British & Irish Lions

Jake puts Lions hype on back burner as Bulls have more pressing Rainbow Cup issue

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Jake White during the Currie Cup final between Bulls and Sharks.
Jake White during the Currie Cup final between Bulls and Sharks.
(Lee Warren/Gallo Images)
  • Jake White isn't getting too excited yet about the prospect of his Bulls being able to fulfil their fixture against the British & Irish Lions later this year.
  • The former Bok coach points out that there's still the real possibility of the tour's schedule having to change due to Covid-related logistics.
  • In all fairness too, the Bulls have the more pressing issue of seeking clarity on whether next month's Rainbow Cup will be taking place.


Bulls mentor Jake White is not setting himself and his charges up for disappointment about playing the British & Irish Lions later this year.

This week's announcement that SA Rugby and the composite team's executive are intent on hosting the tour in South Africa has provided a morale boost to the local sporting community, but it was made clear too that the itinerary might have to change.

The Bulls will hope they aren't affected as there's been much excitement at Loftus over the July 17 fixture, particularly given the fact that they've been the only SA team except for the Springboks to have beaten the Lions since 1997.

READ | Gary Teichmann: Hosting Lions tour in Australia wasn't going to work from a TV rights perspective

"Yeah, the announcement has been met with mixed feelings. We're still not actually sure if we'll play against them," said White.

"We've all heard and read that the tour is on and that it's coming to South Africa, but there's no clarity yet on whether the schedule will stay the same.

"Will the midweek games take place? Will we play?"

In all honesty, the Bulls (and Springboks by extension) have the far more pressing matter of knowing whether the Rainbow Cup is going ahead.

The tournament, which is planned to commence next month and will serve as an appetiser for the PRO16 later in the year, is shrouded in doubt over continued Covid-19 restrictions, especially travel.

"If we can get confirmation of the Rainbow Cup taking place, that would put the players much more at ease," said White.

"I'm pretty confident the tournament will have to happen in some form if the Lions tour is going to happen because the players will have to stay match-fit.

"The PRO14 final is on Friday evening and (various Irish, Scottish and Welsh) players need to keep busy for the sake of Lions selection. It's the same in South Africa. We need to play to ensure that the Boks' preparation is up to scratch."

White, nonetheless, believes the prospect of the series is something that can be celebrated to an extent.

"In the end, the most important thing that needs to happen is for this tour to take place, wherever it's going to be," he said.

"I don't believe we have the luxury to say it has to be in South Africa. The reality is, a year ago we didn't have any rugby at all. We had lockdown and we weren't even certain that we'd play again in 2020. 

"So the fact that the Lions tour is going to take place is a massive boost for everybody, I'm sure."   

The Bulls' final game in the preparation series is against the Sharks at King's Park on Friday.

Kick-off is at 19:00. 

Teams:
Sharks

15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Marius Louw, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Boeta Chamberlain, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Emile van Heerden, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Fez Mbatha, 1 Ox Nche

Substitutes: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Phepsi Buthelezi, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Rynhardt Jonker, 23 Aphelele Fassi

Bulls

15 Richard Kriel, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Marnus Potgieter, 12 Dawid Kellerman, 11 Diego Appollis, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Nizaam Carr (captain), 7 Tim Agaba, 6 Werner Gouws, 5 Janko Swanepoel, 4 Jan Uys, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Schalk Erasmus, 1 Lizo Gqoboka

Substitutes: 16 Janco Uys, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Raynard Roets, 20 WJ Steenkamp, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Clinton Swart, 23 Jay-Cee Nel

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