Bulls Beat English Club Described by Jake White as ‘Barcelona of Rugby' in Investec Champions Cup

Bulls Beat English Club Described by Jake White as ‘Barcelona of Rugby' in Investec Champions Cup

Jarryd Westerdale
updated at December 9, 2023 at 8:17 PM
  • The Bulls opened their European continental championship campaign with a win against Saracens
  • The Pretoria men scored three tries against English opponents but failed to earn a bonus point
  • A questionable red card for Billy Vunipola dampened the last 20 minutes of the second half

First box ticked for the Bulls in the Investec Champions Cup.

Loftus Versveld welcomed English royalty in the form of defending Gallagher Championship champions Saracens.

In the build-up to the game, Bulls coach Jake White referred to Owen Farrell's men as the 'Barcelona' of domestic rugby on the continent, meaning the Pretoria men would be well up for the challenge.

Bulls, Saracens, Loftus
The Bulls defeated Saracens 27-16 at Loftus Versveld in their opening match of the Investec Champion Cup. Photos: Willem Loock / Supreme Image Photography.
Source: Original

The Bulls opened the scoring with a third-minute try, which was followed shortly by a Farrell penalty for Saracens.

The hosts scored a beautiful team try in the 10th minute, but it was scrubbed off for a dubious forward pass awarded by the TMO. Johan Goosen then added two penalties, while Farrell slotted a second.

Janko Swanepoel did register the second try just before half-time, bulldozing over after multiple phases to leave it a 20-6 at the interval.

The first half lacked continuity and flow, with the Bulls frustrating the visitors into two yellow cards, one for Alex Goode impeeding try-bound Kurt-Lee Arendse and one for Maro Itoje for cynical play in the build-up to Swanepoel's try.

Kurt-Lee Arendse, Bulls, Saracens.
Kurt-Lee Arendse looks for a supporting runner in the Bulls' 27-16 win over Saracens. Photo: Willem Loock / Supreme Image Photography.
Source: Original

The home team extended their lead with another try after the restart, before Billy Vunipola was sent off for glancing the head of a Bulls forward as he attempted to clear the ruck.

As it often does, 14-men Saracens were galvanised while the Bulls lost their shape and discipline, resulting in the visitors scoring two quick tries that went unconverted.

A knackered Saracens had little left in the tank in the final 15 minutes and the game trudged to 27-16 conclusion as the Bulls failed at the death to pick up a bonus point try.

Bulls, Saracens, Loftus, Willem.
The game descended into a scrap after the sending-off of Billy Vunipola. Photo: Willem Loock /Supreme Image Photography.
Source: Original

The competition has been shuffled this year to accommodate three groups of six and the Bulls will be looking to progress from a pool also including Bordeaux, Bristol, Lyon and Connacht.

Exciting news! We have a WhatsApp channel 🤩

➡️ Click to join our channel for all your favourite sports news.

Super Rugby vs European competition

Sports Brief recently compiled a list of reasons why South Africans could prefer a return to Super Rugby.

South Africa's four largest franchises are in their third season of United Rugby Championship participation.

The European contests are remarkably less entertaining than Super Rugby, making South Africa kingmakers.

Jarryd Westerdale photo
Jarryd Westerdale
Jarryd Westerdale (based in Johannesburg) joined Sports Brief after four years in the community journalism sphere. He is a two-time Alet Roux Award winner and was a finalist in multiple categories at the Forum of Community Journalism Excellence Awards.
Blue BullUnited Rugby ChampionshipSouth AfricaSouth African Rugby Union (SARU)