The University of Johannesburg (FNB UJ) women’s rugby team finished in second spot (winning a silver medal) in the inaugural FNB Varsity Cup Women’s final in Cape Town on Thursday, 13 April 2023 at the University of the Western Cape Stadium. FNB UJ succumbed to a tough 63-9 loss against the dominant Stellenbosch University Ladies (FNB SU Maties).
Led by captain Nthabiseng Ncalane, the FNB UJ women’s team worked tirelessly to close the gaps and minimise errors, but the clinical display of spatial awareness and capitalising on opposition errors by the Maties ladies proved too much to handle.
While they were unable to match the Maties’ performances on the day, the UJ women’s team prepared well in their journey to the final. Players like Priscilla Sithole and Aliyah Tchogna-Njamen stood out in preceding performances in Tshwane against the University of Pretoria in the semifinal match which FNB UJ won 36-05.
Precious Maduchem led the way for FNB UJ with a try, followed by Siham Chtioui’s successful conversion. These few points gave UJ a glimpse of hope in the early minutes of the second half, but ended being the only points scored by the visitors.
Reflecting on the outcome of the match, FNB UJ women’s coach Bongiwe Nhleko stated, “I think we only woke up in the second half, but overall the girls worked really hard. We gave it our all and we are very proud of what we have achieved. Now we go back to our provincial league, will go back and work on our mistakes and we looking to better our game.”
FNB UJ’s finest player Priscilla Sithole concurred with the coach, “We were shaky, we switched on too late and our game was inconsistent in terms of our intensity. We basically gave the game away. This was a learning curve for the girls, we will regroup and come back stronger next year.”
In the end, UJ settled for a silver medal in the FNB Varsity Cup. They shift their focus to league rugby as both the men’s and women’s FNB Varsity Cup tournaments curtain drew to a close this month.