After a stellar 2014 season, Springbok and Bulls flyhalf Handre Pollard knows he will be a marked man this year.
Pollard, 20, was at the weekend named SA Rugby Young Player of the Year after moving from the Baby Boks into the senior national team with aplomb.
He expects opposition teams to analyse him a little more thoroughly in 2015.
“I believe that will be the case,” he said. “We all analyse our opponents to try and disrupt them. That is my main challenge this year – to follow last season up with another good year. It will take a lot of hard work.”
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke named Adriaan Strauss at hooker when he announced his team to play the DHL Stormers in the opening round of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Strauss, who made his Super Rugby debut for the Vodacom Bulls in 2006 (8 matches), is back in the Pretoria side after a long stint with the Toyota Cheetahs (for whom he played 97 times) and was put straight into the starting team by Ludeke.
The coach also included Vodacom Bulls debutants Lappies Labuschagne and Trevor Nyakane, but neither are strangers to the competition. Labuschagne played for Toyota Cheetahs in 27 matches (debut 2012) and Nyakane represented the same franchise 42 times (debut 2012).
The rest of the team consists of tried and tested players, with the most experienced captain in the history of Vodacom Super Rugby, Victor Matfield, leading the team onto the field for the 83rd time.
Regular captain Pierre Spies, who made his last appearance in Super Rugby in Round 1 last year against the Sharks in Durban, will play off the bench as he is eased back into action following his long lay-off.
Stormers vice-captain Juan de Jongh insists they are fully focused on themselves and not the Bulls ahead of their opening Super Rugby game at Loftus on Saturday.
Both sides will be looking to get their 2015 Super Rugby campaign off to a good start with the Bulls being tipped as the favourites at fortress Loftus Versfeld where the partisan crowd, and altitude, is sure to swing the psychological advantage in the hosts’ favour.
“It is going to be a very important game this weekend to get our campaign on the road. We are focused on ourselves and making sure we get our things right.
The Vodacom Bulls will be without Springbok props Dean Greyling and Marcel van der Merwe and World Cup winning winger Akona Ndungane for the opening weekend of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition. The Vodacom Bulls play DHL Stormers on Saturday night, but Ndungane (calf, 1 week), Greyling (foot, 2 weeks) and Van der Merwe (hamstring, 3 weeks) will not be part of the action.
To complicate matters a bit more for Vodacom Bulls coach, Frans Ludeke, winger Travis Ismaiel has been ruled out for selection due to a hamstring strain and prop Hencus van Wyk (foot) will only return to training at the end of the month.
All of Basil Short (pectoral), Jason Jenkins (quad), Trevor Nyakane (contusion), Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg (hamstring), Deon Stegmann (hip) and Jesse Kriel (neck) completed a full training session today.
The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Friday confirmed that efforts to keep Vodacom Bulls locks Jacques du Plessis and Flip van der Merwe in Pretoria have been unsuccessful, with both players taking up contracts in France at the end of the domestic 2015 season.
Du Plessis has signed a two year deal with Montpellier and Van der Merwe will join Clermont, also after the completion of the ABSA Currie Cup competition.
The BBC’s High Performance Manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg said talks with both players have been ongoing for some time.
Vodacom Bulls prop Marcel van der Merwe will miss the opening week of the Vodacom Super Rugby season due to a medial knee ligament injury, it was confirmed on Monday.
The injury occurred on Saturday in London, when the Blue Bulls played against English club side Saracens in a warm-up friendly.
Van der Merwe injured his knee and pulled his hamstring in the second half and will be out for 3 to 4 weeks, team doctor Org Strauss confirmed on Monday.
The Springbok prop was the only casualty in the match and Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke should have a fairly fit squad to pick from for their first match, against the DHL Stormers at Loftus Versfeld on 14 February.
The Vodacom Bulls wrapped up their Vodacom Super Rugby pre-season warm-up game with an impressive six try 39-26 win by the Vodacom Blue Bulls over English Premiership club Saracens in London on Saturday.
While Saracens were without their English players – who were preparing for next weekend’s Six Nations – they were comprehensively beaten by a Bulls side that was focused and determined to get the result from the game.
And while the scoreline looks a lot closer, the Bulls dominated much more, letting in some late tries after being 32 / 7 up on the hour mark in the game.
Saracens (0) 26 / 39 (13) Blue Bulls (Final Score)
Saracens and the Vodacom Blue Bulls did battle in an inter-hemisphere match which also served as
warm-up for the Bulls at Allianz Park, London at 17:15 SA Time (15:15 BST & GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.
Vodacom Bulls utility back Ulrich Beyers will know in the next few days if he will join the exodus to France after joining Bordeaux on a trial basis.
Beyers, who represented the Blue Bulls in last season’s ABSA Currie Cup semifinal at fullback, didn’t feature in last Saturday’s pre-season opener for the Bulls against the Toyota Cheetahs and isn’t part of the squad that heads Wednesday to London to face Saracens this weekend.
It has emerged that Beyers has been offered a trial with Bordeaux, with the option of a long-term contract if it goes well and could feature in his first start this coming weekend for the club.
Flanker Deon Stegmann will lead the Vodacom Blue Bulls on Saturday when they take on Saracens in a friendly match outside London. The Blue Bulls named their final travelling squad on Wednesday, just before departure to England.
Regular captain Pierre Spies will only play off the bench in his return to first class rugby after more than 12 months on the sidelines; hence the decision to employ Stegmann’s proven leadership skills. The former Springbok flanker captained the Vodacom Blue Bulls with great success in the ABSA Currie Cup competition in the past.
Another former captain, Victor Matfield, will travel to London as part of the coaching team and not as a player and will not be in action over the weekend.
The Vodacom Bulls will be without Springbok hooker Bandise Maku for the Vodacom Super Rugby season after he tore his pectoral muscle in Saturday’s opening friendly match against the Toyota Cheetahs in Polokwane.
Maku will have surgery on 3 February and will be ruled out of action for between four and six months, Vodacom Bulls team doctor Org Strauss confirmed on Monday.
The Polokwane clash last year saw a season-ending injury to flanker Arno Botha, but the Springbok this time came through the match with only a tight hamstring. He will be able to train on Tuesday, but will not travel to London where the Bulls take on Saracens this weekend.
Akona Ndungane is another who will miss the London trip due to a calf strain. He will be out of action for two weeks. Dean Greyling suffered an ankle sprain and will be out for two weeks at least, Strauss said.
Three-time Super Rugby champions the Bulls won’t find that their pre-season campaign gets any easier when they tackle English Premiership side Saracens at their Allianz Park, north London stronghold on Saturday.
The game (Kick-Off 17:15 SA Time, 15:15 BST & GMT) is due to be screened live on SuperSport 1 and CSN, after the Loftus-based side played out a 30 / 13 win minus the glare of television cameras against Super Rugby rivals the Cheetahs in Polokwane last Saturday.
There are few better ways to get European-stationed expatriate rugby players’ juices flowing than by pitting them against South African-based compatriots, and it seems Sarries – currently 3rd in the Premiership behind Northampton and Bath – will be in a position to field several against the presumably still rusty Bulls.
Pierre Spies may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but the Bulls believe in him as a player and leader.
There is no doubt the 29-year-old has all the physical attributes to be one of the best No 8’s in the world, even though his contribution sometimes disappoints and he will continue to have his detractors.
However, it is his value to the Bulls’ cause and the team that convinced coach Frans Ludeke to name him skipper ahead of esteemed players like Victor Matfield, Adriaan Strauss and Deon Stegmann.
Speaking ahead of their trip to London this week – for Saturday’s outing against Saracens at Allianz Park – Ludeke explained that Spies was the preferred captain for the past 2 years, a period during which major injuries limited his appearances.
The Bulls overcame a slow start to finish strongly and post a 30-13 triumph over the Cheetahs in a Super Rugby pre-season friendly at Polokwane.
Scrumhalf Piet van Zyl bagged a second half double as the men from Pretoria ran away with the match which was separated by just 3 points midway through the second half.
Duncan Matthews also found the line thanks to a well-timed intercept while Jesse Kriel dictated the game from fullback, looking very much at home in the No 15 jersey.
New recruit, Trevor Nyakane, was a late withdrawal due to a strained neck muscle, but in more positive injury news, Arno Botha completed the match without incident in what was his first appearance since damaging his ACL a year ago.
Derick Hougaard will have a foot in both camps next Saturday, as Saracens face South African giants the Vodacom Blue Bulls at Allianz Park.
The fly-half, who played for both Saracens and Sanlam Challenge opponents the Vodacom Blue Bulls, has warned Saracens that their latest South African opponents will pose their greatest threat to their 100% record against South African opposition.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke says it’s important for his team to eradicate some “bad habits” as they prepare for this year’s Super Rugby competition.
The Bulls will play two warm-up matches – against the Cheetahs (Polokwane – 24 January) and Saracens (London – 31 January) – before starting their campaign against the DHL Stormers at Loftus Versfeld on 14 February.
“The expectations are big,” Ludeke said. “We made some changes in pre-season an it’s important that we get rid of some bad habits.”
The Vodacom Bulls have named their team to face the Toyota Cheetahs in Polokwane on Saturday.
Saracens & the Blue Bulls have also published a Vodacom Blue Bulls squad for the encounter the following week in London.
Toyota Cheetahs in Polokwane:
New Vodacom Bulls recruits Lappies Labuschagne and Trevor Nyakane will face their former Toyota Cheetahs teammates in Polokwane on Saturday when the two Vodacom Super Rugby sides clash in a friendly match in the Peter Mokaba Stadium.
Flanker Labuschagne and Nyakane, who was selected at loosehead prop, moved north at the start of the season and will be part of the first hit-out of the season for the Pretoria side.
Lions centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg is enjoying life at his new team after making the move to Johannesburg from the Bulls.
Janse van Rensburg is considered to be one of the top talents coming through the South African rugby ranks. He was recognised as one of the top young centres after showing great pedigree as a schoolboy at Waterkloof, while he also enjoyed a successful run as a junior at the Bulls between 2010 and 2014.
He impressed for the Junior Springboks during last year’s Junior World Championship before injury prematurely ended his tournament.
The 20-year-old now enters a new and exciting chapter in his career has he completed a move from the Bulls to the Lions after the Currie Cup. He hopes to achieve more senior accolades at his new team.
Prop Morne Mellett has been cleared of a rib contusion and will be considered for the Vodacom Bulls team to play a season-opening friendly against the Toyota Cheetahs in Polokwane on Saturday.
The match starts at 17:00.
Mellett’s return will be good news to coach Frans Ludeke, as the Bulls have a number of front rankers out of action.
We take a look at some of the news filtering through from the Bulls in their preparations for this year’s Super Rugby Season.
Lanky flanker Jaques du Plessis might get the nod at No 4 lock in the injury absense of Flip van der Merwe during the first stages of Super Rugby. Competing against him for the No 4 spot are youngsters Nico Janse van Rensburg and Irné Herbst.
Meanwhile former Blue Bulls and Springbok captain, Wynand Claassen, who is also the chairman of the Bulls’ ex-players union, wants the Bulls to employ a much more enterprising style in 2015.
Trevor Nyakane, who has joined the Bulls for the 2015 season from the Cheetahs, says he has been inundated with calls from his fellow-Bulls mates to come up with a new dance routine, when the Bulls score tries in 2015. He was known for his jubilant dance moves at the Cheetahs in 2014, but the question is whether he can dance the blue tune this year.
The only real players of consequence, bar of course the longer term injury to Flip van der Merwe, who are not fully into the swing of things yet and who will miss the excursion to Polokwane, are Adriaan Strauss and Handré Pollard, but their injuries appear to be on the light side, and it is highly unlikely that they will not be fit and ready to play in the season’s opener for the Bulls.
Wing Jamba Ulengo hopes to make a big impact for the Bulls this season.
A move to Pretoria in July last year emphasised the 25-year-old’s rise in the South African rugby ranks.
After emerging as a notable rugby talent at Jim Fouche in Bloemfontein, he represented Free State at Under 16, Under 18, Under 19 and Under 21 levels and impressed in Shimlas colours during the Varsity Cup.
His impressive attacking qualities saw him receive a Springbok Sevens call-up in 2012. He played for the Blitzbokke in 11 tournaments before deciding to sign with the Bulls, which he describes as an exciting new chapter in his career.
With Super Rugby fast approaching it is important to have a look at what each of the teams are doing in their preparations and who they have at their disposal.
As the teams prepare for this brusing competition there is the oppourtunity to test out combanations as well as see how the new boys go.
The Sharks will travel to French champions Toloun to test out their game plan against the Galacticos of rugby while the Bulls will take on the Cheetahs in a traditional pre-season match in Polokwane.
The Australasian sides will also warm up against each other with the Highlanders setting up a comprehensive pre-season schedule due to the first round bye.
The ‘transfer market’ has made the upcoming Super Rugby season an exciting prospect with some big names in James O’Connor and Nick Cummins returning to Australia.
Menawhile, the Bulls have bolstered their squad with some excellent former Cheetahs players.
Finally, and unsurprizingly, Ma’a Nonu has made another move – this time back to the Hurricanes.
This is the third article in the range of Bulls Squad Contenders for Super Rugby 2015.
We move deeper into the enjin room to the Locks. The Bulls have lost Paul Willemse and David Bullbring at lock for the 2015 season but of course Victor Matfield is sure to play Super Rugby this time around, whereas before the 2014 season that was not the case. Apart from Victor Matfield, Flip van der Merwe and Grant Hattingh, the Bulls will be able to call on the promising young Nico Janse van Rensburg as well as Marvin Orie in 2015.
We discuss the players IN the Super Rugby Group, and not all the options beyond that.
In this Article we look at the contenders for LOCKS in the Vodacom Bulls 2015 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.
Springboks Pierre Spies, Arno Botha, Handré Pollard, Marcel van der Merwe and Adriaan Strauss will all return to Vodacom Bulls training from next week onwards, it was confirmed in Pretoria on Tuesday.
The Vodacom Bulls squad assembled in Pretoria on Monday to prepare for the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby season, but a couple of senior players will only join the fray later this month.
This is the second article in the series of Bulls Squad Contenders for Super Rugby 2015. In 2015 the Bulls will be better off in the hooker department, having contracted Adriaan Strauss, the Springbok hooker from the Toyota Cheetahs, although they have also lost the services of Bongi Mbonambi to the DHL Stormers.
We discuss the players IN the Super Rugby Group, and not all the options beyond that.
In this Article we look at the contenders for HOOKERS in the Vodacom Bulls 2015 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.
In 2015 the Bulls subsequently sit with a current Springbok hooker, an erstwhile Springbok hooker and a hooker who was invited to the Springbok training squad in 2014 by Heyneke Meyer, to fire their Super Rugby campaign… and with these hookers next to 2 current Springbpk props as well as a choice of 2 erstwhile Springbok props.
In the first week of discussion of Super Rugby squad contenders for 2015 (17 to 21 December), we will discuss 2 positions in 10 seperate Articles (Props & Hookers) – seperating the Articles of the 5 SA Super Rugby participating franchises.
That means 10 Super Rugby Articles every week from now on.
The basic idea is to discuss the players IN the Super Rugby Group, and not all the options beyond that.
In this Article we look at the contenders for PROPS in the Vodacom Bulls 2015 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.
Suggestions as to what to add to these Articles are welcome, but please hurry as the next Article will follow this one shortly!
It is officially the dreaded OFF-SEASON for Southern Hemisphere rugby, so it means under normal circumstances that we would be going into withdrawal system mode very, very soon… but NEVER here on Rugby-Talk.com.
As from this week (sometime), we will be starting IN DEPTH DISCUSSIONS on the INDIVIDUAL POSITIONS and the PLAYERS who will be filling these positions for the 5 South African Super Rugby Franchises.
That alone means 40 Articles to feast on (8 per Franchise), at a rate of 2 per midweek day, therefor roughly 10 per week, and subsequently it will take us roughly 4 weeks to complete… which basically covers most of the off-season.
But, that is not all folks, we will also be covering INTERNATIONAL CRICKET and some of the NORTHERN HEMISPHERE RUGBY.
In addition we will have a Christmas and New Year’s message, which has also proven popular over the years.
So, lots to look forward to, hold on to your boots!
The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Wednesday confirmed the retirement from rugby by Vodacom Bulls prop Frik Kirsten. The former Junior Springbok player suffered a neck injury in March whilst playing his 34th match for the Vodacom Bulls and underwent surgery after that. Although the surgery proved successful, medical advice was for the 26-year old player not to play rugby again.
Kirsten, who studied B.Comm (Accounting) at the University of Pretoria while playing professional rugby, graduated with an honours degree and will now pursue a career in accounting, hoping to become a chartered accountant.
Xander Janse van Rensburg, High Performance Manager at the Blue Bulls Company, said it was sad to lose a player of Kirsten’s ability, but applauded the fact that the player prepared for a career after rugby while still playing.
As 2014 draws to an end, and the festive spirit starts to take over, it also brings with it a time to reflect on the year gone by. The Blue Bulls Company today hosted their annual Player Awards at very casual and relaxed event hosted on the Loftus B-Field.
All the contracted players, including the Under 19’s, Under 21’s and senior teams, attended the event. They were also joined by a host of team management, administration staff, sponsors and partners.
Full list of awards:
For long the bastion of a structured approach to rugby, the Blue Bulls are flirting with an attacking mindset.
Bulls captain Pierre Spies suggested as much at the launch of their latest jersey for the Super Rugby season on Thursday.
“You want to create an attacking mindset within the players, and in a lot of ways the guys have felt restricted and also bound themselves to the plan that was on the table,” Spies said in Pretoria.
“That is never how it should have been, the plan is to create an environment where we can go out and play rugby.
“The big thing is to cultivate and attacking mindset and an enjoyment of the game.”
The Bulls have been the pace-setting South African team in the previous decade where they won an unprecedented three Super Rugby titles.
PUMA has launched the new Vodacom Bulls Super Rugby 2015 kit, which is rich in heritage, pays homage to the team’s loyal fans and features a striking Bull’s head.
The Bull’s head wraps around the player’s body to create a 360-degree effect and when the team gathers on the field, the design’s collective impression is of a herd of Bulls, standing strong and unified by years of history.
“The new PUMA kit for the Vodacom Bulls marks a departure from the last few seasons kit,” said PUMA South Africa Marketing Director Brett Bellinger. “PUMA together with the Vodacom Bulls decided it was time to return to something a little more traditional and pay tribute to the strong Bulls brand and branding that has made them the most decorated Vodacom Super Rugby Team in South Africa. We also take this opportunity to wish the team well as they prepare for the upcoming season.”
The Bulls will unveil their new jerseys for next year’s Super Rugby competition on Thursday.
In 2014, the three-time champions played with a khaki-style camouflage kit, scrapping the pink away jerseys from the previous season.
The Bulls were dealt a cruel blow just days into their pre-season, with confirmation that Springbok Flip van der Merwe is set to miss the start of the 2015 season.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke, confirmed that Van der Merwe will undergo surgery next Tuesday after damaging his pectoral muscle.
“It was a freak accident,” Ludeke said, when asked about the burly lock that was ruled out for the latter half of 2014 after suffering a serious knee injury during the second Springbok Test against Wales in June.
Eastern Province Rugby has confirmed the signing of Blue Bulls flyhalf Tony Jantjies, ahead of the 2015 season.
“We are extremely excited to have signed Tony, whose family hails from the Graaff Reinet area, falling in line with our goal to bring talented players from this region back to the Eastern Cape,” said EP Rugby president, Cheeky Watson.
Watson said he was positive that Jantjies would be a great addition to the Kings family when he joined the team in January next year.
“I have spoken to Carlos Spencer, who worked closely with Tony’s brother Elton, and he is very keen to begin working with Tony,” he said.
Three extend contracts as Vodacom Bulls get ready for 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby season:
The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Thursday confirmed that Werner Kruger, Akona Ndungane and Duncan Matthews have extended their contracts and will be available to play for the Vodacom Bulls in the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby competition. Former Springbok winger Ndungane extended his contract till the end of the 2015 Super Rugby competition, while prop Kruger, who made his Springbok debut in 2011, signed on till October 2016.
Outside back Duncan Matthews, who represented the South African Under-20 side in 2014, will stay with the Pretoria franchise till at least October 2016.
BBC’s High Performance Manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg, confirmed that the majority of the provisional Vodacom Bulls squad for next year have signed up till the end of 2016.
“We had a long term plan with some of these younger players which started in 2012 already and it is great to see that they are now blossoming in our structures. Added to some new signings for next season, I think the 2015 Super Rugby season could be an exciting one for our supporters,” Janse van Rensburg said.