Wits are rugby champs

Wits are the 2016 Varsity Shield champions.

It was an intense season but Wits emerged victorious at the Varsity Shield final by beating their visitors from the western Cape 39-2 at home last night. The team’s performance also sees them moving to the top tier Varsity Cup next year.

The Braamfontein outfit dominated the proceedings in the first 20 minutes, scoring 2 tries in the process, one by scrumhalf Ruan Cloete just 5 minutes into game Kyle Wesemann’s try followed shortly after. The University of Western Cape (UWC) responded with a penalty by flyhalf Aidynn Cupido, the team’s only scoring chance converted for the evening.

After the game was interrupted 23 minutes into the game by a blackout in the area.

After the recommencement, Wits captain Warren Gilbert increased the score through a dropgoal outside the 22 to make it 15-2.  Heading into the half-time break, Graham Logan capitalised on a long rolling maul to give Wits a 23-2 lead.

The second half was less easy for the Wits team who defended their line for the better part of the initial stages.  UWC couldn’t crack the defense though despite a number of abortive attempts.  CJ Conradie put the match beyond UWC’s reach with a clinical try before Constant Beckerling sealed the match with his.

Full time score: FNB Wits 39-02 FNB UWC


Wits: 39

Tries: Ruan Cloete, Kyle Wesemann, Graham Logan, CJ Conradie, Constant Beckerling
Conversions: Warren Gilbert (4)
Drop goals: Warren Gilbert

UWC: 2

Penalty: Aidynn Cupido



15 Luxolo Ntsepe, 14 Kwanele Ngema, 13 Joshua Jarvis, 12 Kyle Wesemann, 11 Sicelo Champion, 10 Warren Gilbert, 9 Ruan Cloete, 8 Constant Beckerling, 7 Conor Brockschmidt, 6 Ruan MacDonald, 5. Mitchell Fraser, 4 Graham Logan, 3 Luvuyo Pupuma, 2 CJ Conradie, 1 Tidje Visser


16 Craig Hume, 17 Ameer Willaims, 18 Mitchell Crossman, 19 Ayabulela Mdudi, 20 Wian Coetzee, 21 Thato Marubela, 22 Adriaan van Blerk, 23 Brandon Palmer


15 Jacquin Moses, 14 Octovane van Staden, 13 Courtney Cupido, 12 Lubabalo Faleni, 11 Minenhle Mthethwa, 10 Aidynn Cupido, 9 Clayton Daniels, 8 Matthew Faught, , 7 Jeremy Papier, 6 Verno Treu, 5 Matthew le Roux, 4 Brandon Valentyn, 3 Tahriq Allen, 2 Peter Wanjiru, 1 Kelvin de Bruyn


16 Keenan Douw, 17 Wayron Losper, 18 Sabelo Dlamini, 19 Byron Burgess, 20 Matthew Nortje, 21 Melikhaya Wana, 22 Monre Lingeveldt, 23 Robin Paulse


Wits fights back in Varsity Shield

Tanisha Heiberg

KICKING SUCCESS: FNB Wits Fly half, Warren Gilberts, kicking for the posts during their second Varsity Shield game where his team dominated with a 53-0 win against FNB TUT. Photo: Provided by Catherine Kotze

KICKING SUCCESS: FNB Wits Fly half, Warren Gilberts, kicking for the posts during their second Varsity Shield game where his team dominated with a 53-0 win against FNB TUT. Photo: Provided by Catherine Kotze

FNB Wits beat FNB TUT by 53 points when they played their first home game this season in the Varsity Shield rugby match on Monday.

Enjoying home ground advantage, Wits were hoping to redeem themselves from not only their 26-18 defeat against UKZN last week Monday, but also their 2015 defeat against the same team in the varsity shield finals.

The rainy weather, which threatened to disrupt play, didn’t dampen the spirits as Thato Marubela scored the first try to put his team 5-0 up. Captain Conor Brocschmidt brought the score up five more points to bring his team back into double digits. Fly-half Warren Gilberts, who missed his first conversion, managed to add three extra points on his second attempt. Wits continued piling on the pressure with a try from Constant Beckerling and another successful conversion. The Wits defense held firm against a desperate and physical FNB TUT side, bringing the halftime score to 21-0 for the home team

In the second half continued in the same vein, with Scrum-half Ruan MacDonald scoring three consecutive tries and his teammate AJ van Blerk putting the final nail in the coffin when he converted a penalty try, ending the game with a whitewash final score to 53-0 for FNB Wits.

“They were more physical than I expected but I don’t think they were as tactically prepared as we were,” said Brocschmidt.

The Wits team managed to regroup from a disappointing loss lost week and improve on their backline to clinch not only a confidence boosting win, but also an excellent birthday present for their team captain. “It was quite a good birthday present,” said Brocschmidt.

Even with a slight break, the Wits team won’t lose sight of their target to improve on last season’s form, when they travel to the University of Fort Hare to play FNB UFH next Thursday at Davidson Rugby Stadium.

“Every opposition is a strong opposition but I think we are pretty confident … the boys will be hungry for more after this,” said Brocschmidt.

Wits can’t be knocked down

LETS MAKE A CLAP: Wits boys share their victory with the crowd as they walk off the field after a stunning game of multiple tries.

LETS MAKE A CLAP: Wits boys share their victory with the crowd as they walk off the field after a stunning game of multiple tries. Photo: Lutho Mtongana

FNB WITS remain in the top spot of the Varsity Shield log after a comprehensive win against the University of Fort Hare (UFH) last night. The Witsies came away 93 – 0 against the team from Alice at the Wits Rugby stadium.

This was Wits’ second win in the season against Fort Hare, having beaten them 39 – 24 last month.

Wits flew into half-time with an unassailable lead of 48 points after right-wing Joshua Jarvis and left-wing Luxulo Ntsepe helped score two more tries. Fort Hare never managed to recover with poor defence dominating their performance.

“We didn’t make our own one-on-one tackles, we never got the ball-in-hand – we’d kick it away. So we played most of the game without the ball-in-hand, so surely when you don’t have the ball in hand in rugby, you’ll always go down,” said UFH’s coach Currie.

“It’s an embarrassment, I think the best thing about this game is that it’s over. But you have got to keep fighting, the show’s not over, we’ve got two more games left,” said UFH captain, Madoda Ludidi.

“You can’t afford to have three tries scored against you in the first fifteen minutes, then you start playing your own rugby – start playing ‘catch-up rugby’, which is not winning rugby, unfortunately,” Ludidi added.

Wits rugby captain, Richard Crossman congratulated his team on a good game. He was named the “player that rocks” for the night – the Varsity Shield title for the man of the match.

“I’m so glad we were so clinical, I think it was a great game for the team, we’ve got a great coaching style and great management,” Crossman said.

Wits coach, Van As said the boys could stay on top.  “If we keep our feet on the ground and just make sure we achieve what we want at the end of the season.”


Wits Vuvuzela, Wits boys shield their position on top, February 27, 2015

The Tigers come back for seconds in Varsity Cup final

This year’s Varsity Cup tournament ended with an unlikely finish when Ikeys came back from an 18-point deficit with six minutes remaining to claim the title.

University of Cape Town Ikeys took the match, 39-33, in the Monday match against NWU-Pukke, which left the hometown crowd in Potchefstroom disappointed.

The Pukke were left with a sour taste in their mouth after they threw away a guaranteed victory with a rash drop goal by flyhalf, Johnny Welthagen, after the final hooter which could have been kicked into touch for a victory.

Ikeys ran over the whitewash after 83 minutes to a thrilling victory, which left the UCT fans at their Cape Town fan park in delirium.

Two controversial tries were disallowed by the television match official. The decision left the 7 900 Potch fans at the stadium feeling hard done by, as it left Pukke without a trophy after topping the log all season.

Disappointment was nothing to new to fans of the Wits varsity rugby team, which lost all seven of their games this year and have been relegated to Varsity Shield.

A full Wits rugby stadium shows their support while singing the South Africa national anthem. The Witsies will compete in the Varsity Shield next year.       Photo: Caro Malherbe

NEXT YEAR:A full Wits rugby stadium shows their support while singing the South Africa national anthem. The Witsies will battle their way into the Varsity Cup next season after being relegated this year. Photo: Caro Malherbe

University of Johannesburg was in a danger of being relegated but were able to fight for their place in the Varsity Cup in a play-off match against the University of KwaZulu-Natal. UJ was able to keep their spot with a decisive 42-8 victory.

RUGBY: Wits back in Varsity Shield

Scrum after scrum saw the iKeys Tigers taking possession of the ball, leaving the Wits boytjies with mud on their faces. Photo: Luca Kotton

BOYTJIES BUMMED: Scrum after scrum saw the iKeys Tigers taking possession of the ball, leaving the Wits Boytjies with mud on their faces. Photo: Luca Kotton

By Luca Kotton and Lutho Mtongana

Wits rugby ended their Varsity Cup season as the only team without a win after seven group games, last night. The home ground advantage and sassy cheerleaders couldn’t help the Boytjies snatch a win in their final Varsity Cup game.

Wits will now play rugby for the next two years in the Varsity Shield competition.

It has been a hard season for the Witsies but despite this, they remain optimistic for the upcoming years.

Wits rugby team captain, Devin Montgomery said, “[It’s been] very disappointing … We set high goals for ourselves and we could have done better … I definitely think we have improved but we are just not there yet, so we are going to have to work our way back into the competition”.

In the game, Wits were 10-0 down at half time and came out the blocks in the second half with a renewed energy.

The team struggled to get past their halfway line, as they continued to fumble the ball. University of Cape Town (UCT) team, iKeys Tigers could have buried the game earlier but their kicker seemed to struggle on the night missing all of his five kicks.

In the face of a seventh loss, Wits put all their effort in trying to revive their hopes of a victory. Unfortunately, their last gasp effort and single unconverted try was not enough against the strong finish of the iKeys Tigers who ended the match 25-5.

The UCT captain, James Alexander, at the prospect of a home semi-final told Wits Vuvuzela, “We came here thinking we are going to win the competition. So to have a semi-final we are in pretty good shape. We brought in new management…we came here quite confident, especially away from home we’ve done really well”.

Throughout the entire game the Wits crowd remained enthusiastic and filled the stadium with energy and song, supporting their team in the hope of a victory.

Miss Varsity Cup makes her debut

If UCT gets to the final of the Varsity Cup 2014 competition, they will be joined by the newly crowned Miss Wits Varsity Cup, Callie Shepherd.

Shepard won through a combination of likes on the Miss Varsity Cup 2014 Facebook page, photo-shoots, interviews and a fashion show.

[VIDEO: A full interview with the new title holder].


RUGBY: Wits still singing Varsity Cup blues

FNB-Wits face relegation to the Varsity Shield league owing to their dismal performance in the Varsity Cup. Photo: File.

FNB-Wits (in blue) face relegation to the Varsity Shield league owing to their dismal performance in the Varsity Cup. Photo: File.

Wits Rugby has lost yet another game leaving the team at the bottom of the Varsity Cup league log facing relegation.

The team finished 16-8 in a rain-drenched match against NWU-Pukke in Potchefstroom last night.

Wits showed a fighting spirit from the onset but despite their perseverance Pukke fought a little harder to maintain  top position in the league.


Pukke started the game strongest, taking advantage of home territory to dominate possession.

After the first break, the home side launched a strong attack, leaving Wits’s defence vulnerable. Jacques Vermaak earned the first try of the game giving Pukke 8 points on the board.

Wits made successive breaks for the Pukke tryline but failed each time .

As if this was not unfortunate enough for the Witsies, Brent Crossely received a yellow card for a dangerous tackle 27 minutes into the game. Being a man down did not discourage the Boytjies in blue  as they continued to give their all.

After half time the hosts remained determined to consolidate their lead, while Wits camped just outside their opponent’s try line but falling short  of a try.

Wits finally scores

[pullquote align=”right”]They gave everything on the night[/pullquote]

After 62 minutes Phillip de Wet scored again for Pukke, putting them 16-0 up. Wits responded quickly, with fullback Ruhan Nel  scoring the first try for Wits in the 64th minute.

With the scores close  at 16-8 and both teams searching for victory, the final 15 minutes of the game were tense.

With under 10 minutes to go a tactical move from Wits saw the introduction of hooker James Marx to the field with only 7 minutes left in the game. NWU-Pukke however remained determined to hold on to their lead and managed to keep Wits out.

Pukke captain Devin Montgomery acknowledged Wits’ fighting spirit: “Credit goes to Wits, they came out,” Montgomery said.  He was not happy with the points scored by his team but was still happy with a victory.

Wits has not won a single game this season and are 8th on the log with only 3 points. They need to win their match against the winners of the lower league The Varsity Shield in order to avoid relegation to that league. 

RUGBY: Wits Boytjies face relegation

Despite their best efforts in this week’s match, the Wits Varsity Cup rugby team have lost yet again.

The Boytjies played valiantly this week against the NMMU, another tight match with a very close score margin.

DRENCHED: Both teams had to focus on ball handling due to slippery weather conditions. Photo: Luke Matthews

DRENCHED: Both teams had to focus on ball handling due to slippery weather conditions on Monday evening. Photo: Luke Matthews

Where do we stand?

Wits is still at the bottom of the log with two points and only two more games left. If the Witsies don’t manage to get themselves even one place higher on the log, they will find themselves relegated back to the Varsity Shield tournament, having to fight their way to the top of that log to make a Varsity Cup return.

Coach Andrew Royale said that their matches this season have been very competitive and that there’s a vast “improvement, considering where we’ve come from”. This is only the second year that the Wits team has been competing in the Varsity Cup tournament, last year the team was “blown away” by much more experienced teams in their first appearance in the Cup, said the coach.

Royale said the improved performances this year have to do with the players “having confidence in their abilities”, no drastic changes have been made to the team – with the core team from last year remaining the same.

Toeing the line

The Varsity Cup rules for this year stipulate that only 3 players on the team may be non-students, to ensure the integrity of the student based tournament. This rule was implemented after rumours of some teams cheating by having older, more experienced players in their teams emerged.

Last year’s winners of the tournament, Tuks have been accused on more than one occasion of this kind of “cheating”, and as punishment the team received a “strong reprimand”.

Wits  is historically an academics-focused institution and this could account for the way the team is structured to their disadvantage. “Other teams are running full professional clubs with students who study on the side. Our players are students who play a little rugby on the side,” explained Royale.

[pullquote align=”right”]”All we can do is keep on keeping on”[/pullquote]

In the Wits team only one player is a professional player, who has a contract with the Lions. Royale said: “we don’t want to put money into non-students, our highest priority are Wits students.”

With regards to relegation Royale said that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world and in fact would give the Boytjies the opportunity to nurture new, young talent. “Everyone understands our position, all we can do is keep on keeping on,” said the optimistic Royale.


Late try scores Wits top spot

THE WITS rugby team won their fourth game in a row on Monday night, despite trailing for most of the match.

The win means Wits goes back to the top of the Varsity Shield log, as the University of Fort Hare (UFH) beat previous leaders, University of the Western Cape (UWC), on the same night.

This result came as a surprise as UFH had won just a single game before Monday night, against the bottom team, the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN).

The first half of the game for Wits was characterised by missed opportunities for tries, mostly through forced handling errors.

“We made it quite hard for ourselves [in the first half]; it was really error ridden,” said Devin Montgomery, Wits captain.

Wits’ opponents on the night, the Central University of Technology (CUT) from the Free State, could not convert an early penalty kick in front of poles.

Wits could almost smell the white powder of the try line on their attack but CUT defended ferociously and pushed the home side back. A few minutes later, Wits did not have the same strength in defence when the Bloemfontein number 7 crashed over.

Bronson Lange, Wits’ in-form centre thrilled the crowd when he chipped the ball over the top of the CUT defence and chased it down. However, CUT displayed more calm cover at the back and beat Lange to the ball to prevent the try.

Wits were awarded a penalty on CUT’s 10m line and flyhalf Kyle Peyper landed it, despite the CUT fans’ attempt at putting him off.

Before the referee blew for the end of the first half, Wits had another chance to score a try when the Wits scrumhalf dodged several CUT tacklers but was stopped inches from the try line.

Wits trailed by 8-2 as the first half ended, despite plenty of opportunities to turn possession into points.

“It was frustrating, we spent most of the half in their 22,” said Montgomery.

“[In the first half] we panicked and some of our calls were rushed, so at half time we calmed down,” said Montgomery.

The home side looked stronger in the second half and finally scored a try through Brent Crossley, the scrumhalf who was stopped short in the first half. This pushed Wits into a 10-8 lead, but this would not last long as CUT scored their second try of the night through prop, Petri Coetzee.

Chances of pulling off a victory looked slim for Wits as the game neared its conclusion, but loosehead prop, Katlego Kgame, touched down the ball to edge the home side to their fourth win in a row.

“[CUT] pushed me back, but I pumped my legs and went over,” said Kgame describing his first competitive try.

The final score was 20-16, with Peyper scoring half of Wits’ points through two penalties and two conversions.

It seems Wits’ success can be attributed to their strong defence, as they have conceded the least points in the Varsity Shield so far.

Wits will face UFH on March 5 in Alicedale, Eastern Cape.

Wits change things up for CUT clash

Wits will be making several changes for their match tonight against their Free State rivals.

Midway through the Varsity Shield competition, Wits find themselves in second place while tonight’s opponents, Central University of Technology (CUT) trail them by one point in third position.

Bronson Lange and Ryan Odendaal will take over the centre pairing from Rudolf Prinsloo and Heinke Hartdegan, when they kick off at 7pm at the Wits Rugby Stadium.

Mandla Dube will have a chance to impress on the wing, which sees Zunaid Kock dropped to the bench, while Petrus van Biljon replaces Thato Mavundla at flank.

Tonight’s encounter is most likely to be a close match, as Wits and CUT have the best defences in the league, conceding 71 and 78 points respectively.

Meanwhile Wits will be hoping University of Forth Hare (UFH) can pull off a surprise win over current log leaders, University of the Western Cape (UWC). This result would see Wits regain the top spot, providing they beat CUT tonight.

Wits rugby goes for pole position


Wits will battle to regain the top spot of the Varsity Shield log tonight, but only if the result of another league game goes their way.

Hoping to achieve three consecutive wins, Wits face University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN) at 7pm tonight.

At the same time tonight, UWC play first-placed Central University of Technology (CUT).

The perfect scenarios for Wits would either be a draw between these two sides, or for UWC to beat CUT with neither picking up a bonus point. Should either of these happen, Wits would regain the top spot with a bonus point win over UKZN.

UKZN, the league’s current wooden-spooners, will be hoping to salvage their dismal start to their season against Wits. However, after suffering a 61-10 defeat to UWC last Monday, morale may be low in the Natal squad.

Wits are equal on points with the University of the Western Cape (UWC), but take the second place log position thanks to a slightly better points difference.