Why Ikey Tigers take a tambourine everywhere they go

FNB Varsity Cup

A tambourine has become part of FNB UCT’s team culture during this year’s FNB Varsity Cup.

There’s no doubt that Tom Dawson-Squibb has brought a winning culture to FNB UCT since taking over as head coach in October 2019. The Ikey Tigers are on a nine-game unbeaten streak heading into the FNB Varsity Cup final on Monday night, their longest in the history of the tournament.

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Having been involved with the club since 2011, Dawson-Squibb is familiar with its culture and what the ideal culture should be. 

A culture shift was evident at the beginning of the year, when UCT released a modernised version of the Ikeys anthem ‘Warrior Poet’, which now includes Xhosa and Afrikaans, and is sung by the players.

A lot of FNB UCT’s on-field calls are music-related and at the beginning of pre-season last September, they were divided into musical houses and competed within the team for points, which is one of the ways they’ve kept themselves entertained in the bio-bubble during the FNB Varsity Cup.

Four management members each have a team with a musical name: Raun Stars (named after Raun Billett), Destiny’s Childs (named after Craig Childs), Earth, Wind and Carew (named after Josh Carew) and Jackie and the Cleggs (named after Mike van Rheede). 

A tambourine was introduced during FNB UCT’s pre-season camp in Hermanus when all 42 squad members and management discussed their “why”.

Afterwards, Dawson-Squibb asked everyone to write down the reason why they played or coached and place the piece of paper in the tambourine, which he closed. It is now a prized possession that the Ikey Tigers carry with them everywhere they go. Captain Liam Greenhalgh also runs onto the field with it before every game.

“The main reason we keep it with us is so that when times get really tough, on and off the field, we can remember every thought that’s in that tambourine,” Greenhalgh tells VarsityCup.co.za. “It helps us through those dark times and ensures we never forget why we play the game.”

Ikey Tigers hooker Josh van Vuuren says the tambourine brings meaning to their slogan, “Turning noise into music”.

“Anyone can make noise, but everyone has to work together and in harmony to make music, and that’s what Tom wanted from the team. While he wanted everyone to try hard, he wanted them to do so as a team.” 

Van Vuuren, who is playing his last match for FNB UCT on Monday night after four years in the squad, says his motivation for playing is his love for the game.

“I’ve always loved sport. I played club rugby, soccer and cricket for years, and I always wanted to use rugby to further myself.”

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Evardi Boshoff will be playing in his second FNB Varsity Cup final, having done so for FNB NWU against FNB Maties in 2018.

“Ever since I was little I have wanted to make my parents and family proud in everything I do and that motivates me to be better,” says the centre. “What also motivates me a lot is the fact that I don’t do it for myself, but for the team, and that winning feeling after a game.”

Greenhalgh, who will also don the blue and white hooped jersey for the last time on Monday, says he plays rugby for two reasons.

“The first is for my late dad, who passed away in 2014 when I was in Grade 11. He taught me everything I know about rugby and how to love the game. When I play the game today, it feels like it keeps me in touch with him. I feel connected to him.

“The second reason is that when I play the game, I’m always chasing that feeling of collective euphoria, which is a term Tom uses a lot. We work together to create opportunities to make incredible memories that will last a lifetime.”