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VIDEO: Kicking game key to success as #BIG North-South derby looms

The Bulls may be the best-placed South African team in the United Rugby Championship and through to the play-offs in the European Cup, but the Pretoria-based franchise is still searching for that ‘perfect’ game.


Speaking to the media during their bye week – ahead of the #BIG North-South face-off with the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld next week – Bulls’ forwards and breakdown coach Andries Bekker said consistency remains an issue.

The Bulls are third on the URC standings, with 35 points from seven wins in 10 starts.

They are on a four-match winning streak, but hoping to avoid an eighth-consecutive loss to the Stormers – which was their last URC defeat, a 20-26 reversal in Cape Town on December 23.

Adding to that their European Cup wins over Bristol Bears (31-17 at Ashton Gate) and Bordeaux-B├Ęgles (46-40 at Loftus Versfeld) in January, they are on a six-match unbeaten streak in 2024.

However, there is much to work on, according to Bekker.

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“If we can sort out our kicking game – how we transfer and relieve pressure,” Bekker told @rugby365com, when asked what aspects of their game need most attention.


“In the modern game that’s the biggest factor, which you have to get spot on.”

He said it becomes complicated against teams with varying tactics – like playing the Lions one week, who don’t play in their half, and the Stormers next time round, a team that does run and counterattack a lot more.

“It is that fine balance on how you transfer and relieve that pressure.

“That is our biggest work-on.”

(WATCH as the Bulls’ forwards and breakdown coach Andries Bekker chats to @king365ed about what aspects of their game most need to improve….)

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The 29-times capped Springbok said inconsistency has been another issue for the Pretoria-based franchise this year.

“We need a few consecutive games where we transfer pressure and executive our basics,” he said, adding that the return of some seasoned Boks will assist in resolving the issue.

“In the middle part of the season, we relied on young guys who are good players, but lacked the experience.

“Now they have played six or seven games, which will also help.

“It’s not easy to get that perfect game, but we are working hard.”

Bekker, 40, said the stop-start nature of the season – with regular breaks to cater for the Six Nations and Bok resting periods for their internationals – is not an issue for the Bulls.

“We do have training three or four times a week, but we give the players a mental break,” he said, adding: “It is a long season and we’ve been going for a long time.

“It is about finding that balance between giving them a mental break, but also keeping them engaged in training and palming for the next game [the Stormers next Saturday].

“It has allowed us to work on the basics. In the off week, we focus on basics and fitness and in the game week it is a normal game [training] week for us.”

SA URC Shield standings after four rounds

Bekker, who started his coaching career in Japan after finishing his playing days with a stint at the Steelers, said he never saw himself as anything but a Province man.

However, he and his family have now settled into life in Pretoria.

“I am learning a lot from Jake [White, Director of Rugby] and Gary Gold, who also coached a lot at international level, is also here [at Loftus Versfeld].

“What is the most enjoyable is the players.

“They don’t ask too many questions. They just work very hard.

“They say: ‘Yes coach’ and then get on with the job.

“They want to improve and that makes it easier.”

Bekker joined the Bulls in July last year, after a playing career that spanned 14 years – which included 140-odd games for Western Province and the Stormers.

He moved to the Steelers in 2013 and made nearly 50 appearances for the Japan outfit.

The towering former lock made his Bok debut against Wales in 2008 and made 29 appearances for the national side.


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