PRETORIA – It has been an inglorious year for Nollis Marais.
First he was relieved of his duties as Bulls Super rugby coach after the team’s bad run in this year’s competition.
And now the Blue Bulls Company have called time on his role as the Currie Cup coach after three consecutive losses, including a last-gasp 41-40 loss to the Free State Cheetahs on Saturday.
The Bulls have dropped from their initial second place on the log from the beginning of the season after two wins against Griquas and the Golden Lions.
The three consecutive defeats at the hands of the Sharks, Western Province and the Cheetahs put additional pressure on the board of directors to make a call on Marais’ future.
Marais was only in the second year of his Super Rugby and Currie Cup coaching career, and now his future is uncertain after having coached in the capital from club rugby to the highest job in Pretoria.
Former All Blacks and Lions coach John Mitchell will take over from Marais as Currie Cup head coach for the remainder of the season, and will head up the coaching team in next year’s Super Rugby campaign after a short late-night meeting at Loftus Versfeld on Sunday.
Mitchell was appointed as executive for rugby at Loftus last month after guiding the USA Eagles to a qualifying spot at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
However, Marais is not the only casualty from the team’s failures this year.
Former Bulls captain and Super Rugby forwards coach Anton Leonard has been demoted to the Under-21 side as forwards coach, while Super Rugby and Currie Cup backline coach David Manuel will now be the Under-21 head coach.
Former Bulls utility back Hayden Groepes has been elevated to Currie Cup skills and kicking coach, while Pote Human has joined the senior team as a lineout coach.
Former Springbok hooker Gary Botha has survived the axe and retains his job as scrum consultant for all the teams at Loftus, while Pine Pienaar will also stay as defence coach for all the teams.
Jacus Coetzee and former Western Province wing Ghafoer Luckan are part of the new strength and conditioning team.
“We are working hard to ensure the sustainable and long-term success of the Bulls and Blue Bulls, as we continue striving towards achieving success and restoring trust and faith in our brand,” said Bulls CEO Barend van Graan in a statement on Sunday night.
Bulls Coaching Teams
• Head Coach, Attack, Exits: John Mitchell
• Skills and Kicking: Hayden Groepes
• Lineouts: Pote Human
• Scrums: Gary Botha
• Defence (All teams, junior and senior): Pine Pienaar
• Strength and Conditioning: Jacus Coetzee (Head Weekly Tactical Periodisation (WTP) and Rehab), Ghafoer Luckan (Senior Strength and Conditioning assistant)
• Head Coach: David Manuel
• Backline Coach: Bevin Fortuin
• Forward Coach: Anton Leonard
• Strength and Conditioning: Shaun du Toit
• Head Coach and Backline: Dewey Swartbooi
• Forward Coach: Denzil Frans
• Strength and Conditioning: Henri-Charl Terblanche, Yusuf Vahed (Junior Strength and Conditioning assistant)