The FNB NMMU Madibaz are looking forward to the home ground advantage when they take on Varsity Cup newbies FNB Wits at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Monday night.
Madibaz captain Roy Godfrey said good crowd support would go a long way to boosting the team’s on-field performance in the first of four home games in the 2013 campaign and encouraged PE fans to come down and spectate.
“If you’ve got the crowd behind you, it’s just so much easier,” he said. “We played our first game in Cape Town last week and the whole stadium was packed.”
Despite the partisan crowd and gale-force winds, the Madibaz mounted a solid defence against the FNB Ikey Tigers to draw the game 5-5.
“Although we missed a few try-scoring opportunities, to draw away from home against the champions from two years ago wasn’t bad. We will build on that for this week’s game.”
Head coach Brent Janse van Rensburg was satisfied with the committed display from his side in some tough conditions at the notorious Green Mile, but believes that they are capable of raising their standards significantly in front of their passionate home crowd.
“True courage, bravery and resilience were shown out on that field, which have become qualities that are deep-rooted in the Madibaz men. I feel that the team grew from the experience and will be better for it,” he said.
“We are very confident, but grounded for Monday evening.
“We realise that we need to be prepared to fight every week and we feel that to get our performance up to where we want to be does not require major open heart surgery.”
This will be Wits’ first year in the top-tier event, after winning promotion from the Varsity Shield competition last season.
“They are the new team in the competition and, even though they lost to the Shimlas last week, we certainly can’t take them lightly,” said Godfrey, a second-year business management student.
“But we are expected to win, so if we stick to our game plan and structure we should have no problem.”
The 23-year-old prop said it was a great experience taking part in a national competition of this nature.
“You get the opportunity to play against the best in your age group. Some of the guys play for their provinces on weekends and then run out for their varsities on Monday nights.”
He said the televised nature of the tournament certainly lifted the standard of rugby on display. “The guys do step up because it’s the perfect platform to get noticed for professional contracts.”
Godfrey, who hails from East London, said the Eastern Cape had a proud rugby tradition. “Now with Super Rugby and Varsity Cup coming to PE, the people really need to show their support so that we can get the results on the field.
“People who do come to the game will definitely not just watch one.”