Super Rugby

Bulls snap up Grey College mastermind to head up junior rugby

Wessel du Plessis (R) would've been the SA Schools A team coach again in 2020. (Gallo Images)
Wessel du Plessis (R) would've been the SA Schools A team coach again in 2020. (Gallo Images)
Carl Fourie
  • Wessel du Plessis, Grey College's successful head coach, has been put in charge of keeping the Bulls' pipeline healthy under Jake White.
  • The 35-year-old is known for relishing the development of youngsters and would've coached the SA Schools 'A' team in 2020.
  • He's the latest high-profile coach to leave the relative comforts of schools rugby for a more challenging environment.

The Bulls have entrusted Wessel du Plessis with keeping the franchise's conveyor belt rolling by appointing him as head of junior rugby.

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Recruiting the 35-year-old Grey College 1st XV head coach can be considered a coup for director of rugby, Jake White, as it once again illustrates the all-round enthusiasm for the former Bok mentor's vision as well as the attractiveness of leaving a stable job at one of SA's foremost nurseries for a bigger challenge.

Du Plessis, in charge at the school since 2014, has been hugely successful and was installed as the SA Schools 'A' coach for 2020 by the national federation before the Covid-19 pandemic scuppered junior rugby for the rest of the year.

"I'm passionate about helping young rugby players realise their potential and being able to do that within a professional environment such as the Bulls is just the cherry on top. The junior structures at Loftus Versfeld are impressive while the players are of an exceptional quality as evident by Loftus being the current home to the SA Rugby Under-21 and Under-19 Championship trophies," he said.

"I'm looking forward to working with the next generation of Bulls players and a heartfelt thank you must be given to the BCCo (Blue Bulls Company) for this opportunity."

Du Plessis will take over from Nollis Marais, the franchise's experienced and decorated age-group coach who's been elevated into the senior coaching staff as a breakdown specialist.

The appointment also confirms the steady trend of South African rugby starting to warm up to the benefits of promoting accomplished school coaches, with the Lions notably employing Glenwood and Paarl Boys High's Sean Erasmus in 2018.

Erasmus is currently the senior team's defence coach.

While White's emphasis remains on moulding a formidable senior group of players in the short-term, he's certainly not oblivious to keeping the future in mind.

"Creating a winning culture starts at the bottom and it is important to invest in the future of Bulls rugby. When I joined, I stated my intention of improving the schools and club rugby structures and appointing a coach of Du Plessis' calibre is a step in the right direction. I look forward to working with him," he said.

- Compiled by Heinz Schenk