Griquas coach Scott Mathie on lockdown: We joke that I'm still unbeaten

Griquas haven't played competitive rugby since last year's Currie Cup. (Gallo Images)
Griquas haven't played competitive rugby since last year's Currie Cup. (Gallo Images)
  • Scott Mathie, Griquas' head coach, remains "positive" that unions will be able to return to training by next week, though the fluidity of the Covid-19 crisis means nothing is cast in stone. 
  • The Peacock Blues are particularly eager to get back into the thick of things as they haven't played competitively since September 2019's Currie Cup.
  • Mental wellness has been a priority for the union, with team management and players using an educational app to set up fun quizzes over game-plans as well as making quirky video clips for motivation and fun.
  • Yet Mathie admits that a point is approaching where a return to some form of normality is essential.

Scott Mathie, Griquas' head coach, says "things are looking positive" in terms of South Africa's rugby teams returning to training next week, but cautions that "I've been saying that for a few weeks now already".

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SA Rugby is understood to have completed the protocol framework required of them as gazetted by government on 6 July and have a meeting with the sport ministry towards the end of the week that should pave the way for final approval.

While it's been a frustrating wait for all involved, unions like the Peacock Blues would be particularly eager as they didn't even participate in 2020's truncated Super Rugby campaign.

"We have this running joke that I'm still unbeaten as coach for eight months," Mathie, appointed late last year following Brent Janse van Rensburg's departure for Durban, told Sport24.

"I'm the most successful coach in Griquas' history! But yes, it's been a very interesting year to date to say the least. We've had time as coaching staff to intensely focus on different areas. It's also been a period where we've really had to prove to ourselves that we're adaptable.

"Of course frustration has been high, but it's been important to stay positive as much as possible."

Individual training regimes and general fitness has naturally continued throughout lockdown, but the key for sides has become to manage the psychological challenges of essentially staying inactive.

To assist in that regard, team management have been utilising Kahoot!, an app generally used for educational purposes that's proved very useful.

"It's really about keeping minds active," said Mathie.

"Initially we set up quizzes for the players to familiarise themselves with the game plan. Those 'tests' generate scores and we've had some fun with that. We've also set up some that are more informal.

"But you don't just want to bombard the players with information and insights. We've also done things like asking a player or a coach to make a clip of them providing a piece of wisdom or inspiration. Some have had fun by having a more intimidatory tone and others have tried their hand at the imitation game."

Such quirky initiatives are all in the name of avoiding the type of repetition that can sink morale.

"Monotony can kill one's spirit. You have to remember that some of the guys aren't just missing out on playing a game. Some have had to cancel wedding plans, for example, important life events that they were looking forward to," said Mathie.

"Community and bonding are vital in these times."

However, the former Bulls, Sharks and Sale scrumhalf admits that the novelty of finding creative ways to keep one occupied is also starting to wear thin.

"We have to honest. Rugby and its players are now reaching the stage where everyone feels things need to start getting a bit better. It's almost like a sense of anxiety," said Mathie.

"Everyone now wants to at least get back to some form of training. There are obviously still a lot of steps to take before we can play, but at least a sense of purpose will return."  

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