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Rugby | Currie Cup

Nollis gone, Mitchell takes over

The Vodacom Bulls have placed their coach Nollis Marais on paid leave with immediate effect.

Director of Rugby John Mitchell will take over the Currie Cup team for the rest of the season after the side lost their third match in the competition on Saturday when they went down 41-40 to the Toyota Cheetahs in a game they should have won.

Mitchell was currently helping out with the attack and was only set to take over in next season’s Vodacom Super Rugby campaign, but the Bulls have decided they could go no further with the current management and added a number of sweeping changes to the rest of the management teams at the same time.

The Bulls called the move to place Marais on paid leave “the next step in the turnaround strategy” but it also meant a permanent demotion for both of his assistants, and a reshuffling of the strength and conditioning teams across the union.

“Barend van Graan, CEO of the BBCo, explained that the step is merely a next step in the turnaround strategy. This follows the continued unfolding of the turnaround strategy the BB Co announced earlier,” the statement said.

“We are working hard to ensure sustainable and long term success for the Vodacom Bulls as well as the Vodacom Blue Bulls. We are working towards achieving success and to restore trust and faith in our brand”.

The new structure will see Mitchell head up the coaching role and also be in charge of attack and exits, while Hayden Groepes has been elevated from under-19 head coach to the senior team’s man for skills and kicking.

Tuks coach Pote Human is back in the new structure, and will take charge of the lineouts while Gary Botha remains in charge of the scrums and Pine Pienaar will control defence across all the union’s teams.

David Manuel, who was previously the Super Rugby backline coach, will take charge of the under-21 team, with Bevin Fortuin and Anton Leonard – previously forwards coach at the Super Rugby team – assisting him.

Dewey Swartbooi takes over from Groepes as head coach for the under-19s, while regular kicking coach Divan Strydom will take charge of the junior teams’ kicking from now on

The move also confirmed the loss of Hendre Marnitz, who was appointed as last season’s Currie Cup coach, then demoted when the Vodacom Cup campaign went horribly wrong. Marnitz has now joined the Newport Dragons as a defensive coach for the foreseeable future.

Van Graan added: "I believe this furthermore grants us the opportunity to cross pollinate our players; teams and ensure what senior coaches have learned while being involved at senior rugby be transferred throughout the entire system and structure which will be to the benefit of all involved. We urge the supporters to rally behind the team and come out to support them."

No decision has been taken about Marais’ future at the end of the season when it was expected he would join Mitchell as an assistant for the Currie Cup campaign.

The BB Co confirmed the following management teams for the remainder of the 2017 season:


• Head Coach + Attack + Exits:
- John Mitchell
• Skills & Kicking:
- Hayden Groepes
• Lineouts:
- Pote Human
• Scrums:
- Gary Botha
- Pine Pienaar
• S&C:
- Jacus Coetzee (HEAD WTP & Rehab)
- Ghafoer Luckan (Senior S&C assistant)

U21: • Head Coach:
- David Manuel
• Backline Coach:
- Bevin Fortuin
• Forward Coach:
- Anton Leonard
• S&C:
- Shaun du Toit

U19: • Head Coach & Backline:
- Dewey Swartbooi
• Forward Coach:
- Denzil Frans
• S&C:
- Henri-Charl Terblanche
- Yusuf Vahed (Junior S&C assistant)

Junior teams kicking; ALL teams PR&Admin:
• Divan Strydom


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