Tuks beat Maties 29-21 at TuksRuby Stadium on Monday 9 April to win their first Varsity Cup title. In an absorbing final between the top two teams from the round-robin stage, Tuks managed to edge out the men from Stellenbosch to become the first team from outside the Western Cape to win the tournament. Having narrowly missed out on Varsity Cup glory last year as a result of losing to Ikeys in the final, Tuks were keen to avoid the disappointment of losing another home final. With Jono Ross, Wesley Dunlop and Clayton Blommetjies all released from Vodacom Cup duty with the Blue Bulls, Tuks were at full strength for the decisive encounter. Nonetheless, it was three-time winners Maties who went into the game as favourites, having made it to the final unbeaten in this year’s competition.
At half time, the sides were level at 13-13, each having scored two tries. Tuks gained momentum in the second half and scored two further tries to take a 29-13 lead before Maties scored a late consolation try after the hooter had gone, making it 29-21 to the home side.
Tuks captain on the night, Zane Botha, was delighted with his team’s victory. “Emotions are running high. Firstly, I want to thank God for this, enabling us to get this victory, and congratulate my teammates on winning this title,” said Botha. He also gave credit to Maties for their display in the final and the competition as a whole. “I would like to give credit to Maties as well, who have been so consistent this year and put up a tough fight tonight,” he said.
Maties captain Helmut Lehmann expressed his disappointment at losing but admitted that Tuks deserved their victory. “It is a disappointment to lose. We just couldn’t get out of our half. They put us under a lot of pressure and we also made some critical errors which led to try-scoring opportunities for them. But they deserve the win. They’ve had a great season and probably deserved to win it tonight,” said Lehmann.
The title was not the only prize Tuks won on the night. Star full back Clayton Blommetjies was named the Back That Rocks (the best backline player of the tournament) and fly half Wesley Dunlop, who scored an impressive 83 points in this year’s competition, was named the Player That Rocks. Tuks’s forwards Franco Mostert and Jono Ross were rewarded for their great displays this year with nominations for the Forward That Rocks.
With the Tuks u/20 side winning the Young Guns competition and Cayla Esterhuysen, Miss Tuks Varsity Cup, winning the national Miss Varsity Cup crown, Tuks completed a clean sweep of major Varsity Cup honours this year. See our more in-depth article by Kevin van der List here.
Photo: Kobus Barnard & Hendro van der Merwe