It is an old saying but so true; ”It does not matter how you got here, but what you make of this opportunity.” It is Varsity Cup semi-final time!
The Unbeaten FNB Maties will welcome the surprise package of the year, NMMU to Stellenbosch in the first semi-final and Tuks will take on UJ in Pretoria and if the pool matches this year between these sides is anything to go by, we will be in for two memorable matches.
Madibaz coach Brent Janse van Rensburg has called on his team to give absolutely everything in their quest to upset Maties in front of their home crowd and progress to their first final. In a semi-final anything can happen but I am sure that Maties will be too strong for the NMMU side tonight.
Tuks will have their work cut out against UJ who lost narrowly when they met in their pool match earlier this year. Home turf should give Tuks an advantage but one cannot ignore what has gone on behind the scenes in the last two weeks and wonder if this will influence Tuks’ performance. I will give this one to Tuks to see a Maties versus Tuks Final in Stellenbosch, but would it not be nice to see a UJ versus NMMU final?
The FNB Varsity Young Guns and Steinhoff Koshuisrugby Championships also enter the semifinal stage, making Monday a feast of knock-out student rugby.
Both Young Guns semifinals will be curtain-raiser to the Varsity Cup semifinals, with defending champions UP-Tuks taking on UCT at the Tuks Rugby Stadium in Pretoria and Steinhoff Maties squaring off with UFS-Shimlas at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch.
In the Koshuisrugby semifinals defending champions Steinhoff Vishuis will face Maties side Steinhoff Medies in Bloemfontein and both teams will be looking to bounce back from narrow losses last week.
Steinhoff Villagers from NWU-Pukke are the only unbeaten team in the competition, and they will be keen to continue that streak when they welcome UJ outfit Steinhoff Bastion to Potchefstroom.
The Varsity Shield enters the final round, and while the unbeaten FNB CUT Ixias have already ensured that they will host the final in Bloemfontein next week, their opposition will be decided in the clash between FNB UWC and Fort Hare in Bellville.
Peter de Villiers’ UWC side currently lead the Fort Hare Blues by two log points heading into their do-or-die encounter, with both teams eyeing their first-ever final.
UWC can qualify for the final with two bonus points, while for Fort Hare it will be about going all-out for a victory by more than seven points which would see them leapfrog both FNB UKZN and UWC.
The Ixias will be keen to make it eight wins out of eight games and take some valuable momentum into the final when they take on FNB TUT who is set to claim the wooden spoon in their first season of Varsity Shield no matter the result.
FNB Varsity Cup semifinal fixtures and team line-ups – Monday, March 25:
FNB UP-Tuks v FNB UJ, Tuks Rugby Stadium – 4.30pm (Live on Supersport One)
UP-Tuks: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Vainon Willis, 13 Piet Lindeque, 12 Handre Pollard, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Danie Faasen, 8 Jono Ross (captain), 7 Jacques Verwey, 6 Shaun Adendorff, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Mike Williams, 3 Basil Short, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Sabelo Nhlapo, 18 Schalk Van Heerden, 19 JP Mostert, 20 Emile Temperman, 21 Christopher Bosch, 22 Riaan Britz, 23 Christoff Gouws.
UJ: 15 Kobus De Kock, 14 JR Esterhuizen, 13 Bradley Moolman, 12 Luan Steenkamp, 11 Chrysander Botha, 10 Divan van Zyl (captainj), 9 Jacques Pretorius, 8 RJ Liebenberg, 7 Johan van der Hoogt, 6 Thilip Marole, 5 David Antonites, 4 Shane Kirkwood, 3 Ewald Van Der Westhuizen, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Wessel Du Randt .
Replacements: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Wiseman Kamanga, 18 Fabian Booysen, 19 Kobus Porter, 20 Vian van der Watt, 21 Guy Cronje, 22 Andries Oosthuizen, 23 Njabulo Mkize.
Referee: Tiaan Jonker
Assistant referees: Jaco Kotze, Lihan Pretorius
TMO: Johan Greeff
FNB Maties v FNB NMMU, Danie Craven Stadium – 7pm (Live on Supersport One)
Maties: 15 Craig Barry, 14 Clearance Khumalo, 13 Mark Hodgkiss, 12 Ryan Nell, 11 Dean Hammond, 10 JH Potgieter, 9 James Alexander, 8 Reniel Hugo, 7 Lungelo Chonco, 6 Helmut Lehmann (captain), 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Os Hamman, 2 Charl de Villiers, 1 Alister Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Frederik Kirsten, 17 Hein van der Merwe, 18 Jurie van Vuuren, 19 Beyers de Villiers, 20 Jean Nel, 21 Dean Grant, 22 JP Lewis, 23 Brendan Pitzer.
NMMU: 15 Jarred Buys, 14 Mayibuye Ndwandwe, 13 Devon Lailvaux, 12 Xolani Mnisi, 11 Gerhardus Smith, 10 Justin Van Staden, 9 Dwayne Kelly, 8 Timothy Agaba, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Albertus de Swardt, 5 Mzwanale Zito, 4 Schalk Oelofse, 3 Gareth Hartley, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Roy Godfrey (captain).
Replacements: 16 Francois Coetzer, 17 Dexter Fahey, 18 Louis Fourie, 19 Ulrich Pretorius, 20 Simphiwe Shabangu, 21 Lesley-Dean Luiters, 22 Logan Basson, 23 Lizo Gqoboka.
Referee: Ben Crouse
Assistant referees: Lusanda Jam, Daniel Fortuin
TMO: Shaun Veldsman
FNB Varsity Shield fixtures – Monday, March 25:
FNB CUT v FNB TUT, CUT Rugby Stadium – 7pm
FNB UWC v UFH, UWC Sport Stadium – 7pm
Steinhoff Koshuisrugby Championship fixtures – Monday, March 25:
Steinhoff Vishuis (UFS-Shimlas) v Steinhoff Medies(Maties), Xerox Shimla Park – 5pm
Steinhoff Villagers (NWU-Pukke) v Steinhoff Bastion (UJ), Fanie Du Toit Sports Grounds – 7pm
Varsity Young Guns fixtures – Monday, March 25:
FNB UP Tuks v FNB UCT, Tuks Rugby Stadium - 2pm
Steinhoff Maties v FNB UFS-Shimlas , Danie Craven Stadium – 4.30pm
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**additional information from www.varsitycup.co.za and Sports Media365.