FNB Madibaz coach Andre Tredoux feels his squad learnt some valuable lessons about the intensity of Varsity Cup rugby during the opening block of matches this month.
The Nelson Mandela University outfit returned to the top flight of the South Africa student tournament for the first time since 2018 and were beaten in their first three games.
However, they did pick up three valuable bonus points and will be looking to build on that when the next block of fixtures gets underway on Thursday.
As the competition is packed into a testing programme, Tredoux said their initial focus this week had been on recovery.
“We then concentrated on high intensity sessions because the players understand the speed of Varsity Cup rugby better now,” he said.
“There is a huge difference in terms of that compared to what they experienced in the Varsity Shield over the last two years.”
Nonetheless, the coach knew that there would be no easy encounters as he looked ahead.
“Our first game is against University of Johannesburg and they have a strong pack and a physical game,” said Tredoux. “They have not had good results, but have some dangerous players.
“Wits are a really good team, which is not reflected in their results from the first block [where they lost all three games]. They play with more flair than some of the other teams.
“Then we have Shimlas, who are a young team and have a lot of speed.”
Tredoux added that he was impressed with the character of the Madibaz squad, but admitted they needed to reduce the number of mistakes.
“The boys played with a lot of heart and courage and they really rallied well in some of the games to pick up three log points.
“We never gave up and our attacking maul was very good, but we did let ourselves down at times with too many errors,” he said.
“I think the main thing for us is to improve our concentration, as well as our set piece and defence, and to be able to play at full speed for the 80 minutes.
“The boys are still positive that they can turn it around and they will continue to give everything in each game.
“We have worked hard on our defence and the speed at which we do things, and we also focused on being more accurate in attack and on defence.”
Tredoux said he thought Mihlali Mosi, Arnouw Nel and Tiaan Schutte played at a consistently high level, while he added that livewire scrumhalf Yomi Keswa suffered a broken jaw.
“He will probably be out for the competition and we wish him a speedy recovery.”
Madibaz’s next fixtures: UJ (April 22, 5pm), Wits (April 27, 5pm) and Shimlas (April 30, 4pm).
Latest log: Central University of Technology, UP-Tuks and UCT 14, Stellenbosch and NWU Eagles 10, UWC 8, Free State 4, Madibaz 3, UJ 2, Wits 1.