SARugbymag.co.za chats to Affies 1st XV coach Jaco Koch about the upcoming season.
How are your preparations going for the upcoming season?
Considering that most of our players also take part in other sports, the preparation has been good. The players have been working very hard and have shown great commitment and character.
What areas of the game have you focused on?
With limited time at school level, we have identified a few areas to improve. Basic handling, tackle technique, evasive running and physical conditioning were some of the main skills we’ve spent time on. We are aware that due to their packed schedules it is vital for our players to be able to effectively blend all their responsibilities, while remaining mentally and physically healthy individuals. Better people make better players and we are working hard off the field this season to help players in this regard.
What are some of the lessons that you as a coach, as well as the team, have learned from last season?
Firstly, it is important to have depth if injuries occur, which happened during the 2017 season. Secondly, we have learned much more psychologically, rather than rugby specific. Sport provides a platform where the difference between ecstasy and disappointment is very small. As coaches and players, we must learn to handle both, as you do not always have control of the situation. Especially when it occurs early in your season.
You had tight losses to some of the tougher teams, such as Boishaai and Paul Roos, last season. What is the plan to turn those losses into wins?
Mentally we have already learned a huge amount from those losses. Some of the losses were marginal and could easily have gone our way. We must earn the right to believe, creating a ‘never-say-die’ attitude. We are busy doing that.
How many of last year’s squad are still available for selection?
We have four players who were regular 1st XV starters last year: flyhalf Regardt Roets, scrumhalf Steyn van der Spuy, hooker Janco Uys and prop Dewaldt Donald. It is always great to have players with experience in the group. However, we have other players who have been working very hard. It is very important to me that players are not singled out. It is very exciting, though, this year everyone starts on a new page and will have to show that they’ve earned the right to put on the jersey.
6. What are some of the goals, in terms of performance and results, that the team is targeting for this season?
We have identified small building blocks to reach our full potential, and those are the blocks that we would like to tick. Then the results will take care of itself. In this way a central focus this season is to focus on the processes as opposed to the outcomes. In this regard, we are making a concerted effort to get players to focus only on what they need to do next in the present. In addition to this, cultivating a healthy team culture that facilitates optimal on-field performances also forms a central goal for this season.
7. Who do you think your toughest opposition is going to be this year?
I absolutely agree with the notion that each game is like a Test match. A school like Affies does not have easy games or opposition that does not test you. We are exposed to tough opposition every week.
Interview by Dylan Jack
Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images