On Tuesday morning, 06 December 2022, Chief Executive Officer of the Blue Bulls Company, Edgar Rathbone addressed a media conference at Loftus Versfeld one day after it was announced the Sbu Nkosi had been located, with Rathbone spending time with the player. In his address to the media, Rathbone detailed some of the relevant information to ensure that members of the public, media and the international community had all the facts presented to them, sharing details that would help society understand the situation at hand but also empower others that may be in similar situations.
The full statement by Rathbone reads as follows:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Members of the media here, and those joining us online,
To everyone watching or listening to this across South Africa and the rest of the international community that has shown tremendous interest and support in this case,
Thank you for honouring this press conference this morning, To those of you who are first-time visitors, welcome to Loftus.
It was 22 days ago, now, that we began to live in a world where our reality was something we never thought nor could ever anticipate being our reality. What started as a simple non-appearance for training on Monday 14 November, quickly became a serious case of a missing player. Four days later, on the 17th of November, having failed to reach Sbu directly through his known channels and numerous visits to his known address here in Pretoria, we mandated our senior men’s manager to rope in the police.
We encountered a few challenges in this regard because we are not immediate family but still we insisted in continuing our search for Sbu because we are a family and frankly consider all those who form part of this Vodacom Bulls company, family.
Whilst everyone in the company who had contact with Sbu tried to reach him, whether be it via text or phone calls [without success] we also reached out to our commercial partners to help us broaden the search, as we grew in worry. We know the realities of our beautiful country and that elevated our concerns for the well-being of Sbu.
We were confident that we could locate Sbu without causing public panic but this did not pan out that way, with the story breaking through the media over the weekend. That meant we needed to fast-track how we deploy the resources we have, but still be strategic enough to give us the best chance at finding Sbu.
Perhaps our search for Sbu picked up defining momentum when SSG called, offering their tactical support, which offers state-of-the-art intelligence services, that led us to 1. Verifying the authenticity of some of the tips we were receiving, 2. whilst also helping us identify new possible leads
On Monday 05 December 2022, we, alongside SSG, travelled to a location we were confident we could find Sbu, not knowing who or what waited for us but willing to take the chance if it meant we could find him.
Once we reached the town, we stopped at the local police station to solicit their help but we were unsuccessful in this regard, with the police citing that we are not family and thus they cannot intervene. A decision they took after 2hrs5mins of hard negotiations. Again, SSG stepped up their support to us as the Vodacom Bulls and gave us the cover that we needed to go knocking at the doors where we thought Sbu was.
At approximately 13:33 we arrived at the location and began to knock, call and pray that we would atleast see Sbu.
Fortuitously, as we were considering moving to another address, his father-in-law pulled up to the gate – assuming that he was coming to visit – and he confirmed that Sbu was indeed inside the home. Having last seen him on Wednesday 30 November 2022. That spurred us on as we waited with hope that could not be dampened by the rain.
At approximately 14:02pm, Sbu stepped up to the gate and opened it for me without hesitation or resistance. We shared brief pleasantries because of the pouring rain and he invited me inside where we spent some 40 minutes speaking.
Specific contents of our conversation I cannot share, as I am sure we all can understand but in summary, it was important for me to establish that he was okay, safe and unharmed. Pursuant to that, it was important to try and understand where he is at, what has led to his decision and how we as a company and rugby family can be of support to him.
We were thrilled to find Sbu and incredibly relieved to see that he was alive. Equally, we were saddened to see him in the state that he was in, a gentle soul who has somewhat seen his light dim owing to his current well-being.
I am however confident that we are in a good position to provide Sbu with the support he needs and that we should acknowledge his incredible courage to even say to us, that he is not okay. Because he does not owe us that and yet he did, a valuable lesson for me and those around Sbu and one day, this will be his story to champion and empower other men to find the courage and find power in accepting help when not okay.
We would like to thank South Africans who joined us in prayer and those who asked how they could help.
Thank you to those who used their media stables to help us spread the message.
Now that Sbu is found and is going to be getting the support that he needs, we ask that we as the community around him, please offer him the space and privacy he needs to work on re- building his confidence and return to the Sbu we all have come to know him as. Let us be kind and desist from making untoward remarks that may not only be harmful towards him but others who are in similar positions and have not found the courage to seek help yet.
Finally, to all of you who are watching this or will have the opportunity to hear this, please be encouraged that it is okay to not feel okay. Seeking help does not make you weak or less valuable, it is my belief that it makes you stronger and shows that you are brave enough to seek support. So please seek support.
We as the Vodacom Bulls will now be exploring, alongside our supportive partners, support mechanisms that we can introduce in our rugby community and this is hopefully the start of something great for South African rugby because we are lucky today but tomorrow, our intervention may be too late and that is not something we want to see become a reality.
Connacht squad to face Emirates Lions named
The Connacht management team have named the matchday 23 for tomorrow’s BKT United Rugby Championship tie with the Emirates Lions at The Sportsground (k/o 7.35pm)
Having missed last week’s trip to Newcastle through injury, Jack Carty returns to captain the side. The out-half could make history in the game – he needs six points to equal Eric Elwood’s all-time points scoring record of 1152 points for the province.
Scrum-half Caolin Blade is named alongside him while Cathal Forde and Tom Farrell are named at inside and outside-centre respectively. Tiernan O’Halloran lines out at full back for his 215th Connacht appearance with John Porch and Diarmuid Kilgallen on the wings.
The pack sees the Murray brothers Darragh and Niall paired together in the second row, while props Peter Dooley and Jack Aungier come in alongside hooker Shane Delahunt. Josh Murphy moves from the second row to blindside flanker, while Conor Oliver and Jarrad Butler are retained at 7 and 8.
Commenting on the team selection, Director of Rugby Andy Friend says:
“Tomorrow marks the end of a long block of games for us and one we want to finish on a high. If we get the win we head into the next block well in the running for a playoff spot – while achieving our aim of reaching the Challenge Cup knockouts – so it’s not a bad spot to be in.
We’re fully aware however that we need a win tomorrow to put ourselves in that position. The Lions are a formidable outfit and have improved even more since their first season last year, so we know a difficult challenge awaits us.”
CONNACHT RUGBY MATCHDAY 23 VS EMIRATES LIONS
Saturday 28th January, 19:35 @ The Sportsground
15. Tiernan O’Halloran (214)
14. Diarmuid Kilgallen (12)
13. Tom Farrell (90)
12. Cathal Forde (7)
11. John Porch (72)
10. Jack Carty (190) (C)
9. Caolin Blade (161)
1. Peter Dooley (12)
2. Shane Delahunt (124)
3. Jack Aungier (43)
4. Darragh Murray (5)
5. Niall Murray (47)
6. Josh Murphy (11)
7. Conor Oliver (54)
8. Jarrad Butler (107)
16. Dylan Tierney-Martin (15)
17. Jordan Duggan (34)
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy (76)
19. Leva Fifita (22)
20. Shamus Hurley-Langton (12)
21. Kieran Marmion (222)
22. Tom Daly (71)
23. Oran McNulty (12)
Images & Content from – Connacht Rugby
New Role for Ian Costello
Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm that Academy and Pathway Manager Ian Costello will assume the newly created role of Head of Rugby Operations at the end of this season.
Costello will take on further responsibility in an all-encompassing Head of Rugby Operations role that will oversee the long-term strategic development of the elite player pathway, succession planning, and provide recruitment support for developing, retaining, and recruiting players in conjunction with the Head Coach.
Commenting on the appointment, Munster Rugby CEO Ian Flanagan said, “We are delighted that Ian will step into this newly created role.
“This has been a work in progress in the background for some time as we look to align our resource support with the IRFU and other provinces.
“When Ian returned to the province as Academy Manager he was identified as the ideal candidate for this role when incorporating his previous coaching experience, managerial skill-set, and strategic abilities for aligning and developing our player pathway.”
Head Coach Graham Rowntree added, “I’m delighted to have someone of Cossie’s calibre (Ian Costello) taking on this role.
“We work very closely as it is through his academy role, and from my own personal point of view it has been a really positive working relationship. Ian and his academy team play a key role in everything we are trying to achieve each week.
“It’s great to have a dedicated resource to driving long-term succession planning and coordinate recruitment operations, and I believe it will be of huge benefit to not only me and our coaching team, but to Munster Rugby.”
Images & Content from Munster Rugby
Smith, Goosen combine as Jacobs returns ahead of Scarlets outing
The Vodacom Bulls have announced their matchday squad for round 13 of the 2022/23 Vodacom United Rugby Championship against Scarlets in Llanelli, Wales. The herd will see Chris Smith and Johan Goosen start, with Stravino Jacobs and Jan-Hendrick Wessels returning to the matchday 23.
Ruan Nortje (lock) returns to lead the side which sees Gerhard Steenekamp, Johann Grobbelaar and Mornay Smith combine as the front-row trio, with Ruan Vermaak joining his skipper in the second row. The back row will have Marco van Staden, Cyle Brink and Elrigh Louw adding power to the forwards pack. In the backline, Springbok duo Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie have been given rest which sees Stravino Jacobs return to left-wing whilst Johan Goosen slots in at fullback with Zak burger at scrumhalf. Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe combine as the centre pairing with David Kriel slotting in at right wing.
The Pretoria outfit will have Jan-Hendrick Wessels, Simphiwe Matanzima, Francois Klopper, Janko Swanepoel, Nizaam Carr, Embrose Papier, Cornal Hendricks and Wandisile Simelane ready to come on from the bench.
This will be the second time the two sides meet and the Welsh side are looking to bounce back from back-to-back league defeats whilst the visiting Vodacom Bulls will be looking to make it two wins from two in the competition.
Chris Rossouw – Vodacom Bulls Backline coach – said the combination of Smith and Goosen allows the side to exploit the double-kicking options. Rossouw also highlighted the importance of confidence going into the fixture against a Scarlets side with balance and confidence.
“Looking over the last month, I think we are high in the confidence bar last week. Against the Dragons, at the back of the Stormers and the Sharks, the guys bounced back and they were great on the evening in how they managed the game with great energy and confidence. We obviously took that to Exeter and last week we slipped but I thought it was a great learning curve for many of us who were in France for the first time,”
“We all know Scarlets are on high at the moment, but saying that, there is nice energy at our camp and it’s almost like a change of season for us as well,”
“Confidence will be important but obviously execution and being clinical on the night will be more important.”
Rossouw went on to say: “Scarlets are known as a team that attacks a lot. What they have done over the last two months is to find a balance between their attacking and kicking game, and how we manage that will be crucial for us and make sure we do not get pinned in our own half,”
“They have a great pack of forwards and an experienced backline, that remains one of their strengths so it is important for us to manage the kicking game as a whole,”
Asked about physicality and managing that against Scarlets, the backline coach responded: “We all know it starts there, we will need to be physical and look to dominate the collisions to have any momentum. For us it will be one of the focus points. We know they have some good runners and we also know their big boys have the ability to offload in tackles, so we need to make sure we identify those and look to limit those opportunities through our tackle techniques,”
“We will need to bring the physicality that we know the South African boys can bring” he concluded.
The fixture at Parc y Scarlets stadium will kick-off at 21h35pm (South African time) and will be broadcast LIVE on SuperSport Rugby.
VODACOM BULLS STARTING XV: 1. Gerhard Steenekamp, 2. Johann Grobbelaar, 3. Mornay Smith, 4. Ruan Vermaak, 5. Ruan Nortje (c), 6. Marco van Staden, 7. Cyle Brink, 8. Elrigh Louw, 9. Zak Burger, 10. Chris Smith, 11.Stravino Jacobs, 12. Harold Vorster, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 14. David Kriel, 15. Johan Goosen
VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD: 16. Jan-Hendrick Wessels, 17. Simphiwe Matanzima, 18. Francois Klopper, 19. Janko Swanepoel, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Cornal Hendricks, 23. Wandisile Simelane
MANAGEMENT: Jake White – Director of Rugby, Nollis Marais – Breakdown, Russell Winter – Forwards, Chris Rossouw – Backs, Werner Kruger – Scrum Coach, Pine Pienaar – Defense Coach, Andre Volsteedt – Strength & Conditioning, John-William Meyer – Technical Analyst, Dr Herman Rossouw – Team Doctor, Lance Lemmetjies – Senior Physiotherapist, Kyle Mayer – Physiotherapist, Elias Bennett – Team Manager, Simon Dyidi – Logistics Manager
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