What a weekend it was! Definitely Mad March Hare time. The Stormers stuck it to the Blue Bullies; Ireland thrashed England, which as a colonial Celt descended from Scottish stock, I found deeply satisfying. Beating the Sassenachs is always a pleasure. Then, to cap it all, the Ikey Tigers pull one out of the bag in the last 20 minutes, to beat the Junior Blue Bulls, TUKS, in Pretoria.
Pure, determined persistence, outstanding scrumwork, hard graft by the loosies, and sheer brilliance by Tim Whitehead and Marcel Brache, was too much for TUKS, who, it must be said, did not exactly help their cause by persistently infringing at the breakdown.
Now to the home semi-final against Shimlas; another hard game awaits us, but credit must be given to Footey, the rest of the coaching and support personnel, and the all important team of prominent UCT rugby personalities who accompany the squad on their away games, for a gutsy performance. They have done us proud, and we all cannot wait for next Monday.
A collection of men who passed through the hands of Tom Hugo-Hamman, when he strode the old UCT playing fields in his Northern Transvaal jersey, socks and old fashioned white’ tackies’, as well as a magnificent Harris Tweed jacket in winter, will all pay homage to the great man at the home of Chris Hugo- Hamman, tomorrow. Chris followed in his father’s footsteps, by becoming a medical doctor, specializing in paediatrics, and in his time captaining a UCT 1stXV which won Intervarsity. A chip off the old block for sure. The indelible memory of Tom shedding his Harris Tweed jacket, pulling his boots on, and flying into us forwards when he perceived we were not ‘climbing in” with the degree of gusto and ruthlessness which was his trademark, still brings a tingle of pain to our collective backsides and bodies. The gathering will be a memorable occasion for us to say farewell to a man who epitomized all that is good in a Varsity rugby man.
I am sure that Francois Pienaar is delighted with the current status of the Varsity Cup Competition. Until last night, any one of five teams could be dispatched to the wilderness for a year, or advance to the semi-final stage. The success of UJ should not be regarded as such a mystery. In one week they have seen off the two finalists from last year, and in the process have played some highly attractive, intelligent rugby. Hats off to Hugo Van As. The other team due for a show of more expansive rugby in a crunch game, are Shimlas. When UCT beat them in Bloemfontein in the first round of the competition, the Shimlas played uncharacteristic ‘skop and charge’ rugby. What tactics will they employ on Monday? If we can tighten up our lineouts, cut down on the errors , and have Tim Whitehead, Marcel Brache and Nic Groom available for us, I am confident that we have the goods to make the final. Our scrumming is top class, our loose forwards are playing well, and Demetri ‘The Cat’ is due for a big game at home.
The big question is where do we get to play the final, should we qualify for a home final? Let’s not jump too far ahead right now. All power to Footey and his squad. Go Tigers!