Jake's Bulls plumped for Newlands' last big North-South derby
REACTION: The day of their departure from Newlands is fast approaching, but the last big North-South derby at the famed venue will take place this week.
The opening weekend of Round Two of South Africa’s revamped domestic competition – when Super Rugby Unlocked switches over to the Currie Cup – includes Western Province hosting the Blue Bulls in Cape Town.
The momentous nature of the occasion – the two most successful domestic teams going head to head at Newlands – will be the main theme of the build-up this week.
And self-proclaimed traditionalist Jake White, the Bulls’ coach and Director of Rugby, is going to ensure his players are suitably hyped for the occasion.
Speaking to the media after his team’s 21-5 win over the Pumas in Pretoria at the weekend, he said he will “put a premium” on his team getting a win in Cape Town.
He admitted it is going to be a “very emotional” outing.
“I think about it, I was a young coach, when I coached [the Springboks] against the All Blacks there, and we bet them [in 2005],” White said.
“We played Ireland there , we beat them.
“We played in Australia – when Frans Steyn kicked those two drop-goals [one from 50 metres out, in 2007] – and we beat them.
“I’ve enjoyed Newlands.
“You guys all know me well enough to know, I am an old school guy.”
White added that with Newlands being the second oldest Test ground in the world, it is a great opportunity for the players to feature in such an important game at the Grand Old Dame.
“I would never have thought, a couple of months ago, that I’m going to be at Newlands for a last time.
“The players must appreciate the fact that it’s an unbelievable opportunity and privilege for them to actually play their last game at Newlands.
“Obviously, taking nothing away from the fact that they might still play in the Final or semifinal [against WP at Newlands], but that is not in our hands.
“The reality is what we know it could be the last time we play there.
” I will put a premium on that, because it’s like playing at Lansdowne Road, it’s the oldest ground. You play at Newlands, the second oldest ground. It’s a wonderful thing for a young player.”
The Bulls ended a 10-year trophy drought by beating the Pumas in Pretoria at the weekend.
Bulls captain and Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok loose forward Duane Vermeulen said: “It is great to be champions again after 10 years even though our performance was not up to standard.”
The Bulls’ first triumph since winning the Super Rugby title in 2010 confirmed the former Springbok coach Jake White as a worldwide master at reviving the fortunes of teams.
He transformed South Africa from quarterfinals losers at the 2003 World Cup to winners of the next edition four years later.
White then improved the Brumbies in Australia, the Sharks in South Africa, Montpellier in France, Verblitz in Japan before joining the Bulls.
The Bulls lost five of six matches in Super Rugby this year before it was cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those results prompted a coaching reshuffle with Pote Human replaced by White, who immediately undertook a drastic overhaul of the squad with many newcomers and an almost equal number of departees.
White said it is “fantastic” for the Bulls to be champions again.
“Not just for the team, but for the whole union.
“As you can imagine, there is a lot of excitement now and relief on the basis that we’ve got the first round done and dusted.
“We are obviously very, very happy about the fact that we can make the Bull’s supporters proud again.”
* Picture credit: Speedshots.co.za