The Jake show: Just a good old Bulls time
THE AFTERMATH: The return of the Currie Cup trophy to Loftus Versfeld capped off what has been a successful period for the Bulls franchise.
The Pretoria Union now holds not only the Currie Cup but Super Rugby Unlocked, SA Rugby U21 Championship and SA Rugby U19 Championship trophies.
This clean sweep best personifies the mission of the Bulls – to be the best rugby union team in South Africa and in time, a global contender as South African rugby moves north to contest the Pro14 Rainbow Cup in March.
The successful Currie Cup campaign had its foundation laid in the Super Rugby Unlocked competition which the Bulls sealed in November 2020.
“These players took their mandate – to win trophies – and did what was necessary to return the Bulls to winning ways.
“We could not have asked for more. They, under the guidance of Duane Vermeulen (captain) and company, threw everything they could muster into ensuring that this team excels!” Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White, explained.
The Blue Bulls U21 enjoyed the fruits of their labour in both 2019 and 2020 where they saw off Western Province U21 (2019) and the Lions U21 (2020).
The U21s deserve a special nod as they saw an entire season squashed into a week due to the SA Rugby U21 Championship being reduced to a week tournament in a bio-bubble at Ellis Park to cater for the COVID pandemic.
Despite all the disruptions, the U21s stuck to their plan by beating their Gauteng neighbours when it counted after losing to them in the round-robin stages.
“We could not have been prouder of this group of youngsters. In light of the senior team’s recent success, it was pleasing to see players contribute towards the senior’s campaign and holding their heads high against more experienced players,” said Blue Bulls U21 head coach, Hayden Groepes.
“That coupled with back to back wins means we’ve set a benchmark for those to follow and the consistency in positive results has set a standard that rings throughout Loftus,” Groepes added.
— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) February 2, 2021
The Blue Bulls U19 saw their 2020 season completely cancelled in light of the pandemic but this did not prevent them from sharpening their arsenal on the training pitch.
Their efforts spurred on by their successful SA Rugby U19 Championship the previous year where they saw off arch-rivals Western Province U19 in Cape Town.
“When I came on board as CEO, I made it abundantly clear that things needed to change in order to start the rebooting process of the #BullsFamily. We needed to sweat the small stuff to see the bigger stuff,” said Blue Bulls Company CEO, Edgar Rathbone.
“It was not just the players and on-field management that bought into this change.
“It has been a collective effort from all whether they answer phones in reception or keeping our fields immaculate. It’s the staff in our finance department and our marketing team. It’s the PAs to the cleaners.
“We are the #BullsFamily and as such, it truly was a team effort,” he added.
In celebration of their 24th Currie Cup trophy, Bulls director of Rugby White also penned a heartfelt open letter to supporters also known as the #Bullsfamily.
*READ: The Full letter below
To start with, you would notice that I have addressed this letter to ‘#BullsFamily24’. We’ve been saying it for many years now, as a supporter of the Bulls you are part of OUR FAMILY… a family 2,4 million strong.
You would have also noticed the number ‘24’ on all of our marketing, communication and around the stadium over the last few months. The explanation of ‘24’ becomes a lot easier now, with our short-term goals being achieved. ‘24’ was a dream… a vision… a target… a goal. We used the number as an image and a symbol to work towards, one that inspired every single member of the team, management and staff.
The significance of 24 means different things to different people, but the main ones are aligned:
- We worked towards and achieved our 24th Currie Cup title.
- When broken up the ‘4’ was the goal for the amount of Super Rugby titles.
- While the ‘2’ was significant of the number of senior titles for the season ( Currie Cup and Super Rugby).
- The ‘4’ was also relevant to the number of overall titles at senior and junior levels (U19, U21, Currie Cup and Super Rugby).
- It was also a tribute to player number 24, that was the guy that just didn’t make it into the match 23… his attitude and how he approached the week was essential to the spirit in the team.
- Most of all… the Bulls have always played with an extra player (figuratively), let’s call it our player 24… and that was you, the fan that never stopped believing in us even through the toughest of times… all 2,4 million of you.
On behalf of everybody at Loftus, I want to sincerely and humbly express our gratitude for your unwavering support. Thank you for investing your time and energy into us… thank you for showing patience and belief, and most importantly thank you sharing in the ups and downs of this journey.
The 2020/21 season will go down in our history as the strangest season ever but will be noted as a successful one. That chapter is over, and we must now move forward onto the next one. We look forward to our new journey heading into Pro Rugby and sharing these moments with you.