It was with a measure of disbelief that one watched how CUT Ixias, one of the only two unbeaten sides in the Varsity Cup after the first four rounds and second on the log, got hammered 77-7 by the Ikeys in this week’s Round 5 of the Varsity Cup.
Followers of the competition were, on the one hand, disbelieving and supporters of the Ixias were in the doldrums. How could it be?
How will it affect the Bloemfontein students, a side that surprised this year after a hesitant start and generally close to the bottom of the log following their elevation to the Varsity Cup competition in 2015?
Yes, they did fare better in 2019 and in the truncated 2020 competition that was cancelled due to the pandemic. But still …
▲ Perhaps the Ixias can find solace in close shave of the 1988 Currie Cup champions Northern Transvaal (now the Blue Bulls) who turned around matter in a few weeks. The Light Blues scraped through 34-27 against Natal (Sharks) in Durban, only to turn on their A-game some three week later when they beat Natal 50-0 in a Lions Cup knock-out fixture at Loftus.
There is also the example of the 49-0 drubbing inflicted by Australia on South Africa in 2006, only for the Boks to beat the same opponents five weeks later – and going on to win the 2007 World Cup the following year.
Anyway, with the uncertainty of how the teams would fare in this year’s Varsity Cup competition after the half-way cancelled competition in 2020, plus so many new faces this year, the competition is now heating up with the old favourites Maties, Ikeys, Tuks and Pukke (now called the Eagles) among the front runners – but let us not forget the Ixias!
▲ Wits, a top team over the past three seasons, hicupped their way to one draw and three defeats before using their impressive pack to annihilate Madibaz 77-7.
Given a lifeline as winners of the 2020 Shield competition and with no promotion/relegation matches last year, Madibaz have now dropped to tenth (and last) position after their hammering of 77-7 at the hands of Wits, who at last found their competition feet.
The Witsies pack was awesome, in the tight phases as well as at the breakdown.
With this week’s two scores in the seventies, the biggest wins/losses in the Varsity Cup’s history below include CUT as the losing side on five of the eight occasions –
93 – UJ 93 TUT 0, 2012
83 – Madibaz 14 UJ 97, 2010
82 – UCT 90 CUT 8, 2015
75 – UP-Tuks 100 UCT 25, 2016
71 – UCT 76 CUT 5, 2021
70 – Wits 77 Madibaz 7, 2021
63 – Maties 75 CUT 12, 2018
63 – NWU 70 CUT 7, 2018
But back to the other matches:
▲ Shimlas, on a cruise against UJ and deservedly leading 27-0 just after halftime, suddenly lost the plot to go down 34-32 to the Johannesburg students. The last ten minutes brought no points, easily the longest scoreless period in the match, as UJ held out a determined Shimlas side.
▲The Maties kept their cool against a determined NWU Eagles team. They had to work hard for their win after the scores were still tied at 12-all after 59 minutes.
Then Maties scored a converted try to lead by just seven points with 11 minutes to go, when a long distance try by Ben-Jason Dixon for seven points clinched matters just before full-time to make the final score 26-12.
▲ Trailing by 23 points after 32 minutes against Tuks, UWC looked on a hiding to nothing.
However, Paul Treu’s troops then found their rhythm and closed the gap to 26-13 before allowing Tukkies their fifth try to stretch the lead to 31-13.
But UWC were not done yet, and two yellow cards to Tuks players in the last eight minutes were exploited by the Cape side with two late tries by Jason Alexander and Godfrey Muzanargwo.
The final score was 31-25.
Friday and Saturday’s sixth-round fixtures –
14:00 – CUT vs Maties (Tuks B-field)
15:00 – UWC vs UJ (Loftus Versfeld Stadium)
16:00 – Madibaz vs Shimlas (Tuks B-field)
17:00 – Tuks vs Ikeys (Loftus Versfeld Stadium)
19:00 – NWU Eagles vs Wits (Loftus Versfeld Stadium)