FNB Madibaz rugby coach Jarryd Buys is looking forward to the new format of the Varsity Shield competition, with matches being played on Friday nights and limited to one a week.
The Nelson Mandela University outfit open their programme against University of KwaZulu-Natal at the Madibaz Stadium tomorrow (7pm).
“Last year there was a very hectic start to the tournament when we played four games in two weeks,” recalled Buys. “So compared to that, this year is way better.
“We have four games and then a bye, followed by the last two round-robin matches. That really helps in terms of player management.”
He said they had two home games and the aim would be to build up some momentum for the two away fixtures which followed.
While Buys did not feel playing on a Friday would change their strategy in any way, he backed the decision to move games to a weekend night.
“They want to try to get more students to the games and I think that will work. Friday and Saturday are your traditional rugby days and I think the atmosphere will be really good on Friday.”
Looking ahead to the competition, Buys said their approach was based on the fact that the team with most log points over 2019 and 2020 would be promoted to the Varsity Cup next year.
“It was important for us to get those 30 log points last year, knowing that if we finish on top of the log again, it will be enough to get us back into the Varsity Cup,” he said.
“So our plan from last season was to build depth and competition among the group so that as you get to the latter stages if you have injuries you have the players who can come on as good replacements and do a solid job.
“I believe we have accomplished that. We’ve got a very strong squad and we could field two teams of 15 which could do a good job. It’s very important to have that depth available.”
The Madibaz fixtures are:
Feb 14: v UKZN in PE; Feb 21: v Walter Sisulu in PE; Feb 28: v Rhodes in Grahamstown; Mar 6: v Cape Peninsula University of Technology in Cape Town; Mar 20: v Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria; Mar 27: v Fort Hare in PE