If we win, we win together and if we lose, we lose as a team
As the Greek philosopher Aristotle once said: 'The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.'
It is a maxim Bulls coach Frans Ludeke subscribes to as his team looks to bounce back from a 10-32 hammering at the hands of a motivated Sharks team last Friday.
With just one round of league action remaining in this year's Super Rugby competition, the Bulls know they require a bonus-point win over the Lions in Pretoria to qualify for the play-offs later this month.
The margin and manner of the Sharks' defeat may have surprised some pundits, but other critics have pointed to the make-up of the squad as a contributing factor. And the loose forward combination, in particular, has come under the spotlight again after the Springbok-laden team's poor showing.
Springboks Pierre Spies, along with the Potgieter duo (of Jacques and Dewald), did not live up to their considerable reputations and they were certainly outplayed by the Sharks' Bok trio of Ryan Kankowski, Keegan Daniel and Marcell Coetzee.
However, Ludeke felt that too much was made of individual performances and not enough of what was generally a bad day at the office for the entire team.
"As a team we were simply not good enough," Ludeke told this website when asked about the loose forwards, adding: "That often results in the mini-units not playing well and that then makes individuals look bad.
"It also works the other way round... if the individuals play well, then the mini-units play well and the team will perform.
"That is why you rely on each other in the team. If we win, we win together and if we lose, we lose as a team.
"Looking to the road ahead, as a group we will look at the defeat and come back a stronger unit."
While the Bulls managed roughly the same number of rucks and mauls as the Sharks - 86 for the Bulls (10 of those quick, 67 normal and nine slow) as opposed to the 79 of the Sharks (seven quick, 64 normal and eight slow) - the amount of turnovers appears to have cost the Bulls. The Men from Pretoria conceded nine turnovers, while the Durban team lost the ball just four times at the breakdown.
Another telling statistic is that the visitors' loose forwards missed six tackles between them, as the Bulls managed a poor 67 percent tackle completion rate.
Ludeke admitted that his team was beaten at the breakdown, but felt all the blame should not be laid at the door of individuals.
"On occasion they were simply just quicker than us [to the breakdown] and there is no excuse for that," the Bulls mentor told this website.
"At most of the breakdown points we lost they were simply quicker and turned the ball over because our first support players were not there.
"Luckily those are issue you can work on. Our intensity simply wasn't good enough," he added.
By Jan de Koning