The Vodacom Blue Bulls run in the Super Sport Rugby Challenge came to an end in their hard fought semifinal loss against DHL Western Province yet there is little to despair regarding their campaign in what is turning out to be a very successful competition.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls, coached by Under-21 head coach Pote Human, hit way above their weight as the squad was mostly made up of junior players with the odd sprinkling of experience in the likes of Boom Prinsloo and Handrè Pollard while the team was led by Abongile Nonkontwana, who only left Under-21 rugby last year.
The regular season saw the Vodacom Blue Bulls finish as one of the top try scorers and only tasted defeat on three occasions, twice against the Steval Pumas and in the dying minutes of their return match against their Jukskei neighbours, the Xerox Golden Lions.
If their mettle was tested at any point during the competition then it has to be, without a doubt, their quarterfinal victory over the Cell C Sharks XV at the Green Point Track in the shadow of Table Mountain. The Vodacom Blue Bulls dug deep to rally together after Divan Rossouw was shown a red card and their tenacious defence and ability to score points despite ending the match with only thirteen players on the field saw them claim an unlikely victory.
The young Vodacom Blue Bulls were given no chance against the unbeaten DHL Western Province going into the semifinal but it was the men from Pretoria who shot out of the blocks early before eventually succumbing to the experience of their Cape counterparts.
The Super Sport Rugby Challenge is a willing and able replacement of the Vodacom Cup where talent is groomed for higher honours. A refreshing aspect for the players was how the competition returned rugby to its communities, something Nonkontwana and his charges throughly enjoyed.
“It was great to be able to play rugby in some of the little-known rugby communities, places that are far from the likes of Loftus Versfeld or DHL Newlands. To see people turning out in numbers to support their clubs and then us was really special especially considering that many matches were played on a Sunday,” said Nonkontwana.
The majority of the squad will now turn their attention to the Under-21 Provincial Championship while players such as Nonkontwana and Prinsloo are in contention for Currie Cup duty.
Nonkontwana had a special message for management after a very good hit out during the Super Sport Rugby Challenge.
“I just want to thank Coach Pote and all the members of management that made the Super Sport Rugby Challenge a very enjoyable tournament. We grew as a squad and I believe that our performances have made us better players as we learnt a great deal about our ability,” said Nonkontwana.