THREE-TIME Super Rugby champions Vodacom Bulls touched down in the resort town of Victoria Falls yesterday ahead of the high-profile pre-season match against their fellow South African rivals Toyota Cheetahs at the National Sports Stadium on February 6.
BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
The star-studded Bulls training squad, which includes 13 capped Springboks players, arrived at Victoria Falls International Airport around midday and are expected in the capital tomorrow.
According to the event programme released by the organisers Kyros Sport and the main sponsors Lafarge Cement Zimbabwe, the Bulls will conduct a coaching clinic sponsored by Old Mutual in the resort town today.
The Pretoria-based franchise will then hold four more Old Mutual training clinics at Prince Edward School, Heritage School, Mabvuku and Chitungwiza ahead of the match which has been dubbed the Lafarge Zimbabwe Champions Cup.
Experienced South African international referee Jaco Peyper, who will handle the match, arrives in the capital next Friday, the same day the Cheetahs are also expected ahead of the historic encounter.
Zimbabwe Rugby Union director of rugby Brighton Chivandire told NewsDay Sport that the visit by the Bulls and the Cheetahs would leave a legacy in local rugby.
“Local Bulls and Cheetahs fans have an opportunity to see their teams in their own backyard for the first time ever. Local coaches will have a chance to watch and possibly participate during training sessions of the Super Rugby teams while local referees may be involved in one way or the other in the game and pre/post-match logistics,” he said.
“Sponsors who will partner the organisers of this particular game will become future friends of the game forever thereby benefit rugby in the country,” Chivandire said.
Bulls head coach Nollis Marais told the franchise’s official just before their departure from Pretoria that his charges would use their first visit to Zimbabwe for team-building and hard work on the training field.
“We are taking a fairly big squad, as we want to involve a couple of younger players in our team culture and expose them to our patterns,” Marais said.
“This is a great opportunity for us to really focus on our rugby objectives and I am keen to get started. The match against the Cheetahs next week will be a good opportunity for us to get the season started.”
The Blue Bulls start their 2016 Super Rugby campaign away to the Stormers in Cape Town on February 27
Forwards: Trevor Nyakane, Pierre Schoeman, Lizo Gqoboka, Dean Greyling, Nqoba Mxoli, Morne Mellett, Marcel van der Merwe, Werner Kruger, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Entienne Swanepoel, Adriaan Strauss, Bandise Maku, Corniel Els, Jaco Visagie, Callie Visagie, RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Jannes Kirsten, Marvin Orie, Nicholaas Janse van Rensburg, Le Roux Roets, Irne Herbst, Grant Hattingh, Lappies Labuschagne, Roelof Smit, Ruan Steenkamp, Deon Stegmann, Freddy Ngoza, Nick de Jager, Arno Botha, Clyde Davids, Hanro Liebenberg.
Backs: Rudy Paige, Ivan van Zyl, Piet van Zyl, Tian Schoeman, Francois Brummer, Joshua Stander, Handre Pollard, Burger Odendaal, Jan Serfontein, Daniel Kriel, JT Jackson, Dries Swanepoel, JJ Engelbrecht, Jesse Kriel, Jamba Ulengo, Jade Stigling, Kafense Mahlo, Travis Ismaiel, Luther Obi, Bjorn Basson, Duncan Matthews, Divan Rossouw, Warrick Gelant.