CALLING it the winds of change may well be apt. A new coach, a new team, an envisaged new playing pattern. The Blue Bulls' first run-about, against the EP Kings, went well and it also augurs well for the Currie Cup season ahead, although too much should not be gleaned from the 33-10 win.
They have one more warm-up match, against the Canon Eagles in Japan on July 31, to finalise their preparations for the first Currie Cup match against the Free State in Bloemfontein on August 8.
The youth weeks have come and gone with the Blue Bulls rounding off with a 40-12 win over Boland in the U18 Craven Week.
In this issue Dr Eugene Hare in his column discusses the Cafe Enrista Cup series which showcased talented school leavers who were not included in the Youth Week sides and exposed them to club rugby. Centurion won the final against Oostelike Eagles.
Some outstanding talent was identified in this series.
Hare also refers to the Game Development Award to the BBRU's Bisto Modibane by the Soshanguve Community Radio Station.
Dan Lombard looks at particular laws for which refereeing guidelines have been set for the World Cup tournament to ensure conformity.
Lee-Anne Diab gives some insight about what is done by and expected of players in the pre-season training phase; Ockert de Villiers produces an insightful interview with new Currie Cup coach Nollis Marais; and Blue Bulls centre William Small-Smith gives a glimpse of what is needed and practised to implement the envisaged new playing style.
Shanil Mangaroo and Wim van der Berg
by Ockert de Villiers
NEWLY appointed Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais has vowed to institute a complete overhaul in the pursuit of bringing pride and silverware back to Loftus Versfeld.
Speaking to Marais it is clear his passion for the Light Blues is only surpassed by his love for the game of rugby, and taking the reins of one of the leading teams in South African rugby has been a dream come true for the 43 year old Marais.
A born-and-bred Pretoria boy, Marais has witnessed and experienced the highs and the lows of being a Blue Bull supporter. This is the driving force behind his passion to return the Absa Currie Cup trophy to Loftus.
Marais started his coaching career in 2003 as Under-15 coach at Hoerskool Overkruin in Pretoria and has since built up an impressive coaching CV.
His accolades include three Absa Under-21 Provincial Championship titles with the Blue Bulls and he has two Varsity Cup titles with Tuks to his name.
It is his intimate knowledge of the players that have passed through his hands at either Varsity Cup, Under-21 or Vodacom Cup level that gives Marais the edge before the start of the Absa Currie Cup.
Buoyed by his good track record, Marais is confident that he would be able to breathe new life into the Blue Bulls with an emphasis on a new style.
"What I think is lacking in South African rugby is that we need to adapt and look at what kind of players we have at the moment," Marais said.
"Years back we had big bulky players that could run over the opposition but we don't have those kind of players anymore.
"We have players with vision. The challenge is that we need to develop a plan that compliments the type of player you have."
The sounds Marais have been making regarding a shift away from a conservative style would not only bring optimism to Bulls supporters but rugby fans in general.
To demonstrate his willingness to challenge convention, Marais recites his favourite quote by the great American Football coach Vince Lombardi: "One must not hesitate to innovate and change with the times. The leader who stands still is not progressing, and he will not remain a leader for long."
Marais is under no illusion that it would be easy to change the mind-sets of the players, but it is a ccourse that he is happy to pursue.
"We might battle initially but down the line it will get better and I think we will surprise a few teams," he said.
The new Blue Bulls mentor and his assistant David Manual expressed their excitement about the prospect of moulding a young crop of players into the stars of the future.
"These guys are so talented and you have to give them something that compliments their style of play," he said.
"And you have to be able to tell them if something is not working for them. If something is not working for you, you need to adapt very quickly. I think we sometimes stubbornly stick to something despite not getting the result we want from it."
Marais said their first task was to instil an understanding with the players of the history, and traditions of playing in the Currie Cup. "If you don't know what the Currie Cup means to everybody, you won't work hard enough to win it," Marais said.
"I want the players to realise what it means. Today's players want to play Vodacom Super Rugby and go to Japan or wherever they can get the money.
"But there are also many youngsters here that want to play for the Currie Cup. One first has to bring that pride back and show them what the Currie Cup means for the people of South Africa."
Marais' coaching unit has been strengthened by the inclusion of former Springbok and Vodacom Bulls hooker and captain Gary Botha as technical consultant with the forwards.
From a range of bright and lively colours to sporty rims, and even funky finishes on the mirrors and grill, for once you get to determine the impression you would like to make, without dabbling in the dodgy world of after-market vehicle accessories.
We were handed the keys to JAM 1,0l turbo to have an afternoon fling with. Keys, which I might add, are colour coded to the vehicle. The ADAm is undoubtedly young and vibey, as you probably already figured from the customisation offerings. Even as a balding middle-aged writer, I couldn't help but want to put on a pair of skinny jeans, gel my hair sideways (or upwards and frontwards... whatever the kids are doing nowadays), and cruise through the city.
The little turbo charged engine seems to be hungry for heavy feet, as it responds to some abusive acceleration, producing 170NM torque at 4000 rpm and 85kW. Sure, it doesn't sound like a lot, but coupled that with the light body weight and responsive mid-range acceleration, and you can be assured to feel a few years younger. Opel claim that the combined fuel consumption should be about 5.1l/100km - I can confirm that even with heavy feet, it still didn't get as thirsty ass the driver did, averaging about 6,6l/100km over the afternoon.
The ADAM is a small car, and there's truly no other way of phrasing that. It does, however offer enough comfort in a n extremely well designed and artistically modern interior, especially up front. The back may be a little questionable. But let's be honest, I really don't think that the target market for this vehicle needs too much space at the back. After all, what do young people use their backs seats for anyway? I'm willing to bet that whatever that is, it could surely be achieved while having just as much fun a little cramped.
As with the previous Opels launched this year, the in-car INFOTAINMENT centre is nothing short of fabulous. The state-of the art multimedia system, IntelliLink, offers smartphone connectivity for both Android and iOS. The ADAM also integrates 'Siri Eyes Free' so you can use voice commands to operate your phone and the infotainment systems. Music, videos photos and maps, all displayed to perfection on a 7-inch colour touch screen - well within an arm's reach.
Undoubtedly the 'coolest' feature has to be the ease of parking... it's so simple, it parks itself... NO, really it literally park itself! With Advanced Park Assist, it not only finds a fitting parking pace, but will also steer into the spot for you.
The ADAM is a little work of art. It's not quite a Picasso though, and that's not a bad thing. After many hours of deliberation and some deeply pensive thought, I figured that it might best be described as the result of a late night party session between Picasso and Steve Jobs...
The Blue Bulls Rugby Union's Jappie Bee Modibane, better known as Bisto Modibane, was honoured by the Soshanguve Community Radio Station with the Game Development Award for participating on the station's Sports Button Programme which broadcasts live every Monday and Friday from 19:00 - 20:00.
The programme includes all sports which makes it a great honour for rugby that the award should come to the sport.
Bisto, who has been with the Union for just over three years is a Cluster manager at the BBRU and manages the Soshanguve and Pretoria North area of rugby development.
"Bisto is a hard-working individual with a good work ethic and we are lucky to have him on our team. We are really proud of Bisto and his achievements," said Johan Schoeman, general manager: game development.
The final of second annual competition of the Cafe Enrista Cup to showcase talented school leavers who were not included in the Youth Week sides and to expose them to club rugby and its environment took place at Loftus on July 4.
The tournament hosted teams from UP-Tuks, TUT, Harlequins, Naka Bulle, Oostelike Eagles, Centurion, Petoria Police and newcomers Dragons, who replaced Silver Valke.
The week was full of action and some outstanding rugby was on display. Centurion Rugby Club were crowned champions when they beat Oostelike Eagles 17 - 10 in a very hard-fought final.
Defending Cup champions Tukkies lost to Dragons in their opening match of the week but progressed to play Pretoria Police, who lost to Centurion in their opening match, in the Plate Final. Tukkies won the nail-biting match 17 - 16.
Harlequins finished the week strongly on the final day after beating Dragons to take third place, while the newcomers finished the week in overall fourth position.
Final standing of the Enrista Cup
The BBRU wish to thank tournament sponsors Cafe Enrista who made the week possible as well as the Blue Bulls High Schools Rugby Association for their assistance in arrangements and communication to schools.
by Wim van der Berg
The 52nd Coca-Cola Craven Week was held at the Paul Roos Gimnasium in Stellenbosh in July.
The week has since produced scores of Springboks and Bok captains.
It was in 1964 that Piet Malan, until a fortnight ago South Africa's oldest living Springbok, suggested to Dr Danie Craven, president of the old South African Rugby Football Board (SARFB) that the schools should be included in the 75-year anniversary celebrations of the old South African Rugby Football Union.
Craven agreed, proposed the week and his board approved; and that year the first schools week, to become known as the Craven Week, took place in East London with teams from 15 unions taking part.
Boland, Border, Eastern Province, Eastern Transvaal, Griqualand West, Natal, North Eastern Cape, Northern Transvaal, Orange Free State, Rhodesia, South West Africa, South Western Districts, Transvaal, Western Province and Western Transvaal were represented at that first week.
The Craven Week has since grown in stature and is regarded as the greatest schoolboy tournament in the world.
by Dan Lombard
The Rugby World Cup is only a few months away and rugby union's governing body World Rugby is determined to provide a tournament that matches the quality of rugby on show.
The Laws Representation Group (LRG) met in April to discuss the laws ahead of the global showpiece. The group concluded that the following laws need not be amended, but match officials must enforce them more stringently.
Match officials are to be especially aware of the following two acts of foul play under Law 10.4 (e): high tackles and neck contact.
Player welfare is of utmost importance to World Rugby. Players who deliberately grab or choke another player will be subjected to a possible yellow or red card. All cleanouts (at rucks) around the neck area must be penalised. Match officials are to work together to enforce the law regarding this area of the game.
By 1987 there were 28 teams at Craven Week. In 2000 there were 32 teams but the format was then changed to the present 20 teams: South Africa's 14 unions, four country districts sides and rugby neighbours Zimbabwe and Namibia.
A separate area of foul play but just as important is Law 10.4 (i): Challenging of players in the air. It is important to note that it is the responsibility of the challenger to ensure that the challenge is committed is such a way to ensure the ball receiver's safety.
A challenge in the air can result in different outcomes:
Play on -
Fair challenge with both players in a realistic position to catch the ball. Even if the player(s) land(s) dangerously, play on.
Penalty only -
Fair challenge with wrong timing - no pulling down.
Yellow card -
Not a fair challenge, there is no contest and the player is pulled down landing on his back or side.
Red card -
Not a fair challenge, there is no contest and the player lands on his head, neck or shoulder.
The scrum has been a contentious issue in rugby union for several seasons. Match officials are to police the scrum feed and communicate better with the players.
Scrum feed - Law 20.6 (d): Match officials must ensure that the scrum feed is credible. A free kick is to be awarded if the feed is clearly not straight. The referee should look out for players' shoulders being parallel and manage the scrum accordingly.
Communication - Law 20.4 (e,f): If the scrum is/becomes stationary or if the ball is at the No.8's feet then the referee must call "use it".
Many rugby pundits have an issue with the maul as it is basically a legal form of obstruction. That is especiallt the case at the so-called rolling maul.
Match officials need to ensure that the letter of the law is followed when teams utilise the maul.
The referee must enforce Law 17.4 (c) which states that a player may not join the maul in front of the ball carrier. The ripper must be bound to the maul otherwise the player is accidentally offside. Infringements are to be penalised accordingly.
Chairman of the LRG John Jeffrey said: "The eyes of the rugby-loving world will be on the Rugby World Cup later this year and, as always, there will be plenty of attention paid to the decisions of the match officials. The LRG has sought to clarify to players, coaches, media and spectators exactly what they can expect from referees in these key areas during the tournament."
"It was felt that law changes were not necessary in these areas but that referees needed to apply the current law more effectively in some cases."
By William Small-Smith
There is a new face in control of the Vodaom Blue Bulls Currie Cup team. With that a new energy has surfaced, fuelled by youngsters, new ideals and a desire to win back the hearts of the Loftus faithful.
Nollis Marais has been handed the task of creating a winning team with the correct balance of attacking and accurate rugby. Supporters tend to like an expansive game plan, a change in approach was necessary.
The only way of playing an expansive running game with a low risk of errors is to train in that manner and master the skills required. No longer will a forward not think about passing, no longer will wings only stay out wide and gone is the day of aimless kicking.
We as players have been handed the freedom to express ourselves on the field. Along with that freedom we take responsibility of the outcome and acknowledge the risk and reward involved. To play our running game, we have to have the ability to outrun our opponents.
The first warm-up game for the Blue Bulls was against the Kings in Port Elizabeth and was followed by a tour to Japan before we kick off our campaign against the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on August 8.
TI have a feeling that the new energy of the Blue Bulls team will be contagious. It will transfer between the players, on to our supporters and again make Loftus a stronghold for the Blue Bulls.