The spotlight is typically on university students during a Varsity Cup season. But while it is a platform designed for student athletes, the Varsity Cup has also proved to offer a platform to the likes of MCs, physiotherapists, doctors and particularly coaches. Here are five that were in the Varsity Cup before they were promoted to Currie Cup, Super Rugby and beyond.
Not only was Chean Roux the first FNB Maties Varsity Cup head coach, he was the first coach to win the title in 2008, the first two win it consecutively (2009) and the first and only coach to win it three times in succession (2010).
He set the bar high for FNB Maties and his records still stand a decade on. It is fitting that he currently coaches the Junior Boks with such success at junior level. He’s a man held in high regard around the famous Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch.
Team: FNB Maties
Achievements: Varsity Cup champions 2008, 2009, 2010
Current position: Junior Springboks Head Coach
The FNB Shimlas had never won a Varsity Cup title in their seven years of attempts. That was until Franco Smith joined the Free State side. It would be a year to remember for FNB Shimlas as he not only guided them to their first ever Varsity Cup final, but he did so remaining undefeated. They went on to set a record, scoring 63 points in the final as they won by 30 points, defeating FNB NWU 63-33.
It was no surprise that when he joined the Cheetahs he had an immediate impact, winning the Currie Cup in 2016, just a year after winning the Varsity Cup.
Team: FNB Shimlas
Achievements: Varsity Cup champions 2015
Current position: Cheetahs Head Coach
A local legend, John Dobson has a special place in his heart for FNB UCT and the Varsity Cup. He coached an FNB UCT team to the inaugural Varsity Cup final in 2008. It was a memorable debut season and a team that defied the odds, falling just short against the FNB Maties.
Dobson coached FNB UCT to a semi-final the following year, followed by another final in 2010. Although his coaching role changed in 2011, he would finally be involved in a Varsity Cup-winning season with the Ikeys, as they claimed the 2011 title.
Now with WP, Dobson has an impressive win-record and is a Vodacom Cup and Currie Cup winner.
Team: FNB UCT
Achievements: Varsity Cup champions 2011
Current position: WP Head Coach
Human has been a vital member of FNB Tuks’ team for four years. Involved in four campaigns, he would finally be rewarded for his persistence when FNB Tuks won their third Varsity Cup title in 2017, defeating FNB Maties in Pretoria.
A little more than a year later he was handed the reins as Blue Bulls Super Rugby coach. Keep your eye on him and his Bulls charges this season.
Team: FNB Tuks
Achievements: Varsity Cup champions 2017
Current position: Blue Bulls Head Coach
When Marais joined FNB Tuks they had never won a Varsity Cup title despite regularly having a very strong squad and reaching the knockout stages with ease.
His impact would be an immediate one too, as he took FNB Tuks to consecutive titles in 2012 and 2013, including a resounding 44-5 defeat of FNB Maties in Stellenbosch! That day a young Handré Pollard scored 6 of his 6 attempts at goal as Clayton Blommetjies scored a drop goal and Courtnall Skosan crossed the line. A taste of things to come for the Blue Bulls.
Team: FNB UCT
Achievements: Varsity Cup champions 2012, 2013
Current position: Blue Bulls U/19 Head Coach
Current Varsity Cup coaches to keep an eye on:
– Jonathan Mokuena (FNB NWU)
– Chester Williams (FNB UWC)
– Hawies Fourie (FNB Maties)
All three are cup- or shield-winning coaches with bright futures ahead. It’s only a matter of time before they are snatched up by South African franchises or the Springboks system.