There are only three games remaining in the 2023 FNB Varsity Cup tournament and the University of Johannesburg (FNB UJ) senior men’s rugby team face an insurmountable task of punching past three tough teams to advance to the semi-finals. In the next fixtures, FNB UJ has to punch past the Universities of Free State, Stellenbosch and Pretoria to keep their 2023 edition participation hopes alive.
As usual, the home fans funneled their support behind the Orange Army at the UJ Stadium to ward off visitors, the Central University of Technology (FNB CUT Ixias) from scoring, but the game proved to be tough for the hosts. FNB UJ took the lead with an early 5-point try and a conversion through Peter Polhmann and Jonathan Viljoen, respectively, before the 10th minute of the first half. The visitors and scored a 7-point try with a good conversion, putting them in the lead by 2 points in the 14th minute.
FNB UJ’s wavering defense gave visitors a chance to score 30-points before half time break.
Speaking on his team’s performance, UJ team co-captain, Kelvin Kanenungo said, “We didn’t stick to structure, that’s what went wrong. I think we started being selfish, playing out of structure, trying to shine, instead of doing what the team needs to do.”
The Orange Army (UJ) tried to redeem themselves in the first 10 minutes of the second half. They managed to see beyond the try line of FNB CUT, but failed to score. FNB CUT capitalized on every FNB UJ mistake. Their last 7-point try put them on 54-12 points lead at the referee’s last whistle blow.
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“We need to stay on our feet and work, work, work, and work. We need to prepare well for the remaining games. We showed last week that when we do what a team should do; stay in structure, then everything goes well. So, it’s not really over, individuals just need to switch on and do what’s best for the team” says Kanenungo.
Despite the loss, FNB UJ showed glimpse of determination and a fighting spirit throughout the match. While the result may not have been what the team had hoped for, UJ’s character and dedication to the game was commendable. They have won one out of four matches in the tournament.
FNB UJ will regroup and focus their energy in Bloemfontein against the University of Free State (FNB UFS Shimlas) on Monday, 20 March 2023.