“Leadership is not about being the best, it’s about getting the best out of the people around you… it’s about believing in your people and trusting that we are all here for the greater good of our beautiful game” – Willem Strauss, President BBRU
When a president of a rugby body, or any other sporting body for that matter, gets re-elected unopposed with unanimous support from all those around him, it sends a message of a unified body firmly backing its leadership. Willem Strauss, more affectionately and casually referred to as ‘Mnr Pres’ by those within the walls at Loftus, was once again entrusted with president reigns of the Blue Bulls Rugby Union for another four-year term.
Strauss has no doubt been at the forefront and a catalyst to the change seen and enjoyed across rugby in Pretoria and the far Northern regions. He was instrumental in some major appointments that played a vital role in the turnaround at Loftus, such as that of Director of Rugby Jake White, CEO Edgar Rathbone and Thando Manana, the new head of woman’s rugby and special projects, to mention but a few.
Four years ago, Strauss, committed to aligning the structures and various facets at Loftus, while doing the same at amateur levels. He also promised stability, growth, and excellence on and off the field. It is safe to say, that together with a strong leadership group at the BBCo and BBRU, and many tireless hours, we are starting to enjoy the benefits of those commitments.
For a decade prior to his first appointment, the trophy cabinets at Loftus were not exactly bursting at the seams. The Vodacom Bulls have since won a Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked title, 2 Currie Cup titles and are currently ranked in poll position when it comes to SA u21, SA u20, SA u19, Varsity Cup, Young Guns, the club competition and u20 club competition. The union has also excelled at growing women’s rugby contributing its largest contingent of female players to the national side ever.
Strauss has done well in boosting the image of club rugby and making it relevant again. Simple programmes like allocating every single professional Vodacom Bulls player to a club, and then creating a pathway for a club player to be given opportunities at Loftus, has bridged the gap between professionals and amateurs.
Jake White expressed his excitement at the re-appointment, “Willem has done a great job in aligning the professional arm of our game to that of the amateurs. It’s obviously not an easy task given the differences, but he re-affirmed the common love for the game and the pillars that we want our rugby to be built on. More than that, he has also become a personal friend, and I’m super excited to continue this journey alongside him.”
Strauss was also instrumental in the groundbreaking shareholder deal that saw Patrice Motsepe buy into the company, joining Johan Rupert and the BBRU as partners.
Motsepe congratulated Strauss on the appointment, “We are particularly happy about the re-election of Willem as President of the BBRU for another term. Not only is this well-deserved, but it also gives the partners at the BBCo the opportunity to keep building on the excellent platform that was created the past few years to promote rugby on all levels. We support the BBRU’s initiatives one hundred percent under the leadership of Willem and we look forward to the upcoming term filled with success both on and off the field.”
Strauss’s pledge for the upcoming four years reaffirms the work he has already done. He speaks proudly of continuing to grow the game on every level, with special attention to professionalizing women’s rugby, the junior structures, and the clubs. He is also spearheading the revamping of the Northern stand at Loftus Versfeld, together with Abland. Watch this space, as this revamp will undoubtedly give the entire stadium the modern facelift it so requires.
“It’s an absolute honour to be re-elected, and to be unopposed in the process shows me that there are no divides in our camp. It shows me that the people around me back me and believe in our common goals. We are in a good space, but it’s never enough and we need to keep moving forward to get bigger and better, and that’s the only way we can continue to remain one of the leaders in the industry.”
“This appointment is not about me, it’s never been. It is about every single blue-blooded person behind the scenes working tirelessly to improve us every day. It’s about the groundsmen and the kitchen staff, the admin office and the medical teams, the partners, sponsors, clubs and especially the fans that stick by us through thick and thin,”
“Thank you for believing in us and trusting us to grow the brand that you love.”