FNB Varsity Shield
FNB DUT coach Charles Mndaweni was left absolutely gutted after his team was relegated from the FNB Varsity Shield on Friday in bizarre circumstances.
The Durbanites lost 26-0 to the FNB UFH Blues in the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane in the first game on Friday, which meant their fate was no longer in their hands.
FNB Rhodes had to do the unlikely and beat the FNB TUT Vikings in their own backyard if they, instead of FNB DUT, were to stay in next year’s FNB Varsity Shield.
Rhodes led 11-10 at half-time before the game was abandoned due to lightning.
According to tournament regulations, the Stallions were awarded the win, which saw them finish with 10 log points on the combined 2021-22 FNB Varsity Shield log, two points ahead of FNB DUT.
When speaking to VarsityCup.co.za on Saturday morning, Mndaweni admitted he couldn’t sleep on Friday night and was still very emotional.
'It’s been tough,' he said. 'I've tried to console the boys last night and this morning but it’s a bitter pill to swallow, especially to go down in that manner. It’s going to take a while to get over this.'
When asked how he kept track of the situation in Pretoria during the FNB Rhodes match, he said: 'I was in constant communication with a mate of mine who kept updating me constantly. When the match was officially called off ... man, it took a lot.
'I don’t really cry but this was tough. I guess it would’ve been easier if TUT had lost fair and square, but Mother Nature intervened which was beyond our control.'
Mndaweni and his team were the proverbial whipping boys of the 2021 tournament, which included taking centuries against FNB WSU and eventual champions FNB CPUT.
But FNB DUT came back a revived side in the 2022 FNB Varsity Shield and beat FNB Rhodes in their first game, 8-5. They also beat TUT 15-12 in Bellville last week.
'We had our fair share of challenges again this year,' admitted Mndaweni. 'Right from the start, I don’t think anyone gave us a chance, but I knew deep down the work we’ve put in since last year. And the youngsters, so many of them are in their first year out of school ... I take my hat off to them.
'We were so thin up front – eight forwards and not much else in reserve. Our captain [No 8 Katambwa Mulumba] for instance hurt his ankle last week in Cape Town and we almost couldn’t take him off. Even on Friday, he soldiered on but eventually, we were forced to take him off. That speaks of our resilience.
'I am devastated and heartbroken but also a very proud coach.'
By Shafiek Mouton
Photo: Bruce Viaene/Varsity Cup