Over the past 50 years or so, as we have attempted to find meaning to the tumultuous world we live in, two key indicators of measurement promise so much (and possibly deliver so little).

Firstly, at times we obsess about milestones as in, for example, should our toddler be walking when he turns 18 months and 11 days and if so, will he have an advantage when participating in the Nepal Olympics High Jump in 2040? And then we may go further when we befuddle our minds with statistics, as in, how many children born between midnight and 2 am have won gold when the Olympics have taken place in Asia. Now social media extends further pressure on us is this rather banal example of; why is the ocean always phenomenal if there is a super Promenade sunset or perfect Muizenberg wave. Why is it not just what is? Beautiful and engaging.

These types of questions continually washed over me in our 140th year of UCT Varsity Rugby (I apologize for this statistic, but it is one huge achievement).

And this is how I came to my hypothesis of the Ikeys of 2022. Our club gave birth once again to the true meaning of amateur rugby. The plain and simple desire of students of all genders, sizes, strengths skills to once again play rugby on our post Covid manicured greener-than-green, Green Mile.

As our First and Under 20 finely attuned rugby athletes prepared for Varsity Cup long before we even contemplated what 2022 would bring, slowly and in unison new and not so new students began to slipstream into our UCT Pub and Grind to meet their coaches and continue their rugby careers after the two-year pandemic hiatus.

My word. How they loved it. From our Women’s Team – most of whom had never touched a rugby ball, to those that still have dreams “to make it” or become legendary second team Eagles, to our 250 social internal league players who for 10 weeks in one or other team that identified their belongingness, the club once again mushroomed to an even better form than its previous self.

We can talk about milestones and statistics, but the relevance of those diminishes when on any given winter evening hundreds of young students are simply just playing in a safe and joyous manner. In addition to the evening buzz, we went on men and women tours, visits to clubs that we had not even heard of and let our hair down in social events where it did not matter that the speakers had been stolen and there were no lights.

Being the wannabee hypocrite that I am, there were some phenomenal highlights (not milestones or stats) that our club can be enormously proud of.

Our firsts beat the Maties in the 500th Varsity Cup game, clinching intervarsity as well. Not to be outdone, so did our Under 20 Cubs.

On an individual achievement level four Under 20 Ikeys represented the SA U20 Baby Boks team that blew away all before them in the northern hemisphere. We have 3 Ikeys in the Stormers squad and too many players to count playing the rugby in other provinces and overseas.

As always, our pass rate and graduate levels are way beyond expectation, especially with the onerous pressures all young people face at present including, the always lurking shadows of anxiety and depression.

From our Patron, (and fan of the year) Vice Chancellor Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng to our President Neville Isdell, Chairman Greg Fury, Executives Phil Kilroe, John Le Roux, Neil Macdonald, and John Dobson, we can only thank you for allowing the Club to re grow its own shoots while giving it the nourishment to flourish as it has.

Then to Tom Dawson-Squibb our first team head coach and sage, as well as all his managers and coaches, sacrifice is what they live for. Thank you. Role models such as you all are can never be found elsewhere.

And to all our donors and volunteers out there. Your generosity, grace and encouragement are steeped in gratitude from every player who slips on his boots sometimes up to six times a week.

Whether you know it as the UCT Rugby Club, Varsity or the Ikeys, one thing is certain. We are once again alive to flourish within our mantras of “defiance, relationships matter, and a player led value system”.

A safe and restful festive season to you all.

See you at the Danie Craven Stadium on 20 February for the start of Varsity Cup 2023.

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Biderman-Pam