They might still be regarded by some as the
‘poor’ cousins of the FNB Varsity Cup, but the table-topping Ikey Tigers are
determined to bury that unfair tag once and for all when they host NWU-Pukke in
the Varsity Cup semi-finals next Monday.
The Ikeys clinched top spot in the Varsity
Cup standings on Saturday already, but they ended their league campaign with a superb
28-14 win over Shimlas on Easter Monday, as head coach John Dobson gave a few
fringe players a run-around.
Regular skipper JJ Gagiano led the team
into battle – scoring one of UCT’s four tries on the day – but Dobson was
pleased to see the likes of Wes Chetty, Don Armand, Monty Taljaard, Kyle
Wickens and Justin Bijl grab their opportunities against the Free Staters.
“We have real depth at the club, but, most
importantly, the guys were very determined to go out there and end the weekend
on a high,” said Dobson.
“This team is very hungry and they’re a
pleasure to coach, but we can’t rest on our laurels and we have plenty to work
on this week ahead of the semi-finals.”
Of course, Pukke – under the coaching of
UCT this season and the men in Blue and White are fully aware of that.
Dobson added: “We are aware of Pukke’s strengths,
but we are a different side to the one that went down to them in that opening
“The guys have a new belief in themselves
and you only have to look back at our games against UJ and Maties, when we were
down at half-time, to realise how strong these guys are mentally.”
Dobson and backline coach Robbie Fleck have
combined superbly this season, with their team ending the league stages of the
Varsity Cup as the top try-scorers (37) and leading points-scorers (260). They
also ended with the best overall points’ difference (111), thanks to their
miserly defence that leaked just 17 tries in seven matches.
Marcello Sampson and Mathew Turner (six
tries) ended the league phase as the top try-scorers in the Varsity Cup, with
fellow speedsters Marvin Christians (four tries) and Rob Hopwood not far behind
in joint third place. Flyhalf and regular goal-kicker Matt Rosslee is second on
the overall points-scoring charts with 70 points, trailing UJ’s Ryno Luus by 24
“UCT have always tried to play an exciting
brand of rugby,” stressed Dobson. “This year we have made a few tweaks, and I
guess the ELVs do suit our style of play, but the basic philosophy stays the
same when you play for the Blue and Whites.”
Ikeys will host Pukke at the ‘Green Mile’
in the first of two semi-finals next Monday; 2.45pm at UCT, followed by Maties
hosting Tukkies in Coetzenberg at 6.45pm.
“I have already had sms’s from friends of
mine in Jo’burg, all of whom are ex-UCT students, and they’re making plans to
fly down especially for the semi-final – it’s great to hear that and it’s a
tribute to the way we’ve played and the success of this superb tournament,”
“I guess a 2.45pm kick-off won’t suit
everyone, but people should treat it like a golf day starting during work hours!
The guys have worked very hard to get this home semi-final and they deserve a
full-house of screaming fans next week.
“We have a few things planned to drum up
some extra support and I know the guys will appreciate every bit of support
they get. It’s been a great experience thus far, but it can only get better for
the team and our loyal supporters, especially with the possibility of a home
final should we get through against Pukke.”
Varsity Cup Semi-final – UCT vs Pukke NWU
Monday 31st at 14.30 at the Green Mile on the UCT campus.