URC – Preview – All To Play For As Vodacom Bulls Eye First Title


The Vodacom Bulls will not give an inch on Saturday when they host the Glasgow Warriors in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship grand final at Loftus Versfeld at 18:00 (SA Time), where they will have their sights set on becoming the second South African franchise to win the title.

A victory for the men from Pretoria will have extra significance for South African rugby as it will rubberstamp the country’s status as one of the top in the world following the Springboks second Rugby World Cup victory in a row in France last year and the Hollywoodbets Sharks’ victory in the EPCR Challenge Cup last month where they overcame Gloucester 36-22 to become the first domestic team to win the title.

The Vodacom Bulls will enter the clash as favourites with home-ground advantage and the fact that they finished second on the table in the pool stages of the competition, two places above the Glasgow Warriors, but they will undoubtedly expect an epic battle as both teams have won 15 matches apiece this season. Fortunately for Jake White’s men, they will enter the match with good momentum after winning their last two playoff matches against Benetton and Leinster at home respectively.

The newly crowned SA Shield winners will also enter the match with the mental boost that they boast the best attack in the competition with 694 points scored to Glasgow’s 563, while they have also only suffered one defeat at home this season. Adding to this, they defeated Glasgow 40-34 in a repeat of this match during the pool stages.

They will, however, be mindful of the fact that Glasgow have been more effective on defence with 373 points conceded in their 20 matches this season to 476 by the home team, and that they only beat the Scottish outfit by seven points in their last outing.

That said, the visitors have only beaten them once in their last three Vodacom URC matches dating back to 2022 – with that win being at the Scotstoun Stadium.

Glasgow has also been effective on the road this season, winning six of their 10 away matches – although they suffered defeats in both their matches hosted in South Africa against the Emirates Lions and Vodacom Bulls respectively.

History, however, will count for nothing going into this encounter with the title of Vodacom United Rugby Championship champions at stake, which will set the scene for a gripping final.

The Vodacom Bulls made only one change to their starting line-up with winger Kurt-Lee Arendse returning at the wing, replacing Devon Willemse who moved to fullback. On the bench, Zak Burger replaces Keagan Johannes.

Glasgow Warriors named an unchanged starting XV. Max Williamson and Euan Ferrie are each selected for their first taste of a Grand Final in Glasgow colours, as Henco Venter completes a six-two split of forwards and backs amongst the replacements. Duncan Weir is the only other change to the matchday squad, as the fly-half, the only survivor from the 2015 title-winning squad, joins Jamie Dobie as the backline cover for tomorrow’s clash.


Vodacom Bulls: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 David Kriel, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Cameron Hanekom, 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje (c), 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp. Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Simpiwe Matanzima, 18 Francois Klopper, 19 Reinhardt Ludwig, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Zak Burger, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Cornel Smit.

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Josh McKay, 14 Sebastian Cancelliere, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Sione Tuipulotu, 11 Kyle Steyn (c), 10 Tom Jordan, 9 George Horne, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Rory Darge, 6 Matt Fagerson, 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Johnny Matthews, 1 Jamie Bhatti. Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Nathan McBeth, 18 Oli Kebble, 19 Max Williamson, 20 Euan Ferrie, 21 Henco Venter, 22 Jamie Dobie, 23 Duncan Weir.