UKZN took the 2015 Varsity Shield trophy beating Wits in a close game. After having lost two previous matches to Wits, it was third time’s a charm in the finals for the UKZN team.
PINK POWER: 2015 Varsity Shield winners, FNB UKZN players and coaches celebrating the with their gold medals and the trophy at Wits Stadium Monday night.
After a nail-biting final the University of KwaZulu-Natal rugby team beat Wits 24-29 taking home the 2015 Varsity Shield trophy at Wits stadium yesterday evening. With back and forth banter in ball possession for the first 15 minutes of the game, UKZN’s right flanker and captain scored- after which they were dominant throughout the match.
“It came down to the little details and maybe we just wanted it [the win] more,” said UKZN head coach Ryan Strudwick.
UKZN’s defense was impressive as it broke the Wits offensive line multiple times as they pushed forward to attempt tries. The winning team focused on their defence during the past week’s training as it has let them down in the last few games according to Strudwick.
“Obviously we are disappointed. Every final has pressure and we couldn’t handle it,” said Wits head coach Hugo van As.
With Wits losing plenty of balls in front of the try-line, Van As admitted there were many opportunities, but his players just couldn’t pull through.
UKZN captain and overall player of the tournament, Lwazi Ngcungana, said that his team won because they were much more clinical and switched-on in the game than their opponents.
“We were also motivated in the fact that we couldn’t lose three times to Wits in one tournament,” said Ngcungana.
The Wits team’s desperation to win led to many unnecessary mistakes in the last 20 minutes, until hooker Ferdinand Kelly, dropped over the try-line with two minutes of game time left. Still, this spark of good play came too late.
“We have a very young side and yet we had a good season. We just weren’t able to put our play into action tonight,” said Wits captain Richard Crossman.
Tendai Dube and Lutho Mtongana
The Wits Varsity Shield team is back with a competitive bang, sitting top of the log with three wins and a draw in their first four matches of the season.
FNB Wits has been unstoppable since the season kicked off a month ago and this week was no different when the boys drew 37-all against the University of the Western Cape (UWC) at home.
Wits captain and flank Richard Crossman said the team has been fortunate in getting this far in the Cup.
“It’s been a huge transformation, we have a whole bunch of new guys, new management, and they are all fresh from matric. We only have two or three senior guys,” said Crossman.
Although they are currently leading the log, the team still have to work hard to stay ahead of the game and, according to Crossman, are training intensely.
“Our weaknesses is that we are young and inexperienced but that could also be our strength because our guys are young and are willing to learn,” Crossman said.
In their first game of the year the Wits boys went head-to-head against a normally challenging Fort Hare, and defeated them with a solid 39-24 win.
They then proceeded to squash the TUT Vikings with 71-36 in their next match on February 19.
CROSSING THE LINE: Richard Crossman, Wits Rugby Captain, flank Photo: Tendai Dube
On March 9 Wits will be playing against Fort Hare on the Wits Rugby Field and Crossman is determine that they will come out on top once again with their home ground advantage.
There are five teams in the Varsity Shield this year: UWC, Wits, Fort Hare, University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). Wits needs to finish at the top of the log at the end of the season to secure a chance to move back into the Varsity Cup.