Bright future for Bulls' young guns
Bright future for Bulls' young gunsSHARE
The Bulls, after drawing the curtain on an ordinary season with a spotless home record, are looking to the future rather than ponder the past.
The Bulls routed the Rebels 40-7 in Pretoria on Friday to bring an end to a disappointing Super Rugby campaign.
Although it was not the season the team had envisaged, Bulls' coach Frans Ludeke said it was important for his charges to finish with a flourish to lay the building blocks for next season.
"We said that it was important to finish well to almost start something new and was an important victory towards the next step which is the Currie Cup, but you shouldn't get ahead of yourself," Ludeke said.
"We just made sure that we regroup and get a good pre-season with three weeks to go until the Currie Cup and do well in that competition."
The Bulls won seven and drew one of their eight matches at home in Pretoria but lost all of their eight matches on the road.
It was that poor record away from home that cost them the season and relegated them to ninth place on the overall log.
Ludeke said while they were disappointed for not reaching the play-offs, there were some positives they could take out of the season.
"There were a number of players that came through, which was the case in our 2008 season," Ludeke said.
"The young players that came through in Super Rugby are encouraging and will make a big difference in the Currie Cup competition.
"In the last two years we've lost a lot of players, and we only had youngsters and not enough old heads in the Currie Cup.
"This year it will be different and hopefully we can take some positive momentum into next year's Super Rugby."
The Bulls' mentor admitted that the team let themselves down playing away from home but he also believed the lack of experience contributed to their unsuccessful campaign.
"There were nine players that played Super Rugby for the first time in the starting line-up for approximately 80 percent of our matches," he said.
"Guys had to find their feet and injuries broke our rhythm at critical times in the season.
"The way the guys responded makes one look forward to the future and no-one looked for excuses."
The Bulls' season highlighted how relentless the Super Rugby competition can be, given the fact that if the Pretoria franchise had won two more matches they could have made the play-offs.
Victor Matfield said the key to success in Super Rugby was to have at least five national players within a team's ranks.
"That is how tough this competition is and we are definitely on our way there, if you look at the talented youngsters we have here that could become world-class," he said.
"Many of our leaders got injured this year. If you take players like Pierre Spies, Arno Botha, Deon Stegmann and Dewald Potgieter, they are all players that could captain the side."
Meanwhile, the Bulls' defeat of the Rebels ensured that the last place on the overall Super Rugby log would not be occupied by a South African team.
Instead it is the hapless Rebels that earned the dreaded wooden spoon after Friday night's loss.
Rebels' coach Tony McGahan said his side, which won four matches this season, was still on a learning curve.
"We have a young group, and we are a young club and had 15 new players in the squad this year," McGahan said.