Head coach Hawies Fourie says Maties have spent a lot of time preparing for the Varsity Cup’s new power play experiment.
This year, captains will be able to remove any two nominated backline players from the opposition for three minutes of playing time during matches.
The power play, which will also be part of the Varsity Shield, can only be called by a team while in their own half, must be called by the captain, and can only be called once. If the team whose players have been removed score a try during the power play period, they are awarded an extra two points (seven points before the conversion).
‘We will see how the teams adapt to the power play next Monday,’ Fourie told SARugbymag.co.za.
‘We have played a lot of power plays in our pre-season matches against Ikeys and NMMU, but the execution of what we wanted to do with the law is still not great.
‘We have had to spend a lot of time during the week just to cover three or six minutes in a match, so I still don’t think it is the right thing to do. But it is the law so we must adapt and make it work in our favour.’
Maties began their 2017 Varsity Cup season with a tight 13-9 loss to Tuks. The match was played in wet conditions, and Fourie says his team is targeting an improved result with similar conditions expected in their first match against UJ.
‘Last year, we didn’t start well against Tuks. We played in the rain and although we trained well for those conditions, we didn’t play well in them.
‘This year we start with UJ in Johannesburg. There is a big chance of rain again on Monday night so we will try to improve the way we play in the rain this week.’
Fourie said his side had focused on improving their set pieces, particularly the scrum.
‘We struggled in the final against Tuks in the scrum and they scored 18 of their 28 points from scrums.
‘We have recruited well in that area, and put in a lot of work in the pre-season to improve our scrumming.’
Interview by Dylan Jack