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Meet the 8 teams gunning for Varsity 7s glory

Updated: Jul 14, 2023


Eight of South Africa’s top Varsity 7s teams will fight it out for the 2022 men’s Varsity 7s championship at the Tuks Stadium in Pretoria on 7 and 8 October.

  • University of Johannesburg

Nickname: Orange Army (UJ)

Titles: 2017 & 2019

Star player to look out for: Mpho Khubeka

The defending 2019 champions are coming into this year’s edition as favourites given their glory in the last competition. However, does this also mean they’re coming in with a target on their back?

Varsity sports spoke to UJ coach Patrick Ross-Allen, who says the team come into the competition with pressure of being champions.

“”Being the reigning champions, there is pressure because everyone wants to beat the champs. We’ve got a target on our backs; each team will play their best game against us.”

Meanwhile captain Mpho Khubeka who has been touted as the star player set to sizzle the competition, says he and his team will give it 100% on the field.

“We come in with clear heads, nothing that we won in 2019. We will take it one game at a time, not focusing on the cup, but on each game. As captain when I get on the field, I just aim to give it 100%”

Fixtures:

UJ vs NWU – Friday 10:43AM

Madibaz vs UJ – Friday 13:17 PM

UP-Tuks vs UJ – Friday 16: 35PM

UWC vs UJ – Saturday 9:59 AM

  • University of Stellenbosch

Nickname: Maties

Titles: 2012 (Plett leg), 2013 & 2016

Star player to look out for: Frederick van Zyl

One cannot talk about university rugby without mentioning Maties. The university which has represents the culture and heritage of university rugby are always favourites coming into any form of rugby. The team however have not won a title in the last 5 years and will be looking to climb back to glory in Pretoria.

Varsity sports spoke to captain and star player Frederick can Eeeden van Zyl who says his team are hungry for glory. He says his team will be bold and decisive.

“Everyone knows the Maties brand and Maties rugby, the jersey won’t play for itself we won’t bargain for anything. We must do everything, and we are motivated as we have worked hard for the last 3 months.”

Fixtures:

Maties vs Madibaz – Friday 11:27 AM

UWC vs Maties – Friday 13:39 PM

NWU-Pukke vs Maties – Friday 16:13 PM

UP-Tuks vs Maties – Saturday 9:37AM

  • University of Pretoria

Nickname: UP- Tuks

Titles: 2018

Star player to look out for: Stephan Coetzee

UP-Tuks come into the tournament as the hosts and will have home ground to their advantage. With the Varsity Sports festival taking place at the Tuks Stadium, the team can be spurred forward by its partisan support.

Speaking to Varsity sports assistant coach Andre Kruger says playing at home does put pressure on the team.

“Everybody expects us to do good on our home field, but sevens rugby does not really have the same home ground advantage as 15’s rugby. But I am confident that if students come through then the crowds will back us with that energy.”

With the likes of alumni Impi Visser rising from Varsity 7’s rugby all the way to the Bliztboks, coach Kruger believes Stephan Coetzee could also go in the same direction. He says the full back has all the makings of an excellent sevens rugby player with the capability of moving up and playing in higher colours.

Fixtures:

UP-Tuks vs Wits – Friday 10:21 AM

UP-Tuks vs Kosvies – Friday 12:55AM

UP-Tuks vs UJ – Friday 16:35 PM

UP-Tuks vs Maties – Saturday 9:37AM

  • University of Free State

Nickname: Kosvies

Titles: 2012 (Margate Leg) & 2015

Star player to look out for: Chad Adams

Kosvies which is coming into the tournament with one of the youngest sides says it wants to have fun and grow from the experience. The team have several exciting players including some that even played Varsity Cup rugby. Coach Andre Tredoux had this to say.

“We always want to be competitive; we’ve got a younger side and we look forward to enjoy the tournament. It is important to enjoy the game and score some great tries.”

Meanwhile captain Ethan Wentzel says the teams target is finishing in the top 2. “We are a young team, so we are looking forward to the tournament and try our best by finishing in the top 2. I personally want to lead by example and lead my team forward.”

Fixtures:

UWC vs Kosvies – Friday 11:05 AM

UP-Tuks vs Kosvies – Friday 12:55 AM

Madibaz vs Kosvies – Friday 15:29 PM

NWU-Pukke vs Kosvies – Saturday 10:21 AM

  • University of Witwatersrand

Nickname: Wits

Titles: N/A

Star player to look out for: Keagan Lailvaux

Several teams coming into the Varsity 7’s tournament have participated in the USSA (University Sport South Africa) 7’s rugby championships in September. Wits which were one of those teams are looking to build on the experience gained from the USSA tournament.

Speaking to Varsity Sports, assistant coach of Wits rugby Kwanele Ngema says his team are hungry to get involved following the USSA games and the recent Rugby World Cup Sevens which was hosted in Cape Town.

“We come in with a lot of confidence having learnt how to become a better team. Having hosted the Rugby World Cup Sevens, our players want to be in that environment with a vibrant, high intensity and high energy rugby. We couldn’t have asked for a better platform.”

Fixtures:

UP-Tuks vs Wits – Friday 10:21 AM

NWU-Pukke vs Wits – Friday 14:01 PM

UWC vs Wits – Friday 15:51 PM

Madibaz vs Wits – Saturday 9:15 AM

  • North-West University

Nickname: Eagles

Titles: N/A

Star player to look out for: Kelvin Clark

NWU-Pukke are coming into this tournament with a bounce in their step following victory at the USSA 7’s games. The University Sports of South Africa hosted a 7’s tournament in September and the team from the North West will be looking to build on that victory and surprise many in Pretoria.

Varsity sports spoke to head coach Pieter van der Berg who says his team might be the dark horses.

“”We just managed to win the USSA championships, some teams might consider us favourites, but 7’s is a brutal game and things can change quickly. But there is some form of confidence players will be coming in with in this competition.”

Fixtures:

UJ vs NWU-Pukke – Friday 10:43AM

NWU-Pukke vs Wits – Friday 14:01 PM

NWU-Pukke vs Maties – Friday 16:13 PM

NWU-Pukke vs Kosvies – Saturday 10:21 AM

  • University of Western Cape

Nickname: UWC

Titles: N/A

Star player to look out for: Peter Williams ©

Another team looking to build from the USSA games is the University of Western Cape who came agonizingly close to glory when they lost the final against NWU-Pukke. With the valuable lessons and experience gained from last month’s tournament, coach Clement Trout believes they are equal to all the teams in the 7’s tournament.

He says there are no clear favourites and that teams would be foolish to consider them as underdogs. “We lost in the final, so we’re hoping to be better and improve the best we can. We are excited to be participating and we will prepare the best we can and give it our all.”

Fixtures:

UWC vs Kosvies – Friday 11:05 AM

UWC vs Maties – Saturday 13:39 PM

UWC vs Wits – Friday 15:51 PM

UWC vs UJ – Saturday 9:59 AM

  • Nelson Mandela University

Nickname: Madibaz

Titles: N/A

Star player to look out for;Kyle Cyster

Finally, the Nelson Mandela University, also known as Madibaz says they come into the tournament as clear underdogs. Coach Zuko Ndlela says they will be coming in with a young team and new faces as several their experienced players are out on provincial duty.

“We believe that we come as underdogs, we are always taken as such, but we are looking forward to showing our talents. Several our players are out due to provincial duties so we will be exposing new talent.”

Meanwhile captain Kyle Cyster who will be the player to look out for says teams cannot take them lightly as they have nothing to lose as underdogs. “We have to stay in the fight and cannot give up, we are not scared of anyone.”

Fixtures:

Maties vs Madibaz – Friday 11:27 AM

Maties vs Madibaz – Friday 13:17 PM

Madibaz vs Kosvies – Friday 15:29 PM

Madibaz vs Wits – Saturday 9:15 AM

By: Nkosinathi Shazi

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