(Published - 1 February 2019)
Celebrities from far and wide rallied behind the Udubs Varsity Cup rugby side to show their support as UWC enters the FNB Varsity Cup competition for the very first time in 2019.
Afcon Women’s footballer of the year, Thembi Kgatlana, radio and TV personality, Ryan O’Connor, Proteas all-rounder JP Duminy, comedians Dalin Oliver and Carl Weber, puppet political analyst Chester Missing and former Springbok rugby player Breyton Paulse, are among the celebrities who wished Udubs well on their first Varsity Cup journey.
UWC is the first historically disadvantaged institution to play in the Varsity Cup. Professor Tyrone Pretorius, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, said advancing to the Varsity Cup is proof that UWC is committed to excellence, performing at the highest levels and nurturing talent. “I am very proud of the team and coaching staff - and glad that their hard work has been rewarded,” he said.
UWC’s Director of Sport, Mandla Gagayi, said the promotion to the Varsity Cup symbolises a great game changer, and it is proof of UWC’s role of giving hope to those who never had opportunities before.”The victory further demonstrates our strength to always rise above our challenges as an institution and compete against the best. It is a great game changer for the University,” Gagayi said.
Head coach and 1995 World Cup winner, Chester Williams, said his players work very hard and are now going to put their bodies on the line for the University: “I want to urge the students to come and support and encourage - I want them to come to every home game and show their support.”
2011: UWC is one of the founding members of the Varsity Shield, along with CUT (the inaugural winners), Wits (the first team to earn promotion to the Cup), UFH and UKZN.
UWC finishes third, with two out of the top 10 point scorers and try scorers coming from the University.
2012: Once again, the UWC Rugby team finishes the Shield in third place, Head Coach Deon Davids leaves the squad midway through the campaign, leaving assistant coach Oliver Jansen to complete the 2012 campaign.
2013: As former Springbok Coach Peter De Villiers joins as UWC Rugby Head Coach, the UWC Rugby Team starts the Shield strong with a televised game against CUT, and ends with a final face-off against the same team, finishing the Shield in second place after a 19-29 defeat. The team also kicks off their Pink Shorts Campaign, visiting the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children to help clean the grounds and play with the children - soon to become an annual tradition.
2014: In a difficult year for the team, UWC finishes fourth, just above the TUT Vikings, though UWC’s Freddie Muller is still the tournament’s 2nd best point scorer. Ex Springbok Coach Pieter de Villiers faces up against Ex New Zealand Coach, John Mitchell who takes charge of a strong UKZN Rugby Squad.
2015: UWC finishes the Shield third (for the third time), though the competition’s Top Try Scorer, James Verity-Amm, hails from the University (and also happens to be the tournament’s fourth best point scorer). Mandla Gagayi joins the University as Head of Sport, with the aim of shaking things up a little.
2016: As former Springbok Chester Williams joins UWC as Head Coach for Rugby, UWC Rugby Club narrowly misses promotion to the Varsity Cup, losing both the final of the Varsity Shield (to Wits, 39-2) and the promotional play-offs to the Ikey Tigers of UCT. UWC’s Aidynn Cupido is named Back That Rocks and is nominated for Player of the Tournament.
2017: UWC Rugby team wins the Varsity Shield for the first time, finishing 45-2 against Fort Hare in an epic final. This performance helps earn them the UWC Club of the Year Award, while Coach Chester Williams is declared UWC’s Coach of the Year. Aidynn Cupido is again nominated for Player of the Tournament.
2018: UWC once again dominates the Varsity Shield, losing only one of its games, trouncing Walter Sisulu University (FNB WSU) in the final, and also wins promotion to Varsity Cup (by defeating their 2017 rivals, the University of Fort Hare, 39-18). Adrian Paarwater receives Man of the Match in the Varsity Shield Final, teammate Lyle Hendricks wins UWC Sportsman of the Year, Lubelo Scott receives his Half Colours, and several of the team play for Western Province U/21.
2019: And that brings us to today, where UWC Rugby team is preparing to take part in the 12th season of the Varsity Cup, kicking off against UCT’s Ikey Tigers on 4 February 2019. Come back your boytjies - it’s bound to be a game to remember!