Following an intensive period of pre-season training that will culminate in three warm-up matches, the FNB NMMU-Madibaz are quietly confident heading into next month’s Varsity Cup campaign. Madibaz captain Ivan Ludick says: ‘We’ve had a good break. We returned from the festive season and our bodies certainly took an immediate pounding but training has been great and the guys are looking forward to the challenge. The squad is well-balanced between young and old and in terms of excitement everyone is on board.’ Home friendlies against Fort Hare on Wednesday (17:00), the Young Guns on the 25th (14:30pm) and Southern Kings on the 29th (17:00) are looming.
Ludick says they were keen to bounce back after a challenging Varsity Cup competition last year, starting with their first fixture – an away match against UJ – on February 8: ‘It was certainly a learning curve and that will stand us in good stead. We share a vision to compete at the highest level and the seniors are ready to step up.’ He says that every Varsity Cup competition required a lot of research, especially on the opposition, and he felt they were in a great position.
Head coach David Maidza says the first week of training consisted of fitness testing before getting into rugby system specifics: ‘They have been busy with all aspects of the game, which include defensive and attacking systems, breakdown work and all relevant plays. The boys are really looking forward to putting the skill sets they have acquired in training into match situations to get a feel for how well they have progressed. Our training sessions have been intense and the concentration levels from the student-athletes have been very pleasing taking into account the current heat levels. As a group, we want to make sure we make this season one to remember. We have been close on two previous occasions to get to the finals and, yes, we will take each match as it comes but we are collectively eager to reach the finals.’ Although there are no new additions to the squad, Maidza intimated that anything could happen between now and before the start of the competition.
As part of their community outreach programme and annual “Keep the Aggro on the field” campaign, the squad will visit Yokhuselo Haven on Monday.
Photo credit: Michael Sheehan/SASPA