Varsity Cup fans get their first taste of the new double-referee system when the competition kicks off on Monday
Pote Human, the new coach of defending champions Tuks, believes it will take some getting used to and adapting will be the key. He gets to test the system against local rivals UJ.
There are few survivors from the team that beat Maties in the final last year, but Human's side now features five players from last year's Baby Boks team that finished third in the Junior World Championship in France. All the new faces will be desperate to make a fast start under new captain and former Matie Reniel Hugo as they look to make it a hat-trick of titles this year.
A similarly revamped UJ side will be out to make a big statement at the Tuks Stadium in their first match under new coach Werner Janse van Rensburg and his former Springbok assistants Ian Macdonald and Gcobani Bobo.
Maties got away with a narrow 16-15 victory over the NMMU Madibaz in semi-final in Stellenbosch last year, so the Madibaz will be seeking revenge in front of their home fans under new coach David Maidza when the two meet in the opening round.
Maties’ defeat to Tuks in their home final last year was their only loss of the season, so expect them to be as ruthless as ever as they chase their fourth Varsity Cup title.
Down in Cape Town the UCT Ikey Tigers host Pukke on the Green Mile. New Ikeys coach Kevin Musikanth’s task will be to revive the fortunes of the 2011 champions after ending in seventh place for the last two years, but he has a tough first assignment against the team from Potchefstroom.
Former Springbok scrumhalf Robert du Preez has taken over as Pukke coach after a successful stint with Durban club side College Rovers, and his team will be hungry to prove a point after narrowly failing to qualify for the play-offs last year.
In Bloemfontein the Shimlas get their campaign underway against last year’s wooden-spoonists Wits, who will have their work cut out for them after losing a number of players who failed to meet the academic requirements.
Wits did not win a game in their debut Varsity Cup season last year after being promoted from the Varsity Shield, and they look to be up against it once more against a settled Shimlas side which boasts the likes of Currie Cup stars Oupa Mohoje and Gouws Prinsloo.
NMMU vs MATIES
(NMMU Stadium, Port Elizabeth, 4.45pm, live on Supersport)
NMMU – 15 Jarryd Buys, 14 Ayabula Dlepu, 13 Michael Bernardt, 12 Andile Jho, 11 Tythan Adams, 10 Gavin Hauptfleisch, 9 Daniel Acker, 8 Timothy Agaba, 7 Marcel Groenewald, 6 Christopher Cloete, 5 Cameron Lindsay, 4 Stefan Willemse, 3 Dexter Fahey, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Roy Godfrey (c).
Subs: 16 Greg Bauer, 17 Nicolas Roebech, 18 Louis Fourie, 19 Wade Elliot, 20 Ivan Ludick, 21 Stefanus Booysen, 22 Donovan Marais, 23 Enoch Mnyaka.
Maties – 15 Craig Barry, 14 Clearance Khumalo, 13 Mark Hodgskiss, 12 Louis Jordaan, 11 Caleb Smith, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Jean Nel, 8 Tertius Daniller (c), 7 Jurg Streicher, 6 Beyers de Villiers, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Brendon Pitzer, 2 Freddie Kirsten, 1 Wesley Adonis.
Subs: 16 Charl de Villiers, 17 Boeta Kleinhans, 18 Renier Ehlers, 19 Lungelo Chonco, 20 Gerhard Jordaan, 21 Robert du Preez, 22 Johnny Kôtze, 23 Liam Hendricks.
UCT vs PUKKE
(UCT Rugby Fields, Cape Town, 5pm)
UCT – 15 Ross Jones-Davies, 14 Richard Stewart, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Guy Schwikkard, 11 Lihleli Xoli, 10 Dean Grant, 9 Liam Slatem (c), 8 Guy Alexander, 7 Vince Jobo, 6 Shaun McDonald, 5 Jan Uys, 4 James Kilroe, 3 Digby Webb, 2 Neil Rautenbach, 1 Joel Carew.
Subs:16 Chad Solomon, 17 David Maasch, 18 Kyle Kriel, 19 Jason Klaasen, 20 James Alexander, 21 Suwilanji Chibale, 22 Martin Sauls, 23 Robin Murray.
Pukke – 15 Sylvian Mahuza, 14 Edmar Marais, 13 Jaap Pienaar, 12 Adriaan Engelbrecht, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Johnny Welthagen, 9 Tiaan Dorfling (c), 8 Juan Language, 7 Henro-Pierre Swart, 6 Rhyk Welgemoed, 5 Francois Robbertse, 4 Peet van der Walt, 3 Elardus Venter, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Mashudu Mafela.
Subs: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Johan Smith, 18 Daniel Jordaan, 19 Philip de Wet, 20 Dillon Smit, 21 Rhyno Smith, 22 Lucian Cupido, 23 Lhlanhla Ngoama.
TUKS vs UJ
(Tuks Stadium, Pretoria, 7pm, live on Supersport)
Tuks – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Jade Stighling, 13 Rohan Janse Van Rensburg, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Kefentse Mahlo, 10 Francois Tredoux, 9 Carlo Engelbrecht, 8 Jono Janse van Rensburg, 7 Rudolph Smith, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Reniel Hugo (c), 4 Dennis Visser, 3 Basil Short, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Subs:16 Sidney Tobias, 17 Brummer Badenhorst, 18 Jannes Kirsten, 19 Leneve Damens, 20 Emile Temperman, 21 Dries Swanepoel, 22 Jacques Rossouw, 23 Andrew Beerwinkel.
UJ – 15 Marais Schmidt, 14 JR Esterhuizen, 13 Robert de Bruyn, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Jacques Nel, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Jacques Pretorius (c), 8 Kobus Porter, 7 Victor Seketekete, 6 Tiaan MacDonald, 5 David Antonites, 4 Shane Kirkwood, 3 Van Zyl Botha, 2 Francois du Toit, 1 Wiseman Kamanga.
Subs: 16 Jannes Snyman, 17 Devon Martinus, 18 Jeremy Jordaan, 19 Dylan Peterson, 20 Lukas van Zyl, 21 Juan Kotze, 22 PJ Walters, 23 Ryan Plasket.
SHIMLAS vs WITS
(Shimla Park, Bloemfontein, 7pm)
Shimlas – 15 AJ Coertzen, 14 Divandre Strydom, 13 Robbie van Schalkwyk, 12 Joubert Engelbrecht, 11 Sethu Tom, 10 Gouws Prinsloo, 9 Andre van der Walt, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Neill Claasen, 4 Oupa Mohoje, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Elandre Huggett (c), 1 Dolph Botha.
Subs: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Gideon Bruwer, 18 Fanie van der Walt, 19 Sihle Ngxabi, 20 Kevin Luiters, 21 Franna du Toit, 22 Maphutha Dolo, 23 Justin Pappin.
Wits – 15 Ruhan Nel, 14 Joshua Jarvis, 13 Mandla Dube, 12 Brent Crossley, 11 Divan Ferguson, 10 Ashlon Davids, 9 Matt Torrance, 8 Jason Fraser, 7 JJ Breet, 6 JP Jonck, 5 Rendani Ramova, 4 Devin Montgomery (c), 3 Gideon Muller, 2 Ashley Kohler, 1 Hannes Ludick.
Subs: 16 James Marx, 17 Kyle Wood, 18 Senna Esterhuizen, 19 Thato Mavundla, 20 Nkuli Gamede, 21 Wilton Pietersen, 22 Pieter van Biljoen, 23 Ferdinand Kelly.
Photo: Gallo Images