The 2014 Currie Cup final between Western Province and the Golden Lions will be a hallmark for the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International fraternity.
The match will feature no less than 27 Varsity Cup alumni of the 44 match day players. The home side, Western Province, will have 11 players in their match day 22 who have participated in the Varsity Cup while the Golden Lions will have an impressive 16 players in their match day squad.
The greatest advertisement for the Varsity Cup during the Currie Cup campaign is the young Lions hooker Armand (Akker) van der Merwe. Van der Merwe has been an absolute standout for Jozi’s Pride in the Currie Cup, and has grabbed the plaudits and the headlines for his hustle and bustle brand of rugby.
It is no surprise then that Van der Merwe still played for the NWU-Pukke in the Varsity Cup at the beginning of the year. Young Akker struck form for the men from Potchefstroom during their Varsity Cup season, and has carried that form straight on to the Currie Cup stage.
The Varsity Cup was thus a perfect springboard for the youngster to launch his professional career.
Akker, however, is not alone in launching his career from the platform of the Varsity Cup. As already mentioned an expected 27 players in Saturday’s Currie Cup groomed their games on the famous playing fields of the Varsity Cup.
For Western Province, hooker Niel Rautenbach was a standout for UCT during their victorious campaign this year. The fact that Rautenbach is able to perform so well for Western Province is a testament to the quality of the Varsity Cup. Fellow UCT alumni in the Province squad include:
Dynamic No 8 Nizaam Carr (2011), ace flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis (2011) and scrumhalf Nic Groom (2010-2011).
As can be expected the all-conquering Maties maroon machine provided a fair spread of players for the two squads.
For Western Province flyhalf Kurt Coleman (2011), skipper and centre Juan de Jongh (2008-2009), scrumhalf Louis Schreuder (2010), centre Michael van der Spuy (2011) and prop Alistair Vermaak (2011-2013), all donned the famed maroon jersey. Other Varsity Old-boy’s include speedy winger Seabelo Senatla, who ran out for the Central University of Technology in the Varsity Shield and centre Jaco Taute, who donned the orange of UJ.
The Lions can call upon ex-Maties fullback Ruan Combrinck (2011) to strengthen their side as well as lock Martin Muller who donned the UCT jersey from 2008-2011.
Some of the Lions other Varsity Cup alumni’s include: flanker Derick Minnie (UJ – 2008), centre Howard Mnisi (NMMU – 2012-2013), lock Francois Mostert (Tuks – 2010-2012), flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff (Tuks – 2009-2011), loose forward Willie Britz (Shimlas – 2008-2012), hooker Robbie Coetzee (Tuks – 2010 – 2011), prop Ruan Dreyer (UJ – 2011-2012), flanker Jaco Kriel (UJ – 2012), winger Courtnall Skosan (Tuks – 2012-2013), flanker Warwick Tecklenburg (Tuks – 2008-2011), prop Schalk van der Merwe (Shimlas – 2012-2013), utility back Jaco van der Walt (UJ – 2014) and centre Harold Vorster (UJ – 2014).
The amount of Varsity Cup graduates expected to be in action in the Currie Cup final is no surprise, when the contribution of the Varsity Cup is considered. The tournament has become a stepping stone of such magnitude that one could hardly believe a player could enter the professional ranks without first displaying their wares for their various universities.
The Varsity Cup players expected to play on Saturday is, of course, not exclusive to these two sides. In any given Currie Cup team a vast amount of players would have been groomed by the essential competition.
Western Province: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (captain)(Maties 2008, 2009), 12 Jaco Taute (UJ 2010), 11 Seabelo Senatla (CUT 2012, 2013), 10 Demetri Catrakilis (UCT 2011), 9 Nic Groom (UCT 2010, 2011), 8 Nizaam Carr (UCT 2011), 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Alistair Vermaak (Maties 2011, 2012, 2013). Replacements: 16 Neil Rautenbach (UCT 2013, 2014) , 17 Brok Harris, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 20 Louis Schreuder (Maties 2010), 21 Kurt Coleman (Maties 2011), 22 Michael van der Spuy (Maties 2011).
Golden Lions: 15 Jaco van der Walt (UJ 2014), 14 Ruan Combrinck (Maties 2011), 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Howard Mnisi (NMMU 2012, 2013), 11 Courtnall Skosan (TUKS 2012, 2013), 10 Marnitz Boshoff (TUKS 2009, 2010, 2011), 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Derick Minnie (UJ 2008), 6 Jaco Kriel (UJ 2012), 5 Franco Mostert (TUKS 2010, 2011, 2012), 4 Martin Muller (UCT 2008, 2009, 2010), 3 Ruan Dreyer (UJ 2011, 2012), 2 Robbie Coetzee (TUKS 2010, 2011), 1 Schalk van der Merwe (Shimlas 2012, 2013). Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe (NWU-Pukke 2013, 2014), 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Julian Redelinghuys, 19 Willie Britz (Shimlas 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), 20 Warwick Tecklenburg (TUKS 2008, 2010, 2011), 21 Mark Richards, 22 Harold Vorster (UJ 2014).