Bishops are keen to test themselves on South African soil after winning all five of their tour matches in Italy.
The Cape school beat Lazio 48-36, Rugby Roma 74-8, Nonceto 52-14, Pincenza 87-0 and North East Province 72-0. While you’d expect to face more challenging opposition on an international tour, coach Dave Mallett is happy with what they achieved.
‘We were worried about the standard of opposition but thanks to the help of Nick [Mallett, Dave's brother] we were able to choose most matches carefully, and go up against regional U20 sides,’ he told keo.co.za. ‘They were big, strong sides because of their players’ ages, but they lacked finesse. In terms of the areas we needed to work on they were the perfect opposition – we had to focus on our defending, particularly around the fringes, and our tackling was truly tested.’
Mallett says his side needs to take what they learnt in Italy and apply it to the South African schoolboy scene.
‘SA schools are better attackers – their backlines have more power and direction – so hopefully the discipline we’ve built in Italy, along with increased defensive communication, will hold us in good stead.’
The first test for Bishops on SA soil will be against Boland Landbou on Saturday.
‘We’re in for a helluva game,’ said Mallett. ‘Boland traditionally look to overpower opposition early on with sheer physicality. I’d expect them to try and slow our ball down and drag us into a contest up front.’
But Bishops won’t be lured into a battle of brawn.
‘We won’t try and play their game – we will attack,’ continued Mallett. ‘We play a more expansive brand of rugby, and we’re not going to be deterred from using the width of the pitch.’
By Rory Keohane