How to back your boytjies

Earlier this week the Wits Rugby team got smashed by Tukkies in Monday’s Varsity Cup match. Tuks is known for their rugby and being a physically aggressive team. Wits, not so much. The 53-8 thrashing drove this point straight home.

[pullquote]”Fifteen burly men, a ball that bounces funny and more than one way to score…”[/pullquote]

There are still weeks of Varsity Cup matches yet to come, which means many more beatings (for our team and others) so perhaps a primer is needed for those of us who are rugby neophytes but want an appreciation for the ruthless game.

Fifteen burly men, a ball that bounces funny and more than one way to score—sounds like my kind of game. Rugby is one of the only sports I enjoy watching because as a nation we tend to prosper in that field.

Wits and Tuks go head to head in a scrum. Photo: Caro Malherbe

Wits and Tuks going head to head in a scrum during their Varsity Cup match on Monday. Photo: Caro Malherbe

There’s something inspiring in knowing the team you’re backing actually stands a chance of winning (side-eyes Bafana Bafana). There is more to the game than hoping on a try though.

The 15 giants on each team are made up of eight forwards and seven backs, with a bench that allows for up to eight more players. Much like life, rugby is about scoring, in this case scoring the most points by the time the two 40-minute halves have run their course.

Kick-off starts after a coin toss, followed by a kick from the halfway line that flies at least ten metres. If unsuccessful, the opposing team gets to pick between a scrum (short for scrummage) or a line out to fight for the ball

A scrum is when die manne do that intense huddle that somehow requires giving one another wedgies, pushing and shoving until the ball is kicked backwards to the mouth of their teams scrum, passed to a halfback who will either run like Forest or kick like Montgomery.

There are three main ways to score points during the 80 minutes of play.

Firstly a try, running through the opposing teams line of defence and touching down in their goal area, this gets five points on the scoreboard.

Secondly, a conversion can add on another three points, after a successful try, the best kicker on the team (usually a flyhalf) gets a go at kicking the ball through the goalposts for what’s called a drop goal.

The Varsity Cup 2014 scoring system is slightly different to regular scoring where conversions are usually only worth two points. Another difference is that penalty kicks or drop goals are only worth two points, as opposed to three.

There are rules on rules on rules on how players tackle one another, go for the ball etc, but those are lessons for another day. Until then, take this primer and get out to a Varsity Cup rugby match and cheer for our boys in blue.


Don’t get stumped by cricket bru

Infographic by Mia Swart

It’s that time of the year again – when camp chairs, people  lathered in sun screen and crowded cars make their way to stadiums to watch cricket.

I use the word “watch” loosely here because even though I have been to many cricket games, I’ve never really watched. I have no recollection of who won and who lost.I don’t even remember who was playing.

What I do recall is the amount of booze that was flowing, getting burnt by the sun and the many details of the “deep meaningful conversations” I had with my friends pitch side. This cricket season I refuse to be a mindless spectator. I want to engage and scream my lungs out like the rest of the crowd. I sought out the help of a few fanatics. CRICKET 3

Hopefully what they told me will help other people who have been using the cricket as an excuse to work on their phuza faces.


Let’s start with the teams. There are 11 players on each team. “Teams bat in successive innings and attempt to score runs, while the opposing team fields and attempts to bring an end to the batting team’s innings,” said student and player, Kagiso Mathaba.

An inning is just one half of the game that each team gets an opportunity to bat or bowl.

Simply, apart from winning, part of the game is to get as many runs as possible without losing too many wickets.


The fastest way to do this is to hit 4s and 6s. A 4 is when the ball hits the boundary line and a 6 is when the ball is hit clean over that line. The slowest way of getting runs is manually running between the wickets.

Some of the main ways of being taken out are: a direct catch after the ball has been hit by a batsman, LBW (leg before wicket) when the ball hits a batsman’s leg which is directly in line with a wicket.

A  run out is when a batsman fails to make it back to the crease (you might have to look this up, I did). Also each batsman represents a wicket, so by the time 10 wickets/batsmen have been bowled out it’s late for the said team.

Duckworth-Lewis method

What I found most interesting is the fact that a team can win a game without playing an entire game.

Apparently when it rains, the Duckworth-Lewis method is used to calculate how a team would have carried on playing had it not been for the rain – but they have to play for a considerable amount of time for this method to be used.

“It’s a strategic game, it’s as much about playing as it is about thinking – it’s about tactical one-upmanship.

“The greatest thing about cricket is the commentary,” said a sports aficionado in the Wits Vuvuzela newsroom.

It’s all in the hands, from spectators who lift beers to umpires with their customised signals, to commentators who offer visual illustrations of the game as it unfolds.