Bulldogs glad to be back
The consensus is that players like Dutton is elevated about prospects
For many Border Bulldogs players, the union going into administration late last year was a heartbreaking occasion with only a few being picked up by other provincial teams.
With prospects looking bleak, a large number of players returned to club rugby in the region. They will now receive a second chance with the Bulldogs rescued from the brink and back in action during this year’s SuperSport Rugby Challenge.
One of those players is Billy Dutton, who has over 50 caps for the Bulldogs and captained the side last year before losing his contract, along with everyone else.
“It actually came as a bit of a surprise. Most of us are now playing at Swallows, so for us to hear the Bulldogs were coming back was really exciting because for the union to lose their senior team it was a pretty sad time for a lot of the guys, especially those with contracts,” said Dutton.
“We know this is a last moment sort of thing, so we can't be focusing on too much at the moment. We will just be looking to take it game by game, practice by practice and build from there.”
The team will have only two full training sessions under their belt by the time they head onto the field for their first match of this year’s campaign.
But with most of the squad having played rugby recently for their clubs and university sides, they will be match fit and ready for the challenge.
“Although we haven't had any off-season training and haven't played any games as a team yet, a lot of the guys played with each other at the Bulldogs last year,” explained Dutton.
“Also most of us have been playing rugby this year, so there is a core group of us at Swallows who played in the Gold Cup together, then you have guys from WSU and Fort Hare who played in the Varsity Cup and some guys from Police who did well in the Super 12.
“There is a bit of synergy with the guys who are still around and it is just about linking up with a few of the other guys now and we are looking forward to it.
“We just have to make the best of the situation and put your best foot forward and I am sure all of the guys will want to do that.”
They will face an interesting challenge with the Zimbabwe Academy team first up for them at the SuperSport Rugby Challenge Festival at the Sisa Dukashe stadium on Sunday.
The match will be televised so that will add even more excitement to the occasion and the players will be keen to impress in front of what is expected to be a big crowd.
“It is going to be an exciting challenge. It is always great to be up against top players and playing against guys who are part of an international set-up will be a fantastic test,” said Dutton.
“They are an unknown team and I don't think they know very much about us as well, so we will go into the game with expectations that it is going to be a good game and we will just play the rugby we know how to play.”..