Playing in their fifth final, FNB UWC are the firm favourites to etch their names on the trophy a third time when they meet FNB CPUT in the 2023 FNB Varsity Shield final tomorrow on home ground in Belville, Cape Town.
Despite being neighbours, the two sides have only played each other three times before. They first met in 2017, with UWC claiming a narrow 26-23 win (watch highlights HERE). In 2018 UWC thumped CPUT 58-14.
UWC would gain promotion to the Varsity Cup ahead of the 2019 season meaning the next time these sides met in a Varsity Shield match, was in round five of this year's competition, an encounter UWC comfortably won 31-10 (watch highlights HERE).
Based on UWC's current form and CPUT's previous Varsity Shield final form, the final promises to deliver on all fronts.
UWC Club Manager Clement Trout however believes that while UWC does not want to downplay the final it is business as usual for the unbeaten side.
"No major changes, but we did tweak a bit with a few minor improvements, adjustments, and realigning. We trust and believe in our processes, it has worked for us this season and it would be cynical of us to rejig this just because there is a trophy to play for."
Throughout the season, head coach Paul Treu has believed in reminding his players that complacency should never take root within their team environment. This is a sentiment shared by all including Trout, who affirms that while they relish the opportunity to be hosting the final, it is by no means reason for them to think they have one hand on the trophy already.
"We have adopted somewhat of an under-the-radar approach this year, so we are not too concerned with labels that are for the media and the fans. We are focused on the job and at this moment nothing else matters. However, playing at the Operation Room (UWC Sports Stadium) always gives us that extra boost and we count on our supporters to rock up and help carry us over this final hurdle."
Trout says the public can expect a focused side on Thursday's final.
"We are a focused team ready to finish off the campaign on a positive note with hopefully a festival atmosphere at the Operation Room. I urge everyone to come out, experience it, and enjoy some quality rugby from both these top sides."
Points for: 358
Points against: 95
Top try scorer: Mauritz Swart – 10
Top points scorer: Conwill Conradie – 89
FNB UWC: 15 Diston Ethan Will, 14 Vraagom Will, 13 Brynard Zhaun-Jacques, 12 Breda Bryan John, 11 Ncana Hlomla, 10 Willemse Elkan, 9 Conradie Conwill Brooklyn (Bolla), 8 Magerman Zinzan, 7 Moerat Bilaal, 6 Kuilders Almore Jnr A. S., 5 van der Merwe Carel, 4 Tattersal Liam, 3 van der Merwe Riaan Jacubus, 2 Swart Mauritz, 1 Lamprecht Christian Johan.
by Lyndon Julius