The Blue Bulls Rugby Union – in the guise of the University of Pretoria’s Tukkies Varsity Cup team, seem to be going all out to claim the one trophy on the domestic scene that has so far not made a trip to Pretoria in recent years. The Maties from Stellenbosch have won the Varsity Cup three years in a row since its inception and Tukkies want in on the action.
It started with taking a good look at the College Rovers side that won the recent National Club Championship. That team, packed full of players who couldn’t get a look n with the Sharks, nevertheless managed, within the space of a week, to demolish the University of Johannesburg, Potchefstroom University and the mighty Maties on their way to a maiden trophy win. In strengthening their squad, Tukkies have made big inroads into that team, luring half-backs Neil de Bruin and Wesley Dunlop to Pretoria, along with several other promising players including former Baby-Bok prop Sabelo Nhlapo and possibly also Sharks under 21 centre Arno van Zyl (at the time of writing it is not yet clear whether van Zyl has signed). Another centre, Jerome Pretorius, was made a good offer as well, but the exciting player, who scored two crucial tries in the final to break the Maties hearts, has decided to stay in Durban to have one more crack at making the Sharks squad.
Another former Sharks age-group player (and Baby Bok representative) in lock-cum-loosie Nqubeko Zulu is also on his way to Tuks, after spending a frustrating year in the wilderness of the Johannesburg club scene.
All of the players who have joined Tukkies for the Varsity Cup have been promised a reasonable shot of going on to play for the Bulls at Vodacom Cup and Currie Cup level should their performances warrant it and it’s (I would imagine) primarily with this aim in mind that Bulls Director of Rugby, one Heyneke Meyer, will be playing a hands-on coaching role with the team. Perhaps it’s an admission that the Bulls’ junior ranks aren’t considered quite ready to step up into the senior team once the current crop of stars moves on (the recent Currie Cup did expose a few glaring depth issues), but then again, it might also just be a case of the Bulls doing some sensible planning to bolster their depth for years to come.
Whatever the case, it would be a brave man who bets against Tukkies mounting a very serious challenge indeed for the 2011 Varsity Cup title.Tweet