PDBY spoke to the head coach of TuksRugby, Nico Luus, about Victor Matfield’s recent visit to TuksRugby and how it benefited the team.
What did Victor Matfield’s recent visit to Tuks mean for you and to the Tuks Varsity Cup team?
As part of our 2021 “Champion People that’s World Class” theme, it was a massive honour to spend the day with a world-class player like Victor Matfield, who shared his invaluable knowledge with the players and coaches.
Did it help and if so, how?
Yes, there is no doubt the knowledge and insights shared by him challenged the team on their way of thinking and their understanding of lineouts, and also humbled them when Victor took off his tracksuit to form part of the training session, stealing and taking lineout balls from the team.
How did the former Springbok player share his knowledge of the game with Tuks’s Varsity Cup team and what was learnt by the Varsity Cup team that is important for future games?
The fact that it was a practical session, which included not only telling but also showing helped the players to understand the smaller detail surrounding lineouts, especially the importance of foot movements.
What was your aim of the day as Tuks Head Coach, for the team members and their meeting with a rugby legend?
I wanted the team to get the thoughts and insights from world-class players, to learn what it took for them – on and off the field – to become world-class.
How were the Varsity Cup team members after Matfield’s recent visit? Did it instil any motivation and were lessons learnt?
There were definitely a lot of lessons learnt due to the fact that quite a few of them took their first steps at Tuks, as players and as students, towards becoming world-class players. It made the team realise the importance of being a student-athlete in their aspirations to become possible Springboks.
Do you have an inspiring story about Victor Matfield?
Having had the privilege of playing against Victor, he will always be remembered as the best lineout lock that I ever had the opportunity of playing against. I was always inspired by his work ethic and his being able to play at such a high level at the age of 38.
Do you think the team benefitted from this recent visit?
The team definitely benefited, especially from a visit by someone like Willem Alberts, and the road he had to travel from playing Tuks 2nd team (Fezelas) to being told by the Bulls that he wasn’t part of the plans to joining the Lions and becoming a 43 capped Springbok player.
What are your hopes for this coming Tuks’ Rugby Varsity Cup games?
COVID-19 taught us the valuable lesson to take nothing for granted and to really appreciate being a part of this wonderful game of Rugby. I would just really like the players to go out and enjoy themselves and continue to aspire to be Champion People that’s World Class.
How else are the athletes being prepared for games?
Apart from the normal training, at the end of 2020 season we appointed JL de Jager, the former Davis Cup Captain and tennis player, who has done amazing work in preparing these youngsters off the field, to be mentally strong and preparing them for being comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Does COVID-19 still inhibit any old traditions or practices despite the move down to Level 1?
Player safety remains our first and biggest focus and can’t be neglected in our weekly planning and preparation. Due to the four-week non-contact training followed by the gradual introduction to contact, where we’d normally play 3 or 4 warm up games, due to COVID-19, we will only play one resulting in the players being less match-fit. But the focus is to keep them healthy and safe.
Illustration: Giovanna Janos