The University of Stellenbosch may be 1300km away from the Potchefstroom campus of the North-West University, but that isn't going to stop FNB NWU supporters from making the trip in show of support to the team. With players from different parts of the country, some even Namibia, Monday night's game is a family affair.
The North-West University is doing all that they can to rally as much support for FNB NWU to the Danie Craven Stadium for the final on Monday 16 April. A bus has been arranged for fifty five lucky supporters, who will depart for Stellenbosch on Saturday evening, watch the game live and then head back to Potchefstroom once the game has ended. Although there are plenty fans and stakeholders attending the game, it is the unity amongst family members that is making the occasion that much more special for FNB NWU players.
FNB NWU's lock Johan Retief, has as many as eight family members coming from his home town in Namibia to support him in his first Varsity Cup final. Half of Retief's family are FNB Maties alumni so choosing a side may have been difficult, but is a no-brainer considering how well he has played so far this season. Retief says that knowing they are able to come down and be there really means a lot to him.
Estehan Visagie, FNB NWU's flanker, who is a great ball-carrier and someone who plays with heart, has support coming all the way from Pretoria to watch him in all his glory. Visagie says, “It's one thing to hear that you had a good game or that you played well, but seeing a wave or a thumbs up from your family or that unique whistle from your dad that you recognise during the game is a feeling so great I cannot describe it. It makes me play harder and gives me more confidence because I know they are backing me!”
Hermanus may not be too far to travel from for a game of rugby, but FNB NWU's prop Robert Hunt says that knowing that his father is making the journey to see him play in his first Varsity Cup final has him feeling energised. Hunt, who has been a powerhouse in both the rucks and scrums this season, says, “I'm motivated knowing that my dad will be there to support me. All I want to do is make my family proud, so it does put more pressure on me knowing that he'll be watching, but it's the good type of pressure. The moment I step onto the field and the game kicks off, my focus shifts and I forget about the crowd and focus on the team.”
FNB NWU's scrumhalf Chriswill September has his family driving one hour from Worcester to Stellenbosch to catch him in action on Monday. September, who has been a great link between the forwards and backline players this season, says, “I like playing in Cape Town and Stellenbosch because it's an opportunity for me to see my parents and spend time with my family. I know they're always watching and thinking about me, even if they can only watch on television.
“When my parents are watching the game live there will always be a moment where I can hear my dad scream something and that motivates me and gives me a boost. During the game you don't really hear them because you're in the moment and focusing on your job and what you have to do, but it helps to know that they're there. However, during those eighty minutes you have to focus on what's between the four lines and not who is in the pavilion. In the past I would try to motivate myself when my parents were watching because they don't watch a lot of my games so I told myself that I have to be good, but now I've learned to not let that pressure get to me and to rather follow the process.”
In a repeat of the 2016 final, FNB NWU are going head-to-head with FNB Maties at the Danie Craven Stadium on Monday 16 April. Kick off is at 19:00 and the broadcast is live on SuperSport 1.