Wits will not be progressing to the Varsity Cup semi-finals after being defeated by the NWU Eagles  

 North-West University’s Eagles have secured their spot in the Varsity Cup semi-finals on Monday, with a 36-3 victory against Wits.  

 The Eagles, affectionally known as Pukke had a strong start to the game, leading with a score of 10-3 before the game was suspended due to heavy downpours and lightning strikes.   

The match was resumed 40 minutes later when the rain subsided, but Wits’ attempts to get the quanco into the end zone failed, ending the first half with the Eagles dominating with a score of 17-3.  

When half-time ended, the heavy rains had intensified again and the game was suspended for over an hour. Most spectators left the stadium as they assumed ​​​​the game would eventually be cancelled, but it carried on despite delays.  

 In the first 20 minutes after the game resumed, Pukke extended their lead through full-back Santino Swanepoel, who received the ball from out wide and finished with a successful ​try. This resulted in the NWU Eagles leading with 24 points while Wits remained at three points. 

 In their final try, which was finished off by inside centre Luke Fortuin, the NWU Eagles solidified their win with a final score of 36-3.  

NWU player, Farai Sibanda who was sitting on the bench said the Eagles are excited about making it to the semi-finals, but “the job is not done.”  

NWU Eagles trying to turn over possession during their match against Wits. Photo: Otsile Swaratlhe

Wits player, Ziyanda Msipha said that he believes the bad weather conditions negatively contributed to their overall performance. “I feel when they called it [halted the game] at first, during the first half, I believe they should have cancelled it and made us play [the next day]. I think that would have made sense because there’s a lot of momentum shifts when you’re stopping the play three or four times.”  

He explained that it was unfortunate that they did not make it to the next round. “The team is hurt, it’s badly hurt, and it’s tough because there’s quite a few players that won’t play next year, so this would’ve been their last one, ​​so in that aspect, players are really hurt.”​​  

Wits head coach, Hugo Van As said the team was “very devastated” about not making it to the semi-finals  He said although the weather was bad, he did not think it contributed to Wits performance, alluding that it was just a bad game for his team.  

He added that overall, the team performed well this year. Out of the seven games they ​​played, the games against Stellenbosch University and the University of the Free State were the only two games where they were not “on par.”   

 Wits player Jason Lee Cloete said despite the defeat, Witsies can hold their heads up high because they put a good effort on the field.  

FEATURED IMAGE: Wits rugby players in a maul with the NWU Eagles. Photo: Terri-Ann Brouwers