USSA Tournament 30 June to 5 July

Chad Barker reports for
UCT attended the inaugural USSA tournament this year taking the bulk of its players from U20’s comprising mainly of the U20 A1’s plus a few extras such as James Bailes and Kyle Dutton from opens to beef the team up. 

The team was arranged and coached by the legendary Andrew “Gunner”
Hughes, who was assisted by none other then the fiery Snoopy Knoop
(Junior) and Clement Le Roux. To counter the lack of experience within
the team, Gunner arranged for a physio whom is a through and through
Varsity man, with almost as much playing experience as Doc Moss.

The physio was Brad Emslee, and despite his significant playing
experience, it was later discovered that his physiotherapist training
comprised of many hours on the physio bed and YouTube. While many
coaches would have been nervous taking a team that has never played
together to play the likes of UJ, Pukke and Tuks consecutively in five
days, it was clear from his pre-tournament interview that Gunner was
“excited”. On arriving at UKZN, we were promptly told by our management
that the following day we were to play against the majority of the
University of Johannesburg’s 1st team, and thus it was all business at
that afternoons practice.


After a solid warm up and the jerseys handed out by one of Gunner’s
previous coaching partners Dax Barker, UCT took the field. For a team
that had never played together and had only 1 practice, UCT started the
game relatively well. But after both teams settled UCT’s cohesion broke
down with the backs portraying poor handling and this meant that UCT
did not have enough possession. Thus UCT went into the break slightly
behind. In the second half the backlines handling improved, but the
bigger UJ side adopted tactics in which they crashed the ball up and
steam rolled forward two or three metres in each tackle. This meant
that they continuously broke the game line and had immaculate ball
retention. These factors help UJ to a comfortable 19 – 3 victory.

In true fashion, the team did not dwell on the loss and let it spoil
their entertainment. Fines were hosted by Danger Jans and in a true
competitive spirit an inter-institution boat race was held between UCT
and Wits. I can proudly say that UCT did not lose twice in the same
day, with the hair smelling Craig Smith bringing the victory home with
his coveted, out of the shoe technique. The team then moved onto a few
other extra mural activities.


UCT’s next match was to be played against the Pukke. This was lined up
to be a clash of recent rivals after the 1st XV knocked the Pukke out
of the Varsity Cup with a narrow semi final victory. The pre-match
jersey presentation was held by former Springbok Peter Muller with
photographs taken by local journalist Josh Robson. UCT’s first half was
much better than the previous game, with the team maintaining better
ball retention, but once again UCT went into half time slightly behind.
UCT remained competitive up until the last 15 minutes of the match in
which UCT leaked three soft tries. The final score Pukke 31 – UCT 0.

For the after match festivities fines were held by Gunner Hughes whom
autocratically put Grant Kemp, Callam Artus and Wade Swannell on death.
After much protesting and the denting of the three’s dubious drinking
reputation, they were let off half way through. The team then had an
eventful night out on which it was discovered that Theo van Aarden has
a more accurate throw down than Ricky Ponting and that Ronnie Olivier
has sealed a three year contract for the VCup, commentating along side,
none other than, the epic Warren Brosnehan. You’ve got to love him.

UCT vs Tuks
The final match was played on Friday 4 July. After two convincing
defeats, the smart money would have thought that UCT would have been
matched against slightly less traditionally strong opposition. The
tournament officials had other ideas and placed UCT against much of the
Tuks 1st team. Despite this the team was anxious to come out of the
tournament with a positive result and thus were not intimidated. The
jersey ceremony was conducted by current Natal and Sharks assistant
coach Shaun Everett. UCT started the match well and maintained their
composure and were competitive until a dodgy refereeing decision
brought their guard down and allowed a soft try to be scored. UCT did
get close to scoring a five pointer with the deceptive line out move,
the “sprinkler”. UCT did manage to goal a few penalties before the half
time break. After a few changes at half time and the team managing to
sort out its refereeing issues, they returned to the field with more
vigour. UCT was a lot more competitive in the second half and managed
to score their first tries of their tournament, totalling three.
However the half time deficit was too large to pull back and UCT lost
their final match 43 – 17.

After the final game much of the team had to leave because of travel
arrangements, however those that were able to stay for one last night
of festivities, had an extremely enjoyable end to the tour. Rounding
off, despite the poor results, the touring team managed to have an
exceptionally good time and thanks for the tour need to be made to the
club, Andrew Hughes, Clement Le Roux, Brad Emslee and Graham Knoop.
Thank you for making the tour possible and giving up your time with
your families.