Many students see the month of February as an end to their holiday and a return to the exhilarating, yet stress inducing, student life but to the rugby loving scholars and Maties supporters it is seen as the beginning of a new season of the annual Varsity Cup. The 2023 Varsity Cup, which consisted of 7 rounds, a Semi-Final, a Final and a Promotion Relegation match, spanned from the 20th of February to the 17th of April. A total of 8 university rugby teams took part in the 16th season of the cup and with the Maties rugby team having won 5 cups prior the fans were eager to see if they could secure the cup once again.
The first round had Maties face off against UCT Ikeys and was played on the Maties home turf at the Danie Craven stadium. With a sold-out stadium, supporters were ready for the start of 2023’s varsity cup and what ensued was a suspenseful 1st match where Maties clinched the win by scoring a penalty kick in the final minutes of the match.
Final score: 21 – 19 Won
The 2nd match was Maties vs CUT Ixias which took place at the Danie Craven stadium as well but unlike the previous week Maties were unable to catch up to an early lead set up by the Ixias which left them a few points shy from another win.
Final score: 19 – 23 Lost
The first match away from home Maties secured the win against NWU Eagles on their own field, the Fanie Du Toit Sports Ground.
Final score: 31 – 28 Won
The Wits stadium welcomed Maties where, in the fourth round, they played against the Wits rugby team and won with a 2-point difference.
Final score: 54 – 56 Won
The fifth round had Maties return home to the Danie Craven stadium and face the previous year’s champions, UP TUKS. An early lead from Maties had TUKS fighting their way up the scoreboard the entire match and by the end could not catch up to Maties.
Final score: 46 – 35 Won
The following week saw Maties play UJ in the UJ Stadium where both teams put up a valiant effort to secure the win but, in the end, UJ managed to emerge victorious.
Final score: 49 – 42 Lost
Maties’ final match at home in the Danie Craven stadium was played against UFS Shimlas. A devastating defeat for Maties seeing as a point deficit of 31 meant that this match was the most severe loss of the season.
Final score: 12 – 43 Lost
Back in Potchefstroom Maties faced NWU Eagles on their field in a match that mirrored that of the 3rd round in all but outcome. Maties lost in a very tense Semi Final which ended their run in 2023’s Varsity Cup.
Final score: 19 – 10 Lost
Out of the seven rounds Maties played this Varsity Cup season they managed to win four of the matches. Many of their matches, whether lost or won, resulted in an extremely close finish with very minimal difference in score. Maties ended up in the 4th position on the log underneath UCT Ikeys, UFS Shimlas and NWU Eagles in 3rd, 2nd and 1st place.
Even though Maties were not able to win the cup they moved on to participate another year unlike UP TUKS, who ended up on the bottom of the log and will be relegated to the Varsity Shield division for next year’s season. All that is left now is the agonizing wait until next year to see if the Maroon Machine can climb their way to the top once more.