KEVIN VAN DER LIST
Tuks and Maties have both had an impressive Varsity Cup campaigns this season, but all the hard work will be hinged on one game when they clash in the Varsity Cup final on 9 April. A full-capacity crowd is expected at the TuksRugby Stadium as the arch-rivals in Varsity Cup rugby vie for the title of Varsity Cup champions. “We have to beat Maties in the final to make 2012 our best ever season. If not, all our hard work over the past six months would have been in vain as you have simply achieved nothing if you make the final and don’t win it,” said Tuks 1 head coach Nollis Marais on the Varsity Cup website. Maties coach Chean Roux was quoted as saying on the Varsity Cup website that “there’s no point in over-thinking things too much ahead of a final. You can’t be too serious about the whole thing. I’ve told the players to make time to take it all in, to not be too serious on the day and to have a smile on their faces,” said Roux. Maties will seek to win their fourth Varsity Cup title in five years. The men from Stellenbosch have had an impressive season and go into the final unbeaten, having not yet suffered a single defeat in this year’s tournament. Tuks will be playing in their second consecutive final, having lost to Ikeys at the TuksRugby Stadium last year. The men from Pretoria will look to seal the deal this year and they should be brimming with confidence having only lost one game this season, to Maties in Stellenbosch, with a 23-22 score line. Tuks are also coming off a record 53-24 semi-final win against FNB NWU-Pukke. Tuks 1 captain Jono Ross is not perturbed by losing to Maties in the round-robin stages. “I don’t think it helps to dwell on the past. We played [Maties] away so to play them in front of what has been a fantastic crowd in Pretoria will spur us on,” said Ross. Roux thinks Tuks will be under pressure playing in front of their home crowd. “We finished second on the log, despite beating Tuks in the league phase of the competition, but they deserve to host the final and [Tuks] go into the game as favourites. It’s their second home final in a row so they will certainly be feeling the pressure [playing at home] – especially after losing [to Ikeys] at home last year,” said Roux. Ross feels that there is no pressure playing at home, but rather that playing at home will do his team good and encourage them even more. Tuks will have a full-strength side at their disposal as their Bulls players have been released from Vodacom Cup duties to play in the final. Maties have opted not to make use of their players playing in the Vodacom Cup despite the unions releasing the players to Maties. Get down to the TuksRugby Stadium on Monday to watch the men live, or alternatively watch the game live on Supersport 1at 19:00.