In the fourth instalment of a new series, DYLAN JACK rewinds to the 2014 Varsity Cup final and finds out what happened to the title-winning UCT players.
The 2014 Varsity Cup final is one that has gone down in rugby folklore as one of the great comebacks. Finding themselves 33-15 down to NWU in the final five minutes in Potchefstroom, the Capetonians somehow pulled themselves back into the contest and stole the title in a remarkable final passage of play.
Tries from Michael Botha and Dean Grant set up a grand-slam finish to what was already an exhilarating match. NWU looked like they would hold on to get the win as they had possession from a scrum just outside the UCT 22 area, with the full-time hooter already gone. However, flyhalf Johnny Welthagen decided to go for the drop goal and botched his attempt, giving the Ikey Tigers one final opportunity.
In one of the most memorable moments in South African rugby, UCT ran the ball from inside their own 22. After a couple of phases, replacement hooker Chad Solomon was freed up out wide and produced a magical offload to see Nathan Nel sprint clear to score under the posts and seal a 39-33 victory.
15 Ross Jones-Davies
Jones-Davies played for English Championship side Jersey. He works at Octopus Wealth Management as a business development manager.
14 Richard Stewart
One of the try-scorers for UCT in the final, Stewart continued his rugby career in Spain. He made his Test debut in 2018 and has won 13 caps to date.
13 Huw Jones
Possibly the most famous member of the squad. Jones went on to star for Western Province in the Currie Cup before earning a call-up to the Stormers’ Super Rugby squad. After helping Province win the Currie Cup in 2017, he returned to Scotland and signed with Edinburgh. Jones has made 25 appearances for Scotland since his debut in 2016.
12 Guy Schwikkard
After completing his postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management, Schikkard interned at Accelerate Sport in Cape Town. He then returned to New Zealand and currently works as a customer success manager at JXT Global.
11 Lihleli Xoli
Xoli continued to play for the Ikey Tigers until 2017, when he signed for the Cheetahs. He graduated with a Bcom and continued his studies towards a PGCA at UCT.
10 Dean Grant
Grant, who contributed 11 points in the final – including a try in the final five minutes – joined Griquas and played in the Currie Cup in 2014 and 2015. However, he was released early from his contract and moved to France. He currently plays for club rugby side SO Chambery.
9 Liam Slatem
Slatem joined the large South African contingent playing for Hong Kong. He has also helped develop rugby in the country, serving as backline coach for the U19 Women side and starting Prime Rugby, which focuses on developing skills among young players.
8 Michael Botha
Botha, whose try helped start the comeback, stayed at UCT and helped them claim the World University Championship for the first time. He joined Stewart in continuing his career in Spain for Independiente Rugby Club. He currently works as a financial adviser for Lifestyle Coach in Cape Town.
7 Vince Jobo
Jobo joined the Cheetahs in 2014, but after struggling to make an impact in Bloemfontein he moved to the EP Kings in 2016. Currently, he plays for New Orleans Gold and is targeting a place in the USA squad for the 2023 World Cup.
6 Jason Klaasen
Klaasen continued to play for the Ikey Tigers and was named ‘Forward that Rocks’ after the 2015 season. He then turned his attention to his studies and is currently working towards his Master of Laws at UCT.
5 James Kilroe
Kilroe furthered his studies at Cambridge University. He is currently a technologist and an engineer and specialises in business technology, including Blockchain.
4 Shaun McDonald
After his impressive performances for UCT, McDonald was recruited by the EP Kings and made his debut in the 2014 Currie Cup. After spending two years in the Eastern Province, he joined the Boland Cavaliers in 2016. He last played for the Griffons in 2018.
3 Digby Webb
After finishing his honours in Education at UCT, Webb moved to the United Kingdom where he completed his MSc at the University of Sterling. He currently works as a teacher and athletic development co-ordinator at Kingswood School in Bath. He is also part of the coaching unit at the Bath Rugby Academy.
2 Neil Rautenbach
Rautenbach made his professional debut for Western Province in the Vodacom Cup and his Currie Cup debut in the same year. He won three caps for the Stormers in 2015 before joining the Cheetahs. He currently plays for the Boland Cavaliers, who he joined in 2019.
1 Joel Carew
Carew went on to further his coaching career and recently assisted Pieter Benade as Rondebosch Boys’ High U19 coach in 2019. He completed his degree in Social Science and finished his honours in Sports Management
16 Chad Solomon
Solomon continued to play for UCT in the 2015 Varsity Cup and played intermittently for Western Province during this time. He is currently part of the Stormers’ Super Rugby squad.
17 Robin Murray
Murray now works as a broker for Dias Insurance Consultants.
18 Kyle Kriel
Kriel completed his engineering degree and moved to Australia in 2015. He currently resides in Australia and works as an engineer.
19 Guy Alexander
Alexander captained the Ikey Tigers at the World University Championship in 2015, where the Capetonians won the title. Currently, he works for Investec in Johannesburg.
20 James Alexander
Alexander moved from Stellenbosch and played in the 2015 Varsity Cup season alongside his brother,while finishing his degree in finance. Currently, he lives in the UK and works at a financial institution.
21 Martin Sauls
Sauls moved to Spain, where he played for two seasons. Currently, he lives in France and works for a VIP chauffeur company.
22 Nathan Nel
The try-scoring hero of the final, Nel completed his BCom in Politics and Economics at UCT. He currently works at Luno, a cryptocurrency company in South Afria.
23 David Maasch
Maasch completed his BSc in Mechanical Engineering at UCT before doing his honours in Financial Analysis. He currently works as a Mechanical Engineer at Liqui-Box.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images