KESIA ABRAHAMS & LEMEUL BLIGNAUT

This year’s Varsity Cup season was a phenomenal one for FNB Maties Rugby. Both teams, the Maroon Machine and the Young Guns, ended the season at the top of their respective logs.

Maties started off the season on the right track, beating Wits 33–17 during the first round, laying an early foundation for their path to ultimate victory. During the second round, following their 66-5 win against Ikeys, it became apparent that Maties was not to be underestimated.

In the third round, however, Maties was in hot water as they had a close match against Tuks which ended in a narrow 26–24 win for the men in maroon. Fortunately, they made a comeback in the fourth round, winning 50–15 against CUT. Following this, it was a downhill cruise for Maties which saw them winning 43–15 against NWU, 24-13 against UJ and 59–14 against Shimlas.

During round nine, FNB Maties left the stadium in chaos as they dominated the field with 84–26against UWC, and the winning streak continued during the tenth round of Varsity Cup as they won 47-5 against Shimlas.
Maties rugby finished off the season with a 34–12 victory against Tuks at Danie Craven Stadium, concluding the season on a high note as the undefeated champions.

This year’s Varsity Cup final was Maties’ ninth final (the most any teamin the competition has ever played in),and they have won five of them. It was a consecutive win from last year, but truly is one that will not be forgotten.

The Maroon Machine ended off the season with 38 log points out of a pos- sible 40. Maties’ Daniël Jooste, who plays hooker, said that the highlight of the season for him was winning Varsity Cup back to back.

“It was a goal the team had set out last year,” Jooste said. The season did, however, have its challenges. Jooste said to the forwards they were expect- ed to come in as a dominant pack, but they didn’t.

Many were worried if they would be able to do it, but they improved their performance. Jooste, who had previously played in the Young Guns team said that the physicality and the speed of the Maroon Machine’s game was a lot higher in comparison to the Young Guns.

He plans on continuing his Western Province training for the Super Sport Challenge where his first game will be played in East London. Following this, he will be taking part in the Curry Cup.

Marcel Theunissen, captain of the Young Guns, said that the best moment for him was their first game against UCT. “We had a great game, and the way the team functioned in that game just stood out above every other game. The worst moment for me was during our match against Pukke, whom we later faced in the finals as well,” Theunissen said.

Theunissen felt that the team slacked off during the second half of the game, and NWU bounced back and almost won the game because of that. He believes that Maties has a good chance of winning Varsity Cup again, especially with the talented young guys that are joining the team.

“There are some great players there,” Theunissen said. For most of the players, rugby doesn’t end with the Varsity Cup season. Many players are going to play for Maties Rugby Club, while several move on to play for large franchises, such as Chris Smit and Johan Momsen who will both now play for the Tafel Lager Griquas.

CHAMPAGNE SHOWERS: FNB Young Guns after their win at the final on 15 April. PHOTO: Kevin Sawyer