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COACH MATTHEW PROUDFOOT: Maties on the up-and-up, in line to win Varsity Cup. Photo: Emma-Jane Metcalf.

By Anakin Curtis

Matthew Proudfoot has entered the consultant head coach position at Maties Rugby following the departure of Norman Jordaan to the Western Province. The former Scotland prop led the Springboks alongside Rassie Erasmus on their historic 2019 Rugby World Cup title campaign. He also served alongside Eddie Jones for England national rugby team  in a formidable tenure as forwards coach from 2020 to 2023. 

When asked about how he will carry over these experiences to his coaching philosophy for this year’s Varsity Cup tournament, Proudfoot explained, “In professional franchise rugby the focus is on week-to-week results and not so much the player. In varsity Cup Rugby our responsibility is the experience of the player and their development, and what it means to be a Matie.” 

Further elaborating on what it means to be a Matie for him as coach, Proudfoot added “Maties have had a very high level of success over the past and I suppose being in this job, you have to understand that.”

Proudfoot stepped into the role of consultant head coach with the aim of instilling the values of consistent hard work and improvement as well as high standards of coaching. Hard work, both on and off the field, will be a focus for the team as they seek to reclaim the Varsity Cup after two years without a championship title. 

With Proudfoot’s experience of working closely alongside legendary figures such as Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira, Eben Etzebeth and Duane Vermeulen, he will surely rev up the engine room of the Maroon Machine.

In a close second to the Webb Ellis World Cup, lifting the Varsity Cup Trophy remains one of the most prestigious achievements in South African rugby. 

When asked what winning this year would mean to him, Proudfoot said “I think it’s important for Maties to win, and that’s my responsibility towards the University, the alumni and to all the rugby players that have played at Stellenbosch.”

He added that it would provide him with a fresh start as a head coach.

“I want to move on with my career and go back into head coaching. I’ve specialised as an assistant coach for the last 14 years, so I want to take the step over and try to implement what I’ve learnt into head coaching.” 

Proudfoot believes that there is a better way to coach. His personal ambition is to merge the influences of the coaches he’s worked with into a new cohesive and ground-breaking approach to coaching. With that mindset, Maties should become a daunting opposition in this year’s Varsity Cup season.

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