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Pierre Spies

Pierre Spies

Pierre Spies

Springbok Pierre Spies has revealed that he was regarded as surplus to requirements at the Bulls, which is why he is heading to France.

The South African revolution sweeping Montpellier continued with confirmation that experienced Bok No 8, Spies, will join the Top 14 club in February.

The 30-year-old Spies, capped 53 times by his country, becomes the 9th player from South Africa to have joined the southern French team, coached by Jake White, who led the rainbow nation to World Cup success in 2007.

Released by the Bulls, Spies will 1st travel to play in Japan before joining Montpellier.

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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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Lappies Labuschagne

Lappies Labuschagne

Pierre Spies

Pierre Spies

Regular Vodacom Bulls captain Pierre Spies is back at the helm and at No 8 for the Vodacom Bulls team to face the Blues in Auckland on Friday.

Spies played as a replacement in the team’s last Vodacom Super Rugby clash, against the Emirates Lions at Loftus Versfeld, and will replace Arno Botha at the back of the scrum. Botha will move to the side of the scrum, with Jacques du Plessis moving to the bench.

In the only change in the backline, Rudy Paige comes back at scrumhalf in place of injured Piet van Zyl.

There are 4 changes on the bench. Dean Greyling comes in for Morné Mellett and a fit-again Werner Kruger will replace Andrew Beerwinkel. It will be Kruger’s 1st appearance since the opening Round of the tournament when he injured his ankle against the DHL Stormers in February. Amongst the backs, Jacques-Louis Potgieter is fit again following a hamstring strain and replaces Tian Schoeman and Travis Ismaiel comes in for Jurgen Visser.

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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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BullsThe 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.

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Victor Matfield

Victor Matfield

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.

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Pierre Spies

Pierre Spies

The Vodacom Bulls may be on top of the South African Super Rugby conference, but they know there’s a tough road ahead until the end of regular season play.

The Bulls thrashed the Reds 43 / 22 at Loftus Versfeld at the weekend, but out of their 8 remaining league matches, only 2 will be at home.

They tackle the Cell C Sharks and DHL Stormers away over the next 2 weeks, before facing the Emirates Lions at home.

After that, 4 games in Australasia await against the Blues (15 May), Chiefs (22 May), Brumbies (29 May) and Melbourne Rebels (6 June).

Their last league game is at home against the Toyota Cheetahs on 13 June.

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Burger Odendaal

Burger Odendaal

Hanro Liebenberg

Hanro Liebenberg

Lappies Labuschagne

Lappies Labuschagne

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.

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Jesse Kriel

Jesse Kriel

Regular captain and No 8 Pierre Spies is back at the helm of the Vodacom Bulls when they take on the Hurricanes at Loftus Versfeld on Friday in Round 2 of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition.

Spies takes over the captaincy from Victor Matfield and the No 8 jumper from Arno Botha, who picked up an injury in the Vodacom Bulls tournament opener last weekend against the DHL Stormers.

The regular Bulls leader was eased back into action off the bench, but is now fit to start in a team that shows 4 changes to the starting line-up and 6 all-together from the one that started their campaign with a disappointing loss against the Cape side.

Spies comes in for Botha, with his place on the bench taken by rookie loose forward Hanro Liebenberg, who could earn a first start should he take to the field.

The injury to Werner Kruger also resulted in a front row shuffle. Trevor Nyakane will move from the left side of the front row to the right and Morné Mellett off the bench into the No 1 jersey.

A fit-again Dean Greyling will take Mellett’s place on the bench.

The other unforced change is at fullback where Jesse Kriel will start, with Jurgen Visser moving down to the bench in a straight swop with the Junior Springbok player.

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Grant Hattingh

Grant Hattingh

Bulls lock Grant Hattingh is reportedly heading to Japan after the completion of this year’s Super Rugby competition.

Bulls High Performance Manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg, said that Hattingh has a “Japan clause” in his contract.

Should Hattingh leave for Japan, he would miss this year’s Currie Cup competition, but return in time for Super Rugby in 2016.

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Adriaan Strauss

Adriaan Strauss

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.

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Pierre Spies

Pierre Spies

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.

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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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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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The Bulls started their preparations for next season’s Super Rugby competition at Loftus Versfeld’s B-field in Pretoria on Monday. It is scary when you read the list of players that are not Bulls anymore. The 4 most used captains are all in that list.

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The Proteas’ Castle Lager squad came up with a dynamic new approach to limited overs cricket during the 2011 ICC World Cup in India earlier this year.

Now they have a fresh challenge in adapting to the significant changes that have been made to the playing conditions for ODI cricket. That starts with the three-match series against Australia, the first contest of which is at SuperSport Park on Wednesday (2.30pm).

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Two like-minded teams will clash in what should be an entertaining, fast-paced game played at Etihad Stadium (Melbourne) this saturday. Talk about the sub-standard turf shouldn’t change their mindset as both coaches have named strong line ups, ready to run the ball. Continue reading

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