Fourteen FNB Maties players wrote university tests during the last FNB Varsity Cup bubble in Pretoria.
Stellenbosch University made special provisions for the players, while management was responsible for invigilating.
No 8 Ben-Jason Dixon, flank Simon Miller and hooker André-Hugo Venter wrote four tests during this period, including the day before and after matches against FNB UP-Tuks and the FNB NWU Eagles.
Despite having to deal with this off-field pressure, Miller was named FNB Player that Rocks after the Tuks clash, while Dixon got the honours after the Eagles match.
FNB Maties coach Drikus Hancke is proud of his players for taking the challenge head-on.
“We adapted our training schedule as much as possible," he says. "I’m impressed with the discipline and dedication the players showed to their studies and the good rugby they played.”
“I’m not going to lie," says Venter, "it's not easy at all, but we managed thanks to good planning and the coaches who understood that we sometimes had to miss a meeting or training session.
“Believe it or not, my bookbag was heavier than my bag with all my clothes and shoes for the bubble! It was important to use every minute before and after training sessions and even on match days we studied before and after matches.”
“Even though rugby is my life, my studies are also important to me," says Miller. "There are times when it feels a bit out of control, and to give both rugby and studies my best really tests my will and determination. To take your battered body and tired mind to the study-hub after a match takes self-discipline.
"I am so thankful to the university for allowing us to write in the bubble and to the members of our management for facilitating it.”
FNB Maties flyhalf Christopher Schreuder, who has been doing the balancing act since his days at the Western Province Rugby Institute, says the bubble helped him to focus because there were no outside distractions.
“We were forced to use our time wisely. Having to go and study after a match was probably the biggest challenge. You have very little energy left, but an aching body isn't a good enough excuse!”
By Eunice Visagie