It would come as no surprise if there is a growing belief at Loftus Versfeld that the rugby gods have conspired against them on and off the field.
The Blue Bulls have not enjoyed the best start to this year’s Currie Cup campaign and on Saturday their misery was further compounded by their 23-18 loss at the hands of high-flying Western Province even though the Bulls had played their best rugby of the season.
The Bulls will feel as though they deserved more than the solitary bonus point picked up from their third defeat of the season and the second to their old rivals in that time frame.
True, they were a far better outfit on Saturday than they have been all season and for the first time they played like a bunch of men on a mission to win something.
In the end, they had not done enough to topple the old foes and even though they would have won back the hearts of their die-hard supporters, there remain questions about their ability to be consistent with this kind of performance.
For all the good work the Bulls put into the scrums, their ability to be competitive and at times dominant over Western Province in most aspects of play and the confidence to vary their play, the Bulls still languish in the bottom half of the log – third from bottom.
Making the loss even more painful would have been the fact that it was their first loss at home in all competitions this year, a statistic those feuding in the boardroom will certainly use when the time comes for presidential elections at the Blue Bulls Rugby Union next month.
However, Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke continues to be optimistic his team will improve.
“If you play like that in your best game and you lose, it makes your mind go,” Ludeke said.
“But credit to my players, I thought it was a huge improvement from the last few games and that is the way we can get to winning consistently. There are a lot of positives we take from this and there were crucial times in that second half where we lost the momentum, that was a pity. I thought we took control of the game, got the lead on the scoreboard but we did not execute well enough and gave Western Province a soft moment after that. The huge thing for me is the way the team played for 80 minutes and there were a few youngsters who really came through and showed their class,” added Ludeke.
Blue Bulls captain Deon Stegmann, while not be pleased with the result, was satisfied his team have finally been able to put in action what they have been simulating on the training ground. He is adamant the change in performance stems from the belief his team still have that they can do well in the competition.
“A few things we’ve worked on in training are coming through in the game. That’s a big positive but unfortunately it still wasn’t enough. We want to score more points. But there are some huge changes in the side and we are definitely on the up. We must keep on chasing the process,” said Stegmann
“We are keeping the ball better and putting the defence under more pressure and that creates greater opportunities. We finished well some of the opportunities we created but there were two or three chances we could have finished better.”
The Bulls face the Golden Lions this week in another desperate attempt to haul in the frontrunners and will be boosted by the return of Springbok wing Bjorn Basson and a likely return from illness and injury of flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter. - The Star