On Monday, April 3rd, 2023, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) senior women’s and men’s rugby teams emerged victorious against the University of Pretoria’s (FNB UP Tuks) male and female teams, respectively. This win marked a significant achievement for UJ, as they secured their position in the Varsity Cup without needing to participate in the promotion-relegation playoffs.
The UJ men’s team delivered a fierce performance against FNB UP Tuks, winning with a score of 38-31. Similarly, the UJ ladies’ team dominated their opponents, securing a remarkable 35-05 victory in the women’s FNB Varsity Cup rugby tournament semi-final match.
UJ’s men’s team needed to win the match to avoid promotion-relegation playoffs, having entered the final round in 7th position out of 8 participating teams. Their victory secured their position in 5th place on the log with 19-points, which is one spot higher than in the 2022 campaign. Although they were just shy of 2/3 points to qualify for the semi-finals, UJ’s supporters, staff, and students traveled to Tshwane to cheer on both the men’s and women’s teams.
In the women’s game, UJ outplayed FNB UP Tuks, with tries from Khanyisile Ntai, Aliyah Tchogna-Njamen, and Tanya Shava, which were enough to secure the team’s spot in the tournament.
In the men’s game, FNB UP Tuks initially took the lead, scoring a 5-point try and a successful conversion, followed by a penalty to make it 10-0. However, UJ quickly recovered from the 10-point deficit through Nkondlo Radebe’s and co-captain Kelvin Kanenungo’s tries and a successful conversion by Rowan Malgas to make it 12-10 in favor of UJ. Mpho Kubheka’s try and Malgas’s conversion further extended UJ’s lead, increasing the pressure on FNB UP Tuks. Although the hosts tried to reduce the gap by scoring a 5-point try and converting, UJ’s Prince Nkabinde added another try for UJ, securing their victory.
“We came here knowing we don’t wanna play in the promotion-relegation playoffs – that was the goal. We wanted to end our season on a good note, and we did just that today,” said Buhlebenkosi Qaba, FNB UJ co-captain.
UJ has won three and lost four games in the 2023 FNB Varsity Cup rugby tournament. According to head coach Jonathan Mukuena, the team has grown and evolved throughout the tournament, playing phenomenal rugby. The coach was optimistic about UJ’s future and believed that the team’s success would continue to improve with time.
Finally, Tanya Shava (UJ Women) and Ricardo Fourie (UJ Men) were named FNB Players that Rocks, highlighting their outstanding performances during the tournament.