10 FNB Varsity Cup players set to rock in 2021

FNB Varsity Cup

VarsityCup.co.za selects a player from each FNB Varsity Cup team to keep a close eye on this year.

SHAYNE BOLTON 

University: FNB UFS Shimlas
School: Hoërskool Eldoraigne 
Position: Centre
Born: 29 June 2000
Weight: 98kg
Height: 1.88m

Bolton is a super-talented centre with an excellent skill-set and feel for the game. He has the ability to take a gap and create space for a teammate, while he is a hard worker on and off the field. Bolton played for the Blue Bulls Country Districts at the U18 Academy Week and for Free State in last year’s SA Rugby U21 Championship. FNB Shimlas coach Pote Human believes he has the potential to become a top professional rugby player.

DAVID COETZER

University: FNB UP-Tuks
School: Selborne College
Position: Flyhalf
Born: 5 February 1999
Weight: 84kg
Height: 1.76m

Having been part of the Bulls team that won last year’s SA Rugby U21 Championship, Coetzer will now spearhead FNB UP-Tuks’ title challenge in the FNB Varsity Cup. The former Junior Springbok is an excellent all-round flyhalf, who is dangerous with ball in hand, an accurate kicker, a solid defender and a good communicator. FNB UP-Tuks coach Nico Luus regards the 22-year-old as “one of the best flyhalves I’ve had the privilege of coaching” and believes he will finish among the top point-scorers in this year’s FNB Varsity Cup if he stays injury-free. 

CONWILL CONRADIE

University: FNB UWC
School: Stellenberg High
Position: Scrumhalf
Born: 25 November 2001
Weight: 65kg
Height: 1.71m

Like his Springbok father, Bolla, Conwill Conradie is a quick and elusive scrumhalf with a good pass. “His unpredictability is one of his biggest strengths,” says FNB UWC coach Paul Treu. “He has a wicked step, good spacial awareness and an ability to snipe around the edges. He’s one of those players who will create havoc if the opposition doesn’t keep an eye on him.” Having played for FNB UWC in last year’s FNB Young Guns tournament, Conradie is eager to make his mark in the FNB Varsity Cup. “It’s an honour and privilege to play in the Varsity Cup,” he says. “I’m going to do my best for my team, coaching staff and myself. I just want to follow in the footsteps of the person who inspires me the most – my old man!”

AIDYNN CUPIDO

University: FNB Wits
School: Paul Roos Gimnasium
Position: Flyhalf/centre
Born: 4 September 1996
Weight: 96kg
Height: 1.90m

Cupido is an experienced flyhalf/centre, who won two FNB Varsity Shield titles with FNB UWC before joining FNB Wits ahead of the 2020 season. “His biggest strength is his understanding of the game and ability to read the game,” says FNB Wits coach Hugo van As.

ROBERT HUNT

University: FNB UCT Ikeys
School: HTS Drostdy
Position: Prop
Born: 16 August 1996
Weight: 122kg
Height: 1.85m

Hunt didn’t play in last year’s FNB Varsity Cup because of injury and this will be his final campaign as he finishes studying at UCT in June. The 24-year-old tighthead prop, who was an undergraduate at NWU and played senior rugby for the Leopards, takes great pride in his scrumming, hits the breakdown hard and is a strong ball-carrier with good passing and offloading skills. "He is a fierce competitor, who is desperate to succeed for his team and become a professional rugby player," says UCT coach Tom Dawson-Squibb.

COHEN JASPER 

University: FNB CUT
School: HTS Drostdy
Position: Fullback
Born: 20 June 2000
Weight: 77kg
Height: 1.74m

Jasper represented the Junior Springboks in 2019 and would surely have done so again in 2020 but for the Covid-19 pandemic. After his first year of FNB Varsity Cup for FNB CUT, as a 19-year-old, he went on to play for the Free State U21 team, and he is set to join the Cheetahs senior squad after this year’s tournament. “He’s got that X-factor in attack – he can create something out of nothing and when he gets the ball, you get excited,” says FNB CUT coach Pieter Bergh, who uses him as a playmaker that attracts defenders and creates space on the outside. “Jasper scores a lot of tries and makes a lot of try assists too.”

CONAN LE FLEUR

University: FNB NWU Eagles
School: Glenwood High
Position: Centre
Born: 13 December 1999
Weight: 90kg
Height: 1.77m

Le Fleur captained Free State in last year’s SA Rugby U21 Championship. The midfielder was one of the stars of the tournament, winning Free State’s U21 Player of the Year award. “He’s a complete rugby player. He has excellent skills, a good kicking game, is very physical and has that X-factor,” says FNB NWU Eagles coach and former Springbok flyhalf André Pretorius. “I played with [Wallabies back] James O’Connor when I was at the Western Force and regarded him as the most complete player I had seen. Conan is in the same category.”

AYA OLIPHANT

University: FNB Madibaz
School: Grey High
Position: Centre
Born: 3 March 1998
Weight: 94kg
Height: 1.81m

Oliphant can play both inside and outside centre, but is expected to start this year’s FNB Varsity Cup in the FNB Madibaz’s No 13 jersey. He is an explosive player with senior rugby experience, having represented the Cheetahs in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge. “Aya has an eye for a gap and is a very good playmaker,” says Madibaz coach André Tredoux. The 23-year-old is also a solid defender who doesn’t shy away from the midfield physicality. 

DARNELL OSUAGWU

University: FNB UJ
School: Parktown Boys’
Position: Hooker
Born: 29 December 1999
Weight: 110kg
Height: 1.77m

After making a couple of appearances for UJ in last year’s Varsity Cup, Osuagwu played for the Lions U21 team that reached the final of the SA Rugby U21 Championship. The 21-year-old is a strong ball-carrier who enjoys the physical aspect of the game. “He’s a talented boy who’s grown a lot over the last two years and I’m excited to see how he does in his second Varsity Cup campaign,” says UJ coach Dewey Swartbooi.

WAQAR SOLAAN

University: FNB Maties
School: Grey High
Position: Centre
Born: 22 February 1999
Weight: 97kg
Height: 1.76m

Solaan is a big, powerful, explosive, skilful No 12, who dominates in contact, distributes well and is an excellent defender. Solaan is from Patensie but lives in Hankey; both are small farm towns in the Eastern Cape. He attended Grey High School in Port Elizabeth and played for Eastern Province at the U18 Craven Week. He then signed for Western Province, who he has represented at U19 and U21 levels, and played his first season of FNB Varsity Cup in 2020.

WATCH: SuperSport promo for 2021 FNB Varsity Cup

Main photo (Conan Le Fleur): Caleb Louw