Akker van der Merwe joins Bulls after leaving England’s Sale Sharks

The Bulls have secured the services of former Springbok hooker Akker van der Merwe

FILE - The Bulls have secured the services of former Springbok hooker Akker van der Merwe. Photo: Roslan Rahman/AFP

Published Jun 30, 2023


Johannesburg — Former Springboks hooker Akker van der Merwe has joined famed South African outfit the Bulls after quitting English Premiership club Sale Sharks, officials confirmed on Friday.

"We are gutted to be losing him because he has been instrumental in everything we have done since I have been here," said Sharks director of rugby Alex Sanderson.

"Akker brings infectious energy to everything he does and you can hear him through the walls around the training ground."

Although the Bulls have not officially announced his signing, an official told AFP Van der Merwe is joining the franchise after former Springboks hooker Bismarck du Plessis retired this month.

Van der Merwe will compete for the number two shirt with Johan Grobbelaar, considered unlucky by many observers not to be in contention for a 2023 Rugby World Cup place.

The 32-year-old forward is the latest signing by the Bulls, after director of rugby Jake White said that they must strengthen their squad if they hope to challenge for European trophies.

Bulls won Super Rugby three times in four seasons from 2007 and are the second most successful side in the major domestic competition, the Currie Cup, with 25 titles.

But after stunning Leinster in Dublin to reach the 2022 United Rugby Championship (URC) final, which they lost to fellow South Africans the Stormers, the Bulls have battled in Europe.

This year, they suffered a 33-9 hammering from Toulouse in the Champions Cup round of 16 and lost 33-21 to the Stormers in a URC quarter-final.


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