The University of the Western Cape (UWC), and the nine other Varsity Cup contenders will face off against each other starting 4 April 2021 in a condensed tournament that will take place in a bio-secure environment, known as the VC Village, at the University of Pretoria.
Further, with study requirements and mental fatigue in mind, the tournament will consist of three ‘bubbles’ during which teams will arrive at Tuks, play three matches, and then depart for a break of almost two weeks. The playoffs, featuring the top four teams, will then take place in a fourth ‘bubble’ - with the venue still to be confirmed.
For UWC, this year’s tournament will be the first under the tutelage of world-renowned coach Paul Treu. As such, it will be interesting to see what effect the long-time sevens rugby tactician and, latterly, Stormers backroomer will have on a squad that stuttered last year before the tournament was put on ice. In a boon for the men in blue and gold, the ‘Sword of Damocles’ has been stayed for 2021, meaning UDubs will have a clean slate to secure their long-term future in the top tier of varsity rugby - which will be determined by combining the 2021 and 2022 log standings.
If they are to put themselves in good stead, Treu’s men will have to be ‘on it’ in all three - hopefully, four - bubbles. Their first three opponents are serial semifinalists UFS Shimlas, five-time champions Maties and Madibaz - who, as the newly-promoted side, will be eager to show they belong.
It won’t get easier for UWC when they return to Tshwane in late April, with nearly-men NWU, hosts UP-Tuks and UJ lying in wait. Being up-country based, those three opponents will have had easier back-and-forth journeys to the ‘VC Village’, notwithstanding UJ were UWC’s main rivals for the dreaded drop down to FNB Varsity Shield in 2020.
Bubble 3 in May will present UWC with another chance to lay down a marker; against neighbours UCT Ikeys, CUT from Bloemfontein and Wits, who were flying high in 2020.
All told it will be intriguing to see how the 2021 tournament unfolds, not least who deals best with the short-turnaround between matches, back-and-forth travel and close confinement of ‘bubble’ life.
UWC’S VARSITY CUP 2021 FIXTURES
|5 April||FNB UFS Shimlas||Tuks Stadium||17:00|
|8 April||FNB Maties||UP-Tuks B||15:00|
|10 April||FNB Madibaz||Tuks Stadium||15:00|
|22 April||FNB NWU||UP-Tuks B||15:00|
|26 April||FNB UP-Tuks||Tuks Stadium||19:00|
|30 April||FNB UJ||Loftus Versfeld Stadium||15:00|
|10 May||FNB UCT Ikeys||Loftus Versfeld Stadium||17:00|
|13 May||FNB CUT||Tuks Stadium/UP-Tuks B||TBC|
|16 May||FNB Wits||Loftus Versfeld Stadium/UP-Tuks B||TBC|
*all Tuks Stadium/Loftus Versfeld Stadium matches will be televised by SuperSport. The FNB Varsity Cup Board will confirm the exact details of the final two round-robin fixtures based on lon log standings.
*To get to know Paul Treu and his plans for FNB UWC, read the latest edition of Blue and Gold by clicking HERE.