FNB VARSITY CUP: Final whistle frustration

The season ends with a disheartening loss for FNB Wits, but there is hope for the future thanks to the rise of young talent. 

A gruelling 12-24 season-ending loss to the FNB Shimlas on April 8, 2024, at Wits Rugby Stadium saw the Wits side effectively nudged out of the contest with a fifth place finish

Tension was high throughout the first few exchanges as both teams tried avoiding mistakes on a wet field. Even though the hosts had the ball early on, they frequently made handling errors, which cost them potential points. 

The visitors were clearly a real danger to breach the Wits defense once they found their rhythm. Following a period of continuous pressure, the visitors scored first, with hooker Liyema Mgwigwi converting from close range.

Flyhalf Ethan Wentzel slotted the conversion, putting Shimlas up 7-0. That lead was increased when winger Siviwe Zondani capped off a beautiful team play by leaping over for a try beneath the posts.  

Wentzel continued his immaculate kicking, adding the conversion to give the visitors a dominating 14-0 halftime score.

Despite the halftime deficit,  Wits fans remained upbeat, their chants ringing across the whole stadium. ”I’m not going to say we lost already, we can still do it,” Avela Sisilana, told Wits Vuvuzela.  Mmambowethu Katsande said, “One thing that’s been true about the boys is that we [are] the comeback kings.” 

UFS doubled their lead after the break with a goal from fullback Michael Annies. However, Wits responded swiftly, as Drew Bennet crossed the line following a superb ball from outside center Liyema Matyolweni. Shimlas’ Gideon Nel scored the important bonus-point try, but his conversion attempt bounced off the upright, leaving the score at 19-7. 

In a last-ditch effort, Wits flanker Kelvin Kanenungo charged over for a try. However, it was too little, too late, as the conversion attempt went wide, ending the match 24-12 in Shimlas’ favor. 

Hugo van As, the head coach, has voiced his dissatisfaction with how the season has unfolded.  

“Disappointed yes but obviously looking forward to the future, at one stage we had eight youngsters in our environment, which obviously, if we can keep them on board, would be good for the future,” he told Wits Vuvuzela.  

The semi-final matches will be played on Monday, April 15.

FNB VARSITY CUP: Clash of Titans ends in stalemate

Nothing could separate the Boys in Blue and Ikeys in an erratic varsity cup battle.

Wits University clashed with the University of Cape Town (UCT) in the Varsity Cup on March 18, 2024, with the game eventually ending in a nail-biting 33-33 draw.  

The visitors came into the game as favourites on the back of two successive victories against the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the Central University of Technology (CUT).  

Wits on the other hand headed into the encounter seeking redemption on the heels of a two-game losing streak, the most recent being a 51-22 away loss to the North-West University (NWU) Eagles.  

A second minute penalty and three tries saw UCT go into the half-time break with a 10-28 lead over the home side.  

However, Wits flew out the traps in the second half, scoring two tries within the first five minutes. One courtesy of fullback, Setshaba Mokoena, who ripped through the UCT defence before he chipped, then chased the ball to score a dazzling solo effort. 

Wits and UCT engaged in a tight battle at Wits Rugby Stadium. Photo: Kabir Jugram

This dizzying spell from the home side reduced the halftime deficit to two points, but only for a matter of minutes as a try by Mhleli Khuzwayo extended the buffer for the away side.  

The scoreboard was 26-33 to the Ikeys with ten minutes left on the clock, setting the stage for a nervy finale. But the Wits crowd remained at full volume, and their spirit was duly rewarded when Wits prop, Ronan Dutton scrambled over the goal line in the final minute of the game. After a successful conversion, the game ended in a 33-33 draw.   

Debutant Wits flanker, Kevin Kakoma said the match was, “Absolutely exhilarating! [I] had a blast out there. It was tough, obviously, they kept coming and never really died down, but it was a good push.” He said the crowd was a highlight, “I’m truly thankful for everyone coming out and just giving out support. I really felt that I was at home here”. 

UCT prop John Okonkwo said, “We brought the energy, we brought the effort. Kudos to Wits, they really put us on our toes today, especially in the second half. I think a draw justifies the game and how it actually played out.” 

Wits is now fifth on the Varsity Cup log with two games remaining. Their next clash is against the UJ at the UJ Stadium on March 25, 2024.   

FEATURED IMAGE: Wits and UCT players compete for a line-out. Photo: Kabir Jugram


NWU hand Wits a drubbing at Varsity Football opener

Sandwhich: Wits player Tumelo Magethi escapes NWU defenders Photo: Prelene Singh

Sandwich: Wits player Mzimkhulu Nhlengethwa escapes NWU defenders Photo: Prelene Singh

North West University (NWU) are early favourites to lift the inaugural Varsity Football title, after the men from Mafikeng thrashed Wits 4-0 at Milpark Stadium on Monday night.

The launch of Explosive Mondays, where student football teams from eight universities around the country will compete every Monday for the next nine weeks, was festive and filled with entertainment on and off the field.

The match, played in front of a packed a home crowd was beamed live by DStv channel Supersport, as will 15 out of the total 33 games, and this raised the atmosphere to fever-pitch on a frosty night in the Highveld.

Prizes on offer for those who braved the cold added to the atmosphere. Cash prizes for the most vocal fans and res’s with the most colourful supporters, a raffle for five cases of beer and a sea of freebies made it a memorable evening.

Memorable that is, for all except the Wits student team, who were a goal down within the first 15 minutes, and forced to chase shadows in the second half when UNW put on an exhibition of idiski, or more precisely “ukupencila” – vernacular in South African townships for “keep-ball” and dribbling.

While the team from the North West was much fitter, quicker, and more aggressive in attack throughout the 90 minutes, the score at half-time could have been in Wits’s favour had the home team turned their dominance in possession into goals.

Wits were comfortable on the ball playing crisp, one-touch football that delighted Witsies, who chanted war-cries and bayed for NWU’s blood.

Phenyo Mongalo, Zachary Cohen, and captain Mzimkhulu Nhlengethwa were inventive in midfield and fed the strikers well, but Wits front-line just wasn’t up to the task and squandered plenty of chances to score.

Wits paid the ultimate price for their wastefulness, conceding a penalty in the 11th minute and another three goals in the final quarter of the game.

Wits head coach, Karabo Mogudi attributed the disappointing performance to the recent university vacations, which he said affected his team’s fitness.

“If our conditioning level was at the required standard we would have done much better,” he said.

Mogudi said NWU were fitter and sharper than his charges because they had been training in preparation for National First Division (NFD) play-offs.

He also said the tournament was a great initiative, but stressed that it was important for the players to be successful on and off the field.

“I’ll only know the benefits of the tournament at the end of the year, when everyone passes and does well in their studies … when they come back to me and say ‘coach, I don’t owe the University anything”.


Oh dear! The fourth goal really knocked the stuffing out of Wits Photo: Prelene Singh

Witsies,don’t talk to strangers, especially at the ATM

CONNED: Segun and the ATM trying to find his card Photo:Nokuthula Manyathi

CONNED: Segun at the ATM trying to find his card
Photo:Nokuthula Manyathi

On Monday evening, a Southdale man stopped off at the Braamfontein Centre to draw R50 for taxi fare. As he put his card into the machine, two men approached and told him the ATM didn’t work.

They are not smart. I am just a big fool
One of them told him to key in his cellphone number to make the machine work. “All of a sudden one of the two men was pressing buttons on the ATM, I turned around and they were quickly walking away.” Segun, who would not give his surname, tried to eject his card but nothing happened. Minutes later he received an SMS saying R1 620 had been withdrawn and that his available balance was R6.

“They are not smart. I am just a big fool,” he said, as he dialled a friend’s number with shaking hands. “All my money is gone. How am I going to get home? I am stranded.”He said he had decided to use the First National Bank ATM at Braamfontein Centre because he thought it would be safer than using the ATM on the street.

Ask us the securities, we won’t rob you.
Abigail Dube, a security guard at Braamfontein Centre, said people should stop asking for and accepting help from strangers. “Don’t talk to strangers…Ask us the securities, we won’t rob you.” Dube said students never asked for their help, but were “quick to cry ‘security’ when they were ripped- off. She said she could only help those who asked for help. “Money is confidential. We can only help if people ask us.”Ncane Bogosi, another security guard at Braamfontein Centre, said a few weeks ago a man lost more than R4 000 because he let a stranger “help” him. “They think we don’t know how to operate an ATM,” said Bogosi.

Other danger zones

Braamfontein Centre is not the only place where students should be alert. Shandukani Mulaudzi, a Wits Vuvuzela journalist, almost lost her money when she tried to withdraw money at the Standard Bank ATM just in front of The Grove in Melle Street. Mulaudzi arrived at the ATM to find a man “who looked like he just withdrew money”. He told her to stop saying the ATM wasn’t working. He grabbed the card from her hand.

“I kept watching his hands and it looked like he wanted to put it in his sleeve.” Mulaudzi confronted the man: “Hayibo, wenzani ?”A security guard then approached and the man got nervous. He gave her back her card and quickly walked away. Mulaudzi said students should be very alert and not accept help. “Don’t ever let anyone help you. Always trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe, don’t use the ATM.”


A long way to go for Wits Rugby

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By Jay Caboz

FNB Wits have been left a mountain to climb after falling to bottom place with a 63-24 loss to FNB University of Johannesburg after squaring off in their first Varsity Cup match.

“The match obviously didn’t pan out the way we would have wanted but we have to take the positives out of it. We started the game too slow and after UJ got a few early tries we were playing catch up, which is never an easy thing to do,” said Wits Captain Devin Montgomery.

UJ ran in an overwhelming 9 tries to Wits’ three. Wits also fell short of a needed bonus point by a single try in their last two games. The points would have narrowed the broadening gap between Ikeys and Shimlas who are now four and six points ahead of Wits.

Luckily, Wits’ position in the Varsity Cup is secured for the 2013 season. Montgomery explained that there was no relegation zone this year guaranteeing that Wits will have two years in the competition.

“This is to ensure that we are given a fair chance to learn and adapt to this high level of rugby,” he said, “We know that every game in this competition is going to be tough and each week it’s never going to get any easier.”

“We have defended a lot this season and there has been a big gap between the number of tackles we have had to make compared to our opponents in every game.”

Wits are gaining a reputation of a never-say-die attitude on the field. During their match against UJ, Wits showed brief moments of brilliance when going forward. One of the key members to watch is Number 8 Carel Greeff who has proven to be an influential player in the squad having added another two tries to his five for the season in four matches.

“Carel is a great player and is playing great rugby at the moment. We have a couple of go-to ball carriers in the team, one of which is Carel,” said the captain.

The No. 8 has become well known for his crashing runs through opposing lines and he is a tenacious tackler that has made him an important element in the squad.

Montgomery said the “this Varsity Cup campaign is about learning and gaining experience playing at this top level of rugby for us.”

The team’s goals were to work hard in training and aim to perform for the full 80 minutes with making as little mistakes as possible.

“Wits will earn the reputation of being a difficult fixture I have no doubt about that. The team has a special bond and because we spend so much time together there is a family sense amongst the team,” he said.

For more Varsity Cup action follow the link


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Tough Run-In for FNB Wits Rugby


HARD BALL: Captain of FNB Wits Devin Montgomery drives through FNB NWU-Pukke’s defensive line during their match at the Wits Rugby Stadium on Monday evening. Wits have not won a game since being promoted to the Varsity Cup. Photo Jay Caboz

Story and Photos by Jay Caboz

FNB Wits took a beating after FNB NWU-Pukke ran in a haul of 10 tries to, losing 71-25 on Monday nights Varsity Cup match held at the Wits Rugby Stadium.

Despite the overwhelming score line, Wits put up a good show and for the majority of the game were in running contention. But the visitors from North-West University tore through Wits defence in the second half with 5 unanswered tries leaving Wits in the dust and one try short of a salvaged bonus point.

“We were incredibly happy with our performance in the first half, we just have to learn to play for 80 minutes,” said Wits captain Devin Montgomery.

The score line opened a minute after the starting whistle when Wits flanker Thato Mavundla ran the ball over the line from a driving maul deep in Pukke’s half.


TRIES FOR CHARITY: A fan waits for the kick-off between FNB Wits and FNB NWU-Pukke. The pink ball is a new introduction to this year’s Varsity Cup and allows players to add a R2 000 donation if they score for their team during the “Rugby that Rocks Time” period. Wits Rugby Club supports Usindiso Ministries, a shelter that offers support, assistance and care to teenage girls, abused women and their children. Photo Jay Caboz

The ball continued to roll in Wits’ favour after Carel Greeff broke through Pukke’s defensive line and put another try in.In the 15th minute Pukke shook off their shock and responded with a try of their own to bring the score to 16-5.
Pukke put another eight points on the board when SJ Niemand drove over the try line.

Wits were able to extend their lead by another two points after converting a long-ranged penalty to end the first quarter. The home team managed to extend their lead to 10 points when they scored what would be their last try of the match.

Play continued to swing in both halves with Wits making some crunching tackles. But Pukke gained some level footing after scoring another try to decrease the deficit. The final nail on the coffin was drawn when Pukke put in two more tries to end the half 31-25.

The second half remained a contest until 15 minutes in when the floodgates opened. Pukke ran in five more tries which completely overwhelmed Wits’ defence. The visitors size and field play was just too much for Wits to handle.

“Yes we took a beating, but a lot of the points we conceded were from mistakes on our own behalf and turning over the ball,” said Montgomery. “We have UJ [University of Johannesburg] next week and it’s a more familiar game to us than this week. We are looking forward to it.”

The result leaves Wits hanging in last place on the log, two points behind 7th Ikeys (UCT). Wits will need to put in a good performance against UJ, who are currently sitting 3rd, to draw some points ahead of their clashes with bottom of the log teams.