Gauteng is currently experiencing a heatwave, with temperatures in Pretoria expected to exceed 30 degrees Celsius until next Friday.
Compare that to Glasgow, Scotland, where the temperature will not rise above 14 degrees Celsius during the same period and where more than 90% rain is expected in the central port city on Thursday.
And the Bulls were smack dab in the middle of it during training ahead of Saturday’s United Rugby Championship match against the Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun Stadium.
“It was very amusing today when we arrived at the practice field and the heavens decided to open up!” It’s just rain and wind… “I think many of the boys today wished they could go back to South Africa and reconsidered playing rugby in Europe,” Bulls breakdowns coach Nollis Marais remarked.
Jake White’s team faced a similar circumstance in their October match against Irish side Connacht, where severe rain and wind contributed to their 34-7 loss in Galway.
“You could multiply it by three for today,” Marais said of the weather in Glasgow. “When your tackle bags start flying around on the field, you know something’s up…
“That’s why, this afternoon, several of the boys wished to be back in Pretoria and the swimming pools!”
“It’s a significant factor.” You must win some of the international games, and you must become accustomed to the situations and adapt to them. Glasgow plays in the same conditions as us, so we simply need to make sure our strategy is executed better on the day.
It alters your game plan’s situation: will you play ball-in-hand or more of a kicking game?
“I believe the weather will dictate where we go on Saturday night.” It’s not something we’re used to, but we’ve played overseas a few times now and are getting used to it.”
The Bulls are missing Springbok wings Canan Moodie (hamstring) and Sbu Nkosi (concussion), so fellow Bok Kurt-Lee Arendse will have to manage a new-look back-three combination in facing the Glasgow up-and-unders in what is expected to be slippery conditions at Scotstoun.
“Yes, that is critical. Canan and Sbu are significant losses for us, but we have worked so hard with all of the players that they are acclimated to it,” Marais explained.
“The effort and energy that has gone into making each player better in our pre-season… that is a bit of an edge for us, the fact that we had a pre-season and didn’t just come here directly” (after last season).
“The pre-season helped us develop players to be able to operate in numerous positions, so the lads who will perform duty for us in the back-three this weekend are well equipped,” said the coach.