The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Thursday confirmed the release of JJ Engelbrecht to the Ospreys in Wales.
Engelbrecht, who played 65 times in the Vodacom Bulls jersey since joining the team in 2012, was due to link up with his Pretoria team mates upon returning from Japan, where he is playing for Toyota Industries Shuttles.
The Ospreys offer resulted in a release request by Engelbrecht, which has been granted by the BBC with immediate effect.
According to the BBC High Performance Manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg, the decision to release Engelbrecht was based on the depth they have in the midfield, where the likes of Jesse Kriel, Dan Kriel, Burger Odendaal, Jan Serfontein and Dries Swanepoel will be contesting starting spots.
Vodacom Bulls prop Morné Mellett has retired from rugby with immediate effect due to medical advice.
The prop suffered vertebral artery dissection in July and was ruled out of rugby for the remainder of the year. Recent medical advice suggested that the 26-year old player calls it a day.
“It is sad to end my career like this, but I have no regrets,” Mellett said on Thursday. “I had a good career with an unbelievable group of guys and was part of the best union in the world since I left school. We have achieved so much together and although I would have wanted to go on and play test rugby in the future, my health and family remains most important. I would like to take this opportunity to specifically thank my wife, Claudine, for her unconditional love and support throughout my career and especially now, as well as my brother Leon.” he said.
Mellett represented the Valke at Craven Week in 2006 and 2007 and started playing for the Vodacom Blue Bulls Under 19’s in 2007 already.
He represented the Vodacom Bulls in 37 matches in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition and 10 times in the ABSA Currie Cup. He also played for UP-Tuks in the Varsity Cup and represented the Junior Springboks at the 2009 Junior World Championship.
Springbok hooker Adriaan Strauss has been named as captain of the Vodacom Bulls for the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby season, the team annnounced on Monday. Another international star, Springbok flyhalf Handré Pollard, will be vice-captain for the season.
Strauss, a Super Rugby centurion (118 appearances) is no stranger to a leadership role at this level, having captained the Toyota Cheetahs for a number of seasons and according to the Vodacom Bulls Super Rugby coach, Nollis Marais, is a perfect fit for his team.
“Adriaan ticks all the boxes. He has vast experience at Super Rugby level, has played 54 Tests for the Springboks, where he is part of the leadership group and represents what we stand for as Bulls. His leadership style is great, as is his ability to rally players around him. He is also one of the top hookers in world rugby and even opponents will look up to his presence on the field,” Marais explained.
PUMA the official technical and apparel partner of the Vodacom Bulls has unveiled 3 new Super Rugby kits, inspired by the stars.
Nicknamed the Stellar Kit, this season sees the introduction of a signature Black kit – brought to life with an orange and red ombrè effect across the front of the jersey, a traditional Blue kit and a re-appearance of the popular Pink kit. The Vodacom Bulls will take to the field in the specially designed pink kit for one of their home games to show their support of CANSA (Cancer Association of South Africa) and those persevering in the fight against cancer.
PUMA South Africa’s Marketing Director, Brett Bellinger says there is something for everyone in the new kits which feature a Bull imprinted across the front with reflective material embellishments.
The Vodacom Bulls are hard at work in preparation for the Vodacom Super Rugby season next year, with some new faces amongst the regular squad members.
New Vodacom Bulls player Lizo Gqoboka has settled in well amongst his team mates and is working hard with the rest of the Vodacom Super Rugby squad assembled in Pretoria. Winger Luther Obi will join the squad on Wednesday as the Bulls step up preparations at Loftus Versfeld for next year’s extended Vodacom Super Rugby competition, where the Vodacom Bulls are working hard to achieve success in 2016.
A number of injured players will join the fray as they complete rehabilitation, while those playing club rugby in Japan will return during the course of January 2016. The 5 returning from Japan are Grant Hattingh, Handré Pollard, JJ Engelbrecht, Bjorn Basson and Jesse Kriel.
The injured players (with date of return in brackets) are Deon Stegmann, Jannes Kirsten, Nick de Jager and Travis Ismaiel (all December), Irne Herbst, Morné Mellett, Jaco Visagie, Roelof Smit, Ruan Steenkamp, Hanro Liebenberg, Piet van Zyl, Dries Swanepoel and Warrick Gelant (January) and Callie Visagie (February).
The Vodacom Bulls have capitalised on the growing uncertainty surrounding the EP Kings as they signed impressive prop Lizo Gqoboka for the next few years to bolster their Super Rugby squad.
Gqoboka gave notice at the Kings after repeated non-payment of salaries at the franchise, and the Bulls swooped in to offer him a new home for the foreseeable future.
And there may well be more news in the next 48 hours as the Bulls are still after the signatures of 3 other EP Kings players – loose forwards Tim Agaba and Thembelani Bholi and winger Luther Obi. Some big decisions will be made as to their futures soon.
Gqoboka has been rated as 1 of the strongest props by the Springbok management team, who tried in vain to get him to play Super Rugby this year, after he was ignored by the franchises for the 2015 season.
But with SARU’s transformation action plan likely to be implemented much more stringently in the future, the Bulls have been pro-active in searching for good black talent to bolster their Super Rugby ranks for the coming year.
Vodacom Bulls coach Nollis Marais on Monday announced his management team for the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby season, with the Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd also confirming the management teams for the rest of the Blue Bulls teams for next year.
Marais will take charge of his 1st season of Super Rugby with former Springboks loose forward Anton Leonard as his forwards coach and former Vodacom Blue Bulls backline coach David Manual as the backline coach.
Former Springbok Tim Dlulane continue in his role as team manager, as is baggage master, Elias Bennet. The technical team to assist the coaches are John-William Meyer and Divan Strydom, who will also act as kicking coaches. SARU Mobi-Unit member Louis Koen will assist them in this regard when needed.
Gary Botha (scrums and break down) and Pine Pienaar (defence) will be involved with both the Super Rugby and Currie Cup sides, as well as the junior sides in this capacity.
Dr. Herman Rossouw is the new team doctor for senior teams. Wernich Smith, Pieter du Plessis, Sanell Morgan, Khuliso Netshivhagani and Karabo Morokane will be utilised as physiotherapists for all the teams and Elzanne van Coller as masseuse.
Vodacom Blue Bulls coach, Nollis Marais, will take over the role as head coach of the Vodacom Bulls at the start of the 2016 Super Rugby season.
The current ABSA Currie Cup, and former Vodacom Cup and Under 21 head coach will assume the Vodacom Bulls coaching reins.
“Nollis is a stern testament of a true Blue Bulls man, he has coached at every level within the union, from schoolboy level right up to his current position as Currie Cup head coach. I am more than satisfied that we have appointed the best coach to take over the reins of the Vodacom Bulls,” said Blue Bulls Rugby Union President, Gert Wessels.
“Nollis is more than familiar with our systems, and has built a respectable record and reputation over the past couple of seasons since he has been with the Blue Bulls Company. His knowledge, paired with his vision and innovation, will stand us in good stead for the future.”
Having guided the Vodacom Blue Bulls Under 21 side to 3 titles over the past 4 seasons, 2 Varsity Cup gold medals with UP-Tuks, and since taking over the reins as Vodacom Cup head coach in 2013, Marais has lead the team to the play off-stages in all 3 seasons.
The 43-year-old Marais made a brave and bold decision back in 2007 to quit his full time job as a senior logistics planner and pursue his passion to become a full time professional coach. This left him without an income and he had to take out a mortgage on his house to ensure he was able to fulfill his commitments.
The Vodacom Bulls’ search for a replacement for Super Rugby coach Frans Ludeke will start in earnest when the union advertise for the vacant position over the weekend.
Bulls chief executive Barend van Graan announced the latest development after Ludeke stepped down following the team’s final match of the competition in June.
“We will advertise for the Vodacom Bulls coach position for next year and it will be in the media over the weekend,” Van Graan said in Pretoria on Thursday.
“We will then have a process which takes time depending on the amount of applications we receive.”
Van Graan would not reveal whether the Bulls had done any headhunting prior to advertising the position.
Springbok lock Victor Matfield will join the Northampton Saints on a 1-year deal at the end of this year’s Rugby World Cup.
Matfield, who at the age of 38 captained the Springboks earlier this year against Australia and Argentina, will join up with the British club for a swansong to end his career after the Springboks conclude their Rugby World Cup commitments.
He has been released from his coaching contract by mutual agreement by the Blue Bulls Company, after requesting a release earlier this week.
South Africa’s most capped Springbok and Rugby World Cup squad member, Matfield, is widely seen as possibly the greatest lock ever to play the game, and has been capped 123 times for the Springboks as he heads into his 4th Rugby World Cup.
The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Monday confirmed that a number of high profile Springboks have extended their contracts with the Blue Bulls Company for the next couple of seasons.
The likes of Handré Pollard (Oct 2019), Adriaan Strauss (Oct 2019), Jesse Kriel (Oct 2019), Trevor Nyakane (Oct 2018) and Jan Serfontein (Oct 2017) all confirmed their futures with the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls, by signing extensions that will keep them in Pretoria for a considerable time.
“This is a clear indication that frontline players see the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls as the ideal place to continue and build their already impressive careers,” says High Performance Manager at the Blue Bulls Comapany, Xander Janse van Rensburg.
Those thinking Springbok lock Victor Matfield will retire for the 2nd time may well be disappointed – it seems the legendary Springbok lock is set for another swansong at English club Bath.
The 38-year old Rugby World Cup winning lock should actually retire from playing after the Rugby World Cup and is contracted to take up a coaching position with the Vodacom Bulls next season, but it seems this may not be the case as he seeks a final payday before turning to coaching.
There have been rumours that since the axing of Frans Ludeke as Bulls coach – the Super Rugby franchise has not found a replacement – that Matfield may not be keen to go into coaching just yet, especially as Ludeke’s proposal to move to Director of coaching with Matfield and Fourie du Preez taking over the coaching reigns, was rejected with the Bulls bad run of results earlier this year.
According to sources close to the Bulls, Matfield was also told that the Bulls would not stand in his way if he decided he didn’t want to take up the coaching contract after the Rugby World Cup.
With this in mind, the news that Bath may want to sign him on a short term deal – a season in England to cap off a long and illustrious career – may well suit the Springbok captain very well, especially with the Pound very strong against the Rand at the moment.
6 Weeks after Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke resigned after failing to take his side to the Vodacom Super Rugby playoffs, the Pretoria franchise are struggling to find a suitable replacement coach for next year’s tournament.
While Nollis Marais has been elevated from the Vodacom Cup to ABSA Currie Cup and is currently preparing the side in Japan ahead of their last friendly match against the Canon Eagles, there is a growing desperation and worry that the Bulls might not find a top quality coach before the preparation for next year’s expanded Super Rugby tournament begins.
It was expected that Springbok assistant coach Johann van Graan would be the favourite, and sources close to the Bulls management say that he was offered the job, but turned the Bulls down, choosing to focus on the Springboks.
While Van Graan hasn’t commented on the move, he is currently concentrating on preparing the Springboks for their Rugby World Cup campaign.
The Springbok assistant coach is highly rated, and has also been linked to the DHL Stormers coaching position, but apparently didn’t feel it was the right time to return to the province where he learnt most of his rugby.
Vodacom Bulls centre William Small-Smith will further his career at the Toyota Cheetahs from next season.
The 23-year-old will represent the Vodacom Blue Bulls in this year’s Currie Cup before heading for Bloemfontein in time for next year’s Super Rugby competition.
Small-Smith was schooled at Grey College in Bloemfontein where he represented Free State in the Craven Week.
After school, he represented teams like the Junior Springboks, Blitzbokke, UP-Tuks and the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
It is believed that Small-Smith wanted out at the Bulls and asked to join the Cheetahs.
The Vodacom Bulls are totally mum as to who could possibly succeed Frans Ludeke as their new Super Rugby head coach.
Media speculation has been rife about possible candidates for the new post in Pretoria.
Junior Springbok coach Dawie Theron is being mentioned as a possible successor to Ludeke, who was stood down despite having another year left on his contract.
Despite the Theron rumours, the Bulls insist no decision has been made yet.
“The Blue Bulls Company (BBC) will not comment about rumours about possible coaches mentioned in the media,” CEO Barend van Graan said.
Springbok lock Victor Matfield has also been touted as a possible head coach, as well as current Springbok assistant coach Johann van Graan.
Rugby consultant Brendan Venter believes current Springbok assistant coach Johann van Graan will take charge of the Bulls next year with Victor Matfield and Fourie du Preez appointed as his assistants.
A vacancy opened up a fortnight ago when long-time mentor Frans Ludeke resigned a year before his contract was set to expire.
Van Graan is widely regarded for his technical expertise and has cut his teeth at Loftus Versfeld where he played a vital role for the Bulls during their Super Rugby supremacy between 2007 and 2010 as forwards and attack coach.
His contract with the SA Rugby Union is set to expire at the end of this year which could see him return to the Bulls as head coach.
Following Frans Ludeke’s decision to step down as Head Coach of the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls respectively, the Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd confirmed that they have reached a full and final settlement with Ludeke.
Ludeke most recently led the team to a home semi-final of the Super Rugby competition, as well as South African conference winners during 2013, prior to this he also won the Vodacom Super Rugby title twice, the first of those titles in 2009, coupled with being crowned as the Currie Cup Champions.
Barend van Graan, BBC CEO said “Frans and I have known each other a long time and we shared special memories both on and off the field of play, he is a remarkable man and in his 8 year tenure as Head Coach of the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls we have achieved many successes, which I believe our supporters, shareholders and players will cherish forever. Our staff and players have gained a huge amount from him.”
Ludeke said that although he was leaving the Blue Bulls Company sooner than anticipated, he was satisfied that his goals had been achieved and that he is able to end his tenure after sharing the joy the game brings with players, management, supporters and shareholders.
Loose forward Jacques “Vleis” Engelbrecht says signing with the Bulls was the biggest mistake of his rugby career.
The 30-year-old was a star for the Kings when they played Super Rugby in 2013 before joining the Bulls later that year.
His career nosedived in Pretoria though, where a lack of game time left him frustrated.
Engelbrecht mainly played Vodacom Cup rugby for the Blue Bulls this year and has been loaned to the EP Kings for this year’s Currie Cup.
Engelbrecht’s contract with the Bulls only expires next year, but he is hoping to impress for the Kings in the Currie Cup in order for them to try sign him for next year’s Super Rugby competition.
The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd on Tuesday confirmed that flyhalf Handré Pollard has been given permission to join Japanese outfit NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes for a 3 month spell at the end of the year.
Pollard will join the club in November 2015 and will return to Loftus Versfeld at the end of January 2016, in good time for the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby season that starts in mid-February.
“Handré is contracted to the Bulls till the end of 2017 and we are already in talks, with assistance from SARU, to extend that to 2019,” said Blue Bulls Company High Performance Manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg.
Blue Bulls prop Hencus van Wyk is reportedly off to Japan later this year.
According japonrugby.net, Van Wyk has been signed by the Munakata Sanix Blues, who he will join ahead of the 2015 / 2016 season.
It is unsure whether Van Wyk will be allowed to return to play Super Rugby for the Bulls – as is the case with many South African players plying their trade in Japan.
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.
Former Steval Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse, 1 of the country’s most undervalued coaches, is rumoured to have thrown his name into the hat for vacant coaching positions at the Cell C Sharks, Vodacom Bulls and Southern Kings.
4 Of South Africa’s franchises will be looking to fill their vacant head coach positions before the start of the revamped and extended Super Rugby tournament in 2016.
Stonehouse took up a coaching job with Japanese club Toshiba Brave Lupus earlier this year after he declined 2 previous offers from abroad with the hope of landing a job with a South African franchise.
The Bulls head coach position opened up over the weekend when Frans Ludeke resigned after 8 years in charge of South Africa’s most successful Super Rugby franchise.
After the weekend’s upheaval at Loftus Versfeld, it is expected that Vodacom Blue Bulls backline coach Pieter Rossouw will be released from his contract earlier than expected.
Rossouw gave notice before the Vodacom Bulls fateful overseas tour a number of weeks ago, but all indications were that he would stay on until the end of the ABSA Currie Cup before returning to Cape Town with his family.
But since head coach Frans Ludeke stepped down from his roles as coach of the Super Rugby and Currie Cup sides on Saturday, the ground at Loftus has shifted significantly.
It is expected that new coach Nollis Marais will make a number of sweeping changes to his management team ahead of the domestic competition and as Rossouw is leaving already, he will not be part of the new management.
Sources close to the side say that David Manuel, who until recently was the backline and skills coach alongside Marais with the Vodacom Cup team, will be appointed as the backline coach of the Currie Cup team.
Now that the league phase of the Super Rugby tournament is finished, I have posted a SA team of the tournament article. The team is based on the form players during the tournament, with overseas based players obviously not considered.
The South African teams had a very disappointing tournament by any standards, with injuries, poor form and bad reffing decisions making life hard for the critical rugby public, but in an attempt to find a silver lining here is this author’s team of the tournament (other contenders mentioned where appropriate):
The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd and the Blue Bulls Company Board of Directors on Saturday 13 June 2015 confirmed the following:
- Frans Ludeke to step down from his position as Super Rugby and ABSA Currie Cup Head Coach with immediate effect.
- Appointment of Nollis Marais as new head coach of the Vodacom Blue Bulls for the 2015 ABSA Currie Cup season.
- Process to appoint a new Vodacom Bulls Head Coach for Super Rugby 2016 ongoing.
- Extension of CEO, Barend van Graan’s contract until January 2019 (from February 2015).
The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd and the Blue Bulls Company Board of Directors in a statement on Saturday 13 June 2015 confirmed a number of coaching changes to the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls structures with regards to the ABSA Currie Cup 2015 season and the Vodacom Super Rugby season in 2016.
The Board of Directors indicated that Frans Ludeke will step down from his position as Super Rugby and Currie Cup Head Coach with immediate effect. Discussions with Ludeke about his future is ongoing as well as the process to appoint a new Head Coach for Super Rugby 2016. An announcement will be made as soon as this has been finalized.
Bulls (10) 29 / 42 (28) Cheetahs (Final Score)
The Vodacom Bulls and Toyota Cheetahs did battle in Super Rugby at
Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria at 17:05 SA Time (15:05 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.
The 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.
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made 4 changes to his starting team that will face the Toyota Cheetahs in a Vodacom Super Rugby clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The coach’s hand was forced through injury and the SARU rest agreement, which ruled all of Jan Serfontein, Handré Pollard, Deon Stegmann, Dean Greyling, Victor Matfield and Lappies Labuschagne out of contention for the final match of the tournament.
Matfield will be replaced by Grant Hattingh and Labuschagne by Arno Botha at flank, while Greyling’s place will be taken by Morné Mellett. Adriaan Strauss, who was rested last weekend against the Rebels, is back at hooker, with Callie Visagie moving to the bench.
Ludeke also called Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg and Roelof Smit into the squad again to cover for Deon Stegmann and Hattingh.
The backline remain unchanged from last week.
Springbok lock Victor Matfield may have 1 eye on the Rugby World Cup, but he has made it clear he wants to coach the Vodacom Bulls at some stage.
With coach Frans Ludeke’s job coming under the spotlight at a Board of Directors’ meeting on Friday, Matfield’s role in the Bulls setup will also be under the microscope after another disappointing season where the Bulls missed out on the playoffs of the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament.
There was a proposal put to the Board before the Bulls went on tour that Ludeke become Director of Rugby and that Matfield and 1 other take over the coaching role for 2016, but results on the tour have put a lot of pressure, with calls for change coming from fans and ex-Bulls legends like Naas Botha.
Matfield already runs the attack for the Bulls, and has a dual player-coaching role for the team at the moment, and has been signed to take over as coach after the Rugby World Cup later this year.
But Friday’s meeting could change all that, especially with the unhappiness that on the tour the Bulls dropped from 2nd overall and topping the South African conference to 9th and 3rd in the SA conference. Their losing streak overseas stretches to 11 games now and it is the 2nd consecutive season they missed out on the playoffs. On top of this the last time they won any trophy was in 2010.
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.
Could Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer possibly return to the Vodacom Bulls after this year’s Rugby World Cup?
The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has not yet offered Meyer an extension of his contract beyond the current Rugby World Cup.
While talks are ongoing at SARU about Meyer’s future, it is understood the Vodacom Bulls would be happy to return him and his management team to Loftus Versfeld if he doesn’t continue as Springbok coach.
The future of current Bulls coach, Frans Ludeke, appears uncertain after the men from Pretoria again failed to reach the Super Rugby playoffs.
Ludeke has a contract with the Bulls until October 2016, but there are rumours he could be relieved of his coaching duties, while there is also talk of Ludeke being promoted to Director of Rugby.
Rebels (14) 21 / 20 (17) Bulls (Final Score)
The Melbourne Rebels and Vodacom Bulls did battle in Super Rugby at
AAMI Park, Melbourne at 07:30 SA Time (15:30 AEST, 05:30 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.
Both Francois Hougaard and Willie Le Roux have concluded deals with the same Japanes team, the Canon Eagles.
The club announced on Wednesday the pair had been signed for the coming season at the Japanese club, but both are set to return to play in Vodacom Super Rugby next season.
While Hougaard is still negotiating a return to Loftus – he has 3 offers from Europe, including English clubs Leceister Tigers and Exeter Chiefs – he will be a massive signing for the Japanese club with his versatility to play either at scrumhalf or wing.
The duo will be able to continue their Springbok partnership although the 2 foreigner rule in Japanese rugby may see both playing a lot less than they would in South Africa.
The Eagles have just said goodbye to their 2 foreign players – flanker Adam Thomson and Callum Bruce – and have signed the duo to replace them.
Hougaard told the club in typically public-relations friendly quotes he was happy to be joining their ranks.
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.