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Erasmus addresses Bulls rumours

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Erasmus finally addresses the rumours linking him to the Bulls

South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus has rejected claims he will take control of the Bulls for the 2019 Super Rugby tournament.

The Bulls have not performed well in Super Rugby since 2013 when they were beaten semi-finalists, and finished bottom of the South African Conference this year – winning six of their 16 matches.

Pressure has grown on coach John Mitchell, who has been linked with a role with England, as a result and reports on Saturday suggested Erasmus could help out next year.

However, the 45-year-old – who has previously coached the Cheetahs, Stormers and Western Province – insists any assistance will be purely as part of his role with the Springboks.

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“No, I am not planning to coach the Bulls,” he said ahead of South Africa’s departure for their Rugby Championship double header against Australia and New Zealand.

“It looks funny because it’s not an official thing. For example, Jacques Nienaber and Pieter de Villiers toured with the Stormers and the Lions and I was with the Sharks.

“Overall, we are trying to help everywhere we can and if the Bulls want some help for a few months then it is part of my job as director of rugby to help them.

“But I won’t be coaching them permanently.”

Meanwhile South African Rugby Union President Mark Alexander has explained why they have decided to have one leg in the Northern Hemisphere, while keeping another in the Southern Hemisphere.

The SARU boss said the addition of two more South African franchises to the Pro14 – most likely from 2019 – will give them the option to migrate fully to the north in the future.

For now, they will maintain their rocky marriage with their SANZAAR partners, while strengthening their ever-growing relationship with their partners in the north.

Alexander, at the South African launch of the 2018-19 Pro14 season, said they are “in negotiations” with their Euro partners to get the two additional teams added by next year – for the 2019-2020 season.

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“We are excited about introducing another two teams in the north,” the SARU boss said, adding: “We will have four [teams] in the north and four in the south.”

He confirmed that the formal announcement of the identity of the two additional franchises for the Pro14 will be made “at the beginning of 2019”.

It is an open ‘secret’ that the two newest SARU franchises, Griquas and Pumas, are being ‘prepared’ for the trek north.

While it cost SARU a heft ZAR37-million in 2017 to enter the Cheetahs and Southern Kings in the Pro14, Alexander said it was part of a “long-term investment”.

Some critics questioned whether it was a wise decision, given it contributed to a pre-tax loss of ZAR33.3-million for the 2017 financial year, Alexander said they will get big returns in the future.

“If you look at the long-term, we have options now,” the SARU boss said, adding: “If, at some point in time, we don’t want to play in the south [against their SANZAAR rivals], we can move north.

“It is also [good] for the [Springbok] coach.

“We [SA teams] are playing against most of the teams [from] the tier one nations,” he said, in reference to competing against teams from New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Scotland and Wales in the various competitions in the two hemispheres.

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Erasmus finally addresses the rumours linking him to the Bulls