Fleckie on comebacks

from Robbie Flecks column on rugby365.com

Ikeys came back twice – going behind 0-17 and then 10-31 – before winning their Varsity Cup semifinal against Puk-NWU (Potchefstroom) in the dying seconds at the ‘Green Mile’ in Cape Town on Monday this week with a Mathew Rosslee penalty. Three tries (22 points) in the final 15 minutes was amazing. All I can say that it was one hell of a comeback.

I’ve seen some incredible comebacks in my life. I think of France against New Zealand at the 1999 World Cup semifinal, with Les Bleus trailing 10-24. But in a sudden Gallic turnaround, they added 33 points to just seven from the All Blacks for a sensational 43-31 victory in a second-half blitz.

Then of course there was Durban 1998 – with the All Blacks leading the Springboks by 23-5 going into the final 10 minutes. Three quick tries and Gary Teichmann’s Boks were the victors. I was a spectator at that game and what an awesome feeling.

It is something similar to what I experienced in the Varsity Cup encounter with Pukke earlier this week. I don’t think we (UCT) played particularly well and we certainly made unnecessary mistakes. The first 15 minutes we were not the side that we were throughout the tournament.

Credit to Pukke, they were extremely good. Matthew Proudfoot and the rest of the coaching staff did an excellent job in terms of analysing our game. They took us on out wide, where we never thought they would, and it took us by surprise with those two early tries. And we looked very much buried at 17-0 and 31-10. However, we always believed this Varsity side could turn it around.

All we said to them was to get hold of the ball, keep the ball and the points will come. We always felt the guys would score tries, it was just a matter of not leaking any more points.

The critical point came (and Matthew Proudfoot said it as well) when they scored that third try midway through the second half to go 21 points clear. We felt that Pukke really just switched off and they probably felt they had the game sown up.

With the new laws (ELVs) you have to play the full 80 minutes and it’s not over till the final whistle. It just shows what great character this varsity side has, the type of rugby they can play.

That was probably the greatest comeback I’ve seen outside of Test rugby. I’ve never been part of a comeback of that magnitude . To be a coach and to watch it … there’s nothing better.

You can feel sorry for Pukke in a way, because they played a great game, but in the end it was the character and the way we approach our game that pulled us through. Who would have thought Matthew Rosslee would have kicked that last kick.

But if you look at quality sides like the Crusaders, even when they have a bad day at the office, they can still pull off a win.

We would like to hope this Varsity side show similar characteristics and grit to go on to win the competition and take it through for the rest of the season.

We are looking forward to the Final against arch rivals Stellenbosch next Monday.

FNB Varsity Cup Final

Monday 7th April, 18.45
Danie Craven Stadium Stellenbosch
Also live on Supersport 1

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