If any teams are going to be battle-hardened by the time the business end of Varsity 7s 2019 gets going, then it will be those in Group B.
With Madibaz, NWU, UCT and UJ all drawn together picking out likely group winners is anyone’s guess. What will be easier to predict, considering the quality within it, is that one of the two best third-place finishers (who will make the last two Cup quarterfinal slots) will emerge from it. That, also, means that only one team will be left disappointed.
Having just been pipped to the title last year, UJ will be confident that they have the goods to emerge top from this ‘group of death’. Of course, the Orange Army were going for back-to-back wins before UP-Tuks snuck by them in the closing stages of the final at Pirates last October. With two further semi-final appearances (in 2013 and 2015), it’s clear UJ know how to manage tournament 7s play.
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That is not immediately evident for NWU and, particularly, UCT – whose playing resources suggest they should be regular contenders for the Varsity 7s title.
In NWU’s case, the best they can show is consecutive semi-final losses between 2015-17 – with the first two ending in recoveries to claim third place. Last year, though, the boys in purple finished a lowly seventh…
UCT, on the other hand, are an even greater anomaly as their best finish came in 2015, and that was only a fifth place at Villagers (a venue familiar to them in Cape Town). If their Varsity 7s 2019 form is going to follow previous years’ routine it looks far likelier that their coastal rivals, Madibaz sneak out of Group B.
The boys from Nelson Mandela University have largely underwhelmed in the tournament too, but then last year finished third to show that they are more than just also-rans. Their mid-day clash against UCT could be the match of the group.
Group B Games (all on Friday, 4 October)
UJ vs UCT (09:44)
Madibaz vs NWU (10:06)
UJ vs NWU (11:56)
Madibaz vs UCT (12:18)
UJ vs Madibaz (14:52)
NWU vs UCT (15:14)