PREVIEW: 2021 FNB Varsity Cup final

FNB Varsity Cup

Unbeaten FNB UCT will go into Monday night’s decider as favourites, but FNB UP-Tuks appear to be peaking at the right time of the tournament.

FNB UCT and FNB UP-Tuks will finally meet in this year’s FNB Varsity Cup after their Round 6 clash was cancelled following three Covid-19 positive tests in the hosts’ camp. At that stage, the Ikey Tigers had won their first five matches and were expected to beat a Tukkies team that had lost to FNB Maties.

FNB UCT went on to top the FNB Varsity Cup log for the first time since the inaugural tournament in 2008, with eight wins from eight completed matches, while FNB UP-Tuks finished third after losing to FNB CUT in their final league-stage fixture.

However, Tukkies’ impressive 44-35 semi-final win against FNB Maties suggests they are ready to ambush FNB UCT in the final.

“That was our best performance this season and exactly how we want to play,” FNB UP-Tuks coach Nico Luus tells VarsityCup.co.za. “There is a belief in the team now that was perhaps lacking during the second bubble and I can’t wait for the final.”

The Ikey Tigers made a nervous start to their semi-final against the FNB NWU Eagles, falling 15-0 behind after as many minutes, before scoring eight tries to win 54-36.

“We hadn’t played in a semi-final for six years so I expected the guys to be nervous,” says FNB UCT coach Tom Dawson-Squibb. “We saw that with a couple of glaring errors early on when covering our backfield. But from the 15-minute mark, we were almost flawless in that area of the game. So I’m really happy with how we were able to adapt and once we got our attacking game going, we looked really good.”

The Ikey Tigers suffered a big blow just before kick-off when star flyhalf James Tedder was ruled out of the semi-final having failed to recover from a concussion, but Tedder’s replacement, David Hayes, more than filled his boots to win the Player That Rocks award.

“David’s actually played a lot of rugby during this tournament so we were less worried about losing James than some outside of the camp,” says Dawson-Squibb. “James has been targeted during the tournament, which is what happened when he got a high shot against the Madibaz, so we’ve often replaced him with David during a game.”

FNB UCT have “massive respect” for FNB UP-Tuks, according to Dawson-Squibb.

“They were the pre-tournament favourites, playing at home and with massive resources, which we’ve all seen while staying here over the past couple of months. They’re a physical, well-drilled side with a former Springbok defence coach [John McFarland]."

So where will Monday’s final be won and lost?

“It’s no secret that both teams use their kicking games quite cleverly, but I think it will come down to the balance between physicality and tempo,” says Dawson-Squibb. “Tuks want to bash you into smithereens but they do it at a good pace. We’ve got to handle that and move them around the field. We believe in ourselves and are very confident in our game plan.”

“We expect a physical game and we will be physical,” says Luus. “We will also rely a lot on [fullback] Zander du Plessis and [flyhalf] David Coetzer as far as our kicking game is concerned. But I believe the final will be determined by small margins.”

FACTS & STATS

  • This is a repeat of the 2011 final, which FNB UCT won 26-16 at Tuks Stadium. The Ikey Tigers’ other FNB Varsity Cup title came in 2014, while Tukkies lifted the trophy in 2012, 2013 and 2017. (See FNB Varsity Cup finals table below.)
  • FNB UCT come into the 2021 final unbeaten. It is the third consecutive FNB Varsity Cup that a team enters the final unbeaten, with FNB Maties having gone on to win the title in both 2018 and 2019.
  • The home team has won eight of the previous 12 FNB Varsity Cup finals, including the last three. The last time the away team won the final was when FNB NWU beat FNB Maties at the Danie Craven Stadium in 2016. Both of FNB UCT’s FNB Varsity Cup titles were won away from home.
  • FNB UCT are on a nine-game winning run in the FNB Varsity Cup (excluding the cancelled fixture against FNB UP-Tuks), their longest in the history of the tournament.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

FNB UCT flyhalf James Tedder was a late withdrawal from the Ikeys lineup before their semi-final after failing to recover from a concussion sustained from a high tackle during their last league-stage match against the FNB Madibaz but he did pass a late fitness test before the final. Tedder is the second top-point scorer in the tournament (105) and his tactical kicking and game management have been crucial for his team.

FNB UP-Tuks fullback Zander du Plessis broke FNB UCT flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis’ record of 136 points in an FNB Varsity Cup season during their semi-final against FNB Maties and will go into Monday’s decider with his tally on 145. If the final is tight, the 21-year-old’s boot could be decisive.

Vote for your FNB Varsity Cup award winners!

ROAD TO THE FINAL

FNB UCT Ikeys
Beat FNB Maties 26-20
Beat FNB Wits 40-22
Beat FNB UJ 39-34
Beat FNB UFS Shimlas 59-5
Beat FNB CUT Ixias 76-5
Drew with FNB UP-Tuks 0-0 (match cancelled)
Beat FNB UWC 58-55
Beat FNB NWU Eagles 42-36
Beat FNB Madibaz 34-23
Beat FNB NWU Eagles 54-36 (semi-final)

FNB UP-Tuks
Beat FNB Wits 48-25
Beat FNB UJ 47-19
Beat FNB NWU Eagles 33-15
Lost to FNB Maties 24-31
Beat FNB UWC 31-25
Drew with FNB UCT Ikeys 0-0 (match cancelled)
Beat FNB UFS Shimlas 42-39
Beat FNB Madibaz 75-0
Lost to FNB CUT Ixias 40-41
Beat FNB Maties 44-35 (semi-final)

TEAMS

FNB UCT Ikeys – 15 Athi Gazi, 14 Rihaz Fredericks, 13 Evardi Boshoff, 12 Le Roux Malan, 11 Rethabile Louw, 10 James Tedder, 9 William Rose, 8 Christian Stehlik, 7 Niel Otto, 6 Liam Greenhalgh (c), 5 Gary Porter, 4 Byron Cranswick, 3 Robert Hunt, 2 Devon Arendse, 1 Luthando Woji.
Subs: 16 Josh van Vuuren, 17 Seth Christian, 18 Ashwyn Adams, 19 Byron Bowes, 20 Taariq Kruger, 21 Kyle Bowman, 22 David Hayes, 23 Duran Koevort. 

FNB UP-Tuks – 15 Zander du Plessis, 14 Stefan Coetzee, 13 Sango Xamlashe (c), 12 Louritz van der Schyff, 11 Ambesa Zenzeli, 10 David Coetzer, 9 Clyde Lewis, 8 Jaco Bezuidenhout, 7 Hanru Sirgel, 6 Eduan Lubbe, 5 Thomas Meyer, 4 Mihlali Stamper, 3 Damien Swartz, 2 Werner Fourie, 1 Cebo Dlamini.
Subs: 16 Llewellyn Classen, 17 Dewald Donald, 18 Etienne Janeke, 19 Orateng Koikanyang, 20 Stephan Smit, 21 Johan Mulder, 22 Enrique Oranje, 23 Tharquin Manuel.

2021 FNB VARSITY CUP TOP POINT-SCORERS

Name

Team

Points

Zander du Plessis

FNB UP-Tuks

145

James Tedder

FNB UCT Ikeys

105

JP Duvenage

FNB UFS Shimlas

73

Charles Williams

FNB CUT Ixias

71

Jurich Claasens

FNB UJ

64

Keagan Fortune

FNB NWU Eagles

62

Branden de Kock

FNB UWC

60

Janus Venter

FNB CUT Ixias

60

Christopher Schreuder

FNB Maties

49

Gustav du Rand

FNB NWU Eagles

45

2021 FNB VARSITY CUP TOP TRY-SCORERS

Name

Team

Tries

Janus Venter

FNB CUT Ixias

12

Gustav du Rand

FNB NWU Eagles

9

Cohen Jasper

FNB CUT Ixias

7

Tinotenda Mavesere

FNB UWC

7

Athi Gazi

FNB UCT Ikeys

6

Rethabile Louw

FNB UCT Ikeys

6

Josh van Vuuren

FNB UCT Ikeys

6

André-Hugo Venter

FNB Maties

6

Devon Arendse

FNB UCT Ikeys

5

Thembekile Boltina

FNB Madibaz

5

Eduan Lubbe

FNB UP-Tuks

5

FNB VARSITY CUP FINAL RESULTS

Year

Winners

Runners-up

2008

FNB Maties 16

FNB UCT Ikeys 10

2009

FNB Maties 11

FNB NWU-Pukke 6

2010

FNB Maties 17

FNB UCT Ikeys 14

2011

FNB UCT Ikeys 26

FNB UP-Tuks 16

2012

FNB UP-Tuks 29

FNB Maties 21

2013

FNB UP-Tuks 44

FNB Maties 5

2014

FNB UCT Ikeys 39

FNB NWU-Pukke 33

2015

FNB UFS Shimlas 63

FNB NWU-Pukke 33

2016

FNB NWU-Pukke 7

FNB Maties 6

2017

FNB UP-Tuks 28

FNB Maties 21

2018

FNB Maties 40

FNB NWU-Pukke 7

2019

FNB Maties 34

FNB UP-Tuks 12

WHITE CARD EXPLAINED

A white card referral may be used by coaches and captains to review a decision made by a referee. Each team will be allowed one referral per half. If the team is successful in their referral, they will keep their referral. If they are unsuccessful, they will lose it.

The process will be as follows:

1. Each team will receive two cards marked ‘Half 1’ and ‘Half 2’. 

2. If the captain wants to refer an incident, he will request the referee to show a white card.

3. He has to be specific in his referral. No general referral will be allowed.

4. If the coach wants to refer an incident, he will request the TMO to inform the referee of the white card request. The referee will show the white card.

5. The coach will then convey his referral to the TMO and this must be specific.

6. The TMO will then inform the referee and producer and the normal procedures will prevail.

7. Once a half or the game finishes, each team will have 15 seconds to indicate if they want to use a white card referral.

READ: FNB Varsity Cup promotion/relegation 2021-2022

EXTRA TIME AND KICK-OUT EXPLAINED

If the scores are level after full-time, 20 minutes of extra time (10 minutes each way) will be played with a one-minute break. The teams will toss ahead of extra time.

If the scores are still level after extra time, a kick-out will be held.

For the kick-out, each team chooses five players out of the matchday 23, whether they have played in the match or not, to place kick from a designated point on the field as instructed by the tournament director or referee. The teams will toss for kicking first.

If the score is still equal after the kick-out, it will continue on a sudden-death basis.

The same five players will kick again in the same sequence that was used in the first round of the kick-out.