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Bulls players play in their school’s rugby socks in big derby against Stormers

Jake White has selected a very strong team to take on the Stormers in an important URC derby on Saturday at a packed Loftus Versfeld.

The Bulls will celebrate 19 schools in its matchday 23 for round 11 of the 2023/24 United Rugby Championship, which is dedicated to rugby Origins of the franchise rugby ecosystem.

The team out of Pretoria will lace up their boots for what should be an entertaining battle against old foes, the Stormers in the North-South derby set for Saturday 02 March.

With only 120 tickets still available for sale, the encounter is destined to be played in front of a sold-out crowd at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.

The herd is boosted in morale by the return of Wilco Louw and Zak Burger who make returns from injury. Louw was sidelined by a shoulder knock sustained in Bristol whilst Burger has recovered from a knee ding in Lyon. Louw slots into the front row at tight-head prop alongside Gerhard Steenekamp (loose-head) and Johan Grobbelaar (hooker).

Behind the trio will be lock combination of the Ruan’s. Marco van Staden lines up on the blindside with Reinhardt Ludwig at openside flank whilst Marcell Coetzee shifts to eighth-man duty.

The halfback partnership between Embrose Paier (scrumhalf) and Johan Goosen (flyhalf) will connect the forwards with the unchanged backline from round 10.

Director of Rugby Jake White said he is excited for the sold-out matchup.

“I am excited for tomorrow; it’s going to be nice for the guys. It is nice for them to play in front of a big crowd, baying for the franchise like in the past. I am glad they can be a part of that because I hope that will be the catalyst for us to kick on for the next couple of seasons,” he remarked.

According to White, it doesn’t get any bigger than this, besides a World Cup final.

“For a pool game it probably doesn’t get any bigger than this. Not many provincial players will have played in front of 51 000 people, besides the World Cup winners. There aren’t many provincial players who will have played in front of a big crowd like what is expected and that comes with a challenge for the young guys who have not done that before and we must help them with that,” White commented.

On the encounter being almost sold out, White said it is a wonderful thing for two South African sides to pull 50 000 people into the stadium for a pool game.

“The players and the people involved are (really) doing their bit for rugby South Africa,” he concluded.

BULLS vs STORMERS STARTING XV: 1. Gerhard Steenekamp (Potchefstroom Gimnasium), 2. Johan Grobbelaar (Paarl Gymnasium), 3. Wilco Louw (HTS Drostdy), 4. Ruan Vermaak (Hoërskool Monument), 5. Ruan Nortje (c) (Hoërskool Wonderboom), 6. Marco van Staden (Hoërskool Bekker), 7. Reinhardt Ludwig (Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool), 8. Marcell Coetzee (c) (Hoërskool Port Natal), 9. Embrose Papier (Hoërskool Gaasfontein), 10. Johan Goosen (Grey College), 11. Canan Moodie (Boland Landbou), 12. David Kriel (Grey Kollege), 13. Stedman Gans (Hoërskool Waterkloof), 14. Kurt-Lee Arendse (Paulus Joubert High School), 15. Devon Williams (Paarl Boys High)

REPLACEMENTS: 16. Simphiwe Matanzima (Queens College), 17. Akker van der Merwe (Laerskool George Suid), 18. Francois Kloppers (Winterton Primary School), 19. JF van Heerden (Grey College), 20. Nizaam Carr (Bishops School), 21. Zak Burger (Paarl Gimnasium), 22. Willie Le Roux (Locnerhof Primary School), 23. Mpilo Gumede (Durban High School)


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