The Vodacom Bulls announced on Monday that the 30 Test-capped Coetzee will be joining them at Loftus Versfeld from July, a move which was applauded with great excitement in Pretoria.

Coetzee has penned a three year deal and will return to South Africa after five seasons with Irish province Ulster, where he quickly became a fan favourite and mainstay in the starting line-up.

The former Port Natal High School learner, who made his Springbok debut in 2012, also represented the Cell C Sharks in Vodacom Super Rugby and the Carling Currie Cup before a short stint with Honda Heat in the Japanese Top League before moving to Ireland.

Ulster shrugged off the news and, playing without the currently injured Springbok loose forward, they overturned a 14-9 halftime deficit and fought back to keep their unbeaten record in tact with a 32-19 win over Connacht in Galway on Sunday.

The victory meant they stretched their unbeaten record to nine straight victories and now enjoy a seven point lead over defending champions Leinster, who have played two games less after COVID-19 protocols prevented them from fulfilling their fixture against Munster this past weekend.

Dan McFarland’s side were “smart” in the way they played and their coach was happy to continue the unbeaten run, even though it will be tested in the next fornight against the other two unbeaten Irish sides.

“We knew we were going to have an opportunity in the second half if we were smart and that’s how it turned out,” McFarland said.

“We knew the collision war was going to be huge. Connacht placed a huge emphasis on that collision area and we lost that the last two times we came here but to be fair to the lads out there, they put a focus on that area and it paid dividends.

“The next two teams we play (Munster and Leinster) are the two best teams in the competition, so it doesn’t get any easier but we’ll look forward to it.”

Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh were also denied the opportunity to meet as scheduled in the ninth round and due to a COVID-related postponement the 1872 Cup fixture has been rescheduled to 2 January 2021.

A try from Josh Turnbell meant that Cardiff Blues squeaked home in a tight affair against the Dragons, winning 13-12 in a keenly contested affair.

Blues defence coach Richard Hodges was a relieved man after the nail-biting win: “It’s more of a relief, having been behind on the scoreboard until the 68th minute, but we managed to get in front.

“Conditions during the first half were terrible and Dragons had the benefit of those, but we hung tough especially with the penalty count going against us early on.

“We problem-solved really well and dealt with the areas of the game where we were getting penalised - around the lineout and around the offsides – and it was a good win in the end," added Hodges.

In the other Welsh derby, Scarlets fought back from 14-6 down against Ospreys to win 16-14 in another close encounter.

Scarlets head coach Glenn Delaney was a happy man after a later Angus O’Brien try was the difference between the two sides.

“We are delighted with the win, I’m really happy with the finish but there is plenty for us to work on," said Delaney.

"We stayed in the game and that’s what you have to do in a derby. There were a lot of things we weren’t happy about in terms of our skillsets and penalty count – we were very ill-disciplined and we need to correct that.”

Dragons 12 Cardiff Blues 13
Ospreys 14 Scarlets 16
Connacht 19 Ulster 32