Can Sharks breach the Bulls' bastion?
CURRIE CUP FINAL BUILD-UP: Jake White readily admits he is an ‘old school’ coach and holds certain traditions very dear to his heart.
One of those is the importance of winning your home games.
The Bulls’ Director of Rugby has a very proud record at the team’s bastion – Loftus Versfeld.
White now has 21 consecutive victories to his credit at Fort Loftus.
In fact, with White in the coaches’ box, the Bulls are unbeaten since the 2007 World Cup-winning former Springbok coach arrived in Pretoria.
The only loss in this period was in the opening round of the Currie Cup – when a severely depleted Bulls team got beaten by Western Province (48-24).
On that day Jake White and more than 30 of his frontline players were in Treviso for the Rainbow Cup Final and the Bulls fielded a mainly club team in the Currie Cup fixture.
With White in the coaching box and their frontline players available, the Bulls have not lost at Loftus.
The Bulls have played in 15 Currie Cup finals at Loftus, won 12 and lost just three.
White can add another chapter to that storied history.
Should they beat the Sharks in the Final on Saturday, he will become only the fifth Northern Transvaal/Bulls coach with two or more Currie Cup titles.
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White became the seventh Currie Cup-winning coach at the Bulls, when they beat the Sharks in the 2020/21 Final back in January.
The Bulls, formerly Northern Transvaal for the first 59 years since becoming an independent union in 1938, have won or shared the Currie Cup competition on 24 occasions.
It is a feature of the union’s solid management structures over time that only seven coaches were in charge for the last 22 Currie Cups won – following the first two wins in 1946 and 1956.
In those years the coaching responsibilities were still shared by teams’ selection committees.
Buurman van Zyl, or Oom Buurman as everyone called him, was in charge of 11 Currie Cup-winning sides – between 1968 and 1981.
This included 1971, when they shared the trophy with Transvaal, and 1979, when they shared it with Western Province – following drawn finals at Ellis Park and Newlands, respectively.
Former Springbok coach John Williams was the coach when Northern Transvaal won their next three titles (1987 to 1989), including a draw with WP at Newlands.
Eugene van Wyk then took over the coaching of the provincial side and won the title in 1991.
After a turbulent period at the union, he was recalled as the coach and repeated the victory when the team won the title for the first time as the Blue Bulls in 1998.
After another three barren years, Heyneke Meyer did the coaching hat-trick in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
Human, with a 28-all draw against the Free State Cheetahs in 2006, Frans Ludeke with a win against the Cheetahs in 2009, and Jake White (2020/21 against the Sharks) added to the Bulls’ tally.
* By Wim van der Berg, with additional information by @BlueBullsRugby