JOHANNESBURG - Former Springbok and Bulls captain Victor Matfield will make a cameo return to coaching when he leads the Loftus 200 team in their friendlies against the Valke on July 7 and against the Golden Lions side at a date to be confirmed.
Matfield, who led the Bulls to their three Super Rugby titles in 2007, 2009 and 2010, will be the head coach of the side with former Springbok and Bulls wing Akona Ndungane managing the side while Carlton club coaches Gert Mulder and Marinus van der Watt will be his assistants.
The Loftus 200 team was established in 1986 as an invitational team featuring leading club players from within the BBRU club structures and have recorded many victories over Currie Cup teams in the past.
While the Loftus 200 side, which is made up of club players and is modelled after the world famous Barbarians side, is being revived after decades of being dormant, the return of the team back to the field will also see the revival of Matfield’s coaching ambitions after his term as a lineout consultant with the Lions was short-lived last year.
Matfield began his coaching career at the Bulls in 2012 as assistant coach to then Bulls coach Frans Ludeke and he continued as forwards coach upon his return to playing ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup serving as a player/coach before ultimately hanging up his boots at the end of 2015.
“I have always had the Blue Bulls close to my heart even when I had taken up other coaching jobs. It is good for me to return to a place that I hold dear to my heart and also to be part of helping develop the pipeline between club and professional rugby,” Matfield said at a press conference at Loftus Versfeld.
“I recently visited Naka Bulls and found that the clubs are still very much alive and entrenched in the communities they are in. I was taken aback by how strong Naka Bulls are as a club and still believe that is where the real supporters are and that must be looked after.”
Blue Bulls Rugby Union president Willem Strauss is adamant that reviving the club scene in South Africa will assist in developing another pipeline for professional teams to find talent especially the late bloomers who are often discarded and left in the cold in the immediate years after high school.
“With the JVL Loftus 200 Team we want to create a pathway for club players to the Blue Bulls Currie Cup squad," said Strauss. "It is also part of our strategy to align the structures within the BBRU with one another, thereby broadening the base from which representative teams could be selected.
"I also believe that the days of contracting huge number of players are not financially viable anymore and that we need to create an additional pipeline for players with potential via our schools and club structures, as well as initiatives such as Loftus 200, to eventually progress to professional squads of the Bulls."
Meanwhile the Blue Bulls Company have confirmed that they have released prop John-Roy Jenkinson from his contract so that he can further his career with Japanese outfit the Sanex Blues.
Jenkinson made only three Super Rugby appearances since arriving at Loftus two years ago and also made 13 appearances for the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup and SuperSport Rugby Challenge.