FNB NWU physiotherapist Eben Verster, who boasts more than 15 years of coaching experience, 20 years physiotherapy experience and 40 years of rugby knowledge, has been part of the team's setup since the introduction of FNB Varsity Cup in 2008.
Verster began his coaching career in 2000 and formed part of some of the first coaches when the NWU Rugby Institute was established. Verster joined the NWU Rugby Institute as the Under-19C coach in 2001, before he was promoted to first team coach the following year. He was the backline coach and got to work alongside the likes of Matthew Proudfoot, the erstwhile Springbok but now England’s forwards coach.
Verster was part of the coaching staff that lost to FNB UCT in the first FNB Varsity Cup semi-final in 2008 and again in the final in 2009 when NWU lost to FNB Maties. In 2010, Verster moved away from rugby for three years but re-joined during Robert du Preez’s second year as head coach of NWU in 2014. However, this time Verster took on the role as physiotherapist – which he remains as today.
While his role now may be less stressful, he feels that his opinion is still valued by the coaching staff of André Pretorius, Chaka Willemse and Jean Tiedt and he is allowed to give input. His biggest contribution to the team nowadays is keeping them on the field, ensuring they remain injury-free and rehabilitating them as quickly as possible if they do pick up injuries.
Despite being a former Stellenbosch University student, he says that the highlight of his career was beating Maties at the Danie Craven Stadium in 2016. He shares fond memories with assistant coach Tiedt of reminding each other throughout the evening that NWU had actually won FNB Varsity Cup.
Verster’s value in the team is immeasurable, considering his medical and rugby background. Having played rugby and coached, he understands the game and can view things from the perspective of a player and a coach, but also has the medical background to make informed decisions regarding player welfare.