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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

Dan McFarland departs Ulster Rugby

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Dan McFarland departs Ulster Rugby

3 minutes ago

News

Ulster Rugby and the IRFU can confirm that Dan McFarland will step down from his position as Head Coach.

After joining the club in 2018, McFarland has been the longest-serving Head Coach for the province in the professional era, with the club reliably securing play-off rugby in URC and EPCR competitions during his time at the helm, including reaching the PRO14 final in 2020.

Ulster Rugby CEO, Jonny Petrie, said:

“We would like to thank Dan for his determination in driving forward the professional squad over the past six seasons, and I would like to wish him and his family the best for the future on behalf of all at Ulster Rugby.”

The change to the Senior Men’s coaching set-up is with immediate effect, with Ireland U20s Head Coach, Richie Murphy, to link-up with the province as interim Head Coach until the end of this season following the Under-20s Six Nations. Bryn Cunningham, Head of Rugby Operations and Recruitment at Ulster Rugby, will also assume greater management responsibilities within the performance function during this time.

Assistant Coach, Dan Soper, will oversee operations next week ahead of Ulster facing Dragons at Kingspan Stadium in Round 11 of the BKT United Rugby Championship.

Petrie continued: “With Richie coming to Ulster in the coming weeks, ahead of the squad travelling to South Africa, our focus will be on consistently performing to the best of our abilities at this crucial time of the year.”

Images & Content – Ulster Rugby


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Edinburgh snap up Tigers lock

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Lock Carmichael joins from Tigers

Edinburgh Rugby today secured the signing of promising 20-year-old Leicester Tigers lock Rob Carmichael on a three-year deal.

The 6ft 11in second-row arrived in the capital today on an initial loan until the end of the season, before the long-term move becomes permanent this summer.

Carmichael was born and raised in Hong Kong after his Scottish father, and English/Welsh mother, emigrated to Asia just under 30 years ago. He came through the ranks at Sandy Bay RFC before the family returned to the UK in 2019.

That year he joined the Tigers academy, making two Premiership Cup appearances alongside representing England U20, remaining eligible for Scotland by ancestry.

On joining Edinburgh Rugby, Carmichael said: “This is a massive move for me and an incredible opportunity I’ve been given. I’m delighted to join and I’m really glad I’ve been able to make the move to Edinburgh early on loan. I’ve only heard great things about the club.

“I’ve wanted to live in Scotland my whole life so I’m glad I’m able to make the move now. Edinburgh is an incredible city, while my parents and whole extended family are really excited that I’ve joined a Scottish club.”

Combining education with an academy contract at Tigers, Carmichael played BUCS Super Rugby at University of Nottingham where he studied Sports Science.

The towering lock was named in the England U20 squad for the 2023 U20 Six Nations where he featured in all five fixtures for the Red Roses.

Carmichael continued: “I’ve got a lot to learn about Edinburgh. I’ve only visited a couple of times but everything I’ve heard about the city and the club has been really positive. I couldn’t be more excited to move up.

“I think it’s going to be great for my development and I can’t wait to learn off the experienced second-rows at the club. I just want to add as much as I can to the team and see how much I can improve as a player. I know I’ve got loads to learn.”

Carmichael linked up with the club’s senior squad today as preparations continue for Edinburgh Rugby’s next BKT United Rugby Championship match against Ospreys at Hive Stadium on Friday 1 March.

Edinburgh Rugby Head Coach Sean Everitt said: “We’re delighted to welcome Rob [Carmichael] to the club. He’s a player with great raw ability who has all the physical tools to succeed at the next level.

“We’ve been looking at Rob for a while given his Scotland links and we’re thankful to Tigers who’ve released him on an initial loan. He’ll be able to get his feet in the door and hit the ground running ahead of joining on a long-term deal this summer.”

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Ulster ready for Ospreys challenge in Wales

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Ulster ready for Ospreys challenge in Wales

4 minutes ago

Fixture News

Head Coach, Dan McFarland, has named his Ulster side to take on the Ospreys at Swansea.com Stadium in Round 10 of the BKT United Rugby Championship.

The province returns to action in the URC for the first time since defeating league leaders, Leinster Rugby, at the RDS Arena on New Year’s Day.

Ireland internationals Iain Henderson, Jacob Stockdale, Tom Stewart and Nick Timoney are back with the team, following their release from the Ireland team’s Guinness Six Nations camp.

The experienced front row sees Andrew Warwick start at loosehead, with John Andrew at hooker and Marty Moore starting at tighthead prop.

In the second row, Academy products, Harry Sheridan and skipper Iain Henderson, pair up as Ulster’s locks.

The back row sees David McCann start at blindside flanker. Marcus Rea starts at openside flanker, with Ireland international, Nick Timoney, starting at eight, as Ulster aim to win the battle at the breakdown in Swansea.

McFarland opts for the talented half-back pairing of Nathan Doak at scrum-half and Jake Flannery at ten.

Jacob Stockdale returns from international camp to start on the left wing as he hopes to continue his try-scoring form, with the winger having dotted down six tries this season in the URC so far.

The young and dynamic centre partnership sees Jude Postlethwaite join James Hume in the engine room of the backfield.

Mike Lowry starts on the right wing, with Will Addison completing the backfield at full-back.

Ulster can call on a wealth of talent and experience from the bench, with a 5:3 split that features a two time Rugby World Cup winner and a current Ireland international.

Tom Stewart is named on the bench as he returns from Ireland duty for the match.

Springbok prop, Steven Kitshoff, is named alongside Scott Wilson, Cormac Izuchukwu, Matty Rea, Dave Shanahan, Luke Marshall and Ethan McIlroy to complete Ulster’s replacement options.

Ospreys v Ulster, Round 10 of the BKT United Rugby Championship, Sunday 18 February, 3pm, Swansea.com Stadium (live on ViaPlay and URC.tv).

With the URC celebrating the people and communities behind the professional players competing in the league through its Origin Round this week, Ulster Rugby recognises the important role of clubs and schools in player development, with 11 of this weekend’s starting 15 having come through the Ulster pathway.

(15-9) Will Addison (Upper Eden RFC), Mike Lowry (Dromore RFC), James Hume (Instonians RFC), Jude Postlethwaite (Lisburn RFC), Jacob Stockdale (Ballynahinch RFC), Jake Flannery (Kilfeacle RFC), Nathan Doak (Lisburn RFC);

(1-8) Andrew Warwick (Ballymena RFC), John Andrew (Ballymena RFC), Marty Moore (Barnhall RFC), Harry Sheridan (Civil Service RFC), Iain Henderson (C) (Belfast Academy RFC), David McCann (Cooke RFC), Marcus Rea (Ballymena RFC), Nick Timoney (Blackrock RFC).

Replacements: Tom Stewart (Belfast Academy RFC), Steven Kitshoff (Maties RFC), Scott Wilson (Dromore RFC), Cormac Izuchukwu (Tullamore RFC), Matty Rea (Ballymena RFC), Dave Shanahan (Clontarf RFC), Luke Marshall (Ballymena RFC), Ethan McIlroy (Ballynahinch RFC).

For more info on #GrassrootsToGreatness, visit the URC website.

*For the URC Origin Round, details of each player’s first club are listed above.

Images & Content – Ulster Rugby


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