FNB Varsity Cup
FNB UWC may have been relegated to the FNB Varsity Shield, but lock Jaen-Louis de Lange believes they will be back in the top flight sooner rather than later.
Paul Treu’s troops led FNB Maties 31-28 at the Danie Craven Stadium after 61 minutes on Monday but couldn’t hold on for a famous victory.
As a result, Udubs finished ninth on the 2021-22 combined log and were relegated to the FNB Varsity Shield along with the 10th-placed FNB Madibaz.
The 22-year-old De Lange scored Udubs’ second of four tries on the night and put in a typical workmanlike performance.
He says it’s 'very sad' that his team has been relegated, three years after winning the FNB Varsity Shield and winning promotion to the FNB Varsity Cup.
'We played one of our best games of the season [on Monday] but still couldn’t manage to beat Maties for the first time in the history of the competition,' he adds.
'We find solace in the fact that we gave it our all, left everything out on the pitch and gave ourselves a chance to pull it off. In the end, we couldn’t – there were so many factors that didn’t go our way in this campaign.
'We had a great pre-season, we had a great squad, but suddenly we were depleted because we lost crucial players at various times of the season, some even before a ball was kicked.
We couldn’t build the depth required for the competition because we had injuries and guys were called up to provincial duty on match days.
'Coach Paul instilled a new belief and culture in this team and he has a long-term plan for rugby at UWC – an institution that has shown in the past that we defeat the notion that we can’t stand up and be counted.
'So I have no doubt that we’ll be back in the Varsity Cup where we belong.'
– From the 2023 season, there will be eight teams in the FNB Varsity Cup and eight in the FNB Varsity Shield. The team ending bottom on the Cup log will be automatically relegated to the Shield, while the team finishing top of the Shield log will be automatically promoted to the Cup.
By Shafiek Mouton
Photo: Luigi Bennett/Varsity Cup