South Africa’s hockey community is somewhat starved of quality hockey tournaments, televised live on their television sets. While the financial and departmental support for hockey and its players may be poor, the fan support is almost unrivalled. South Africa took the opportunities to rally behind the tournament and teams at the matches, on their couches and especially on their phones. The result was excellent.
Here are the top five moments of the season:
1. Our Bok Boks share some love
Following SA golfer, Jared Harvey’s the viral voice note even AB de Villiers had a dig at the pet names he used to describe his girlfriend. Varsity Sports was quick to have a dig of their own, this time at two of the Wits player, captured in a beautiful exchange on the field. Almost 300 likes and multiple comments later, it became one of the most popular pieces of content this year.
2. Tuks complete fairytale comeback
After going 3-0 down in the semi-final against Wits, Tuks pulled it back to 3-3 with 10 mintes to play. Just two minutes later Wits took the lead again and had one foot in the final until the last move of the match. Peabo Lembethe’s rocket drag flick took the match to a shootout, which Tuks won 4-3.
FULL TIME and @TuksSport have sent the home crowd into a frenzy after beating @WitsSport in an epic semi-final which went to a sudden death shootout and this is how it ended! #VarsityHockey at it’s best! Proudly brought to you by @SamsungMobileSA , @Mugg_and_Bean and @FNBSA pic.twitter.com/oyqVwBuPYZ
— Varsity Sports (@varsitysportsSA) May 14, 2018
3. Controversy as NWU Varsity Hockey fans take to Twitter
In the Varsity Hockey semi-final between NWU and Maties, a Gertjie Lamprecht goal was disallowed when umpires deemed the ball to have been struck just outside the circle. NWU appealed the decision, which was unsuccessful after Olympic umpire John Wright reviewed the footage and stuck with the original decision.
But that didn’t stop fans discussing the decision long after the final whistle, freeze-frames led to memes and even the players got involved. A picture doesn’t always necessarily tell the full story. We’ll leave it for you to decide.
— Michael Baiden (@baiden_michael) May 15, 2018
4. Star Wits: The celebration strikes back
Wits and NWU were involved in a 15-goal thriller in Round Five and after firing in this bullet of a back-stick, they chose to celebrate by honouring the Star Wars franchise with a light-saber battle for the highlights reel. And this just days after May the Fourth.
5. The goal that set Tuks on the path to glory
Maties were undefeated and the firm favourites to win the 2018 Varsity Hockey title in front of their home crowd. But it was Tuks’ Sam Mvimbi who silenced them all with a superb solo effort. With little room to move, he flipped the ball past two defenders and rounded them to recollect the ball, before rounding the keeper and firing the ball into the net. It set the tone for a match that Maties never quite got a grip on.
End of the first quarter and it was this sensational effort from Sam Mvimbi that has given @TuksSport the lead.
— Varsity Sports (@varsitysportsSA) May 21, 2018