Madibaz - Troy Delport

A rock-solid defence has stood between the Madibaz’s try line and their opponents as the team from Gqeberha raced to three consecutive wins at the start of their FNB Varsity Shield campaign.

In defeating University of Fort Hare 31-6 last Friday, the miserly Mandela University outfit have now conceded a mere 13 points since the opening round.

The students from Nelson Mandela Bay along with University of Pretoria and Varsity College are now the only unbeaten sides left in the 2024 competition.

The Madibaz have accumulated 14 log points, which put them only one behind the other two sides.

Inside centre Troy Delport, named the Player that Rocks against Fort Hare, said suffocating the opposition on defence had become a point of honour for the squad.

“As a team we pride ourselves on our defence and we have set ourselves specific defensive goals going into each game,” the 22-year-old said.

“And that is to allow our opponents as few points as possible and to try to stop them from scoring tries.”

It is a game plan that has reaped rich rewards as only Cape Peninsula University of Technology have been able to breach their line – as far back as the opening game.

Madibaz - Troy Delport

Madibaz centre Troy Delport was named the Player that Rocks when they defeated University of Fort Hare 31-6 in their FNB Varsity Shield encounter last Friday. Photo: Michael Sheehan

The University of KwaZulu-Natal were shut out 30-0 while UFH only managed to slot two penalties.

Delport said their defensive system was only effective if everyone worked together and focused on the details. He doubted that any other team has worked as hard and prepared as well as them.

“Our blueprint is to stay in the moment, prepare well and work hard for the next game.”

Any other challenges faced this year were a moot point so they just had to knuckle down to meet the demands of the tournament, he said.

In his final year with Madibaz, the business studies student was delighted to have been recognised as the most outstanding player in a match. It was an accolade that also befell him 12 months ago.

“It’s a great feeling because I have been working hard on my game,” the player who grew up in Tarkastad said.

Last year he was also nominated for the overall Backline Player that Rocks award and, although losing out in the final vote, he felt that being in the running had been an achievement in itself.

Delport learnt his rugby in Cradock in the Eastern Cape and bases his game on physicality. This season, he has been attempting to lift his intensity in running onto the ball as well as in the tackling department.

However, it is his rugby intelligence that has really benefitted under the watchful eye of coach David Manuel and his support team.

“They have had a huge impact on me, both as a player and person.”

Going forward it was now a matter of the team continuing to tick the small boxes that made a difference to the big picture, the number 12 said.

The men from the Bay will next run out against Walter Sisulu in Gqeberha on Friday. The game is scheduled to start at 3pm.