A day in the life of Drikus Hancke

As the Head of Rugby at Maties Sport, Drikus Hancke channels his deep passion for the game into enhancing the Maties Rugby programme. His strategic leadership not only advances our teams’ performance on the field but also strengthens the vibrant sports culture at Stellenbosch University (SU). As we started May celebrating Workers’ Day, we dedicate this series of profiles to our staff and their crucial contributions to the University.

What does your role at SU entail?

As the Head of Rugby at Maties Sport, I am responsible for the strategic planning, development and management of the Maties Rugby programme. This role necessitates a focus on ensuring the effective functioning of all high-performance programmes and campus rugby offerings within Maties Rugby. I also develop quality management systems and procedures to attain strategic objectives that are in alignment with the university’s and Maties Sport’s strategic objectives. A substantial part of my role involves ensuring the club’s financial sustainability, seeking commercial opportunities, and ensuring sound resource management. This includes managing quality events. Together with my colleagues, I ensure our programmes have all the necessary resources and sound management systems to achieve performance on the field. All these functions and decisions are made with sound governance as a guiding principle. 

What does a typical day at work look like?

My daily routine varies significantly depending on the time of year. My days are filled with meetings and planning during the Varsity Cup and other tournaments. I also engage with internal and external stakeholders to collaborate on projects or discuss ways to enhance offerings or performance on and off the field. Outside of tournaments, we conduct thorough analyses to identify areas for improvement. We learn from every opportunity and strive to improve yearly, always working towards our long-term objectives. The greater University structure provides us with the necessary capacity and expertise, and meetings for long-term planning are also scheduled during this time. 

Budgeting and financial management are prioritised in these periods to ensure alignment with our financial goals. I oversee the events on match days, and one of the most enjoyable parts of my day is watching the matches. The matches are the most critical touch points with the players and coaches, providing the most significant return on our work. After the matches, I hold weekly meetings with the coaches to discuss previous and upcoming matches. Externally, we have essential stakeholders such as our federation, alumni, sponsors, donors, municipality and the club governance structure. Meetings with these stakeholders are often scheduled in my diary. 

How did your education or past experiences prepare you for this job? 

I am an alumnus, played professional rugby for fourteen years, and come from Uitenhage. Being an alumnus helps me understand the student’s perspective even though much has changed. For most of my rugby career, I played for Montpellier in France. This experience taught me a lot about high-performance environments and how to use diversity as an advantage. Our team had ten nationalities at a stage, and this period was the most successful for the club. 

Coming from Uitenhage and growing up in a primarily rural setting gave me a lot of perspective on where people come from. I want to understand their viewpoints and see their value, even if it differs from mine. 

After my rugby career, I became an entrepreneur and studied business management. Being an entrepreneur teaches you a lot. This time and my rugby career taught me the value of taking responsibility for your role but understanding the value of a team and teamwork. Part of our vision at Maties Rugby is ensuring we are a modern, relevant club, and being an entrepreneur gave me the skills to adapt and re-engineer systems to ensure this. My studies allowed me to gain vital knowledge and share how to be a good leader with people from other industries. 

What do you enjoy most about your role and working at SU?

I derive immense joy from working with my colleagues and the students. We are a very determined team at Maties Sport and Maties Rugby, striving to improve constantly. The students keep me grounded and put a lot of smiles on my face. 

I also meet many wonderful and highly skilled individuals, inspiring and motivating me. I enjoy engaging with leadership and colleagues to exchange ideas or learn from their experiences. Standing in the Danie Craven stadium, hearing the students sing and watching the Maroon Machine play well gives me the most pleasure. 

We work in such a beautiful setting; I often hear that it must be one of the most beautiful in the world. Another enjoyable part of my day is engaging with ex-teammates, who I often see as they are still very proud and involved with the rugby club. I have a lot of passion for sport, the club, and the University. I also enjoy the business and commercial side of sports and greatly enjoy my role. 

​Tell us something exciting about yourself that few people would expect? 

I enjoy reading and often look for new books or articles I can learn from. I love the outdoors, biking, or running, usually with my family or friends. I also enjoy fishing. I learned to fly fish in France, and this is a passion I would like to pursue more often. Travelling with my family or for work is another thing I enjoy, and I always look for opportunities to do that. 


By SU Corporate Communications and Marketing