Friday saw a festival of rugby games as the country’s top rated rugby university teams battled it out at Tuks Stadium for the 2022 edition of Varsity 7s rugby.
Day 1 wrapped with thrilling rugby, upsets, drama, passion and emotion as the 12 matches played brought excitement and entertainment. Here’s how it all went down.
Match 4 (M):
UP-Tuks 14 – 7 Wits
The hosts kicked off the first game of the mens edition of the competition. The temperature for the day matched the intensity of the match as Campwill Willemse scored a sizzling try after evading a defender with a massive hand-off. Liyema Matoylweni made it 7 a piece after he scored the try and conversion, but Bayanda Ngubane scored at the death at the end of the half to make it 14-7.
The teams were deadlocked in the second half with no tries scored. This meant that Tuks won their game 14-7 much to the delight of the home crowd.
Match 5 (M):
UJ 41-14 NWU
The defending champions were stunned early on with a blistering try from Joubert Schoeman. The Orange Army replied instantly as Sphesihle Nkabini scored and the conversion was taken to make it 7-7. UJ then capitalized on a power play try worth double and they were suddenly 19-7 ahead. Despite the heat, it was raining tries as Nkondlo Radebe touched down to make it 24-7 at halftime.
NWU were dealt a major blow as Wendal Osuala got a yellow card and then UJ scored instantly to put the game out of reach courtesy of Asemahle Mafenyana. Calvin Clark got a consolation try for NWU but UJ scored again from their second unit team to run away 41-14 victors.
Match 6 (M):
UWC 19 – 19 UFS
UFS touted as possible challengers for the title made their intentions clear with a try from Litha Nkula. Ferdinand Vergottini scored the second try for the University of Free State but the team from the Western Cape got one back from Shaun Ordeson to make it 14-7 going into halftime.
UWC were slowly growing into the game and scored a power play try from Almore Kuilders and the game change on its head at 19:14 to UWC. The tie however was a rollercoaster as UFS scored an equalizing try by Kyle Thompson and the match ended in an entertaining 19-19 draw.
Match 7 (M):
Maties 17-5 Madibaz
Perennial title contenders Maties came in as early favorites and it told with a try for Sibusiso Mhlom. Captain Fredrick Van Zyl extended his teams lead as one try became two as the team went in 12-0 ahead.
The second half which was a slow burner compared to the first saw Vernon Oaly extended Maties lead to 17-0. Madibaz weren’t going to take the result lying down and scored a consolation try from Byrce Collins. 17-5 the end result.
Match 11 (M):
UP-Tuks 17-34 UFS
The home side were shell-shocked in front of the home crowd as UFS took total domination benefiting from a a try from Khanyisa Hlengwa and a power point try from Ferdinand Vergottini. UP-Tuks replied but UFS continued to extended their dominance by adding a third try. Chad Lee Valentine scored the home teams second try and the halftime score was 24-10 to UFS.
The end to end match was fast paced and Stiaan Gennis further extended Shimlas’s lead to make it 10-29. But the home side weren’t giving up as Chad Lee Valentine scored his second in a thrilling game. Ruben Cronje put the game to bed and it was 34-17 to UFS who outclassed the home side.
Match 13 (M):
UJ 47 – 7 Madibaz
The Orange Army weathered the early storm from Madibaz as they sustained intense pressure and scored two tries courtesy of Siphesihle Nkabini and Asemahle Mafenyana. Nkondlo Radebe made it a third try which was also a power point and UJ were comfortable going into halftime. With confidence growing Tyreeq February extended the champions lead to 33-0
Madibaz scored early in the second half to try and make it a respectable score line as Byrce Collins scored to make it 33-7. But the Orange Army showed their dominance once again Tumelo Schaune and Akliyame Thomson finished off Madibaz. Final score 47-7
Match 13 (M):
Maties 5-24 UWC
Maties steadily handled the game and scored courtesy of their captain Frederick Van Zyl who led from the front. However UWC stunned Maties and took the lead by scoring a try and conversion courtesy of Kyle Thyssun, 7:5 to UWC at halftime.
An upset was on the cards after UWC scored another try with Maties found shaking. UWC put the exclamation mark on the game and scored a power point try and made it 24-5. The biggest upset of Saturdays fixture
Match 14 (M):
Wits 29-31 NWU
The equally matched sides exchanged blows from the onset with each team scoring a try. But it was Wits that seemed to want it more. Wenrich Aucamp and Eben Hyman extended Wits lead taking a 17-7 lead into halftime.
NWU came out fighting in the second half and narrowed the lead down. The power play then changed the game on its head as NWU quickly took the lead. But it was short lived as Wits equaled their total courtesy of Kevin Hlupheko. With the scored tied at 24-24 Calvin Clark snatched the lead for NWU. But Wits just didn’t want to lie down and scored a last gap try but missed the conversion to narrowly lose 29-31 to NWU
Match 18 (M):
UFS 14-27 Madibaz
At this stage of the tournament Shimlas were playing sensational rugby and never gave teams rest bite as Stiaan Genis opened the scoring. The forward had impressed for Shimlas and was their best player by a mile. Izak Smith scored UFS’s second and went into halftime with a 14-0 lead.
The second half was relatively quiet until UFS Laurens Oosthuizen was sent to the sin bin for a cynical challenge. The yellow card saw Madibaz scored two tries including a power play try from Brandt Fields. Madibaz were suddenly moments away from victory. Captain Kyle Cyster sealed victory with a lovely team try, which saw them overcome a 14 point deficit and win 14-27
UWC 19-22 Wits
Towards the tail end of match day one, Wits and UWC exchanged blows and tries as Siyabonga Xulu scored for Wits first with a power play try while Nicolas Chimpanje replied for UWC. But as the half ended, Wenrich Aucamp caught UWC sleep and saw the side from Joburg go 17-7 at halftime.
UWC came strong in the second and cut the deficit to just 3 points. The match was getting intense as both teams were searching for a possible winner and it was Thando Ngcelwane of Wits who extended his team lead to 22-14. But the unpredictability of 7s rugby showed itself as UWC scored a try, but it wasn’t to be as they lost 22-19
Match 20 (M):
Maties 19-33 NWU
The game between the two came as loadshedding hit at 4PM, however the rugby on stage lit up the crowd. NWU scored their first try thanks to Max Williamson. While MatiesElzandro Fredricks got the crowd on its feet with contender of try of the season. Maties responded at the end of the half to reduce the score making it all to play for in the second.
Maties went straight to business in the second as Brett Arnold and Gustav September staged a dramatic comeback. But it wasn’t over as NWU staged a comeback of their own and eventually took the lead 21-19. NWU put the game to bed and scored a power play try and the game was eventually won 33-19.
Match 21 (M):
UJ 12-7 UP-Tuks
The last game of Friday for the mens teams was a Gauteng derby which promised to excite. Surprisingly it was a tentative affairs as both sides failed to register a try in the first half but not without action. UJ were dominant but Tuks were in it thanks to the support of their home fans.
The second half was a different affair as Tumelo Schane scored to give the defending champions a 7-0 lead and advantage to the Orange Army. There was a crescendo of noise towards the end as the home crowd tried to spark a comeback for their team and it payed through as Ambesa Zenzile scored a dramatic power play try to give Tuks as dramatic 12-7 win