EPCR bosses demand explanation for Bulls selection after Champions Cup washout – report

Dylan Coetzee
Jake White Bulls director of rugby 2021 - PA.jpg

Bulls boss Jake White.

European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) have reportedly sent an official letter to the Bulls and South African Rugby (SARU) demanding an explanation of the Pretoria side’s team selection for the Champions Cup quarter-finals against Northampton Saints.

Jake White made mass changes to the team that won the round-of-16 clash at home, leaving 11 Springboks in Pretoria. The selection immediately resulted in backlash with many believing that the Bulls are prioritising the United Rugby Championship, with a win over Munster next weekend enough to secure a home play-off.

The decision ultimately backfired with the Bulls on the receiving end of a 59-22 hiding at the hands of the Premiership-leading Saints.

Bulls not worried

According to the Rapport, who reported that a letter had been sent by EPCR, the Bulls are not worried about explaining their selections based on the medical evidence they have available.

As per the same report, an insider underlined that it would be very risky to send a player who is not certain to recover in time all the way to England. The insider further explains that Marcell Coetzee is out for five months while Rugby World Cup winner Marco van Staden is also sidelined with an injury.

The source went on to outline the quality of rising loose forwards Mpilo Gumede and Cameron Hanekom, both of whom started the clash against Saints, and insisted if the Bulls did not care about the Champions Cup they would not have fielded the duo.

‘We have to pay our school fees!’ – Jake White responds to Champions Cup drumming

Not a good look

A local rugby boss told the Rapport that incidents like this could contribute to South African teams eventually being removed from European competition.

Perhaps the situation is magnified by White’s ongoing comments about the travel situation for the Bulls where he called out SARU after the round-of-16 clash for not having organised their arrangements to travel north.

The governing body responded later in the week with a detailed statement about their travels including the whopping R4.1 million rand cost to SA Rugby. This, in turn, fuelled the selection backlash when the weakened side was revealed.

READ MORE: Nine-try Northampton Saints hammer depleted Bulls to set up Champions Cup semi-final with Leinster