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Jacques du Plessis

Vodacom Blue BullsThe Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Friday expressed their sincere gratitude and thanks to a number of stalwarts who will part ways with the Vodacom Bulls at the completion of the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby tournament.

Barend van Graan, CEO of the BBC, confirmed the departures of Pierre Spies, Jacques du Plessis, Flip van der Merwe, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Victor Matfield, Akona Ndungane and Francois Hougaard to French and Japanese clubs and retirement.

Spies (via Japan) and Du Plessis will join French club Montpellier, Van der Merwe moves to Clermont-Avergne and Potgieter to Lyon. Matfield will retire after the Rugby World Cup and Ndungane hangs up his boots this weekend as his contract was only extended for this year’s Super Rugby competition.

Hougaard leaves for Japan later this year and depending on a number of factors, will make a call on whether to return to Loftus Versfeld, at a later stage.

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Adriaan Strauss

Adriaan Strauss

Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

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.

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Callie Visagie

Callie Visagie

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.

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Xander Janse van Rensburg

Xander Janse van Rensburg

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.

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Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke reshuffled his pack of forwards and recalled Handré Pollard at flyhalf for his team to face the Cell C Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

Pollard, who replaces Jacques-LouisPotgieter in the only change to the backline that won against the Reds in their Vodacom Super Rugby clash last weekend, was rested last week as per SARU arrangement.

In the pack, Ludeke has Adriaan Strauss back after the hooker was also rested against the Reds, while he also picked a new loose trio, lock combination and front row to face the coastal side in the visitor’s 1st return match in the South African conference.

In the front row, Strauss and Marcel van der Merwe will start with Dean Greyling, with Callie Visagie and Trevor Nyakane moving to the bench. The lock combination of Flip van der Merwe and Grant Hattingh will pack down together for the 1st time this year, with Jacques du Plessis moving to the side of the scrum, where he will partner Deon Stegmann and Pierre Spies.

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Jacques du Plessis

Jacques du Plessis

Flip van der Merwe

Flip van der Merwe

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.

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BullsWe 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.

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Currie CupEastern Province Kings:

The captaincy curse has struck the winless Eastern Province Kings again, with another skipper sidelined.

Steven Sykes will join Luke Watson in the sickbay and will not be on duty the against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday, according to the Kings medical team.

Sykes will be missing the upcoming game due to a knee injury that he sustained during the loss to the Free State Cheetahs last Saturday.

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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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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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Bulls

Vlok Cilliers

Vlok Cilliers

Paul Willemse

Paul Willemse

Jacques du Plessis

Jacques du Plessis

News from the Bulls camp, prior to joining Super Rugby action again after the June Test break has not been so good!

Jacques du Plessis, Blindside flank of the Bulls broke his jaw in the warm-up match over the weekend against namibia and is set to miss the rest of the Bulls Super Rugby campaign.

In addition, the Bulls have confirmed that lock Paul Willemse, has signed a 2-year deal with French Club, Grenoble and they have also confirmed that the Bulls kicking consultant, Vlok Cilliers will join the WP as from July 2014.

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BullsWilliam Small-SmithVictor MatfieldJono RossJacques du PlessisGrant HattinghThe Vodacom Bulls have made known, through their official Facebook Page, the names of the team to take on the Highlanders on Friday 11 April 2014.

As expected after the injuries to Dewald Potgieter and Deon Stegmann, who both have had to return to South Africa as a result of longer term injuries, Grant Hattingh gets the nod at No 8, with Jono Ross selected at openside flank (No 6) and with Jacques du Plessis at blindside flank (No 7).

Jacques “Vleis” Engelbrecht reverts to the bench.

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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.

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ContractIt is the time of the year I always dread the most. This is the time where every Player Agent licks his lips and rubs his grubby little hands at the prospect of selling his wares to the highest bidder, with no regard to the welfare of the rugby of any Player, Country, Club, Union or Franchise.

It is the time of the year that the greedy pigs grin!

It is reported that the Stormers are chasing the signature of the mercenary called Lionel Mapoe, who’s been about everywhere now, Cheetahs, Sharks, Lions, Bulls… and possibly now heading for his 5th SA Super Rugby Franchise.

The Western Force announced today that they have signed 2 more South Africans, WP’s Marcel Brache and Chris Heiberg.

The Bulls seem to be investing, or rather re-investing in another ton of Young Guns, to replace the loss of 8 Springboks in one heap but seemingly giving no heed to the warning sirens that seriously flawed players like Dean Greyling and Werner Kruger now seem to be their most experienced players! The Blue Bulls have re-signed players like Paul Willemse (lock) and Under 20 SA star, Jacques du Plessis (looseforward) as well as a host of others… and the name Lood de Jager jumped at me, with me initially thinking that it might be the Cheetahs Super Rugby lock but alas it is the junior Blue Bulls centre who has suffered quite an injury run. See the details below on the rest of the Blue Bulls signings. In the last 3 years the Bulls have lost the services of 18 Senior Springbok players, whilst purchasing only 4 senior players from elsewhere.

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The 4th Article in the set discussing the Vodacom Bulls.

In this Article we look at the contenders for LOOSE FORWARDS in the Vodacom Bulls 2013 Super Rugby group, and what their worth will be in Super Rugby terms.

Wow, 5 CURRENT or very RECENT Springbok Loose Forwards in the Bulls Super Rugby group and only 3 can start a game… Plus 2 Junior World Champion Under 20 SA players in the broader squad. Which other Super Rugby side can muster or even sniff such quality?

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