For the first time in more than a decade, professional players from the Bulls – including Schalk Erasmus, Richard Kriel and Dawid Kellerman – will be in action at club level.
In a move to help synergise and foster better relationships with Pretoria rugby clubs, the contracted Bulls players were allocated to the Carlton League clubs via a draft system similar to the NFL format.
No less than 11 players will make their Carlton league debut on Saturday, 8 May when the 2021 club season kicks off.
According to Blue Bulls Rugby Union president Willem Strauss, making club rugby relevant and growing the game at community level are as important as winning trophies.
‘In the last three years we have implemented a number of strategies and initiatives to make club rugby relevant again,’ Strauss said.
‘We have aligned our professional and amateur structures to create pathways for club players to our professional U20 and U21 teams. No less than seven club players form part of the current professional U20 squad. We also revived our iconic Loftus 200 team and expanded the Carlton League to include two more clubs.
‘We also initiated an extremely successful U20 league which acted as a feeder source to numerous U20 provincial teams in the country.
‘This initiative will connect local community rugby with the professional structures of the union again. I would like to thank our shareholders for their contribution towards the commercial requirements of the players. Without their support, this initiative would not have been possible.’
Director of rugby Jake White said that to strengthen club structures, most of the players will be serving their clubs when not being selected for the week’s squad. Although they will not necessarily participate in club matches, players such as Duane Vermeulen, Trevor Nyakane and Morne Steyn will be attending at least two social events at the relevant club.
White confirmed that he was part of a similar program while at the Brumbies.
‘It is important that players associate with their local clubs. They must understand club structures and being part of club rugby. According to Saru’s constitution a player must be affiliated to a club to play provincial rugby.’
Erasmus and Kriel, along with WJ Steenkamp and Janco Uys, will play for their club, Tuine RFC, this coming weekend while Kellerman will be on duty for Pretoria Rugby Club.
The Naka Bulls will welcome Werner Gouws, Diego Appollis and Jay-Cee Nel; Harlequins Rugby Club will have Henco Beukes and Mhleli Dlamini available for selection; and Bernard van der Linde will turn out for Centurion Rugby Club.
Complete list of club affiliations:
Centurion Rugby Club – Gio Aplon, Bernard van der Linde, Mornay Smith, Travis Ismaiel, Nizaam Carr, David Kriel, Walt Steenkamp, Kurt-Lee Arendse.
Harlequins Rugby Club – Duane Vermeulen, Mhleli Dlamini, Henco Beukes, Sintu Manjezi, Trevor Nyakane, Chris Smith, Stravino Jacobs, Joe van Zyl.
Naka Buls – Werner Gouws, Diego Appollis, Simphiwe Matanzima, Arno Botha, Ruan Nortje, Lizo Gqoboka, Jay-Cee Nel, Gerhard Steenkamp.
Pretoria Rugby Club – Janko Swanepoel, James Verity-Amm, Jan Uys, Jaco Labuschagne, Dawid Kellerman, Marco van Staden, Madosh Tambwe, Marco Jansen van Vuren.
Tuine Rugby Club – WJ Steenkamp, Richard Kriel, Janco Uys, Jacques van Rooyen, Morne Steyn, Schalk Erasmus, Ivan van Zyl, Zak Burger.
Tukkies – Clinton Swart, Marnus Potgieter, Muller Uys, Keagan Johannes, Embrose Papier, Elrigh Louw, Johan Grobbelaar, Tim Agaba.
Northam Rugby Club: Cornal Hendriks, Stedman Gans.