SACS 1st XV coach Graeme Wepener chats to OLLIE KEOHANE about hosting Paarl Boys’ High on Saturday.
SACS suffered narrow losses to other Paarl schools, Paarl Gym (17-13) and Boland Landbou (28-18), earlier in the season. Does that give the team a sense of belief, rather than just hope, that they could beat Boishaai?
Yes, definitely a sense of belief and also anger that we have pushed Paarl schools so close but not got over the line. We badly want one Boland scalp, but unfortunately have left ourselves a mountain to climb.
What’s been the difference between this year’s 1st XV to last year’s, who were also good but tended to fall away at times in some of the bigger games?
We have a pack this year that on their day can mix it with the Boland schools. That’s has definitely helped a lot.
This will be the last home game for the SACS matric boys. How has this affected the buildup and how have you, as a coach, managed the emotion during the week?
The matric boys are obviously all very keen to play and it helped them quickly overcome any niggles. I don’t think there is huge emotion, just a bit of nostalgia and a feeling of wanting to end on a high. Hopefully it spurs them on when the chips are down and they find themselves in a dark place on Saturday.
SACS claimed a famous win against Affies last year. Would a win against this Paarl Boys’ side, who are on a 38-match winning streak, be a bigger achievement?
Yes, I think given the run that Boishaai are on, it would trump Affies.
What areas of the game has the team focused on in the buildup to Saturday’s game and where do SACS need to be strong to win?
On the field, our focus has been mainly on defence and trying to compete with them in the set piece, but at this stage of the season it’s mostly mental.
In last year’s match, the 1st XV was 12-0 down but fought back well. Is the key for your guys to get a good start and build on that instead of playing catch-up?
As we saw last weekend with the Lions [who beat the Crusaders 42-25 after leading 15-0 early on] you can’t give good teams an early lead. We have to start well and get into the game and on the scoreboard early if we wish to compete.
SACS beat Paarl Boys’ in 1996 and 2006. Can we expect another win in 2016?
[Laughs] I’m not really superstitious, but I’ll take any help I can get on the day! Hopefully the rugby gods are smiling on us.