FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International dug deep into the FNB Wits archives, to look back at a very important function that took place in 2016. The function saw the alumni of 1967 initiate an evening which celebrated six decades of rugby at Wits, which coincided brilliantly with the FNB Wits rugby club’s qualification for the Varsity Cup in 2017. The team of 1967 was the last team to win the Pirates Grand Challenge, which has now eluded the FNB Wits rugby club for the past 50 years.
The captain of the team was Springbok flyhalf and current world famous professor in dermatology, Alan Menter, who flew from the USA to attend the function and wish the 2017 FNB Wits side the best of luck for their Varsity Cup campaign.
Alan enthralled the old boys with his incredible journey which started at Parktown Boys and took the audience through his memorable years at FNB Wits, with those in attendance once again being reminded of just what an amazing platform FNB Wits provides its students. The current generation were also made to realise how fortunate they are to have a competition such as the Varsity Cup to help nurture players for the future of South African rugby.
One of Alan’s memorable moments included a trip from the UK through Europe and Africa which lasted six months, in a trusty Land rover, proving endurance was a welcome addition to his rugby and medical prowess.
In acknowledgment of Alan the following was stated: “Your presentation to us is a stark reminder of one’s life after rugby and that passing through this club and university is really but one chapter of what has been a remarkable career thus far. A chapter that provided a foundation and platform second to none.”
Another one of the 1967 old boys and former Transvaal lock, Doug Smollen, was on hand last Monday in Stellenbosch to hand over the jerseys to the team before their big game against FNB Maties. With Doug Smollen having been in the last FNB Wits team that beat the FNB Maties exactly 40 years earlier at Ellis Park is testimony to the rich history and heritage of the FNB Wits rugby club.
All this goes to show what a great platform rugby, and a tournament such as the Varsity Cup, can provide players, whether it be in the rugby sphere, academics, or anything one dreams of becoming.
By Sifiso Nyawo