The first benefits of the Blue Bulls new across-border Volcano club competition are being realised much sooner than expected.
The four Volcano senior and junior leagues (Super Cup and Trophy divisions in both instances) had as its prime objectives the resurrection of the club standard in the Blue Bulls Rugby Union and also their bordering unions, the Valke and Pumas, and the BBRU sub-union Limpopo, whose top club sides all played in the various Volcano leagues.
The mission to feature strength against strength and create the steppingstone and pathway for talented amateur and semi-professional players to the professional and provincial teams of the Blue Bulls, Valke and Leopards, has been partially realised with the juniors’ success.
With the U20 leagues completed, the good news from the first season of Volcano rugby is in the outstanding early performances of the Blue Bulls in the national U21 SA Rugby Championship and also the Volcano league’s contribution to the participating unions and also Griquas of players for the SA Rugby U20 Championship.
Blue Bulls success
The Blue Bulls beat the Sharks, with ten national U20 players in their squad, 31-26 at Loftus on Friday afternoon to take an eight-point lead in the competition. Granted, these two teams are the only of the competitors that have played four matches, but even a bonus-point win by the Free State over Western province on Saturday will at best reduce the Blue Bulls advantage to seven points after four games.
The Blue Bulls have scored 218 points, including 30 tries and conceded only 89 (points difference 129), in their four matches. The Sharks, with a points for and against count of 114 to 95, have a points difference of 19, the second best. No other side has a positive points differential.
From a development point of view, 62 players from the Volcano league were included in the squads of the participating unions and Griquas for the U20 SA Rugby Championship. None of these players had contracts with the said unions.
On Friday the U20 match between the Pumas and Limpopo, won 38-30 by the former, was overwhelmingly dominated by players who took part in the two U20 Volcano leagues. And both teams’ coaches were also involved in the two Volcano junior leagues.