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Vodacom Blue Bulls

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Vodacom CupThe Steval Pumas qualified for their 2nd Vodacom Cup final in 3 years and will have to travel to Cape Town to face DHL Western Province next weekend.

It will be the 1st time ever that the Vodacom Cup Final is hosted in Cape Town, in what is only the 2nd time that DHL Western Province have advanced to the season decider.

On Saturday afternoon at DHL Newlands in Cape Town, DHL Western Province beat the Vodacom Blue Bulls by 10 / 6 in a scrappy encounter, putting themselves in the inside lane to win the Vodacom Cup for only the 2nd time.

They will face a Steval Pumas side that caused their 2nd upset in as many weeks though, when they dealt the Xerox Golden Lions their 1st defeat of the season at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on Friday evening, deservedly winning by 43 / 20.

This victory means that the Lowvelders had knocked out the Vodacom Cup champions of 2013, the Xerox Golden Lions, and 2014, GWK Griquas, in the last fortnight. Next Saturday in Cape Town they will be looking to add the 2012 winners to this impressive list.

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Vodacom CupThe Steval Pumas and Vodacom Blue Bulls will be facing the 2 unbeaten sides in the Vodacom Cup this year, the Xerox Golden Lions and DHL Western Province, when the 4 remaining teams face off in the semi-finals this weekend.

Of these 4, it’s only the Steval Pumas, runners up in 2013, that haven’t won the Vodacom Cup. The Lowvelders caused an upset last weekend when they eliminated the defending champions, GWK Griquas, in their quarter-final in Kimberley.

The Xerox Golden Lions last won the last of their 5 Vodacom Cup titles in 2013, the 3-time champion Vodacom Blue Bulls’ last success was in 2010 and DHL Western Province lifted the trophy for the 1st and only time in 2012.

There will be extra incentive for DHL Western Province when they host the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the 2nd semi-final on Saturday afternoon as they will host the final the next weekend should they progress.

However, should the Capetonians lose their 1st match of the season, the highest-placed team from the North Section will host the final.

The Vodacom Blue Bulls hold the upper hand in knock-out contests between these traditional rivals – they won both (in 2010 by 17 / 6 in Pretoria and in 2009 by 36 / 16, also at home).

In fact, the last time DHL Western Province hosted the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the Vodacom Cup in Cape Town, was way back in 2001, with the visitors winning easily by 41 / 10.

In total, they’ve met 9 times with the Vodacom Blue Bulls winning 6 and DHL Western Province 3. The Capetonians won the last encounter between these sides, by 16 / 8 in Pretoria in 2011.

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Vodacom Cup3 Of the 4 Vodacom Cup semi-finalists are from the North Section after the Xerox Golden Lions, Vodacom Blue Bulls and Steval Pumas all won their quarter-final encounters this weekend.

The unbeaten DHL Western Province will be the South Section’s sole representative in the Top 4 next weekend after the Steval Pumas upset the defending champions, GWK Griquas, at GWK Park in Kimberley on Friday evening.

The visitors from the Lowveld won 28 / 14 and outscored the 5-time champions by 3 tries to 2 in a match that came alight in the 2nd half.

DHL Western Province, champions in 2012, beat the Leopards XV by 47 / 22 at City Park in Cape Town on Saturday afternoon.

The Xerox Golden Lions were made to work extremely hard in their quarter-final against the SWD Eagles at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon, with the visitors from George scoring 3 tries to the 2013 champions’ 2, but in the end it wasn’t enough.

The 4th quarter-final was a rather 1-sided affair at Loftus Versfeld on Friday evening, where the Vodacom Blue Bulls beat the Toyota Free State XV by 44 / 21, with William Small-Smith dotting down 3 times for the 3-time champions from Pretoria.

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Vodacom CupThere were tries aplenty as the Vodacom Cup moved up a gear with the quarter-finals moving into sight for the 16 teams vying for the title.

In the South Section, the SWD Eagles probably delivered the biggest upset as they outplayed the Cell C Sharks XV in George on Friday evening, winning comfortably by 36 / 13 after a superb 2nd half performance where they scored 29 unanswered points.

GWK Griquas showed they will not let go of their title without a proper fight as they completely outclassed the Boland Cavaliers by 62 / 19 in Velddrif on Saturday afternoon, while the Toyota Free State XV beat the EP Kings by 50 / 45 in an extraordinary match in Bloemfontein where the scorers with still tied at 42 / 42 with only 5 minutes remaining on the clock.

DHL Western Province were predictably too strong for the Border Bulldogs as they cemented their position at the top of the South Section log with a 34 / 6 win on Saturday afternoon.

In the North Section, last weekend’s log leaders, the Xerox Golden Lions, enjoyed a BYE and was overtaken at the top of the standings by the Vodacom Blue Bulls, who beat the Down Touch Griffons by 40 / 21 in Pretoria on Friday afternoon.

The Steval Pumas’ 31 / 23 victory over the Leopards XV in Potchefstroom on Friday means the race to the top of the North Section log is now effectively between 3 teams.

The FNB Welwitschias recorded their 1st win of the season when they beat the Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls by 24 / 17 in Windhoek on Saturday afternoon.

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Dayan van der Westhuizen

Dayan van der Westhuizen

Tian Schoeman

Tian Schoeman

Dean Greyling

Dean Greyling

The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Thursday confirmed the extensions of contracts with Springbok prop Dean Greyling, Vodacom Bulls flyhalf Tian Schoeman and Junior Springbok prop Dayan van der Westhuizen.

All 3 have signed contracts that will keep them Loftus-based till 2017, Xander Janse van Rensburg, High Performance Manager of the BBC confirmed.

The trio are all products of the Blue Bulls youth structures and hails from local Pretoria schools.

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Vodacom CupNo fewer than 24 tries were scored in the 1st 4 matches of the Vodacom Cup in 2015, with big wins for the Xerox Golden Lions, Steval Pumas, Vodacom Blue Bulls and Leopards XV.

• The Vodacom Blue Bulls easily overcame the Hino Valke in Kempton Park by 37 / 13.

• The Xerox Golden Lions trounced the Namibian FNB Welwitschias by 53 / 3 in Windhoek.

• The Steval Pumas romped over the Down Touch Griffons by 57 / 18 in Nelspruit.

• In the last game of Vodacom Cup action for the weekend, the Leopards XV beat a spirited Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls side by 22 / 9 in Potchefstroom.

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Wiaan Liebenberg

Wiaan Liebenberg

Montpellier coach Jake White has his sights set on luring young Blue Bulls loose forward Wiaan Liebenberg to France.

The 22-year-old former Baby Bok captain is currently not in the Bulls’ Super Rugby plans – which makes a move to France very likely.

Loose forwards like Lappies Labuschagne, Pierre Spies, Arno Botha, Deon Stegmann and his brother Hanro are ahead of Liebenberg in the pecking order at the Bulls.

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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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Vodacom Blue BullsThe 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.

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SaracensVodacom Blue BullsSaracens (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.

*******************

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SaracensVodacom Blue BullsFlanker 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.

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Vodacom Blue BullsSaracensThree-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.

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Derick Hougaard

Derick Hougaard – Saracens

Derick Hougaard

Derick Hougaard – Blue Bulls

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.

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Vodacom Blue BullsAs 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:

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Tony Jantjies

Tony Jantjies

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.

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Jono Ross

Jono Ross

The Blue Bulls Company has granted Vodacom Blue Bulls loose forward Jono Ross an early release from his contract to allow the player the opportunity to join the French club, Stade Francais.

Ross will join the Paris-based club on 1 December 2014.

Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke admitted that it was a set-back losing a former captain and versatile loose forward, but pointed to the huge stock of talented players that will still be available to the Blue Bulls Company in 2015.

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Sampie Mastriet

Sampie Mastriet

Lohan Jacobs

Lohan Jacobs

Marvin Orie

Marvin Orie

Rohan Janse van Rensburg

Rohan Janse van Rensburg

The Xerox Golden Lions have snapped up a quartet of Vodacom Blue Bulls players – including two SA under-20 stars and a Springbok Sevens player for the upcoming season as more discontent sets in in Pretoria.

Already the Bulls lost one of their rising stars, hooker Bongi Mbonambi, to Western Province earlier this year, while snapping up Boks Trevor Nyakane and Adriaan Strauss for the upcoming season as well as Toyota Cheetahs flanker Lappies Labuschagne.

But now the cross-Jukskei trek has seen the Bulls lose not only Springbok Sevens flyer Sampie Mastriet to the Lions, but also top young players Marvin Orie, Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Lohan Jacobs.

The quartet have signed for the Lions after failing to find any meaningful game time at the Bulls as the bottleneck at the top continues.

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DHL WPVodacom Blue BullsThe DHL Western Province Under 21 and Under 19 teams and their counterparts from the Vodacom Blue Bulls will contest Saturday’s ABSA Under 21 and ABSA Under 19 Provincial finals at DHL Newlands.

The Blue Bulls teams booked their trip by beating the Cell C Sharks 43-20 (Under 19) and Xerox Golden Lions 23-19 (Under 21) in their semi-finals played at Loftus Versfeld.

The WP Under 21 side had too much class for the Toyota Free State Under 21’s at DHL Newlands, winning 41-17, while the WP Under 19 side won 29-22 against the Free State Under 19’s in Bloemfontein.

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Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard will play at inside centre when the Vodacom Blue Bulls take on DHL Western Province in the semi-finals of the Absa Currie Cup in Cape Town on Saturday.

Pollard will replace injured Burger Odendaal for the match at DHL Newlands in one of two backline changes made by coach Frans Ludeke. In the other, Rudy Paige will start at scrumhalf, with Piet van Zyl playing off the bench.

Pollard came off the bench in the final Absa Currie Cup league match against GWK Griquas last weekend and his place amongst the reserves will be taken by Sampie Mastriet.

In the pack, Ludeke rotated Marcel van der Merwe and Werner Kruger, with the latter starting at Newlands.

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Jacques-Louis Potgieter

Jacques-Louis Potgieter

Vodacom Blue Bulls pivot Jacques-Louis Potgieter is confident his team has the right game plan to win playoffs as they prepare for their Absa Currie Cup semifinal against DHL Western Province at Newlands on Saturday.

Potgieter believes the momentum the Bulls have built up, coupled with their game plan will be enough to get his side over the semifinal hurdle against their old rivals.

The Bulls will head down to Cape Town as massive underdogs this weekend, having lost both their league games against Province this year and having very little to counter the Cape side’s expansive game when the teams have met.

But the turnaround came precisely after the Bulls lost their game against Province at Loftus Versfeld and despite a stutter against the Sharks, the Bulls have been steadily building after a poor start to the season to find themselves sneaking into the semifinals and now believe they can go the whole way.

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Robbie Fleck

Robbie Fleck

Western Province backline coach Robbie Fleck says they are well aware of the threat Handré Pollard could pose in their Currie Cup semi-final at Newlands on Saturday.

Pollard, who starred at flyhalf for the Springboks in the recent Rugby Championship, is allowed to play in the Currie Cup because he is not a contracted Bok.

“Handre is playing with a lot of confidence and brings his team-mates into play. We’ll have to be aware of that,” Fleck said. “He is an exceptional player having a stellar season.”

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Currie CupDHL Western Province will host the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Cape Town and the Xerox Golden Lions will face the Cell C Sharks in Johannesburg in the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division semifinals next weekend.

Log-leaders DHL Western Province were assured of their home semifinal and the top spot on the log before entering the final round of pool matches this weekend, while the Xerox Golden Lions sealed their home semifinal by thumping the Toyota Free State Cheetahs. The victory for the Johannesburg team was enough to cancel out any efforts by the Cell C Sharks for the second spot on the log.

In the weekend’s matches, the EP Kings registered their first victory of the season as they pipped the Steval Pumas 26-25 in Port Elizabeth, while the Xerox Golden Lions thumped the Toyota Free State Cheetahs 47-7 at Ellis Park, the Cell C Sharks defeated DHL Western Province 28-20 in Cape Town and the Vodacom Blue Bulls beat GWK Griquas 46-12 in Pretoria.

The Xerox Golden Lions will meet the Cell C Sharks in the first semifinal on Saturday, October 18, at 14:30 SA Time and DHL Western Province will go up against the Vodacom Blue Bulls at 17:00 SA Time.

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WP coach Allister Coetzee says that his team wont be changing their attacking gameplan for the Currie Cup semi-final against the Blue Bulls.

Western Province beat the Blue Bulls in both league games this season, and that is why coach Allister Coetzee says that his team won’t be changing their attacking gameplan for a more conservative one in Saturday’s Currie Cup semi-final at Newlands.

In fact, since Coetzee took over the WP Currie Cup team in 2008, they have lost only once to the Blue Bulls at Newlands, although it was a big one – the 2009 semi-final, when Morné Steyn slotted a late penalty for a 21-19 win.

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WhistleThe two REFEREES for the Currie Cup Premier Division Semi-Finals of 2014 have been revealed.

Jaco van Heerden will take charge of the first Semi-Final between the Xerox Golden Lions and Cell C Sharks at Ellis Park (kick-off at 14:30 SA Time).

Van Heerden will be assisted by Ben Crouse and Sieg van Staden, while Johan Greeff will be the TMO.

Pro Legoete will handle duties in the second Semi-Final at Newlands between DHL Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls (kick-off at 17:00 SA Time).

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Handré Pollard

Handré Pollard

It’s a sort of homecoming, with apologies to U2, as Handre Pollard returns to his Western Cape roots for an Absa Currie Cup semi-final on Saturday.

The former Paarl Gym flyhalf, born in Somerset West but shrewdly snapped up as a teenager by the Blue Bulls in 2012 despite Western Province insisting they did everything they could to hold onto the wunderkind, seems a betting certainty to start for his adopted province in a classic “South v North” derby at Newlands (17:00).

Pollard, who has supposedly been nursing a niggle or two from his often heroic exertions in the Castle Rugby Championship, only underlined in a few late minutes off the bench against Griquas at Loftus on Saturday just what a tremendous prospect he is at the still pretty tender age of 20.

Not only did he register a try of his own against the predictably outmuscled visitors with a sizzling inside step and then power surge over the line, but the exciting new Springbok also produced two cunning chips in attacking play – one of which directly led to a touchdown by veteran wing Akona Ndungane.

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Vodacom Blue BullsVodacom Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke recalled two Springboks and a Junior Springbok to his starting backline to play GWK Griquas in Pretoria on Saturday, whilst also including Bok pivot Handré Pollard on the bench.

In a re-jigged backline Junior Bok William Small-Smith (for Bok contracted JJ Engelbrecht), Bjorn Basson (for Sampie Mastriet) and Piet van Zyl (rotating with Rudy Paige) will start, while Marcel van der Merwe will wear the number three jersey in place of Werner Kruger in one of three changes from the pack that beat Steval Pumas last weekend.

Bongi Mbonambi is back again in the two jumper with Callie Visagie benched and Morne Mellett will start at loosehead in place of Dean Greyling.

Pollard will be brought into the game when needed, Ludeke said.

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ABSA Currie CupIt was a weekend of bonus-point victories in the ABSA Currie Cup as all the winning sides, except for the Vodacom Blue Bulls, bagged 5 Log points from their matches to maintain comfortable log positions with an eye on the playoff stages.

In Friday’s matches DHL Western Province defeated the Steval Pumas 37-23 in Nelspruit and the Vodacom Blue Bulls beat the Toyota Free State Cheetahs 31-22 in Bloemfontein. On Saturday the Cell C Sharks thumped the EP Kings 53-24 in Durban and the Xerox Golden Lions registered a convincing 46-8 victory against GWK Griquas in Kimberley.

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SuperBruLet me start off this week’s SuperBru thread by saying “Thanks for nothing, Sharks!”

Typical of the Cell C Sharks, play like plonkers for most of the Currie Cup, but then turn it on just in time to mess up everyone’s GSP.

After losses to the Steval Pumas and then at home to the GWK Griquas, not many gave them a chance at Loftus. Well done to the Sharks though, but it must be added that the Blue Bulls looked like plonkers on Saturday.

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Frans Ludeke

On the right track, Frans Ludeke

Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke says they will keep backing their processes in order to get their game plan right.

The Bulls suffered another disappointing loss at the weekend when the Sharks beat them 26-15 at Loftus Versfeld.

Ludeke said they have no excuses for the loss and have to learn to handle the pressure situations better.

“It was especially our decision making which cost us. There were times when we needed to play tactically, but then carried the ball and lost it at the breakdowns instead,” Ludeke said.

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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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ABSA Currie CupAs anticipated, DHL Western Province and the Xerox Golden Lions confirmed their positions at the top of the Absa Currie Cup log with bonus point home wins over the weekend, but they may have reason now to be looking nervously over their shoulders.

The Cell C Sharks have looked woeful for most of the season and until the second half against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs 10 days again, they just weren’t converting their line breaks or stringing phases together.

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