An astute and experienced businessman and self-confessed Bulls fanatic, new Blue Bulls Company chief executive Alfonso Meyer will be judged by the success of the team on the field on top of being expected to balance the books and bring some money into the kitty.
Meyer will take over the reins at Loftus Versfeld at the beginning of next year from long serving administrator Barend van Graan after pipping seasoned rugby men in Arni van Rooyen, Eugene Henning and Ajee Valentine to the post.
As important as it is for anyone at the helm of the Bulls to also have the street credibility when it comes to South Africa’s rugby landscape, it is just as critical to have a person who can ensure the financial sustainability of the franchise in tough economic times.
Meyer is fortunate to come at a time when the winds of change are blowing through Loftus with incumbent president Willem Strauss having entrenched his position, the Blue Bulls Company recording their first profit in five years and a new head coach for their Super Rugby outfit about to be announced.
Strauss has compared Meyer’s appointment to them “finding their Ferrari” but he also didn’t hide away from the fact that Meyer’s ultimate barometer will be what happens on the field as it has a direct consequence on the bank balance.
While Meyer apparently comes highly recommended by the Bulls' equity partner Remgro, he will have to work closely with the high performance department in order to usher in a new era at the franchise similar to that of the golden generation which won three Super Rugby titles between 2007 and 2010.
With the Bulls having put together a formidable squad for next year’s Super Rugby which includes the signings of Springboks Schalk Brits, Duane Vermeulen and Cornal Hendricks, there will be huge expectation from the Loftus faithful to show better results on the field.
The Bulls last won a meaningful trophy eight years ago when they beat the Stormers in the Super Rugby final at Orlando Stadium and have since struggled to bring any sort of meaningful silverware to Loftus.
“The pressure is tremendous and rightfully so; eight years is a very long time and it’s probably the leanest period in Northern Transvaal/Blue Bulls rugby and we have to turn it around," said Strauss.
"Fortunately we have a competitive, strong squad going forward but that doesn’t necessarily mean the results will go our way as there are other factors that need to happen as well. The pressure is on because that will also determine the financials. Next year’s performance or non-performance of our Super Rugby team will have a massive influence on the sustainability of the Blue Bulls Company."
Meyer also concedes that the only barometer for himself will be what transpires on the field: “I have no doubt I will be judged on the Bulls' results there. That is how it works and we’ll do our very best to make sure we do well."
Meanwhile Victor Matfield, former Bulls Super Rugby winning captain and the most capped Springbok of all time, is set to be unveiled as the new Bulls coach next week. Matfield, who served as an assistant coach and player at the Bulls in 2015, has reportedly beaten Southern Kings coach Deon Davids and incumbent Blue Bulls Currie Cup head coach Pote Human to the Super Rugby head coach position left vacant by John Mitchell.@Vata_Ngobeni