When it comes to home ground advantage, few teams in the world can boast a record like FNB Maties' at their Danie Craven Stadium 'fortress'.
Alongside the names of only 12 astronauts who have walked on the moon and the less than 9000 people who have climbed Mount Everest, the list of visiting teams who have emerged victorious in Stellenbosch during the FNB Varsity Cup-era is also a short.
Since the very first Varsity Cup match was played back in 2008 at the iconic 'DC', as it known among players and fervent supporters, it has hosted 57 Maties games. Only four opposing teams (and on only five occasions), have managed to leave Stellenbosch with that highly sought-after 'W' behind their names. Two of these teams will return in 2020 hoping to repeat the rare feat.
UP-TUKS GET THE BALL ROLLING IN 2009
Maties' northern rivals FNB UP-Tuks (and 2019 Final opponents) were the first team to emerge triumphant at the DC back in 2009 when they edged Maties 25-23. Future Springbok flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff was the difference maker that day, contributing ten points from the kicking tee, with fellow Springbok JJ Engelbrecht doing duty for the home team.
UJ CLASS OF 2011 PULL OFF A MIRACLE
The next team to claim the coveted away win in Stellenbosch was the orange army of FNB UJ, who caused a massive upset when they thrashed the Maroon Machine 39-19 in 2011. At that stage Maties were three-time defending champions and had soundly beaten FNB NWU 32-6 and FNB Madibaz 49-17 in theIR two previous home games. However, UJ not only scored six tries on the day, they also knocked Maties out of the running to stun the crowd into silence. Springbok scrumhalf Rudy Paige was the man pulling the strings for the boys in orange that day while Ruan Combrinck, who earned his Springbok blazer in 2016, was at fullback for the stunned hosts. Interestingly, current Maties Strength and Conditioning Coach, Andre 'Smirre' Smith was on fire that day for UJ, kicking three conversions and a drop goal!
UP-TUKS BEEF UP TO BREAK MATIES HEARTS AT THE LAST IN 2013
Maties went through the 2013 league phase season unbeaten and had booked their place in the final after seeing off a spirited FNB Madibaz 16-15 in the semifinals. The opponents for the final was a juggernaut UP-Tuks team and while Maties had beaten the men from Pretoria earlier in the season, some serious reinforcements from Loftus Versveld were deployed. UP-Tuks arrived in Stellenbosch with a team boasting future Springboks Bongi Mbonambi, Marvin Orie, Courtnall Skosan and Handré Pollard. The score-line of 44-5 is still painfully remembered but the fact that 17 out of the 23 Maties players earned a bachelor’s degree serves to illustrate that the Stellenbosch boys know a thing or two about perseverance and dealing with setbacks. That 2013 Maties final team contained a medical doctor, two engineers, an Industrial Psychologist and two future Chartered Accountants!
UCT PLAY TO THE RULES IN 2014 INTER-VARSITY
FNB UCT, much like UP-Tuks the year before, used their non-student quota to full effect in 2014. Among their non-degree seeking players, future Scotland international Huw Jones was one of the standouts. Meanwhile, for that game at the DC, Maties' only non-student was Rob du Preez, who would earn his Springbok blazer in 2018. The final score of 33-16 also saw flyhalf Dean Grant, who had been recruited from Maties for 2014, kick three conversions and two penalties for a personal tally of 14 points.
NWU TURN STELLENBOSCH PURPLE IN 2016
The fifth and final time Maties lost a a Varsity Cup game at the hallowed DC was in the 2016 final. The visiting FNB NWU emerged winners 7-6 after their scrum, anchored by tighthead prop Bart le Roux, was deemed to have gotten the upper hand in the dying stages of the match. It took two yellow cards and 87 minutes of rugby, but that was the last time any visiting team tasted victory in Stellenbosch.
Heading into the 2020 Varsity Cup season, Maties are on a 17-game winning streak, with an average score of 42-13 in that time. The Maroon Machibne have scored a whopping 726 points at home between 2017 and 2019, and only conceded a paltry 237 points in that time. First round opponents FNB Shimlas have never recorded a win at the DC, but did claim a 16-16 draw back in 2014. Since then the team from Bloemfontein have lost 56-21 in 2018 and 47-5 in the 2019 semi-final, which should be a worry for the FNB Shimlas. Similarly for FNB CUT, who travel to Stellenbosch in Round 3 where they have suffered 40-0 (2016) and 75-12 (2018) defeats.
FNB Maties 2020 home games:
3 February 2020 vs FNB Shimlas
17 February 2020 vs FNB CUT
2 March 2020 vs FNB UP-Tuks
9 March 2020 vs FNB UCT Ikey Tigers