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Bulls face wave of criticism after making 13 changes for European QF

By Josh Raisey
Kurt-Lee Arendse of Vodacom Bulls during the United Rugby Championship match between Leinster and Vodacom Bulls at the RDS Arena in Dublin. (Photo By Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Bulls director of rugby Jake White gave plenty of warning that changes were in the offing for their Investec Champions Cup quarter-final against Northampton Saints on Saturday, but the team he has named has nevertheless proven to be controversial.

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“Disgrace,” “piss take,” “absolutely pathetic,” “embarrassing” and a “mockery of the tournament,” are just some of the descriptions of the team that will run out at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday, with 13 changes from the side that bulldozed Lyon last week at Loftus Versfeld.

Lock JF van Heerden and winger Sebastian de Klerk are the only two survivors from the 59-19 win in Pretoria last Saturday, with Springboks stars like Willie le Roux, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Canan Moodie and Elrigh Louw all granted the weekend off.

Video Spacer

Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White explains the team selection for the Northampton Saints face-off

Video Spacer

Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White explains the team selection for the Northampton Saints face-off

But with the Bulls fighting on two fronts this season, sitting in third place in the United Rugby Championship, rotation was inevitable. Not only that, but they are in the midst of a wild schedule which saw them face URC leaders Leinster two weeks ago in Dublin, Lyon last week and reigning URC champions Munster next week.

After a hellish week travelling to Northampton after only having the fixture confirmed last Sunday, White has had to concede that this is the game where players are rested.

It may make sense in the context of the season and the Bulls’ pursuit of the URC title, but this is a team-naming that has not gone down well. Then again, plenty are pointing out that this is a squad that should not be written off.

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Bulls XV
1 Simphiwe Matanzima
2 Akker van der Merwe
3 Mornay Smith
4 Janko Swanepoel
5 Jacob Frederick Nel Van Heerden
6 Nizaam Carr
7 Celimpilo Gumede
8 Cameron Hanekom
9 Zak Burger
10 Chris William Smith
11 Stravino Jacobs
12 Harold Vorster
13 Henry Immelman
14 Sebastian de Klerk
15 Devon Williams

Substitutes
16 Jan-Hendrik Wessels
17 Dylan Smith
18 Francois Klopper
19 Merwe Olivier
20 Reinhardt Ludwig
21 Keagan Johannes
22 Jaco van der Walt
23 Cornal Hendricks

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D
Diarmid 9 hours ago
Players and referees must cut out worrying trend in rugby – Andy Goode

The guy had just beasted himself in a scrum and the blood hadn't yet returned to his head when he was pushed into a team mate. He took his weight off his left foot precisely at the moment he was shoved and dropped to the floor when seemingly trying to avoid stepping on Hyron Andrews’ foot. I don't think he was trying to milk a penalty, I think he was knackered but still switched on enough to avoid planting 120kgs on the dorsum of his second row’s foot. To effectively “police” such incidents with a (noble) view to eradicating play acting in rugby, yet more video would need to be reviewed in real time, which is not in the interest of the game as a sporting spectacle. I would far rather see Farrell penalised for interfering with the refereeing of the game. Perhaps he was right to be frustrated, he was much closer to the action than the only camera angle I've seen, however his vocal objection to Rodd’s falling over doesn't legitimately fall into the captain's role as the mouthpiece of his team - he should have kept his frustration to himself, that's one of the pillars of rugby union. I appreciate that he was within his rights to communicate with the referee as captain but he didn't do this, he moaned and attempted to sway the decision by directing his complaint to the player rather than the ref. Rugby needs to look closely at the message it wants to send to young players and amateur grassroots rugby. The best way to do this would be to apply the laws as they are written and edit them where the written laws no longer apply. If this means deleting laws such as ‘the put in to the scrum must be straight”, so be it. Likewise, if it is no longer necessary to respect the referee’s decision without questioning it or pre-emptively attempting to sway it (including by diving or by shouting and gesticulating) then this behaviour should be embraced (and commercialised). Otherwise any reference to respecting the referee should be deleted from the laws. You have to start somewhere to maintain the values of rugby and the best place to start would be giving a penalty and a warning against the offending player, followed by a yellow card the next time. People like Farrell would rapidly learn to keep quiet and let their skills do the talking.

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