Maties Rugby captain knows how to perform under pressure

The Maties Rugby captaincy means more to him than running first out of the tunnel, for Jurie Matthee it is the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. 

“With the captaincy comes the responsibility to drive the team’s culture, set the standards and take the lead when the going gets tough. For me, however, the biggest opportunity with this platform is the one that gives me the privilege of making a real difference in a teammate’s life. Not only as a player, but also as an individual,” says Matthee, who made his senior debut for Maties in 2021. 

The 22-year-old Matthee took over the captaincy from Gift Dlamini in just the second game of the FNB Varsity Cup series after Dlamini suffered a serious knee injury. 

If you ask Matthee what makes his team special, he stops for a moment, this answer comes from his heart. 

“It’s our fighting spirit. These guys don’t know about giving up. I’m not saying it always works out, but I know that my teammates won’t give up, no matter what happens. With that comes brotherhood. It is something that is unconditional. We accept each other for who each person is. We are aware of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, but that is not what we build on. Every player wants to improve on the field, but everyone also wants to reach their full potential as a person,” says Matthee. 

Matthee obtained his BAccHons degree in 2022. On its own, this is already an exceptional achievement considering that it is one of Stellenbosch University’s most challenging programmes. However, Matthee did this while establishing himself as a first-choice player for Maties as well. 

“There were those who said I wouldn’t be able to complete my BAcc degrees and play rugby for Maties…like my teammates, however, I wasn’t prepared to give up!” says Matthee, who played for the Maties Young Guns in 2020. 

Other 2020 Young Guns teammates now in action for Maties in the Varsity Cup tournament include locks Juan Beukes and Thys Kitshoff, flank Simon Miller and scrumhalf Tom Bursey. 

Matthee played his first Varsity Cup match in 2021 against UWC. It was in the bubble in Pretoria where the tournament took place due to the then Covid-19 restrictions. This year, Matthee made his mark right from the start as a role player for Maties in the unforgettable meeting with Ikeys in the opening game of the tournament. 

When Matthee stepped up for the decisive kick of the match, one could not tell from his facial expression that the entire Maties Rugby structure – players and management – along with a filled to the rafters Danie Craven’s expectations rested on his right foot. After all, this is one of Matthee’s character traits as a player and leader: calmness under pressure. 

The choice to come to Matieland was an easy one for Matthee, who matriculated at Paarl Gymnasium. 

“My grandfather and father studied at Maties and stayed in Dagbreek. In later years, my cousins exposed me to residence rugby. I quickly developed a desire to experience this as well. I will be honest and add that my dream quickly became bigger than just playing residence rugby here at Maties. There is a romance about this town…” 

By Eunice Visagie