The immediate future of the Bulls as a proud Super 14 franchise depends on how honest all the role players are with themselves this week.
After the shocking performance against the Hurricanes there can be no doubt that the Bulls are in big trouble, on and off the field.
Morris Gilbert of Beeld writes that Barend van Graan, chief executive of the Bulls, has already taken the lead and it is to be hoped that the players, in particular, will take their places in front of the mirror.
The first question to be answered is whether there is life after Heyneke Meyer, the coach who took them to the Super 14 championship last year.
If the answer is yes shock treatment seems to be the only way to help the Bulls bring some dignity to the rest of their season.
They cannot keep believing things will improve just because “there is light in the tunnel”.
The Bulls, with Frans Ludeke as new coach, have the same structures to rely upon that they had when Meyer coached them.
The core group of players has remained much the same and with the exception of backline coach Pieter Rossouw the support team is unchanged.
One person cannot be held responsible
For this reason, most fingers are pointed straight at Ludeke. But it will be oversimplifying an intricate problem to blame him alone.
Ludeke’s share in the debacle has to be investigated clinically but one person cannot be held responsible for the greatest collapse in the history of Super rugby.
The role that the players have had in the drastic deterioration should be investigated. It must be determined whether they have given Ludeke the same support that Meyer enjoyed.
In the process of saving the Bulls from the chaos, reasons and solutions have to be found for:
* The Bulls’ lack of discipline. During the match against the Hurricanes, Wynand Olivier became the ninth player to be yellow-carded this season. This is more than double last year’s total (4) and that of 2006 (3).
* The team’s inability to score tries. Only the Lions have a worse record this season. A total of 16 tries in 10 matches makes for depressing reading when compared to last year’s 45.
* Defence has always been the strong point in the team’s good years. But this season the Bulls have conceded the most tries (36) of all the teams. Last year 22 were scored in 15 matches against them. The Bulls missed 39 tackles against the Hurricanes.
* Team selection. If the best available team cannot ensure victory, younger and less experienced players should be given an opportunity to provide the spark.
* Fourie du Preez’s captaincy. It seems he is not sufficiently well supported by other senior players.
* Where are the 2007 heroes? With the exception of Zane Kirchner, Derick Kuün and Danie Rossouw all the players in the team against the Hurricanes were in the team for the Super 14 final last year.
Du Preez will miss this week’s match against the Highlanders because of a hand injury. If seems obvious that Wikus van Heerden will captain the team at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday and that Heine Adams will be the scrumhalf
Bulls team doctor Tommie Smook confirmed on Monday that Du Preez had a bruised hand and would not be considered.Tweet