Varsity Cup Coaches Discuss Their Squads

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The FNB Varsity Cup head coaches look ahead to this year’s unique campaign in Tshwane, which kicks off on 4 April. All matches will be played at TUKS or Loftus Versveld in a bio bubble.

Pieter Bergh - CUT

“We have a lot of continuity this year and were able to keep around 90% of our best players. We’ve also brought in a couple of guys who may not be part of the starting lineup initially but will provide good squad depth, as well as a couple of youngsters from our Young Guns [U20] team who have good potential. [Flank] Luvuyo Ndevu will be our captain this year. I wanted someone who represents our university, and he also has the respect of the players and is well-liked. He started at CUT with me two years ago and has grown so much. It’s the perfect time for him to take over the leadership of a squad that now has an average age of almost 23 and a half.”

Andre Pretorius - NWU Eagles (Pukke)

“We’ve lost [tighthead prop] Matimu Manganyi to Maties and [centre] Evardi Boshoff to UCT, but the guys we have from last year have gained valuable experience, even though we only played five matches. [Wing] Lincoln Daniels will be our captain and he will be supported by a captain’s council made up of [flank] Chris Vermaak, [centre] Marco Donges and [hooker] Gustav du Rand. They will help share the leadership load with Lincoln.”

Dewey Swartbooi - UJ

“We have lost seven players from last year, including our captain [Edwin Jansen] and a couple of other regular starters. Three of them are now playing in Poland and [fullback] Shaun Williams is at the SA Rugby Sevens Academy. But that will give the youngsters who have been in our club system and played in the Young Guns tournament an opportunity to play Varsity Cup. I haven’t appointed a captain yet. I am looking at one or two individuals who played last year and will make a decision soon.”

Nico Luus - UP-TUKS

“We lost a few guys, including captain Marius Verwey, [flyhalf] Fiela Boshoff and [No 8] Ewart Potgieter, but we still have the core of the senior group from last year like [wing] Stefan Coetzee, [No 8] Jaco Bezuidenhout and [flank] Hanru Sirgel. We’ve also recruited a couple of good youngsters who came through the system – Cebolenkosi Dlamini, a very strong loosehead prop from Maritzburg College; former Sharks U21 flank Lindokuhle Luthuli; and flyhalf David Coetzer, who helped the Bulls win the SA Rugby U21 Championship last year. So we have a really good mix of youth and experience. [Centre] Sango Xamlashe was an obvious choice as captain this year. He represents everything we stand for, on and off the field. He is a consummate professional and has the respect of the players. I am excited to see how he does as a captain. He will share the responsibility with Jaco.”

Hugo van As - Wits

“The most significant players we’ve lost are [fullback] Daniel Kasende and [wing] Kwanele Ngema, who have finished their degrees. They both played a huge role in getting Wits to where we are today. Kwanele has moved into coaching and is learning his trade with our Young Guns team, so he is still part of our system. We’ve also lost [centre] Sicelo Champion and [prop] CJ Greeff. We will miss those four players’ experience, but the young players who replace them will want to make the Wits jersey proud. I don’t think any captain in this year’s Varsity Cup can expect to play all nine [league] matches, so we have appointed Justin Brandon and Constant Beckerling as co-captains. They are different types of leaders but both are formidable leaders and have played a huge role for us.”

Andre Tredoux - Madibaz

“We have lost a few players from last season, including [fullback] Luvo Claassen, who is currently playing for the Eastern Province Elephants. Our captain for this season is Luyolo Dapula, who was with the Southern Kings. He is a strapping 1.92m lock who can also play blindside flank, so he’s a great addition for us. [Centre] Aya Oliphant and [hooker] Temba Boltina will also be part of the leadership group.”

Tom Dawson-Squibb - UCT Ikeys

“When the Stormers played that internal match between the Dassies and Penguins last September, I did a count – and there were 15 players who were eligible for Maties’ 2021 Varsity Cup squad and just one for UCT. We’ve lost some really big players in our pack, including [flanks] Nama Xaba, Busanda Mabena and [lock] Dave Meihuizen, and a substantial number of backs, especially outside backs. So we’ve moved one of our scrumhalves, Liam Kloosman, to wing, and will bring through a couple of other outside backs this season. [Centre] Evardi Boshoff has joined us from NWU. He’s a really exciting, highly skilful player with a big career ahead of him. So we have an exciting, if not star-studded, group of players. Last year, [flanks] Liam Greenhalgh and Niel Otto were co-captains. This year, Liam will captain the team and have a strong leadership group around him.”

Drikus Hancke - Maties

"A lot of our Young Guns [U20 players] from last year have come through, but we also have a lot of senior guys from last year who will play again in 2021. Our captain for this year’s campaign, [centre] David Brits, is very experienced and he and the other senior players have helped the youngsters during pre-season.”

Pote Human - UFS Shimlas

“We have a young squad, many of whom have previously played for our Young Guns team and the Free State U21 team. There is a lot of talent here and I’m really excited to see what they can do in the Varsity Cup. With most of the games being televised, they can make a name for themselves.”

Paul Treu - UWC

“We are very fortunate to have a good group of senior players, including [centre] Lyle Hendricks, [lock] Pieter-Steyl Swanepoel, [hooker] Jacques van Zyl, [prop] Justin Theys and [wing] Brandon de Kock. We also have two 19-year-old Western Province-contracted players who will start studying at UWC this year, [hooker] Lukhanyo Vokozela and [prop] Lamla Nunu. We’d like to get more youngsters like them to come to UWC so we can build a sustainable system and programme.”