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10/04/2024

Madibaz rugby coach David Manuel has called for an undiluted 80-minute effort when his team take on UP-Tuks in their final round-robin match of the FNB Varsity Shield competition on Friday.

 

Madibaz scrumhalf Mpumelelo Mavuso gets his line away during their FNB Varsity Shield rugby match against Varsity College at Madibaz Stadium in Gqeberha last week. The Mandela University team play their final round-robin match against UP-Tuks in Pretoria on Friday. Photo: Michael Sheehan

The imminent showdown in Pretoria is building up to be an epic between the competition’s only two unbeaten sides.

Tuks, who previously competed in the top-tier Varsity Cup, have swept all before them this season and will obviously be looking to continue the trend against the Madibaz to defend their two-point lead at the top of the log.

The Mandela University outfit have also been impressive, combining a watertight defensive system with attacking qualities to win six games on the trot.

Yet, Manuel knows that they will go into the contest as underdogs.

“We are ready to embrace this ultimate test,” the Madibaz mentor said. “At the same time, we are excited about the challenge ahead.”

The team began their preparations for the important clash with their usual Sunday practice session and Manuel said it quickly became clear that his charges were looking forward to measuring themselves against the best.

He felt it was a further opportunity for the development of a relatively young team and said all he had asked for was full commitment for the duration of the game.

“We will focus on the things that we can control and not get worried about the externals that we can’t. It will be a case of each player trying to lift his game by one or two per cent and I just want them to be warriors for 80 minutes.”

Manuel, who is in his third year as Madibaz coach, said it had taken some time to build the systems they needed to perform effectively at this level.

Nevertheless, they are always in pursuit of excellence and have identified some areas to work on.

“For example, I think we did well to handle the onslaught from Varsity College last Friday, but I still feel we lacked a bit of the killer instinct,” he said.

After going to the break 18-5 to the good, the Madibaz had to repel a strong charge from their opponents in the second half to win 25-19.

“But that’s the sort of thing that happens with a relatively young side. I am blessed with the efforts the players have delivered this season,” Manuel said.

“We have built our defensive and attacking systems, and [know] when to kick strategically, and now it’s a matter of trying to play within those systems for as long as possible.”

The coach said he was also pleased with their on-field discipline, which stemmed from their attention to detail in all facets of the game.

“That has been very encouraging,” Manuel said.

“Every Friday afternoon there are glimpses of what they are capable of achieving.”

Irrespective of the result on Friday, the Madibaz have earned a home semifinal. It is not yet clear who they will face in the first knockout game.

The match against UP-Tuks will be televised live on SuperSport. Kick-off is at 3pm.

Contact information
Mr Riaan Osman
Deputy Director
Tel: 041 504 2170
riaan.osman@mandela.ac.za