In the history of South African university rugby, including the many tight traditional Intervarsity battles, here has been nothing to compare with the many fierce and close clashes in the 1970’s and 1980’s between the Maties and the Tukkies.
Both teams were laden with the best players from the two leading provinces in those days; both had many Springboks; Doc Craven was the mentor of the Maties with Oupa du Piesani and Ernst Dinkelmann from the North doing the coaching. And there was a Loftus with more than 40 000 spectators.
Those were the days, and even today, with this clash on Monday night at the Tuks Stadium and with money playing a leading role in the fortunes of most of the Varsity Cup teams, it should be a match to be remembered.
♦ Can UP-Tuks stop the Maroon Machine with effective bulldozing in their course to a fifth title?
Are the two Tukkies wins against the Ixias and UJ comparable to the Maties wins when they sweated out a win against Wits at the Danie Craven Stadium and then annihilated the Ikeys at the Green Mile in windy conditions?
This clash is on Monday night at 19:00, and the smart money should be on Tuks if one considerers their form that continued from last year and the fact that the Pretorians are struggling in a resurrection phase with new faces after a rather disastrous 2018.
The winner could very well be decided up front where the breakdown could be decisive.
♦ In the other matches, the Ixias are at home against UJ and are in with a chance for a rare win, if the present UJ form is anything to go by. The Ixias will have to provide more support for the kicking prowess of flyhalf Heinrich Bitzi.
Pukke, it they play to their potential should be too good for the visiting UWC in their first Varsity Cup matvh away from home, who, it must be said, have given a good account of themselves in their two defeats with poor defence probably costing them the first match against the Ikeys.
♦ The Pukke will however have to improve on their showing against UJ when the match was stopped short because of the lightning danger.
♦ The match between Wits and the Shimlas in Johannesburg could be decided up front, and if their showing against Stellenbosch is anything to go by, Constant Beckerling’s charges will keep the Bloemfontein side very busy.
Shimlas in turn have their Junior Springbok flyhalf Lubabalo Dobela back on the park, and he could make a huge difference in a must-win for both in the chase to the play-offs.
Monday night’s matches ‒
16:45: Ixias vs University of Johannesburg (SS 1)
18:30: NW-Pukke vs UWC
18:30: Wits vs Shimlas
19:00: UP-Tuks vs Maties (SS 1).