Yes, we have agreed to an early release
Frans Ludeke has signed a new three-year deal to stay on as head coach of the Bulls, but the Pretoria franchise has released Springbok Jacques Potgieter.
The Blue Bulls Company confirmed on Wednesday that Ludeke will stay on at Loftus Versfeld.
The 45-year-old coach extended his contract with the BBC for another three years, to 2016, and will continue in his role as head coach of the Bulls Super Rugby franchise.
Ludeke took over as coach at the Bulls in 2008 and took the team to Super Rugby titles in 2009 and 2010 and a play-off spot in 2012.
He is one of only three South African coaches to have won Super Rugby titles and the only one to achieve this twice. Bok coach Heyneke Meyer (Bulls, the Super 14 in 2007) and the late Kitch Christie (Transvaal, Super 10 in 1993) are the other two.
Ludeke (87 Bulls, 24 Cats) is also the third most experienced Super Rugby coach ever and with this extension, should move past Robbie Deans (Crusaders, 120) and Ewen McKenzie (Reds and Waratahs, 127) while still at Loftus Versfeld.
As Blue Bulls Currie Cup coach, Ludeke also took his team to the top in 2009, giving the Pretoria side a rare double that year.
Ludeke said it was an easy decision to stay with the Bulls.
"It was certainly very humbling when asked to stay on in this capacity," he said on Wednesday.
"I would like to believe that we managed to sustain the core values of rugby at Loftus Versfeld, where dedication and hard work, professionalism, passion and performance are part of the normal day of life.
"One can easily associate with the traditions of this proud union and team. The challenge will be to keep on honouring the drive to excellence and to sustain the winning culture and habit. I am grateful for the dedication and hard work by the support and management staff as well, as they make the job so much easier."
No less than 16 players has become a Springbok under Ludeke’s reign and the coach is keen to have this tally extended.
"Coaching is certainly not only about winning trophies, but also about developing players and people and when their abilities are rewarded at national level; it is a feather in the cap to all concerned."
Commenting on the news, CEO of the BBC, Barend van Graan, said: "This is fantastic news for us as a union wanting to stay at the top. To achieve that, you need to have a great coach, one of the best in the business and I am happy that we managed to secure that.
"Frans have a track record with us, but not only that, he has extended the principles of performance and delivery and we have to admire that."
* Meanwhile the Bulls' High Performance Manager, Xander Janse van Rensburg, confirmed that they have granted Bok flank Jacques Potgieter an early release from his contract.
Potgieter was originally schedule to leave for Japan after the Super Rugby season and return next year.
However, a lack of game time this year prompted the Bok loose forward to revisit his contract with the Bulls.
"Yes, we have agreed to an early release [from his contract], after Jacques [Potgieter] approached us," Janse van Rensburg told this website on Wednesday.
Although the Bulls boss did not want to elaborate too much, he admitted that "a lack of game time" and the "emergence of several young players" are among the reasons for the about-turn on Potgieter's contract status.
His contract with the Bulls was recently extended to 2015, but with a six-month Japan sabbatical clause added.
However, he has now been completely released and will depart in a couple of weeks' time.
"We want to help him as best we can with his career, hence the reason to agree to an early release," Janse van Rensburg added.
It is believed the 27-year-old will sign with a club in the United Kingdom.