The Blue Bulls Company (BBC) issued out a statement immediately after yet another loss, revealing that they would be consulting their many stakeholders in a desperate move to alleviate the problems that have befallen the once great Super Rugby franchise.
The Bulls have been plunged into crisis in the aftermath of their 62-24 loss to the Crusaders a fortnight ago which had been preceded by a string of losses that saw them experience their worst start to a Super Rugby season in almost a decade.
With Marais' job under threat and so too the futures of many of the senior players at Loftus, the BBC will apparently be implementing a turnaround strategy that will see them embrace the views of former players and coaches with former Super Rugby winning coach Heyneke Meyer allegedly being courted to take a starring role at the franchise.
While Meyer ruled out a return to the franchise in any coaching capacity last week, the former Springbok mentor said he would be willing to help out in an advisory capacity.
“The Vodacom Bulls have instituted a turnaround plan to improve its performance on and off the field. As a first step in the implementation of its turnaround, the Bulls management is embarking on wide-ranging consultation. The economic headwinds in South Africa are very strong and the consequent financial effects contribute to the challenges faced by the Bulls and rugby in SA.
Most importantly, however, we acknowledge weaknesses that have been exposed in our system, including on the field of play reflecting in our results and the performance of the team. We have to change, improve and most importantly put a process in place to ensure the success of the turnaround,” said the statement.
“As a first step we will be taking advice from various role players in the industry, former players, coaches and various other forums, to ensure we implement the best possible solution. Furthermore, we will also be engaging the support of all the role players in the implementation of this plan through the turnaround process.”
However, Marais feels that the team made some strides under the captaincy of Handro Liebenberg and aside from the moment of madness that saw lock RG Snyman get his marching orders from referee Jaco van Heerden and deny them what seemed like a match-winning try by prop Coenraad van Vuuren, there were signs that the Bulls are turning the corner.
The Highlanders may have capitalised on the disallowed try when centre Malakai Fekitoa sliced through their defence to score the match winning try with four minutes remaining in the game, the Bulls showed character and resolve that will stand them in good stead ahead of their clash against the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.
“If you take 62 points in the previous game, you make a couple of changes in the side and make three debutants, including a guy like Ruan Steenkamp who hasn’t played for six weeks and was our Man of the Match, we could have done one of two things. We could either sit down in the corner and allow everyone to kick us like they had been doing the whole week leading up to the game or you can come out and fight,” said Marais afterwards.
“This is the youngest Super Rugby side we’ve ever put onto the field and I’m extremely proud of them. They fought for 80 minutes and we played against a side that is so experienced and won the last eight games. We had the win but lost it unfortunately, but I’m very proud of how the guys came back from conceding 62.
Coming from that shows you a lot of character in the guys and it shows the passion and pride the guys play for. Last week was a performance that we don’t want to put up and didn’t foresee but we came out against the Highlanders with the two choices and they took the right one.”