FNB Maties ready for action in first Varsity Cup match
The FNB Maties are ready for action in today’s first showdown in the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International against the Madibaz of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth. The match will be broadcast live at 16:30 on Supersport 1.
The Maties have been heavily depleted by unions since last year’s Varsity Cup and various players have been enticed away with contracts, but the team still has several players who helped to retain the Varsity Cup crown last season.
The players who are again available are Hayden Groepes, Jonathan Francke and Adnaan Oesman (fullbacks), Dabeon Draghoender, Johann Sadie (centres), Cameron Peverett and JP Mostert (flanks), Marinus Pretorius (lock), Matthew Dobson (hooker), Lourens Adriaanse, Mike de Neuilly-Rice and Johan Roets and Andrew Crausaz (prop).
New players who are available include the Maties’ SA u/20 players Reinhardt Elstead (lock) and Stokkies Hanekom (centre) and the WP u/21 players Jurgens Visser (fullback), Danie Poolman (wing), Tertius Daniller (flank), André Kemp (fly-half) and Johan Laker (scrum-half).
According to Matie Rugby Manager Mr Belius Potgieter, the Maties “definitely have enough talent to be competitive again and to win the title for a third time”.
This year’s Varsity Cup will consist of various firsts. It will be the first national competition using the new trial rule of 23 players in a team. According to this rule, it is compulsory for each team to have a full front row on the substitute bench. The aim of this rule is to ensure that, apart from possible injuries without specialists in the front row, the spectacle of rugby is not compromised by watered-down undisputed scrums. This effectively means that eight reserves can be used in each match. If a team does, despite this provision, land in a situation where undisputed scrums are requested, the team will also be requested to take one of its players off the field and then to continue play with 14 players.
Another exciting trial during Varsity Cup will be that the TV referee (or TMO) is done away with. Instead, two TV monitors will be erected behind the goalposts on either side of the field, where the match referee will have to go and look at the play-back in problem cases to make a final decision himself. A possible reason for this trial may be that policy-makers are concerned that referees refer decisions to TV referees too easily, in this way placing responsibility for decisions on another party. This system could prove highly exciting.
Varsity Cup has also announced that a social-responsibility project will be launched during the competition in aid of cancer treatment for both current and former rugby players in financial need. To create awareness for the project, the player of each match – the Player that Rocks – will receive pink rugby shorts that he will wear in the next match. The shorts will be embroidered with his personal details and achievement and will be worn for only one match. In addition to creating awareness for cancer treatment, these shorts will hold significant meaning for the players in that the captains of the various teams will play in the pink shorts during the first round. Income for this pink project will be generated by spectators sending an SMS in support of players suffering from cancer, together with the name of the Varsity Cup team being supported, to the Varsity Cup Cancer Trust on 36199. Every SMS received will represent a R5 donation to the Varsity Cup Cancer Trust.
People or institutions donating R5 000 or more will receive special mention during the TV broadcast of the Varsity Cup matches. The number of SMSs will also be an indication of which Varsity Cup team enjoys the greatest support in the country.
- Season tickets can be bought during office hours (from 08:30 to 17:00) at the Matie Rugby Office in the Danie Craven Stadium. For further information, contact the Matie Club at 021 808 3802.
Caption: The Maties mascot, Pokkel, is ready for action! (Photo: Anton Jordaan, SSFD)