SARugbymag.co.za talks to Maties coach Chris Rossouw about the upcoming Varsity Cup.
Are there any changes to your squad?
We lost 12 players in Dean Grant, James Alexander, Reniel Hugo and Ryan Nell, who moved to other universities; Allistair Vermaak, PJ Lewis and Jurie van Vuuren are contracted to Western Province and will play Vodacom Cup; Wessel Coetzee and Os Hamman have reached the age limit for the competition; Dean Hammond moved to the United Kingdom; JH Potgieter completed his studies making him ineligible and Hein van der Merwe has a long-term injury. The only player to join us is Tertius Daniller, who will captain the Maroon Machine.
How has the squad prepared for the competition?
We started training in November, after the final exams, up until 12 December. We regrouped on 6 January and I must say the guys are in good shape and excited for the task ahead. We will play a pre-season game against UWC.
What have you learned from last year's campaign?
That the landscape of the Varsity Cup has changed completely since 2011 and on many levels it is not an amateur competition anymore.
What are your thoughts on the duel ref-system?
I think it will add some value to the game although there will be some growing pains in the beginning. Referees must get used to sharing authority and players must adapt to having two officials – four if you count the touch judges – tell them what they can and can not do. With this system being active, discipline will be vital, be it for or against you.
What are your goals for the tournament?
We identified certain areas we need to improve on if we want to be effective. If we execute those plans correctly, we will put ourselves in a position to be competitive and who knows, maybe even win the cup.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images