Impi starting to gel as a team — coach

2014-02-19 00:00

CAPE TOWN — The University of KwaZulu-Natal’s rugby team have only been playing together for 35 days, but are starting to look to be the team to watch in the Varsity Shield cup.

This is the opinion of the New Zealand coach of the Impi, John Mitchell, about his team’s progress in the matches played to date.

The Impi on Monday night won their first game in three matches when they beat the University of Western Cape (UWC) in Bellville 33-24.

The KwaZulu-Natal team are on the third spot on the log.

In the first two games the ball did not bounce in favour of the Impi and they suffered two narrow losses to the Ixias from the Central University of Technology and the Blues from the University of Fort Hare.

Mitchell said one of his main challenges was to eradicate individual play in the team.

On Monday against UWC a few players still held on to the ball when another player was in a better position, but Mitchell said this will improve with time.

He said the bye that the Impi had in the third round had created a chance to address the players on the individualism in the team.

“They learnt to play as a unit and this was very important to win. The maturity that they displayed during the match was also good to see.”

The former All Black coach added it was pleasing to see that his players did not get frustrated when a move amounted to nothing. There were a few moments in their games when the Impi served up exciting running rugby, but they could not finish off the moves.

“There will always be mistakes in a match. You will not be able to always do everything right. I think we have grown as a team on both the attack and defence.”

On the challenge of training a Varsity Shield team, Mitchell said it was not a lot different from coaching a national squad, despite having less resources and equipment to help the coach.

He said his job was to adapt and find ways to improve the players so that they can make a contribution to the team.

The Impi’s next match is on Monday against the Tshwane University of Technology and a win will see Mitchell’s team move up to second place on the log.

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