• Belligerent, brave & beautiful Bulls host URC final

    Belligerent, brave & beautiful Bulls host URC final

    This was a winning South African rugby moment thanks to the winning Bulls, writes Mark Keohane.

    South Africa united behind the Vodacom Bulls this week to win against the potent Leinster. And then the super Scots, in the guise of Glasgow, went to the torture chamber of Thomond Park in Limerick and did the dirty on hosts Munster.

    And did they win!

    F … Yeah …

    Both teams, one in Pretoria and one in Limerick lashed Irish dreams in the URC.

    The Scots won 17-10 at Munster, and, in Pretoria, the Bulls won 25-20 on a late South African afternoon/early evening.

    Both winning teams would have taken one point. Both winning teams were better by more than a point.

    The Bulls won by five but, on performance, they were 15 points better. They had a try disallowed, they had a player sin-binned and they have some obviously questionable (a view supported by repeated television replays) decisions go against them.

    Glasgow won by seven but on the night, they could say they were double digit winners.

    Both winning teams won and controlled the flow from the first minute till the end.

    Given the opposition, the class of player individually and collectively, I don’t believe there has been a bigger win for the Bulls in the history of their professional era.

    The Bulls beat the British & Irish Lions in 1997, but the Lions could have said they had one eye on the Test matches. In the context of home opposition, it did not get bigger than 21 internationals (15 of them current Ireland Test players in the starting XV ) in Leinster’s match 23.

    I knew the Bulls would be competitive, but I had them to lose by a score because of the quality of the opposition.

    It was a compliment to what the Bulls would offer and a compliment to just how good a squad Ireland would bring to Loftus.

    I also had the Bulls to lose in Dublin two URC semi-final moments ago. Perhaps, I am worthy of a night out with the boys from the Bulls to educate me on why they don’t lose to Leinster in a semi-final, be it in Dublin or Pretoria.

    The semi-final was already a win for the URC.

    Leinster,  bringing their strongest Test team available, was a departure from the past in Pro Rugby when their Academy players won the right to a final and their Test players slipped in for a game or two, to win the final.

    Nah, welcome to rugby at altitude in the Republic.

    Jake’s boys were beasts.

    Individually, Cam Hanekom (at 8), Elrigh Louw (at 7), Marco van Staden (at 6) were Test-like proper. Ruan Nortjie and his tight five were Test-like and between Springboks Willie le Roux (15) and Johan Goosen (10) they controlled all things.

    Leinster were so good they stayed in the contest.

    On this occasion, they needed more than reputation and one-off bursts.

    This was a bloody good night for SA Rugby, provided by a Bulls team who refused to ever be second best.

    They were a collective of all that is good about South African rugby.

    There were so many stand out individual performances, but on a night of euphoria, none, for me, got bigger than Hanekom, Wilco Louw, Elrigh (Louw) and that ‘STRAND HOND’  at 15/10, WILLIE le ROUX.

    For the rest of the Bulls: You were bloody beautiful, but forgive me for just wanting to single out Wilco Louw.

    ‘YSTER’ ‘MENEER’ GENERAAL’ What a prop!

    As for Glasgow.

    What a win and, from South Africans, thank you.

    See you in Pretoria next weekend.

    Much love

    Photo: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images

    Article written by

    Keo has written about South African and international rugby professionally for the last 25 years