This article is written by a worried Bulls supporter. The heading could just as well read “Wake up Frans Ludeke” or “Frans fall on your sword please and save us this embarrassment”.
At this stage the Bulls season is far from over, in fact we are still very much in the hunt for a fourth title. But most Bull supporters can see a train smash coming. We don’t like what we see. Were we lulled by the Union to stand by the team, sing songs and to shut up and believe in something we see as a disaster in the making?
Remember when the Bulls supporters were so united in 2006 we saw results the next year. Yes we had to call in the Old boys to help out and here one man’s voice really got things started. Oom Frik du Preez we might need your help again.
Right HERE on Rugby-Talk we have Bulls supporters and other rugby lovers who are questioning the Bulls tactics, game plan and team selections almost every day. Even the use of our bench is not regarded as clever. Without getting personal Frans Ludeke and Victor Matfield’s ability to conjure up their own game plan is seriously questioned. They are accused of playing the same game plan for the last 5 years. Everyone in the Rugby World has raised eyebrows about this stubborn attitude. Do they really believe we have the right recipe?
On the official Blue Bulls site the bloggers know that Barend van Graan and Frans Ludeke is reading the comments and they are not holding back with advice, criticism and questions. One thing about Bulls supporters, they do want results, they want answers.
Some of the comments on http://www.thebulls.co.za/article.aspx?artid=1859644 will show you the deep concern the Bulls supporters have. One of our regular bloggers here, BDB known as bendiebul there, can fill in some of his gems here. BDB you have passion and yes your opinion is noted, I hope some of it ise read by the Bulls coaching staff.
Legitimate questions are asked in the press and by rugby lovers.
Why do they need the fulltime siren to bring them to their senses?
With a minute left in their final Super Rugby overseas tour fixture, the Bulls had a golden opportunity to gratefully bank the stalemate after the siren had sounded and with them in possession.
Why such last-ditch “enterprise” when the whole game-plan by the men from Pretoria had previously so heavily revolved around their favoured conservative, strategic kicking game?
Here are some bits from other concerned Rugby sites about the Bulls game plan.
Some 33 kicks out of hand is not moderation, nor is doing that type of thing every week. Everyone knows exactly what to expect, and even the teams you foolishly believe can’t adapt to these bombardments have had the time to do just that.
And here’s the proof: out of those 33 kicks we saw on Saturday only six found touch and only one was re-gathered. Everything else was simply you giving the ball away. If it’s percentage rugby you’re after with that game plan, then someone is lying to you about the numbers: 23% is a dismal fail.
The game has moved on and so should you, no matter how fond your memories are of years gone by.
One moment summed up their mind-set perfectly. Jan Serfontein took a tap penalty from deep and made 20 metres up-field. The ball was set up quickly and when it came out the Bulls had a four on three overlap. You couldn’t ask for a better platform, but instead of them using it to attack, we had to watch Morné Steyn give us another one of those 26 aimless kicks.
The sad thing is that the Bulls look a real threat when they use their hands to give the ball air. On Saturday they scored two brilliant tries when – on a mere handful of occasions – they did try to spread the ball.
Here one must remember that I linked this to the selected game plan, sometimes the best player won’t necessarily be the right one for the game plan the coach has in mind (think Elton Jantjies in the Stormers team).
Experience is vital at this level, but if you rely on it too much you may just end up holding yourself back. In Arno Botha, Jan Serfontein and Handré Pollard, the Bulls have three youngsters that very few would argue will not go on to play for the Springboks. Yet one is warming the bench, the other only got a proper run in the last match on tour and the most talked-about one is back in Pretoria playing Varsity Cup.
Bulls play second fiddle at the scrums, where they are frequently penalised and struggle even to secure the ball off their own feed.
The Brumbies forwards surprisingly outmuscled the bigger Bulls pack, allowing their team to make better use of the field position. Is this really a surprize this year?
The fact is the Bulls are outplayed in their strength departments, their scrums, their mauling and are matched in their lineout fortress most of the time.
Rugby Stats can be misleading and can be interpreted in a way to suit your own agenda so although I can bring up a lot, let’s just stay with trend setting stats.
Funny enough we might not be kicking the most, others are using the same tactics, even against us, but if you look who is topping the logs it’s no surprise to find Morné Steyn right on top with Most Kicks, well clear of Pat Lambie in second place. Add to the teams Kicking stats the names of Jano Vermaak (also in the top 15 kickers) and Louis Fouché and any argument of who is kicking the most possession away is a no contest.
There has been much said of the Bulls’ kicking game plan but on Saturday they faced a Brumbies side which employed a virtual carbon copy of their game plan – and executed it a lot better. And this will not be the last team doing it to the Bulls, other coaches are trying more daring things.
Conservative Game Plan
The Bulls coaching staff believe they found the Holy Grail with this conservative, stubborn game plan.
Bulls have played 200 Super Rugby games, winning 48%.
The last 2 years we lost 6 and 7 games and many of them due to this game plan.
We need a new plan.