Yes, it’s still a little early to draw conclusions, but with more than a third of the league stage of the 2023/24 United Rugby Championship (URC) – and the Bulls’ first four-week tour – completed, things aren’t looking bad at all for Jake White’s Bulls.
The Bulls recovered from the defeat in the last game of their URC tour with a dominant 53-27 victory against Connacht in Pretoria on Saturday afternoon, handing the tricky visitors from Ireland only their second defeat of the season.
The Bulls have moved back into the top-three on the log with 20 points, behind Glasgow Warriors (25) and Leinster (24).
White was very clear towards the end of last season about the gaps in the Bulls’ campaign that he wanted to address in the new season.
First, he adjusted his coaching and management team and pumped fresh blood into the system with men like Andries Bekker (forwards and breakdown) Gary Gold (analyst and defence), Jean Tiedt (defence specialist) and Phiwe Nomlomo and Kennedy Tsimba who are responsible for the skill levels of all the teams at Loftus.
Only the technical analyst John-William Meyer, the scrum coach Werner Kruger and Chris Rossouw, who takes care of the backline, have been retained in the system with regards to the coaching staff – excluding medical and conditioning personnel.
White has also made it very clear that he needs to rebuild his squad to create more depth, while having enough experience available to compliment the exciting young players in the squad. He placed a great emphasis on quality when it comes to depth. He clearly spelled out that the group must have so much depth, especially in key positions, that there should be at least three to four players available within the system who should put pressure on each other to compete for that position. Here one thinks of men like Merwe Olivier, Deon Slabbert and JF van Heerden.
— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) November 29, 2023
The Bulls have impressed so far with the kind of rugby they have played, although continuity and ongoing focus is still lacking at times.
However, if they can build on Saturday’s performance against a very good Connacht side, Bulls supporters can start to hope.
Moreover, it is also quite certain that Loftus Versfeld’s pavilions will become more and more full every week if the Bulls continue to play such good rugby.
The seven five-pointers which was scored against Connacht pushed the Bulls’ overall try-tally up to 31 in six games, the best in the league so far, with Leinster second on 29, followed by Glasgow on 27.
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