Vodacom Super Rugby
Bulls lucky to get zero
Pretoria - The one positive the Blue Bulls Company should take from yesterday's woeful Bulls performance is that they probably won’t lose any players for the Currie Cup competition.
It is incredibly hard to envision them producing any Springboks for the World Cup if they keep on performing like they did against the Crusaders.
The Crusaders thrashed the (current) champions 27-0.
It is not often that you see guys throwing away their names in 80 minutes of rugby like we saw yesterday, which is probably the Bulls' darkest day in recent Super Rugby history.
You would have to go back to 2005, when they also scored zero points (against the Higlanders), to find a more pathetic performance like the one in Timaru yesterday.
The Bulls were unable to catch, unable to tackle, unable to think, and showed about as much heart as a French soldier during the opening weeks of the Second World War.
Yes, they were lucky to get zero.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke simply cannot continue ignoring the reality of the performance from some of his players.
Pierre Spies, Wynand Olivier and Fourie du Preez, to name a few, have completely lost the plot.
And, if they want to have any chance whatsoever against the Reds next week, Ludeke has to make some drastic changes.
Every player makes mistakes, but the simple ease with which players like Spies and Olivier knocks the ball on, is simply unacceptable.
A clearly frustrated Victor Matfield admitted that those mistakes are unacceptable, but he could hardly point any fingers after his own poor effort.
Chris Jack taught him a lesson at lineout time, and his own handling error just after halftime resulted in the second Crusaders try at a crucial juncture in the match.
But, this is their problem. The senior players are not showing enough courage and passion and display a shocking inability to master the basic skills of the game.
"Not once could we build phases, simply because we could not keep hold of the ball," Matfield complained afterwards.
It’s nice to read about a new living room set or a snazzy garden from a Bulls player in family magazines, but to gain respect from rugby fans, you should as least be able to catch a rugby ball and wear your jersey with pride.
Unfortunately, this characteristic is absent among the current crop of Bulls.
However, one should not take away anything from the Crusaders, who currently play top-notch rugby, even without the likes of Dan Carter and Ritchie McCaw.
Sonny Bill Williams is the all beast he’s been made out to be, and the disregard he showed for the Bulls defence to score his team’s first try, shows exactly just how much better he is than the Bulls centre pairing.
The Crusaders completely dominated their opponents in every aspect of the game.
The Bulls simply did not belong on the same field.
If there’s ever been an example of one team giving it as good as they’ve got, and one who simply cannot perform worse, then yesterday’s match was just that.
Williams’ try, after he easily broke through half-hearted attempted tackles by Morne Steyn and Wynand Olivier, and three penalties from flyhalf Matt Berquist, gave the Crusaders a handy, though not unassailable lead at halftime.
Matfield’s blunder though, resulted in a try by Israel Dagg, and after that it was one-way traffic.
The Bulls tried to get momentum, with guys like Zane Kirchner, Francois Hougaard and Dean Greyling giving their best, but one handling error after the other halted them from posing any real threat to the Crusaders line.
The Bulls only chance for points came in the first half, when Morne Steyn missed a penalty.
This is the harsh reality for a team, where urgent introspection from every member is surely required.