Willem Strauss, most probably the most hands-on president of any of South Africa’s 14 rugby unions, is a man who focusses on the Blue Bulls Rugby Union in its entirety.
Yes, Strauss, president of the Blue Bulls Rugby Union and the former youngest CEO (at the Pumas) in South African rugby’s history, has a wholistic approach that goes much further than the already much-reported Blue Bulls and Bulls successes. His view and work's focus are from the schools’ feeder system to club rugby, including in the Limpopo Sub-union which forms part of the Blue Bulls Rugby Union.
And of course, it also inckludes sucess at the top, where the professional Bulls team under Jake White has now clocked 12 successive wins at their home groiund Loftus Versfeld and won the Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup titles
Making club rugby relevant again is one of the hands-on president’s aims and in the last three years the BBRU have implemented several strategies and initiatives to this end.
“We have aligned our professional and amateur structures to create pathways from club players to our professional U20 and U21 teams," says White on Twitter.
“No less than seven club players form part of our current professional U20 squad.
“We have also revived our iconic Loftus 200 team (an invitation side) and have expanded the Carlton League to include two more clubs.
“We also implemented an extremely successful VolcanoU20 league which acted as a feeder source to numerous U20 teams in the country.”
Strauss, on his regular twitter messages, says that these initiatives will connect local and community rugby with the professional structures of the union.
“I would like to thank our shareholders for their contribution towards the commercial requirement of the players.”
▲ The result of the Blue Bulls approach is that, for the first time in more than a decade, professional players from the Bulls will be in action at club level when the Carlton Cup competition kicks off this weekend.
ALL contracted Bulls players have been allocated to the union’s senior clubs – and it’s not only about playing for and increasing the standard of club rugby. There are also the following advantages in this move to help foster better relationships between the professional and amateur sections of the Bulls and Blue Bulls:
- to generally build on the club system: young players meeting with and learning from their unions.
- a new view of rugby at amateur level for the contracted heroes, including Springboks, and vice versa.
- coaching input by the contracted players at the clubs with their experience and expertise.
Other developments include alignment of senior, U20 and school elite levels with, as Strauss tweeted, “a number of initiatives creating pathways for amateur players, as well as great cooperation with our Coaches Association: to empower coaches at all levels.”
The crux of the planning and initiatives is to keep continue and enhance the feeding structures of the union to obtain an edge on opponents going forward.