Third time could be UWC's charm

Thu, 06 Apr 2017 12:17
Large uwc v cput 800

VARSITY SHIELD SPOTLIGHT: Five coaches, whose teams did not make the Varsity Shield Final, gave their predictions as to who will take the Varsity Shield title this year. Leezil Hendricks reports.

UWC has already appeared in two previous Finals but lost out to CUT in 2013 and to Wits in 2016, respectively.

Thus, heading to their third Final, the Cape Town side will be eager to lay the ghost of the past to rest.

After a marvellous 2017 Varsity Shield season, many would automatically bet on UWC to walk away outright winners; they ended the round-robin phases on top of the log and recorded a 50-26 victory against WSU in the semifinals.

Furthermore, giving that it is UFH first-ever appearance in the Final, there is no reason not to hand the title to Chester Williams' troops.  

On the contrary, two Varsity Shield coaches have bravely placed their bets on the underdogs UFH.

Williams' neighbour and CPUT head coach Elias Solomon believes that Fort Hare's narrow 32-31 win against UWC in Round Two and their ability to adapt are proof that the visitors are the better side.

"I would have to put my money on Fort Hare," Solomon told

"The performance against UWC earlier this season proved that they can steal it. Fort Hare have a monstrous scrum and they also have the skill to slow down the ball with their pick-up and drive type of rugby.

"They can adapt to any situation - whereas UWC just take it wide and uses speed -  Fort Hare use both strength and speed to attack."

Sharing Solomon's sentiments - and showing more loyalty towards the Eastern Cape - is WSU head coach Sipho Metula.

"Fort Hare is going to win, I have to stay loyal to the Eastern Cape brand," Metula said humorously.  

"When you watch their previous game against UWC, you could see they were just a little better.

"Inexperience will count against them but I think they are heading down to Cape Town with the right attitude… and that is all that matters."

UKZN-Impi coach Donald Ngwenya has backed UWC to win the Final, despite his side's massive 8-45 defeat against UFH in the semifinals.

Nqwenya feels that the difference between the sides will be UWC flyhalf Aidynn Cupido.

"UWC have a good balance between the forwards and the backs. Furthermore, their flyhalf [Cupido] will prove to be the difference, he dictates the game very well.

"I am not reading too much in the previous UFH’s win earlier in the season. UWC are just more compact, and have more structures in place to deal with Fort Hare's pack," Nqwenya said.

TUT head coach Jan Smit echoed Nqwenya, stating that UWC's structures will deliver the results.

"UWC are better organised in terms of set-plays, line-out and scrums. I don’t think Fort Hare’s pack will pose any threat.

"When you play the likes of Fort Hare, you need to be structured and UWC are certainly that," Smit said.

Rhodes coach Qondakele Sompondo had trouble selecting his favourite but in the end, his heart lost out as he predicted a UWC win.

"My heart says Fort Hare but my mind says UWC.

"It is going to be closely contested but UWC will win in the end. They have been consistent throughout the season. They are a clinical side and even against Fort Hare they were leading at half-time.

"I think being at home will pull them through. They are very effective in their execution and have a great balance between the youthful backline and experienced forwards.

"I have been very impressed by Fort Hare. The fact that they are at the beginning of the new cycle and have reached the Finals with mostly first-year just showed what they are capable of," he added.

The game will take place at the UWC Sports Stadium in Cape Town on Monday, April 10.

By Leezil Hendricks

Western Province vs Griquas
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Sat, 23 September 2017
Saracens v Sale Sharks 14h00 Allianz Park
Harlequins v Leicester Tigers 14h00 Twickenham Stoop
Bath v Newcastle Falcons 14h00 Recreation Ground
Connacht v Cardiff Blues 14h15 Sportsground
Kings v Zebre 17h35 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Scarlets v Edinburgh 18h35 Parc y Scarlets
Sun, 24 September 2017
London Irish v Northampton Saints 13h00 Madejski Stadium
Exeter Chiefs v Wasps 14h00 Sandy Park
Fri, 29 September 2017
Sharks v Golden Lions 17h00 Durban
Newcastle Falcons v London Irish 18h35 Kingston Park
Worcester Warriors v Saracens 18h35 Sixways
Sale Sharks v Gloucester 19h00 AJ Bell Stadium
Glasgow Warriors v Treviso 19h35 Scotstoun Stadium
Scarlets v Connacht 19h35 Parc y Scarlets
Leinster v Edinburgh 19h35 RDS Arena
Sat, 30 September 2017
Griquas v Free State Cheetahs 12h00 Kimberley
Leicester Tigers v Exeter Chiefs 13h00 Welford Road
Munster v Cardiff Blues 13h30 Thomond Park
Pool CUP
Team P W D L Pts
UP-Tuks 8 7 0 1 34
Maties 8 7 0 1 34
UJ 8 5 0 3 25
Shimlas 8 5 0 3 23
Wits 8 4 0 4 21
NWU-Pukke 8 4 0 4 19
NMMU-Madibaz 8 2 0 6 11
UCT-Ikeys 8 2 0 6 9
CUT-Ixias 8 0 0 8 3
Team P W D L Pts
UWC 6 5 0 1 27
Fort Hare 6 4 0 2 20
UKZN-Impi 6 4 0 2 20
WSU 6 3 0 3 14
CPUT 6 2 0 4 10
TUT 6 2 0 4 9
Rhodes 6 1 0 5 6