Baie dankie Blou Bulle, Duane Vermeulen tells the fans
CAPE TOWN - “Thank you to the people who have stuck with us through the difficult times.” That was the message from captain Duane Vermeulen to the fans after the Bulls ended a decade-long trophy drought by clinching the Super Rugby Unlocked title on Saturday.
A first-half blitz set up a 21-5 victory over the Pumas at Loftus Versfeld, which saw the Bulls finish on top of the log with 23 points, with the Stormers and Sharks both on 19 – and the points will be carried over into the Currie Cup, which starts next weekend.
But it was all about the celebrations in Pretoria on Saturday, with three tries in the opening 24 minutes getting the job done for Jake White’s side.
It has been a long time coming for the Bulls, whose last piece of silverware came in the 2010 Super Rugby competition, when they beat the Stormers at Orlando Stadium.
“We want to celebrate a bit tonight, as it’s the last game of Super Rugby Unlocked – happy to be in this position. First time in 10 years, and it’s great to see the Bulls stepping up a gear and getting some silverware in the cupboard,” Vermeulen said in a post-match TV interview.
“I know it’s difficult times that we are in (due to Covid-19), and we know the fans are back home watching us and supporting us, and we want to say thank you for all the support – for the people who have stuck with us through the difficult times. Hopefully there is more to come.”
Coach White was all smiles in the post-match press conference. Sporting a red cap with the words “CHAMPIONS” emblazoned across it – in similar fashion to the Springboks’ Rugby World Cup caps – the 56-year-old said that winning titles was the reason why he joined the Bulls.
“It’s fantastic – not just for me, but for the whole union. This union hasn’t won anything for 10 years. We’ve won a lot of junior trophies. As you can imagine, there is a lot of excitement now, but also a lot of relief on the basis that we got the first round done and dusted. We’re very, very happy about the fact that we can make the Bulls supporters proud again,” the former Bok coach said.
“There is an opportunity this year to win two trophies, and every team knew that there was an opportunity to win two trophies. We were fully aware of the fact that if we win this trophy, the Bulls will be the only (South African) franchise who have ever won Super Rugby, and we wanted to be that franchise. We didn’t want to allow another franchise in the country to win Super Rugby.
“I’m fully aware that it’s not the fully fledged Super Rugby, but the point is that if we go back to where we were six-seven months ago, I don’t think anyone would’ve given us a chance to win this trophy.
“There is a massive amount of happiness and I suppose relief, and also confidence that we get out of winning something. A lot of these guys who work at the franchise have waited a long time, and winning creates a habit.”
Bulls 21 – Tries: Kurt-Lee Arendse, Chris Smith, Ivan van Zyl. Conversions: Smith (3). Pumas 5 – Try: HP van Schoor.