The FNB Madibaz rugby team will continue their preparations for the Varsity Shield tournament when they clash with a Kings outfit at the south campus tomorrow.
Madibaz Sport rugby manager Ntsikelelo Ngcakana said the squad members had been working hard since regrouping for the new season on January 3.
“There were two days of testing, followed by a team-building session, which was very successful,” he said.
“Last week we travelled to Cradock to play FNB Central University of Technology [from Bloemfontein]. The game consisted of four chukkas with FNB NMU fielding their strongest side for the first chukka, resulting in us leading 14-7.
“However, with the coaching staff trying different combinations the momentum was lost, ending in a 36-17 win for CUT.”
Following tomorrow’s game, Madibaz will continue their preparations with a match against Rhodes on January 31.
This is a crucial year for the Nelson Mandela University club as it represents a golden opportunity for them to return to the top-tier Varsity Cup competition.
The Madibaz were relegated to the Shield after the 2018 Varsity Cup, but are now in pole position to get back into the top-flight.
The Shield team with the most combined log points in the 2019 and 2020 competitions will automatically return to the Varsity Cup next year.
Madibaz, who will again be coached by Jarred Buys, went through their round-robin campaign unbeaten last year and earned a total of 30 points, five clear of closest rivals Cape Peninsula University of Technology. They will be looking to emulate that effort over the next few months.
In terms of playing personnel, Ngcakana said they had maintained a strong sense of continuity from the 2019 squad.
“It is pretty much the same, but some players who were injured last year are back and ready to play,” said Ngcakana. “I predict that will put more pressure on their peers to produce quality performances this season.”
They will open their Varsity Shield campaign against University of KwaZulu-Natal in Port Elizabeth on February 14.