Some Ikeys’ supporters are adamant that the level of rugby at FNB UCT has declined over recent years. Despite not making the FNB Varsity Cup knockout stages for consecutive years now, that is a harsh statement to direct at the Ikeys. Rather, if one were to consider their season in its entirety, it is easy to notice that it was small patches of rugby that let the team down, which could have opened the window to the semi-finals (at least). But at the end of the day a team needs results. So what should the Ikeys’ squad of 2020 consider?
First up - less kicking. In the beginning of the season, FNB UCT coach Christiaan Esterhuizen’s game plan indicated that sending the ball up and over was what the Ikeys’ originally planned to do. Rightfully so, that was changed after a few weeks to a combination of taking the ball to ground and swinging it out wide.
The last 15 minutes of their season against FNB CUT was a great example of this combination. Despite already having the game in the bag, the absolute liberty with which the Cape Town side played was not only pleasing to watch but was highly rewarding for FNB UCT too (bonus-point win). Opting to run with the ball more allowed the players to play with what can only be described as a wildcard to create opportunities without kicking the ball away – and the players were able to gain rhythm.
Another area FNB UCT will want to focus on is starting and ending each half right. Stats from this season will show that the Ikeys leaked too many points during these phases of the match. This should be an easy fix for the squad and the responsibility lies with the captain to encourage the players to remain focussed for the full 80 minutes – especially before the hooter is about to go off!
The last area which FNB UCT will want to adapt to is their gameplan to make better use of the 9-point try. It was a woe from last year and it returned this season. On a couple of occasions the 9-point try was the difference between a win and a loss
An area that the Ikeys stamped their mark of authority on was the set pieces; rarely out-scrummed and a successful lineout rate are just two areas where the Ikeys showed that the boys put in the hard work. Perhaps the they should consider developing a culture where the set pieces are their trademark point-creating zones. After all, sometimes the best sight to see on a rugby field is a prop scoring from a lineout.
At the end of the day, it is hard to decide what style of rugby any one team should opt for before having seen the available pool of players. Some Ikeys graduated this year and will no longer make appearances on the Green Mile. We wish them all well on their future endeavours and trust that they will cherish their lifelong memories from the rugby field.