Last week the Western Province did something quite amazing. They travelled to Durban to face the Sharks knowing they had to win to stay in the Currie Cup. However, the way things unfolded in Kimberley earlier that day threw a spanner in the works.
The last thing Province needed was the Pumas and Griquas, who were in the respective 4th and 3rd place on the log, playing out to a draw. That was unfortunately exactly what happened. The 13-13 result giving both sides 2-log points, which helped give the Pumas a four-point lead over WP on the Points table.
The Mpumalanga outfit also enjoyed a better point’s difference. That meant that Province needed to score four tries and win for the full five-point haul.
Nobody gave them chance. The Bulls were probably getting their visitors’ locker room ready for the Pumas. But, WP proved all the doubters wrong. Not only scoring the four tries need, but adding a fifth for good fun. The soon to be Lions wing, Edwill van der Merwe running in an intercept try in the 84th minute to put a nice bow on proceedings at Kings Park.
Can WP do it again?
There was an expectation that Western Province coach, John Dobson will call on his big guns to face the mighty Bulls. However, Dobson opted not to mess with a winning formula and made just two changes to the team.
After an impressive showing coming off the bench against the Sharks, Sazi Sandi gets promoted to the starting lineup. That move sees Neethling Fouche shift to the bench. The other change sees Springbok hooker, Scarra Ntubeni returning to the front row of the WP pack.
Former WP captain, Corne Krige believes that John Dobson should’ve beefed up his pack a bit more.
“It going to be a slugfest up front”, said Krige
“Clearly a more running game suits WP better, unfortunately against the Bulls, it’s going to be a different ball game.”
It is knockout rugby from here on out, and Krige proclaimed that WP will have to be perfect in the line-outs and scrums.
“It starts in the front. You have to make sure your set-pieces are bulletproof, and obviously, your tactical kicking must be very good because you want to keep them in their half”, said the former Springbok
“You don’t want them to get 5m from your line, because they probably are going to score through their forwards, through their driving maul.”
Krige, who played in the blue and white hooped jersey between ’96 and ’02, shared his views on tonight’s semifinal on The Honest Truth last night.
Listen to Corné Krige tipping Evan Roos as a future Bok, here.
Springbok and Western Province legend, Corne Krige has given a massive endorsement to Western Province 8th-man Evan Roos.
Roos has taken the Cape by storm since returning to his homestead earlier this year. The 21-year-old joined the Stormers on a 9-month loan from the Sharks. However, Roos has since penned a 3-year contract with the Blue and White hoops.
His efforts on the field also brought him into the Springbok conversation. He’s been knocking on the Green and Gold door, and Corne Krige believes that he might not be too far away from a national call-up.
“Evan Roos has been playing some incredible rugby, and it will be great to give him a taste of Test Match Rugby”, said the Springbok and Stormers legend.
“There’s not a lot of other guys at an International level that I can see at the moment, so we (the Springboks) really need to make sure we look after our locks and loose-forwards.”
Roos, a product of Paarl Boy’s high, has been a consistent performer since his days playing at schoolboy level. Going on to represent the SA Schools side in 2018. He also represented the country at under-19 level.
Though still a youngster, Krige believes that the time is now to include Roos in the Springbok set-up.
“It will be great to give him a taste of test match rugby. He’s still very young and inexperienced”, said Krige.
“But, the only way you get experience is by touring with the team and playing at that high level. I would love to see him there.”
Krige, who himself earned 39-test caps for the Springboks, leading the side for 18 of those games, shared his views on Evan Roos, Jasper Wiese, the Springboks so-called boring game-plan and the Springboks encounter with Argentina on Saturday, 21 August. You can listen to the full interview, below.
It’s been a rough couple of seasons for the UCT Ikeys, but they are back and just one step away from bagging their third FNB Varsity Cup title. UCT will first have to get past the Tukkies tonight in the FNB Varsity Cup final.
It could be their first since one incredible evening in Potchefstroom back in 2014. A final that will be remembered as one of the biggest botches in Rugby history.
An implausible victory.
The Northwest University found themselves on the verge of a maiden Varsity Cup title in their first appearance in the final since losing to the Maties 11-6 in 2009. Leading the Ikeys 33-15 with seven minutes left on the clock, Pukke were all but assured victory. Right?
Well, wrong. Ikeys scored twice in the space of five minutes. 33-28, 30 seconds on the clock. Enough time for one more attack.
And attack they did, throwing everything at the Pukke defence. But a knock-on with a second left on the clock saw Pukke poised to lift the trophy.
For some reason, instead of thumping the ball in touch, they ran the ball. Strange. Even more bizarre is the fact that Pukke fly-half, Adriaan Engelbrecht, attempted a drop-goal. The game was over. Time was up. They were in the lead. They had the ball!
The attempt at two points (penalties and drop-goals were only worth two points in the 2014 edition of the Varsity Cup) was subsequently charged down, which gave UCT one more chance to attack.
With a bit of magic and probably a whole lot of luck, Nathan Nel scored under the posts to leave the Fanie du Toit Sports Ground in Potchefstroom stunned, silent in disbelief. The UCT fan park back in Cape Town almost losing its roof.
Watch: Relive the final six minutes of this bonkers final.
Falling from grace.
Unfortunately, those type of moments for Ikeys fans were few and far between in the seasons that followed. Ikeys lost in the semifinals in 2015. In 2016, they couldn’t bag a single win. As a result, they ended that campaign in 8th place, on the verge of being relegated to the Varsity Shield competition.
2017 saw them again finish 8th, with just CUT Ixias below them after they failed to register a single win.
Ikeys did manage a 6th and 5th place finish in 2018 and ‘19 respectively, which was a bit of an improvement. but still, a lot left to be desired.
Poised for victory.
The forced gap year in 2020 seemed to have helped get the Ikeys back on the right path.
UCT ended this season’s round-robin stage atop the table for the first time since the inaugural tournament in 2008. They head into the final on the back of an impressive unbeaten run, recording comprehensive victories along the way. 22-40 vs Wits, 5-59 vs Shimlas, 76-5 vs CUT and 58-55 vs UWC.
The Ikeys will face tough opposition tonight, going up against the UP-Tuks at the Tuks stadium. They Kick-off at 19:00.
Rugby and technology will merge on Friday, that’s thanks to a partnership between the FNB Varsity Cup and Sportable. The latter working alongside Gilbert for the past five years to perfect the world’s first smart rugby ball.
The technology has managed to make its way onto the field in the past couple of years, enjoying trials successfully in England. The England national team, Leicester Tigers and Bath were the first to give the ball a go in training. As a result, it could move to tests in real match situations. Gilbert had the ball feature at a sevens type Rugby union tournament in the UK called Rugby X.
In the five years it has spent in development, it has been exposed to stringent testing. Gilbert’s engineers have been working around the clock to perfect the tech. A whole lot of effort, sweat and tears have gone into making sure that the tech inside the ball returns accurate data and doesn’t affect how the ball behaves on the field or in the air.
Watch: The Smart Ball put through the wringer.
Cutting edge competition.
The FNB Varsity Cup has always been at the forefront of innovation, acting as the so-called guinea pigs of countless law trials. This includes double referees, different try values and the Power Play rule in 2018, where a team could remove two backline players for three minutes.
An African first.
Friday’s playoff matches will see the Gilbert x Sportable Smart Ball used in Africa for the first time.
Fans can expect insightful statistics throughout SuperSport’s live broadcasts as well as awesome in-game graphics on the FNB Varsity Cup’s social media platforms.
With existing data capture technologies have hit their ceiling, ball tracking data creates a digital impression of the most meaningful on-field events. This digital blueprint is far more complex than the event data currently produced for rugby.
“We are incredibly excited about the opportunity to work with Varsity Cup and SuperSport to bring our solutions to fans and coaches in South Africa,” says Dugald Macdonald, Sportable founder and CEO. “Varsity Cup’s reputation for pioneering new developments in the game is second to none, so we view the introduction of the Smart Ball on Friday as just the start of a long, exciting partnership.”
What the tech does.
The device inside the Gilbert x Sportable Smart Ball tracks the following key events during a rugby match:
• Kicks in play
• Goal kicks
• Restart kicks
• Ruck speed
In future competitions, the Gilbert x Sportable Smart Ball will instantly detect and alert referees to forward passes.
The data metrics include:
• Spin rate
• Spiral efficiency
• Reload time (time from catching to passing)
• Start/end time
• Start/end coordinates
• Angle to posts
• Kick difficulty and success