Cool heads and good decisions - the Bulls mantra for finals success

rugby19 June 2024 11:21
By:Brenden Nel
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Players of Blue Bulls © Gallo Images

Calm, cool heads, and not looking at emotion. That is how the Vodacom Bulls hope to win their first Vodacom United Rugby Championship final against Glasgow Warriors this weekend.

Because in any game where there is so much on the line, the team that handles the pressure the best will be the one to lift the trophy at Loftus Versfeld this weekend.

So much of the preparation has gone into the process of keeping cool and calm, making the right decisions under pressure and ensuring that the emotion doesn’t get the best of the Bulls ahead of the final.

New recruit Cornel Smit, who joined the team from Western Province earlier in the year in a swap with Wandisile Simelane, knows a thing or two about being ready for the moment.

He hadn’t played a minute of URC rugby before being selected for the bench last week in the massive semifinal victory over Leinster and had to replace an injured Willie le Roux early in the second half.

Now with the final beckoning, Smit believes that the Bulls are keeping their heads down and focusing on the process rather than the emotion surrounding the final.

“As South Africans, we can get a bit emotional, but we as a team try to calm it down and focus on the details.

“I think once we get out there, we see the stadium fully packed then those emotions, hunger and aggression would come out naturally.

“We are not a team that is very out there or banging our heads against the lockers ahead of the game. We are very calm and comfortable in each other's presence, and I don’t think anyone needs any extra motivation.”


Not that there isn’t pressure. But that goes hand in hand with the entire process, as Smit points out.

“I would be lying if I said there is no pressure,” he smiled. “But in this squad, pressure is a privilege. Some people will say we are favourites, but we don’t look at it like that.

“We just focus on our week as if it is any other normal week and try not to let the occasion get the better of us. Whether we are favourites or not anything can happen on the day and that is what we are training for. We just want to play the best rugby on the day.”

Smit smiles when asked if his move from the Stormers has worked out well, knowing the answer is the affirmative.

“I came here in January joining a very settled team. I knew it was never going to be easy to make the 23-man squad, but I worked hard for a long time and the opportunity actually came when it was least expected.

“To make my Bulls debut in a play-off game with a crowd almost to full capacity was a really special moment for my family and me. All the hard work paid off and it was very special win as well.

“It is amazing how quickly things change. My family are huge fans of Western Province and Stormers, but I think it was time for me personally to put that aside and focus on my career.

“It is a bit weird thinking that I just played a semifinal for the Bulls and now we are getting ready for the Final, but it’s amazing. I’m very grateful for my time at the Stormers, but loving my time at the Bulls as well.

“I come from Cape Town but definitely a reformed Bulls fan and player now.”

And one that is just 80 minutes from a dream title to add to his long rugby CV.