“Everyone is in a bit of doubt but now it’s just a case of getting the boys back here and figuring it out from there”
MEMBERS of the Bulls team, coaching and support staff that travelled to Australia for their now postponed tour will self-quarantine for 14 days after they arrive back in South Africa this evening, it has been confirmed.
Southern-hemisphere rugby governing body Sanzaar issued a statement over the weekend that Super Rugby had been suspended – at the conclusion of round seven matches – following the New Zealand government’s 14-day self-isolation directive to all returning travellers into the country.
New Zealand’s actions were in response to the coronavirus pandemic that has swept across the globe and brought most major sporting events to a halt.
As a result, the Highlanders opted out of playing their match with the Jaguares at the Estadio José Amalfitani in Buenos Aires and flew back home instead.
The Bulls, who lost 41-17 to the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday, will self-isolate for 14 days in their own homes while the South African government is monitoring the situation regarding the coronavirus.
The Super Rugby side isn’t the only team affected, as Bulls management also requested that their junior players as well as their Rugby Challenge team, the Bulls XV, stay clear of Loftus for the foreseeable future. This includes first-team players who did not travel with the touring team, but have been considered for Super Rugby selection this season.
“Everyone is in a bit of doubt but now it’s just a case of getting the boys back here and figuring it out from there,” said Bulls media manager Shanil Mangaroo.
While the rugby schedule is in a tailspin, the recess will give teams like the Bulls time for a slight rethink before Super Rugby, hopefully, resumes in the next few weeks.
If Super Rugby’s suspension isn’t terminal for the 2020 season, the Bulls should use this time to devise ways to get an 80-minute performance and a 23-man effort from the team.
Between the second half against the Highlanders at Loftus last week and the first 30 minutes of Saturday’s clash with the Reds, the Bulls produced their most scintillating rugby of the season.
While against the Highlanders it proved to be a match-winning effort, against the Reds in Brisbane it proved to be nothing more than a short sharp burst that was quickly forgotten as the Reds scored 41 unanswered points to win comfortably.
Pote Human’s team ran in three tries without reply on Saturday, 12 points within the first 12 minutes and came within five metres from Rosko Specman adding a fourth team try and a second for himself.
That Specman stop, affected by Reds captain Liam Wright close to their tryline, proved to be the turning point. It galvanised the home team to hit back twice in the first half to go into the break just 17-14 down, when it could have easily been 24-0.
The Reds came out refuelled and re-energised and the Bulls were the opposite.
They dropped their guard completely and conceded territory and possession – things that the Reds had neither of in that first half-an-hour – to their opponents, who made them pay.
And the replacements – especially the halfback pair of Ivan van Zyl and Morné Steyn and loosehead Gerhard Steenekamp – battled to swing momentum back to the Bulls, in true “bomb squad” fashion.