FNB CUT Ixias carried their promising FNB Varsity Cup form into their 2019 domestic Free State Challenge Cup by ending the season unbeaten in the pool stages.
Their position at the top of the log (secured through six wins and a draw against FNB UFS Shimlas) earned them a place in the semi-finals against Irawas on 8 June, which Ixias won 45-13 to qualify for a final spot against the Shimlas. Unfortunately for them, they came up short in that decider 24-39.
Looking back at their domestic season, both coach Pieter Bergh and manager, Skillie Bester, expressed their satisfaction with the performance of all CUT club teams.
“We deliberately gave many young players the opportunity to show us their worth during the club season, to convince us they were ready for the 2020 Varsity Cup season.
“And that they certainly did”, Bergh told Varsity Cup.
“Players such as Jannes de Jager, Ulrich Stander, Andrew Fisher [all FNB CUT Young Guns 2019 regulars], Karebo Maqeba (pictured), Gerhard Potgieter, Katleho Maropane and Deandre van der Merwe were amongst the younger players who firmly raised their hands in showing their intent to make their marks in 2020,” Bergh acknowledged.
Team manager and former Ixias coach, Bester, agreed fully.
“We are very confident that we will have the talent and skills to tackle the 2020 Varsity Cup campaign with the same commitment and intent that we showed this year”, Bester added.
CUT should gain some new blood too over the last semester of 2019, and with the core of this year’s Varsity Cup group still available for next year, the ‘Blue Brigade’ should again be a force to be reckoned with.
“We are happy with all our teams performances in the current city league, and we gave ‘new’ players every opportunity to prove themselves to us in club matches”, Bergh added.
It is clear at this stage, that the spirit in the CUT camp is very positive, and that 2020 promises to provide local rugby fans with even more highlights and excitement – like the 2019 CUT-Shimlas Varsity Cup cliffhanger.
“During the third term, this year, we believe we can find even more new talent during the CUT Campus Rugby League, when perhaps less known young players may step up to be counted for next year’s Varsity Cup rugby”, Bester added.
The 2019 Campus Rugby kicks off in August this year, when the FNB Falcons will defend their status as FNB Residence Rugby champions at CUT.
CUT’S FREE STATE CHALLENGE CUP RESULTS
Round-robin: 43-28 vs Bloemfontein Police (6 April)
24-24 vs UFS Shimlas (13 April)
78-14 vs Welkom Club (4 May)
111-16 vs Mangaung (11 May)
45-27 vs Irawas (18 May)
74-21 vs Welkom Rovers (25 May)
95-0 vs Collegians (1 June)
Semifinal: 45-13 vs Irawas (8 June)
Final: 24-39 vs Shimlas (15 June)
By Carel Korff