The Vodacom Bulls are intent on involving former legends such as Bakkies Botha and Fourie du Preez as they look to build a new ‘legacy’.
It’s been an interesting time in Bulls country in recent weeks, with the arrival of new director of rugby Jake White headlining a series of changes as the Pretoria franchise undergoes a rebuilding phase.
Already, the former three-time Vodacom Super Rugby champions have confirmed the signing of Boks Arno Botha, Marcel van der Merwe and Gio Aplon, while others such as Marcell Coetzee and Bongi Mbonambi are believed to be sought after.
In addition, Edgar Rathbone has been confirmed as the Bulls’ new CEO, while this past week Russell Winter was named as the team’s new forwards coach for the next three years.
Meanwhile, White has already turned to Botha to see if the legendary lock can provide input where he can, while the Bulls’ new boss is also keen to involve another former Bok and Bulls legend in Du Preez.
It’s all seen as a means to ensure the Bulls can begin to build towards a brighter future by also including those who were part of the team’s successful past.
‘Part of what I’m doing now is building a coaching staff, at both junior and senior level. And looking at players we want to get,’ White explained. ‘The message will be the same, we would like to go back to the future. That means while we plan for the future, we must never forget how successful the Bulls have been in the past, not only in Super Rugby, because they have won many Currie Cups as well.
‘They are one of the top unions in world rugby, and we are going to work hard and try and create a bit of a legacy, and respect the fact what’s happened before us is just as important as what we want to create in the future. There are a lot of conversations on the go so everyone understands that what we do, we do together.’
This view was echoed by Winter, who has a long history with White that spans back to the early 1990s.
‘We want to create a culture and way of playing that will be appealing to the fans and rugby world,’ Winter said. ‘Rugby is a contact sport and physical game, and the flair and everything else comes second in my book. I want to be part of this journey where the Bulls create their own identity, but get back to what they were really good at. This is about long-term success.’
It’s clear the Bulls have also benefited from some financial stability as a result of last year’s significant announcement that billionaires Patrice Motsepe and Johann Rupert (via Remgro) had come in as equal majority shareholders of the Blue Bulls company (37% each).
‘I’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response, and all the calls I’m getting,’ White added. ‘A lot of players and agents have expressed interest with the Bulls, which is fantastic for us as a group.’
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