Brilliant Club Rugby As UP-Tuks Draws Against Naka Bulle

Photo Credit -

The defending Carlton Cup champions UP-Tuks took on their arch-rivals Abe Midas Naka Bulle this past Saturday in the Moot in what turned out to be a match of two halves. Naka dominated the first half and led 23-7 at halftime, however, a second-half fightback by Tuks resulted in a 28-28 draw which maybe was a just result.


What became clear from this match is that club rugby in Pretoria is very much alive and well. Willem Strauss, President of the Blue Bulls Rugby Union, supported by the CEO, Edgar Rathbone and the Director of Rugby, Jake White, has made it their mission to make club rugby a priority and to restore it to its former glory.  


All Blue Bulls contracted players have been allocated to the various clubs to re-establish the close connection between the Union and the clubs, as well as to boost the level and experience of rugby at the clubs. It also bolsters the belief of club players that they still have an opportunity to excel by playing for their club.  


This brilliant move is already paying dividends considering that 8 non contracted club players have been invited to trials for the Blue Bulls Curry Cup team and Willem and his senior management must be complimented for their efforts and passion for club rugby. 


What also became evident is that club rugby is very different from the so-called “popcorn rugby” of the Varsity Cup, which is fast running and high scoring rugby. Club rugby on the other hand is played at a slower and much more grinding pace with no holds barred physicality.  


One will be very mistaken if you assume that club rugby is a lower level of rugby compared to the Varsity Cup. It is just as well-coached and provides very tough competitive rugby.  


Just ask UP-Tuks who lost to the Grizzlies, a few weeks ago and initially struggled against the Naka Bulle after their success in the Varsity Cup. 


Club rugby also remains the tough breeding ground for rugby talent and an opportunity for players to shine despite not being “good enough” at the schoolboy level and for the top teams of the unions.  


The Naka Bulle dominating the scoreline in the first half which ended 23-7 in favour of the Naka Bulle. UP-Tuks however, played all the rugby in the second half and managed to decrease the score deficit to 23-21 by the 66th minute with well-structured and attacking comeback rugby. Although the Naka Bulle was fortunate to score a try against the run of play in the 75th minute which increased their lead to 28-21, UP-Tuks had the last say in the match with a converted try in extra time which levelled the score at 28-28 which resulted in a match draw.


UP-Tuks Head Coach Nico Luus must have known that the Naka Bulle should not be underestimated as he selected a star-studded side, which included 19 players who represented UP-Tuks in the Varsity Cup Final against UCT Ikeys. He was proven correct as the Naka Bulle shocked UP-Tuks by scoring 4 unanswered tries by the 24th minute with hard grinding rugby that showcased their forward dominance in the scrums, as well as in the rucks and driving mauls. 


The very good tactical kicking by the Naka Bulle also kept UP-Tuks pinned in their half. UP-Tuks only managed to score their first points in the 27th minute with a converted try. A successful penalty kick by the Naka Bulle from a yellow card awarded to UP-Tuks No 2 for cynical play in the 38th minute, further increased their lead to 23-7 by the end of the first half.


UP-Tuks however, started the second half with some key replacements and soon took control of the match with well-structured attacking comeback rugby that tested the Naka Bulle defence and in turn, kept them pinned on their try line. UP Tuks launched repeated and relentless phase play attacks which decreased their score deficit to 23-21 by the 66th minute. However, the Naka Bulle defence was excellent and ensured turnover possession at crucial times during the UP-Tuks attack, which robbed them of scoring opportunities and taking the lead on the scoreboard. 


03:15  First and quick points for Naka Bulle with a try by Botha after gathering a clever chip kick against the run of play. Conversion missed by Mokoabane (5-0).


12:15  NakaBullescores again after repeated phase play from a penalty lineout resulting in a try by Grobler. Conversion missed by Mokoabane (10-0).


17:17  Another try for Naka Bulle by Nel after yet another set of good phase play. Conversion missed by Mokoabane (15-0).


The first 20 minutes of the match saw Naka Bulle dominating with their forwards in all aspects and scoring against UP-Tuks with very effective phase play attacks. Clever tactical kicking by Naka Bulle also kept UP-Tuks pinned in their half.  


24:16  NakaBulle continues to extend their lead and dominance with another try this time by Reynolds who cleverly dived over a ruck at the try line to score. 

Conversion missed by Nel (20-0).


27:37   First points for UP-Tuks with a try by Manuel after making a break down the touchline and passing the ball to Lewis, who drew a defender and passed back to Manuel to score. Conversion by Coetzer (20-7).


38:12  Yellow card awarded to Claassen from UP-Tuks for cynical play i.e. tackling the Naka Bulle scrumhalf whilst trying to clear the ball from a ruck. A successful penalty kick by Nel from Naka Bulle (23-7) was the score at halftime. 


46:10  UP-Tuks draws first blood in the second half with a try by replacement utility back Coetzee after a driving maul from a penalty lineout. Converted by Coetzer (23-14).


The first 20 minutes of the second half saw a different UP-Tuks team with some key replacements made who was in total control of all aspects of the game.  


66:10   UP-Tuks continuous their comeback with another try this time by replacement centre Van der Schyff after continuous pressure phase play. Converted by Coetzer (23-21).


75:10  Try for Naka Bulle by Mokoabane who gathered a loose ball and made a magnificent break from within his half to score against the run of play. 

Conversion missed (28-21).


81:10  UP-Tuks has the last say in the match with a well-worked try by Coetzer who also converted to draw the match 28-28.



Abe Midas Naka Bulle: Tries: Frans Botha, Johan Grobler, Juan Nel, Theuns Reynolds, Danny Mokoabane.Penalty: Juan Nel.

UP-Tuks: Tries: Tharquinn Manuel, Stephan Coetzee; Louritz van der Schyff; David Coetzer. Conversions: Davids Coetzer (3).



Abe Midas Naka Bulle:  1. Ian Oosthuizen, 2. Theuns Reynolds, 3. Gerrit du Preez, 4. JP Alberts, 5. JJ Scheepers, 6. Pierre Boshoff, 7. Jacques Bodenstein, 8. Louis van Biljon, 9. Jack Hart, 10. Danny Mokoabane, 11. Frans Botha, 12. Johan Grobler, 13. Kefense Mahlo, 14. Jae-Cee Nel, 15. Juan Nel. Replacements:16. Renaldo Kuppen, 17. Ruan Grindelingh, 18. Jan Venter, 19. Armand Roets, 20. Etienne Storm, 21. Sebastian Jobb, 22. Charles Goedhals, 23. Patrick Mathe.


UP-Tuks: 1. André van der Merwe, 2. Llewellyn Claasen, 3. Francois Klopper, 4. Louis Meiring, 5. Thomas Meyer, 6. EduanLubbe, 7. Stephan Smit, 8. Orateng Koikanyang, 9. Ruhan Viviers, 10. David Coetzer, 11. Tharquinn Manuel, 12. Wian van Niekerk, 13. Sango Xanlashe, 14.Zandre Kruger, 15. Clyde Lewis. Replacements:16. Werner Fourie, 17. Cebolenkosi Dlamini, 18. Damien Swarts, 19. Dian Schoonees, 20. Hilton Gie, 21. Louritz van der Schyff, 22. Xander Kruger, 23. Stephan Coetzee.


Article by Francois du Toit