The Border Bulldogs will show more bite during 2016 and in an endeavour to be more competitive next season, Border have increased its contracted playing staff from 28 to 38 for the 2016 season.
By Peter Martin
DUTY CALLS: Border Bulldogs rugby players, Siya Mdaka and Blake Kyd, right, with a Bulldogs supporter at a recent PRO exercise in East London. Kyd has retained the captaincy of the Bulldogs for next season.
After a disastrous 2015 in which only four out of 18 matches were won, 10 new players, most of them from the Border Academy, have been recruited and added to the existing squad.
At a press conference at Buffalo City Stadium on December 1, head coach of the Bulldogs, the professional arm of Border Rugby, Elliot Fana, and conditioning coach, Denzel van Heerden, addressed an audience of media journalists and promised better results during the upcoming 2016 season.
Fana said that of the 10 new players, three are locks, a position which caused Border some problems last season. He also stated that despite the final win-loss ratio, there were positive signs from the young Border team that they had improved tremendously during 2015, with the disappointment of losing their away match against a strong Leopards team in Potchefstroom in the last minute of the game, their biggest disappointment of the season.
The 2016 squad will do the business for us,” Fana vowed.
With the Vodacom Cup having been scrapped, the 2016 season will kick off in April with the Gold Cup, a brand-new competition, in which the six franchise teams along with three other teams, will advance to participate in the Currie Cup Premier League and it is the Bulldogs’ prime aim to be among the three qualifying teams.
Should this happen, the Border team will play about 30 matches this coming season.
“Border was the only team that did not suffer serious injury last season,” said Van Heerden, with some pride. “This reflects well on our training and proper medical management,” he added.
The Bulldogs are currently arranging to play four games as pre-season friendlies in late February and early March, to prepare thoroughly for a tough season ahead of them. There is a strong chance that the Bulldogs will play the Sharks in a friendly during this period.
Fana added that prop Blake Kyd will retain the captaincy of the Bulldogs during next season.