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'We are better than that' - Bulls to re-shuffle as ban incoming

By Rugby365
RG Snyman of Munster controls the maul during the United Rugby Championship match between Vodacom Bulls and Munster at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo By Shaun Roy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

The Bulls will ‘regroup’ this Monday as they start preparations for a United Rugby Championship crunch encounter with a high-flying Ospreys team at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

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Irish powerhouse Munster, the tournament’s defending champions, showed their class in 27-22 win over the Bulls in Pretoria this past weekend.

Having started the weekend in this place, with aspirations of a top-two finish, the Bulls dropped back into the chasing pack.

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Graham Rowntree on respect for SA teams

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Graham Rowntree on respect for SA teams

Seven points separate the Bulls (46 points) from the Lions in 11th (39) on a congested tabled.

Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White says he is expecting his players to arrive at work on Monday to ensure they play to their true potential and ‘keep their destiny in their own hands’.

To further complicate matters, the Pretoria team is set to be without the services of Springbok utility Johan Goosen – the Bulls’ first-choice flyhalf – after his red card for a head-on-head collision with an opponent.

Given the standards set this season, it is unlikely he will get anything less than the obligatory three weeks.

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There’s likely to be the standard one-week discount for attending tackle school.

Having lost their proud home record – the first-ever defeat against a European team in the URC at home and a 21-match victory run in Pretoria – the Bulls must now look to put their campaign back on track against a high-flying Ospreys.

Jake White Bulls

“We are better than that,” a bitterly disappointed White said. “That first 18 minutes in the second half is how we wanted to play,” he said of coming back from trailing 10-17 at half-time, before holding a 22-17 lead in an improved performance.

However, in the wake of the Johan Goosen red card in the 54th minute, they failed to score again and two tries – the match-winner coming from veteran Irish scrumhalf Conor Murray in the final 10 minutes – allowed Munster to secure a bonus-point win.

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“We were in the game till the last play of the game,” the Bulls boss said, adding: “It says a lot for the fighting spirit they showed.

“Take nothing away from Munster. They are the defending champions and beat the Stormers in Cape Town last year.

“They are a good team. They have beaten the Stormers and Bulls. They have the recipe right for beating South African teams.”

The loss made White ‘rethink’ his selection approach.

He said it is the whole team’s performance, not just the celebrated loose trio of Elrigh Louw, Reinhardt Ludwig and Cameron Hanekom.

While hugely talented, pundits are not convinced they are the right fit for the Bulls.

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“I don’t think it is only [those] three guys,” he said, adding: “I will have a look and see how we take the next step.

“At times I thought the loose forwards were good. At times I thought we missed [injured seasoned Springboks] Marcell [Coetzee] and Marco [van Staden] with the things they bring to our squad.

“We will regroup on Monday. We are still alive in the competition.

“It has to hurt when we lose, but it is also something we must use to motivate ourselves for Monday’s training session.”

He pointed out that they have won an away semifinal to Leinster before.

“The priority is to get to the back-end, into the play-offs,” White said.

He admitted that the likely Goosen ban would force his hands in terms of selection.

“We don’t have the luxury of being able to afford another loss. Last year Munster had to fight for their lives, got wins at the back-end of the competition and ended up winning the URC.

“We will need to select the team that will help us get results in the next few weeks.

“We still want to control our own destiny.”

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D
Diarmid 10 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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