- Bulls Currie Cup mentor and WP legend Gert Smal says his team's comprehensive win in the north-south derby isn't about him proving a point to his former employers.
- Smal left his post as Province's director of rugby early in 2019 before the union steadily imploded to the point of it being placed under administration.
- He labelled that descent as "sad", but hopes the union has turned a corner.
Bulls Currie Cup coach and Western Province legend Gert Smal insisted that his side's comprehensive 40-21 victory over the Streeptruie wasn't a reversed two-fingered salute directed at his former employers.
The 60-year-old former Springbok flanker left his post as Province's director of rugby prematurely in early 2019, perceived by some as being one of controversial WP president Zelt Marais' scapegoats as the union steadily imploded.
Smal departed before the myriad dramas related to litigation battles with Investec and Flyt as well as a botched equity deal with MVM Holdings led to SA Rugby placing WP under administration, but was present when the union liquidated its professional arm in late 2016.
He also had to deal with a messy investigation into claims of discrimination made by former Blitzboks coach and Stormers assistant Paul Treu against his franchise colleagues though an independent review concluded his claims didn't have much of a basis.
"I didn't really feel as if this victory was some form of vindication," he said after Wednesday night's triumph.
"What was important is that we continued our good form. It wasn't as a case of WP not treating me well during those five years as DoR (director of rugby)."
Instead, almost as if he foresaw the trouble brewing, Smal decided to go to Japan because of the administrative situation at the union, a saga he labelled as "sad".
"My decision was purely based on what was happening with the union at the time. I was just very disappointed about how certain governance issues were being handled. That's why I left," he said.
"It's sad to see that things eventually went down so badly. But it seems now they've reached a point of return (through the interim administration led by former SA Rugby chief Rian Oberholzer). We'll have to see now how they pull things together and deal with the next set of challenges."
#WPvBUL FULL TIME: It's a satisfactory 21-40 win for the Vodacom Bulls in Cape Town. It's always a pleasure facing our tough rivals, DHL Western Province. Back-to-back wins for our lads.#ReachForGold#CarlingCurrieCup #TrueToTheBlue @Vodacom @TheCurrieCup pic.twitter.com/j61x9kZonC— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) January 19, 2022
Meanwhile, Smal was unconvinced that his powerful line-up on the night - which was in stark contrast to WP leaving out their first-choice stars - managed to gain a significant psychological advantage ahead of Saturday's United Rugby Championship clash between Jake White's Bulls and John Dobson's Stormers.
"I don't think so. It's a different game and a different approach. Jake and co will prepare the team in the way they see fit," he said.
"All this shows is that there are nice different dynamics taking place."