Southern Kings forwards coach Barend Pieterse and kicking coach Henning van der Merwe visited Rhodes University on Monday (January 16) afternoon ahead of the Grahamstown university’s participation in the Varsity Shield this year.
As part of the Southern Kings’ management team’s vision of ensuring that talent in the Eastern Cape region is nurtured, coaches and players will go around to schools and universities to assist in imparting their knowledge and assisting where they can to help in the development of upcoming players.
With Rhodes University, under coach Qondakele Sompondo, taking part in the Varsity Shield for the first time this year, it is imperative that the Southern Kings make their first stop for the year in Grahamstown to assist the university where they can.
“This was a very worthwhile visit. Sometimes we get so used to working with the older guys that we forget how it feels and how important it is to work with the younger players,” Pieterse said.
“From what I saw, there is enough talent in the Eastern Cape region. It was really great to be able to share ideas with the players and coaches at Rhodes, and also to see how they respond to what we bring. It was an overall enjoyable experience.
“It is important that we as the Southern Kings look after our own talent in places like Rhodes University, NMMU and others to also give them a chance to do well in their various competitions.”
Van der Merwe added: “I think it is important for us to build the relationships with our schools and universities in the region. I think if we continue to take this further, it will help us in the future and to also get the support that we may need as well.
“There is raw talent in the university, and with proper coaching and structures in place, they can be competitive in the Varsity Shield.”
Rhodes University coach Qondakele Sompondo said: “The Southern Kings coaches were great. My boys can’t stop talking about them. It was really great having this interaction with the Southern Kings.
“The response from our players has been very good. They really enjoyed the sessions and interaction with the Southern Kings coaches. This is something that should happen every season.”
Rhodes University begin their Varsity Shield action with a trip to Pretoria where they will face Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) on February 9.
The Grahamstown University will play two warm-up matches this month before the start of their Varsity Shield campaign.
Fixtures are as follows:
- Jan 21: University of Fort Hare (UFH) vs Rhodes University, Alice
- Jan 28: Rhodes University vs Brumbies (Grand Challenge club), Grahamstown
- Feb 9: FNB TUT vs FNB Rhodes, TUT Stadium, 18h30
- Feb 13: FNB Rhodes vs FNB CPUT, Rhodes Great Field, 18h30
- Feb 20: FNB UWC vs FNB Rhodes, UWC Sports Stadium, 18h30
- Feb 27: FNB Rhodes vs FNB UFH, Rhodes Great Field, 18h30
- Mar 13: FNB Rhodes vs FNB WSU, Rhodes Great Field, 18h30
- Mar 20: FNB UKZN vs FNB Rhodes, Howard College Rugby Stadium, 18h30