Taking the bull by the horns in his new career

Tim Dlulane has gone from Loftus Versfeld, the home of the Blue Bulls rugby team, to the MHG Group’s boardroom in East London.
STEPPING UP: Tim Dlulane has gone from Loftus Versfeld, the home of the Blue Bulls rugby team, to the MHG Group’s boardroom in East London.

From the green colours of a Springbok rugby jersey to the green pastures of property development.

That is the journey Tim Dlulane, an Mthatha-born international flank forward, recently undertook when he swapped his sport management career to join MHG Property Development Specialists as business development director.

“Playing for the Bulls, one of South Africa’s icon teams, was demanding. Coming second was not an option, and the fans rightfully demanded that the players give 110%, all the time. The lessons I learnt in that blue jersey are invaluable, and I am slowly but surely transferring them to the business world.”

At the age of 21, Dlulane played Absa Currie Cup rugby and at 23 was selected for the Springboks for the 2004 tour of the United Kingdom, followed by two years with the Vodacom Blue Bulls and played in the Super international competition.

Dlulane’s property focus with MHG is raising capital for new ventures, he said. The group identifies the projects and he attracts investors.

“I am working on a few projects with potential for strong private public partnerships. Our group’s philosophy is to secure all the loose ends before we talk publicly.”

His rugby management career included an assistant manager position for SA Rugby, during which he took the SA U20 teams to two Junior World Cups: Japan in 2009 and Argentina in 2010-2011.

Dlulane is not a rookie to management, having managed various teams in the Vodacom Blue Bulls structure, including Super Rugby and Currie Cup.

“Two people had a huge influence on my career. First my father, a professional soldier who rose to general. He demanded total commitment in whatever I did.

“The other was Barend van Graan, chief executive officer of the Bulls. He was a teacher before going into rugby. He was an amazing mentor and patiently took me through every step of management. I owe him a lot.”

Dlulane was always aware that the clock was ticking on his playing career, he said, so he studied for a diploma in public relations as a backstop if playing did not work out.

“I loved every aspect of rugby, and enjoyed coaching, enrolling in a sport management diploma with the South African Institute of Rugby, which covered sport management and marketing, contract law, sports science, communication, nutrition and sport injuries.”

When his playing days were over, Dlulane moved seamlessly from on-pitch to an off-pitch career. After a stint with provincial government, he re-joined the Bulls fraternity as general manager of the High-Performance Teams from 2012 to 2014, and was also a Bulls executive member.

As a team manager, his responsibilities included budgeting, accommodation, transportation, clothing, equipment and team-building. Arranging visas and foreign currency applications, for international team fixtures in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Japan, Argentina and Europe gave him an eye for detail and accuracy.

He was also head of public relations and marketing, dealing with sponsors and the media. Dlulane speaks four languages - Zulu, English, Afrikaans and his mother tongue Xhosa, which he said was a great advantage when dealing with players and the media.

As the management face of the Bulls, he prepared and presented speeches on behalf of the team at all functions. His final position, before relocating to East London and MHG, was senior manager of the Super Rugby and Currie Cup teams.