Rising Bulls star Ludwig not getting carried away by Pieter-Steph comparison

Reinhardt Ludwig, seen here taking down Stormers flank Deon Fourie at Loftus Versfeld a few weeks ago, has been in fine form for the Bulls. Photo: BackpagePix

Reinhardt Ludwig, seen here taking down Stormers flank Deon Fourie at Loftus Versfeld a few weeks ago, has been in fine form for the Bulls. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Mar 15, 2024


At the start of the season, young Bulls forward Reinhardt Ludwig thought he may feature in just a few games for the senior side.

Having turned 21 only last year, Ludwig would’ve hoped to crack a few United Rugby Championship matches, and then get himself ready for the upcoming Currie Cup.

Instead, the former Junior Springbok has quickly become a perennial figure in the starting line-up through a combination of good form and injuries to the likes of Ruan Vermaak and Ruan Nortjé.

But his impact has been so influential that coach Jake White found a place for him in the team even when the two Ruans returned.

White made a big call to hand Ludwig the No 7 jersey for the massive clash against the Stormers on March 2, and the youngster played the full 80 minutes in a loose trio alongside Marco van Staden and Marcell Coetzee that came up trumps against the Cape side’s Deon Fourie, Evan Roos and Hacjivah Dayimani in the memorable 40-22 triumph at Loftus Versfeld.

“I am privileged – it didn’t play out as I expected at all. At the beginning of the season, I thought I was maybe going to play in three or four matches this season,” Ludwig said this week, as the Bulls enjoy a break ahead of next Saturday’s (March 23) URC encounter against the Dragons in Wales.

“So, I am privileged to be in every team so far this year. I am thankful for the potential that the coaches see in me, and that they believe in me and trust in me.

“It is almost unreal – I cannot believe I am where I am, and I am very thankful for the opportunities I am receiving.

“I think I learn quickly – I pick things up quickly. I can change positions quickly and I pick it up quickly.

“I would say my strong point is definitely lineouts, contesting in the lineouts, and then just work-rate – to make as many tackles as possible and be involved in the match as much as possible.”

White has already begun the comparisons with Springbok stalwart Pieter-Steph du Toit, adding that “he’s got game awareness and intelligence, he picks up things quickly, he doesn’t make mistakes”, while Bulls forwards coach Andries Bekker said recently that Ludwig was a “golden find” for the Pretoria side.

Despite being quite raw on the URC and Champions Cup stage, Ludwig is someone who doesn’t shy away from the physical side of things – he wouldn’t, as he stands at 1.99m and 106kg and counting – while he also runs good lines with ball-in-hand, is busy in the lineouts and gets stuck in on defence.

His versatility is valuable for the Bulls, and perhaps one day for the Boks, too.

“It’s a massive honour to be compared to Pieter-Steph du Toit, and he (White) sees the (same) potential in me as Pieter-Steph. He’s played in World Cup finals and been the Man of the Match, and he’s a hero of mine – I really look up to him as a player and a human being,” Ludwig said about White seeing another Du Toit in him.

“I think he is extremely humble, despite everything that he’s achieved in his life. It’s an honour for me that Coach Jake sees potential in me, but I still have to work hard on becoming like Pieter-Steph du Toit.

“It is special to know that he sees potential in me, and that I might fill Pieter-Steph du Toit’s shoes one day. I think Coach Jake definitely has a plan with my career, and he has very good vision and knows exactly what he’s doing.

“It is definitely something (playing at blindside flank) that makes me excited. I am open to learning from guys like Elrigh (Louw), Marcell, Cameron (Hanekom), Mpilo (Gumede).

“I think if I get polished a bit, it would be a position that can definitely fit me. At this stage, I am definitely more comfortable at lock, but I think it is because I have spent more time there in the last few years.

“But I’m still young and have a lot to learn, and I am definitely open for something like that. And I think it is good for a player’s development to be able to play in more than one position.”