Bulls won't be a 'one-trick pony' in Europe
SPOTLIGHT: The Bulls will not restrict themselves to just one approach when they eventually start their European campaign.
While the dates for South African teams’ participation in the Rainbow Cup and Pro16 competitions still have to be confirmed, Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White – like his compatriots – is already laying the foundation for the big trek north.
However, despite popular belief that a ponderous game is the order of the day in Europe, white cautioned players against a languid and heavy-footed style.
Speaking to the media after a largely junior team demolished a rusty and inexperience Eastern Province Elephants 87-10 at the weekend, said it is not the first time his team had taken a more ‘expansive’ approach to the game.
He put their free-flowing game down to an emphasis by match officials to referee the laws as they are written.
“If you look at the Pro14, the ball in play is much longer,” White said, adding: “[It is because] referees are blowing the laws as they should be applied.
“If you look back at out SuperSaturday encounter with the Sharks [in September last year], that was a very similar style of game to what we played against the EP Elephants,” he said of their 49-28 win over the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld.
White added that he is comfortable that his team can take a different approach to each game, depending on the opposition.
“With respect to EP, it was an easy game for us.
“However, the fact that we maintained our structures is a plus. Often, in such runaway games, the tendency is for some individuals to just do their own thing.
“Just to see the structure remains, even after we changed the team after 50-odd minutes, is very pleasing.”
He said it is also important that they are playing in the South African summer.
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“We have to ensure we maintain that standard. We also saw high scores in the other games this weekend [Sharks 35-10 against Griquas; Cheetahs beat Stormers 34-33 and Lions edged Pumas 32-28].
“It shows it can be entertaining if we all – coaches, players and referees – maintain those standards.”
He added that while they scored two maul tries, they also need the variation and ability to change tact if their maul gets neutralised.
“It is not just about what you do when you have the ball.
“What happens when you play Leinster and they retain the ball for 52 and kick it back at you, but they don’t kick it out? Even if you kick it back, you have to defend for nearly a full minute again.
“The reason for that example is that Leinster will play as Leinster does. The Bulls must play as the Bulls do.
“Within that framework, you have to be fit and conditioned enough to play for four minutes at a time – five or six times in a game.”