Bulls President Strauss wants his Loftus fans back
The ability to turn around a challenging situation is something Blue Bulls Rugby Union President Willem Strauss prides himself on.
Since moving from interim President to occupying the post full-time in 2018, Strauss has been on a mission to revive the glory of the Vodacom Bulls, which has seen the union dominate the local rugby landscape with its success.
He’s done so by being a man with a clear vision and then going out and getting things done. So, on this afternoon at Loftus Versfeld, as he joins the Vodacom Bulls players in recording a series of social media videos encouraging rugby fans to “take their shot” and get vaccinated, Strauss does what he does so well. He delivers his message in that firm and friendly no-nonsense style of his that says, “Let’s just get this done everybody, so we can get on with our lives and get back to Loftus”.
It’s the same approach Strauss brought to his role at the Blue Bulls, and which has yielded such success for the Vodacom Bulls.
“The question I get asked the most is how did we turn things around here?” he says.
“The first thing we did was to create a very definite split between professional and amateur rugby, and to make sure each is run accordingly well. At the amateur level, we invested in the structures there and made the school and club rugby in the region strong again. Then we brought in world-class shareholders such as Patrice Motsepe and Johann Rupert, identified a world-class coach in Jake White, and finally, we brought in a world-class CEO in Edgar Rathbone. I don’t know of a better team than Jake and Edgar when it comes to putting together a squad that has so much depth to it.”
“World class” is a phrase Strauss uses often because that’s where his ultimate vision lies for the Vodacom Bulls.
“Our vision is for the Vodacom Bulls to be the best provincial team in the world, on and off the field. We strive for a culture of excellence here because that’s our history. How many provincial teams can say they’ve beaten the British and Irish Lions as well as the touring All Blacks? We’ve embraced that history. It’s why we’ve named our Northern Pavilion after the legendary Frik du Preez.
“I’ve had players from other teams tell me that when they play at Loftus Versfeld, it feels like the combined history of all of those great Vodacom Bulls players is out on that field playing against them as well. Loftus is like a colosseum in that sense, and our fans make that atmosphere even better. That’s why I want them back in those seats as soon as possible, and to do that they need to get vaccinated.”
The fruits of success are everywhere to see at Loftus Versfeld, most notably in the trophy cabinet and with the Vodacom Bulls at the vanguard of this. Success breeds success, and Strauss has seen this in the quality of players coming to the Vodacom Bulls.
“Players want to be part of a winning culture. As President, I enjoy the fact that so many of our players are home grown. We’re keeping our local structures strong so that we keep creating a stable and dynamic environment for the team. We don’t buy players. Players buy into us. They buy into the culture of excellence and the legacy of the Vodacom Bulls. It’s as simple as that.”
And in the greater picture of what Strauss and the Vodacom Bulls are encouraging rugby fans to do, it’s as simple as getting vaccinated.
“We all want to get back to a normal life. The only way we are going to do that and get fans back into the stadium, and get that Loftus experience again, is if people get vaccinated. So, let’s just do it.”
Let’s get vaccinated so that we can go Further Together. Stay safe, Wear a Mask, Take Your Shot.