Rainbow Cup

Vaccinated Bulls travel to Italy to win Rainbow Cup for whole of SA, says Jake White

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Bulls' Jake White (Gallo Images)
Bulls' Jake White (Gallo Images)
Steve Haag/Gallo Images
  • Bulls mentor Jake White believes a spot in the Rainbow Cup final isn't a reward for his charges, rather an opportunity for the whole local rugby community to rejoice.
  • Next weekend's showdown against Benetton will be the first time since March 2020 that any local team faces foreign opposition.
  • The Bulls squad has been vaccinated for the trip to Europe.

A vaccinated group of Bulls will travel to Italy on Monday evening on a mission to win the Rainbow Cup for the whole South African rugby community.

Jake White, the franchise's director of rugby, gave that assurance after they clinched a spot in the showpiece match against Benetton next weekend with a 34-22 win over the Sharks in Durban on Saturday night.

It would be easy to just focus on the week-long, refreshing trip to Europe being a "reward" for the Bulls' hard work relentless will to win.

READ | Composed Bulls absorb Sharks' squeeze brilliantly to reach Rainbow Cup final

Yet, given how the South African rugby programme over the past nine months has been confined to a seemingly endless stream of local derbies due to the Covid-19 pandemic, an actual game with an international flavour is a triumph for the broader local game.

"This isn't about reward," said White.

"It's an exciting occasion for the whole of South Africa. Everyone is just keen to see a different type of game to the local derbies. We've had to play each other many times.

"I just saw (Sharks counterpart) Sean Everitt downstairs and he told me: 'Go win it for South Africa'. The reality is that everyone just wants to see something different. We have a great chance to play in Europe for the first time and we want to measure ourselves against the best in competition.

"We want to see where we compare to the only team that's been unbeaten in this tournament."

While there are still a few small logistical details to be ironed out - whether a group of 27 players and team management will travel to Venice via Paris or Amsterdam - the Bulls' relative safety in terms of the virus is greatly enhanced by the squad receiving the jab.

"We were part of the Sisonke clinical trial and vaccination programme, so we have ticked that box," said White.

"Obviously, there will still be a few tests that everyone will have to undergo. We'll do our PCR on Sunday morning with the results back by early Monday and we'll be set to get on the plane.

"We'll probably get tested again in Italy too. But we've ticked the boxes that we needed to and our medical staff are on top of everything."

The Bulls will sacrifice Trevor Nyakane, Morne Steyn, a currently injured Duane Vermeulen and Marco van Staden to the Springboks for the trip, but will be safe in the knowledge that their depth is arguably the best in the country.   

If anything, their success has actually seen them be left relatively untouched in terms of national interest.

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