PDBY Sport recently spoke to Jaco Bezuidenhout, the co-captain of the TuksRugby team, who have just commenced with the Varsity Cup. Bezuidenhout offers his advice, his challenges and motivations, and what keeps his head in the game.
When did you first begin at TuksRugby and what was the motivation?
I started playing for Tuks in my first year in 2016 and 2017 for the Young guns team, where we won the tournament both years, and I made my debut for the Varsity Cup team in 2018. My motivation to play for Tuks was initially to get the opportunity to play on one of the biggest rugby platforms in our country.
What position do you play in the team and what do you consider the challenges and the pros that come with this position?
I play 8th man and some of the challenges playing the position is that you are always part of a physical battle, whether it is making big hits on defence or carrying the ball hard into contact, so you have to be in a top physical condition. One of the pros playing 8th man is the fact that I will always be part of the game as the role requires you to help the back three cover if necessary, you can pick up the ball behind the scrum for a carry, you have to fold and be in position on defence and you are one of the team’s designated stealers/poachers.
What do you hope to achieve in this sport?
I would like to achieve my goals which are to play at the highest level and to inspire people to follow their dreams and passion, no matter their circumstances, if they have faith and work hard on their craft that they can do just that.
Where would you like to go with rugby one day?
Rugby has been my passion since I was 7 years old and I have always had the desire to play on the international stage as it is where you can challenge yourself against the best the world has to offer. It also gives you the opportunity to travel the world and interact with different cultures and meet and make new friends.
What personal challenges do you experience as being the leader of your team? How do you overcome these obstacles?
One of the personal challenges I’d say there is by being [co] Captain of the team is to help them believe in themselves when they don’t have that self-belief and to also lead from the front by being an example of a champion person and also a champion player. We have a leadership group where everyone has certain roles so it takes the load off my shoulders for certain things, but personally to overcome these obstacles I train very hard to be one of the fittest and strongest guys in the team so that they can see I don’t only preach hard work but live it.
How do you prepare before big games like Varsity Cup?
I believe great preparation can be the difference between being a great player or a world-class player. So to prepare myself before big games such as Varsity Cup, the evening before the game I will visualise everything that will happen from the start of the warm-up, all the lineouts, scrums, carries and tackles that I will be involved in during the game until the whistle blows. So that when I am there on game day it feels as if I have been here already and that I will dominate.
How would you motivate not only your team but your supporters when you face a loss?
To motivate my teammates after a loss I would firstly look at the reasons why we lost the game as every game is different for example if our effort wasn’t good enough that would be a personal thing every guy has to take on himself to be better otherwise you are dropping your brothers. But when everyone put their bodies on the line for each other and our effort was good we would need to take that forward as a positive and focus more on the execution of our game and not the result. For the supporters, I would say that we know they believe in us and we thank them for that. We have all worked hard to give a good performance for them and we will do better as this is our passion and we will not take it for granted.
Who is your biggest sporting role model and why?
My biggest sporting role model is Richie McCaw as I believe he is the “GOAT” (greatest of all time). He was a true leader for the All Blacks who always put his body on the line for his brothers next to him and lead from the front. He had a reputation for someone who bent the rules in his favour and was one of the hardest working players on a rugby field. What makes him my role model is the fact that he was never one of the biggest or fastest guys on the field but through his hard work he has achieved so many accolades and honours and he still is one of the most humble celebrities ever.
What advice would you give to those rugby players wanting to do better and gain more recognition?
I would say that they need to keep working as if it is their only option in life because I believe if you want it bad enough you will move mountains to make that dream come true. So stay true to who you are and never stop working.
Correction: Bezuidenhout was originally cited as captain. This has been corrected to co-captain, a position he shares with Sango Xamlashe.