Cape Town - It doesn’t get any better than this.
Number one host number
two on the log.
There’s an old saying that goes, “Records are meant to be
broken”, and Monday will be such an occasion for the Varsity Cup tournament.
The stage is set for a
thrilling final in the 10th season of the Varsity Cup.
Three-time champions Maties travel north to Pretoria to face old rivals, UP-Tuks for the
Varsity Cup title on Easter Monday, April 17.
These two sides have met a record 15 times including three
semi-finals and two finals since the inception of the competition in 2008.
Maties have beaten UP-Tuks eight times including the 2008, 2009 and 2016
semi-finals while the Pretoria side have won this fixture six times including
the 2012 and 2013 final.
The home side are the only side, apart from Maties, to have won back-to-back Varsity Cup titles.
Last time these two sides
met, UP-Tuks edged past the Maroon Machine 13-9 in a tense battle in
Pretoria in the opening round.
Should the visitors take this one, they
will increase their number of tournament victories from three to a
However, if UP-Tuks win it, they will become the
second side in Varsity Cup history to win the title three times, after Maties.
Playing in his 41st Varsity Cup match, Maties
utility back Craig Barry believes that the visitors have what it takes to claim
their fourth Varsity Cup trophy.
The 24-year-old was handed the captain’s
armband after the appointed skipper, Beyers de Villiers, was forced into an
early retirement from the sport following a serious concussion injury.
“The guys have been working hard as I am sure Tuks have been
too, but I feel that the team who wants it more on Monday will take it,” says
“We are like family, the boys have formed a strong bond among each other
and this I feel will give us that edge we need to pull it off.”
UP-Tuks captain Chris Massyn is confident that the
two-time champions can topple the visitors come Monday. The Public Management
student accepts that talent won’t be enough to win the match.
“This is what we have been building towards all season,
wanting to make it into the final,” says Massyn.
“We have been working hard all
season and the fact that we topped the log after the regular season means
nothing in the playoffs. This is all that matters, to go out, make our family
and supporters proud and to enjoy the game we all love.”
These two teams have dominated nearly every facet of the
game throughout the competition.
UP-Tuks have scored 50 tries while their
opposition from Stellenbosch have dotted down 45 times. However on defence, UP-Tuks have missed an average of 11 tackles per game and with the visitors’
potent midfield combination of Michal Haznar and Chris Smit the home side will have
to drastically reduce this number. Pote Human’s men will undoubtedly rely on
their set pieces, which have been their strength in securing quality ball
The strength of the home side for the entire season has been
how brilliantly their pack of forwards dominate the set pieces and with a
potent backline including players such as Sibahle Maxwane, Divan Rossouw and Dewald Naude the visitors will have their work
cut out on defence. The accuracy of both playmakers off the tee is always a
telling factor in tight affairs. The boot of Tinus de Beer and Ernst Stapelberg
will be relied on to keep either side within reach of the other. De Beer has
been known for attacking the space with confidence and is not afraid to run at
the opposition backline while the cool, calm and collected Stapelberg has the
ability to put players like Haznar and Smit into space.
15 Manie Libbok, 14 Dewald Naude, 13
Divan Rossouw, 12 Joshua Stander, 11 Sibahle Maxwane, 10 Tinus De Beer, 9 Andre
Warner, 8 Clyde Davids, 7 Chris Massyn (captain), 6 Marco Van Staden, 5 Aston
Fortuin, 4 Bryan Leitch, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Els Corniel, 1 Andrew Beerwinkel
Substitues: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Jaco
Holtzhausen, 18 Marius Verwey, 19 Eduan Lubbe, 20 Theo Maree, 21 Toko Maebane,
22 Keanan van Wyk, 22 Franco van den Berg
15 Tiaan Swanepoel, 14 Kyle Steyn, 13
Michal Haznar, 12 Chris Smit, 11 Craig Barry (captain), 10 Ernst Stapelberg,
9 Brendon Nell, 8 Devon Nash, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Mitchell Carstens, 5 Johan
Momsen, 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 Niel Oelofse, 2 Craig Corbett, 1 Wesley Adonis
Substitues: 16 HJ Luus, 17 Ricky
Ngwabara, 18 Wikus Groenewald, 19 Ruben De Villiers, 20 Stephan Streicher, 21
Remu Malan, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Duncan Saal