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Vermaak eager for first full season at Vodacom Bulls

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The Vodacom Bulls will begin their 2022/23 Vodacom United Rugby Championship campaign against an old foe – the Emirates Lions – and in the Tshwane-based side’s arsenal will be a man who knows the opposition side intimately, that is utility forward, Ruan Vermaak.

The hard-working and versatile 24-year-old will begin his first full season with the Vodacom Bulls after joining the side towards the back end of their 2021/22 campaign.

Vermaak, who represented the Emirates Lions in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition before heading to Japan to play for NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes from 2021, expressed his anticipation for the new season.

“I’m excited to be here and for the season ahead. We have taken a slightly different approach to our pre-season and the preparations are going exceptionally well. Everyone is excited to now play. We have all been working hard to be ready for the season,” said Vermaak.

The former SA Schools ‘A’ and Junior Springbok player had a small taste of what it is like representing the Vodacom Bulls when he made his debut for the side in the Carling Currie Cup, in a clash against eventual champions, Airlink Pumas, and he was also part of the squad that travelled to Wales to take on Ospreys in the Vodacom URC that same month.

He is ecstatic to be part of the Vodacom Bulls side under director of rugby, Jake White, who was the one who enticed the former Monument High School pupil to move to Loftus Versfeld.

“It was early in the year when I received a message from Coach Jake while I was still in Japan, and he asked if I was keen to join the Vodacom Bulls. As soon as the offer came, I didn’t have to even think about it, I signed,” said Vermaak.

“I really enjoyed my time in Japan and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have played there. I really learnt a lot given the different style of rugby – a running, quicker game. As South Africans, we have been used to a more physical type of rugby. I’m quite happy to have had an opportunity to add that aspect to my rugby.

“Now it is really amazing and a privilege to be in a group with such talented individuals here at Loftus. Playing alongside the talent we have here at the Vodacom Bulls brings out the best in a player. Every day we work hard to prove that we can compete within the team and add value. I consider myself very fortunate to be in this position.

“I really hope that I can contribute as much as possible, wherever and whenever the team feels I can add value on and off the field.”

In their season-opening match, the Vodacom Bulls will travel south to Johannesburg, where they will take on rivals, Emirates Lions in the long-standing Jukskei Derby.

Vermaak has been involved in a few cross-Jukskei battles and knows exactly what it is all about. He is now eager to represent the Vodacom Bulls when the new season gets underway.

“The Jukskei Derby goes back many, many years. It is one of South Africa’s biggest rugby rivalries. I am fortunate to be one of few who can say that they experienced it on both sides,” he said.

“I was on the opposition side for most of the derbies I have played in. For the Emirates Lions, a game against the Vodacom Bulls is always hyped up and they just want to make a statement, and it is always a good game.

“It is very important for us to start off the season on a strong note. We want to start with a win and will go into that gave wanting to give it our all. We are all looking forward to getting the season off to a start.”

Having played Vodacom Super Rugby, Carling Currie Cup and in the Japanese league, the lofty forward is keen to get some Vodacom URC and Heineken Cup mileage behind his name going into the 2022/23 season.

“The Vodacom URC has proven to be a tough competition where we get to face teams like Leinster and Munster, and we are able to measure ourselves against those top teams with talented players,” he said.

“It’s really a great milestone for South African rugby to have had two teams reaching the final and dominating throughout the previous season. We will be looking at continuing to grow in the Vodacom URC as well as the Heineken Champions Cup. I’m really excited for the season that lies ahead.”

Content & Images from – Vodacom Bulls Rugby


URC

Smith, Goosen combine as Jacobs returns ahead of Scarlets outing

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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

Content & Images from – Vodacom Bulls Rugby


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All You Need To Know | Benetton v Munster

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Munster travel to Italy this weekend for another big game in the URC as the province, who lie seventh in the table, take on sixth-placed Benetton.

See the URC table here and Munster’s remaining fixtures here.

Both sides will be named before 12pm on Friday.

Find out all you need to know ahead of the game below.

Where?

Stadio Monigo, Treviso

When?

Saturday, 2.30pm Irish time/3.30pm local

Broadcast

Live on TG4, Premier Sports, Eurosport, Discovery +, Viaplay, SuperSport & URC TV.

Munster News

Squad Update

Gallery | Training Pics

Did you know?

Munster have six games remaining in the regular season of the URC with a number of teams jostling for position in the race for the knock-out stages and the battle for Champions Cup rugby next season.

Benetton are one place and one point above Munster having also played 12 games in the URC to date.

The Italian club are on a six-game winning streak and qualified for a home Challenge Cup round of 16 game thanks to a 35-32 victory over Stade Francais at the weekend.

Glasgow Warriors, Dragons, Scarlets, Edinburgh, Zebre, Ulster and Bayonne have all been beaten by Benetton at Stadio Monigo this season.

Their most recent URC game saw Benetton beat Ulster 31-29 thanks to a late Rhyno Smith penalty.

Press Pass

Hear from Forwards Coach Andi Kyriacou and Roman Salanoa ahead of the game.

Match Officials

Referee: Ben Blain

AR1: Federico Vedovelli

AR2: Franco Rosella

TMO: Sam Grove-White

Musgrave Park & Thomond Park Fixtures

Friday, February 10

6 Nations: Ireland U20s v France, Musgrave Park, 8pm; Buy tickets from €15 here

Friday, February 17

URC: Munster v Ospreys, Thomond Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets from €20 here

Friday, March 3

URC: Munster v Scarlets, Musgrave Park, 7.35pm; Buy tickets from €20 here

Sunday, March 19

6 Nations: Ireland U20s v England, Musgrave Park, 5pm; Buy tickets from €15 here

Saturday, March 25

URC: Munster v Glasgow Warriors, Thomond Park, 5.15pm; Buy tickets from €20 here

Saturday, April 1

6 Nations: Ireland Women v France, Musgrave Park, 3.15pm; Buy tickets from €10 here

Saturday, April 22

6 Nations: Ireland Women v England, Musgrave Park, 2.15pm; Buy tickets from €10 here

Images & Content from Munster Rugby


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Ulster team named for visit of reigning URC Champions

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Ulster team named for visit of reigning URC Champions

11 minutes ago

Match Previews

Head Coach Dan McFarland has named his Ulster squad that will take on current BKT URC Champions, DHL Stormers, at Kingspan Stadium on Friday night (kick-off 7.35pm).

With Ulster currently sitting fourth in the URC table, the province will be hoping to build momentum from last weekend’s crucial win against Sale Sharks in the Heineken Champions Cup, which was sealed in front of a boisterous home support.

A win could see the Ulster Men leapfrog the Vodacom Bulls into third place. The match is also important for the Stormers, who sit in second position, as they hope to close the gap to Leinster at the top of the table.

Match tickets are still available and can be found at ulster.rugby/buytickets.

Ulster Assistant Coach, Jonny Bell, says the province know just how big a threat the Stormers pose:

“They are going to be a very difficult animal to what we faced last week. They are powerful, but move really fast around the pitch, so we need to control the ball well when we have it and make sure that we are smart defensively.”

Ulster make one change to the front row, with loosehead prop Eric O’Sullivan coming in alongside Tom Stewart and Jeff Toomaga-Allen.

Alan O’Connor will lead the side once again, with club captain Iain Henderson in camp with the Ireland squad ahead of the upcoming Guinness Six Nations.

Sam Carter retains his place at lock alongside O’Connor, with Academy product Harry Sheridan keeping his place at blindside flanker after an impressive home debut last weekend against Sale Sharks. Last weekend’s Heineken Star of the Match, Nick Timoney, continues at openside alongside Duane Vermeulen at Number 8.

Nathan Doak and Billy Burns are also rewarded for their performances last week as they pair up again at 9 and 10 respectively.

James Hume retains his place at outside centre, and he is joined by Stewart Moore at inside centre, who comes in for Ireland-bound Stuart McCloskey.

The back three has just one change, with Academy graduate Ben Moxham coming in for Jacob Stockdale. Winger Rob Lyttle will hope to continue his try-scoring form and Mike Lowry completes the starting XV.

On the bench, John Andrew, Rory Sutherland, Andrew Warwick, Kieran Treadwell and Jordi Murphy provide the forward cover, with John Cooney, Ian Madigan and Ethan McIlroy named as the backline options.

Ulster team to play DHL Stormers in the BKT United Rugby Championship on Friday 27 January at Kingspan Stadium (Kick-off 7.35pm)

(15-9) Mike Lowry, Rob Lyttle, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Ben Moxham, Billy Burns, Nathan Doak;

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Tom Stewart, Jeff Toomaga Allen, Alan O’Connor, Sam Carter, Harry Sheridan, Nick Timoney, Duane Vermeulen.

Replacements:

(16-23) John Andrew, Rory Sutherland, Andrew Warwick, Kieran Treadwell, Jordi Murphy, John Cooney, Ian Madigan, Ethan McIlroy.

Images & Content – Ulster Rugby


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