After having lost all of their seven fixtures, in the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International, the FNB Ikey Tigers are now looking ahead to a must win match on the 11th of April.
“It’s disappointing. It’s been a tough campaign, the boys have put in their best effort but things haven’t gone our way,” said coach Hanyani Shimange when reflecting on the season.
Next season, the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International will have nine teams taking part instead of eight. The winner of the Varsity Shield, FNB Wits, will automatically be promoted because three new universities have been invited to play Varsity Shield rugby. The FNB Ikey Tigers won’t be automatically relegated, but will instead take on the runners up of the Shield, FNB UKZN on the 11th of April in a once-off Promotion Relegation match that will decide whether or not they’ll still be playing Varsity Cup rugby come 2017.
“We understand the consequences, they’re there for us in black and white. We’ll prepare well and we have a fully fit squad with guys who are willing to put their bodies on the line for the team,” Shimange said.
“Being in a relegation battle is new to me and the team, but we’ll draw on the experience of the club to get us through this,” he added.
Shimange also made it clear that the support of the fans is still very needed, especially going into their next match. “The last thing the boys need is criticism. They’re also facing the pressure of their studies while playing rugby but they always put in their best. It’s a difficult time, and this is when we need the fans to stay true to the culture here at UCT. It’s all about loving and supporting your team whether they win or lose.”
The FNB Ikey Tigers will take on FNB UKZN in a winner-takes-all match on Monday, the 11th of April.
By Wessley Thring