Vodacom Bulls team to face DHL Stormers in Wellington

 

Snyman, Smit to start for Vodacom Bulls

 

Springboks RG Snyman and Roelof Smit will both start for the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday in Wellington when they face the DHL Stormers in a Vodacom Super Rugby friendly.

 

Snyman has returned from his club duties in Japan recently and Smit, who proved his fitness off the bench last weekend against the Cell C Sharks in Polokwane after an injury lay-off, will both be keen to make an early statement to Vodacom Bulls coach, John Mitchell.

 

The duo represented the Springboks against the British Barbarians in 2016 in a match played in London and both could play significant roles in the Vodacom Bulls pack as Mitchell moulds his squad for the forthcoming Super Rugby tournament.

 

The coach made a number of rotational changes to the side that played the Cell C Sharks in Polokwane last weekend, with the halfback pairing of Andre Warner and Marnitz Boshoff starting and Embrose Papier and Manie Libbok reverting to the bench.

 

Only Divan Rossouw (fullback), the midfield pairing of Burger Odendaal and Johnny Kotze, Hanro Liebenberg (loose forward) and lock Ruben van Heerden has been retained from the starting team, with a host of players who came off the bench in Polokwane now getting a run-on opportunity in the Wellington clash.

 

“A number of players who did not start last weekend get a change to do so this week and will get some valuable game time under the belt,” Mitchell explained.

 

“We are still building towards the start of the competition and our performance will be work in progress towards that. We know we are playing against a very capable side, but that is the whole purpose of matches like these. There is nothing on offer, but so much to learn for both sides.”

 

Kick-off in Wellington is at 16h00.

The squad is: Divan Rossouw, Andell Loubser, Johnny Kotze, Burger Odendaal (c), Duncan Matthews, Marnitz Boshoff, Andre Warner, Jano Venter, Hanro Liebenberg (v/c), Roelof Smit, RG Snyman, Ruben van Heerden, Conraad van Vuuren, Jaco Visagie, Pierre Schoeman. Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Lizo Gqoboka, Frans van Wyk, Lood de Jager, Marco van Staden, Thembelani Bholi, Embrose Papier, Manie Libbok, JT Jackson, Dries Swanepoel, Jade Stighling, Franco Naude.

Vodacom Bulls team to face Cell C Sharks in Polkwane

Vodacom Bulls coach, John Mitchell, named an exciting 26 man squad for the trip to Polokwane, but has not included Lood de Jager, Jesse Kriel, Handre Pollard or Warrick Gelant, who all toured with the Springboks to Europe in November.

There will also be a return to action for former Springbok captain, Adriaan Strauss. The hooker made a successful comeback to rugby for the Barbarians in November last year after a lay-off following the 2017 Vodacom Super Rugby season.

The match at the Peter Mokaba Stadium kicks off at 18h00 on Saturday.

The squad for Polokwane is: Divan Rossouw, Travis Ismaiel, Johnny Kotze, Burger Odendaal (c), Jade Stighling, Manie Libbok, Embrose Papier, Hanro Liebenberg, Thembelani Bholi, Marco van Staden, Aston Fortuin, Ruben van Heerden, Frans van Wyk, Adriaan Strauss, Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Pierre Schoeman, Conraad van Vuuren, Eli Snyman, Jano Venter, Roelof Smit, Andre Warner, Marnitz Boshoff, Franco Naude, Jamba Ulengo, Duncan Matthews.

 

Vodacom Blue Bulls Team to Face Emirates Lions

Boom Prinsloo will lead the Vodacom Blue Bulls team that will travel to Johannesburg to face the Emirates Lions in a warm-up match at Emirates Airline Park that kicks-off at 15h00.

Coach David Manual included a number of players with Vodacom Super Rugby experience in the squad, including the likes of Ulrich Beyers, Dries Swanepoel, Abongile Nonkontwana and Edgar Marutlulle, but will also give playing opportunities to a number of exciting youngsters that excelled in the Vodacom Blue Bulls age group teams last year.

The squad to travel to Johannesburg is: Ulrich Beyers, Irvin Ali, Dries Swanepoel, Heino Bezuidenhout, Andell Loubser, Tony Jantjies, Ginter Smuts, Boom Prinsloo (c), Rickert Korff, Shaun Adendorff, Abongile Nonkontwana, Ewan Coetzee, Matthys Basson, Edgar Marutlulle, Dewald Maritz. Replacements: Nqoba Mxoli, John-Roy Jenkinson, Simphiwe Matanzima, Thomas Meyer, Pieter Diergaardt, Adre Smit, Oderich Mouton, Vaughen Isaacs, Lian du Toit, Garrick Matthews, Jerome Bossr, Christiaan Strydom, Earll Douwrie, Gareth Heidtmann.

VODACOM BULLS ANNOUNCE EXCITING 38 MAN SQUAD

Vodacom Bulls head coach, John Mitchell, on Monday named 38 players as well the leadership for the 2018 Vodacom Super Rugby season. The coach named midfielder, Burger Odendaal and loose forward, Nic de Jager, as co-captains.

 

The squad is made up out of 21 forwards and 17 backs, with 11 of those being Springboks and furthermore includes a host of Junior Springboks.  Springbok Sevens forward Tim Agaba has also been included and will join the squad after the Blitzboks return from tournaments in Sydney and Hamilton.

 

Only a handful of players do not have any Vodacom Super Rugby experience, among those outside back Divan Rossouw, midfielder JT Jackson, flyhalf Manie Libbok, scrumhalf Embrose Papier and lock Aston Fortuin.

 

The Vodacom Bulls will be involved in 2 warmup matches this weekend as they take on the Cell C Sharks in Polokwane on Saturday at 18h00, and the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg earlier at 15h00.

“We have made tremendous progress with our processes over the last couple of months and we will be ready for whatever comes our way during Super Rugby 2018,” said Mitchell

 

“I don’t want to make any promises on how the team will perform this year, we will be solely focussed on the process.  It’s about marginal gains for us, stacking good stuff on good stuff daily as we continue to ensure excellence.  It’s not about the end but rather the daily effort combined at the end.  Our purpose is to fill Loftus and put smiles on people’s faces.  We will be working very hard to achieve that.”

 

“I am confident that we have worked smartly and laid a solid foundation. This squad will develop and improve and one needs to be realistic about it, but we are all in agreement about the way forward.  We will be connected, we want to be respected and not just liked and therefore one of our main focus areas during this process will be to remain honest and never forget to enjoy it and have fun.  We want to serve our fans, supporters, shareholders and sponsors – we want to earn back their respect and get the Vodacom Bulls to bind us together as one.”

 

The Vodacom Bulls Super Rugby squad is:

Outside Backs: Warrick Gelant, Duncan Matthews, Travis Ismaiel, Jamba Ulengo, Jade Stighling, Divan Rossouw.

Midfielders: Burger Odendaal, JT Jackson, Francois Brummer, Jesse Kriel, Johnny Kotze

Flyhalves: Handre Pollard, Marnitz Boshoff, Manie Libbok

Halfbacks: Ivan van Zyl, Andre Warner, Embrose Papier

Loose Forwards: Roelof Smit, Ruan Steenkamp, Hendre Stassen, Hanro Liebenberg, Jannes Kirsten, Nic de Jager, Tim Agaba.

Locks: Jason Jenkins, Ruben van Heerden, RG Snyman, Lood de Jager, Aston Fortuin.

Props: Pierre Schoeman, Conraad van Vuuren, Frans van Wyk, Matthys Basson, Lizo Gqoboka, Trevor Nyakane.

Hookers: Jaco Visagie, Adriaan Strauss, Edgar Marutlulle

 

NOTE: The BBCo would also like to confirm that we have parted ways with loose forward Jacques Potgieter after lengthy discussions on his future. Potgieter has decided not to partake in Vodacom Super Rugby during 2018, and rather take a sabbatical to focus on his family and spend time with his wife, boy and soon to be born twins.  We would like to sincerely thank him for his contributions to the team both on and off the field, and wish him well with his future endeavours. He will make an announcement later in the year regarding his future.

 

PUMA REVEALS KIT CELEBRATING 80 YEARS OF BLUE BULLS RUGBY UNION

Official technical partner PUMA has unveiled the 2018 home kit for the Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Blue Bulls, with a design in celebration of the Rugby Union’s 80 year anniversary.

PUMA has also designed a new badge, which will be positioned over the heart of the jersey and will see all the Union’s teams, from Vodacom Super Rugby all the way down to U19 Championship, play under the same badge for the first time. Giving rise to the mantra One Legacy, One Family, One Dream, One Badge, One Kit.

Paying homage to the original Bulls kit from 1938, the new outfit for Vodacom Super Rugby, Supersport Rugby Challenge and Currie Cup tournaments stays true to the blue and white strip in a two-tone manner with the front of the entire kit baring Bulls’ blue and the back a crisp white.

A 20180 graphic on the chest signifies the 80 years of heritage and will be communicated through the launch of the year-long “Our heritage drives our future” campaign, created to excite and engage with fans, consumers and customers through innovative activations as well as digital and retail executions.

 

View the campaign video here:

VIDEO LINK: https://youtu.be/UR-0Mi31eEA

“We have drawn inspiration from this 80 year milestone and forged one badge, providing the #BullsFamily with a kit that will hopefully go down in history as a must have collector’s item for fans,” said PUMA Marketing Director Brett Bellinger.

CEO of the Blue Bulls Company, Barend van Graan: ‘PUMA have once again outdone themselves in producing an awe-inspiring kit for the new season. In 2018 we celebrate our 80th anniversary, and we will be looking to pay tribute to our proud heritage. We firmly believe PUMA has truly captured the essence, and are looking forward to running out in this timeless classic ”.

The Vodacom Bulls Home Jersey will hit stores 30 November 2017 for R799 at PUMA stores, Totalsports, The Cross Trainer, Sportsmans Warehouse and selected retailers nationwide.

#BullsFamily #20180

 

Community authored books made available to the public

The Dithakga tša Gobala project (2017), proudly sponsored by Vodacom, The Vodacom Blue Bulls, Puma, AFGRI and The Funanani Trust, today launched six wordless picturebooks which have been made available to the public, free of charge.

Wordless picturebooks are a genre of books that allow readers to use illustrations to create a story in a language of their choice. The genre allows for multiple stories can be sourced from each book, and the books are especially relevant for preschool children, who have yet to learn to decode print. In this way, the project hopes to foster a love of books, reading and storytelling regardless of literacy levels, language preference and age. Stories were sourced from parents and children in the Mamelodi community in Pretoria, and illustrated by South African illustrators and students. By sourcing stories from local communities, the project hopes to give parents and children a sense of ownership of the stories and books.

The project also wishes to make books available in South African homes. Books are an expensive luxury for many South Africans, yet, the importance of early childhood reading cannot be overstated. For this reason, the project has made both the print files, and an eBook version of each book available for download. A number of copies of the books will also be circulated to reading organisations and schools.

Shanil Mangaroo, Head of Marketing at the Vodacom Blue Bulls, expressed his sentiments on behalf of the team: “This is an amazing project, and is really close to our hearts. We believe it will create a perfect launch platform for those ‘little-ones’ starting to read, as well as give parents, that are unable to read, an opportunity to still bond with their kids over a book. We’re really looking forward to sitting down and listening to some of the stories, and enjoying the creative imaginations that this project will stimulate.”

Michelle van Eyden, Executive Head of Sponsorships at Vodacom said, “As proud sponsors of the Vodacom Blue Bulls Vodacom is very proud to be associated with the Dithakga tša Gobala project.  Vodacom is passionate about supporting education in our country and we believe that in supporting this initiative through our sponsorship of the Blue Bulls, we can make a difference in the lives of young South Africans and their families.

The art of storytelling plays a major role in African culture and we are excited to have had the opportunity to hear some of these tales today.  It is extremely rewarding to know that we had a hand in bringing this initiative to life.

The books are available for download, free of charge, at www.collaboratecommunityprojects.org/projects/books

Blue Bulls Company announce next step in turnaround strategy

The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd confirmed on Sunday evening that Vodacom Blue Bulls Head Coach Nollis Marais has been granted leave for the remainder of the 2017 season.

Barend van Graan, CEO of the BBCo, explained that this action is merely the next step in the turnaround strategy. This follows the continued unfolding of a turnaround strategy that the BBCo announced earlier this year: “We are working hard to ensure the sustainable and long-term success of the Vodacom Bulls and Blue Bulls, as we continue striving towards achieving success and restoring trust and faith in our brand.”

 

The BBCo confirmed the following management teams for the remainder of the 2017 season:

CURRIE CUP:

  • Head Coach, Attack, Exits: John Mitchell
  • Skills and Kicking: Hayden Groepes
  • Lineouts: Pote Human
  • Scrums: Gary Botha
  • Defense (All teams, junior and senior): Pine Pienaar
  • Strength and Conditioning: Jacus Coetzee (Head Weekly Tactical Periodisation (WTP) and Rehab), Ghafoer Luckan (Senior Strength and Conditioning assistant)

U21:

  • Head Coach: David Manuel
  • Backline Coach: Bevin Fortuin
  • Forward Coach: Anton Leonard
  • Strength and Conditioning: Shaun du Toit

U19:

  • Head Coach and Backline: Dewey Swartbooi
  • Forward Coach: Denzil Frans
  • Strength and Conditioning: Henri-Charl Terblanche, Yusuf Vahed (Junior Strength and Conditioning assistant)

 

  • Junior teams kicking, all teams’ PR and Administration: Divan Strydom

 

NOTE: The status quo for all other members of the High-Performance Department, not referred to above, remains the same.

Van Graan also added: “I believe this step furthermore grants us the opportunity to cross pollinate within our structures, ensuring what coaches have learnt whilst being involved at senior rugby levels is transferred throughout the entire system and structure, thus benefiting at all levels.  We urge our supporters and fans to rally behind the team by coming out and showing their support.”

Exciting signings at Vodacom Blue Bulls

Former Springbok flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff has joined the Vodacom Blue Bulls on a two year deal, the Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd confirmed on Wednesday. The BBC also confirmed the extension of contracts of a number of leading players in their ranks.

Boshoff was recently released from his contract with Irish province Connacht on humanitary reasons on his wish to return to South Africa following the death of his father.

He now joins the Vodacom Blue Bulls and will return to Pretoria, where he played most of his junior career, till 2019.

Boshoff will be available for the Vodacom Blue Bulls with immediate effect.

Another new face at training is former Xerox Golden Lions loose forward, Jano Venter. The no8 was a stand-out for the Gauteng side during the recent SuperSport Rugby Challenge. He also joined on a two year deal till 2019.

Former Springbok Sevens World Series winner and Olympic Rugby Sevens bronze medallist, Tim Agaba, is another new face at Loftus Versfeld and has joined the squad having recovered from an ankle injury.

The High Performance Manager at the BBC, Xander Janse van Rensburg also confirmed the extension of contracts of a number of high profile players.

Current Springbok squad member, Lizo Gqoboka and South Africa A lock, Jason Jenkins, both extended their contracts till 2019, while highly rated scrumhalf Andre Warner and wing Duncan Matthews also extended their Loftus Versfeld stay. Warner signed till 2019 and Matthews till 2020.

Current Junior Springbok prop, Gerhard Steenekamp, also opted for two more years in Pretoria.

“This is pretty exciting times for us. Not only are we getting players of international calibre confirming their confidence in our structures, but we also see current players expressing their desire to build and extend their careers with us. This is a humbling endorsement of the process underway in Pretoria. We are hoping to build something special and with quality players like these who just put pen to paper, the results will be seen sooner, rather than later,” Janse van Rensburg said.

Summary of new contracts: Marnitz Boshoff (Connacht; flyhalf/fullback) till 2019; Jano Venter (Xerox Golden Lions; no8, flank) till 2019; Tim Agaba (Springbok Sevens, no 8, loose forward) 2019.

Extensions: Lizo Gqoboka, Jason Jenkins, Andre Warner, Gerhard Steenekamp (all 2019), Duncan Matthews (2020).

For more information, please contact Xander Janse van Rensburg at +27 72 197 3136

 

Next Step in Vodacom Bulls Turnaround

The Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd confirmed on Thursday evening that decorated international rugby coach John Mitchell has been appointed as their new Executive of Rugby.

This appointment is the next step in the unfolding turnaround strategy announced by the company two weeks ago.

Barend van Graan, CEO of the BBCo, explained that the appointment is merely a nextstep in the turnaround strategy: “We are working hard to ensure sustainableand long term success for the Vodacom Bulls. As part of the process, we have now appointed the best candidate to take over the reins at the Vodacom Bulls. We are also continuing with the rest of the process, to listen to people whoseinsights will help our turnaround succeed. We are working towards achievingsuccess as a team on every front, to grow our supporter base and to earn trust in our brand”.

“I said from the start that this would be a thorough process. We looked at options both internally and externally, and had various other discussions and forums to ensure we would identify the correct candidates. The signing of acoach with the magnitude and experience of Mitchell is a massive coup for us, as his coaching credentials and achievements speak for themselves. I’m sure John will be able to add immensely in terms of our goals to win trophies and more importantly to help the continued development of our coaches and players.”

The 53 year-old dad of three, who was born in Hawera New Zealand, boasts an impressive record both as a player and as a coach. Mitchell played in six matches for the All Blacks, captaining them on three occasions. As a coach he lead them to several memorable victories with an amazing success rate of over 80%, whichincluded 2002 and 2003 Tri-Nations Championships, third place 2003 IRB World Cup and also the Bledisloe Cup in the same year.

“I enjoy challenges and this surely is a serious challenge, but one that excites me tremendously”, said Mitchell.

“I have coached against the Vodacom Bulls and the Springboks many times before. They have a rich history of success, tradition and a legacy that surely surpasses most within SA Rugby and perhaps even world rugby. I am well aware of the responsibilities that come with this job, but I am also excited about the opportunities and the talented players at the Vodacom Bulls.”

Gert Wessels, president of the union, was also excited about the appointment, “It’s been a tough year at Loftus, and some big decisions had to be made. The Bulls Board and Executives decided to implement a strategy, which will have an immediate effect on the short term with the least disruption on players and coaches and further exacerbate an already dire situation.  I have no doubt that John is the man to take the Vodacom Bulls forward and establish strategies that will benefit the Bulls in the long term, and I amrather excited about having a man of his caliber on our team. He is a humble man, who epitomizes rugby values and what this beautiful game stands for, and I firmly believe that he will be an asset to our structures.”

John Newburry, Chairman of the board, elaborated on Nollis Marais’ role going forward, “Nollis will remain in his role as the Currie Cup Head Coach. The BBCo have invested a lot of time and resources in him over the past six years, and he has come through our ranks and has achieved many successes with the various teams over the years. He is a great coach and a true Blue Bull at heart.

“This appointment will strengthen his hand and ensure that he still adds value and remains a vital part of our system. We value his efforts, his commitment and ability to adapt to the changes, but most importantly his potential to walk the path forward with this brand. He is a integral part of this system and will fulfill a very important role in Mitchell’s management team.”

The Blue Bulls Company would also like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to our sponsors: Vodacom, Afgri, Isuzu, Puma, as well as all the other associates, but most importantly to our supporters for showing their loyalty through this process.

 

Maxwane to make Vodacom Bulls debut

Vodacom Bulls coach, Nollis Marais named FNB Tuks winger, Sibahle Maxwane, on the wing for the team’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday to hand the 21-year old his team and tournament debut, whilst also making four changes in total to his backline.

Maxwane replaces injured Jamba Ulengo, while Jan Serfontein and Francois Brummer will earn starts and Jesse Kriel will play at fullback.

Kriel comes in for Warrick Gelant, who moves the bench to take over from Serfontein who moves in Kriel’s place at centre. Brummer takes over from Tian Schoeman.

In the only change in the pack, Lood de Jager moves from the bench into the engine room in place of suspended RG Snyman.

Marais also named uncapped AbongileNonkontwana on the bench, with the former Vodacom Blue Bulls Under-21 captain taking over the vacancy left by De Jager.

“We had three debutants last weekend and this weekend two more new faces will play for the Vodacom Bulls for thefirst time in what is already a fairly young team,” Marais said.

“I have no doubt in their abilities, as I have always believed that age should not impact on selection. Rabs (Sibahle) showed great form and potential for Tuks and was named in the Varsity Cup Dream Team, so that form was widely acknowledged. He continued with that in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge for the Vodacom Blue Bulls, scoring a hat-trick in one of the matches, so I am excited to see him perform,” Marais said of the former Border Craven Week, DHL Western Province and SA Rugby Sevens Academy player.

“Abongile came through the ranks and his breakthrough into Super Rugby always was a matter of when rather than if. He will also perform well.”

The coach is wary of the Emirates Lions.

“Look, they are our form team, no doubt. We have had epic battles with them and this is a big derby match, so the guys will be up for it.”

Vodacom Bulls captain, Hanro Liebenberg, said they are excited about the match.

“We have a chance to compare ourselves against the leading South African team in the competition. That is a nice challenge. The fact that it is a Gauteng derby also makes it a nice one for the fans. We owe our fans a good show and where better to do that than in Johannesburg against the Lions.”

The team (with Super Rugby caps and points) is: Jesse Kriel (40, 20), Jade Stighling (1, 0), Jan Serfontein (55, 80), Burger Odendaal (28, 15), Sibahle Maxwane (0,0), Francois Brummer (22, 134), Rudy Paige (43, 5), Hanro Liebenberg (16, 15; c), Jannes Kirsten (23, 10), Ruan Steenkamp (6, 0), Lood de Jager (48), Jason Jenkins (23, 15), Trevor Nyakane (79), Jaco Visagie (15) Lizo Gqoboka (21, 5). Replacements: Edgar Marutlulle (30, 20),Pierre Schoeman (19, 5), Conraad van Vuuren (1, 0), Abongile Nonkontwana (0, 0), Nic de Jager (14, 5), Ivan van Zyl (4, 0), Tony Jantjies (1, 0), Warrick Gelant (14, 10).  

 

Pollard, Kriel back to face Jaguars

Vodacom Bulls regulars, Handré Pollard and Jesse Kriel, are back in the starting fifteen for the Pretoria franchise that will face the Jaguares at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

The two Springboks missed last weekend’s unexpected defeat in the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament against the Sunwolves in Tokyo due to a rest agreement between SA Rugby and the six Super Rugby franchises, but their influence will be vital in the surge needed from the home side to become play-off contenders later in the season.

They replace Tian Schoeman and Warrick Gelant, who reverts to the bench.

Coach Nollis Marais not only welcomes back two of his international players, but also has a fit Lood de Jager available. De Jager missed the Tokyo match due to injury, but the former SA Rugby Player of the Year is back to full fitness and replaces Jason Jenkins, who moves down to the bench.

Piet van Zyl, who also missed out on Sunwolves selection due to injury, is fit again and the third change to the backline. He comes in for Rudy Paige at scrumhalf.

Up front, Pierre Schoeman will start at loosehead for the fourth time this season, replacing Lizo Gqoboka.

Former Vodacom Blue Bulls age group player, Marnus Schoeman (on loan from the Steval Pumas), was named on the bench and could make his Vodacom Super Rugby and Vodacom Bulls debut if he takes to the field.

The former Waterkloof High School flanker was on loan to the DHL Stormers at the start of the season, but picked up an injury pre-season and missed out on squad selection down in Cape Town.

He now joins a number of old team mates in the set-up.

Marais was not hiding away from their poor performances when announcing the team in Pretoria on Thursday.

“We are not where we wanted to be at this stage of the competition and that is disappointing. Yes, we had a tough schedule in the opening weeks of the competition, but good teams are supposed to overcome those. I still believe we have the make-up, talent and mindset to become a serious contender in the tournament this year, but reality bites. We under performed, but there is massive determination to turn our season around.”

Vodacom Bulls captain, Adriaan Strauss, is all too aware of the threats the Jaguars will post.

“They are almost a test match team and they play test match style rugby. They minimise mistakes, take the points and put huge emphasis on first phase. That makes them a difficult team to breakdown. We can do that, but will need patience on attack and discipline on defence,” Strauss said.

“The team is absolutely delighted to be back home, not only in their personal capacity, but also back at Loftus,where our other family lives. We need to show we are a championship team and I think us coming back to our fans and support base, could just be the spark.”