- What exactly do you do in the club?
Recruiting potential future Ikey Tigers.
b.) Academic support
Helping the rugby players with anything academic-related and connecting them with private tutors when required.
c.) Cubs manager
I am less about the bottles and bibs and more about making sure the guys are happy on and off the field. I’d say I’m more like a cool uncle; because I am a bit older than the players, but I will still have a beer and celebrate with them after the game. When it comes to bottles, I would get about 4/10, but from a passion point of view I’d get 11/10.
2. I am a young Grade 11 or Matric rugby player? How do I get in-touch with you and/or apply to play rugby at UCT next year?
The whole way in which recruitment has been done this year has been turned on its head. Usually, I would have attended many of the big games in the Western Cape as well as the local Southern Suburbs’ Derby Days. I am also usually fortunate enough to go on a few recruitment roadshows and get a sense of the rugby talent across South Africa.
However, Covid-19 has meant that the face to face meeting with a player and his parents after the game is not happening right now. What is interesting is that grade 12 rugby players seem to have more time than they usually would, and have been connecting with me online through platforms such as Zoom, WhatsApp video etc. We have been forced to do things differently which has expanded our reach far beyond our usual recruitment catchment area. For example, two weeks ago I connected with three players in Oudtshoorn – I set up a Zoom meeting with them, shared my screen and helped them apply to UCT online. This is something I would not usually have done in the past, and it has honestly made a huge difference to our recruitment for 2021. A similar thing happened groups of grade 12 rugby players across South Africa. So, from a recruitment point of view, 2020 is shaping up to be the most successful season since I’ve been doing this in 2018.
3. I imagine your academic support structures are in overdrive during this time seeing as no one is physically going into varsity. How has your academic support system changed during this time, especially for your rugby players?
Bronwyn White has been incredible throughout the lock down period, leading the charge in terms of our academic support structures at the Ikeys. Naturally, the players get in touch with me because I have strong relationships with many of them, but when it comes to actually putting systems in place Bron has been working tirelessly behind the scenes. Interestingly enough, while the move to online learning has presented a new set of challenges, players aren’t requiring as much tutoring support as usual. I have a few theories as to why this might be; players have a lot more time on their hands and the University has done a good job in transitioning from face-to-face to online learning. The key ingredient in our support system is that I am on the ground, living the experience with the players, while drawing on the experience gained during my years as a student. I am not some enigma or a name behind a screen, but rather a familiar face that anyone in the club can come to with a problem.
4. What advice would you give a young guy entering the club in 2021?
Firstly, you come to UCT to obtain a degree and you need to remember that. UCT is regarded as Africa’s best academic institution, so it is an opportunity to get a degree from a world-leading university. Importantly, the Ikeys feel very strongly about the academics of their players; and we are invested in their future after rugby.
Secondly, you need to buy in and be enthusiastic. It sounds cliché, but as a player, you want to have positive relationships with the other players, managers, coaches and all the supporting staff. It isn’t about the being the loudest guy with a beer in his hand – we understand that not everyone has that type of personality. It’s about showing genuine interest in what your teammates are doing both on and off the field.
I like to think we are very approachable as management, so communication is another is at the core of my third piece of advice. Once you arrive at the Club we have already invested hours into you and your journey; so we are absolutely interested in what is happening in your life and ensuring that you are coping. Therefore, you need to do you utmost to communicate with management and your colleagues. Sometimes you will have to leave your comfort zone to do so, but that is what life is about.
5. From your experience as a recruiter, how do you think the guys evolve from schoolboy rugby into varsity rugby? What are a few things you can pinpoint as unique to UCT rugby?
I would definitely say that our unique point of difference is the freedom of expression the players are given when they take to the field. Playing rugby is an art form and we are not a Club that is incredibly strict and dictatorial when it comes to how you want to play the game. As a player, you have the right to express yourself and I definitely think that our motto – Running Rugby – is something we live by at the Club.
Furthermore, we don’t recruit the volume of players that some of the other Clubs do. As such, players are granted phenomenal opportunities from a young age. Take William Rose as an example. He was 18 years old when he made his senior Varsity Cup debut in 2019. Later that year, he won the Varsity World Cup in Japan. I truly believe that the time on the park as a junior player is what helps our players evolve faster than most.
While I don’t understand the game on a technical level like the coaches do, I do know enough to say that the capacity to express yourself on the field as a player is something that makes UCT Rugby special.
6. What makes the Ikey Tigers unique from a social point of view?
I definitely think the diversity of people coming into the system sets us apart. Some of our younger guys come to UCT from all over the country. We have different languages, races and cultures all cooperating within one social environment and it is incredible to see. We are known to be a very social club and it is completely normal to debrief the game for 15 minutes and then the next thing you know we are discussing who in the team will be the first one to get married. We are a diverse family and guys are not afraid to mingle and integrate.
7. Three dream dinner guests – who would you invite and why?
He genuinely wants to change the way we do things as a human race; as a business person and a titan of the industries he operates in. Elon doesn’t allow naysayers or the historic limits of humankind to get in the way of what he plans to achieve.
He was one of the most passionate conservationists South Africa has ever seen. Lawrence regularly put his own life in danger in the fight to protect threatened and vulnerable wildlife species. He is also the author of one of my favourite books, “The Elephant Whisperer.”
Bruce is an award-winning journalist and radio presenter. He is the host of the “Money Show”, my daily dose of financial news and market insights. I don’t think the conversation would ever end if he sat down at my dinner table!
Amidst the challenging times we as South Africans find ourselves in; we all might feel helpless; as clichéd as it is; small gestures really can change the world. One of our old Ikey rugby players, Neil Macdonald, does just that. Using his time, his ability to network and his love for exercise to raise over R120 000 (and counting) for the most vulnerable in our society. Together with his wife, Katy, and three children, Imogen, Fergus and Lucy, the “Mad Macs” participated in a 10-hour “exercisathon” to raise funds for the Covid-19 relief efforts of two South African charities; Learn to Earnand Ikhaya Le Themba (‘Home of Hope’).
Together with over forty families from around the world, the Macs and the people crazy enough to join created tag teams in their homes and exercised non-stop for the full duration of the day. Many Learn to Earnstaff were part of the exercisathon and were very generous with their participation.
Both Learn to Earn and Ikhaya Le Themba are well established South African charity organisations: the Macs were determined to donate the funds to charities that they could endorse. Learn to Earn is an NPO they’ve interacted with for years. Its director, Roché van Wyk , sent a thank you to all involved:
“I would just like to thank you all sincerely for the effort, time and money that you have put into this energy-generating initiative… On behalf of Learn to Earn, we will ensure that this funding will reach those who are in desperate need, and that their needs are met in such a way that will be responsible and make the biggest impact on their lives as possible.”
Ian Richardson, the Director of Ikhaya le Themba, said he has been
“overwhelmed with the generosity of the supporters of the “exercisathon”.
One of the families that got involved is our very own, Liam Furniss, who joined in on the initiative and gees; your generosity, time and energy is felt throughout the club and we thank you for this.
The Mac family would like to thank everyone who got involved and showed such generosity at a time where so many people are really hurting.
If you are interested in donating, please see all details below.
Mrs KAD Macdonald
Account Number: 1421062044
Branch code: 470010
Please reference with ‘Maccathon’ and your surname
Alternatively, you can deposit directly into the charities’ accounts:
Learn to Earn:
Account number: 450151424
Branch code 632005
Ikhaya le Themba:
Account number: 62487927877
Branch code: 203809
Please reference ‘IRF Mac’ and you can be sent a section 18a Tax Certificate for this donation
The gridiron football team of the University of Michigan, the Wolverines, is currently visiting South Africa starting off in Cape Town and then flying to Gauteng. A party of about one hundred players, as well as a large coaching and support team, made the trip.
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