Rugby

Why Bulls said NO to BaaBaas

2013-11-27 17:04
Barend van Graan (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Blue Bulls CEO Barend van Graan has revealed why they decided not to release Springbok lock Flip van der Merwe to play for the Barbarians against Fiji at Twickenham on Saturday.

Van der Merwe earlier this week replaced Eben Etzebeth in the Barbarians squad after the latter withdrew with an ankle injury.

Van der Merwe was on Tuesday named in the starting team to face the Islanders but then had to withdraw.

The Barbarians confirmed the news via their official Twitter account, claiming his province, the Bulls, did not agree to release him.

Van Graan said that they made the decision to withdraw the lock from this match based on a number of factors.

"This is a very important period of preparation for the 2014  Super Rugby season and a vital stage of our squad's pre-season planning, strength and conditioning. Even more important though is the management of our players after a very long season and as such, the heightened risk of key players getting injured can severely jeopardise our and their Super Rugby campaign," he said via a statement released to the media on Wednesday.

According to Van Graan, the Bulls have always, for a number of years, been clear that this period is an active rest and recovery period for their international players and that requests for matches like these need to be directed to the Blue Bulls Company (BBC) through the South African Rugby Union (SARU).

On Saturday evening the Barbarians directly approached Van der Merwe to partake and on Sunday evening informed the BBC per sms of the player's inclusion in the team.

The BBC then immediately informed Steven Berrick, one of the organisers of the Barbarian match, that Van der Merwe has no permission to partake in the match against Fiji.

"It was a decision based on principle and BBC policy, made in the best interest of the Bulls team," said Van Graan.

It was also confirmed that the Barbarians had earlier requested a release for another Bulls player, JJ Engelbrecht, but the request was also denied.

The Barbarians match-day 23 now features eight Springboks, eight All Blacks, five Argentinians, one Samoan and one Irishman.

Bok captain Jean de Villiers will lead the side from inside centre and will be joined in the backline by flyhalf Patrick Lambie, while Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen, Bismarck du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira have all been named among the forwards, with Coenie Oosthuizen and Willie le Roux on the bench.

New Zealand's Steve Hansen is the coach.

Teams:

Barbarians:

15 Santiago Cordera, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Gavin Williams, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Mick O’Driscoll, 3 Matias Diaz, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.

Substitutes: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Guillermo Ruan, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Manuel Carizza, 20 Luke Whitelock, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Tom Taylor, 23 Willie le Roux.

Fiji:

TBA

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