Proud Boks know Bulls success will benefit them

rugby19 June 2024 07:11| © SuperSport
By:Brenden Nel
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© Gallo Images

The Springboks are “flippen proud” of the way the Vodacom Bulls reached the Vodacom United Rugby Championship final this past weekend, and even though it means that no Bulls players will be involved in Saturday’s test against Wales, the long term effects for the country can only be positive.

It isn’t a secret that Bok coach Rassie Erasmus has been a long-term fan of the Irish system and especially the way Leinster retain talent and bring young talent through with experience around them.

But the Bulls victory showed that while some systems of handling players are good, they are not perfect. And underlined the fact that there is enough talent in South Africa, if managed right, that can compete with the best in the world.

The gutsy Bulls victory also sent a message for home grown talent to be looked at again and gives Erasmus a lot more options going into the Irish test series next month, while at the same time striking a blow for confidence that will make the Irish team think twice about the Boks.

It all comes down to a healthy system where the Boks have the luxury of having a squad face Wales while a half dozen more candidates (not including the injured dozen) play in an intercontinental final on the same day.

For any Bok coach the depth argument would make them giddy with excitement, knowing it is more getting the mix right than worrying about where to find the next player in Green and Gold.


Still, the Bulls’ victory has also dealt a blow to the aura of Irish rugby, which still is a hurdle the World Cup-winning Boks need to overcome. Losing to them in the pool game in Paris means that the Boks still have some unfinished business in the two-test series but know now that even if there are injuries, the next bunch of players coming through can make the step up.

While nobody thinks that the blow Leinster took will significantly impact Ireland’s chances, it does create a little bit of doubt in the minds of players and fans alike, and certainly will raise confidence and determination levels in the Bok camp.

Plus the added effect of good performances putting pressure on a number of overseas-based players from local players is never a bad thing. This is why it was easy for Erasmus to be proud of the Bulls performance this past weekend, knowing the benefits will be scooped up by the Boks.

“We played Ireland in our pool match and they beat us. We have a lot of respect for Ireland and we always see Leinster as almost the perfect club in terms of succession plans and bringing through players. I’ve coached there and I’ve seen their model of bringing players through and how they do it,” he said.

“Flippen well done to the Bulls. With losing so many star players ahead of the semifinal. Going into a match, a lot of things didn’t go their way in the match. Losing guys with concussion during the game and it was really a gutsy performance.

“It was a typical South African performance and I don’t think a lot of people expected that result. I think a lot of us hoped for that result. It isn’t that this would make the Irish series easier, Leinster now have played three games in South Africa, they lost against the Lions, Stormers and Bulls.

“They have experienced Loftus, I know it wasn’t a full house but they were busy and they were loud. We are proud that Jake did that with the team and there are a few players there that showed us - sometimes we think that system is better or that system is better but I don’t think the Bulls’ system is too far off.”


Erasmus was asked if he could give advice to the Bulls ahead of the final, but felt that the Bulls coaching team has enough experience to know how to handle the occasion.

“With Jake there, Chris Rossouw and Gary Gold, they certainly have experienced coaches there. You can see they are going in the right direction. You can see they are planning and what Jake is trying to do by putting his URC hat on and before trying to win both tournaments, let's pay our school fees.

“He stuck to his words and he got it right. It will be a challenge for them, just like for Franco (Smith) and his team. It is nerves, it is a final and you don’t get another chance. There will be some guys who are in the team that you have to manage differently, but Jake will know how to do that.

"There are some who think it will just happen, others that are nervous and others who just know how to handle the situation. In that Bulls’ team there is a spread of experience, from Willie (le Roux) to Cameron (Hanekom). From Wilco (Louw) who was initially known for just scrumming and now started cleaning guys out all over the place.

"There are a lot of guys in that team that have put up their hands and showed the physical side of the Bulls, but also the beautiful side of the Bulls.

“I guess try and do the same as you did last week and hopefully the result goes your way.”

And if the Bulls can overcome the last hurdle, the glory may be theirs, but the benefits will belong to the Bok cause going forward.