The FNB UCT Ikey Tigers' non-podium finish at the conclusion of the FNB Varsity Cup 2019 season did not deter the Green Mile-based men – both home and abroad.
FNB UCT had little time to rest after FNB Maties were crowned FNB Varsity Cup champions earlier this year as the Ikeys had their Super League A season to tackle. The boys in blue and white were able to pull together and band consistently well. Despite their final 36-5 victory against Hamiltons, it was not enough to come out as season victors. They did, however, secure themselves second position on the log with their old rivals FNB Maties finishing at the top of the table by just two points.
The Ikey Tigers were able to tear down every opponent, losing only to Stellenbosch in the much anticipated north-south derby which saw the Maroon Machine deliver a 26-7 punch over the Cape Town-based side.
The Ikey Tigers then got their Rugby World Cup fever on and packed their bags for Japan where they successfully defended their World University Rugby Cup title. In 2015 the idea was birthed that universities from around the world should come together and fight for glory every four years in a replicated format of the Rugby World Cup.
UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng showed her support before the final, sending a message to the boys saying: “What makes me even prouder is knowing you are representing your university, country and your continent as ambassadors of goodwill.”
The tournament is invite only which means FNB UCT had the privilege of representing the entire African continent at the global rugby stage and they did not disappoint. The Ikey Tigers fended off the University of Bordeaux in the final by beating the Frenchmen 17-3 in the gruelling Japanese climate.
FNB UCT Coach Christiaan Esterhuizen was ecstatic about the win, saying: “We are very happy – it’s not every day that you get the opportunity to play in an international tournament, and to win is obviously a huge relief and great excitement. We are also very happy because this is the result of a team that has accumulated a lot of caps together, that has spent a lot of years together, and some of the players have played their last match (for UCT). So this is the cherry on the cake for the team, as a unit, to finish off with winning the tournament."
The Ikey Tigers have had a long and tough 2019 rugby season and the boys can return home with their heads held high, knowing that they have done the University of Cape Town proud. The Ikeys will be looking to carry this momentum with them into next year’s FNB Varsity Cup! Until then, perhaps it’s time the boys treat themselves to a much deserved ice bath.