2017 was the year that marked the debut of FNB Rhodes in the FNB Varsity Shield. However, after a string of underwhelming results and consecutive losses, the team from Grahamstown seems to be finding it hard to adapt. A new level o
f competition always presents new challenges and new opportunities. Having failed to register a win, it is clear that the Rhodes team is facing numerous challenges.
Rhodes is a small university with fewer students compared to the other universities partaking in the Varsity Shield. According to FNB Rhodes coach Qondakele Sompondo, the small number of students has limited the selection pool. Sompondo continued “with one or two players in key positions, it is hard”. Rugby is a physically demanding sport, injuries occur and fatigue sets in. A larger player selection pool always helps to rotate the squad and give players some much needed rest.
It does not matter how advanced the game of rugby gets, conversions will always be an important part of any rugby game. The players from Grahamstown have clearly struggled with kicking duties. They do not have a consistent kicker and consequently have suffered heavy defeats to good kicking teams like Fort Hare. In this day and age, conversions can be the difference between winning and losing.
At the conclusion of the game against Fort Hare, coach Sompondo was quick to point out the lack of experience. “We don’t seem to have the drive to win, these things come with experience”, he said. With the team playing for the first time in a completely different championship, the level of competition can prove to be too much. Unfortunately for FNB Rhodes, nothing can replace experience.
Words by Asavela Mhlanga
Photos by James Fowler