Bulls reluctantly accept Rebels loss
Ockert de Villiers - Sport24
Johannesburg - Questionable officiating contributed to the Bulls suffering their fourth defeat on tour and ending their 2015 Super Rugby playoff hopes.
Although SANZAR rules prohibit coaches from criticising match officials, one would understand if Bulls mentor Frans Ludeke had some choice words following their 21-20 defeat to the Rebels in Melbourne on Saturday.
"Calls get made in a game and that is how close it is and it can be costly," Ludeke said after the match.
"You would like to have clear calls because there is a lot at stake, but it happens week in and week out.
"I suppose humans are involved in decision making it won’t change the result."
At the heart of the controversy was a legitimate-looking Burger Odendaal try that the TMO disallowed.
The Bulls coach believed had the try been awarded the match would have swung in their favour as they were gaining ascendency.
"We thought it was over the line and that was costly because I thought the momentum would definitely have swung back to our side there," he said.
"We were threatening and going for the line a few times so it is a pity."
Ludeke would, however, not lay the defeat at the door of the official but rather blame his charges' inability to execute accurately.
"It is the story of the season if you look at a try from Burger where he was over but they couldn’t see it but they made the call," Ludeke said.
"That is how close our season was even with the Hurricanes but we take responsibility for it and at the end of the day it wasn’t good enough."
In the process the Bulls slumped to their 11th consecutive defeat abroad while missing the playoffs for the second year in a row.
"It is a huge disappointment to be winless on the tour, especially when you put in a huge effort every week," Ludeke said.
"It doesn’t show between the four lines but mentally and physically a huge efforts goes into the preparation for a game like that."
Ludeke said he still believed he had the right personnel to have challenged for the title but added that it was a process to get the team pulling in the same direction.
"We accept that it is not good enough, we felt like we had the talent, we had a really good squad of players together," he said.
"There are no excuses, but I’ve learnt from my experience the last few years I’ve been involved in the competition that it takes time to build that belief in a squad."
The Pretoria side will now go into their final match of the season against the Cheetahs in Pretoria next Saturday to salvage some lost pride.
"You don’t want to go into the last game of the season and you are not in it, it is an unfamiliar situation for us but that is what it is," Ludeke said.
"The vital thing for us is to regroup, reflect and get everybody sorted for the last game of the season against the Cheetahs."