• Varsity Cup preview (Round 1)

    The opening round of the Varsity Cup on Monday will feature replays of both of last year's semi-finals.

    It may be a fresh start for all eight teams this season, but there is no denying the extra edge that will feature in the two games to be televised live on Supersport 1 as Pukke host NMMU in Potchefstroom and Cape rivals UCT and Maties meet on the Green Mile.

    The other two matches, which both take place in Bloemfontein, will certainly not lack for passion either with Shimlas taking on two-time champions Tuks and the newly promoted CUT making their Varsity Cup debut against UJ.

    Another new addition to the competition this year will be the white card which will allow teams a decision review in televised games in addition to the two-referee system.

    NMMU coach David Maidza said the innovation will be a good safety net if either of the two referees miss something important.

    'I think there is merit to the white card, the only thing is how it is going to be used. We as coaches have every faith in the two-ref system and what they will call out there, so hopefully the white card will actually not be a necessity at all,' he told varsitycup.co.za.

    Maidza knows his side will be the underdogs against a Pukke outfit he expects to be one of the top sides in the competition once again this year.

    'Our sole focus is on Pukke, I am sure they will be one of the leading contenders again this year and I am hoping we go out and perform to the best of our ability and take it from there.'

    There's always a lot at stake when Maties play UCT, but having lost to Ikeys twice in the Varsity Cup last year there's that much more incentive for the Stellenbosch students to take the defending champions down in front of their home crowd.

    Maties coach Chris Rossouw admitted that his side cannot wait to get out there, but he remains cautious about the potential impact of the notoriously windy conditions on the Green Mile.

    'That will obviously be in the back of our minds, although they won't be out to take revenge we would obviously like to settle one. We are looking forward to it and we are obviously very excited about it and we just hope it will be a nice day for running rugby,' he said.

    In the Varsity Shield, Wits make their return to the competition after two years in the Varsity Cup, and they face a tricky outing in Alice where Fort Hare and their legion of fans await them.

    After beating UWC in Bellville last week, UKZN host TUT, who will also be high on confidence after winning at home last week.

    PUKKE vs NMMU
    Fanie du Toit Stadium, Potchefstroom
    Kick-off: 16:45 (Supersport 1)

    Pukke – 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Dalen Goliath, 13 Rowayne Beukman, 12 Johan Deysel, 11 Dean Stokes, 10 Johnny Welthagen, 9 Dillon Smit, 8 Jeandre Rudolph (c), 7 Loftus Morrison, 6 Rhyk Welgemoed, 5 Daniel Jordaan, 4 Ruan Venter, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 Jacques Vermaak, 1 Johan Smith. 
    Subs: 16 Wian Fourie, 17 Mogau Mabokela, 18 Marno Redelinghuys, 19 Molotsi Bouwer, 20 Kurshwill Williams, 21 Warren Gilbert, 22 Heinrich Smith, 23 Cayle Denner.

    NMMU – 15 Jarryd Buys (c), 14 Tythan Adams, 13 Devon Lailivaux, 12 Andile Jho, 11 Yamkela Ngam, 10 Ruan Allerston, 9 Daniel Acker, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Wynand Grassmann, 6 Cyril- John Velleman, 5 Tyler Paul, 4 Robert Louw, 3 Steven Robbeson, 2 Dane van der Westhuyzen, 1 Arno Ebersohn.
    Subs: 16 Warrick Venter, 17 Brenden Olivier,18 Rudolph Odendaal, 19 Ivan du Preez, 20 Ivan Ludick, 21 Steven Hansel, 22 Brain Skosana, 23 Marzuk Maarman.

    SHIMLAS vs TUKS
    Shimla Park, Bloemfontein
    Kick-off: 18:30 (not televised)

    Shimlas – 15 AJ Coertzen (c), 14 Vuyani Maqina, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Tertius Kruger, 11 Maphutha Dolo, 10 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 9 Mthokozisi Mkhabela, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Gerhard Olivier, 5 Niel Claassen, 4 Nicolaas Immelman, 3 Chase Morison, 2 Elandre Huggett, 1 Hennie-Schalk Theron.
    Subs: 16 Jacques Du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Boela Venter, 19 Daniel Maartens, 20 Nhlanhla Hlongwane, 21 Niel Marais, 22 JP Coetzee, 23 Conraad van Vuuren.

    Tuks – 15 Riaan Britz, 14 Duncan Matthews, 13 Daniel Kriel, 12 Ryan Nell, 11 Jermaine Kleinsmith, 10 Joshua Stander, 9 André Warner, 8 Clyde Davids, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg (c), 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Irné Herbst, 3 Neethling Fouché, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Juan Schoeman. 
    Subs: 16 Jan Enslin, 17 Nqobisiswe Mxoli, 18 Dennis Visser, 19 Ruan Steenkamp, 20 Emile Temperman, 21 Dewald Human, 22 John Jackson, 23 Andrew Beerwinkel.

    CUT vs UJ
    CUT Rugby Stadium, Bloemfontein
    Kick-off: 18.30 (not televised)

    CUT – 15 Henry Immelman, 14 Luke Cyster, 13 Charles Hitchcock (c), 12 Ali Mgijima, 11 Mosego Toolo, 10 Naude Van Biljon, 9 Christiaan Erasmus, 8 Jean Pretorius, 7 Dean Kouprihanoff, 6 Frans Sisita, 5 Rayno Nel, 4 Daneel Botes, 3 Gerard Baard, 2 Anrich Bitzi, 1 Len Noort.
    Subs: 16 Theuns Truter, 17 Ian Smith, 18 Fanie Coetzer, 19 Victor Maruping, 20 Marius Grobler, 21 Jean-Claude Fourie, 22 Duan Pretorius, 23 Boetie Makethlo.

    UJ – 15 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 14 Bradley Moolman, 13 Robert de Bruyn, 12 Adriaan Vermeulen, 11 Andries Oosthuizen, 10 James Campbell, 9 Hilton Mudariki, 8 Dylan Peterson, 7 Kyle Van Dalen, 6 Kobus Porter (c), 5 David Antonites, 4 Werner Lourens, 3 Nico du Plessis, 2 Siphatho Qinisile, 1 Gareth Milasinovich. 
    Subs: 16 Jannes Snyman, 17 Brandon Landsberg, 18 Ettienne Oosthuizen, 19 Wiaan Conradie, 20 Chuma Faas, 21 Jaco Fourie, 22 Ronald Brown, 23 Raeez Salie.

    UCT vs MATIES
    UCT Rugby Fields, Cape Town
    Kick-off: 19:00 (SuperSport 1)

    UCT – 15 Khanyo Ngcukana, 14 Richard Stewart, 13 Dylan Sage, 12 Guy Schwikkard, 11 Lihleli Xoli, 10 Warren Seals, 9 James Alexander, 8 Guy Alexander, 7 Michael Botha (c), 6 Jason Klaasen, 5 James Kilroe, 4 Mark Prior, 3 Digby Webb, 2 Chad Solomon, 1 Joel Carew.
    Subs: 16 Michael Kennedy, 17 Robin Murray, 18 Jade Kriel, 19 Tinotenda Zakeyo, 20 Ryan Dugmore, 21 Nicholas Holton, 22 Nathan Nel, 23 Kyle Whyte.

    Maties – 15 Mike Muller, 14 Craig Barry, 13 Christoff van Tonder, 12 Koos Loubser, 11 JP Lewis, 10 Ernst Stapelberg, 9 Jean Nel, 8 Kobus van Dyk, 7 Lungelo Chonco, 6 Beyers de Villiers, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys (c), 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 AJ de Klerk, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Niel Oelofse.
    Subs: 16 Wesley Adonis, 18 Grant Prior, 19 Justin Benn, 20 Bjorn Bernardo, 21 Brandon Thomson, 22 Kyle Leibrandt, 23 John Hubert Meyer.

    By Michael de Vries

    Photo: varsitycup.co.za

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    Simon Borchardt