2017 Varsity Shield, presented by Steinhoff, FNB and STEERS. Wednesday 09 February 2017.
FNB TUT vs FNB RHODES, at TUT stadium, Pretoria, Gauteng.

 Michael Steel, of Rhodes University is injured and taken to hospital just before half time.

Photo by: Catherine Kotze/SASPA

FNB Rhodes struggle against the impact of injury

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With rugby being one of the toughest contact sports around, injury is inevitable. The FNB Rhodes team is currently trying to overcome this hurdle, with captain Jono Braans suffering a serious hematoma on his right thigh in their very first match of the Varsity Shield tournament and has been sidelined for two weeks.

FNB Rhodes’ debut match against Tshwane University of Technology (FNB TUT) cost them not only points, lost in the dying moments of the game, but the loss of their captain too. Braans is currently doing his Honours degree in Economics and was excited to lead his team throughout the tournament.

“Rhodes rugby has transformed massively over the last five or six years and it’s wonderful to see that all the hard work and dedication has paid off somewhat,” said Braans.

Despite the fact that FNB Rhodes has not qualified for Varsity Shield since the tournament began ten years ago, Braans claims that, “We are determined to bring back the proud rugby history at Rhodes that has been lost over the last 20 years or so.”

Unfortunately for him, he has been denied this chance in the early stages of the tournament due to injury that could have cost him the rest of the season. Although he experienced extreme “fear and frustration” initially, he was then told that his injury was not bad as doctors first thought, and is hoping to be back on the field within the next week.

Although Braans has been relying on crutches and sheer patience to pull him through, he has continued to contribute to the team from the sidelines.

“The best thing to do is to stay involved and add as much value as possible,” said Braans. He added that “Rugby is a team sport and that goes far beyond the 15 players that run onto the field.”

According to former Ireland 7s Coach Gavin Hickie, who wrote an article on how players should deal with injuries, players need to focus on these essentials when grappling with the psychological, emotional, and physical effects of being injured:

  • Focus on what you can do, and not what you can’t – an injury, depending on how bad it is, is not the be-all and end-all of your sporting career. Find ways to help yourself and your team in other ways.
  • Keep the positives in mind – it is so easy for an injury to bring you down and stir up negativity, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Use the injury to think about how you can improve and contribute more to your career and to your team.
  • Focus away from the rugby – you might have thought rugby was your life and took up most of your weeks with matches, training, and gym, but now you are injured. You can’t do any of those things anymore. Use this time to focus on other aspects of your life in the meantime.

It’s safe to say that injuries can be debilitating, both physically and psychologically. However, Braans seems to still be embracing the Varsity Shield opportunity for FNB Rhodes from the sidelines, and will further this when he gets back onto the field.

FNB Rhodes play FNB UFH next Monday (27 February) at 18:30 on the Rhodes University Great Field.

By Gabi Bellairs-Lombard

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