Director of Rugby John Mitchell has officially taken over the Currie Cup team after the Bulls lost their third match in the competition on Saturday!
The 41-40 against the Toyota Cheetahs in a game they should have won proved to be the final nail in the Nolis coffin. Vodacom Bulls CEO Barend van Graan confirmed to the press after the game that Currie Cup coach Nollis Marais was placed on paid leave with immediate effect.
Mitchell’s role in the Currie Cup campaign was to “help out” with the attack and was only set to take over in next season’s Vodacom Super Rugby campaign, but the Bulls decided that keeping Marais in charge will do more harm than good to the struggling franchise. They further added a number of changes to the rest of the management teams with immediate affect.
The Bulls called the move to place Marais on paid leave “the next step in the turnaround strategy” but it also meant a permanent demotion for both of his assistants, and a reshuffling of the strength and conditioning teams across the union.
Once again the changes came at team level, with the controversial High Performance Manager Xander Janse van Rensburg not mentioned in the release.
“Barend van Graan, CEO of the BBCo, explained that the step is merely a next step in the turnaround strategy. This follows the continued unfolding of the turnaround strategy the BB Co announced earlier,” the statement said.
“We are working hard to ensure sustainable and long term success for the Vodacom Bulls as well as the Vodacom Blue Bulls. We are working towards achieving success and to restore trust and faith in our brand”.
The new structure will see Mitchell head up the coaching role and also be in charge of attack and exits, while Hayden Groepes has been elevated from under-19 head coach to the senior team’s man for skills and kicking.
Tuks coach Pote Human is back in the new structure, and will take charge of the lineouts while Gary Botha remains in charge of the scrums and Pine Pienaar will control defence across all the union’s teams.
David Manuel, who was previously the Super Rugby backline coach, will take charge of the under-21 team, with Bevin Fortuin and Anton Leonard – previously forwards coach at the Super Rugby team – assisting him.
Dewey Swartbooi takes over from Groepes as head coach for the under-19s, while regular kicking coach Divan Serfontein will take charge of the junior teams’ kicking from now on
The move also confirmed the loss of Hendre Marnitz, who was appointed as last season’s Currie Cup coach, then demoted when the Vodacom Cup campaign went horribly wrong. Marnitz has now joined the Newport Dragons as a defensive coach for the foreseeable future.
Van Graan added: “I believe this furthermore grants us the opportunity to cross pollinate our players; teams and ensure what senior coaches have learned while being involved at senior rugby be transferred throughout the entire system and structure which will be to the benefit of all involved. We urge the supporters to rally behind the team and come out to support them.”
No decision has been taken about Marais’ future at the end of the season when it was expected he would join Mitchell as an assistant for the Currie Cup campaign.
Source: Blue Bulls Rugby Company
By Jay J Botes – Ultimate Aim Media