‘Running Rugby Since 1882’. Most of us have become familiar with this line, and anybody can see it coming to fruition every time the FNB Ikey Tigers step out onto the rugby field.
But this slogan is packed with far more history and pride than simply continuing to play one particular brand of rugby over the years. As the FNB Ikey Tigers continue their resurgence in the 2017 FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International, it is important to know the rich history behind the team.
It was in 1882 that the famous white and blue jerseys were first donned by the team, but it was only in 1901 that the switch to wearing white shorts and blue socks was made. As can be seen in every game, the FNB Ikey Tigers have stayed true to their colours for the one-hundred and sixteen years.
The club, then under the name the South African College (or SAC), played their first major rugby match in 1888. Three players from that original squad played themselves into the national squad for the first rugby test match played in South Africa against England, most noticeably Ben Duff who captained the side. Many, many years have passed since those founding days, but it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the UCT club. The university as a whole had to stand firm during the nineteen sixties and seventies, as not everyone was agreed with them, allowing students of colour to represent the university in various sporting codes.
Fast forward to the present, and we find a club steeped in history and tradition. For example, there is an annual fixture against Tygerberg RFC to honour the memory of Immanuel Mckenzie, a player who played for both clubs but who passed away too soon. The team have also adopted Sisters Incorporated in recent years, a home for women and children, and upon visits, roll up their sleeves to help out wherever they’re needed. There is of course the long fought rivalry between the Cape Town-based club and FNB Maties. The boys in stripes have been crowned champions for two out of nine FNB Varsity Cup seasons thus far, with the 2017 season teasing some promise.
One can only hope that the players feel the weight of this history every time they wear the striped jersey, not to weigh them down, but to strengthen them, because although they may not yet realise it, they are now the ones writing the history of this great club.
By Wessley Thring