New Madibaz rugby coach Jarryd Buys is impressed with his squad’s commitment as they continue their preparations for the start of the Varsity Shield competition next month.
The Nelson Mandela University outfit will open their campaign with a home fixture against Cape Peninsula University of Technology on February 18.
Despite the disappointment of being relegated from the Varsity Cup, Buys said the players had shown great commitment.
“We have been training since October and the guys have been putting in some tough hours,” he said.
“It is good to see the players work so hard to show that they are willing to fight and to prove their worth.
“The group has been fantastic so far. It won’t be an easy year but we know we have to be the hardest workers in the room and we are ready to embrace that.”
After being relegated from the Varsity Cup last year, Madibaz will spend two seasons playing Varsity Shield rugby as the promotion-relegation matches take place only every second year.
Buys, a former provincial player who coached the team at last year’s University Sport South Africa week, did not sugar-coat their situation.
However, he remains positive about the path which lies ahead.
“The relegation to the Shield was a big shock for a team that competed in semifinals not that long ago and we are certainly not taking the change lightly,” he said.
“Unfortunately we have lost a lot of players, especially seniors, either through age, graduation or moving on to other opportunities.
“But we do have a great group of young players that we will look to build on.”
He added that the critical element in their approach would be to ensure they maintained the high standards set at Madibaz rugby.
“We are a team who will compete in the Shield, but we will train and play as if we are competing in the playoffs of the Varsity Cup.
“Culture-wise we want to have a team which is very sound academically and able to compete with the rest of the universities in the country.”