Ludeke's Bulls career ends with a whimper

    2015-06-14 18:04

    Pretoria - After eight years at the helm of the Bulls and two Super Rugby titles while in charge, coach Frans Ludeke’s career with the Pretoria side ended with a whimper following a 42-29 defeat to the Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.

    Ludeke faced the media in his final post-match press conference, but remained silent about his decision to step down as Super Rugby and Currie Cup coach.

    “It was definitely not the way we wanted to end the season and it is not what they players had in mind but that is how it played out,” Ludeke said.

    “We just made too many mistakes with the first-half penalties giving them a free ride, and also at the breakdown we couldn’t look after the ball.”

    Bulls chief executive Barend van Graan announced after match that Ludeke had informed the Board of Directors on Friday that he would resign with immediate effect.

    “If you see how much some of our competitors are struggling to find a new coach it is not an easy search to identify the right guy and appoint him,” Van Graan said.

    “We will take our time and try and resolve that as soon as possible. We did not inform the players before the match (of Ludeke's departure) as we wanted them to have a clear mind going into the match.

    "After the match Frans informed the players and the coaching staff in the changing room and he requested not to be here (at the press conference post-match) tonight.”

    Van Graan said discussions will Ludeke about his future are ongoing, as is the process to appoint a new head coach for Super Rugby 2016 and an announcement would be made as soon as this had been finalised.

    Van Graan also announced on Saturday that Blue Bulls Under-21 and Vodacom Cup coach Nollis Marais will take charge in this year’s Currie Cup.

    Ludeke was adamant that the proud South African franchise would rise again after their campaign derailed on their tour of Australasia.

    Before the tour the Bulls were in a commanding second place on the overall log, but five consecutive defeats later they ended the season in ninth position and third in the South African Conference.

    “There are no regrets from my side, we gave it our best shot, maybe the best shot wasn’t good enough but we will take that,” Ludeke said.

    Bulls captain Pierre Spies admitted the cloud of uncertainty over Ludeke’s future and the players’ contracts did play a role in the team’s lacklustre performance against the Cheetahs.

    “We would be lying if we say it didn’t (play a role), it was a different week with what was happening with some of the players moving on and what is happening with management,” Spies said.

    “Everyone was aware of it. It was obviously difficult to keep the guys positive and focused, but we did everything we could.”

    On Friday the Bulls announced that eight stalwarts would part ways with the franchise at the end of the Super Rugby season.

    Spies along with Jacques du Plessis, Flip van der Merwe, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Victor Matfield, Akona Ndungane, Jurgen Visser and Francois Hougaard were confirmed as players to be leaving the Bulls.

    Du Plessis and Spies will join French club Montpellier, Van der Merwe moves to Clermont-Auvergne while Potgieter is leaving for Lyon.

    Matfield will retire after the Rugby World Cup with Ndungane hanging up his boots after his contract was only extended for this year's Super Rugby competition.

    Hougaard leaves for Japan later this year, but could return to Loftus Versfeld for next year’s Super Rugby competition.

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