The Bulls are no longer the aristocrats of South African rugby. For the better part of the last decade they dined at Super Rugby’s top table and left the rugby peasants in the Stormers, Sharks, Lions, Cheetahs and even the Kings, to feed off their crumbs on the floor.
Out of their nine games played so far this season, the Bulls have only managed to win three, all at home, against the Sunwolves, Jaguares and Cheetahs, but it was their loss against the Sunwolves in Tokyo that illuminated the disaster that was yet to come.
The record defeat against the Crusaders not only amplified the growing calls for coach Nollis Marais to step down, it also highlighted how low the Bulls have sunk.
The post-mortem of Saturday’s massacre won’t be pretty, nor will there be anything left to be positive about as should be the case with the heaviest defeat and biggest losing margin the Bulls have suffered in Super Rugby history at home.
The writing is now on the wall for the Bulls as they stand no realistic chance of making the play-offs but Marais remains defiant that he is going nowhere and he will continue to fight for his job and his team’s resurrection.
In the aftermath of their tour to New Zealand, where the Bulls lost to the Blues and Chiefs, followed by the disaster in Tokyo, questions were already being asked about Marais and his management staff’s aptitude to guide the team in Super Rugby and after the Crusaders beating even Bulls greats Naas Botha and Victor Matfield were scathing of both players and coaches.
“I cannot make a decision on that. I think there are two coaches in life, one that is fired and one that is going to get fired. The only thing I can do now is focus on getting the team ready. I know there are a lot of unhappy people and I accept it as well. I’m not running away from it. Whatever happens at the end of the day that will be the board’s decision. If the board think that I am not up for I will respect their decision. It won’t be nice but it’s a coach’s life, if one is going to get fired then they will get fired,” a despondent Marais said.