In 1927 with the departure of the FNB NWU-Pukke’s train, somebody put a Puk flag out of the window as they left the station in Bloemfontein. One of the FNB Kovsies grabbed it and ran off. The FNB NWU-Pukke lost their flag for 61 years before Kovsie JJ Kemp, who was the guilty party, returned it to whom it belonged.
Ninety years after these two opponents first met, the rivalry is stronger than ever and both team’s flags will be hoisted once again at Xerox Shimla Park on Monday as they face each other in this year’s FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International.
From 2005 to 2011 the bragging rights belonged to the FNB NWU-Pukke who clinched seven consecutive wins over the FNB Shimlas.
Nevertheless, the FNB Shimlas also joined the party in the 2015 final when they claimed the biggest score in any final in the Varsity Cup tournament’s history, when they earned the champions title by beating the FNB NWU-Pukke 63-33.
Putting history behind us, it will be a fair battlefield for both these teams, as the team of the evening will have to create and capitalise on opportunities that come their way.
“In the previous two matches the Shimlas team played in the rain, so mentally it will place them in a better spot in with regards to conditions, but my team had a good performance last week against the Ikeys. They controlled and kept the ball very well and took it through the phases,” said Jonathan Mokuena, the head coach of the FNB NWU-Pukke.
“So that tells me that our team, if they are mentally switched on, will be up for a very good clash. It is always a tough battle between the men from Bloemfontein and us,” Mokuena added.
Since Varsity Cup started in 2008 these two old rivals have met each other ten times, of which the FNB NWU-Pukke have won six times and the FNB Shimlas four.
With both teams having a champion’s title behind of their names, which team’s flag will be waving high after the final whistle blows on Monday?
Catch all the action live between the FNB NWU-Pukke and the FNB Shimlas at 19:00 on your world of champions, SuperSport.
FNB NWU-Pukke’s starting xv: 15 Tapiwe Mafura, 14 Jimmy Mpailane, 13 Elden Schoeman, 12 Jaap Pienaar, 11 Justin Newman, 10 Schalk Hugo, 9 Chriswill September, 8 Marno Redelinghuys ©, 7 Loftus Morrison, 6 Marcel Henn, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Jaco Swanepoel, 3 Kabelo Motloung, 2 Louis van der Westhuizen, 1 Dolf van Deventer.
Reserves: 16 Dane van der Westhuizen, 17 Dewald Dekker, 18 Morné Strydom, 19 Boela Venter, 20 Wandile Mazibuko, 21 Julian Delicado, 22 Nkululeko Mcuma, 23 Lungelo Gosa.
By Raynique Meyer