Wits Varsity Cup sorrows

Tuks receive another line out at the 10m mark. Photo: Caro Malherbe

WITS THRASHED: Tuks receive another line out at the 10m mark in their match against Wits last night. Photo: Caro Malherbe

Wits walked away empty handed at home after a crushing 53-8 loss against UP-Tuks, (University of Pretoria), on Monday night.

It was a disappointing loss as Wits struggled to establish themselves in a match reminiscent of the club’s poor performance in last year’s competition. The team finished last on the log in the 2013 season after failing to win a single match. 

Wits started off on a high note, scoring the first try of the match within the first five minutes, thanks to scrumhalf, Matt Torrence.

Tuks equalised two minutes later with a try by Wiaan Liebenberg. Former junior Springbok, Dries Swanepoel put Tuks in the lead with another try within minutes of the first. Missing the second conversion, the score stood at 8-13 to Tuks, 15 minutes into the game.

Wits  clearly lacked discipline and made some silly mistakes, handing over penalties and helping Tuks gain ground towards the try line where Swanepoel scored his second try of the match plus a cleared conversion. At half-time Tuks lead with 21-8.

A full Wits FNB Stadium shows their support while singing the South Africa national anthem. Photo: Caro Malherbe

A full Wits Rugby Stadium shows their support while singing the South Africa national anthem. Photo: Caro Malherbe

At half-time, the filled-to-capacity Wits Rugby Stadium were entertained by the Wits cheerleaders who now boast two male  members.

During the second half, Wits upped their defence preventing Tuks from scoring as they made a playfor the  close to the try line. At almost an hour onto the game, Tuks managed to push through with Swanepoel scoring his third try for his team, leading 29-8 after a successful conversion.

Tuks’ Swanepoel received a yellow card for a high tackle on fly half, Ashlon Davids. However, the officials seemed to have made a mess of things as Tuks continued with a 15 man team.

A further three tries were scored by Tuks captain ,Reniel Hugo followed by wing, Jade Stighling and replacement for Swanepoel, Leneve Damens scored the last try of the night, finalizing the scoreboard at 52-8.

Tuks, last year’s Varsity Cup champions, admittedly were surprised by Wits’ effort. Man of the match, Swanepoel said: “It was tougher than we thought it would be. Wits came in very hard but unfortunately it was our night.”

Wits coach, Andy Royle went into the game with only five members from last years’ final Varsity Cup match against UCT. A number of players did not meet Wits’ academic requirements and therefore have restrictions on their playing time. Royle was hoping his team would make a comeback after last year, but the lack of experienced players in the Wits side is going to make things tricky for the rest of the season.

Junior Mandela?


BIRD’S EYE: A view of Nelson Mandela’s memorial from the top tier of FNB stadium where this reporter met Junior. Photo: Mfuneko Toyana

Nelson Mandela had a genuine, well-documented soft-spot for young children. In them, he saw an innocence untainted by the wrongs of the adult world, as well hope for the future of our country. On Tuesday, one young boy named Junior attended his memorial, while this older boy watched on.

It all started with a pen that slid down between the sodden aisles of orange flip-seats. The finale: a makeshift safety belt fashioned from an ANC scarf, at about the same time Brazilian president Dilma Russeff took to the podium and the PA system really went south …

Seated on the uppermost tier of FNB stadium, sheltered from the pouring rain by the cavernous mouth of the concrete calabash, little Junior’s exuberance mirrored that of the small battalion of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), on the opposite end of the stadium.

Both could not be contained, but only the latter irked MC Cyril Ramaphosa to the point of clenched-teeth madness.

Junior’s mother, fearing her son would skip over the ledge, and heading paternal anxieties of a fellow mourner that young Junior would “follow Mandela to the grave”, promptly restrained her son by using her black, green and gold scarf to bind him to the orange chair.

Problem solved.

When a different section of the crowd, this time clad in South African Defense Force (SANDF) fatigues, breached acceptable levels of raucousness by chanting “siyaya ngomkhonto wesizwe (we go forth with the spear of the nation)”, Junior took Ramaphosa’s silence as invitation.

He co-opted his sister into finger-counting the soldiers, as if breathing in the sight of bravery.  Consequently, he loosened the scarf around his torso and flung it over his head in a Rambo-style bandana.

There was plenty of seeming non-events around the stadium for the young boy, barely over seven years in age, to feed his wonder. Cameras with jumbo-size lenses led to hand-clapping and earnest discussions with his mother, as well as whispers to his elder sister.

While protocol was being implored on stage, Junior wasted none of his time on formalities.

When “Mandela yoh, my president” rang out during president Hifikepunye Pohamba’s address, Juniour joined in until a flurry of umbrella activity below proved a fatal distraction.

Shortly after, Junior offered me his juice while Ramaphosa again pleaded for discipline. Had Ramaphosa’s finger-wagging inadvertently led to this act of kindness? Or was this instinctual defiance?

Only Junior knows.

A closed-eye game. Junior is inventor and sole participant, spinning round and resting a tiny index finger on a random stranger.

“Hayi maan basemsebenzini (Stop that they’re working ),” scolds his mother.

Junior, in my direction, retorts: “Kamampela usemsebenzini (Really you’re working)?”

The answer leads to another game. Junior points out to his mother everyone he spots doing the frenetic notepad scribble, asking: “Mama, naloya? Bheka mama, naloya. Naloya?” (Mom, him too? Look mom, him too? Him too?)

However, and unfortunately, this eye for obscure detail is not destined for a newsroom and carpal tunnel syndrome.

“Ngifuna ukhuba yipoyisa ngibambe abotsotsi (I want to be a policeman and catch bad guys),” Junior says.

The pen he rescued from a shallow puddle symbolised nothing. Except, perhaps, plain simple good will, and a life lived in wonder of the world around him.

Junior. Mandela. Junior Mandela? One can only hope.


WitsVuvuzela. South Africans drown Mandela sorrows in boos. December 10, 2013

South Africans drown Mandela sorrows in boos


Some of the crowd at FNB Stadium jeered the South African President Jacob Zuma during former president Nelson Mandela’s memorial. Photo: Shandukani Mulaudzi.

An unruly crowd spoiled proceedings at what was meant to be a sombre memorial for former president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg today.

On the day on which South Africans gathered with international visitors to unite in memory of Madiba, a significant portion of the mourners at FNB Soccer Stadium was unable to hide their dissatisfaction with the current South African president Jacob Zuma.

As dignitaries from around the world including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and former South African president Thabo Mbeki were shown arriving for the memorial the crowd cheered them on enthusiastically but Zuma’s image on the large screens around the stadium was treated with loud booing and jeering.

Deputy-president of the African National Congress (ANC) Cyril Ramaphosa appealed to the crowd to be disciplined but as he did so, an image of US President Barack Obama was shown to which the crowd responded with cheers. Immediately afterwards, Zuma was shown again to further booing.

The crowd became more restless when the screens stopped focusing on the speakers on the stage. During Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s speech singing erupted from the stands. The African Union chair’s speech was interrupted by Ramaphosa who yet again appealed for quiet.

The disruptive behaviour persisted during the rest of the program although US President Barack Obama’s speech received more attention and applause.

Soon after Obama’s speech though large groups of people made their way out of the stadium.

“Where is the Ubuntu?”

Ramaphosa finally resorted to speaking in Isizulu and pleaded for the crowd to be disciplined and refrain from embarrassing the country in front of foreign guests.

One South African journalist was overheard saying: “Some in the country are so angry that even Mandela’s spirit of unity can’t silence people.”

People on Twitter expressed their disappointment in the crowd’s behaviour.

Mel Msane (@mel_msane) tweeted:“Buphi Ubuntu” – “Where is the Ubuntu?”. Liesl Frankson (@LieslFrankson) said: “This is so ridiculous why can’t people respect that this is not about the president and former president it’s about #Madiba!! Stop booing!”.

Wits vice-chancellor Professor Adam Habib (@adhabb) tweeted: I am not sure it is that it is appropriate to boo Zuma at Madiba’s memorial. This is Madiba’s day. We should not be distracted from this. ”

Attention then turned to concern for what would happen during the President’s keynote. A praise poet made an unscheduled but welcome appearance in order to introduce Zuma but this did little to settle the restless crowd. Zuma’s appearance thereafter was briefly greeted with more booing but the crowd quietened as he spoke and he concluded to some applause.