to achieve in future. That said, I am still committed to the Cheetahs till the end of the season and will give my all in playing for them. They have been instrumental in the way my career developed and I want to thank them in the best way possible – by giving my all every time I take to the field for the Cheetahs.”

Blue Bulls Company congratulate Junior Springboks selections

The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Tuesday congratulated the ten players from the Vodacom Blue Bulls named in the Junior Springboks side to play in the World Rugby Junior Championship in England next month.

Jan-Henning Campher, Stedman Gans, Denzel Hill, Jaco Holtzhausen, JT Jackson, Manie Libbok, Franco Naude, Embrose Papier, Eli Snyman and Franco van den Berg all made the side announced by SA Rugby earlier on Tuesday.

Xander Janse van Rensburg, High Performance Manager of the BBC, said the whole union are pleased about the selection of so many of their players.

“On behalf of all at the BBC and the Blue Bulls Rugby Union, I would like to congratulate all the guys who made the team. We have been a proud contributor of players to the Junior Springboks and I have no doubt that these ten guys will not only do the #BullsFamily proud, but also the team and South Africa. We are behind them 100% and will back them in every match they play.”

Janse van Rensburg applauded the hard work put in by the players.

“This is something they worked for very hard and we are really pleased to see their efforts being rewared. Talent takes you only so far, then hard work needs to take over and they showed that.”

Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron on Tuesday named his 28-man squad that will do battle at World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Manchester, England, from 7 to 25 June.

The squad features two players who were members of the Junior Springbok squad that finished third at the international showpiece in Italy last year, namely centre JT Jackson and scrumhalf Marco Jansen van Vuren.

Nine members of the SA Schools team that featured in the Under-18 International Series in South Africa last year have also been included. They are centre Stedman Gans, flyhalves Manie Libbok and Curwin Bosch, scrumhalf Embrose Papier, locks Ruben de Villiers and Van Rhyn, loose forwards Cobus Wiese and Zain Davids and prop Carlü Sadie.

Among the players who were ruled out of contention for selection due to injury were Vodacom Blue Bulls utility forward Hendre Stassen, nursing an ankle injury.

The team will play their first official warm-up match on Friday at Wits University in Johannesburg against the Xerox Golden Lions Under-19 and Under-21 teams, with an eye on sharpening up their game before the tournament.

This will be followed by clashes against Maties in Stellenbosch on Tuesday, 17 May and the SWD Eagles in Oudtshoorn on Saturday 21 May, with the team set to depart for the international showpiece on 2 June.

 

Junior Springbok squad for World Rugby U20 Championship (in alphabetical order):

Tango Balekile (Hooker – Eastern Province)

Kwenzo Blose (Prop – Toyota Free State)

Curwin Bosch (Flyhalf / Fullback – Cell C Sharks)

Jan-Henning Campher (Hooker – Vodacom Blue Bulls)

Zain Davids (Loose forward – DHL Western Province)

Ruben de Villiers (Lock – DHL Western Province)

Stedman Gans (Centre – Vodacom Blue Bulls)

James Hall (Scrumhalf – Eastern Province Kings)

Denzel Hill (No 8 – Vodacom Blue Bulls)

Jaco Holtzhausen (Prop – Vodacom Blue Bulls)

JT Jackson (Centre – Vodacom Blue Bulls)

Marco Jansen van Vuren (Scrumhalf – Xerox Golden Lions)

Manie Libbok (Flyhalf / Centre – Vodacom Blue Bulls)

Mosolwa Mafuma (Wing – Toyota Free State)

Franco Naude (Centre – Vodacom Blue Bulls)

S’busiso Nkosi (Wing – Cell C Sharks)

Nicolaas Oosthuizen (Prop – Eastern Province)

Embrose Papier (Scrumhalf – Vodacom Blue Bulls)

Junior Pokomela (No 8 – Eastern Province, vice-captain)

Carlü Sadie (Prop – DHL Western Province)

Eli Snyman (Lock – Vodacom Blue Bulls)

Franco van den Berg (Prop – Vodacom Blue Bulls)

Edwill van der Merwe (Wing – DHL Western Province)

Ernst van Rhyn (Lock / Loose forward – DHL Western Province, vice-captain)

Keanu Vers (Fullback – Eastern Province)

Jeremy Ward (Centre – Eastern Province, captain)

Cobus Wiese (Loose forward – DHL Western Province)

Eduard Zandberg (Lock – DHL Western Province)

Vodacom Bulls ready for Force in Perth

Vodacom Bulls coach Nollis Marais named Hanro Liebenberg as eighth man in the Vodacom Bulls team taking on the Western Force in Perth on Friday in their tour opener Down Under.

This will be Liebenberg’s first appearance for the Vodacom Bulls in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition since April last year, with Junior Springboks duties and injury interrupting the five caps the 20-year old has earned for the team this far.

Liebenberg comes into the starting line-up as Marais made two changes to the run-on team that played against the Reds at Loftus Versfeld two weeks ago. The no8 takes over from Arno Botha and at scrum half  Piet van Zyl will start, with Rudy Paige moving to the bench, where Marais made some tweaks.

Bandise Maku, Dries Swanepoel and Roelof Smith will replace Jaco Visagie, Dan Kriel and Deon Stegmann on the bench respectively.

Marais was happy with the team’s travels and preparations, following a week off since the Reds win.

“We are, in a way, still under the radar and that is a good thing I believe. We are slowly starting to put a proper match together and as a unit is improving, no doubt. A coach cannot ask for more than that. We had soft moments and patches in a couple of matches, but overall, we are starting to find rhythm and some fluency in our game,” Marais said.

Vodacom Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss is only too aware of the fact that the Force have proved a very difficult opponent for the Bulls in Perth.

“Yes, they do have a good record against us here, but that is not something that we see as an important issue. A lot of our guys are first time tourists with the team and just want to go out and enjoy playing for the Vodacom Bulls. We have ambitions in how we want to approach the game and execute our game plan, but know very well that the Force will not make it easy for us. We will have to work very hard for a win, but I can tell you now, this team is prepared to do that.”

The team (with number of Super Caps) is: SP Marais (38), Travis Ismaiel (11), Jesse Kriel (23), Jan Serfontein (43), Bjorn Basson (91), Francois Brummer (12), Piet van Zyl (60), Hanro Liebenberg (5), Jannes Kirsten (7), Lappies Labuschagne (42), RG Snyman (7), Jason Jenkins (7), Marcel van der Merwe (40), Adriaan Strauss (125, c), Trevor Nyakane (65). Replacements: Bandise Maku (53), Lizo Gqoboka (6), Werner Kruger (115), Marvin Orie (4), Roelof Smit (9), Rudy Paige (27), Tian Schoeman (14), Dries Swanepoel (1).

Winger Jamba Ulengo returned to South Africa for personal reason this week, with Bjorn Basson replacing him on tour.

Liebenberg leads Vodacom Blue Bulls against DHL Western Province

Former Junior Springboks captain and no8, Hanro Liebenberg, will lead the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Cape Town on Friday when they take on DHL Western Province in the opening match of the Currie Cup Qualifying series.

Only a couple of players in the squad named by coach Hendré Marnitz have played at this level.

The likes of Callie Visagie, Deon Stegmann and Luther Obi will provide experience though.

“Yes, we are a young team with not much experience, but there is massive potential and ability,” Marnitz said.

“It is a tough start, away from home against a team that performed very well in the competition in recent years, so we will be asked tough questions. I am confident that we will be very competitive,” Marnitz said.

Liebenberg echoed the sentiment.

“If you are good enough, you are old enough. This is a group of able and willing players. They all can play the game at a high level and is keen and proud to represent the Blue Bulls. We will give our best.”

Labuschagne to miss Vodacom Super Rugby opening rounds

Vodacom Bulls loose forward Lappies Labuschagne has been ruled out of Vodacom Super Rugby action for eight (8) weeks due to an ankle injury, the Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd confirmed on Thursday.

Labuschagne and Vodacom Bulls team doctor, Dr Herman Rossouw met with specialists today where it was confirmed that the stalwart flanker has to undergo surgery.

“After weighing up all the facts and opinions of various specialists, we came to this decision that Lappies will be operated on Monday,” Dr Rossouw said.

He also confirmed that prop Lizo Gqoboka had to be withdrawn from the Vodacom Bulls team to play the Emirates Lions this weekend due to a groin injury and that he will not be traveling with the team to Polokwane this weekend.

“Lizo had some discomfort and we decided that it will be best to withdraw him from the weekend’s match.”

He will be fit for selection when the Vodacom Super Rugby kicks off later this month, Dr Rossouw confirmed.

Kriel and Serfontein to combine in Polokwane

Springbok midfielders Jesse Kriel and Jan Serfontein will combine for the first time as a centre pairing on Saturday when the Vodacom Bulls play the Emirates Lions in a Vodacom Super Rugby warm-up match in Polokwane.

Kriel played at fullback in his 16 appearances for the Vodacom Bulls so far, but made the Springbok outside centre berth his own later in the 2015 season, while Serfontein had injury issues during last year’s campaign and only played in eight matches.

The youthful combination will play as the midfield paring for the first time, with Vodacom Bulls coach Nollis Marais naming a number of young players in his match day squad.

The likes of Warrick Gelant, Hanro Liebenberg and RG Snyman all played for the Junior Springboks last year, as did Jason Jenkins, who will play off the bench.

Adriaan Strauss will lead the team for the first time since being named captain for the season.

“We do have a good mixture of youth and experience and that is exactly how I prefer it,” Marais said.

“You need some old heads in this competition, but there is no doubt that younger players brings energy and passion to any team. We would like to find the perfect balance in that and that is why this match in Polokwane is important for us. We need to settle on a team, but also on the right combinations going into the Super Rugby competition,” Marais said.

Strauss is the most experienced player in the squad with 118 Super Rugby caps and admits some nervous energy.

“We are keen to make a mark this year and have some very talented players in our system. I am very keen to lead these guys into battle. The Lions are a very experienced and well-drilled team and will test us structures and systems, so this is an ideal way to prepare before the competition kicks off in a couple of weeks. We are also keen to return to Polokwane, where the locals have been fantastic to us in recent visits,” Strauss said.

“The fact that the match will aid a good cause and supply bursaries to students is also satisfying for the squad,” he said.

The squad that will travel to Polokwane is: Warrick Gelant, Travis Ismaiel, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, FrancoisBrummer, Rudy Paige, Arno Botha, Hanro Liebenberg, Nic de Jager, Grant Hattingh, RG Snyman, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss (c), Trevor Nyakane. Replacements: Jaco Visagie, LizoGqoboka, Jason Jenkins, Jannes Kirsten, Piet van Zyl, Tian Schoeman, BurgerOdendaal, Werner Kruger, Pierre Schoeman, Jamba Ulengo, Jade Stighling.

Adriaan Strauss to lead Vodacom Bulls in 2016

Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss has been named as captain of the Vodacom Bulls for the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby season, the team annnounced on Monday. Another international star, Springbok flyhalf Handré Pollard, will be vice-captain for the season.

Strauss, a Super Rugby centurion (118 appearances) is no stranger to a leadership role at this level, having captained the Toyota Cheetahs for a number of seasons and according to the Vodacom Bulls Super Rugby coach, Nollis Marais, is a perfect fit for his team.

“Adriaan ticks all the boxes. He has vast experience at Super Rugby level, has played 54 tests for the Springboks, where he is part of the leadership group and represents what we stand for as Bulls. His leadership style is great, as is his ability to rally players around him. He is also one of the top hookers in world rugby and even opponents will look up to his presence on the field,” Marais explained.

“It is also very important for a coach to have a good working relationship with his captain and Adriaan and myselfshare a number of values, with the most important our shared vision to build a special team and leave a legacy,” Marais said.

Pollard is no stranger to captaincy having lead the Junior Sprinboks in 2014 and Marais is confident that the playmaker and goal kicker will not be burdened by this extra responsibility.

“Handré is a natural leader of men and one that leads from the front. He is young in age, but already very experienced on the rugby field. He is also part of the new generation that is coming through at Loftus Versfeld and around we will be building the next generation of stars. Both Adriaan and Handré has the potential to captain the Springboks, so we can be very proud and humble about the fact that their leadership will be available to the Vodacom Bulls.”

Strauss said he was humbled when asked to lead the team.

“There were some brilliant captains in the past and I was lucky to be part of a special generation of Bulls players that won this competition in my early years. I have learned vaulable lessons about the team culture and when I returned last year, was very happy to see the work ethic and drive to be the best did not change. There are exciting times ahead for this group and I am very keen to be part of it. We want to be a team that makes a difference to our fans,” Strauss said.