If the Bulls are to win their maiden United Rugby Championship title they’re going to have to ensure their defence is as good as their attack.
At the start of the URC season, Bulls boss Jake White said he wanted to see an improvement in his team’s defence as it had let them down last season, but fast forward to the midway point of the URC season, and their defence is still a cause for concern.
The Pretoria-based franchise have been the best South African team in the competition and they’re properly in the running to make a go of winning a first title (being fourth on the log at halfway and before this weekend’s resumption after the Six Nations break), but if they’re going to go all the way they’re going to have to improve defensively.
Contrasting fortunes in attack and defence
The Bulls’ season so far has been characterised by mesmerising attacking rugby that’s also been infused with their traditional physicality and according to the stats, they have scored the most points (294) and the most tries (40).
But given how the Bulls play on the front foot, they are bound to be exposed in defence; one of the reasons why White roped in veteran coach Gary Gold to take charge of the defence this season. So far the Bulls’ defence is ranked 10th out of 16 teams. They have missed a total of 135 tackles and lost 86 turnovers.
The next nine matches of the URC regular season then, starting with this weekend’s clash against the Lions in Joburg, will be important for the Bulls and they’re going to have to improve their at-times shaky defence, especially if they want to be a factor in the playoffs.
Moodie at 13
It is perhaps time to introduce Springbok Canan Moodie at outside centre because the midfield so far has been guilty of not being tight in the tackles. His experience of playing 13 at Test rugby will help.
The main reason Irish side Leinster recruited defence guru and Rugby World Cup-winning coach Jacques Nienaber is that defence wins titles.
On their day, the Bulls can outscore any team but that does not win championships … defence does.