The Monte Taljaard Trophy will be up for grabs in Monday’s Varsity Cup clash between FNB UCT and FNB NMMU at the Green Mile (7pm). But who is Monte Taljaard and why is this match played in his honour?
Since then, and given his roots in both Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, the Varsity Cup has allowed fixtures between the Ikeys and the Madibaz to double up as a celebration of Taljaard’s life – hence the awarding of the Monte Taljaard Trophy on an annual basis.Taljaard (pictured, right), a UCT First XV flanker and Grey PE rugby star, tragically passed away in a car accident in September 2008.
Monte was an incredibly popular player at the University of Cape Town, having captained his club’s Under-21 team with distinction in 2007, before stepping up to the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International in 2008 – where he even captained the Capetonians in a match against NMMU.
John Dobson, the former Ikey Tigers head coach who now coaches the WP Vodacom Cup and Under-21 sides, coached Taljaard at Under-20 and senior level at UCT.
According to Dobson, Taljaard was set to play a big role for the Ikeys in 2009 – having earned his stripes as a young pup in the inaugural Varsity Cup competition the season before.
“It’s hard to believe that this is the fifth time that the Monte Taljaard Trophy will be up for grabs,” Dobson told varsitycup.co.za.
“Monte remains one of the most outstanding leaders and young men that I have ever met, let alone coached. We still miss him and Monday must contribute to ensure that he is never forgotten and is a stark, brutal reminder to the players of Monday and of now that they must seize every moment, for things can be taken away from your cruelly and quickly.”
A Monte Taljaard Bursary has been established at UCT in Monte’s honour which is awarded – on an annual basis – to a deserving UCT (and rugby-playing) student.
Said Dobson: “I am reminded of the quote from Chariots of Fire, slightly paraphrased, ‘Out of tragic necessity, his dreams have become ours’. His parents Sydney and Michelle are, as usual, in our prayers.”
The NMMU Madibaz and Ikey Tigers have met on five previous occasions in the Varsity Cup tournament, with four of those games being played under the ‘banner’ of the Monte Taljaard Trophy.
The Ikeys have lifted the Monte Taljaard Trophy on three occasions, with the Madibaz, of course, winning last year in Port Elizabeth in dramatic circumstances.
Monte Taljaard Trophy scores (since 2009):
2009: NMMU 17 UCT 36
2010: NMMU 6 UCT 65
2011: UCT 49 NMMU 12
2012: NMMU 23 UCT 21
TRIBUTES TO MONTE TALJAARD OVER THE YEARS:
“Monts was a true legend in PE – as a person and a rugby player. Of course, we all loved him dearly at UCT and it’s a huge honour for everyone involved to play for the inaugural Monte Taljaard Trophy.”
– Robbie Fleck (2009)
“Monte was a once-in-a-generation guy and player. He is still missed at the club to this day and will never be forgotten by anybody who was lucky enough to come into contact with him.”
– John Dobson (2009)
“When UCT asked us about the prospect of playing for a trophy we had no hesitation in saying yes. It’s a big honour for us to be involved in this match, but it’s also a great way to honour a young man like Monte.”
– Kolie Brandt (2009)
“The memory of Monte is massive to us at UCT – it’s what we’re about as a team.”
– Nick Fenton-Wells (2011)