The FNB NMMU-Madibaz will be determined to finish their Varsity Cup rugby campaign with a flourish when they play Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein on Monday.
While the squad have faced some tough challenges this season, coach David Maidza said they remained positive and were eager to prove a point against CUT, who have lost all seven matches so far.
Madibaz opened with a victory against UCT, but have been winless since then, turning Monday’s clash into a key showdown between two sides at the bottom of the log.
Despite CUT’s record this season, Maidza said they would not make the mistake of taking anything for granted.
“We want to make sure we do well in our last game, but will be up against a side also motivated to finish on a high,” he said.
“They are very similar to us in that they never give in and they will give it their all in front of their home crowd.”
The Madibaz mentor said his players had always produced their best efforts this season and praised them for their positive attitude.
“Although we have not achieved the desired results, it has not been through a lack of willingness and commitment by the players.
“These young men have left their last ounce of effort on the field and I am proud of them for being competitive in each outing.”
Maidza said they had been working hard to build for the future.
“Our main focus since 2015 has been to have a stable squad of student-athletes.
“I feel we can be proud to say that if all goes our way we will have no less than 15 graduates by the end of 2018, which means we will have continuity with our squad until 2019.”
Maidza said he was also encouraged by the backing they had received from the varsity.
“There is a whole lot of support for us from the dean of students Luthando Jack, director of sport Yoliswa Lumka and from the top echelons of the university.”
Meanwhile, the Madibaz Young Guns failed in their bid to qualify for the Varsity Cup semifinals when they lost to Maties on Monday.
However, coach Zane Bosch said they could take many positives from their matches and they would strive to be much better prepared next season.
“For various reasons, we only had three weeks to prepare and the guys showed a lot of improvement during the season,” he said.
“We always knew it would be a tough challenge, especially considering we have a young team, but the guys always did their best.”
Bosch pointed out that six of their eight first-choice forwards were in their first year at university and often competed against players a few years older.
“At this level that can make quite a difference,” he said.
He added that their priorities would be to ensure they had a strong recruitment programme in place and to make a much earlier start with the preparations.
“We would like to get our pre-season under way in, at least, October.”
In the Steinhoff Koshuis League, NMMU team Harlequins will take on UCT rivals Cobras in the Premiership second tier final at the Green Mile in Cape Town on Monday, starting at 5pm.
The sides ended as the top two teams in their section, with Cobras earning the right to host the final when they beat Harlequins 13-0 in Port Elizabeth on Monday.
Despite that loss, Harlequins coach Chris Kelly said they were determined to bounce back in the final.
“We weren’t quite switched on for Monday’s match, but we had a good talk after the game and the guys are really keen to show what they can do in the final.”