Barend Christiaan Smith  (Maties No22) with ball in hand - 2017 Varsity Cup, presented by Steinhoff, FNB and STEERS. Monday 27 March 2017
FNB MATIES vs FNB UJ at the Danie Craven Stadium, Stellenbosch, Western Cape

Photo by: Liam Hamer Nel

Title Contenders vs Perennial Underdogs

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Underdogs FNB UJ travel to the Danie Craven Stadium – the fortress which has seen contenders FNB Maties annihilate everything in their path, but with the semi-final beckoning, and the underdogs having nothing to lose, an upset could be on the cards as FNB UJ aim to make history and defy the odds in the 2017 Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International.

History and statistics give us an indicator on how results are likely to plan out. Favourites and big teams tend to dominate cup competitions, but with the sport fraternity finally seeing the underdogs rising up, (the likes of Leicester, Iceland and even FNB UJ), Monday’s semi-final clash between FNB UJ and FNB Maties has its chances of producing an upset.

FNB UJ have never won this competition, they have made the semi-finals on a number of occasions, but that’s as far they have come. FNB Maties on the other hand are undisputed title-contenders, with three titles already in the bag, they are looking to make history themselves by going for the record-breaking fourth title.

FNB Maties are in a battle with themselves as they last won the cup in 2010 and haven’t been able to replicate that feat for the past seven years. FNB UJ have never gone past the semis, and have lost in the semi-finals in four of the past six seasons. History seems to beckon for both of these sides.

Going into the semi-finals, statistics seem to favour the home side, however judging on FNB UJ’s away performances they will be satisfied with the underdog tag and are playing a psychological game with FNB Maties in terms of what to expect from FNB UJ on Monday.

FNB Maties seemingly have it all to lose, and should they fail to defeat FNB UJ, they will only have themselves to blame.

Here are some statistics heading into the semi-finals:


FNB Maties                             FNB UJ

Championships:                                 3                                              0
Head-to-Head                                     W 8, D 1, L 1                        W 1, D 1, L 8
2016 semi-final                                  Won vs FNB Tuks             Lost vs FNB Pukke
Varsity Cup Finals                           6                                              0
Points scored                                      346                                        255
Log points                                           35                                            24
Odds to win title                               9/10                                       16/1

It is experience versus youth, contenders versus underdogs, a story of triumph versus a story of will. With FNB UJ having the odds stacked against them, perhaps that will drive the team forward and possibly lead to their first-ever Varsity Cup final.

By Nkosinathi Shazi

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