The Vodacom Bulls are under no false illusions that a tough encounter awaits them when they face the DHL Stormers in their Vodacom United Rugby Championship Grand Final in Cape Town on Saturday.
The two sides have made history as the first finalists of the cross-hemisphere premier competition, and in their first season, ensured an all-South African season finale – eliminating all of their Irish, Welsh, Scottish and Italian opposition in the process.
If past matches would be anything to go by, the DHL Stormers will easily claim the “favourites” tag, not only because they have secured a home final but also based on the fact that they have defeated the Vodacom Bulls twice already in the round robin stages of the competition.
However, Vodacom Bulls’ electrifying winger, Madosh Tambwe, believes that the final will be a different ball game, but expects an ever-competitive opponent when they take to the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday night.
“We are at a stage and time where there isn’t much more that we can do [about past results]. There is one more game left in the Vodacom URC, so we will have to try to replicate the performance we had against Leinster [in the semifinal] last weekend,” said Tambwe.
“The Stormers remain the only South African team we haven’t had a win against. We are obviously going into the game with the mindset of wanting to win. Like Coach Jake (White) says, we enter a competition to win. It doesn’t matter how we start or whatever happens, we just need to worry about the fact that at the time the ref blows the whistle at the end of the 80 minutes that we are a couple of points ahead of them.
“Credit to them, their back three has played well. (Leolin) Zas is the top try-scorer, (Seabelo) Senatla right behind him Boogie (Warrick Gelant) is a great player. It now comes down to Saturday – the planning, the bounce of the ball – so, we will approach it like we have been approaching every other game.”
The 25-year-old winger spoke glowingly about the Vodacom Bulls’ director of rugby, Jake White, who has steered the ship of the side fantastically through the season.
Despite a disappointing start to their campaign which even saw the team sitting second from the bottom of the log as early as January this year, White’s charges grew from strength to strength on their way to the final of the competition.
“Working with Coach Jake has been tremendous. He has honestly brought out the best out of me. He challenges me in various ways, not only as a rugby player but also a team guy off the field. So, working with him has been a great aspect of my career to date. Hopefully we can finish that relationship on a high on Saturday,” said a proud Tambwe.
“I want to give back to him. He’s a tremendous guy. He uplifted my career from the time I got here. The one thing I can do in terms of repaying him is to play my socks off, and hopefully play a role in securing that trophy and bringing it back to Loftus.
“When we started this competition, I don’t think anybody gave us a chance, especially when we lost our first game against Leinster and then went on to lose a few more games after that.
“As time went on, the bond and the relationships got stronger within the squad and the belief started growing. We found ourselves in a position where every game was like a playoff where we needed to win in order for us to secure a European spot and a playoff spot.
“So, ever since about the last three games before the playoffs we had already embraced the challenge of ‘every game basically a playoff’. I think all the guys took it well, and luckily, we have great coaches in our camp. We have a World Cup-winning coach, we have a defence coach that has been to three Vodacom Super Rugby finals. We have great personnel whom we are fortunate to work with.”
”Our main motivation now is to lift the trophy, the same way we did when we went to Leinster – we never mentioned that we owed them. We just went there to say it’s just another team that is in our way to the final
“This Saturday the objective is to win, and we have 23 guys who are aware of that. We just have to see the reward that awaits us. Hopefully, that is enough motivation for the game on Saturday.”
The Vodacom URC Grand Final between the Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers will kick off at 19h30 on Saturday.
The Vodacom Bulls will announce their team for the match on Friday.
[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]
The Vodacom Bulls have named an unchanged starting XV for their all-important Vodacom United Rugby Championship semifinal match against Leinster at the RDS Arena on Friday night.
The South African charges, who have been preparing for the precursor to season finale in Dublin this week, have opted for consistency with director of rugby, Jake White, selecting an unchanged starting lineup to the one that beat the Cell C Sharks in last weekend’s quarterfinal clash at Loftus Versfeld.
The side from Tshwane has made four changes to their bench. The experienced former Springbok hooker, Bismarck du Plessis will provide cover from the bench, alongside loosehead prop Simphiwe Matanzima and loose-forward, WJ Steenkamp.
The Vodacom Bulls will also see the return of electrifying back, Kurt-Lee Arendse, who will be on the bench this week after being sidelined by a finger injury over the past few weeks.
The South Africans are expecting a tough challenge against a Leinster side that has dominated during the round robin stages, and also showed their intentions of dominating the knockout stages with a forceful performance last weekend when they defeated Glasgow Warriors in the quarterfinal.
“Leinster is a phenomenal side that is very well-coached and is full if international players, said Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White, ahead of the match.
“You look at their bench and they have players who have more caps for the club than the entire Vodacom Bulls team combined. So, we are definitely up against a quality side, and it will be a great challenge at the RDS Arena.”
The match will kick off at 20h35 SA time (19h35 UK time)
The Vodacom Bulls team to play in the Vodacom URC semifinal against Leinster is:
STARTERS (15-1): Canan Moodie (Pretoria), David Kriel (Tuine), Cornal Hendricks (Northam Rhinos), Harold Vorster (Northam Rhinos), Madosh Tambwe (Pretoria), Chris Smith (Harlequin), Zak Burger (Tuine); Elrigh Louw (UP Tuks), Arno Botha (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Marcell Coetzee (ABE Midas Naka Bulle, CAPT), Ruan Nortje (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Walt Steenkamp (Tuine), Mornay Smith (Betway Centurion), Johan Grobbelaar (UP Tuks), Gerhard Steenekamp (ABE Midas Naka Bulle).
IMPACT (16-23): Bismarck du Plessis (Betway Centurion), Simphiwe Matanzima (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Robert Hunt (Harlequin), Janko Swanepoel (Pretoria), WJ Steenkamp (Tuine); Embrose Papier (UP Tuks), Morne Steyn (Tuine), Kurt-Lee Arendse (Betway Centurion).
[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]
• Stokes also moves up in rankings for batters, Jamieson rises to third place among bowlers
• Rahmat and Nabi move up in ODIs; Hazlewood, Finch and Nissanka progress in T20Is
England batter Joe Root has overtaken Kane Williamson and Steve Smith to move within 10 rating points of top-ranked Australia batter Marnus Labuschagne in the latest weekly update to the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s Test Player Rankings.
Root, who had lost the top spot to Labuschagne in December 2021 during the Ashes series, has gained 39 points after guiding England to a five-wicket victory over New Zealand in the first match of their ICC World Test Championship series at Lord’s.
Root’s 115 not out in the second innings, his 26th Test century, has taken him from 843 to 882 rating points. Smith is third with 845 points while Williamson has slipped behind Pakistan’s Babar Azam to fifth.
England captain Ben Stokes’s second innings half-century has lifted him two places to 27th. New Zealand’s Tom Blundell and Daryl Mitchell have also made important gains in Wednesday’s update. Blundell has progressed 15 places to 35th after scores of 14 and 96 and Mitchell 25 places to 50th with innings of 13 and 108.
In the Test rankings for bowlers, New Zealand fast bowler Kyle Jamieson is back at his career-best third position after finishing with six wickets in the match. England seam bowler James Anderson, who also took six wickets, has moved up two places to seventh while his compatriot Matthew Potts has entered the rankings in 77th position after an impressive seven-wicket match haul on debut.
Afghanistan players have made notable gains in the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s ODI Player Rankings after taking a 2-0 lead over Zimbabwe in their ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League series.
Rahmat Shah has moved up two places to 29th position after aggregating 181 runs in the two matches while spin bowler Mohammad Nabi is up eight places to 11th with six wickets. Hashmatullah Shahidi (up eight places to 50th) among batters and Rashid Khan (up one place to third among all-rounders) have also moved up the tables. Zimbabwe’s Sikandar Raza is up six places to joint-42nd among batters.
The ODI update, which also takes into account the last two matches of the Netherlands versus West Indies series and the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup League 2 matches played in Pearland (USA) over the past week, Windies spinner Akeal Hosein has moved up 14 places to 37th among bowlers. The United Arab Emirates pair of Vriitya Anand (up 29 places to 77th) and Chirag Suri (up 25 places to 87th), and Netherlands’ Max O’Dowd (up 33 places to 81st) have advanced in the batters’ list.
The MRF Tyres ICC Men’s T20I Player Rankings, see Australia captain Aaron Finch enter the top five and his opening partner David Warner move up eight places to 45th after guiding their team to a 10-wicket win with a 134-run stand in the first match of a three-T20I series against Sri Lanka. Fast bowler Josh Hazlewood, who was named Player of the Match for his haul of four for 16, has moved up one place to second position.
For Sri Lanka, opener Prathum Nissanka (up two places to seventh) and Charith Asalanka (up 14 places to 29th) have moved up the rankings for batters while Maheesh Theekshana is up three places to 21st among bowlers.
[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]
JOHANNESBURG: For the first time since the completion of the 2022 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand, the Momentum Proteas will reassemble for a demanding two-week national training camp, beginning on Thursday at the Cricket South Africa (CSA) High Performance Centre in Tshwane.
The camp between 05 – 20 May will include fitness assessments and technical skills sessions with two red-ball, inter-squad matches scheduled, as the Proteas Women prepare for their first Test match in eight years in their upcoming multi-format tour of England from 27 June – 25 July.
That tour will be preceded by three T20 Internationals and three ICC Women’s Championship (IWC) One-Day Internationals (ODIs) against Ireland between 03 – 17 June in the city of Dublin.
Ahead of the team’s return to the training ground collectively, head coach Hilton Moreeng shared his goals for the camp.
“We took a lot of positives from the World Cup, and it was important for us to give the players a well-deserved break after almost 90 days away from home, to give them time to regroup and spend time with family.
“There are two boxes we would like to tick (during camp). The first one would be fitness and rehabilitation assessments and then also make sure we touch base with the overall squad, including the high-performance and national academy players,” he added.
“We are also now looking at how we can address the red ball because this will be our first Test match after a very long time, so this camp will be giving everyone an opportunity to play red-ball cricket, which as you know in the country, is not a format that we’ve played a lot. It is going to be new for most players and this will be a good opportunity for them to get exposed to that so we can be ready for the Test match when we get to England,” the coach continued.
An expanded squad of 27 players will see a number of promising talents from the South African Emerging squad, including Nondumiso Shangase, Delmi Tucker and Leah Jones train with the Proteas stars who travelled to the global showpiece in Aotearoa in March.
Five contracted players in Shabnim Ismail, Laura Wolvaardt and Ayabonga Khaka, Including Suné Luus and Marizanne Kapp, as well as Mignon du Preez, who recently retired from ODI and Test cricket, will miss the camp due to their involvement in the inaugural FairBreak Invitational in Dubai.
Captain Dané van Niekerk will briefly join the squad for a medical assessment as she continues to recover from an ankle injury, while all-rounder Anneke Bosch returns from the injury on her right thumb that kept her out of the World Cup 18-player squad.
Clinton Du Preez, the Momentum Proteas’ Convenor of Selectors said:
“We have a few players away at the FairBreak tournament in Dubai and therefore it poses a great opportunity for the emerging and the provincial players who have done well in domestic cricket to attend the national camp to put themselves out there with the rest of the nationally contracted squad,” he commented.
Following the Ireland and England tours, the ladies will then turn their attention to their historic campaign in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, getting underway from 29 July with the gold medal match on Sunday, 07 August. South Africa are drawn in Group B with England, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka.
“We have to ensure that we balance the outcomes of both formats as we prepare for the Women’s Championship and also the T20 focus as this will be our inaugural participation in the Commonwealth Games, which will also be great preparation for the upcoming T20 World Cup to be hosted in South Africa in 2023,” du Preez noted.
Momentum Proteas National Training Camp Squad (27 Players):
Anneke Bosch (Senwes Dragons), Nobulumko Baneti (Border), Tazmin Brits (Senwes Dragons), Trisha Chetty (Hollywoodbets KwaZulu-Natal Coastal), Nadine de Klerk (Six Gun Grill Western Province), Annerie Dercksen (Free State), Lara Goodall (Six Gun Grill Western Province), Sinalo Jafta (Six Gun Grill Western Province), Masabata Klaas (Senwes Dragons), Lizelle Lee (Senwes Dragons), Nonkululeko Mlaba (Hollywoodbets KwaZulu-Natal Coastal), Raisibe Ntozakhe (Imperial Lions), Tumi Sekhukhune (Imperial Lions), Nondumiso Shangase (Hollywoodbets KwaZulu-Natal Coastal) Andrie Steyn (Six Gun Grill Western Province), Chloé Tryon (Hollywoodbets KwaZulu-Natal Coastal), Delmi Tucker (Six Gun Grill Western Province), Faye Tunnicliffe (Six Gun Grill Western Province), Jane Winster (SWD), Leah Jones (Six Gun Grill Western Province), Nicole de Klerk (Hollywoodbets KwaZulu-Natal Coastal), Micaela Andrews (SWD), Courtney Gounden (Hollywoodbets KwaZulu-Natal Coastal), Elize-Mari Marx (Titans Ladies), Tebogo Macheke (Limpopo), Anri Grobbelaar (Six Gun Grill Western Province). Paulinha Mashishi (Titans Ladies)
Momentum Proteas upcoming fixtures:
T20 International Series:
Friday, 03 June – 1st T20I – Ireland vs South Africa (Pembroke, Dublin)
Monday, 06 June – 2nd T20I – Ireland vs South Africa (Pembroke, Dublin)
Wednesday, 08 June – 3rd T20I – Ireland vs South Africa (Pembroke, Dublin)
One-Day International Series:
Saturday, 11 June – Ireland vs South Africa (Clontarf, Dublin)
Tuesday, 14 June– Ireland vs South Africa (Clontarf, Dublin)
Friday, 17 June – Ireland vs South Africa (Clontarf¸ Dublin)
Only Test –
Monday, 27 June – Thursday June 30 @ 11h00 local time – Once-off Test – England vs South Africa (Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton)
One-Day International Series –
Monday, 11 July @ 14h00 local time – 1st ODI – England vs South Africa (The County Ground, Northampton)
Friday, 15 July @ 14h00 local time – 2nd ODI – England vs South Africa (Bristol County Ground, Bristol)
Monday, 18 July @ 14h00 local time – 3rd ODI – England vs South Africa (The Uptonsteel County Ground, Leicester)
T20 Series –
Thursday, 21 July @ 19h00 local time – 1st T20 – England vs South Africa (The Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford)
Saturday, 23 July @ 14h30 local time – 2nd T20 – England vs South Africa (Blackfinch New Road, Worcester)
Monday, 25 July @ 18h30 local time – 3rd T20 – England vs South Africa (The Incora County Ground, Derby)
[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]
Johannesburg – The 2022 Annual Lions Cricket Awards has been set for Saturday 28 May at the Sun Bet Time Square Arena. Themed #ThePrideOfJoziAwards, with the dress code requirement of “My Jozi Expression”, the evening seeks to celebrate the Union’s stride made towards addressing diversity, inclusivity, and equity for all.
In May 2021, a revamped South African domestic cricket structure presented an opportunity to aggressively pursue the Union’s vision and mission to create an unparalleled passion for cricket with a strong culture to create a diverse, equal and inclusive platform across the entire Lions Cricket eco-system.
Lions Cricket Head of Marketing, Commercial and Communications Wanele Mngomezulu said;
“The journey started with various engagements to redefine our purpose and mission leading to the adoption of the Union’s long-term strategic business plan inclusive of a reinvigorated marketing and brand proposition #ThePrideOfJozi ‘One Team, One Stadium, a city of Gold’. Lions Cricket aims to create an unrivalled passion for cricket and be the source of pride for the Lion’s cricketing community. Our mission is to advance and transform cricket through effective teamwork, enabling a winning culture on and off the field, nurturing and developing the game of cricket and offer a world-class stadium experience. In addition, we want to use cricket as a vehicle to drive inclusive and sustainable economic, social and environmentally friendly change.”
“To kickstart the celebration, the Imperial Lions Annual Invitational Golf Day will be hosted on the 19th of May at the Country Club Johannesburg in Woodmead where various Lions partners will reflect and celebrate the season that was - with the Imperial Lions men’s and women’s teams present”.
“Our Lions Cricket Pride supporters and fans are then welcome to join the festivities and the night’s entertainment on Saturday 28 May at the majestic Sun Bet Time Square Arena.”
Tickets will be made available via Ticket Master from as little as R50 per person for general stand or from R850 for a fully catered VIP ‘Red Carpet’ experience with the #ThePrideOfJozi team, Lions Cricket ambassadors as well as other partners.
Mngomezulu continued; “Our partner Sun International has made available certain rooms for accommodating all those wanting to fully embrace the evening’s entertainment at a discounted price for all guests. In addition, we have also partnered with Mega Bus to shuttle our guests from the Imperial Wanderers Stadium to the Sun Bet Time Square Arena and back at a minimal cost of R120 return ticket. For more information kindly contact @.”
Lions Cricket CEO Jono Leaf-Wright says;
“Recognising our achievements, whether on an individual or team level from women, people living with disabilities, from pipeline to professional; is key to further achievements and accomplishments for those who continue to serve our game and indeed the Lions Cricket family to the very best of their ability. The evening will recognise the many hours; the outstanding commitment; the kindness and the quality of our valued team members – the night is all about them and will celebrate our ‘Lions Way’ and being the true Pride of Jozi both on and off the field.”
@LionsCricNews #LionsCricketAwards #ThePrideOfJozi
[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]
South Africa, 2 May 2022 - British former tennis player and tennis coach Miles Maclagan is coming to South Africa to host a Tennis Coaching Masterclass for South African Tennis Coaches, and a Kids Coaching Clinic for children aged between 14 and 16, as part of the 2022 Africa Cares Tennis Challenge local tennis development initiative. Miles Maclagan, a former tennis player, has also coached some big names in international tennis including Andy Murray, British number one Laura Robson, Borna Coric, Marcos Baghdatis and Philipp Kohlschreiber. He has also coached Wayne Black and Kevin Ullyett, guiding the pair to two Grand Slam doubles titles and three ATP Masters 1000 crowns, as well as Kevin Ullyett and Paul Hanley, guiding the pair to two ATP Masters 1000 titles and five other tour-level crowns.
The Tennis Coaches Masterclass and Kids Coaching Clinic are set to take place at the University of Pretoria (Tuks), in the city of Tshwane from the 13th to the 16th of May 2022.
Miles Maclagan coaching series will focus on helping young tennis players sharpen their talents and improve on their tennis skills, and help South African coaches on how they can successfully navigate their coaching careers and cultivate their tennis coaching skills to an international level, helping to develop more local tennis stars.
Commenting on the exciting occasion, Miles Maclagan said “It’s amazing to see great initiatives such as the Africa Cares Tennis Challenge developing local tennis talent in South Africa. I believe sports plays an important role in bringing communities together. I look forward to meeting and interacting with the coaches and kids in South Africa and helping to sharpen their talents.” The Gauteng North Tennis Development (GNTD) has shown its support for the initiative by providing the coaches and kids who will benefit from the coaching clinics led by Miles Maclagan and help develop tennis.
The Secretary General of GNTD Miss Antoinetta Shibisi stated “It’s a dream come true for tennis children and coaches in the Tshwane Region to be exposed to legendary status in being coached by ex-Andy Murray and grand slam winning coach Miles McLachlan. This bodes well for the development of tennis and we hope that this will rub off positively and, in the future, we will see the next Venuses, Simonas or even Arthur Ashes coming out of them.”
The tennis coaching series is part of the activations which will be running throughout the year for the 2022 Africa Cares Tennis Challenge, an international tennis tournament which will be taking place on the 3rd and 4th of December 2022 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium. Africa Cares aims to use sport as vehicle to inspire change, focusing mainly on promoting local tennis, developing local talent, and using their platforms to play their part in the fight against gender based violence, the other pandemic the world is currently facing.
“The Africa Cares Tennis event not only aims to deliver an exciting tennis tournament with international and local tennis stars sharing the stage. We also aim to develop local talent to help them build successful careers in tennis, be it as players or coaches. We want South African talent to be given more opportunities to go further,” – Tendai Rukwava, CEO of TR Brand Communications & Spokesperson for Africa Cares Tennis Challenge.
[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]
VODACOM URC: Few changes for Vodacom Bulls ahead of Glasgow Warriors clash
James Verity-Amm will earn a starting berth for the Vodacom Bulls when they take on Glasgow Warriors in a crucial Vodacom United Rugby Championship match at Loftus Versfeld on Friday night.
The Vodacom Bulls have made four changes to their backline for the clash in addition to a solitary personnel change in the forwards pack.
Verity-Amm, who has shown some fine form for the Tshwane-based side in the domestic Carling Currie Cup, has received an opportunity to start on the right wing this weekend.
The young and talented Canan Moodie, who has proven himself as a solid outside back who featured on the wing so far this season, will show his versatility when he starts at fullback.
The Vodacom Bulls will also have a changed half-back pairing which will see Zak Burger combining with the experienced Morne Steyn.
Hard man, Arno Botha, makes a return to the starting XV where he will do the No7 jersey.
A strong bench will see the return of Harold Vorster to action after missing last weekend’s game against Benetton Rugby, while Cyle Brink will be providing loose-forward cover.
“We have a tough task ahead of us this Friday,” said Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White.
“Despite their defeat to the DHL Stormers last week, Glasgow Warriors are a formidable side that we expect will bring a huge challenge for us. They are a well-coached group with a number of highly talented internationals in their squad.
“We will need to be alert and be at our best for the entire 80 minutes.”
The match between the Vodacom Bulls and Glasgow Warriors will kick off at 19h00 and it will be televised on SuperSport.
Tickets for the match are available from R25 on www.ticketpros.co.za and at the Loftus Versfeld ticket office. Entertainment on the day will include pre-match social drinks at Blu Bar behind the Eastern Stand, opening at 16h00, and an afterparty in Castle Corner featuring the mysterious DJ Paradox.
The Vodacom Bulls team to face Glasgow Warriors is:
STARTERS (15-1): Canan Moodie (Pretoria), James Verity-Amm (Pretoria), Lionel Mapoe (Pretoria), Cornal Hendricks (Northam Rhinos), Madosh Tambwe (Pretoria), Morne Steyn (Tuine), Zak Burger (Tuine); Elrigh Louw (UP Tuks), Arno Botha (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Marcell Coetzee (CAPT, ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Ruan Nortje (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Walt Steenkamp (Betway Centurion), Mornay Smith (Betway Centurion), Johan Grobbelaar (UP Tuks), Gerhard Steenekamp (ABE Midas Naka Bulle).
IMPACT (16-23): Jan-Hendrik Wessels (Pretoria), Simphiwe Matanzima (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Dylan Smith (Tuine), Janko Swanepoel (Pretoria), Cyle Brink (Betway Centurion), Embrose Papier (UP Tuks), Chris Smith (Harlequins), Harold Vorster (Northam Rhinos).
[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]
The organizers of the Absa RUN YOUR CITY CAPE TOWN 10K have announced an exciting new route for the event, taking place on Sunday 15 May 2022, which incorporates new and exciting sections. Starting in Woodbridge Island, Milnerton as per previous years, the route will run into Cape Town, with runners being able to cover the fastest and flattest route ever designed. This will include a 1,7km section of the N1 highway, giving runners a unique perspective of Cape Town, as they make their way to the finish in Long Street, in the city bowl.
Seen here: The elite women’s field at the start of the 2021 Absa RUN YOUR CITY Series in Cape Town. Photo Credit: Mark Sampson
[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]
The Vodacom Bulls head into this weekend’s Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash with Benetton with a clear message that they are a vastly different team to the one that was beaten by the Italians in the Rainbow Cup Final last year.
The Vodacom Bulls were humbled 35-8 when these two teams last met in Treviso, Italy last June. But nearly a year later and Vodacom Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee has a clear message for the visitors: “A lot has happened in a year.”
“Benetton won fair and square last time, and we took that on the chin,” Coetzee said ahead of Saturday’s match at Loftus Versfeld.
“But we’ve grown enormously as a team since then. It was a bit of a reality check for some in terms of the tempo of rugby being played in the Northern Hemisphere, but we’ve grown through that. That experience helped us to prepare well going into the Carling Currie Cup and the Vodacom United Rugby Championship. Now we’re excited about not just the prospect of playing the Rainbow Cup champions but also fighting for a spot in the playoffs. We know every game is crucial going forward and you can’t afford any slip-ups now. So we want to welcome Benetton to South Africa. We hope they have a good time off the field, but on the field it’s all business.”
The Vodacom Bulls, at eighth on the table and in the running for the playoffs compared to Benetton’s 13th place, are indeed a different prospect for the Italians after having beaten quality Northern Hemisphere opposition leading into this match. And flyhalf Chris Smith is also adamant that the team will not be side-tracked by anything other than their main competition aspirations.
“After playing only South African teams for two years straight, to go over to Italy and play an overseas side for the first time in a while was a proper rugby lesson for us. I like to think we’re a much better team now and have learned our lessons from that Rainbow Cup Final. But we’re not looking at this weekend motivated by revenge. If you do that you get side-tracked. We’ve grown a lot as a team since then. We want to play a certain brand of rugby and we want to apply the lessons we’ve learned. This is the start of a stretch of three games which are must-wins for us in terms of our playoff aspirations, and I’m just looking forward to another opportunity this weekend to play against a quality Benetton side. Last time they had an extremely passionate Italian crowd behind them, so for us to have the Loftus crowd back for this match is going to be very special.”
Winger Madosh Tambwe says he also believes the team is in a very different space compared to their last game against Benetton.
“For a lot of us, that Benetton match last year was a new experience. We hadn’t played in front of fans for months, and their fan element was quite a big one for us. It was also different opposition for us for the first time in about two years after just playing South African teams. But that’s over now. We’ve now played teams like Leinster and Ulster to name a few. I think we’re in a different head space as a team. Now we’re focused on accumulating as many points as possible and making the playoffs. We’re at the business end of this competition, and we’re enjoying that challenge as a team. But at least we now get to give them a bit of a South African taste of what things are like this side.”
Photo: Vodacom Bulls
[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]
The organisers of the Absa RUN YOUR CITY (RYC) Series are excited to announce that Isaac Kipkemboi (Kenya), Mogos Tuemay (Ethiopia) and South Africa’s Precious Mashele will join the arsenal of elite athletes that will line up on Sunday 15 May 2022 to take on the Absa RYC CAPE TOWN 10K.
[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]