If anyone should feel like writing a manual on how to play rugby, then the Bulls will be the perfect team to provide the chapter on how not to defend a title.
Vata Ngobeni writes in the Pretoria News that the Bulls crumbled to the ailing Chiefs in Roratoa at the weekend.
In what is becoming second nature to the Bulls, they conceded more than 40 points for the second week running with the Chiefs winning 43-27 in sinking the reigning champions to their fourth defeat in six matches.
And even with their chances of making the semi-finals all but gone and their lowly 11th position in the log a stark reminder of Heyneke Meyer’s early years as Bulls coach when they went through a season without victory in 2001, new coach Frans Ludeke remains optimistic.
Ludeke is confident that the Bulls will not be a reminder of how cruel rugby can be in any rugby manual or guide as the former Cats and Lions coach believes that his team can still turn matters around.
“We still fancy our chances. There is a lot of rugby to be played and a lot of things can still happen.”said Ludeke.
“The top teams are still going to have to face each other and also have to face other teams. It is not over, we just have to take it game by game,” said Ludeke.
Unfortunately for the Bulls it was the defeats to the lowly Reds last week and the Chiefs this past Saturday that they should have registered as wins as they prepare to face the high-flying Blues this week and the Western Force next week before coming home.
Now the chance of coming back to Loftus Versfeld without a single victory on tour looks likely but Ludeke still harbours hopes of pulling the rabbit out of the hat against the Blues and Force.
“We just have to take it game by game, create small goals for ourselves, work hard and make sure we achieve what we have set out for. I do believe that it is not too late and not over at all,” said Ludeke.
“We haven’t had a look at the Blues yet and it is something we’ll obviously be doing during the week. We know that they have a lot of speedy and explosive ball carriers,” Ludeke said.
Ludeke also came to the defence of Bulls captain Fourie du Preez, who has been under fire since taking over from Victor Matfield, by attributing many of the team’s woes to lack of experience.
“I have no doubts about Fourie’s leadership. He has the energy and direction of any good leader but people must realise that there are a lot of rookies in the team. Obviously the change is affecting us, it is a new era with a new coach and new captain.
“Fourie is dong a fantastic job and I have a lot of confidence in him,” said Ludeke who has himself come under increasing pressure in the past few weeks because of the team’s poor results.
Ultimately, the Bulls have nobody to blame but themselves for the embarrassing place they find themselves in and if there is any truth in Ludeke’s words then the Bulls won’t be the worst Super 14 champions in history.
But they are a perfect example of how not to defend a title.Tweet