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VIDEO: The terrifying travel itinerary confronting the Bulls

The Bulls on Monday woke up to the realisation that finishing the Champions Cup league stages as South Africa’s top team did not bring the ‘easy path to glory’ they had hoped for.


Captain Marcell Coetzee dazzled with a first-half double as the Bulls edged Bordeaux-Bègles 46-40 in a thrilling encounter at Loftus Versfeld at the weekend.

It elevated them to second place in Pool One, but conceding six tries and 40 points allowed Bordeaux-Bègles to finish first in the pool.

The Bulls, ranked sixth overall, now face a near-impossible travel itinerary – juggling their resources between the Champions Cup and United Rugby Championship competitions.

After several domestic derbies – the Lions at Loftus Versfeld this coming Saturday (January 27) and then at Ellis Park on February 17, followed by the Stormers in Pretoria on March 2 – the Bulls hit the road again.

They face the Dragons at Rodney Parade in Newport and Leinster at the RDS in Dublin, before the Champions Cup resumes in the first weekend of April – 5/6/7.

That is when it gets complicated.


(WATCH as Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White explicates the troubling travel schedule they will face after booking ‘home ground’ advantage in Europe’s Round of 16….)

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In the Round of 16 the sixth-ranked Bulls host French outfit Lyon Olympique at Loftus.

Should they win that match, they will either travel to England to face Northampton Saints (ranked third) or host Munster (ranked 14th) in the quarterfinal.


A potential semifinal will be in Europe – at Ashton Gate in Bristol, if they are ranked higher than their opponent or at the ground of the higher-ranked opposition.

That semifinal opposition will come from the Round of 16 grouping of Leinster (ranked second), who plays Leicester Tigers (ranked 15th) or Stormers (seventh) versus Stade Rochelais (10th).

“We have to come back home, after being on tour for two weeks,” White said of the Round of 16 encounter with Lyon.

“Then we have a potential quarterfinal away, then return home to host Munster in the URC.

“That is a hell of a tough task for a group of players – with the depth [of our team] and the age profile of our players.”

He pointed out that having home-ground advantage in the Round of 16 means they have a chance of improving on last year – when they got knocked out by Toulouse in an away match in the Round of 16.

“At least there is growth and development,” the Bulls boss said, adding: “There are learning we have put into place.”

With a bit of luck and a series of bizarre results, the Bulls could end up hosting Munster at Loftus on consecutive Saturdays – in the Champions Cup quarterfinal and URC league match.


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