After celebrating a decade of rocking rugby, the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International reached a crescendo in Pretoria on Monday 17 April, when FNB UP-Tuks were crowned champions of South African university rugby for a third time. The men from Pretoria outsmarted FNB Maties to become only the second side to lift the trophy three times.
The organisers of the Varsity Cup along with SA Rugby launched an exhibition match where the Varsity Cup Dream Team and the Junior Springboks will face each other. This match, which took place for the first time in 2015, is set to happen on Tuesday 25 April in Stellenbosch at the Danie Craven Stadium and will be coached by the winning coach, Pote Human.
A total of 39 Varsity Cup matches were played which saw nine of the country’s top universities compete for top honours. FNB UP-Tuks have now equalled the FNB Maties’ record for most wins. Rugby fans across the country were treated to mouth-watering clashes which unearthed some amazing talent and skill.
Players that stood out throughout the competition include the likes of Craig Barry, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, Gianni Lombard, Michal Haznar, Loftus Morrison, Tinus de Beer, Sibahle Maxwane, Daniël Maartens, Wilmar Arnoldi, Warren Gilbert, Manie Libbok, Divan Rossouw, Manuel Rass, Jeandre Rudolph, Wandile Simelane, Cuan Hablutzel. Lombard, Libbok, Mazibuko, Simelane and Rass are of the Varsity Cup players selected for the Junior Bok squad.
Varsity Cup founding member, François Pienaar announced the Varsity Cup Dream Team, to be captained by Craig Barry, on Monday evening after the final in Pretoria. Unsurprisingly the bulk of the Dream Team is made up of players from this year’s two finalists. No less than 19 current and previous Varsity Cup players were named in the Junior Boks’ 35-man squad earlier in the week.
Some interesting match-ups can be expected ahead of Tuesday’s game. Varsity Cup veteran Barry crossed the whitewash nine times and will be relied upon to repeat this fine form while playmaker De Beer’s accuracy with the boot can prove to be vital. FNB UP-Tuks utility back Manie Libbok along with FNB Wits duo Manuel Rass and Lombard will be sure to test the Dream Team’s resolve on defence. Loose forward Maartens has been amazing at the breakdown for FNB UJ and will in all likelihood come up against FNB Wits’ Len Massyn as the latter looks to cement his place in the Junior Boks starting line-up.
Kick-off is at 7pm and the game will be broadcasted on SuperSport 1. The match is played as part of the Junior Boks’ preparation for the World Rugby Under 20 Championship taking place later this year in France.
By Lyndon Julius