VODACOM BLUE BULLS BEAT FREE STATE IN CURRIE CUP OPENER

The Vodacom Blue Bulls earned a bonus point as they beat the Toyota Free State Cheetahs 34-12 (halftime 7-7) in a hard fought Currie Cup match at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on Friday evening.

 

It was the home team who made their intentions known early in the match as wing Rabs Maxwane drew in the defence before offloading to hooker Joseph Dweba who crossed the whitewash. Former Blue Bulls pivot, Tian Schoeman, slotted the conversion for the Free Staters.

 

The men in blue eventually got themselves into the match as they applied pressure on their opponents and the dam wall was breached in the 13th minute as wing Jamba Ulengo passed to flyhalf Manie Libbok who dived under the posts to score a brilliant try that he converted.

 

Free State had to pull in their defence three minutes later as prop Ox Nche was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle and credit needs to be given to the men from Bloemfontein as they shut out the Blue Bulls to prevent any points from being leaked.

 

The match dissolved into a dull affair as neither team could break the deadlock but it was Free State who would be left scratching their heads at halftime as they enjoyed the majority of possession and territory but just could not convert that pressure into points.

 

The second half proved to be much better for both teams as they regularly bothered the scoreboard. Free State started the second half in the same fashion they did in the first half as scrumhalf Shaun Venter broke away from the back of a ruck and out sprinted the defence to score an unconverted try in the 41st minute.

 

The visitors continued to be nuisance on attack but were thwarted by Free State before opting to kick a penalty goal courtesy of Libbok.

 

The successful kick galvanised the Blue Bulls who were awarded a penalty try in the 55th minute due to Free State deliberately collapsing the maul.

 

Lock Justin Basson was shown a yellow card for the infringement and the home team were made to pay six minutes later as wing Jade Stiglingh capitalised on the one man advantage to dot down in the corner.

 

It was the visitors who brought the curtain down on a hard fought match as fullback Divan Rossouw scored the bonus point try on the stroke of full time. Man of the Match, Libbok, added the extras to hand his charges a 34-12 win away from home.

 

SCORERS

 

Toyota Free State Cheetahs – Tries: Joseph Dweba, Shaun Venter; Conversion: Tian Schoeman.

 

Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Manie Libbok, Penalty try, Jade Stiglingh, Divan Rossouw; Conversions: Libbok (3); Penalties: Libbok (2).

LIEBENBERG TO LEAD VODACOM BLUE BULLS IN CURRIE CUP

Vodacom Blue Bulls Coach, Pote Human, named an exciting squad for his 2018 Currie Cup campaign, with experienced loose forward, Hanro Liebenberg, named skipper and outside back, Johnny Kotze, the vice-captain.

Liebenberg is no stranger to the captaincy role, having lead the Vodacom Blue Bulls in this capacity before, and is welcomed back after missing the 2017 tournament due to injury.

The squad includes Springboks in Marnitz Boshoff and Jamba Ulenbo, while Blitzboks Heino Bezuidenhout and Stedman Gans were also named amongst the backs and former Blitzbok, Boom Prinsloo, amongst the loose forwards.

New additions to the squad include some stand-outs from the recent SuperSport Rugby Challenge, like Earll Dowrie and Mornay Smit, while youngsters like Josh Aldermann and Reagan Oranje are promoted from the junior ranks. Adding to the new faces during the warmups are Carel du Preez, Dan Kasende and Viktor Sekekete, three young men that will be included in the system on a trial.

Toyota Cheetahs recruit, Paul Schoeman, is also in the squad. The flanker moved from Bloemfontein after the GUINNESS PRO 14 season.

The men in blue will be without a number of senior players, seven at national duty with the Springboks and three playing in Japan for the remainder of the year. The Springboks are RG Snyman, Trevor Nyakane, Marco van Staden, Jesse Kriel, Embrose Papier, Handré Pollard and Ivan van Zyl with Jason Jenkins, Jannes Kirsten and Burger Odendaal playing in Japan.

The squad will also be missing Gerhard Steenekamp, Tim Agaba, Lizo Gqoboka, Roelof Smit, Nqoba Mxoli, Travis Ismaiel and Warrick Gelant, due to long term injuries.

One of the main focuses of this Currie Cup campaign will be to ensure the system builds towards the 2019 Vodacom Super Rugby, while increasing our depth and junior player development. It will also be used to make sure that the overall ‘blue-print’ implemented by Executive Rugby, John Mitchell, is executed throughout all the teams, including juniors.

Coach Pote Human will also be looking to expose a few of the u19s and u21s to senior level.

The squad is: Divan Rossouw, Earll Douwrie, Duncan Matthews, Jamba Ulengo, Xolisa Guma, Irvin Ali, JT Jackson, Heino Bezuidenhout, Franco Naude, Christopher Hollis, Stedman Gans, Jade Stighling, Johnny Kotze, Marnitz Boshoff, Manie Libbok, Boeta Hamman, Tony Jantjies, Garrick Matthews, Tinus de Beer, Andre Warner, Theo Maree, Josh Allderman, Raegan Oranje, Thembelani Bholi, Denzil Hill, Jano Venter, Abongile Nonkontwana, Hanro Liebenberg (c), Paul Schoeman, Nic de Jager, Ruan Steenkamp, Boom Prinsloo, Roelof Smit, Ryno Pieterse, Hendre Stassen, Ruben van Heerden, Aston Fortuin, Ruan Nortje, Eli Snyman, Matthys Basson, Frans van Wyk, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Conraad van Vuuren, Madot Mabokela, Mornay Smith, Jaco Visagie, Edgar Marutlulle, Johan Grobbelaar, Corniel Els, Jan-Henning Campher.

The Vodacom Blue Bulls warm ups:

Friday, 10 August 2018: Vodacom Blue Bulls vs Griffons in Welkom, 13:00 and 15:00

The Vodacom Blue Bulls fixture list is (times TBC):

17 August – Toyota Free State Cheetahs (Bloem)

25 August – Cell C Sharks (Durban)

1 September – Xerox Golden Lions (Pretoria)

8 September – Tafel Lager Griquas (Kimberley)

15 September – iCOLLEGE Pumas (Pretoria)

13 October – DHL Western Province (Pretoria)

Pote Human to lead Currie Cup charge

The Vodacom Blue Bulls today confirmed that Pote Human will assume the role of head coach during the 2018 Currie Cup season. While Executive Rugby and Vodacom Super Rugby head coach, John Mitchell, focuses on his other roles, including spending more time at the junior ranks ensuring that the ‘blue print’ functions throughout the club, while also preparing for the 2019 Vodacom Super Rugby Season.

 

The 59-year-old, Human, is a rugby man to the core and boasts a proud playing record as a ‘no-nonsense’ eightman, having played at Craven week and for the SA schools team, before going on to represent Eastern Province in 116 matches and the Free State in 84 (captaining 62 of those). Human, was also a legend at club level, winning two National club titles with Dispatch in the Eastern Cape.

 

He is no stranger to coaching at this level, as he held the reigns in 2006 when captain Gary Botha and his men famously drew with the Cheetahs at Loftus to share the Currie Cup. His highlight however, is assisting Heyneke Meyer in 2007, as the forwards coach, to steer the Vodacom Bulls to their first Super Rugby title. In 2011, he excepted a three-year deal in Kimberley where he once again took the role of head coach, leading a spirited Griquas team into the competition. Human’s CV also shows a stint in Japan, and a few successful seasons at Tuks, with two prestigious Varsity Cup titles as well, among a string of other accolades.

 

Human humbly took the focus of himself: “I’m really proud to be part of this system, with every day being a learning experience for me and all those involved. There is a new energy at Loftus, and even though the results may not show it yet, I believe that there is something very special brewing here. We have a young and exciting group going into the season, and I look forward to growing with these players.”

 

The remaining management team for the Currie Cup season will mostly remain as it did for the Super Rugby competition, with the most noticeable change being that technical analysist, John-Williams Meyer, will now also be responsible for the defense.

 

Team management:

HEAD COACH: Pote Human

ASSISTANT COACHES: Gary Botha, Hayden Groepes

TECHNICAL AND DEFENSE: John-Williams Meyer

DOCTOR: Dr. Herman Rossouw

COORDINATOR OPERATIONS AND LOGISTICS: Hendy Seerane

BAGGAGE AND KIT MASTER: Elias Bennet

PHYSIOTHERAPISTS: Pieter du Plessis & Lance Lemmetjies

STRENGTH & CONDITIONING: Jacus Coetzee, Ghafoer Luckan

REHAB SPECIALIST:  Juandre Williams

HIGH PERFORMANCE MANAGER: Xander Janse van Rensburg

MEDIA MANAGER: Shanil Mangaroo

VODACOM BULLS END LOFTUS SEASON ON A HIGH

The Vodacom Bulls did the Emirates Lions and Cell C Sharks a massive favour by stopping the Jaguares’ seven-game winning streak run with a 43-34 victory in their Vodacom Super Rugby match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The Bulls came from 19-0 down after 20 minutes to storm back and outscore their opposition by six tries to five in a high-scoring extravaganza on a cold Pretoria afternoon.

The win was a massive favour for the Lions, who stay on the top of the South African conference with just one round left in the competition, with the Jaguares blowing their chance of going top with a victory.

It also opened the door for the Sharks, who will be automatically through if the Melbourne Rebels lose next weekend, while they simply have to win the showdown with the Jaguares if they are to secure their spot in the playoff rounds.

The Jaguares’ seven-game winning streak was snapped by the Bulls and showed that while the team have grown exceptionally under coach Mario Ledesma, they still need to win away from home — and cchieving that in the playoff rounds will be extremely difficult.

For the Bulls the way they came back after their horror start should be commended. The likes of Warrick Gelant, Handre Pollard, RG Snyman, Jesse Kriel and Marco van Staden all stood out on the evening.

With the Loftus turf a lighter shade of green more reminiscent to rugby in the 80s, it was the Bulls who were shell-shocked early when the bright contrast of the Jaguares orange jerseys seemed to dominate every part of the early play, leaving them 19-0 up as they scored three quick tries without reply.

It was almost too easy as the Bulls’ defence disintegrated early on with Nicolas Sanchez dancing his way past Ruben van Heerden and then two others to score a perfect individual try to open the scoring in the third minute.

Javier Ortega Desio broke through three minutes later and put his captain Pablo Matera away to score a quick second try and then Gonzalo Bertranou scored his first try before 20 minutes was on the clock to leave the small Loftus crowd bemused at what had happened to their team.

But if there is one thing about this Bulls team, they don’t give up.

THE UPPER HAND

And it may have taken them a while to get the engine started, but when they did they roared back in style.

Warrick Gelant showed his class with a stunning right-hand break to send Jamba Ulengo roaring down the touchline, with the winger offering the ball to Johnny Kotze to get them on the board.

Their second try was even better as Gelant broke blind and some beautiful offloads from Hanro Liebenberg and Marco van Staden sent Embrose Papier over for a well-worked try.

And then unbelievably Jesse Kriel’s exceptional vision stole him a perfect intercept after the halftime hooter had gone to score under the posts, and suddenly the Bulls were ahead 21-19 at the break.

The Jaguares must have been kicking themselves as Pollard put the Bulls further ahead early in the second half with a penalty, but they hit back hard with Bertranou’s second try, created by a stunning break by the classy Emiliano Boffelli, who scythed his way through the defence to open the space for the try.

The Jaguares may have stolen the lead, but the Bulls pack were slowly getting the upper hand, and the rest of the team grew in confidence.

And it was Pollard who saw some extra space to take the outside break on attack and send the simplest of passes out wide for Ulengo to canter in for the try.

But the moment that gave the Bulls some breathing space came in the 60th minute when Marco van Staden collected the ball at the back of the lineout, shook off replacement scrumhalf Martin Landajo like a rag doll and busted his way upfield for a crucial score.

Television replays were scrutinised to the finest detail, but no fault could have been found as the Bulls for the first time looked a lot more comfortable than their opposition.

Ulengo, who earlier this season received miracle treatment from a clinic in Sweden to get him back on the field, cantered in for his second try to secure the win, and leave the Jaguares gasping for air.

Pablo Matera scored a late try for a possible chance at securing a crucial bonus point, but Boffelli’s conversion hit the posts, denying them even that.

It may not have been pretty, but the Bulls gave their fans something to be happy about after their poor performance in Singapore a week earlier.

And they did the Sharks and Lions a massive favour in the process.

SCORERS

Vodacom Bulls – tries: Johnny Kotze, Embrose Papier, Jesse Kriel, Jamba Ulengo (2), Marco van Staden. Conversions: Handre Pollard (5). Penalty: Pollard.

Jaguares – tries: Nicolas Sanchez, Pablo Matera (2), Gonzalo Bertranou (2). Conversions: Sanchez (3). Penalty: Emiliano Boffelli.

Report by Brenden Nel, SuperSport.com

VODACOM BULLS NAME UNCHANGED RUN-ON SIDE FOR JAGUARES CLASH

Vodacom Bulls coach, John Mitchell named an unchanged run-on team to face the Jaguares at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday in what will be the last home match for his team in this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby competition.

The same starting side that lost to a late score against the Sunwolves in Singapore last weekend will thus get a chance to redeem themselves.

Mitchell made some changes to the bench though, with the most prominent the inclusion of Springbok scrumhalf, Ivan van Zyl, in place of Andre Warner.

“We are determined to close out the season at home with a solid performance,” Mitchell said.

“We have grown as a team and our supporters started believing again, and we would like to reward that trust in us. In the end, the season did not quite finish the way we wanted, but I am happy that we took some important steps in the right direction. We will reap the benefits of that in future.”

The team will again be captained by Handré Pollard. “We only need to look at the log to see how tough the Jaguares will be. They are playing some exceptional rugby at the moment. That said, they are coming into our backyard and we need to show who is boss in our house. We owe the Loftus faithful a good show.”

The team (with Vodacom Super Rugby caps and points) is:

Warrick Gelant (32, 60), Jamba Ulengo (21, 35), Jesse Kriel (59, 65), Johnny Kotze (33, 35), Divan Rossouw (12, 15), Handré Pollard (c; 45, 424), Embrose Papier (7, 0), Hanro Liebenberg (26, 15), Jannes Kirsten (16,10), Marco van Staden (14, 5), RG Snyman (37, 10), Jason Jenkins (40, 35), Conraad van Vuuren (15, 5), Jaco Visagie (33, 0) Pierre Schoeman (33, 15). Replacements: Edgar Marutlulle (31, 20), Simphiwe Matanzima (0, 0)/Matthys Basson (1, 0), Mornay Smit (1, 0), Thembelani Bholi (28, 5), Nick de Jager (27,20), Ivan van Zyl (15, 0),  Manie Libbok (8, 6), Dries Swanepoel (10, 10).

VODACOM SUPER RUGBY – ROUND 17

The Vodacom Bulls travel to hot and humid Singapore to face a defiant Sunwolves outfit at the National Stadium. There is still a mathematical chance that the men from Pretoria can make the knockout stages of the competition with Handrè Pollard and his charges ready to do what needs to be done in Asia to ensure that they put themselves in contention to secure valuable log points against the Sunwolves.

The Sunwolves will have their tails up as they prepare for their match against the Vodacom Bulls after winning their last fixture against their South African counterparts. However, in total, the Sunwolves have lost three of the four matches that have been contested between the two teams.

Pollard to lead Vodacom Bulls against Sunwolves in Singapore

The Vodacom Bulls will travel to the Singapore National Stadium for their Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Sunwolves with a number of new faces as well as a new captain in flyhalf Handre Pollard this weekend.

 

The playmaker takes over from regular captain, Burger Odendaal, who was not considered due to injury, in a side that welcomes back a number of players who saw little action this year. Jamba Ulengo is back at wing, Hanro Liebenberg at no8 and Jannes Kirsten makes a first appearance this season on the side of the scrum.

 

Ulengo and Kirsten have not played at all in this year’s tournament and Liebenberg’s last action was on 14 April against the Cell C Sharks.

 

The midfield combination, where Johnny Kotze will partner Jesse Kriel in Odendaal’s absence, is new as well, while Pollard will have Embrose Papier on his inside. Papier last started on 23 March against the Crusaders.

 

Edgar Marutlulle, Simpiwe Matanzima and Morne Smith will all make first appearances for the season as well, with the latter two also debuting in the competition and Vodacom Bulls colours.

 

“It is great to be back playing in the tournament again. We had a good break, but also had some time together to sort out elements in our play that lacked consistency,” feels Vodacom Bulls coach, John Mitchell.

 

“The Sunwolves are always dangerous, especially on home turf and we will have to be very principled in our approach and execution if we want to stay in the contest,” Mitchell said.

 

Pollard said they need to find their momentum and rhythm as soon as possible. “We have not played together as a team for a while, but that should not be a problem for us. We know each other pretty well by now and even the guys coming back after injury have played in the tournament before. It will be a challenge, as the Sunwolves have shown their competitiveness in the competition, but ultimately the onus will be on us and how badly we want the win. There is still an outside chance, so we cannot afford any mistakes.”

Kick-off is at 13h35 SA time.

 

The Vodacom Bulls team to face the Sunwolves (with Vodacom Super Rugby caps and points) is: Warrick Gelant (31, 60), Jamba Ulengo (20, 35), Jesse Kriel (58, 55), Johnny Kotze (32, 35), Divan Rossouw (11, 15), Handre Pollard (c; 44, 402), Embrose Papier (6, 0), Hanro Liebenberg (25, 15), Jannes Kirsten 915, 10), Marco van Staden (13, 5), RG Snyman (36, 10), Jason Jenkins (39, 35), Conraad van Vuuren (14, 0), Jaco Visagie (33, 5), Pierre Schoeman (32, 15).

 

Replacements: Edgar Marutlulle (30, 20), Simphiwe Matanzima, Morne Smith (0, 0), Thembelani Bholi (27, 5), Nic de Jager (26, 20), Andre Warner (12, 15), Manie Libbok (8, 6), Dries Swanepoel (9, 10),

 

Non-playing replacements: Adriaan Strauss (156, 95), Lian du Toit (0, 0).

VAN GRAAN CONTRACT ENDS JANUARY 2019

The Blue Bulls Company would like to confirm that the contract of CEO Barend van Graan will be coming to an end at the end of January 2019.

Van Graan, an absolute asset to the brand, was requested by the board to stay on even after he had reached retirement age in 2015. He was then appointed on a four-year contract, taking his overall tenure with the brand up to 35 years.

President of the BBRU Willem Strauss heaped praise on what Van Graan had achieved with the brand: “Barend is not only the leader of the Blue Bulls Company but also a mentor to his management, staff and players. He has embedded a proud culture and heritage, and there is no doubt that his legacy will still inspire us as we move forward.”

“Even though it will be sad to see him go, we respect his decision to step back and allow new blood to come in and take over the reins. We would like to sincerely wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”

More details regarding the process for filling his role will be made in due course. Van Graan will however play a role in the handover process and in making sure his replacement is well settled.

The Blue Bulls Company will do a more fitting tribute closer to the time of his departure.

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.