Any rumors regarding Francois Hougaard’s ‘move’ to Cape Town were squashed by the Bulls on Wednesday when it was denied to the media that the young ex-Paul Roos student would relocate to the Stormers.
The defending Super Rugby champions reminded everyone in a statement that Hougaard is contracted with the Pretoria -based side until October 2012.
“Any rumours that the player will be available for other rugby unions is unfounded and without fact,” the statement read.
Hougaard will be in the starting lineup for the Bulls in their crucial and deciding final home game against the Sharks.
The Bulls confirmed that Du Preez suffered a grade two medial ligament tear in the defending champions’ victory over the Sharks on Saturday, ruling him out for the remaining regular season games in the southern hemisphere provincial championship.
With the Bulls only an outside shot at the Super 15 playoffs, which begin in five weeks’ time, the highly rated No. 9 could have played his last game in the competition. Du Preez is set to leave the Bulls to play club rugby in Japan at the end of the year.
Du Preez’s right knee bent back awkwardly in a first-half collision with a team mate in the Bulls’ 32-23 win in Durban.
The Reds beat the struggling Vodacom Bulls by 39 – 30 on Saturday in Brisbane to extend their vicory run to six matches.
They outscored the Bulls by six tries to three in a performance again orchestrated by the sublime skills of flyhalf Quade Cooper, who even added a drop-goal to his contribution on a day that his kicking was well below par.
But his off-loading skills and the manner in which he draws defenders out of line is what created four of the tries.
The only blot on what was another sublime performance for the Reds is some of the blatant cheating they are allowed to get away with. You have to wonder when referees are going to start penalising them for the manner in which they interfere with defenders off the ball, away and on the wrong side of ruck.
They scored a try through Bryan Habana yesterday but what will satisfy them no end is that they came to Loftus and beat the Bulls at a game to which the Pretoria side is more accustomed.
Simply put, the Stormers won the arm-wrestle at close quarters, while it was their flyhalf Peter Grant who applied the finishing touches with the boot.
The persistent rain that drenched Gauteng in the 24 hours leading up to this contest did little to enhance this game as a spectacle, but that seemed to suit the Stormers, who took to the trenches with glee.
Habana, who had an absolute howler, rediscovered his scoring instinct momentarily to put the game beyond the Bulls inside the last 10 minutes.
The Bulls’ victory in the Super 14 final in Soweto not only broke down all boundaries by becoming the biggest rugby game ever to take place in a township, but it broke all television records as well.
Figures released on Thursday by BMI Sport Info, South Africa’s leading independent sport and sponsorship Research Company, show that rugby made significant inroads into the black population, with black viewers accounting for almost 30 percent of the total viewing audience.
According to the latest AR viewership figures, a new record viewing audience of 2.9 million South Africans of 16 years and older watched the final between the Bulls and Stormers at Orlando Stadium on television this weekend.
Prop JC Kritzinger has been included on the bench at the expense of the Argentine-born Eusebio Guinazu. The 23-year-old Kritzinger made his debut for the WP Currie Cup team against the Bulls in 2008, and now he’s set to play in his first Super 14 final, also against the Bulls.
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said it was always on the cards to recall Kritzinger to the match-day squad once he overcame a calf injury which sidelined him for the last four matches.
“JC came through a fitness test on Tuesday, so we’re pleased to be able to use him for the final,” said Coetzee.
Gerhard van den Heever, who has served his suspension for a dangerous tackle, returns on the wing in place of veteran Jaco van der Westhuyzen who drops to the bench in place of Stephan Dippenaar.
Ludeke has again decided to go with a 5-2 bench in stead of the traditional four forwards and three backs. This is made possible by the versatility of the backs where Jacques-Louis Potgieter can cover at flyhalf and centre and Van der Westhuyzen is at home at flyhalf, wing and fullback. Francois Hougaard will take over at scrumhalf if the need arises.