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Varsity Cup has looked somewhat different this year for the Maroon Machine that has suffered two losses in the tournament so far. They are currently in the third and final bubble of the tournament before the playoffs and playing three games a week while trying to maintain their academic workload. 

David Brits, Maties captain said, “Experience wise, the team is also a lot younger – there’s a lot of debuts that have been made but there are still a couple [of] experienced heads in the team, and they are leading from the front like they should be. [They have been] setting an example for the young guys coming through and the young guys themselves, have also been doing extremely well.”

Varsity Cup has been a very different experience this year with all matches being played at Tuks, in groups of three rounds. This means that the teams spend roughly a week playing three matches in the bio-bubble, before heading home for a week which takes a toll on the players.

“Obviously, it’s been quite a challenge being away from home for the period of time that we are away, and the studies have been quite a challenge, I think for everyone. To stay on top of all that stuff and also keep your mind here when we are playing games, is also quite a challenge,” Brits continued. 

The team, however, is taking it one match at a time and using their losses as learning opportunities. Brits said that there have been times where the vibe wasn’t where it should’ve been towards the end of the bubble, when the players were getting a little homesick or a little bit under pressure from work and losing focus a bit. He thinks that they just need to be in the moment at the time and use the opportunity to play and wear the jersey.

Just as other students, players have also been expected to continue with their academic work with lecturers making concessions to allow players to write their tests while in the bubble. Despite this, Brits says the team is just very grateful to be playing rugby again especially considering that the tournament got cancelled last year.

“We are obviously looking forward to the coming games. We are extremely happy with the win we got [on Monday] and the 5 points, so we’ll just be taking it on to the next game against UJ on Thursday. We are not too worried about anything beyond that,” Brits ended. 

The FNB Maties will be playing FNB UJ and FNB UFS Shimlas on Thursday and Sunday this week respectively, to complete the final round before playoffs.

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