Newly appointed NMU Madibaz captain Luvo Claasen is adamant that his side will gain promotion to the Varsity Cup this season.
After winning six of their Varsity Shield round-robin fixtures and then clobbering UKZN 46-0 in the semi-final, Madibaz were a shoo-in to win the 2019 edition of the Varsity Shield. But it was a 79th-minute try from CPUT’s George-Lee Erasmus that would sink the Port Elizabeth side and ensure CPUT would lift the their first-ever Varsity Shield trophy.
The disappointment has made Madibaz skipper Claasen eager for revenge. With 2020 also a promotion/relegation year, Madibaz can get back into the Varsity Cup after being relegated after a disaster 2018 season, which will add extra gravity to their cause.
‘The main goal is definitely to get back into the Varsity Cup and to do so, we have to accumulate all points offered on the log,’ explained the Pretoria Boys High alumnus.
‘We want to play some good rugby, lift the Varsity Shield and give our supporters something to cheer about.’
The East London-born halfback reflected on the disappointment of losing in the Varsity Shield final last year.
‘At the time it was very disappointing, going into the final. We were expected to win and maybe rightfully so, since we were on top of the log unbeaten. But looking back and after a few discussions, I think the team is better for it. It eliminated complacency coming into the season and lessons were learned from the game.’
Claasen believes that is their job to represent Eastern Cape rugby at the highest level, which means it is imperative for them to gain promotion to the Varsity Cup.
‘I think since the Eastern Cape has birthed many talented rugby players who ended up playing at the highest level, I just feel it’s only right that a university from the Eastern Cape represents the region at the highest student athlete competition and that’s the FNB Varsity Cup.
‘And we’ve seen many players from the Varsity Cup eventually playing professional rugby, so it’s about giving rugby players in and around Port Elizabeth a university that offers the platform to showcase their talent and hopefully going further with their rugby if that’s their dream.’
Madibaz kick off their competition in a clash with Eastern rivals CPUT at the Madibaz Stadium on 14 February.
Photo: Michael Sheehan/Varsity Sports