As the Vodacom Bulls preparations for Super Rugby 2016 gains momentum we focus on some team news.
Rudy Paige has been named as Vice-Captain for the season.
Handré Pollard’s shoulder injury has been confirmed and he will miss the opening weeks of Super Rugby.
Deon Stegmann needs to undergo an operation due to an ankle injury and projections are that he will be out for 9 weeks.
In addition it is believed that Derick Hougaard, also affectionately known as “Liefling”, is going to attempt to make the Bulls team, after years in the wilderness, but he is not in the current Bulls Super Rugby plans… yet.
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.
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.
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.
Vodacom Blue Bulls flanker Deon Stegmann will miss the next 4 weeks of the ABSA Currie Cup after he fractured his cheekbone against ORC Griquas on Friday. The flanker left the field in the 52nd minute of the match.
William Small-Smith, who left the field after a blow to the head, will have a fitness test on Thursday to determine if he will be available for the clash against DHL Western Province on Saturday.
Francois Hougaard, who injured a thumb ligament, will also be given time till Thursday to prove his fitness, team doctor Org Strauss confirmed.
Lock Jacques du Plessis, who has a back spasm, will be back on the training field on Tuesday.
Former Ricoh Black Rams flyhalf Louis Fouché has been named in the Vodacom Blue Bulls touring squad to Japan for their match against the Canon Eagles on Friday 31 July.
Fouché played for the Japanese outfit last year and has been included in the 27-man squad that will travel to Japan on Friday.
Springboks Francois Hougaard, Arno Botha, Deon Stegmann, Werner Kruger, Dean Greyling and Bandise Maku are all amongst the travelling group.
Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais said the trip will be an important one for the squad.
Forwards Morné Mellett, RG Snyman and Deon Stegmann will all report for training on Tuesday, but fullback Jurgen Visser will miss the team’s match against Canon in Japan at the end of the month.
Visser injured a hamstring in training and has been ruled out till 3 August, team doctor Org Strauss confirmed on Monday.
“Jaco Visagie (toe fracture), Morné Mellett (concussion), RG Snyman (calf), Louis Fouché (hamstring) and Deon Stegmann (hip) will all train tomorrow,” Strauss said.
A number of long term injuries are on the mend.
Pierre Schoeman (knee, 15 August), Clyde Davis (medial ligament, 27 July) and Ruan Steenkamp (knee, 15 August) will be back in the next 3 weeks.
The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd confirmed the rest of the Vodacom Blue Bulls coaching staff, following the appointment of Nollis Marais as head coach of the Vodacom Blue Bulls for the 2015 ABSA Currie Cup season.
Marais will also take charge of the forwards and he will be assisted by David Manuel as back-line coach.
Manuel, who was backline coach to the UP-Tuks Varsity Cup as well as the Vodacom Blue Bulls Vodacom Cup and Under 21 teams respectively since 2012, was named backline coach to the Varsity Cup Dream Team earlier this year. He was Head Coach of the Blue Bulls / Tuks Rugby Academy since 2007 till 2012.
The 35-year old matriculated at Waterkloof High School and as a player, represented the Blue Bulls and SA Schools, as well as representing the Vodacom Blue Bulls up to Vodacom Cup level. He also played SA Under 19 and Under 21 and represented Griquas and Free State at senior provincial level as well.
Also confirmed are the appointment of coaches to the Vodacom Blue Bulls Under 21 and Under 19 teams, with Hendré Marnitz and Hayden Groepes being appointed in those roles respectively.
Lappies Labuschagne will be out of action for at least a month and will undergo surgery on his larynx on Thursday to repair damage to his vocal chords.
Labuschagne has been struggling since the Vodacom Bulls’ defeat against the Chiefs on tour, 3 weeks ago, but chose to continue playing to try and help the Bulls make the Super Rugby playoffs.
After that hope disappeared after their loss to the Melbourne Rebels last weekend, the Bulls flanker decided to follow medical advice and go under the knife.
According to team doctor Org Strauss, he will be out for at least a month as he recovers but should be ready to play in the ABSA Currie Cup series at the end of July.
The Bulls were further hit by bad news with the withdrawal of flanker Deon Stegmann with bruised ribs, ruling himself out of contention for the game this weekend against the Toyota Cheetahs and joining a number of stalwarts on the sidelines.
The Bulls will name their side on Thursday, but chances are it will be a relatively young and inexperienced team to face the Cheetahs, with coach Frans Ludeke resting several players.
Vodacom Bulls midfielder Jan Serfontein has not recovered sufficiently from a knee strain and will miss his team’s last Vodacom Super Rugby clash of the season against the Toyota Cheetahs in Pretoria on Saturday.
Serfontein returned home from Australia two weeks ago due to the MCL strain and will not make it onto the field on Saturday, Vodacom Bulls team doctor Org Strauss confirmed.
Deon Stegmann, who missed the Rebels match due to bruised ribs, will be given till Thursday to prove his fitness, but JJ Engelbrecht (elbow), Burger Odendaal (hamstring), Jacques du Plessis (back) and Jesse Kriel (quad) were all back on the field on Tuesday.
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made 7 changes to his starting team to face the Melbourne Rebels in a Super Rugby clash in Melbourne on Saturday. There are 3 changes in the backline that faced the Brumbies last weekend and 4 in the pack.
Jesse Kriel, Travis Ismaiel and Jacques-Louis Potgieter all move into starting positions off the bench, replacing Jurgen Visser, Bjorn Basson and Handré Pollard respectively. Visser and Basson will play off the bench, but Pollard will be rested for this clash.
Instead, Tian Schoeman, who joined the touring party on Tuesday, will be the back-up flyhalf on the bench.
In the pack, injured Deon Stegmann is replaced by Lappies Labuschagne, with Grant Hattingh moving to the bench to make way for Victor Matfield. The veteran lock will play in his 148th match at this level. In a straight swop, Jacques du Plessis starts at No 7 and Arno Botha moves to the bench.
Adriaan Strauss was only not considered due to the resting agreement with SARU, resulting in Callie Visagie running onto the field for his 50th match for the Vodacom Bulls in the No 2 jersey. Jaco Visagie will be on the bench.
According to Ludeke this is do or die for the team.
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke for the 1st time this season named Callie Visagie as starting hooker for his team to face the Chiefs in Rotorua on Friday. Visagie moves from the bench and replaces Adriaan Strauss for this Vodacom Super Rugby clash, with Jaco Visagie replacing his namesake on the bench. Jaco Visagie earned his 1st cap against the Reds earlier in the campaign.
Strauss, who has started in all the team’s matches this year, is rested according to the SARU agreement.
Ludeke also made 2 changes in his loose trio, with Jacques du Plessis and Deon Stegmann starting after playing off the bench against the Blues, and Arno Botha and Lappies Labuschagne this time tasked to provide spark as impact players.
Reports of a mass exodus from the Vodacom Bulls at the end of the season have been rubbished by the franchise.
According to weekend reports a host of Bulls – which include Pierre Spies, Francois Hougaard, Deon Stegmann, Akona Ndungane and JJ Engelbrecht – will head to Japan after the conclusion of the Super Rugby season.
It was billed as the “biggest exodus” since 2013 – when the Bulls lost 20-odd frontline players, including the likes of Juandré Kruger, Wynand Olivier, Morné Steyn, Jano Vermaak, Zane Kirchner, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dewald Potgieter and Jacques Potgieter.
However, Xander Janse van Rensburg, the High Performance Manager at the Blue Bulls Company, said that the facts of the reports are far removed from the truth.
“JJ and Grant have Japan clauses in their contracts,” Janse van Rensburg said, adding that the duo will head to Japan after the Super Rugby season, missing the Currie Cup competition, and will then return for Super Rugby 2016.
The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Thursday confirmed that 3 players, Dean Greyling, Basil Short and Hencus van Wyk, were withdrawn from this weekend’s matches for the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls after suffering minor injuries in a car crash on Wednesday.
Greyling (knee) and Van Wyk (scrape wounds) were due to play for the Vodacom Bulls against the Emirates Lions and Short (neck) for the Vodacom Blue Bulls against the Limpopo Blue Bulls on Saturday.
They will be replaced by Morné Mellett, Dayan van der Westhuizen and Nqoba Mxoli respectively.
According to Xander Janse van Rensburg, High Performance Manager of the Blue Bulls Company, the trio were returning home from a quick hunting trip just outside Pretoria when their vehicle overturned.
“We are grateful that they did not sustain any serious injuries. Dean injured his knee, Hencus suffered some burns and Basil injured his neck, which resulted in him spending the night in hospital for observation. We wish them a speedy recovery.”
Greyling and Van Wyk is still due to travel with the Bulls on their overseas leg of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition, departing Sunday.
The Vodacom Bulls, fresh off a narrow loss to the DHL Stormers this past weekend, next face the ever-improving Emirates Lions, at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday in the last Super Rugby match of the weekend.
It appears as though regular captain Pierre Spies is under the weather and will therefor sit out of the clash, with Victor Matfield back from Springbok rest and injury recovery set to take over the captaince helm for the vital match.
Meanwhile head coach Frans Ludeke is still moaning and groaning about the difficult laws and interpreations of those laws by the Super Rugby Referees.
The Vodacom Bulls, need a complete rethink of their game approach and selection criteria, after a loss on the weekend against the DHL Stormers once again exposed why the Bulls will keep struggling.
The answer is simple… scrum penalties are destrying Bulls chances left, right and centre – and 1 prop in particular, Dean Greyling, cost the Bulls the difference between a win and a loss on the weekend.
No less than 9 easy penalty points can directly be ascribed to Dean Greyling’s inability to scrum correctly and legally. It is not a new thing either, he has picked up a plethera of scrum penalties in the last number of seasons and his general scrumming technique at loosehead prop has always been severely flawed. He is simply put, a scrumming liability, and is exploited at scrum time week after week by every Tom, Dick and Harry who plays against him!
Dean picked up 4 crucial scrum penalties on the weekend, but Marcel van der Merwe also picked up an additional 3 scrum penalties. That means 7 scrum penallties, which were either put into points against the Bulls or which robbed them of valuable possession and territory.
In anybody’s book, bar maybe in the crumpled “Book of Fools & Favourites” of Bulls coach Frans Ludeke, it is seen as a HUGE problem!
Things looked radically better in the 2nd half, when Morné Mellett was at loosehead prop and Trevor Nyakane at tighthead prop.
In addition to the clear prop and scrumming conundrum at the Bulls, one needs to start questioning the validity of continuing with Deon Stegmann at openside flank, as he is also a huge penalty offender! When Lappies Labuschagne replaced Stegmann at openside flank and Arno Botha replaced Jacques du Plessis at blindside flank, the Bulls suddenly entered their most productive and least penalized period of the match and the ground ball and breakdown situation control swung nicely in favour of the Bulls, so much so that the Bulls effectively ‘WON’ the 2nd half battle on the scoreboard, by 10 points to 3 and coming within a whisker of stealing the honours at the end of the game.
If these basic and fundamental aspects are not fixed, and immediately so, one can already start writing “Also-Runs 2015” on the shirt of every Bulls player and on every Bulls supporter’s jersey, alongside that tag which is already emblazened there for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014!
With 7 Rounds of this years Super Rugby competition completed and much discussion in the various media regarding disciplinary hearings, we thought it would be interesting to look at the players’ records so far in conceding penalties.
The scrums have become an absolute lottery and so it is no surprise that front rowers will be giving away many penalties while loose forwards can also tend to ‘live life on the edge’. However, what is surprising, according to the stats, is that as many as 6 props names appear in the Top 10 list of serial transgressors thus far this season.
2 Players who have been discussed quite a lot lately, Bismarck du Plessis and Liam Messam also appear on the list, which is disappointing considering they are the captains of their teams. Perhaps it is no surprise then that the match between the Sharks and Chiefs turned out to be such a nasty affair. Interestingly though a 3rd player who has been discussed over and over again, Francois Steyn, is not in this Top 10.
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has some uncomfortable decisions to make as his team head into the next phase of Vodacom Super Rugby.
The use of the squad system has done them well so far with the injuries they have had, but there are still some pressing concerns about the form of certain players, which need to be addressed with a number of young upstarts knocking hard on the door.
At both loose forward and in the midfield, Ludeke will have to make decisions going forward as to who will be the better combination and what will serve his team’s interests better as they edge towards the top of the South African conference.
Saturday’s 31 / 19 win over the Crusaders was a remarkable one not only for the commitment of the players on the field, but for the injuries they suffered before kickoff – losing Lappies Labuschagne and Arno Botha before the game started and Jan Serfontein in the midfield as well.
With a long tour still ahead of them later in the season, the next few weeks will be crucial to secure as many points as possible on South African soil, starting with Saturday’s Jukskei derby against the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg.
While the normal Monday assessment still needs to happen, it seems Labuschagne could be back in contention for his starting spot this weekend, and on the form of Saturday, it would be hard to deny Hanro Liebenberg another go at the opposition given the big performance he gave coming into the side at such late notice.
Blue Bulls captain and flank Deon Stegmann was suspended for 1 week on Wednesday for striking a player with his elbow in their Currie Cup Premier Division clash against the EP Kings last Friday.
His Blue Bulls team mate, hooker Bongi Mbonambi, meanwhile, was cleared of further sanction after receiving a Yellow Card in the match for charging into a ruck without using his arms.
Stegmann and Mbonambi both appeared before a SARU judicial committee in Pretoria on Tuesday after being sent to the sin-bin in their clash in Port Elizabeth.
Vodacom Blue Bulls captain and flank, Deon Stegmann, and hooker Bongi Mbonambi will face SARU disciplinary hearings on Tuesday after being cited following the team’s Currie Cup Premier Division clash against the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth on Friday.
Stegmann, received a Red Card for striking a player with his elbow at a ruck in the 69th minute, which was in breach of Law 10.4 (a), while Mbonambi received a Yellow Card in the 12th minute for charging into a ruck dangerously, which contravened Law 10.4 (h).
The Blue Bulls will be in the rare position of underdog when they host Western Province at Loftus Versfeld, in Pretoria on Saturday.
Only a fortnight ago, Province scored a 41-17 victory over the Light Blues in Cape Town.
Two weeks in rugby was a long time though, and the Bulls had since claimed their first win of the competition when they beat, albeit rather unconvincingly, the Eastern Province Kings 30-25 at home in Pretoria.
Injuries, 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.
Flank Deon Stegmann has been made captain of the Blue Bulls for this year’s Currie Cup competition.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke confirmed the news on Wednesday.
Stegmann, 28, will take over from Jono Ross who captained the team in last year’s Currie Cup when they failed to make the semi-finals.
The Vodacom Bulls are set to hand Super Rugby debuts to two young players this weekend when they head to Cape Town for their Vodacom Super Rugby match against the DHL Stormers at Newlands.
Both SA Under 20 lock Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg and Tuks flank Roelof Smit are likely to be among the reserves as the Bulls look to patch up the cracks left by injuries after a long and arduos Super Rugby season.
And there will be no rest for the weary. As predicted the Bulls will use all their Springboks for the game which they need to win with a bonus point to continue their mathematical hope of making the playoffs.
Deon Stegmann may make his long-awaited return to action when the Vodacom Bulls head for Windhoek for a friendly match against the Namibian national team this weekend.
While Stegmann was only expected to make a return to Currie Cup action later, his inclusion in a team for the breakaway trip may well mean that he will get some game time. It also means he could be back for the last few games in this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby series.
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke will know on Wednesday if he could select Jurgen Visser, Flip van der Merwe and Akona Ndungane for this weekend’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Waratahs in Sydney.
The Vodacom Bulls will limp into Queenstown on Monday to nurse their wounds and get themselves up and ready for Saturday’s second tour challenge against the Highlanders in Dunedin.
The Bulls have chosen the holiday resort for a few days before heading to Dunedin on Thursday, and it couldn’t come at a better time as they lost both Dewald Potgieter (torn bicep) and Deon Stegmann (torn groin muscle) on Saturday.
The Vodacom Bulls released two Media Releases today, the first dealing with their weekly fitness update and the second announcing some interesting loose forward signings to counter the two long term injuries of Pierre Spies (6 months) and Arno Botha (5 months to go).
Deon Stegmann is fit again and training with the team this week.
Wimpie van der Walt, who played for the Southern Kings in Super Rugby in 2013 and who now plies his trade in Japan, will join the Bulls for 2 months with options for him to stay on longer and negotiations with Dewald Potgieter who also plies his trade in Japan is in advanced stages.
The Vodacom Bulls will be without regular captain Pierre Spies for a large part of the 2014 rugby season after he was ruled out of rugby due to an arm injury on Monday.
Spies again suffered a bicep muscle injury to his upper arm, the same injury that sidelined him in June last year, resulting in the no 8 missing the remainder of the 2013 season.
The Vodacom Bulls confirmed on Wednesday that regular captain, Pierre Spies, has been withdrawn from the team to play the Toyota Cheetahs in a Vodacom Super Rugby match in Bloemfontein on Friday.
Spies suffered a blow to the elbow in last weekend’s match against the Cell C Sharks and it did not recover as hoped. He will be replaced by Jacques Engelbrecht, who moves up from the bench. Wiaan Liebenberg will replace Engelbrecht on the bench.
Should he take to the field, Liebenberg will make his Super Rugby debut.
Flip van der Merwe takes over the captaincy.
Vodacom Bulls lock Grant Hattingh will make his first appearance for his team this season on Friday against the Toyota Cheetahs after being included in the side for the Bloemfontein clash.
Hattingh replaces Paul Willemse in the only change to the side that came up short against the Sharks in Durban last weekend.
Flanker Deon Stegmann remains unavailable for selection due to a groin strain and will again miss the match, with Jono Ross donning the number six jersey.
The Bulls have completed their first week of training in 2014 with a virtually injury-free squad to pick from, according to reports.
Players like Pierre Spies, Arno Botha, Francois Hougaard and Deon Stegmann took full part in training on Thursday as the Bulls concluded their first week back.
This is the fourth article in the series of Bulls Squad Contenders for Super Rugby 2014. We do 2 articles per week per South African Super Rugby participating franchise.
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 LOOSE FORWARDS in the Vodacom Bulls 2014 Super Rugby group, and whether they could force their way into Bok contention.
One of the guys who sit with us in the Press Box at Loftus, calls Deon Stegmann, “STEGMONSTER”, well Koos excuse me for using the same expression.
The Blue Bulls have received another blow with the news that flank Deon Stegmann will miss the 2013 Absa Currie Cup season.
The Blue Bulls Company on Thursday confirmed the departure of scrumhalf Jano Vermaak and flanker Dewald Potgieter.
Potgieter decided not to renew his contract which expires at the end of the current Vodacom Super Rugby competition and instead will join the Yamaha Rugby Club in Japan, whilst Vermaak has asked to be released from his contract to join Toulouse in France.
Midfielder Jan Serfontein will make a first start in Vodacom Super Rugby when he takes the field for the Vodacom Bulls in their last overseas tour match against the Brumbies in Canberra.