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Veni, vidi, vici – Maties’ women’s rugby team came, saw, and conquered the very first Women’s Varsity Cup. On 13 April Maties met University of Johannesburg (UJ) in the finals at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) Sports Stadium. Both teams having won their semifinals convincingly, most spectators assumed that it would be an evenly matched contest. But the only team soaring over the try lines were the players in maroon as Maties racked up a winning score of 63-9.

Maties played with sheer power and dominated the UJ Orange Army. Maties kept the  commanding position, thanks to a quick start as they started piling up the points. The first try of the match was scored by Ropah Madyah, Maties center, from her own half which led to a 7-point try, which was then converted by Maties’ Elmé Kruger. This was Maties flank Ashleigh Mahoney’s favourite part of the game. 

“At this moment I knew the whole team was ready to pack the bull by its horns and they were up for the fight, ” said Mahoney. 

Danelle van Zyl, fullback, scored two tries  before half time with more points added as Janke Oosthuizen, prop, Ankia Viljoen, flank, Bianca Augustyn, captain, and Madyah added to the tries the team collected. Maties led half time with a score of 53-0. This seemed to seal the deal. Johann Zeier, coach, realised the team was in a good position and reminded them to not lose focus. 

“The message was to reset to 0-0 with certain tries with conversions counting 9 points, anything is possible. The wind direction was against us, so we expected them to start kicking with the wind. Further, we just emphasised work rate and sticking to the fundamentals,” explained Zeier. 

UJ added points in the second half as Precious Maduchem, wing, scored with Siham Chtioui, UJ flyhalf converting. Maties did not let that discourage them as they went on to score two more tries. Coming from the speed of Amber Meiring, Maties wing, Maties thrashed UJ 63-9. The FNB Player that Rocks was awarded to Madyah . 

“The ladies have worked super hard, so you can see it means so much to them. Between studying, preparing for a Varsity Cup and trying to have a social life, to accomplish something like this in between the chaos is an incredible achievement on its own,” Zeier said. 

Liza Slabbert, Maties lock, added,  “I am extremely proud, because I could see how all the work from the last 13 weeks came together and we definitely picked the fruits of it. The win was so special. I am so privileged to be part of a team that won the trophy with all these wonderful people next to me!” 

The team was in good spirits before the finals. 

“Last week we were more focused on recovery after the semis and to prepare ourselves mentally before the finals. We had a great start to the season, and we built on that to make sure we could focus on the finer details before the big moments,” Mahoney explained. 

“For the coaching staff it was proof of a concept in what we do which helps in building the program further. It’s a cherry on top of what we are trying to do with our women’s rugby program and where we are looking to go. The team is just my favourite bunch of humans, and there is nothing better than seeing people you love succeed, ” Zeier said, pointing out that the Maties win was extremely important and special to the coaching staff. 

This historic win will be remembered as the first winners of the Women’s Varsity Cup, Maties, brought the trophy to  its new home in Stellenbosch!

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