Varsity Rugby in full swing
The Varsity Rugby season will be in full swing on Monday with the start of the FNB Varsity Young Guns and Steinhoff Koshuisrugby competitions on top of some big Varsity Cup clashes.
The full schedule of fixtures will see ten matches played across all four national competitions in an action-packed evening of Varsity Rugby.
The Varsity Cup heads into the third round with only Maties having won both of their first two matches, so all eyes will be on the three-time champions when they take on the NMMU Madibaz in front of their home crowd at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch in a match that will be televised live on Supersport One at 7pm.
The Madibaz secured a dramatic last-minute victory over newcomers Wits in Port Elizabeth last week, and their coach Brent Janse van Rensburg knows that his charges will have to raise their game considerably to compete with Maties on their home track where they have lost just two regular season games in the history of the competition.
"We will need to take the field against Maties not as good individuals, but as a good team and actually pull off the plan for that game.
"The NMMU men will work hard to ensure that we come out of our straps, in sport things don't always work out the way one would want it to and there will always be areas to improve," said the Madibaz coach.
Defending champions UP-Tuks will travel to Bloemfontein to face the UFS-Shimlas as they look to build on last week's gritty victory over UCT at home.
UP-Tuks coach Nollis Marais has kept faith with the majority of the side that did the business against the Ikeys as the Pretoria side look to build some momentum through continuity.
"I have every confidence in the guys who played against Ikeys to become a formidable unit. They have the talent and ability to be champions. The more they play together, they more they will grow as a team with the consequent improvement in cohesion, urgency, momentum and continuity," said Marais.
Their hosts UFS-Shimlas will be looking to bounce back from their defeat at home to Maties last week, but they will have to do so without the services of Baby Bok scrumhalf Kevin Luiters who has been ruled out for a month after damaging his ankle ligaments.
Wits will be out to put the heartache of last week's late defeat to NMMU when they return to their home ground to face NWU-Pukke who will be equally determined to erase the memory of their loss to UJ in Johannesburg last week.
The Witsies showed plenty of heart to run the Madibaz close after their Varsity Cup baptism of fire at the hands of UFS-Shimlas the week before, but they will certainly have their work cut out for them if they are to record their first-ever victory in the competition against NWU-Pukke in front of their home crowd.
The Ikey Tigers would have been encouraged by the fight they showed to earn a bonus point against a star-studded UP-Tuks side in Pretoria last week, and will be desperate to record their first victory of the season when they welcome UJ to the Green Mile.
Both Ikeys coach Kevin Foote and his UJ counterpart Hugo van As have named unchanged starting line-ups from last week, so both teams will have their sights set on justifying the faith of their respective coaches.
In the Varsity Shield the TUT Vikings will have a tough task on their hands in Pretoria as they search for their first win of the season against CUT Ixias who are the only unbeaten side left in the competition.
Peter de Villiers' UWC side will want to show that they can produce the goods away from home when they travel to the hostile atmosphere of the Davidson Rugby Stadium in Alice to take on the Fort Hare Blues who will want to use the passionate support of the home crowd to notch another victory.