Purely judging by their performance at the USSA tournament, the Tuks 7s team cannot be tipped to be one of the favourites for Friday’s Varsity 7s tournament in Durban.
But then again statistics and results are not always an accurate reflection of what happens out on the field. It tends to be far too clinical. The Tuks team could just turn out to be the team to spoil the fun for the tournament favourites.
Andries Kruger (Tuks coach) believes that if it were not for two mistakes his players made at crucial times the results at the USSA tournament might have played out differently.
“We lost 12-7 to Maties and 12-10 to UCT. I am of the opinion that we played the better rugby, but in each game, there was that one moment of lapsed concentration that led to the winning try. It is something we have been working on to improve.”
The Varsity 7s tournament is arguably one of the toughest. On the first day, each team will play five matches and on the second day four games. The semi-finals and final is on day three which equates to 11 matches. In most international tournaments teams will play only six matches over two days. Kruger said part of the team’s preparation included a lot of endurance training to ensure that the players are capable of being competitive for three days.
“Over the last few weeks, we focused more on refining individual skills and tactical astuteness. We did so by creating specific match scenarios. In the end, everything boils down to just one thing, and that is how hungry a team is to succeed and to what extent the players are prepared to push themselves to the limit to realise their dream.”
Kruger is also of the opinion that for any team to have a realistic chance to win they need true speedsters.
“Dewald Naude who played wing for UP-Tuks in the Varsity Cup is one of the players we will be relying on to score tries. He might not be one of the fastest players but he make-up with tactical savvy for what he lacks in speed.”
Kruger predicts that Hanco Sipsma could be another key-player.
“Hanco is a real speedster. Once he got the ball in hand, it takes some doing to stop him. But because he is still a newcomer to sevens rugby he tends at times to doubt his abilities. However, I am sure he will improve as he gains more match experience. WJ Strydom who played for the BlitzBoks from 2012 to 2014 brings a lot of experience to our team,” said Kruger.
“When all is said and done the reality is that luck also plays a role, especially in sevens. For any team to have a realistic chance to win you need the ball to bounce favourably once in a while.”
The Tuks team finished fourth last year in the Varsity 7s tournament and were second in 2015.
By Wilhelm de Swardt