Ken Borland
Sports Journalist
2 minute read
16 Jun 2021
1:33 pm

Why ‘adaptability’ is the keyword for the Bulls this week

Ken Borland

"There’s not a lot of time for us to put too much emphasis on how referees blow the game in Europe, but champion sides have to adapt,” said Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee 

Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee will lead the side against Benetton Treviso in the Rainbow Cup final this weekend. Picture: Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images

The Bulls are raring to go and eager to rip into Benetton Treviso, their Italian opposition, in the Rainbow Cup final on Saturday, captain Marcell Coetzee said on Wednesday.

But as pumped up as the Bulls are to deliver a typically rip-roaring display of ferocity against Benetton, they know that there will be much to adapt to in the strange surrounds of the Stadio Monigo and they have to ensure they do not get frustrated.

Refereeing interpretations in Europe can also be very different to what the players are used to in South Africa, which is another potential area of frustration the Bulls will need to adapt to.

“There’s a great deal of excitement and it’s awesome to be overseas and to be playing against a European team,” Coetzee said.

“We have a bunch of guys who are very hungry for success and this is an opportunity to win a trophy, that’s the main thing. But we have to be ready to adapt, the final is not going to be about individuals but about the team effort and pulling together.”

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Coetzee added: “And you want all your personnel on the field, particularly in finals, so we have to adapt to things like the referees being very much more cautious about the height of tackles – your body height and where you make contact have to be squeaky clean over here – and the breakdowns are blown differently too.

“There’s not a lot of time for us to put too much emphasis on it, but champion sides have to adapt.”

Just making the final has been quite the miraculous resurgence by Benetton Treviso, after they suffered the horror of losing 15 of their 16 games in the 2020/21 Pro14 season and drawing the other one.

“Benetton have changed a lot since I played against them a few years ago for Ulster and they are currently playing some incredible rugby and they have personnel doing great things for them,” said Coetzee.

“They play at a high tempo, their ball-carries are strong and they like to play a distribution game, off a very good set-piece platform. And they have a couple of former Bulls players so they’ll know what we bring.

“There’s a great energy in our squad, everyone was just so keen to hop on a plane for some long travel, but we’re not here on holiday but for business.

“If we can play with synergy then the result will come and it will be fantastic for the guys and for people back in South Africa for us to show we have the talent, the experience and the will to win over here.”