Varsity Cup 2021 Final – Tuks vs Ikeys Preview

Photo Credit -

FNB UCT and FNB UP-Tuks will finally meet in this year’s FNB Varsity Cup after their Round 6 clash was cancelled following three Covid-19 positive tests in the hosts’ camp. At that stage, the Ikey Tigers had won their first five matches and were expected to beat a Tukkies team that had lost to FNB Maties.

FNB UCT went on to top the FNB Varsity Cup log for the first time since the inaugural tournament in 2008, with eight wins from eight completed matches, while FNB UP-Tuks finished third after losing to FNB CUT in their final league-stage fixture.

However, Tukkies’ impressive 44-35 semi-final win against FNB Maties suggests they are ready to ambush FNB UCT in the final.

“That was our best performance this season and exactly how we want to play,” FNB UP-Tuks coach Nico Luus tells “There is a belief in the team now that was perhaps lacking during the second bubble and I can’t wait for the final.”

The Ikey Tigers made a nervous start to their semi-final against the FNB NWU Eagles, falling 15-0 behind after as many minutes, before scoring eight tries to win 54-36.

“We hadn’t played in a semi-final for six years so I expected the guys to be nervous,” says FNB UCT coach Tom Dawson-Squibb. “We saw that with a couple of glaring errors early on when covering our backfield. But from the 15-minute mark, we were almost flawless in that area of the game. So I’m really happy with how we were able to adapt and once we got our attacking game going, we looked really good.”

The Ikey Tigers suffered a big blow just before kick-off when star flyhalf James Tedder was ruled out of the semi-final having failed to recover from a concussion, but Tedder’s replacement, David Hayes, more than filled his boots to win the Player That Rocks award.

“David’s actually played a lot of rugby during this tournament, so we were less worried about losing James than some outside of the camp,” says Dawson-Squibb. “James has been targeted during the tournament, which is what happened when he got a high shot against the Madibaz, so we’ve often replaced him with David during a game.”

Dawson-Squibb says it’s touch and go as to whether Tedder will be fit for the final.

“James will have to pass a fitness test, so we will probably make a decision in the hours leading up to the game.”

FNB UCT have “massive respect” for FNB UP-Tuks, according to Dawson-Squibb.

“They were the pre-tournament favourites, playing at home and with massive resources, which we’ve all seen while staying here over the past couple of months. They’re a physical, well-drilled side with a former Springbok defence coach [John McFarland].”

So where will Monday’s final be won and lost?

“It’s no secret that both teams use their kicking games quite cleverly, but I think it will come down to the balance between physicality and tempo,” says Dawson-Squibb. “Tuks want to bash you into smithereens but they do it at a good pace. We’ve got to handle that and move them around the field. We believe in ourselves and are very confident in our game plan.”

“We expect a physical game and we will be physical,” says Luus. “We will also rely a lot on [fullback] Zander du Plessis and [flyhalf] David Coetzer as far as our kicking game is concerned. But I believe the final will be determined by small margins.”

FNB UCT Ikeys – 15 Athi Gazi, 14 Rihaz Fredericks, 13 Evardi Boshoff, 12 Le Roux Malan, 11 Rethabile Louw, 10 David Hayes, 9 William Rose, 8 Christian Stehlik, 7 Niel Otto, 6 Liam Greenhalgh (c), 5 Matthew Grobler, 4 Byron Cranswick, 3 Robert Hunt, 2 Devon Arendse, 1 Luthando Woji. Replacements: 16 Josh van Vuuren, 17 Seth Christian, 18 Ashwyn Adams, 19 Byron Bowes, 20 Taariq Kruger, 21 Kyle Bowman, 22 Sibabalwe Mzanywa, 23 Duran Koevort.

FNB UP-Tuks – 15 Zander du Plessis, 14 Stefan Coetzee, 13 Sango Xamlashe (c), 12 Louritz van der Schyff, 11 Ambesa Zenzeli, 10 David Coetzer, 9 Clyde Lewis, 8 Jaco Bezuidenhout, 7 Hanru Sirgel, 6 Eduan Lubbe, 5 Thomas Meyer, 4 Mihlali Stamper, 3 Damien Swartz, 2 Werner Fourie, 1 Cebo Dlamini. Replacements: 16 Llewellyn Classen, 17 Dewald Donald, 18 Etienne Janeke, 19 Orateng Koikanyang, 20 Stephan Smit, 21 Johan Mulder, 22 Enrique Oranje, 23 Tharquin Manuel.


Beat FNB Maties 26-20
Beat FNB Wits 40-22
Beat FNB UJ 39-34
Beat FNB UFS Shimlas 59-5
Beat FNB CUT Ixias 76-5
Drew with FNB UP-Tuks 0-0 (match cancelled)
Beat FNB UWC 58-55
Beat FNB NWU Eagles 42-36
Beat FNB Madibaz 34-23
Beat FNB NWU Eagles 54-36 (semi-final)

Beat FNB Wits 48-25
Beat FNB UJ 47-19
Beat FNB NWU Eagles 33-15
Lost to FNB Maties 24-31
Beat FNB UWC 31-25
Drew with FNB UCT Ikeys 0-0 (match cancelled)
Beat FNB UFS Shimlas 42-39
Beat FNB Madibaz 75-0
Lost to FNB CUT Ixias 40-41
Beat FNB Maties 44-35 (semi-final)