On Friday, 10 April 2020 the 10th FNB Varsity Shield champions were scheduled to be crowned but the Coronavirus pandemic has put paid to that (for now), meaning the wait continues for the next man to join the following players who’ve captained their teams to FNB Varsity Shield glory.
LUNATHI NXELE (FNB CPUT, 2019)
Considering Nxele is the most recent man to lead his team to glory, in the unforgettable 2019 final against FNB Madibaz, it’s no surprise the 24-year-old centre is one of two former Varsity Shield-winning captains still active.
Nxele has had a frustrating time of it in 2020, however. The third year Marketing student picked up an injury in the Tekkies’ first game of the season (a 12-22 loss against FNB WSU) and only recovered in time to be a replacement in their 65-0 thrashing of FNB Rhodes Round 5 – days before the Coronavirus-enforced postponement of the season.
AIDYNN CUPIDO (FNB UWC, 2017 and 2018)
Cupido led UWC to back-to-back titles, with the latter sealing promotion for the Capetonians. In 2019 the hard-running flyhalf-come-centre relinquished the captaincy in UDubs’ inaugural FNB Varsity Cup campaign before moving upcountry this year to play for FNB Wits and study for a Post Graduate Certificate in Education at the varsity.
Cupido has been one of the standout performers in Wits’ unbeaten start to the 2020 season. The 23-year-old has been ever-present in the number 12 jersey, while picking up a Steers Kinging Moment award against his ex-teammates followed by an FNB Player That Rocks gong against FNB UJ.
WATCH: The Tour 2020 visits Wits as Cupido and co. make history
WARREN GILBERT (FNB Wits, 2016)
When Wits were looking to return to ‘the promised land’ they turned to Gilbert to captain them in 2016. The flyhalf, had played for and completed his undergraduate degree in Labour Relations and Industrial Psychology at NWU, before signing up for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education at Wits.
Gilbert was a consistent influence during the Witsies’ title-winning season, and their first back in Varsity Cup – when he reached the eligibility age of 25. These days he is operating as a Labour Relations and Human Resource consultant but remains involved at Wits as an assistant coach.
FROM THE ARCHIVE: Gilbert giving it all for FNB Wits
LWAZI NGCUNGAMA (FNB UKZN, 2015)
Ngcungama was appointed FNB UKZN’s first black captain in 2014 (by former New Zealand head coach John Mitchell), and the following year the flanker led the Impi to their lone Varsity Shield title.
Ngcungama has been based in France since 2016, playing for Rugby Club Compiègne and despite holding a Sport Science degree is now furthering his education to become a Human Resources practitioner.
FROM THE ARCHIVE: How UKZN shocked Wits in 2015
MOKHOLOKOE 'KHOLO' RAMASHALA (FNB CUT, 2014)
Ramashala was selected for the national Under-20 football team during his teenage years in the Eastern Cape, but chose to focus on his rugby and subsequently claimed two Varsity Shield titles while at CUT. He played fullback when the Ixias beat UWC in the 2013 final, before in 2014 leading them past UKZN (and promotion) from fullback.
Now 30, Ramashala works for a pan-African financial services group and is a music producer. He also still played club rugby for Bloemfontein Police in 2019.
INUS KRITZINGER (FNB CUT, 2011 and 2013)
In 2013 Kritzinger became the first man to lead his varsity, CUT, to two Varsity Shield titles – having previously done so in 2011 - the inaugural year. For good measure, the scrumhalf-come-flyhalf claimed back-to-back FNB Back That Rocks awards in 2011-12 before being chosen for the overall award in 2013.
Welkom-born Kritzinger turned out for Griffons (while being on the fringes of the Cheetahs’ then-Super Rugby squad) after finishing university; but is now based in Pretoria where he works as a quantity surveyor.
FROM THE ARCHIVE: Kritzinger on his high hopes when Varsity Shield launched
DEVIN MONTGOMERY (FNB Wits, 2012)
CUT were the dominant team in the early years of the Varsity Shield, but it was Wits – lead by Montgomery – who won the 2012 title to become the first-ever team promoted to the Varsity Cup. The lock (and sometimes loose-forward) continued leading Wits until 2014, when he completed his Masters in Engineering and Project Management (to go with his Honours in Quantity Surveying).
Based in London, England since 2015, Montgomery has turned out for Blackheath and Esher in the lower tiers of English rugby while furthering his career in surveying.
FROM THE ARCHIVE: Q&A with Montgomery