Kwagga to captain FNB UJ

FNB Varsity Cup

Cristen ‘Kwagga’ van Niekerk has been named FNB UJ captain for this year’s FNB Varsity Cup campaign.

Coach Dewey Swartbooi confirmed the appointment to VarsityCup.co.za on Wednesday.

Van Niekerk attended Hoërskool Monument in Krugersdorp and represented the Golden Lions at the U18 Craven Week in 2016 and 2017. In his matric year, he was selected for the SA Schools team.

Van Niekerk went on to play for Scotland – and not the Junior Springboks – at the World Rugby U20 Championship in 2019 after qualifying through his Scottish-born grandfather. He also took part in the U20 Six Nations that year.

But the 110kg, 1.92m forward opted to return to South Africa and played for FNB UJ in last year’s FNB Varsity Cup that was cut short by Covid-19.

“Your captain has to be a definite starter and Kwagga will definitely start for us, at flank or lock,” says Swartbooi. “He has been around the block a bit, having played for Scotland U20, and he has good leadership qualities. He will lead by example on the field and inspire his teammates.”

Swartbooi opted against appointing co-captains for this unique campaign, which will take place over a 51-day period in a secure bio-bubble, and he hasn’t named a vice-captain.

“Kwagga will be supported by a leadership group made up of senior players like Tyreeq February, Musa Tshabalala, Tyler Brown and Darnell Osuagwu,” he says.

FNB UJ will contest the opening match of the 2021 FNB Varsity Cup against FNB CUT at Tuks Stadium on 4 April.

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