Fleck: Rugby fever hits Cape Town

Robbie Fleck, the UCT Ikey Tigers backline and attacking coach is back in writing action after his festive break – read what he has to say about the upcoming Varsity Cup and the Cape Town Tens.

uctrfc.co.za spreds the word, courtesy of rugby365.com.

It sure has been a while and it’s great to be in touch again after a few weeks off from writing this column.

I had a little break away from work in December, but otherwise it’s been a busy time for me, what with the start of the 2009 Varsity Cup on Monday and, of course, all the preparations going into the inaugural Cape Town Tens rugby tournament at Hamilton RFC.

The Ikey Tigers started their pre-season preparations back in December already and myself and Dobbo have tried to mix things up for the guys, so not to burn them out before the end of the Varsity Cup and with a long league season still to come afterwards…

There is plenty of excitement within the squad ahead of the Varsity Cup, especially after the 2008 tournament, but we’re also well aware of the expectations we’re facing after making it into the final and very nearly winning the entire thing!

We’ve lost a few players from last year’s squad, most notably wing Mat Turner who is now playing professionally in the UK, and Kyle Brown, who has since become a Sevens Springbok. Like Dobbo always says, we’re a victim of our own success at UCT, but part of our mission statement at the club is produce players who go on to play representative rugby, so I guess it’s something we have to expect.

Speaking of something to expect, I guess it’s fair to say that we were something of a surprise act – to some – in last year’s tournament, so we’ve had plenty to work on to ensure that we bring that ‘surprise factor’ into the 2009 tournament. Last year the ELVs benefitted our gameplan nicely and I thought we brought a fast-paced New Zealand-type game to the Varsity Cup.

We’ve been working hard to make a similar impact come 2009 and although I can’t say exactly what we have planned, let’s just say that we have a little something up our sleeves once again…

Our opening game, as some of you might now, is against the ‘old enemy’, Stellenbosch and we’ve upped the tempo at training this week in preparation for the game. Stellenbosch, under the coaching of my old WP and Stormers teammate Chean Roux, are always a tough side, but we need to make our home ground advantage count on the night. Home games are always crucial, we have just three of them this season, so we need to make them all count in the Varsity Cup – starting with the Maties clash.

Away from the Varsity Cup, there is a double dose of excitement doing its rounds in Cape Town, with the staging of the first-ever Cape Town Tens on February 7-8.

I have told you a bit about Tens before on these same pages – for more about the tournament, visit www.capetowntens.com – but the big news this week saw confirmation from us that All Blacks star Dan Carter would be coming to the Mother City as an ambassador for the tournament.

It’s great news to get arguably the world’s best rugby player at our event, and we’re very grateful to Dan for agreeing to come out. He loves Cape Town – who doesn’t?! – and is very excited to head out here and watch some Tens and, of course, get some much-needed sunshine!

As the Tournament Host for the Cape Town Tens, Bob Skinstad and I have played a big role in most of the decisions and it’s been quite an eye-opener to see just what goes into running an event of this nature. Even scarier, however, is that the idea of the Cape Town Tens was hatched over a few beers in Bangkok and now, the fact that it’s almost a reality, is quite a daunting prospect!

Both Bob and I are proud Capetonians and we’re really hoping that the Cape Town Tens will put the city onto the map in more ways than one – as a social rugby-playing destination and also as a tourist attraction and, importantly, a good vibey and sociable place to come and let your hair down.

All in all, the Cape Town rugby calendar is a jam-packed one over the next few days and if you’re in the area, make sure you get yourself down to the UCT fields on Monday night for three awesome matches – ours kicks-off at 4.45pm against the Maties – and then we also hope to see you at Hamilton’s that weekend.

Of course, with all this high-class rugby action on the cards over the next week, there hasn’t even been enough time to chat about the ‘other’ rugby due to get underway real soon. What am I talking about? The Super 14!

But more of that next week and that means the return of my weekly predictions…

Until then,

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