In the build-up to this yera’s Varsity Cup season, Perdeby interviewed former Springbok under-21 and current UP-Tuks captain Ruan Steenkamp to get his thoughts on the team and the upcoming season.
Last season saw a heartbreaking defeat in the last minutes of a neck-and-neck semi-final game. Is there anything specific that the team has been working on to increase the chances of a spot in the Varsity Cup final?
Yes, it was a very heartbreaking defeat for us, but like all disappointments you have to learn something [from] it. We pretty much have the same approach [with] slight changes here and there. A big focus for us is the set pieces, especially the scrum.
The UP-Tuks team will see a selection of young talent take to the field this year, but also the return of experienced players such as yourself and Andrew Beerwinkel. How do you feel this combination will impact the team this season?
I believe that if you are good enough, you are old enough. I think the youngsters bring a great energy to the team and that is vital in a rugby competition like the Varsity Cup. It’s also very important to have some experienced players just to bring that calm to the field.
A number of rule changes have been introduced in the 2016 season, such as the 9-point try. How has the team been adapting to these changes?
I believe that the fans want to see running rugby and the 9-point try will definitely motivate teams to play running rugby. However we’re not going to play high-risk rugby in our 22. If [the game is] on, we will play, but otherwise we will exit and [rather] apply pressure. We would, however, like to keep the ball in hand and score tries.
How do you think the rule changes will affect the way that the competition will be played as a whole?
I think teams are going to start playing high-risk rugby. If they pull it off it will be great, but if not, it will be points [scored] against them. It will be vital to know when to run and when to kick.
You managed to get a taste of Currie Cup action for the Blue Bulls last season. As an experienced player, how do you hope to lead the UP-Tuks team this year?
It has been a dream come true. I believe [I] have to keep it simple. Everybody on the field [should] know their role, so each player needs to focus on their role. I believe a captain has to lead by example and has to give everything to earn his players’ respect, and that’s what I will do.