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By Willem Strauss – President of the Blue Bulls Rugby Union

Hereby receive my report as President of the Blue Bulls Rugby Union. It was an extraordinary year due to Covid- 19 pandemic.

CLUB RUGBY

What promised to be an exciting season for our dynamic club scene, was cut short due to Covid-19.

UP-Tuks was second on the Varsity Cup log and well set for the play-offs. It was also a pleasing result when ABE Midas Naka beat the professional Leopards team earlier this season.

This confirmed the strength of our professional clubs.

I sincerely hope that we can take off in 2021 where we have finished in 2019 with our club rugby. Creating pipelines and pathways for club players to our provincial and professional teams will remain a priority.

It was extremely satisfying to have a non-contracted player Ruben Beytell, from ABE Midas Naka, representing the Vodacom Bulls Under 21 team. With even less contracted players in future, our clubs must become an important part of the Vodacom Bulls feeder system.

In 2021 we also want to uplift and empower our clubs on all different levels and leagues in Tshwane and Limpopo regions. Growing the women’s game, investing in our community clubs and nurturing Under 20 rugby are priorities.

Dr Eugene Hare (secretary) and I (chairman) were elected to the Gauteng Rugby Federation Executive, a body representing the Blue Bulls, the Lions and the Valke on various provincial platforms.

PROVINCIAL RUGBY

Covid-19 was an opportunity for the Vodacom Bulls to reset. The appointment of Jake White brought immediate success. Winning the SupeRugby Unlocked competition was the first major trophy for the Vodacom Bulls senior team in a decade!

We are expecting bigger and better things in future and look forward to new challenges in Europe!

The Vodacom Blue Bulls Under 21 team won the SA title for the second consecutive year. The Vodacom Bulls have now won the last three SA junior titles, a remarkable achievement. Great work was done by Hayden Groupes, Werner de Beer and the rest of the team.

The alignment of our structures, for the first time in many years, is definitely contributing towards creating the best possible product for the Vodacom Bulls!

BLUE BULLS COMPANY

A new CEO, Edgar Rathbone was appointed, and he had an immediate positive impact on the Blue Bulls Company.

The BBCO and BBRU are inseparable from one another. I am proud to announce that there is an extremely good relationship between the BBRU and the other shareholders. We are definitely the envy of the rugby world in having the likes of Remgro and Mr. Patrice Motsepe as our shareholders.

As a result of this good relationship we were able to assist our clubs and associations with the Vodacom Bulls Relief Fund during this year, which had an extremely positive response from our members. This was possibly unequalled in the world of sport.

For the first time in a very long time there was also a great cooperation between the four former SupeRugby franchises. The Vodacom Bulls played a leading role in this.

SA RUGBY

We have a good relationship with SARU. The manner in which Mr. Mark Alexander (President) and Mr. Jurie Roux (CEO) managed the impact of Covid-19 and other issues, were outstanding.

I was privileged to be elected to SARU’s COVCOM committee. COVCOM’s primary role is to ensure the optimal implementation of the Industry Mitigation Strategy and ensure the necessary adjustments are made to it and obtain the relevant approvals in order for the Industry Mitigation Strategy to remain efficient and effective in the envisaged everchanging COVID-19 landscape.

FINANCIALS

Covid-19 had a massive negative impact on the financial situation of the entire rugby industry.
The BBCO was not spared and will reflect a huge loss this year. It is remarkable that the BBCO’s contribution towards the BBRU was not reduced as a result of our great relationship!

BBRU & BBCO MANAGEMENT AND ADMINISTRATION

I would like to thank Dr Eugene Hare and his staff for their dedication towards rugby and their high level of administrative support during this challenging year.

At the Tshwane Sport Council Annual Awards they were finalists in the category Federation of the Year and overall winners for the development project for Women’s Rugby. Congratulations on this achievement.

My sincerest appreciation and thanks to Edgar Rathbone and his staff for their support and efficient management of the BBCO affairs. Also a huge word of thanks and appreciation to our shareholders, Remgro and Mr Patrice Motsepe, their representatives on the BBCO Board under the chairmanship of Mr. Pieter Uys, as well as my co-director of the BBRU Mr. Jacob Modiba.

I want to thank both Deputy Presidents, Messrs. Henry Adendorff and Henri van Aswegen, and the Vice- Presidents from both regions for their support and sterling jobs done. The Manco and Executive Committees functioned very well and there was a genuine willingness to work in the interest of rugby and the Blue Bulls.

Congratulations to the newly elected officials.

The success reached by the BBRU is due to your highly regarded inputs and efforts. Having your support as a Management Team is appreciated and the time and sacrifices made by you does not go unnoticed!

Also, a huge word of thanks and appreciation to the Chairpersons of our associations for their contribution in this extremely challenging year. We will hit the ground running in 2021 and I am looking forward to our combined efforts!

CONCLUSION

Next season we need to keep improving. Women’s rugby, Seven’s, Limpopo region and Reserve League clubs must be promoted to the next level. We need to continue improving our coaches and referees at all levels.

Transformation remains a high priority for Blue Bulls Rugby on every level. It is an important tool to grow our beautiful game and to keep rugby relevant.

We will have huge challenges due to the impact of Covid-19. In the history of the world it is not the strongest species that have survived, but those most able to adapt.

Thank you to everyone’s support and contribution.

I wish you all a happy festive season and look forward to a splendid 2021!

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