Johannesburg - Springbok lock Victor Matfield may have one eye on the Rugby World Cup, but he has made it clear he wants to coach the Bulls at some stage.
According to the supersport.com website, with coach Frans Ludeke’s job coming under the spotlight at a Board of Directors’ meeting on Friday, Matfield’s role in the Bulls setup will also be under the microscope after another disappointing season where the Bulls missed out on the playoffs of the Super Rugby tournament.
There was a proposal put to the Board before the Bulls went on tour that Ludeke become Director of Rugby and that Matfield and one other take over the coaching role for 2016, but results on the tour have put a lot of pressure, with calls for change coming from fans and ex-Bulls legends like Naas Botha.
Matfield already runs the attack for the Bulls, and has a dual player-coaching role for the team at the moment, and has been signed to take over as coach after the Rugby World Cup later this year.
But Friday’s meeting could change all that, especially with the unhappiness that on the tour the Bulls dropped from 2nd overall and topping the South African conference to ninth and third in the SA conference. Their losing streak overseas stretches to 11 games now and it is the second consecutive season they missed out on the playoffs. On top of this the last time they won any trophy was in 2010.
Talking at a function at the British High Commission to celebrate #100days to the Rugby World Cup on Wednesday, Matfield made it clear he wanted to coach the Bulls, and was hoping that somehow a decision would be taken on Friday to make that happen.
“Of course. I’ve always said after rugby I want to coach, and no better place than at the Bulls,” Matfield said.
“We have to see what happens, what they decide on Friday and how things are going to work. It isn’t something I can really talk about now but I’ve said it before, I’d love to coach and it would be fantastic if I could coach at the Bulls.”
Matfield said he wanted to remain part of the game that has been most of his life, and that was his motivation to start coaching when he retires for the second time in November.
“It’s rugby – rugby has been my life. We wonder sometimes why we keep on doing this to ourselves and staying in this game, there are always expectations,” he added.
“If it doesn’t go well it is really tough. I know the fans hate to lose, but for the players and people in that environment it is just tough. If anyone has been around Loftus in the past few days, you can just feel the disappointment in the group. I think when you have been fortunate enough to have won trophies, when you have been a part of a team that has been the best in the world – whether the Springboks or the Bulls, you want to be part of that again and that makes up for all the bad times.”
Although the agreement with SA Rugby for him to rest meant he never got a final game this weekend to say goodbye to the Loftus fans, Matfield says he is happy with what he has achieved at the union.
“It is difficult for me, I came back to play for the Springboks – the Bulls are always close to my heart, but it almost more coaching there, helping out as a player. It will be tough to never play again at Loftus. I would have loved to have played this weekend again, maybe my last game.
“But with the Boks and my resting I wouldn’t play. The Bulls will always be special to me, and hopefully I’ll have a few more years there in another capacity. I love the Bulls, and everything has to come to an end. I had a few more games for the Bulls than I thought I would in the last two years, it’s been good times.”
Now looking ahead to the World Cup, he knows the Boks have the firepower to put up an excellent show in England and maybe, just maybe surprise everyone and win the World Cup for the third time.
“That is why I came out of retirement, I told Heyneke that this is really a coaching staff and a team that can win the World Cup. For me to be a part of it will be fantastic, I don’t know what my role will be, playing in the squad or helping the youngsters, as long as I can be part of this it will be great for me. There are less than 100 days to go, I’m feeling good and hopefully I can be part of it.”
Matfield is very much part of the Bok plans for the tournament, but depending on what the Bulls decide on Friday, his future at his home union may not be as certain as his future in the playing jersey.