South African rugby’s Vodacom Bulls have been busy during the off-season period occasioned by disruptions by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The club, South Africa’s best performer in the 2019 Super Rugby season, has announced a string of departures and arrivals in the last few weeks as the side looks to strengthen ahead of a potential resumption of the 2020 season.
The team will also benefit from the restructuring should the South African Rugby Union’s plans to host a domestic competition as an alternative to Super Rugby, should it be canceled this year, come to fruition.
The series of ins and outs began with the appointment of Rugby World Cup-winning coach Jake White as director of rugby in late March.
White said he was eager to restore glory to the Bulls brand which he said had always been a powerhouse in rugby and respected globally.
The Bulls are three-time winners of the Super Rugby having claimed the prize in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
On April 24, the club announced the imminent departure of CEO Alfons Meyer, who will leave at the end of May. According to local media reports, Meyer, who joined the team in January 2019, left due to personal reasons.
Later that month, local media reports suggested that centre Johnny Kotze had left the club due to enforced salary cuts on South African Rugby Union’s players and was headed to further his career in Japan. However, a check on the Bulls’ website shows Kotze still listed as one of the squad’s players.
On May 1, the side confirmed that Coach Pote Human had left the club with immediate effect. Human’s contract was due to end in October 2020 but the Bulls confirmed that a mutual agreement had been reached to terminate the deal earlier. White will take over the team’s on-field coaching.
A day later, the Bulls announced that Springbok prop Marcel van der Merwe rejoined the Pretoria-based outfit after a four-year spell in the Top 14 with French side Toulon.
In his previous stint, van der Merwe made 45 Super Rugby appearances for the Vodacom Bulls scoring six tries and also made one appearance for the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup. Van der Merwe is expected to join the side in July.
The Vodacom Bulls currently lie in fourth place in Super Rugby’s South Africa Conference and are 11th in the overall standings.