Varsity Cup Round 1: Win, Lose and Draw – Cape Teams Do It All

Staff Writer, 7 April 2021

South Africa’s premier university rugby championships returned this weekend – and the Western Cape teams didn’t disappoint, providing some of the most exciting games we’ve seen in a while.

Cape Town has three university rugby teams participating in the 2021 FNB Varsity Cup – one for each possible outcome, as they won, drew or lost their opening round of fixtures at the bio-bubble in Pretoria yesterday (5 April 2021).

To be fair, though, partly that’s because one of the matches saw two of the Western Cape’s top teams going head to head, as FNB UCT Ikey Tigers claimed their first win against their arch-rivals, Stellenbosch University’s FNB Maties – ending Maties’ epic What say 25-match winning streak in the competition.

In a Cape derby that was plagued by more yellow cards than tries, according to Varsity Cup, UCT emerged as 26-20 winners and raised hopes that Maties’ dominance – they have won the last two editions – has come to an end.

Maties turned in a good performance, with David Brits and Mitchell Carstens scoring tries and Nevaldo Fleurs scoring two penalties and making two conversions. But tries by Liam Kloosman, Devon Arendse and Christian Stehlik, as well as three penalties and a conversion by the Player that Rocks, James Tedder, were enough to hand the Ikeys a memorable win. 

Does this mean Maties’ dominance is over? Or that Ikeys are key contenders for the title this year? Time will tell. But whatever happens, it signals that this time around, anything can happen – and Varsity Cup rugby is as exciting as it’s been in years.

Meanwhile, the other Cape contender, FNB UWC, gave Cape university rugby fans high hopes of a victory when they went to the break with a 23-14 lead in their game against FNB UFS Shimlas. But alas, it was not to be as the men from Bloemfontein forced a 28-all draw.

Player That Rocks Gilroy Lee Philander (FNB UWC) scored two seven-pointer tries known as point of origin tries while Aydon Topley and Lundi Msenge added one apiece for the Bellville-based side.  Mikyle Vraagom made two conversations.

Since UWC joined the Cup (the first HDI to do so)  in 2019, they’ve had a tough time of it – but each year has seen them improving (in their earlier clashes with the Shimlas, in February 2020 and 2019, respectively, they lost 29-28 and 27-25). Can UWC build on this draw? Will this be the year they go for the Cup? Watch this space.

The next round of matches will see the second of the three Cape derbies, when UWC takes on Maties on Thursday 8 April 2021 at 14h00. And Ikeys will look to extend their winning run when they lock horns with Wits three hours later.

Meanwhile, Cape Town’s only university team in the Varsity Shield, FNB CPUT, is set to take on the University of Fort Hare on 12 April  in their opening match of this season. 

Tune in – and witness history in the making.