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Rugby | Varsity Cup

Nollis Marais © BackPage Pix

Nollis takes over at Tuks

Former Vodacom Bulls head coach Nollis Marais has been sent an SOS by defending Varsity Cup champions Tuks to take over the coaching duties mid-season after the University’s poor results in this year’s tournament.

Marais, who was fired mid-season in last year’ Vodacom Super Rugby series, and accepted a demotion to the Bulls under-19 head coaching position, will take over from David Manuel - who is also the Bulls under-21 and Supersport Challenge coach.

Where this leaves Manuel and his assistant Anton Leonard is anyone’s guess, although the statement put out by the Bulls says both will stay on to assist Marais – as they have a close working relationship and both were his assistants at Super Rugby level.

Marais won the Varsity Cup with Tuks in 2012 and 2013, before moving onto the Bulls coaching positions he has held since, with Pote Human taking over in 2014 and winning the competition in 2017. Human is now assistant coach to John Mitchell at the Bulls and is in Brisbane with the team as they prepare for their first tour match against the Queensland Reds on Saturday.

The University put out a statement Wednesday on the coaching change, even though Manuel’s name was spelt incorrectly in the release.

“The University of Pretoria fully acknowledges that the FNB UP-Tuks team has not had a great season up to now and is under pressure without winning a single match in the 2018 FNB Varsity Cup, and that steps need to be taken to try and rectify the current situation,” it read.

“As part of a turn-around strategy, Nollis Marais who is currently and will remain the coach of the Young Guns (U/20), has been appointed as head coach of the UP-Tuks Varsity Cup team, with David Manual (sic) moving to assistant coach. The status-quo of the other coaching and management team remains the same.

“Marais is one of the most successful junior coaches in the country, having lead the Blue Bulls U21 side to two consecutive titles, and UP Tuks to two Varsity Cup titles. His experience and expertise at this level will no doubt be a massive boost for the Tukkies team in the remaining games.

“Both coaches, Marais and Manual, have a great working relationship with each other, and are looking forward to these changes and are excited about the way forward.”

Manuel had privately acknowledged that he had not had the depth of players he desired after several defections in the off-season and the failure of the Bulls recruiting office to find replacements.

Tuks have lost all five their games this year and are in danger of being relegated.

While a number of the team’s stars in 2017 have graduated to Super Rugby – including Divan Rossouw, Embrose Papier, Andre Warner, Marco van Staden and Manie Libbok – the team also lost Chris Massyn, last year’s captain and prop Neethling Fouche to Maties.

Manuel has also had to deal with several injuries in the competition as well.


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