Matfield returns at lock and captain for Vodacom Bulls

Rugby - 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby - Bulls v Hurricanes - Loftus Versfeld


The most capped South African Vodacom Super Rugby player ever, Victor Matfield, is back at the helm of the Vodacom Bulls when they take on the Emirates Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Matfield, who last captained the Vodacom Bulls in the opening round of the competition, will return at lock following successful knee surgery that kept him out of action for a month to play in his 145th match, replacing Grant Hattingh who drops to the bench.

Also back in the match XV that shows five changes to the run-on side that took the field at DHL Newlands last weekend, is Jan Serfontein, Arno Botha, Lappies Labuschagne and Trevor Nyakane.
Serfontein is back following a late withdrawal from the DHL Stormers match, whilst Botha, Labuschagne and Nyakane are all promoted off the bench into the starting team.

The Springbok midfielder replaces Burger Odendaal, who drops to the bench in place of Akona Ndungane, whilst Botha swops places with Pierre Spies at the back of the scrum. Nyakane starts in place of Dean Greyling.
Labuschagne replaces Deon Stegmann, who is rested after 10 consecutive starts.
Prop Andrew Beerwinkel could also make his debut as he is named on the bench.

“We are getting into the rhythm to play the type of match we want to play,” Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said when he announced the team in Pretoria on Thursday.
“Our defence structure is good and we are very competitive in every match we play. We need to tweak some aspects of our game though, but I am confident that we are creating a style of play that will make us contenders in the play-off stages of the competition. All said, we need to show up against the Emirates Lions, who have shown their endurance and determination week after week.”

Matfield, who will captain the side for a South African and franchise record 84 times, pointed to the experience of his team.

“We are facing a team who expresses their personality on the field, but we are also a squad that are proud of being the most successful local franchise ever. You are only as good as your last match though and we came up short then. We need a solid performance before we go on tour, so a win is pretty much non-negotiable.”

Vodacom Bulls Fitness Report – presented by Medihelp

Rugby - 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby - Bulls v Stormers - Loftus Versfeld

Springboks back for Bulls

Incumbent Springboks Adriaan Strauss, Jan Serfontein and Handré Pollard is fit again and will be considered for Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Cell C Sharks in Durban.

According to Vodacom Bulls team doctor Org Strauss, all three are ready to travel to the East Coast, along with Lappies Labuschagne, who recovered from his shoulder injury that kept him out of action for the matches against the Crusaders, Lions and Reds.

Strauss was rested against the Reds per SARU agreement, while Serfontein last played against the Force and Pollard against the Crusaders.

A number of players, Jacques-Louis Potgieter (hamstring), Marcel van der Merwe (ankle), Burger Odendaal (contusion), Bjorn Basson (ankle) and Morné Mellett (back spasm) did not train on Monday, but will be back on Tuesday, Strauss confirmed. Akona Ndungane has also recovered from a broken hand.

Victor Matfield (knee, two to three weeks), Travis Ismaiel (ribs, 20 April) and William Small-Smith (foot, 20 April) will return before month’s end.

Pierre Schoeman, Bandise Maku, Carlo Engelbrecht, Werner Kruger, Duncan Matthews, Ruan Steenkamp and Ryan Nell are all still on the long-term injury list.

New starting props for Vodacom Bulls

Rugby - 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby - Bulls v Sharks - Loftus Versfeld Stadium

Marcel van der Merwe and Dean Greyling will earn first starts in the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby competition as Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made three changes to his pack that will face the Western Force at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Van der Merwe and Greyling, who both made late starts to the competition due to injury, will swop places with Trevor Nyakane and Mornè Mellett respectively. In other swop, Grant Hattingh will earn his first start of the season and Victor Matfield will move to the bench.

The bench also have two new faces this week, with Arno Botha returning and Jaco Visagie replacing the injured Callie Visagie. Should he take to the field, Visagie will make his Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Super Rugby debut.

Botha, who was injured in the season’s opener against the DHL Stormers, is fit again and replaces Hanro Liebenberg.

Ludeke left his backs unchanged.

“We are good to go after a week’s rest and determined to maintain the momentum the last two wins have created,” Ludeke said. “We have made some changes to the pack, but its part of the rotational policy. All three players deserve a start. We are also happy to see Arno back in full force.”

Vodacom Bulls captain, Pierre Spies, warned that the Force cannot be underestimated, given the closeness of results between the teams in the past.

“We always seem to be in tight matches against each other. The trick for us will be to play the big moments better and to execute whenever we create scoring opportunities.”

The team (with Super Rugby caps) is: Jesse Kriel (5), Francois Hougaard (76), JJ Engelbrecht (53), Jan Serfontein (32), Bjorn Basson (75), Handrè Pollard (17), Rudy Paige (11), Pierre Spies (c, 107), Lappies Labuschagne (31), Deon Stegmann (83), Grant Hattingh (38), Jacques du Plessis (19), Marcel van der Merwe (21), Adriaan Strauss (109), Dean Greyling (57).Replacements: Jaco Visagie (0), Mornè Mellett (28), Trevor Nyakane (46), Victor Matfield (142), Arno Botha (23), Piet van Zyl (47), Tian Schoeman (1), Jurgen Visser (27).


  • There are three centurions in the match day squad. Victor Matfield 142 (Bulls 134 & Cats 8); Adriaan Strauss 109 (Cheetahs 97, Bulls 12) and Pierre Spies 107 (all Bulls)
  • Coach Frans Ludeke will extend his Vodacom Super Rugby as most experienced coach ever – He has coached the Vodacom Bulls in 113 matches and the Cats in 24 for a tally of 137.
  • Victor Matfield will extend his SA record as most capped Super Rugby player to 143 and his Vodacom Bulls record to 135. It also is his 16th season of Vodacom Super Rugby, a record he shares with Tony Brown and Tana Umaga.

Opta Facts

  • In the regular season, the Bulls have won their last 15 at home to Australian sides, last losing in February 2007; however that defeat was inflicted by the Force.
  • The Bulls have the best ruck success rate this year (96%) in the competition.



New loose trio for Vodacom Blue Bulls

Rugby - 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby - Bulls v Stormers - Loftus Versfeld

Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais made changes to his loose trio for Friday’s Vodacom Cup clash against the Golden Lions in Johannesburg.

Marais opted for Chris Massyn to replace the injured Roelof Smit and in a straight swop with the Vodacom Bulls gained Hanro Liebenberg in place of Arno Botha, who was called into Vodacom Super Rugby action.

The undefeated Blue Bulls face another side that is unbeaten and according to Marais, even greater intensity is going to be needed.

“We are playing well, but will have to improve in all areas if we want to beat the Golden Lions on their home turf. That said, I believe we are a competitive team and will give good account of ourselves.”

The Vodacom Blue Bulls team is: Ganfried May, Travis Ismaiel, Marquit September, Warrick Gelant, Jamba Ulengo, Kobus Marais, Ivan van Zyl, Jacques Engelbrecht, Hanro Liebenberg, Chris Massyn, Marvin Orie (c), RG Snyman, Basil Short, Arno van Wyk, Hencus van Wyk. Replacements: Jan-Henning Campher, Du Toit Genis, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Nardus van der Walt, Kefentse Mahlo, Kurt Webster, Jade Stighling.

Match details:

Friday, 20 March

Xerox Golden Lions v Vodacom Blue Bulls

Kick-off: 15h00

Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg

Referee: Quinton Immelman

Vodacom Bulls Fitness Report – presented by Medihelp

Visagie, Ndungane to miss Force clash

Vodacom Bulls hooker Callie Visagie and wing Akona Ndungane has been ruled of out action for this weekend’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Western Force at Loftus Versfeld, it was confirmed on Monday.

Ndungane has in fact been ruled out for a month after he broke his hand, while Visagie will miss the clash against the Perth side due to a chest injury.

Jacques-Louis Potgieter, who missed the last match against the Toyota Cheetahs due to a hamstring strain, will train on Tuesday and should be fit to be considered for the weekend.

Vodacom Blue Bulls flanker Roelof Smit meanwhile injured his ankle against the Leopards XV and will be out of action for between one and two weeks.



AFGRI sponsors Blue Bulls rugby

Vodacom Blue Bulls - AFGRI Jersey Handover

AFGRI, the leading South African agricultural services and diversified foods group, announced on 29 January 2014 their active participation in the sponsorship of Blue Bulls rugby in South Africa.

Chris Venter, CEO of AFGRI, said at an official Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd press conference today that AFGRI is pleased to be associated with a winning culture.

Blue Bulls CEO Barend van Graan is pleased to welcome AFGRI on board

“I would like to take this opportunity to welcome the AFGRI team to the Vodacom Bulls family. We look forward to working with you both on the field and off as we strive to grow and improve the game on a professional level as well as community development level by creating opportunities for young rugby players.”

AFGRI draws its history in South Africa back 90 years and so too the Blue Bulls are no strangers to transformation, tenacity and a fighting spirit. The Blue Bulls hold no less than 23 ABSA Currie Cup titles in South Africa and three titles in the Super Rugby competition which has been in place since 1996. This approach to winning appeals to AFGRI since the sponsorship will also contribute towards sport, player and community development some of AFGRI’s areas of operation.