With the FNB Varsity Cup season less than a month away, Maties Sport sat down with Head Coach Kabamba Floors to chat ahead of the thrilling competition.
After taking over as Head Coach in July last year, Floors had a successful second half of 2023 with the men’s rugby first team, bagging a USSA title and the Western Province Super League A Club rugby trophy. He hopes to continue the triumphant in this year’s Varsity Cup campaign.
The Maroon Machine kicked off 2024 with a camp in Elsenburg, Floors explained how the team faired: “I think the camp went really well and it was a new venue for us this year so we didn’t know what to expect, something different than travelling to Hermanus/George where we usually go. Staying in Stellenbosch, embracing the winelands and the conditions (35+ degrees every day).”
Floors broke down the focus areas for the team during the camp and explained the importance of covering these aspects before competing next month.
Focus areas (players):
- Work on the value and culture of the team (building team cohesion, connection and unity), spending time with one another and getting to know each other’s backgrounds/cultures and having as much fun as possible without any pressures of a competition or match
- Recap of December installations and the team game plan: attack and defense
Focus areas (management):
- Knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses
- Sticking together and supporting each other, within the team plan that they set out (focusing on each person’s role and responsibilities)
- Treating each other with respect, especially in high pressure situations
Looking back on last year’s campaign, a lot of work has gone into place as Maties eye the coveted Varsity Cup trophy by Floors and his management team. “2024 will be a challenge after last year’s Varsity Cup, where we fell short in the semifinal against NWU and they ended up being the champions. I think at this point, we are in an unknown space as we haven’t played a game yet. Our first runout will be on Saturday (27 January). We are trying different systems, installing attack shape, defense structure, set piece implementation and to get on par with conditioning and fitness,” explained Floors.
“With less than a month out, its NWU at home – All we can do is analyze how they played last year/this year and plan around that. Our preparation will be according to what we what to achieve in the game,” he went on to say.
In the buildup to the Varsity Cup, Maties will play three warm up games and Floors hopes to use this as an opportunity to test his different systems of play and game plan for their first encounter against the defending champions NWU.
“We broke up the season in 3 games at a time, we need to do well during those first 3 games to do well in the competition and we have broken it down into 3 segments/blocks – each week is important, if we tick the boxes in the first 3 games it will help us have a good competition,” said the seasoned coach.
Maties will face NWU first, followed by local rivals UCT and then Wits in the first segment of three games. The team are lucky to have a depth of squad and several players who will fit in certain positions. Floors attests that there are a few seniors with invaluable experience and the management team are working on perfecting the team dynamics to ensure a good, gelled performance with the newcomers of the team.
Floors who has worked with the Young Guns as Head Coach and been the first team Assistant Coach at the Varsity Cup for two seasons, knows the ins and outs of the competition.
“It is unfamiliar territory for me as a new coach, but I am feeling more comfortable in the position and am settled in leading my management team. The Varsity Cup competition has different pressures that comes with being the head coach and the different sorts of challenges instead of the assistant. Game day is going to look new for me, but I think I have it under control pre-Varsity Cup,” said Floors.
Floors encouraged Stellenbosch University students to rally behind the team: “We [Maties Rugby] always perform well when it is a full Danie Craven, especially when the students come support in their numbers – it will mean a lot to the team to get consistent support at home this season,” he concluded.
By Kimara Singh