Matfield’s dream job beckons

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Ludeke announced on Saturday after the Bulls lost 42-29 to the Cheetahs, that he is stepping down from the job he has held with distinction for eight years.

Ludeke guided the Bulls to two more Super Rugby titles after their maiden victory in 2007, although many regarded the wins as a result of Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s efforts when he was still coaching the Bulls.

However Ludeke will not be cast aside by the Bulls and it is likely that his future will still be at Loftus Versfeld in the role of director of rugby – and therefore still involved in the day-to-day operations of the franchise and union.

The Bulls’ reluctance to completely divorce themselves from Ludeke stems from the hefty golden handshake that would be required to sever ties with him before his contract is up at the end of October next year.

Matfield openly stated last week that he is ready to take over the reins at the embattled franchise a day before the Bulls board of directors met on Friday to determine Ludeke’s fate.

Ludeke will cede control of the team immediately and his role as Currie Cup coach has been taken up by Vodacom Cup coach Nollis Marais, who has rapidly risen in the Bulls coaching ranks from his days as Under-19 and Under-21 head coach just a few years ago.

While the move to remove Ludeke with immediate effect has come as a surprise with the start of the Currie Cup just a few weeks away, it has been widely reported that Ludeke had long lost control of his changeroom due to the internal fighting amongst his management which stemmed from last year’s overseas tour.

Blue Bulls Company chief executive officer Barend van Graan also revealed that the decision to fire Ludeke had been made at the board meeting but that they could not make an official announcement until after Saturday’s game against the Cheetahs.

“If you see how much some of our competitors are struggling to find a new coach it is not an easy search to identify the right guy and appoint him,” Van Graan said.

“We will take our time and try and resolve that as soon as possible. We did not inform the players before the match of Ludeke’s departure as we wanted them to have a clear mind going into the match. After the match Frans informed the players and the coaching staff of the decision in the changing room,” Van Graan said

“It was definitely not the way we wanted to end the season and it is not what they players had in mind but that is how it played out,” Ludeke said.

“We just made too many mistakes with the first-half penalties giving them a free ride, and also at the breakdown we couldn’t look after the ball.”

The loss to the Cheetahs saw the three-time champions finish in a lowly ninth position on the overall Super Rugby log and third in the South African conference behind the Stormers and Lions.

This was the Bulls’ second worst record since Ludeke’s maiden season in 2008. - The Star

Original source: Matfield’s dream job beckons

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