Cape Town - The Varsity Cup is celebrating 10 years of "rocking" rugby in 2017 and while the competition is reaching the play-off stages, preparations for the Varsity Cup Dream Team are in full swing.
A panel of independent selectors will decide which players have been stand-out performers in their respective positions throughout the competition and select a team.
This team will be coached by the winning Varsity Cup coach.
Winning the Varsity Cup title tops the list of goals for most of these student rugby players. The fundamental aim of the premier intervarsity rugby competition is to allow students to graduate with university degrees while playing rugby on a national platform. But for some, being selected for the Dream Team has become a welcome bonus as reward for showcasing their individual talent.
The first Varsity Cup Dream Team exhibition match took place, in Stellenbosch in 2015 when the Dream Team faced the Junior Springboks. The Junior Boks ended up winning the match 31-24 at a packed Danie Craven Stadium.
“It was an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life,” says Reniel Hugo, captain of the 2015 Varsity Cup Dream Team.
“We came gathered as a squad only four days before the match, which makes it very difficult to focus on winning.”
Hugo, who is currently contracted to the Bloemfontein Super Rugby franchise the Cheetahs, believes that the time they spent together as a squad was mostly enjoyed because it was viewed as a reward for individual brilliance and also the pressure to win wasn’t as big as for their university teams during the Varsity Cup season.
“You never really get to spend time with the guys after a match. We fly in on a Sunday afternoon, go straight into captains run, it’s match day on Monday and then we catch the first flight out on Tuesdays. The guys you never got to bond with during the season, are know your teammates and this makes the Dream Team an amazing experience. I see this as an added bonus.”
The versatile forward made 34 Varsity Cup appearances for Maties and UP-Tuks, scoring eight tries since making his debut appearance in 2010.
He is the son of former Springbok lock, Niel Hugo, who made 146 appearances for Western Province.