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Blue Bulls Men crowned SARU Interprovincial Sevens Champions

The Blue Bulls men’s and women’s teams on Saturday showed their class at the SARU Interprovincial Sevens at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit as they took top honours to round off a fantastic weekend for the Pretoria union.

The Blue Bulls men defeated Western Province 38 / 29 and the women pipped Western Province 24 / 22 in their respective Cup Finals in what was a thrilling tournament.

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ABSA Currie CupWith just 2 knockout Rounds left until the 2015 ABSA Currie Cup champions are crowned this year, the 4 remaining teams in the country’s oldest and most prestigious domestic rugby competition have it all to play for in the 2 Semifinals this weekend.

DHL Western Province, the 2014 champions, travel to Pretoria for their clash on Friday evening against the Vodacom Blue Bulls. The Blue Bulls, who finished 2nd on the Log, will host their 1st ABSA Currie Cup Semifinal since 2008, with the match starting at 19:00 SA Time (17:00 GMT).

The in-form Xerox Golden Lions, meanwhile, have so far swept aside every challenge before them this season and they are currently on a 10-match unbeaten run in the competition. They are playing in the 2nd Semifinal at home in Johannesburg at Emirates Airline Park against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs. This Saturday fixture kick-off is at 13:45 SA Time (11:45 GMT).

The clash in Pretoria will mark the 3rd time that the 2 great North vs South rivals meet this season, and they currently share the spoils between them with a home victory each. Last year, the Cape side defeated their rivals 31 / 23 in the Semifinal at Newlands.

Western Province eventually went on to lift the coveted ABSA Currie Cup trophy in front of their home crowd, after former coach Allister Coetzee’s charges edged the Golden Lions 19 / 16 in the 2014 final.

The Xerox Golden Lions scored a runaway 73 / 31 victory over the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in their round-robin meeting last month in Bloemfontein and they should be fresh and rejuvenated after fielding a new-look side for last weekend’s last league fixture against the ORC Griquas.

However, the Free State Cheetahs will approach the meeting with the Golden Lions knowing that previous form will count for nothing in the knockout phase. They managed to escape defeat against the Cell C Sharks last Saturday thanks to a gritty fightback in Bloemfontein and this week they will have to show that fighting spirit from the start against the team that have so far have thrived on their high-tempo, fast attacking style of play.

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Jacques du Plessis

Jacques du Plessis

Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais named Jacques du Plessis at lock for Friday night’s Absa Currie Cup semifinal match against DHL Western Province at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

Du Plessis was a late withdrawal to the team that out-edged Steval Pumas 25-24 in Nelspruit last weekend, but is ready to take his regular number four spot in the team.

RG Snyman, who replaced Du Plessis for the Pumas match, moves back to the bench for his regular role as impact player, but his replacement in Nelspruit, Jason Jenkins, retains his spot on the bench.

Jenkins will take over from Ruan Steenkamp as the fourth loose forward as Marais opted for more bulk and size coming from the bench.

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ABSA Currie CupThe South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Monday confirmed the kick-off times and match officials for the semi-finals of the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division and the various junior competition playoff fixtures.

The Vodacom Blue Bulls host the DHL Western Province this coming Friday at Loftus Versfeld and the starting time for the 1st Premier Division Semi-final in Pretoria is 19:00 SA Time (17:00 GMT).

On Saturday, the Xerox Golden Lions host the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in the 2nd playoff match at the Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg. Kick-off time is 13:45 SA Time (11:45 GMT).

Referee Marius van der Westhuizen will take charge of the Pretoria encounter while Jaco van Heerden will referee the Johannesburg match.

Both ABSA Currie Cup Semi-finals clashes will be televised live on SuperSport 1.

The 2 ABSA Under 19 A-Division playoff matches are scheduled for this coming Friday, while the 2 playoff matches in the ABSA Under 21 A-Division are scheduled for Saturday.

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ABSA Currie CupThe Toyota Free State Cheetahs clinched a dramatic 34 / 34 draw on Saturday against the Cell C Sharks in Bloemfontein to finish 4th on the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division Log, and in doing so, they booked themselves a Semifinal clash against the Xerox Golden Lions next weekend in Johannesburg.

The Free State Cheetahs scored 2 converted tries in the in last 5 minutes at the Free State Stadium, while replacement fullback Neil Marais slotted the vital conversion after the final hooter to draw the 2 teams level in Bloemfontein and at the same time shatter the Cell C Sharks’ playoff hopes. The Free State Cheetahs finished 2 points above the Cel C Sharks on the final Log with 24 points.

The Vodacom Blue Bulls finished 2nd on the Log after they edged the Steval Pumas 25 / 24 in Nelspruit on Friday and they now meet 3rd-placed DHL Western Province in Pretoria in the playoffs. The Blue Bulls versus WP clash is set for this coming Friday evening at Loftus Versfeld.

In Cape Town, DHL Western Province finished their league commitments with a bonus-point 45 / 14 win over the Eastern Province Kings. Runaway Log leaders, the Xerox Golden Lions, completed the round-robin phase unbeaten with 10 wins after their much changed side defeated the ORC Griquas 29 / 19 in Johannesburg.

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Steval PumasVodacom Blue BullsSteval Pumas (7) 24 / 25 (13) Blue Bulls (Final Score)

The Steval Pumas and Vodacom Blue Bulls did battle in the ABSA Currie Cup at

Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit at 18:00 SA Time (16:00 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.


(We have given score updates of the DHL Western Province vs EP Kings clash, which took place at the same time!)

DHL WP 45 / 14 EP Kings (Final Score)

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ABSA Currie CupThe final Round, Round 10, of league fixtures in the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division takes place this weekend and all eyes will be on the Free State Rugby Stadium in Bloemfontein, where the Toyota Free State Cheetahs and the Cell C Sharks will battle it out for the remaining Semifinal spot.

Unbeaten Log leaders, the Xerox Golden Lions, are already assured of a home Semifinal, while the Vodacom Blue Bulls and DHL Western Province are also through to the Semifinals.

However, with only 2 points separating the Free State Cheetahs and Cell C Sharks on the Log standings, the 2 teams have everything to play for in what is effectively a Quarterfinal in Bloemfontein on Saturday afternoon.

The Free State Cheetahs currently have 21 points and the Cell C Sharks 19, and both teams know that a victory will book a meeting with the competition’s in-form and most prolific team this season, the Golden Lions, in Johannesburg. The losing team, meanwhile, will crash out of the competition.

DHL Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls also have a lot to play for. Both teams are in action on Friday and their respective matches in Cape Town and Nelspruit kick off at the same time at 18:00 SA Time.

The Blue Bulls, 2nd on the Log with 34 points, face the Steval Pumas at the Mbombela Stadium and the Pretoria side knows that a win, even without a bonus point, will be enough to guarantee them a home Semifinal in the capital. Steval Pumas stalwart Marius Coetzer will deservedly earn his 100th cap when he takes to the field from the bench, while skipper Stefan Watermeyer will earn his 50th cap.

Western Province, in turn, face an injury-hit EP Kings side at DHL Newlands and the Capetonians will run out knowing that a bonus-point win is a must if they want to keep alive their slim hope of hosting a playoff match. However, for that to happen they must hope for a Blue Bulls defeat in Nelspruit.

Meanwhile, the free-scoring Golden Lions will round off their league commitments with a home clash against the bottom-of-the-log ORC Griquas in a 16:00 SA Time kick-off at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.

Interestingly, the Nel-brothers, Ruhan of ORC Griquas and Jacques of the Golden Lions, will line up opposite each other, with both playing in the No 13 jersey for their respective teams. Ruhan, a Springbok Sevens international, plays outside centre for Griquas after playing on the wing against the Cell C Sharks last weekend. The brothers played together for the Golden Lions in the Vodacom Cup, but this will be the 1st time they will play against each other.

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Deon Stegmann

Deon Stegmann

Vodacom Blue Bulls openside flanker Deon Stegmann returns to the starting line-up to take on the Steval Pumas in the Mbombela Stadium on Friday.

Stegmann was a late withdrawal from the team that beat the EP Kings at Loftus Versfeld last weekend. That prompted the call-up of Clyde Davids to the bench and Jacques du Plessis moving to the flank, but with Stegmann fit again, it is back to the regular starting pack for the match in Nelspruit.

Du Plessis and Marvin Orie will start at lock, with RG Snyman dropping back to the bench in place of Davids.

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ABSA Currie CupThe Xerox Golden Lions produced their most impressive display of the season when they demolished DHL Western Province 62 / 32 in their ABSA Currie Cup match at Emirates Airline Park on Friday evening in Johannesburg.

The Golden Lions stretched their unbeaten run to 9 games and their prolific form saw them stack up 135 points in their last 2 games. They are 9 Log Points clear of 2nd-placed Vodacom Blue Bulls, who outplayed the Eastern Province Kings by 48 / 27 also on Friday evening in Pretoria.

Although WP suffered their 3rd loss of their campaign against a rampant Golden Lions team, their 30 Log points means they are assured of 3rd place on the standings, irrespective of the outcome of their last Round clash this coming Friday against the EP Kings in Cape Town.

ORC Griquas were no match for the Cell C Sharks in Kimberley on Saturday as the Durban-based side ran in 6 tries for a 45 / 20 victory to move within 2 points of the 4th-placed Toyota Free State Cheetahs on the Log.

The Steval Pumas and the Toyota Free State Cheetahs played to a thrilling 37 / 37 draw in their encounter at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Saturday after the visitors led 24 / 16 at halftime.

Currently, the Xerox Golden Lions lead the way on 43 Log points, followed by the Vodacom Blue Bulls on 34, DHL Western Province are 3rd on 30, the Toyota Free State Cheetahs 4th on 21, followed by the Cell C Sharks on 19, Steval Pumas on 16, EP Kings on 12 and ORC Griquas are stone last on 8.

This coming weekend sees the Toyota Free State Cheetahs host the Cell C Sharks in Bloemfontein and the winner of this encounter will play the Xerox Golden Lions in 1 of the Semi-finals in Johannesburg. The Vodacom Blue Bulls just need a win in Nelspruit to set up a home meeting in the semi-finals against DHL Western Province.

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Bandise Maku

Bandise Maku

Vodacom Blue Bulls hooker Bandise Maku will play in his 50th ABSA Currie Cup match for his team when they face EP Kings at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.

The former Springbok hooker made his Blue Bulls debut way back in 2006 and after stints with the Xerox Golden Lions and Eastern Province, now reaches this milestone in his 73th career Currie Cup appearance.

Maku started in last weekend’s win over the Cell C Sharks, with coach Nollis Marais changing 1 in the pack that fronted up in Durban. RG Snyman starts at lock in his 1st run-on for the senior side, swopping places with Marvin Orie, who will play off the bench. In another change, Corniel Els is on the bench for Jaco Visagie, with the latter out with an ankle sprain.

At the back, Dries Swanepoel is back at centre, replacing Jan Serfontein who received a Rugby World Cup call-up for the Springboks.

His place on the bench will be filled by William Small-Smith.

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Jack Parow

Jack Parow

One of South Africa’s most loved rugby teams, the Vodacom Blue Bulls, have partnered with Movember and their long-term ambassador Jack Parow this year to help raise awareness and funds for men’s health issues including prostate and testicular cancer, as well as male mental health.

In support of the annual Movember campaign which sees men grow moustaches to raise awareness and funds the team have set up a Blue Bulls network on and are encouraging fans to support them and join their team on the website. To raise funds, the Vodacom Blue Bulls will also be selling raffle tickets in aid of Movember in conjunction with ticket sales for the upcoming ABSA Currie Cup home game at Loftus against Eastern Province Kings on Friday 2 October 2015.

Along with a variety of prizes including a weekend away for 2 at a Tsogo Sun resort, an SAB hamper, an AFGRI hamper and signed Vodacom Blue Bulls merchandise, rapper Jack Parow has donated a bespoke limited edition Parow Pythons Rugby jersey.

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Lappies Labuschagne

Lappies Labuschagne

Lappies Labuschagne will on Friday play in his 50th ABSA Currie Cup match when he leads the Vodacom Blue Bulls on the field in Durban for their clash against the Cell C Sharks.

The flanker reverts back to the side of the scrum due to the wrist injury to Roelof Smit (see below), with Arno Botha, who started on the bench against DHL WP last week, back in the No 8 jersey.

This is the only change to the pack made by Vodacom Blue Bulls coach, Nollis Marais, with 2 rotational switches in the backline made for the Durban clash.

Tian Schoeman and Jan Serfontein will start at flyhalf and centre respectively, switching places with Louis Fouché and Dries Swanepoel, who both move to the bench for this clash.

Ruan Steenkamp is on the bench for Botha, in what could be a Vodacom Blue Bulls and ABSA Currie Cup debut, should the former Junior Springboks captain take to the field.

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ABSA Currie CupThe Trans-Jukskei derby is the highlight of Round 6 and a sneak preview of a possible Currie Cup Final.

The undefeated neighbours, the Vodacom Blue Bulls and the Xerox Golden Lions, have been the standout teams and also the 2 most entertaining sides.

Johan Ackermann’s Golden Lions are leading the standings on 25 Log points – having collected a full-house 5 points in all 5 their outings this season.

The Blue Bulls are a solitary point behind, also winning 5 from 5 but won the last Round’s game without a bonus point.

The weekend’s action starts in Port Elizabeth on Friday where the winless Eastern Province Kings host a vastly-improved Toyota Free State Cheetahs team.

Saturday’s early match will see another winless team, ORC Griquas, host a struggling Steval Pumas outfit in Kimberley. Although the Pumas have 2 wins to their credit, including beating the Cell C Sharks in Round 1, they have struggled to maintain their early momentum.

The 3rd-placed DHL Western Province, who are a full 9 points behind the Golden Lions, face the Cell C Sharks in Durban in Round 6 – both desperate for some consistency in a season where promising victories have been soured by disappointing defeats.

Then, of course, we head to Pretoria for what may well be 1 of the best matches of the season.

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Dean Greyling

Dean Greyling

Jan Serfontein

Jan Serfontein

Jan Serfontein will start at inside centre for the Vodacom Blue Bulls when they take on the Xerox Golden Lions in an ABSA Currie Cup match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Serfontein earns a 1st start in the competition and teams up with Dries Swanepoel in the midfield, swopping places with Burger Odendaal, who moves to the bench.

Prop Dean Greyling is also fit again following a knee strain and he slots back into the starting line-up, replacing Pierre Schoeman, who swings back into Under 21 action. It will be Greyling’s 50th appearance for the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the ABSA Currie Cup competition.

Another player returning is Werner Kruger, who will play off the bench and replaces Dayan van der Westhuizen, with the young prop also moving back to the Vodacom Blue Bulls Under 21’s.

In the 3rd change to the squad that fronted up against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs last weekend, Deon Stegmann returns from a cheekbone injury in place of Jannes Kirsten.

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Nollis Marais

Nollis Marais

The Vodacom Bulls’ search for a replacement for Super Rugby coach Frans Ludeke will start in earnest when the union advertise for the vacant position over the weekend.

Bulls chief executive Barend van Graan announced the latest development after Ludeke stepped down following the team’s final match of the competition in June.

“We will advertise for the Vodacom Bulls coach position for next year and it will be in the media over the weekend,” Van Graan said in Pretoria on Thursday.

“We will then have a process which takes time depending on the amount of applications we receive.”

Van Graan would not reveal whether the Bulls had done any headhunting prior to advertising the position.

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Victor Matfield

Victor Matfield

Springbok lock Victor Matfield will join the Northampton Saints on a 1-year deal at the end of this year’s Rugby World Cup.

Matfield, who at the age of 38 captained the Springboks earlier this year against Australia and Argentina, will join up with the British club for a swansong to end his career after the Springboks conclude their Rugby World Cup commitments.

He has been released from his coaching contract by mutual agreement by the Blue Bulls Company, after requesting a release earlier this week.

South Africa’s most capped Springbok and Rugby World Cup squad member, Matfield, is widely seen as possibly the greatest lock ever to play the game, and has been capped 123 times for the Springboks as he heads into his 4th Rugby World Cup.

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Deon Stegmann

Deon Stegmann

Dean Greyling

Dean Greyling

Springboks Deon Stegmann and Dean Greyling are fit again and will be considered for the Vodacom Blue Bulls’ ABSA Currie Cup match against the Xerox Golden Lions on Saturday.

Stegmann (cheek) missed the last 3 and Greyling (knee) the last match of the team’s campaign.

Utility back and former Springbok Sevens player, Ryan Nell, has also been cleared following a knee operation and will be considered.

Another player returning from injury is Duncan Matthews. The winger had a knee operation earlier in the season and will do selective training this week.

4 Players involved in Saturday’s win over the Toyota Free State Cheetahs, Marvin Orie (chest), Travis Ismail (ribs) and RG Snyman (contusion) will train Tuesday, while Tian Snyman (calf) will only be back on the field Thursday, team doctor Org Strauss confirmed.

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Jan Serfontein

Jan Serfontein

Marcel van der Merwe

Marcel van der Merwe

Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais named Springbok prop Marcel van der Merwe in his starting front-row and added Springbok midfielder Jan Serfontein to his bench for Friday’s ABSA Currie Cup match against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld.

Marais also has Francois Hougaard back in the starting team after the scrumhalf missed last week’s win over the ORC Griquas due to personal reasons. He replaces Ivan van Zyl who moves back to the bench.

Hougaard’s return is the only change in the backline, but Marais made 3 changes in the pack. Van der Merwe comes in for Werner Kruger, who is rested and a fit-again Roelof Smit comes in for Jannes Kirsten at flank, with the latter moving to the bench. In the other change, Dean Greyling will be replaced by Pierre Schoeman. Greyling has a knee strain and with Schoeman fit and ready to go following a long injury lay-off, Marais decided to give Greyling a break.

Under 21 regular Schoeman will make his debut in the competition, but has played for the Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup.

Serfontein comes in for Dan Kriel, who will return to the Under 21 team.

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Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe

Blue Bulls & Springbok lock Flip van der Merwe has been released from his contract at the Vodacom Blue Bulls with immediate effect.

While the Blue Bulls initially decided that Van der Merwe was necessary for their ABSA Currie Cup campaign, his call-up to the Springboks a few weeks ago negated this and they had to find a way to do without him.

The Blue Bulls initially were worried about a lack of experience in the team but their good start to the Currie Cup season, where they are still unbeaten after 4 Rounds has led them to back their youngsters.

When Van der Merwe didn’t make the cut for the Springbok squad to the Rugby World Cup, it was decided to release him from his contract so that he could further his career in France.

Van der Merwe signed with French Top 14 club Clermont Auvergne during this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby season, at the same time as another Bulls lock, Jacques du Plessis, signed with Montpellier.

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William Small-Smith

William Small-Smith

Jan Serfontein

Jan Serfontein

Most coaches wouldn’t see it as a problem, but Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais has a welcome headache this week when he makes his selection for Friday night’s ABSA Currie Cup game against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld.

As 1 of the unluckiest players not to be selected for the Springboks, midfielder Jan Serfontein has returned to Loftus this week to continue in the Currie Cup, and his return coincides with his SA Under 20 midfield partner William Small-Smith also being declared fit from injury.

But it isn’t as if the Blue Bulls are seriously short of midfielders as they continue their unbeaten start to the Currie Cup season either. The current duo of Burger Odendaal and Dries Swanepoel have been exceptional in their play of late and Swanepoel scored twice in the big win over Griquas on the weekend.

So Marais now sits with the headache of how to make 4 go into 3 – with 1 unlucky player likely to lose out on 1 of the 2 starting berths and a place on the bench this weekend when they host the Toyota Free State Cheetahs.

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Vodacom Blue BullsThe Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Monday confirmed that a number of high profile Springboks have extended their contracts with the Blue Bulls Company for the next couple of seasons.

The likes of Handré Pollard (Oct 2019), Adriaan Strauss (Oct 2019), Jesse Kriel (Oct 2019), Trevor Nyakane (Oct 2018) and Jan Serfontein (Oct 2017) all confirmed their futures with the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls, by signing extensions that will keep them in Pretoria for a considerable time.

“This is a clear indication that frontline players see the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls as the ideal place to continue and build their already impressive careers,” says High Performance Manager at the Blue Bulls Comapany, Xander Janse van Rensburg.

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ABSA Currie CupThe Xerox Golden Lions swopped places with the Vodacom Blue Bulls at the Top of the ABSA Currie Cup standings after their comprehensive 41 / 11 win over the Steval Pumas on Friday in Nelspruit, with flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff contributing 21 points with the boot.

The Vodacom Blue Bulls proved too strong for ORC Griquas in their Premier Division clash on Saturday in Kimberley and although they won their match comfortably by 46 / 32, they slipped to 2nd spot on the Log after the completion of Round 4, on points difference.

Elsewhere on Saturday, the Cell C Sharks scored a close-fought 24 / 20 win over the Eastern Province Kings after they overturned a 7 / 13 halftime deficit in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

DHL Western Province, the defending champions, suffered their 2nd successive away loss when the Toyota Free State Cheetahs pipped them by 28 / 21 in Bloemfontein on Friday evening despite a spirited rally in the 2nd half.

After 4 Rounds it is the Golden Lions now leading the Log thanks to their 30-point win in Nelspruit, closely followed by the Blue Bulls. The neighbours both have the maximum 20 points from 4 matches. Western Province and Free State Cheetahs (both 10 points) are 3rd and 4th, with the Sharks 5th and now just 1 point behind them. The Pumas (8 points), EP Kings (3 points) and Griquas (1 point) complete the standings.

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Francois Hougaard

Francois Hougaard

The Vodacom Blue Bulls will be without Francois Hougaard and Hanro Liebenberg this weekend. Livewire Hougaard will miss Saturday’s ABSA Currie Cup clash against ORC Griquas in Kimberley due to personal commitments, as his sister is getting married and he was given permission to miss the clash while Liebenberg is out injured.

Ivan van Zyl will start at scrumhalf in his run-on debut for the Vodacom Blue Bulls, whilst the return of Springbok Arno Botha at No 8 will offset the loss of Liebenberg, who will be out for at least a month.

Botha has just returned from injury and will be part of a new loose trio that will also feature regular captain, Lappies Labuschagne, and new starter, Jannes Kirsten, who debuted for the team last weekend from the bench. Kirsten replaces the injured Roelof Smit in the last of 3 changes to the starting team from last weekend.

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Hanro Liebenberg

Hanro Liebenberg

Vodacom Blue Bulls No 8, Hanro Liebenberg, will miss at least the next 6 weeks of the ABSA Currie Cup due to surgery, but Arno Botha has been cleared to play in the competition this weekend.

Liebenberg left the field late in the 1st half after a heavy tackle that saw him limp off, and there were no signs of the rupture in the scan that the Blue Bulls medical personnel did after the game on Saturday night.

But on Sunday Liebenberg didn’t feel well and headed back to the medical personnel, who rushed him to hospital where he was admitted in a serious condition and diagnosed with a ruptured small intestine and bruised colon from the tackle.

There was widespread fear on Monday that the injury could be career-ending as Liebenberg underwent emergency surgery in Pretoria, but the operation was a success, with a 2nd operation scheduled for Wednesday.

The SA Under 20 captain is set to miss most of the rest of the Currie Cup season because of the injury, and will face a slow road to recovery after the rupture released gas into his body that deteriorated his condition fast.

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Nollis Marais

Nollis Marais

Loftus Versfeld is slowly filling up on match days again and it is because spectators are getting “value for money”.

The spectators were conspicuous in their absence at the end of yet another failed Super Rugby season, but this past weekend more than 27 000 people turned up to watch the Vodacom Blue Bulls produce a 5-try demolition of arch-rivals DHL Western Province.

Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais, speaking after his team’s 47 / 29 win over WP, said one of his biggest concerns since he accepted the Currie Cup job, was the empty stadium.

“The main thing is there were 27 000 people and we said we wanted to play for people,” Marais said, adding: “We want to give them value for money and we did that.”

The Blue Bulls have been through a few lean years – failing to make a real impact in both Super Rugby at the Currie Cup competition.

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ABSA Currie CupThe Vodacom Blue Bulls turned in a fantastic 2nd-half performance to hand defending ABSA Currie Cup champions, the DHL Western Province, their 1st defeat of the season in a pulsating 47 / 29 win at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The thrilling win was a perfect gift for veteran prop Werner Kruger, who played in his 100th ABSA Currie Cup match for the Blue Bulls.

It was the 1st time since 2012 that the Blue Bulls ran out winners in the traditional North versus South encounter.

Thanks to their outstanding display the Blue Bulls consolidated their Top spot on the Premier Division standings and they now have 15 points from 3 matches, which all were all clinched with convincing bonus-point victories.

The new generation of Blue Bulls were superbly led by 2014 Junior Springbok fullback Warrick Gelant and veteran scrumhalf Francois Hougaard and they were also the only outfit to register a home win this weekend.

Gelant, also a Springbok Sevens international, displayed his wonderful assortment of attacking skills and was deservedly awarded the ABSA Man of the Match award.

The Xerox Golden Lions held off a determined challenge from the Cell C Sharks on their way to a 31 / 16 (halftime 7 / 6) win at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban on Saturday. The Sharks led by a single point after 61 minutes but the Golden Lions ensured that they remain unbeaten by turning in a strong final quarter as they ran in 3 tries to hand the Sharks their 2nd loss in 3 games.

On Friday night in Kimberley, the Toyota Free State Cheetahs, spearheaded by pivot Fred Zeilinga, notched their 1st win of the campaign when they outplayed the ORC Griquas 31 / 9 (halftime 10 / 9).

Flyhalf JC Roos kicked 5 penalties as the Steval Pumas edged the Eastern Province Kings 15 / 13 after leading 6 / 3 in the other Friday evening clash in Port Elizabeth.

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ABSA Currie Cup2 Of the tournament’s pace-setters are going head-to-head on Saturday. But it is no ordinary match. It is the BIG north-south derby – the Vodacom Blue Bulls hosting DHL Western Province in the feature match of the weekend, when they meet in Pretoria on Saturday.

They are 2 of only 3 remaining unbeaten sides.

However, before we get there we have 2 Friday games – which will feature 3 teams still seeking their 1st win.

The winless Eastern Province Kings host an ambitious Steval Pumas team in Port Elizabeth, while the central unions partners (and rivals) ORC Griquas and Toyota Free State Cheetahs will meet in Kimberley.

Griquas and Cheetahs are also both still winless.

The Cell C Sharks, fresh from their 1st win of the season, host the high-flying Xerox Golden Lions in Saturday’s early match before we get to the BIG derby at Loftus Versfeld.

The Vodacom Blue Bulls are currently sitting at Top of the standings – as a result of their greater points difference over their Gauteng neighbours, the Xerox Golden Lions – with both on a full-house 10 Log points.

DHL Western Province are 1 Log point further back (9) in 3rd place.

The Cell C Sharks (5 points), Steval Pumas (4), Toyota Free State Cheetahs (1), EP Kings (1) and ORC Griquas (1) trail behind the pace-setters.

We look at all the Round 3 matches!

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Werner Kruger

Werner Kruger

Vodacom Blue Bulls prop Werner Kruger will on Saturday become the 1st player at the union to play 100 matches for both the Vodacom Bulls (Vodacom Super Rugby) and Vodacom Blue Bulls (ABSA Currie Cup). Kruger played his 100th match for theVodacom Bulls in April 2014 and will become an ABSA Currie Cup centurion for the Vodacom Blue Bulls when the side take on DHL Western Province this weekend.

Kruger made his Vodacom Blue Bulls debut in 2007 as a replacement against the Golden Lions and has since been one of the most consistent performers the Loftus Versfeld faithful have seen.

Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais named Kruger in the side which shows 3 changes to the one that beat the ORC Griquas a week ago. William Small-Smith and Deon Stegmann have been ruled out due to injury and will be replaced by Dries Swanepoel and Roelof Smit respectively.

Marais also decided to start with Bandise Maku at hooker, with Jaco Visagie swopping roles with the former Springbok and reverting to the bench.

Dan Kriel will move onto the bench in place of Swanepoel.

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DHL WPVodacom Blue BullsHas the world gone mad? The Vodacom Blue Bulls will be playing an expansive game and DHL Western Province will kick for territory.

That is what is on the cards when South Africa’s biggest derby, the north-south Currie Cup showdown between the Blue Bulls and WP, take place at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Province have made it clear they want to build ‘scoreboard pressure’, building up a healthy lead before looking for tries and bonus points.

One gets the feeling the WP brains trust believe the Blue Bulls can’t chase a game once they are behind.

Both WP coach John Dobson and new captain Nizaam Carr said they will not be lured into a helter-skelter contest and will back their structures to wear the Blue Bulls down.

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Rugby-Talk RWC 2015

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