MARIETTE ADAMS chats to SACS 1st XV coach Nick Maurer about their successful season so far and the challenges ahead.
SACS have played 11 matches this season, won nine, lost one and drawn one. To what do you attribute this success?
SACS had very good 2015 and 2016 seasons. The challenge for us as a group in 2017 was to build on that foundation, and find ways to improve and grow. This season we have really focused on building and strengthening relationships within the team environment. Players and coaches really care about one another and this has helped us get over the line in many closely contested matches. Another factor is our conditioning, particularly from a running point of view, which has also been a big focus for us in 2017.
What about your team has impressed you the most this year?
I know these boys very well, as I’ve coached many of them since they were 14 years old, but I am still in awe of their work ethic, both at training and during matches. This team has real character and when you add that to the fact that they are also very good rugby players, you can see why they have had some success during the first half of the season.
Who have been your standout players?
I prefer to focus on the team rather than the individual. Every boy who has worn the 1st XV jersey this season has done so with pride and commitment. It would be unfair to single out any players.
Are you pleased with the team’s style of play?
We have a ball-in-hand approach, which the players and spectators enjoy. The boys have worked very hard on their skills and conditioning, and are encouraged to speed the game up, pass the ball and attack space.
Have SACS exceeded their expectations for the season?
The team’s purpose is to inspire. The team wants to be remembered as a humble, hard-working bunch of guys who played great rugby and inspired those around them through their actions. At this point in the season I’d say we are achieving what we set out to do, but we still have much to accomplish before the end of the campaign.
What are your goals for the rest of the season?
Every game is a unique event with an entirely new set of circumstances and opportunities. Our goal for the rest of the campaign is to prepare well, give our best and enjoy every opportunity that remains in 2017.
SACS broke a 21-year drought against Paarl Gym with a 22-19 win. Did the team believe they could come back from 19-0 down at half-time?
Yes, there was still a real belief that we could and would win the game. This team has unquestionable character and is very fit, and I knew if we scored quickly after the break we had a chance of coming back. Collective belief is a powerful thing.
You were SACS’ scrumhalf and captain when the school last beat Paarl Gym in 1996. What did it mean to you personally to beat them again as a coach?
I am obviously really proud to have played a small part in the success against Paarl Gym, but I must convey with sincerity that SACS rugby is a team effort. So many people contribute and deserve credit for any success that might be achieved by the 1st XV in any given year.
Of all the 1st XV games you’ve been involved with at SACS, where does the recent win over Paarl Gym rank?
I wasn’t involved when SACS beat Affies in 2015, so I’d say the Paarl Gym result would rank as the best I have been a part of.
Are SACS favourites to beat rivals Rondebosch this weekend?
No, I don’t think so. The Rondebosch-SACS rivalry has always been fierce in this particular Grade 12 year group and results have been very even throughout. Rondebosch are playing at home, but I predict a closely contested derby.
Photo: SACS rugby