On Monday afternoon all roads will lead to the famous Green Mile grounds at the University of Cape Town as two of the oldest and most successful rugby clubs in South Africa meet again as FNB UCT host FNB Maties in the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International.
Over the past ten years this fixture, between these two fierce rivals, has been a hallmark of the Varsity Cup. In 2008 it was these two teams who contested for the trophy when FNB Maties beat FNB UCT at a sold-out Danie Craven Stadium. Many people believe that game set the benchmark for the competition in the following years.
The rivalry and high standard of rugby was exactly what the Varsity Cup was hoping to produce with the establishment of the competition. In 2010 FNB Maties and FNB UCT once again played against each other in the final which FNB Maties also won, but in 2011 it was the team from Cape Town who finally got their name on the trophy when they defeated FNB UP Tuks in the final and in 2014 FNB UCT played in arguably the greatest rugby final this country has ever seen, when they came from behind to beat FNB NWU Pukke in Potchefstroom – a match that will forever be remembered in Varsity Cup memories.
But on Monday the teams from Stellenbosch and Cape Town will play for much more than just a win. Each team has a lot to play for in a competition that is filled with talented teams and a log that has the ability to change by the minute on a Monday night. FNB Maties sit on the top of the table, but a loss could see them overtaken by other teams in the competition, while a win for FNB UCT could spark their approach to a third title later in the year. Both teams come off a good run of form so one can expect proper fireworks when the sides meet on Monday afternoon.
The FNB Maties have made three changes to their starting line-up that took on FNB Madibaz last Monday, with Chris Smit, Saud Abrahams and Ernst van Rhyn. They come in place of centre, Braam Steyn, flanker Mitchell Carstens and lock Ian Groenewald.
A win on Monday and especially one with a bonus point could create some sort of a gap for the FNB Maties side as they surge in their attempt of a fourth Varsity Cup title.
FNB Maties starting XV: 15 Craig Barry, 14 Duncan Saal, 13 Michal Haznar, 12 Chris Smit, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Brendon Nell, 8 Devon Nash, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Saud Abrahams, 5 Johan Momsen, 4 Ernst van Rhyn, 3 JE van der Merwe, 2 Craig Corbett, 1 Niel Oelofse
Replacements: 16 Freddie Kirsten, 17 Wesley Adonis, 18 Wikus Groenewald, 19 Mitchell Carstens, 20 Stephan Streicher, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Kyle Steyn, 23 Tiaan Swanepoel
By Andre Huisamen