Cape Town - The 2019 Varsity Cup will get underway on Monday, February 4, and as part of the build-up, tournament organisers have released a 'Dream Team' of players to have featured in the competition since its inception 12 years ago.
In total, 44 players who have played in the Varsity Cup have gone on to represent the Springboks.
The selection criteria for the 'Dream Team' appeared to centre not only on how good the players had become in their professional careers, but how they performed in the Varsity Cup.
Of the 23 players selected, only two have not represented the Boks - wing Seabelo Senatla and replacement scrumhalf Nic Groom.
These are the selections - and motivations - as published on the Varsity Cup website.
1. Trevor Nyakane (CUT 2011-2012) A diverse prop with 37 Springbok caps. Nyakane would slot in at loosehead to allow for Vincent Koch to fill the No 3 position. Going with experience and power up front.
2. Malcolm Marx (UJ 2013) Still just 24-years-old, Marx has 23 Test caps. The 2017 SA Rugby Player of the Year is one of the best hookers in world rugby. This selection is a no-brainer.
3. Vincent Koch (Tuks 2012) Koch has become a vital cog in the Saracens mean machine. While he has been presented with limited opportunities in the Green and Gold, he has proven his worth over the past four years in the UK. He also has a knack for scoring tries.
4. Eben Etzebeth (UCT 2011) One of the greatest locks in Springbok history and nothing up 74 Test caps at the age of 27. The former UCT man selects himself here. And you wouldn’t dare argue with him!
5. Franco Mostert (Tuks 2010-2012) It was a close call between Mostert and De Jager, but the former has been selected on 2018 form, with De Jager spending most of the season recovering from injury.
6. Jaco Kriel (UJ 2012) The tall, powerful flank has recently moved to Gloucester, but spent the past 7 years winning over Lions fans with his passion and grit. Varsity Cup fans love nothing more than passion.
7. Nizaam Carr (UCT 2011) Another member of UCT’s strong 2011-2012 squad. Carr has joined the London Wasps and quickly made an impact with his new team. He was a key member of UCT’s squad in 2011 and will be a key member of this one too.
8. Oupa Mohoje (Shimlas 2011-2014) The Free State man made 22 appearances for Shimlas and won the 2013 Player That Rocks award. He has enjoyed mixed fortunes of late, but is a Varsity Cup favourite through and through.
9. Rudy Paige (UJ 2011-2012) Another close call between Paige and Nic Groom, but with Paige’s Test experience, he edges Groom here.
10. Handré Pollard (Tuks 2013) Pollard won the 2013 Varsity Cup with Tuks and was a significant figure in both aiding them in reaching the final, and winning it, kicking 6 from 6 in their final against Maties.
11. Aphiwe Dyantyi (UJ 2017) Seriously though, do we need to explain this selection?
12. Rohan Janse van Rensburg (Tuks 2014) This 6-foot-1, 109kg beast is the fifth Tuks member of the starting XV. Technically still old enough to play in the Varsity Cup at just 24, he still has a lot to offer and a lengthy career ahead. We’re tipping him for big things… starting with us (again).
13. Juan de Jongh (Maties 2008) The OG. De Jongh was the first-ever Varsity Cup Springbok, winning the first-ever trophy with Maties. He’s loving life at Wasps, in the UK. On his current form and because we’re so sentimental, we’ve put our No 1 at No 13.
14. Seabelo Senatla (CUT 2012) Pace, pace, pace. If Senatla and Dyantyi on the wings doesn’t scare you, look again. While Senatla hasn’t made his mark in the XV-man format yet, we believe in him and by know you should know that Varsity Cup is where dreams are realised.
15. Curwin Bosch (UKZN 2016) The second Varsity Shield player in our starting XV, the versatile Bosch is one for the future. Needless to say he set the competition alight back in 2016. He’s still just 21, but we’re all about youth.
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi (TUT and Tuks 2013), 17 Coenie Oosthuizen (Shimlas 2008), 18 Wilco Louw (Tuks Young Guns 2013), 19 Lood de Jager (NWU 2012), 20 Uzair Cassiem (UWC 2012), 21 Nic Groom (UCT 2011), 22 Andries Coetzee (Tuks 2011), 23 Damian de Allende (UCT 2012)