Wits University is a place renewed with great hope and optimism in 2019, ahead of the 12th edition of the FNB Varsity Cup. FNB Wits get their tournament underway, where it unfortunately ended last season for the men from Joburg at the Danie Craven Stadium fortress in Stellenbosch, against the FNB Maties on Monday the 4th of February.
This week the university’s campuses are experiencing an incredible buzz, as students return from far and wide for O-week, with many quite excited to see their team compete once more in the FNB Varsity Cup. The FNB Wits faithful will however have to wait until the 11th of February to witness their troops do battle at the Wits Rugby Stadium against FNB CUT.
FNB Wits have worked tirelessly throughout their participation in the Varsity Cup, with the 2018 edition seeing the Witsies, go all the way to the semifinal stage of the competition, however eventually getting dumped out by the eventual champions, the FNB Maties. That resulted in the FNB Wits management taking steps in strengthening their squad by bringing fresh faces into the fold.
The new players see flyhalf Kurt Webster, who already possesses FNB Varsity Cup experience, make the move from FNB UP-Tuks. Kevin Du Randt jumps ship from ‘noisy neighbours’ FNB UJ, to bring in more fire power in the second row. Lions exciting young talent, Wandisile Simelane could possibly also make a return to the FNB Wits team, if the Johannesburg Super Rugby outfit opt not to use him in this season’s tournament. Morne Van Den Berg could also make his FNB Varsity Cup debut for the Witsies, but is also still training with the Lions Super Rugby squad, who are yet to confirm if he’ll be released for FNB Varsity Cup duty or not.
The Witsies are also fortunate to have the services of two junior Springboks, in Keagan Glade and Dameon Venter, who have also again been invited to a junior national training camp in Stellenbosch this week. The squad also features exciting young loose-forward, Cal Smid, who captained the Lions U/19 side last season. FNB Wits will still be led out by the ever so passionate Constant Beckerling this season, with coach Hugo Van As remaining the man at the helm.
The bulk of the squad remains the same, which will be a good thing for the Joburgers, who will look to hit the ground running and find the consistency from last season. The FNB Wits team managed to secure some success during the offseason, when a few men proved not to just be good rugby players but fine academics as well. A total of five members from the squad secured their degrees, which include the team manager and former player Kelly Ferdinand who completed a Bachelor of Arts qualification, majoring in Psychology. The squad members include Conor Terah Brockschmidt - BA (Psychology), Kwanele Ngema (Education), Craig Hume (Education), and lastly Sipho Siboza (Urban and Regional Planning). This is proof that the Witsies bring a lot of brains onto the park this season and not just braun.
Catch the Witsies in their FNB Varsity Cup opener on Monday evening all the way in Stellenbosch against the FNB Maties at 7pm, or alternatively live on SuperSport. This is a match you do not want to miss, as the Witsies look to correct the wrongs of last season and start the season off with a win at the Danie Craven Stadium.
2019 FNB Wits Varsity Cup squad:
Forwards: Bhekisa Shongwe, Craig Hume, Ebot Buma, CJ Greef, Luyolo Qiela, Keagan Glade, Reynard Cronje, CJ Conradie, Justin Brandon, Dameon Venter, Pascal Snyman, DJ Bodenstein, Conor Brockschmidt, Anton Gerber, Kyle Van Eyssen, Kevin Du Randt, Constant Beckerling, Chris Worthington, Ziyanda Msipha, Sipho Siboza, Cal Smid, Brandon O’doughnue, Mark Snyman.
Backs: Ruan Cloete, Runaldo Pedro, Luke Bramhall, Morne Van Den Berg, Matthew MacDonald, Chris Humphries, Keagan Lailvaux, Kurt Webster, Daniel Kasende, Kwanele Ngema, Lwazi Monakali, Moemisi Mosheledi, Neil Nyembe, Dylan Fourie, AJ Van Blerk, Yanga Hlalu, Sicelo Champion, Jared Fuller.