It is still early days, but Tuks' new Varsity Cup coach Nico Luus seems to have a Midas touch.
Since 2018 Tuks has not lost one game in the Carlton Cup or Volcano Cup leagues. With Luus as the head coach, Tuks managed to win 31 out 32 games. The team's only blemish has been a draw this year against Centurion. Tuks also managed to pull off a spectacular win in Stellenbosch against Maties during the USSA final - a reversal of the 2019 FNB Varsity Cup final.
When one talks to Luus, it is easy to understand why Tuks keeps on winning. Rugby, coaching and people are his passion and not necessarily in this order.
"I love to work with people and to get them to enjoy what they do. If you can create a good vibe within the team, the rest is easy. I strive to be a mentor to the players first and then a coach. Sometimes you achieve more by having a sympathetic ear listening to players than by pure coaching.
"When it comes to team selection, the only criteria that matter to me are a player's attitude. Are they prepared to listen and learn? I don't believe in pure talent. Blikkies Groenewald, who is one of my mentors, once said: 'the best player is not necessarily the right one when it comes to selecting a team’."
Luus also has definite ideas as to the kind of rugby he wants Tuks to play.
"I firmly believe in having a set structure within that the players are free to express themselves. I will admit to being a fan of traditional student rugby, which means the ball will never be kicked only for the sake of kicking. It is also important to me that Tuks does not get stereotyped as playing only a certain kind of rugby."
If there is one thing Luus truly can relate to it is dedication, if not sacrifice - spelt in capital letters. Like many youngsters, he dreamt about playing for the Springboks one day. It did not happen, but he was more than an excellent provincial player representing the Falcons and the Lions.
Throughout his playing career, his parents kept reminding him that no rugby career is going to last forever. Luus took their advice to heart. It, however, came with significant sacrifices. When playing for the Lions, he would start working at 06:00 in the morning. By 09:30, he would be at the training session. Then he would rush off to work again only to be back for the afternoon's training. Still, that was not it. In the evenings, he would again work.
"I am truly grateful today that I committed to both playing rugby and building a career. Even now, my days are divided into coaching and working for Nedbank. I try and emphasise to young players the importance of finding a balance in life."
Luus is 1.99 metres tall. So it stands to reason to think that he always played as a forward, but it is not so. At school, he was playing flyhalf. He describes himself as having been a kicking flyhalf.
Not a lot of people would know that after finishing school, Luus went to England to play cricket. He used to be quite a useful fast bowler.
By Wilhelm de Swardt (TuksSport Media)