“If you told me in November 2022 that we would be unbeaten after five games in 2023, I would have taken that, no questions asked.”
This was the reflection of FNB UWC director of rugby Paul Treu after their 31-10 victory over two-time champions FNB CPUT last week.
UWC are top of the Varsity Shield log, three points clear of second-placed FNB Madibaz.
The 2023 Varsity Shield champions will gain automatic promotion to the 2024 Varsity Cup competition, while the second-placed side will be locked in a promotion-relegation battle against the second-last side in the Varsity Cup. At the moment, that is FNB UJ.
While the scoreboard indicated a comfortable win for UWC, Treu warns against his charges becoming too complacent.
“The first 20 minutes of most games are usually where teams sum each other up, as was the case against CPUT. Many times, as a coach, you think your tactic will work but when it doesn't you have to be able to adapt.
“As coaches, we can only bring about changes to our plan if the players are playing according to this plan. We played in areas where we shouldn't have, and we conceded penalties in areas where we shouldn't.”
Against CPUT, Treu's charges made 180 tackles, a number that is astronomical at this level of rugby, with these numbers usually found in the United Rugby Championship. A player like Mauritz Swart made 37 tackles and missed none.
Treu says the plan is always to neutralise their opponents’ strengths and play to their own, as they did against CPUT.
“Their kicking and running game is phenomenal. We adapted very quickly and in the moments where CPUT lapsed in concentration, we pounced and converted this into points.”
by Lyndon Julius