Madibaz purge turnovers to turn over new leaf

28 June 2024
Madibaz purge turnovers to turn over new leaf

Madibaz loose forward Leon van der Merwe will lead the team at the University Sports South Africa rugby tournament at Rhodes University from July 1 to 5.

The Madibaz rugby team will look to improve across the board when they face their peers at the University Sports South Africa tournament next week.


The Mandela University outfit face the demanding prospect of three games in five days as they look to lay down a marker for the future at Rhodes University in Makhanda from July 1 to 5.


Having lost all three matches a year ago, the bottom line for captain Leon van der Merwe is to learn from past setbacks.


“Ultimately, our goal is to rectify some of the things . . . to grow stronger as a unit and to consistently perform at a higher level,” the loose forward, who also captained the team in this year’s Varsity Shield, said.


“Rugby is a dynamic sport, with many turnovers in possession, so we felt this area required more attention and we also prioritised our transitional play from defence to attack.”


The Madibaz have been involved in the Eastern Province Grand Challenge competition, which they have used to grow their pool of players.


“We have taken this opportunity to give some players who didn’t feature much in the Varsity Shield some game time,” Van der Merwe explained.


“Several stuck up their hand during this period and that obviously helps in terms of our depth.”


He identified several players who would be important in executing their strategy.


Troy Delport at inside centre is the talisman with his strong ball-carrying in the midfield while first-year flyhalf Raashied Conrad will call the shots from the pivot position.


“Up front, Endinako Kuse has been an unsung hero for us at loosehead prop and he’ll be targeting scrum time to give us momentum,” Van der Merwe said.


Meanwhile, the Madibaz women’s team will make their debut at the same venue when they compete in the 10s format – a combination of sevens and 15s – from July 1 to 4.


The first-ever USSA 10s was put in place to promote women’s rugby and assistant coach Umna Tokwe said they were entering unfamiliar but exciting territory.


“The 10s version comprises aspects of both other formats with a split of five forwards and five backline players and two halves of 10 minutes apiece.”


With the code still in its embryonic stages at Madibaz, Tokwe had sourced a number of players from Sevens teams in the Madibaz Campus Sport League.


“We also have players who have competed in 10s at semi-professional and recreational level, so we will rely on their experience,” he added.


Doing well could potentially put the Madibaz in a position to qualify for a Varsity Cup berth in 2025.


“That is our primary goal,” Tokwe acknowledged.


Besides strength and conditioning work, he said their focus had been on putting together game plans that met the demands of 10s rugby.


Knowing that it was an opportunity to change the face of Madibaz women’s rugby forever, Tokwe said the players were ready to give it their all.

Author: Coetzee Gouws, Full Stop Communication