Loftus to host URC quarterfinal with opponents yet to be confirmed

rugby20 May 2024 15:16
By:Lunga Kupiso
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Vodacom Bulls © Images provided

The Vodacom Bulls’ bonus-point nine-try victory against Benetton over the weekend has solidified a Vodacom United Rugby Championship top-four finish for Jake White’s herd with a round still to play.

That means Loftus will host the quarterfinal match on the weekend of 7-8 June 2024.

The only question still left to be answered is exactly where in the top four the Tshwane outfit will finish, with one more assignment left before the knockouts begin.

That involves a trip down to the coast where the EPCR Challenge Cup finalists, the Hollywoodbets Sharks, await in round 18.

Director of Rugby White said the league is very competitive and has reached an exciting point. “This year, the worst we can finish is fourth. That means it’s already a quarterfinal. That’s an improvement on where we were last year.

"We are there. There’s this thing of you can’t win the lotto if you don’t have the ticket. We've still got a ticket and while you have a lotto ticket, there’s hope.”

He added: “Are we where I would like us to be? No, if we had beaten Munster, we would be top of the log. That’s the margin of what we sit with. If we won that game with a bonus point, we would be first or second. That’s how close it is. But there’s no doubt in my mind about the improvement. The players have grown massively over the last year."


Only six teams have confirmed their places in the playoffs leaving four still in the running for the remaining two spots. Three of those teams are level on points with two set to square up in the final round while the two sides who have an outside chance face tough opposition who are currently in the top five, as it stands.

The Bulls (on 61 points) sit in second place on the log, two points behind table-toppers Munster Rugby, and a point ahead of the 2023/24 Investec Champions Cup finalists, Leinster Rugby, who are level on points with Glasgow Warriors who are fourth.

The Stormers (on 54 points) occupy fifth place, one point ahead of Ulster who just confirmed their playoff spot in round 17.

Three teams are tied on 49 points in Edinburgh Rugby (seventh), Benetton Rugby (eighth) and the men from the other side of the Jukskei, the Emirates Lions sitting ninth.

Excitement is in the air for the Bulls, who are looking to better last season’s run with their eyes set on a massive finish. “I am very excited about where we are and the four games that we have left - one round robin and three potential knockouts - if it goes according to what the log looks like now, it could go Sharks, Glasgow, Stormers and Leinster,” said the Bulls mentor, White.

“I really do believe that we are good enough to beat any of those teams. That is the challenge, to get it right in four consecutive weekends” he concluded.


While a playoff spot is confirmed, the Vodacom Bulls remain in the hunt for the South African Shield which is decided based on the most wins against domestic teams.

The Tshwane outfit leads Cape arch-enemies, the DHL Stormers by three points and nothing short of a win will seal a Shield victory for Jake White and his herd.

White said his side have set their eyes on a Shield win, over and above their overall objective. “We want to win the conference [Shield] too, it is something we want to do and be the best side in South Africa. We once were the best side for a long time and lost that for the last two seasons but now we are going for the conference (much like the league) because we want to be the top South African side.

“This is why there is a lot to play for against them (Sharks) but that doesn’t mean they are going to lie down, look at the names in their team. They are in that space where World Cup winners can go and win something else as well and we know South Africans find another gear when they know they can win something.”

White believes his side will go for it as they have proven on previous occasions.

“There is one thing we have done well since I have been here and that is we play well when we want something and the one thing this group of players has done, whenever we get to a knockout game is to do well. We have probably won more than we have lost when we needed to play for a win.”