500 games later: Where are FNB Varsity Cup stars now?

FNB Varsity Cup

VarsityCup.co.za highlights the stars of the 2008 FNB Varsity Cup final who went on to enjoy success in the local and international game.

ALSO READ: FNB Varsity Cup set to celebrate 500th match

The first edition of the FNB Varsity Cup lived up to the hype.

The Ikey Tigers, coached by John Dobson, won all but one of their matches and finished the regular season at the top of the standings. The FNB Maties, coached by Chean Roux, finished the round robin in second place. The Western Cape rivals went on to meet in the decider staged at the Danie Craven Stadium.

FNB UCT had one hand on the inaugural title with only minutes left on the clock. FNB Maties had the final say, though, with wing Morné Jooste scoring a try to secure a famous 16-10 victory.

VarsityCup.co.za highlights 10 players who featured in that 2008 final and what they achieved in the sport in later years.

JOE PIETERSEN

Pietersen had already represented Western Province and the Stormers by 2008. The utility back went on to play for the Cheetahs and Sharks locally, and for Bayonne, Biarritz, the Kamaishi Seawaves and San Diego Legion overseas. He is currently involved in wildlife conversation.

JUAN DE JONGH

A promising youngster with a devastating sidestep, De Jongh received his first cap for the Stormers in 2009 and his first opportunity for the Springboks in 2010. Since then, he has represented the Boks in 19 Tests and won an Olympic bronze medal with the Blitzboks. After a successful stint with English club Wasps, the 33-year-old centre returned to Cape Town in 2021 to rejoin the Stormers and Western Province.

JACOBIE ADRIAANSE

A powerful scrummager, Adriaanse bounced between Boland, Griquas, the Lions, Scarlets, Montpellier, the Kings and the Bulls over the course of an 11-year career. He enjoyed another stint at the Lions before retiring in 2019. His brother Lourens – a former Springbok – still plays for the Sharks.

COENIE VAN WYK

After helping FNB Maties win the title, the utility back featured for Western Province, Griquas, the Pumas, Lions, Cheetahs and Griffons. In 2016 he took up a contract with the Toshiba Brave Lupus in Japan. The 34-year-old has since represented the Shimizu Blue Sharks.

THERLOW PIETERSEN

Pietersen moved to FNB UCT after his stint with FNB Maties. The wing won four successive FNB Varsity Cup titles between 2008 and 2011. A decade later, he was recruited by yet another Cape university, namely FNB UWC, as a coach. Pietersen currently works with Paul Treu’s side as a defence coach.

PIETER ENGELBRECHT

Engelbrecht moved north after the 2008 FNB Varsity Cup to take up a contract with the Lions. The powerful yet elusive centre then made a successful transition to sevens, and became a star for the Blitzboks. He currently works in Sydney, Australia.

KYLE BROWN

The athletic flanker linked up with the Blitzboks in 2008 and was part of the team that won the World Rugby Sevens Series title for the first time. He went on to lead the side for two seasons. By the time he hung up his boots in 2019, he had played in 347 matches and 69 tournaments for the Blitzboks, scoring 89 tries. He won three Sevens Series titles (2008-09, 2016-17 and 2017-18), a gold medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Brown is the co-owner of Eighteen Coffee in Stellenbosch with former teammates Philip Snyman and Cecil Afrika.

MATHEW TURNER

The dangerous winger was recruited by Bristol after his FNB Varsity Cup exploits for the Ikey Tigers, and went on to enjoy a successful career with the England Sevens team. In 2018, he joined the Seattle Seawolves in the burgeoning Major League Rugby tournament in the USA. The 34-year-old continues to represent the Seawolves, both as a player and assistant coach.

MATTHEW ROSSLEE

The FNB UCT flyhalf went on to play for WP and Griquas before making the unlikely move to Hong Kong. Rosslee played seven Tests for the Asian side between 2016 and 2019.

JJ GAGIANO

The Ikey Tigers captain made his Test debut for the USA Eagles in 2008, and won the last of his 14 Test caps at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand. Thereafter, the multitalented loose forward returned to South Africa to play for the Lions and WP – winning the Currie Cup with the latter side in 2012.

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2008 FNB Varsity Cup final: FNB Maties vs FNB UCT Ikeys, Danie Craven Stadium

FNB Maties – 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Morné Jooste, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Sarel Potgieter, 11 Henoe Stoffberg, 10 Ricardo Croy, 9 Wilhelm Koch, 8 Bennie Boysen, 7 Jonathan Adendorf, 6 Zandre Jordaan, 5 Jaco Nepgen, 4 Erich Laubscher, 3 Jacobie Adriaandse, 2 Lisle Clark, 1 Johan Roets.
Subs: 16 Mathew Dobson, 17 Andrew Crausaz, 18 Michael Steenkamp, 19 Albert Fullard, 20 Coenie van Wyk, 21 Therlow Pietersen, 22 Jean Stemmet.

FNB UCT Ikeys – 15 Robert Hopwood, 14 Marcello Sampson, 13 James Martin, 12 Pieter Engelbrecht, 11 Mathew Turner, 10 Matthew Rosslee, 9 Danie van der Merwe, 8 JJ Gagiano (c), 7 Mzo Simani, 6 Luzuko Panya, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Mike Ledwidge, 3 Dylan Rogers, 2 JP Koster, 1 Herbert Mayosi.
Subs: 16 Mark Goosen, 17 Wes Chetty, 18 Dane Galley, 19 Kyle Brown, 20 Kyle Wickins, 21 Tim Whitehead, 22 Peter Haw.

Photos: Anton Jordaan/Tertius Pickard/Gallo Images