Vodacom Bulls captain Duane Vermeulen has departed from the Tshwane-based union having served as part of a lethal loose trio. Blue Bulls Company CEO Edgar Rathbone spoke exclusively to Briefly News following the union’s announcement that Vermeulen will be joining Irish club Ulster.
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The departure of Springboks loose-forward Duane Vermeulen from the Vodacom Bulls has presented an opportunity for a young group of players to emerge and take the team to greater heights.
This was the sentiment expressed by Blue Bulls Company CEO Edgar Rathbone when speaking exclusively to Briefly News following the rugby union’s announcement on Tuesday last week that their captain will be joining Irish club Ulster.
Rathbone said the 35-year-old, who joined the Vodacom Bulls in 2020, had an immediate impact through his undeniable skills and leadership qualities and contributed immensely to the brand of rugby the Tshwane outfit espouses.
He led the Bulls to the Carling Currie Cup title and was instrumental in the team's journey to the 2020/21 United Rugby Championship final.
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Vermeulen's qualities set him apart
With his contract at the Bulls having ended on 31 August, Vermeulen opted to seek another opportunity instead of continuing life at Loftus. He officially joins Ulster Rugby after the end-year Test matches.
“He remains one of the best players in the world. To have a player of his calibre as part of the team contributed immensely to the success of the Vodacom Bulls during his tenure.
“His contribution has been positive both on and off the field, and he served as a great ambassador,” said Rathbone, lauding the qualities the No. 8 imparted during this time.
“He is an all-round player whose skills and talents are admired globally. His experience and qualities have, for a long time, placed him as one of the best players in the world.”
Team culture and winning environment grew significantly
It is these same qualities, according to Rathbone, that increased his value proposition in the set-up, while the experience he imparted in the loose forward position made him a treasure to the 2020 Super Rugby-competing outfit.
“A player of Duane’s stature is invaluable in any setup. His influence as a leader and mentor to a relatively young team, particularly the back rowers, was evident and priceless.
“The team and individual players have certainly gained from the experience he imparted.
"He adds immense value wherever he goes, and the stability we have in our squad now is partly due to him. He has added to our culture and a winning environment here.”
Youngsters expected to rise to the occasion
Vermeulen formed part of a lethal loose trio with fellow loose-forward Elrigh Louw and flanker Marco van Staden, who departed from the Bulls in March to join English club Leicester Tigers.
When asked how much it will take for the playing unit to move on following the departures, Rathbone said the union is in the privileged position of having a close-knit group of players and a great team culture that everybody has embraced.
“Part of that culture is the emphasis on the team and not individuals. While the departures of Duane and Marco have left a void, both made positive contributions and had a long-lasting impact on young players such as Elrigh Louw, WJ Steenkamp and Muller Uys, who are the future of the Vodacom Bulls.
"We have the privilege of quality and capable individuals who remain to take the team to greater heights, both on and off the field," Rathbone emphasised.
"We are also blessed with a strong leadership group, which includes the likes of Marcell Coetzee and Arno Botha, who will continue to steer the ship in the right direction."
Cheslin Kolbe joins top clothing brand and reflects on what matters
In related news, Briefly News reported that Springboks winger Cheslin Kolbe joined the Superdry family as the latest collaborator for the brand's unique and vintage style.
Speaking exclusively to Briefly News about his latest collaboration, Kolbe also spoke about family and things that matter to him.
Kolbe has always taken careful consideration of what he wears and is very happy to mesh with a brand that's been one of his favourites for the longest time.
"I wouldn’t say I have a passion, I have always taken interest in my appearance and always made sure I am dressed in comfort and style," said Kolbe.