New FNB UCT coach Kevin Foote is well aware of the tough act that he has to follow as John Dobson’s successor, but the former SA Sevens captain has a few tricks of his own up his sleeve.
Dobson will be coaching the Western Province Vodacom Cup team in 2011, having coached UCT in their previous three Varsity Cup campaigns – but Foote, his former assistant coach, is ready to step into his shoes.
Foote, 31, accepts the banter about his hairline matching that of Dobson’s (what was that about UCT’s shampoo bill… or lack thereof?), but when you ask him about the 2011 FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International, his ever-present smile disappears… albeit briefly.
“I’m very, very excited for the start of the Varsity Cup,” Foote tells varsitycup.co.za.
“Look, I won’t lie, there are a few nerves – this competition is a beast – but the challenge far outweighs any nerves that I might have!
“It doesn’t get better than coaching a team you genuinely love, plus UCT has so much history… I’m just extremely proud to be a part of this UCT coaching team.”
Foote and his players have had a busy time of it since late last year. They began conditioning and team building in October/November, before stepping up their rugby preparations in December.
After a brief break over the Festive Season, the Ikeys reassembled in early January before embarking on their annual mid-month camp in Riebeek West, which – as always – included a clash with the Stormers.
The Ikeys went down heavily to the Stormers in that match (on January 15), but bounced back well earlier this week (on Tuesday) in a three-chukka game against WP Super League opponents, False Bay.
“I was very grateful to False Bay for helping us out with that game,” admits Foote, after his team’s proposed friendly against Varsity Shield side UWC (initially meant for last Friday night) was called off.
“I was happy with the run-around (against False Bay),” he adds. “We have to sharpen up on a few aspects of our game, but that will come as we play together more as the journey continues.
“I was, however, very happy with the guys’ commitment, especially on defence, as we conceded only one try in almost 90 minutes of rugby.”
Foote is hopeful of securing one more friendly – perhaps against WP’s Vodacom Cup team – before UCT’s Varsity Cup opener against FNB Shimlas on Monday, February 7.
But, regardless of whether he secures an extra fixture or not, he will focus on systems and combinations at training over the next week.
He adds: “I’m really happy with the players that I have at my disposal – they’re all here for a reason and they’re all good enough to accomplish their goals.
“I’m upset about [prop] Ryan Jans’s knee injury, but we won’t know more about that until he has a proper scan. We’ve got a few other niggles, but hopefully everyone will be fit and ready for the Shimlas game.”
By James Kingston