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Blue Bulls

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DHL WPWestern Province will never disrespect or underestimate any Blue Bulls team, no matter how much their rivals from the north are struggling.

The table-topping WP outfit travel to Pretoria on Saturday for the biggest domestic derby, when they face a Bulls team fresh off their first win of the season.

After having suffer heavy defeats in back-to-back outings in the opening rounds, the Bulls showed some improvement in their 30-25 win over the Eastern Province Kings last week.

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DHL WPCentre Michael van der Spuy is the only injury worry for Western Province coach Allister Coetzee, ahead of Saturday’s away meeting against the Blue Bulls in Pretoria.

Van der Spuy has a tight hamstring, following the weekend’s 27-14 win over the Golden Lions, and did not train on Monday.

Should Van der Spuy be ruled out of action, Jaco Taute (on the bench last week) and Pat Howard (who came off the bench in Round One) would come into the selection equation an centre.

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Kobus van Wyk

WP flyer, Kobus van Wyk

Surprise, surprise… there are the Sharks and Western Province, back dominating Currie Cup rugby.

Many changes could still happen, of course, given that the 2014 competition is not quite a third of the way through the pre-knockout phase, but it is interesting nevertheless that the two coastal powers have already seized just a hint of a grip.

It will only increase speculation that the pair may be set for a third successive meeting in the final this year, something that has not happened since the Blue Bulls and Cheetahs met in each of the 2004, 2005 and 2006 showpieces.

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Frans Ludeke

Frans Ludeke

It may have been a close shave but Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke believes their nervous 30-25 victory over the Eastern Province Kings in Pretoria on Saturday was the perfect remedy to their woes.

The Light Blues turned in an unconvincing performance as they came up against a tenacious Kings side that nearly tasted a rare victory at Loftus Versfeld.

Ludeke admitted that the result could easily have favoured the visitors but it was a victory they would take nevertheless.

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Cell C SharksA long-range penalty by Fred Zeilinga four minutes from time helped the Sharks snatch a last-ditch 19-16 victory over the Free State Cheetahs in their Currie Cup clash at Kings Park on Saturday night.

The home flyhalf kicked 14 points in total, with the other five coming through a late try by Tonderai Chavhanga.

However, the visitors will rue what might have been after leading the game for most of the evening thanks to a brilliant Clayton Blommetjies’ try and the boot of Willie du Plessis.

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Vodacom Blue BullsInjuries, rotational policy and the availability of players from suspension all played a role in Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke’s decision to make seven changes to his starting team to face the EP Kings at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

This will be the Vodacom Blue Bulls first home match in the Absa Currie Cup following two away defeats against the Golden Lions and Western Province.

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MacGyverIn the 1980′s people sat spellbound in front of their television screens watching a show called MacGyver. Every week the hero would somehow find himself in a predicament and escape using sparse items in the process.

It would seem as if Blue Bulls loosehead prop MacGyver Dean Greyling has lived up to his name this week after he was suspended for only one week when he was found guilty of foul play in the Currie Cup match between the Blue Bulls and the Golden Lions on Saturday 9 August in Johannesburg.

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WP jou lekker dingIt was a case of mission accomplished for DHL Western Province on Saturday, as they picked up an impressive 41-17 Absa Currie Cup win over the Vodacom Blue Bulls – their second successive bonus-point victory of 2014.

“It’s a good start for us at home – it’s mission accomplished,” DHL Western Province coach Allister Coetzee told www.wprugby.com at DHL Newlands on Saturday night.

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R.I.P. BloubulleA dispute between the Blue Bulls Rugby Union’s top brass and its ex-players union is threatening to escalate.

According to reports, there is dissatisfaction among the ex-players about the union’s plans to “write the ex-players union out of the union’s constitution”.

Former Springbok and Bulls captain Wynand Claassen is the chairperson of the ex-players union.

The Blue Bulls Rugby Union is set to approve the new constitution which would see the ex-players union have no say whatsoever on the union’s executive committee.

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Currie CupThis past weekend saw Round 2 of the ABSA Currie Cup of 2014.

As usual 4 games were played, with the Cell C Sharks beating Steal Pumas 34 / 17, DHL Western Province demolishing the Vodacom Blue Bulls by 41 / 17, Xerox Goldenlions hammering EP Kings by 60 / 19 and the Toyota Free State Cheetahs beating GWK Griquas 34 / 27.

 

WP demolish Blue Bulls

DHL Western Province scored three tries either side of halftime as they demolished the Vodacom Blue Bulls 41-17 (halftime 19-6) in a scintillating Absa Currie Cup encounter at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.

Province ran in six tries through Pat Cilliers, Michael Rhodes, Nizaam Carr, Juan de Jongh and a brace from Seabelo Senatla while replacement hooker Bongi Mbonambi nabbed one for the visitors.

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Scarra Ntubeni

Scarra Ntubeni

DHL Western Province has been rocked by the loss of hooker Scarra Ntubeni ahead of their first home Absa Currie Cup match of the season against the Vodacom Blue Bulls on Saturday.

Ntubeni was set to replace Tiaan Liebenberg, who is out with a back injury, in the team that beat the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth last week. However, according to coach Allister Coetzee, Ntubeni injured a calf in training and has been forced to withdraw from the team at the 11th hour.

“Unfortunately Scarra picked up a calf injury at training on Tuesday and it has subsequently been confirmed that he will be out for a minimum of 14 days,” said Coetzee.

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Frans Ludeke

Coach under siege: Frans Ludeke

Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke named fit-again flank Jacques du Plessis in his starting line-up to face DHL Western Province at DHL Newlands on Saturday.

This round two match in the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division will see two new faces in the Blue Bulls starting pack that lost their season opener against the Xerox Golden Lions in Johannesburg last weekend.

Du Plessis comes in at flank after recovering from a broken jaw sustained in a pre-season match, with Jono Ross moving to no 8 and replacing Jacques Engelbrecht, who moves to the bench with Wiaan Liebenberg dropping out of the match 22.

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Panic StationThe Vodacom Blue Bulls are already in crisis mode – and it’s only the first round of the Absa Currie Cup season.

Coach Frans Ludeke called in the players to Loftus Versfeld on Sunday night for an emergency meeting – following their humiliating 41-13 opening loss to the Xerox Golden Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday – where players were read the riot act.

Following a disappointing Vodacom Super Rugby season, and this start to a much-vaunted Currie Cup campaign, the players were told to either shape up or ship out as Ludeke vented his anger after the loss.

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Jacques Du Plessis

Jacques Du Plessis

Blue Bulls loose forward Jacques du Plessis has recovered from his broken jaw and will be available for selection for the remainder of the Currie Cup.

Du Plessis trained on Monday, as a small numbers of players sat out with minor ailments.

Sampie Mastriet (hip contusion) and JJ Engelbrecht (rib contusion) will again train on Tuesday, but prop Dean Greyling will have to pass a fitness test on Thursday is he is to play against Western Province on Saturday in Cape Town.

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WP RugbyTiaan Liebenberg’s back problem has flared up again but that blow to DHL Western Province’s build-up to Saturday’s north/south Absa Currie Cup showdown with the Vodacom Blue Bulls has been offset by the news that as many as six top players will be returning to action this week.

Scarra Ntubeni is among those that will be assessed on Monday, and he will be an obvious replacement for Liebenberg at hooker should he be declared fit. Liebenberg is to undergo a scan to assess the severity of his injury but he will definitely miss the Bulls game.

The other players coming back into the system are Rynhardt Elstadt, who has been out since the early stages of Super Rugby, Brok Harris, Kurt Coleman, Jaco Taute and Ruan Botha. The latter should come in at No 5 lock, with Manuel Carizza moving to the front of the lineout as Eben Etzebeth will be the with the Boks this week.

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Marnitz Boshoff

Marnitz Boshoff

The Golden Lions’ comprehensive 41-13 defeat of the Blue Bulls at Ellis Park on Saturday could prove costly after star flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff left the field with an arm injury.

“We are a bit concerned but we don’t want to jump to conclusions before he’s had his scans,” Lions coach Johan Ackermann said after the match.

“Jaco van der Walt (replacement) is a talented player but obviously Marnitz is also a match winner and it will be a big loss if he is out.”

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Golden LionsThe Xerox Golden Lions will run out in navy blue jerseys as they kick-off their Absa Currie Cup campaign against the Vodacom Blue Bulls at Ellis Park on Saturday.

The match, which will mark the Golden Lions Rugby Union’s 125th anniversary, will see the Xerox Golden Lions forgo their standard white jersey with the red strip in order to commemorate this special occasion.

The jersey will be unveiled at a 125-year celebration banquet, to be held at Ellis Park this evening. Guests will include past and present players, staff and administrators as well as supporters and sponsors who have all been involved in building the GLRU legacy.

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Blue Bulls LogoVodacom Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke named 21-year old Burger Odendaal at inside centre for his side’s opening match of the 2014 Absa Currie Cup season against the Xerox Golden Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Odendaal, who was schooled at Monument High in Krugersdorp and represented Golden Lions at the Coca-Cola Under-18 Craven Week in 2011, will make his Absa Currie Cup debut for the team, having already played for the Vodacom Blue Bulls at Under-19, Under-21 and Vodacom Cup level from 2012.

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Toyota Free State CheetahsTHE Eastern Province Kings lost their final warm up friendly to the Free State Cheetahs, losing 12 (5) points to the Cheetahs 28 (7) at the Cradock Sports Fields this afternoon.

The Kings took to the field with a much changed team from their game against the SWD Eagles that won in George two weeks ago by 78 points to 32, and were let down a bit by two late tries by the Cheetahs in the second half.

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Kick-off for 2014′s Currie Cup is almost upon us with a full set of fixtures scheduled for 9 August.

Sportingbet have come to the party by pricing up a market for the overall winner of this tournament.

With that in mind, here’s our take on who has a major shot at the trophy and which sides may struggle to keep up with the pace.

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Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke on Wednesday confirmed Deon Stegmann’s captaincy for his team’s upcoming Currie Cup campaign and named a strong 26 man squad for Friday’s warm-up match against the Pumas in Nelspruit.

“It was an easy decision to call on ‘Steggies’ to lead the team this year,” Ludeke said.

“He is not only one of the most experienced players in the squad, but also one that leads by example on and off the field.”

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Adriaan Strauss

Adriaan Strauss

Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss has broken his silence, saying he is excited at the prospect of moving to the Bulls at the end of the season.

The Bulls officially announced the move on Monday, but Strauss revealed exclusively to the supersport.com website that his decision was taken to further his career.

Strauss signed a two-year contract to move to the Bulls, following fellow Cheetahs players Trevor Nyakane and Lappies Labuschagné who will also line up for the Pretoria franchise in next year’s Super Rugby competition.

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Adriaan Strauss

Adriaan Strauss

Trevor Nyakane

Trevor Nyakane

Lappies Labuschagne

Lappies Labuschagne

Jamba Ulengo

Jamba Ulengo

The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd is pleased to announce the signings of Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane, Pieter Labuschagne and Jamba Ulengo.  All three forwards will join the Vodacom Bulls on November 1st, 2014, while Ulengo has already started training with the Vodacom Blue Bulls.

Springbok hooker Strauss, who captained the Toyota Cheetahs in recent seasons, was South Africa’s Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year in 2013 and returns to Loftus Versfeld, where he made his Vodacom Super Rugby career in 2006 after a seven year absence. He has signed a two year deal.

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Vodacom Blue Bulls KitVodacom Blue BullsPUMA, the official technical and apparel sponsor of the Blue Bulls, has unveiled a new Currie Cup rugby kit inspired by heritage and tradition – with no pink colourways or camo designs in sight.

The jersey in the Blue Bulls’ customary blue is also embroidered with both the PUMA logo and the Blue Bulls’ Daisy on the shirt. Part of PUMA’s evoPOWER Rugby apparel design, the jersey uses a polyester tight fit material which is lightweight, comfortable and robust.

“The ABSA Currie Cup symbolises the long and proud heritage of South African Rugby, so it was important for us not to break away from the traditional look of our ABSA Currie Cup jersey for that very reason. We firmly believe that the simplicity, yet elegance of the design makes a bold statement,” said Barend van Graan, CEO of the Blue Bulls Company.

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Adriaan Strauss

Adriaan Strauss

It appears Cheetahs hooker Adriaan Strauss will make a U-turn and decide not to move from the Cheetahs to the Bulls.

It was reported earlier that Strauss’s move to Pretoria was a done deal, but business interests in Bloemfontein now look likely to keep Strauss at the Cheetahs.

According to reports, the Cheetahs also significantly upped their offer for Strauss and he said that he’ll make a final decision on his future this week.

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Jan Serfontein

Jan Serfontein

Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

Marcel van der Merwe

Marcel van der Merwe

The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd confirmed that three incumbent Springboks, Jan Serfontein, Handre Pollard and Marcel van der Merwe extended their commitments to the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls.

Serfontein (2017), Van der Merwe (2016) and Pollard (2017) all confirmed or extended their contracts with the BBC.

Van der Merwe made his international debut for the Springboks against Scotland last weekend and according to the Manager: High Performance at the BBC, Xander Janse van Rensburg, a true reflection of the abilities of the prop.

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Adriaan Strauss

Adriaan Strauss

The Vodacom Bulls could have snapped up the signing of the year locally as Springbok hooker and Toyota Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss looks set to be heading back to Pretoria.

Strauss is yet to sign the contract, and the Bulls could only open negotiations with him today – 1 July – but sources close to the Cheetahs camp have confirmed that Strauss has already said no to a contract extension with his province and now seems set on returning to Pretoria.

The Grey College graduate, who played his junior rugby in Pretoria and made his Vodacom Super Rugby debut there as well, before returning to the Cheetahs is being chased as well by the Stormers, who also have made a big money offer to sign him.

But it seems the Bulls have won the race, with indications that the deal could be finalised this week already and that Strauss will be a possible captain for the Bulls in next year’s Super Rugby series.

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Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe’s season ended with a whimper rather than a bang as the big lock was ruled out for the rest of the year with a knee injury.

Van der Merwe, who hurt himself in the closing minutes of the one-point victory over Wales in Nelspruit this past weekend, underwent a scan and was sent for a specialist opinion by the Springbok management on Monday.

And the news was not good.

The specialist ruled that Van der Merwe had to undergo surgery on his posterior cruciate ligament, and will therefore be out for six months.

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