Coaches Talk: Ivan van Rooyen - Lions rugby

Coaches Talk: Ivan van Rooyen

Team News

4th Nov 2021

The Emirates Lions have resumed their preparations for the Vodacom United Rugby Championship after a short break, and after a busy week of training, we had a catch up with Lions head coach, Ivan van Rooyen.

The Emirates Lions have resumed their preparations for the Vodacom United Rugby Championship after a short break, and after a busy first week of training, we had a catch up with Lions head coach, Ivan van Rooyen.

Here are his thoughts on training, the rest of the VURC and welcoming fans back to Emirates Airline Park:

On being back at training

It feels good to be back at training. We gave the players two weeks off to recover and they came back fresh and ready to train. Most of them went from the Carling Currie Cup straight into the Vodacom United Rugby Championship, so the rest was much needed.

Tuesday and Wednesday we were on the field where it was quite intense as we pushed the guys a fair bit. But the response from them was positive, which was good to see.

On the competitiveness of the VURC

We knew the VURC was going to be extremely competitive. Every game has teams feature quite a few test players, which furthers confirms the quality of opponents. We said from the start that there won’t be any easy games as teams are continuously improving with each round of the competition.

On the team’s performances on tour

We had a fantastic opening half against Zebre Parma, but allowed them back into the game in the second forty. The following week against Scarlets showed that we needed to work on certain facets of our play.

I felt we were unlucky against Glasgow Warriors. It was game we believed we should have won after showing glimpses of exciting play.

Our final tour game against Ulster once again displayed positive patches of play where we held onto the ball for extended periods, but crucial errors in key areas let us down.

On the injuries front

To see guys like Willem and Tiaan training again is a huge highlight. Then of course players like JP Smith and Edwill van der Merwe, who both joined us recently, slotting in well is great to see.

On the converse, it’s sad losing guys to injury, but again, that’s the business of rugby. But overall, it is great to see the guys who weren’t with us on tour fit and ready to go.

On the prospect of having fans back at Emirates Airline Park

It will be massive for us to play in front of our fans again after nearly two years. We experienced playing in front of crowds at every game on tour, which was amazing.

To have any number of fans attending our upcoming home games will be an incredible motivation for the team. Sport is about entertainment and that’s what we want our fans to experience and appreciate at the stadium.

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