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‘There’s more growth for SA in URC’, says Bulls skipper Marcell Coetzee

Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee wary of Glasgow Warriors.
Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee wary of Glasgow Warriors.
Image: Gallo Images

Having experienced both Southern and Northern Hemisphere rugby early in his career, Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee says the latter offers more growth for SA players.

The talented loose forward made his Super Rugby debut in 2011 when he was playing for the Sharks, and moved to the Northern hemisphere in 2016 where he joined Ulster in Pro14.

In 2020, the world of rugby witnessed SA making a big switch to Super Rugby with the country’s four premier franchises, the Bulls, Sharks, Lions and Stormers, joining sides from Ireland, Scotland, Italy and Wales in the United Rugby Championship (URC).

Coetzee believes a young SA player who has ambitions of being a complete international star has a better chance to achieve that playing in the URC and soon in the European Champions Cup.

That is because there he is exposed to different styles from at least six different countries compared to only Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Argentina in Super Rugby.

“Before I came to the Bulls, I played for Ulster for five years and I’ve seen what it does for a team and how better you get as a player, how you develop new techniques,” Coetzee said in a press conference in Johannesburg where SA Rugby announced the annual Currie Cup select team will take on Italy A during the Carling Champions Match at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on July 2.

“Because you now play against Welsh, Scottish, Irish, French and English teams which are right up there in terms of physicality and their unique side they bring to the game.

“As a player, you learn how to play against all the cultures t you face if you are ever going to play international rugby. It gives you a bit of taste in that,” he said.

All Blacks coach Ian Foster has been in the news, saying how much he wishes SA had not left Super Rugby for the Northern Hemisphere.

While playing in Super Rugby, SA had a lot of players leaving and joining teams in Europe, which weakened local sides.

URC also has less hectic travel for SA teams compared to when they had Super Rugby tours to Down Under.

“When I started my career, I enjoyed playing Super Rugby, the tours to Australia and New Zealand, playing against world-class players. But I think with the new URC tournament format, it’s still fresh in the minds and getting a taste of it. Players are enjoying it very much,” Coetzee said.

“We’ve had our challenges but travelling is much easier. In terms of the rugby standards you get a chance to play against a few international teams which are high up in the rankings.”


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