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- Created on Wednesday, 06 March 2013 12:29
FNB Wits travelled to Pretoria on Monday night to take on Varsity Cup Champions FNB UP-Tuks and came away with more questions than answers.
It was expected that UP-Tuks would run rampant against the competition new-comers and they did just that scoring eight tries, with 4 coming in each half of the game.
The most disappointing aspect of the game for Wits was the inability to cross the white wash, even though they had opportunities to do so.
Wits had a plan going into the game, but aimless kicking against a highly effective counter-attacking side soon put that game plan under pressure.
By the twenty minute mark, the game was all but over as Wits were unable to execute their game plan as they lost the territory battle through ill-discipline by Wits players and very effective kicking by the UP-Tuks side.
It is by now common knowledge that Wits are struggling at this level of competition and even though the aim of this year was to learn as much as possible for next year’s promotion / relegation year, it is still disappointing that out of the five games played, the opposition has been able to notch up 50 plus points against the Witsies on four occasions.
When a side loses games consistently, there is typically a lot of advice flooding into the camp making competing even more difficult, especially for the players, and Wits are no different.
The coaching and management staff were aware of the difficulties of competing at this level, but the lessons are brutal, rather than pleasant.
According to Wits coach Andy Royle, even though the competition round-robin stage is seven weeks long and Wits are currently preparing for week 6, these have been the longest weeks of his coaching career to date.
"This competition is ruthless and as soon as an opposition side sniffs blood there is a feeding frenzy which my players are just not able to physically cope with at this level" said Royle.
"It is encouraging to hear ex-professionals who have been involved with Wits during training session’s remark that we are doing the right things, our structures are good, but we lack the ability to create a fully-professional environment for our players".
"During the rugby calendar year, we typically train three times a week whilst we would like to be in a position to train three times a day, but when you have students like Charlie Baggot studying fourth year medicine, that is something that is just not possible."
"We are going to have to work closely with Wits University management to come up with a plan if we are going to compete favourably in this competition" according to Royle.
"What is encouraging to me is that when speaking to Nollis [Up-Tuks coach] he understood our position as Tukkies were in that very same situation a few years ago and through working together with the university management they were able to overcome that situation".
Wits face another daunting task when FNB Maties travel to the home of Witsies on Monday.