top of page

Craig Barry’s Varsity Cup journey from player to coach

A career-ending debilitating knee injury hasn’t stopped assistant FNB Maties coach Craig Barry, from pursuing his dream of winning the FNB Varsity Cup. 


Even though Barry represented the Maroon Machine with distinction in three Varsity Cup finals, he was unlucky not to be on the winning side in a final. 


In 2021 the 31-year-old outside back picked up a serious knee injury that forced him to hang up his boots. He decided to take up coaching in 2022 and has already tasted success with Maties winning the Western Province Super League Club title last year. 


“I was medically advised to stop playing in terms of the longevity of use on my knee,” says Barry. 


“The cartilage in my knee was seriously damaged. With rugby being a contact sport, it would just have become worse. The long-term effects would have been devastating. Coaching was always something that I wanted to do when I stopped playing one day. However, it came a bit earlier than I expected.” 


Barry says he always showed a keen interest in coaching while he was still playing and equipped himself with the necessary qualifications to become a rugby coach. He also thinks it's to his advantage to have played recently because he can relate from a player and coaching perspective. 


“I have a World Rugby Level 2 coaching certificate, the highest being Level 3 which will allow me to one day become a head coach. To coach here at Stellenbosch is much easier because not too long ago I was in a similar position to the players. They also find it easy to resonate with me because the game hasn’t evolved that much since I stopped playing.” 


Barry is a strong believer that a rugby player must study while playing the Varsity Cup because many players develop quite late, especially when they pick up a severe injury early on in their careers.  


“Some players are not noticed at school and only get spotted on a Monday night whilst playing Varsity Cup. Also, if rugby does not work out for them as a profession, one can always fall back one’s studies and get their degree as well as continue with post-graduate studies. 


“I can proudly say that my success in my career can be attributed to Maties Rugby and the opportunities that the Varsity Cup gave me.” 


Barry says his short-term goal is to learn and grow as a coach whilst picking up as much experience as possible from Maties head coach Kabamba Floors. 


“I am still very young and to be part of something as exciting as the Varsity Cup is a massive privilege. I ultimately just want to improve as a coach and evolve to lead an organisation like Maties.  


“Kabamba is a coach that knows what to do. He is particularly good with people. He knows how to speak and work with people, especially the younger generation of kids that are still growing into becoming men.” 



by Adnaan Mohamed  

1,141 views0 comments



The latest updates


Varsity Shield Final HIGHLIGHTS: FNB Tuks vs FNB Varsity College - 26 April

02 May 2024

Womens final HIGHLIGHTS: FNB Maties vs FNB UFH - 26 April

02 May 2024


24 Apr 2024

bottom of page