KM : Demetri - having played many years of European rugby at the highest club level- what are your thoughts on the new super cup competition and the competing clubs in the Tel Aviv heats group?
DC: The Rugby Europe Super Cup is a great initiative and a very exciting competition for the growth of the game and the future of rugby, particularly in Israel I'm extremely excited to see a well organised competition for the competing clubs.
As a competitor, you always want to test yourself and improve, and the Super Cup offers players the opportunity to test themselves against some strong international clubs.
It is difficult to forecast what to expect from the clubs in our Group because this is a brand new competition. But we expect physicality and set-piece centric tactics from the Georgian and Russian teams, similar to that of their international teams.
With COVID disrupting the 2019-2020 season you have spent just one competitive season as the Technical Director of Rugby Israel - you now have a professional franchise to lead. How do you think the TLV Heat will develop rugby in Israel?
KM: we’ve worked hard since the start of COVID. Naturally, it’s a tough time globally during the pandemic and sport continues to suffer. During this period, however, we have managed to sustain our high level program within the constraints of COVID.
We toured UAE, South Africa, arranged international blue vs white matches and it was very pleasing to see our national 7s teams when hitting the field making two finals - winning one and the men finishing a very respectable 5th place in the Trophy Division, above Romania.
We are super excited about the Rugby Europe Super Sup competition - for us it’s a game changer. It’s professional, it’s high level and it gives our players a pathway within the sport. We can’t wait.
As the attack coach of the TLV HEAT what can we look forward to seeing in the field?
DC: I hope to bring the best out of the players and create an environment that encourages them to be comfortable enough to truly express their talents. My aim is to develop a well organised, clear game plan that allows players to make good decisions. I think it’s important for players to feel confident with themselves and the game plan in order for them to perform to the best of their ability.
During the build-up to the announcement of the squad we keep hearing about marquee players. What is in store for our rugby followers when it comes to marquee players?
KM: The competition rules are designed to help developing countries to be able to attract players from abroad, to identify with professional rugby within each participating country’s club system, and to create opportunity for players that perhaps have not been given an international chance in the country they were born.
A marquee player is a player that is not on a pathway to potentially play for the country of the franchise and is therefore ineligible to be either a pathway player or representative player. The competition allows a certain number of players that fit into this category to be on the team roster.
We have been hard at work to recruit and get some well known, experienced and exciting marquee players on board. We are very excited about the announcements of the marquee players for the TLV Heat over the next few weeks. In addition to generating interest and excitement, more importantly such players are critical to building our young team into a contender in due course.
In your first year of coaching after putting your boots in the cupboard - what are you most looking forward to in year one with the TLV Heat?
DC: I am most looking forward to creating an environment for players to enjoy themselves and play with freedom. However, that being said I'm really excited about the tactical side of the game and putting some good plans together too. I managed to gather a lot of information throughout my years playing rugby, and I look forward to putting my ideas to the test!
How does it feel reconnecting with Demetri Catrakilis as a coaching team for year one?
KM: This for me is a great example of what the journey of rugby can do. I first met Demetri when I recruited him as a 19-year-old flyhalf for a newly promoted premier club in Cape Town called False Bay. Demetri lit up the club scene as an unknown and progressed to become one of the fly halves in the world.
Although I only coached him for 20 games we have remained close since and in many ways contributed to each other’s professional career whether as a player in Demetri’s case or as a coach in mine.
Now we have an opportunity to take the ten years of friendship and experience and devote it collectively into the TLV Heat project. What’s best is that we are the underdogs in the competition, something we are both used to but this time we go at it as a team. It’s hugely exciting for us and something we have spoken about for many years and now finally we have this opportunity to create some collective magic…