Guts, determination and clinical precision led to the UP-Tuks men’s sevens rugby team winning the Varsity 7s for the first time ever.
UP-Tuks beat the defending champions UJ 19-14 in the final. To say that the team was dominant would be a definite understatement. In six games they scored 201 points and conceded a mere 50. More impressive is that UP-Tuks scored 31 tries and only conceded eight. UP-Tuks was not beaten once between the four lines on the field. However, due to an oversight of the tournament rules the team was penalised after their first encounter against UJ, but that is a story of another time.
From the very first moment, the whistle blew in the pool game against UJ the UP-Tuks players proved they were men on a mission. It was a case of one for all and all for one for every minute spent on the field.
The final could be considered as sort of “justice”. With less than a minute left to play UP-Tuks were trailing 14-7, and a few would have backed them to win, but being runners-up was never going to be good enough for the “Striped team”.
During the last power play, it took one moment of brilliance by Lorenzo Cloete to make all the long hours spend training pay dividends. When he got the ball, he kept a cool head and with a cheeky grubber kick caught the UJ defenders off guard. He collected the ball again and with an impressive burst of speed scored a ten pointer. The conversion was a mere formality.
Lourens Pretorius (UP-Tuks) who had put in a dominant run to score his team’s first try in the final was justifiably elated by the final result. It was fifth time that he played the Varsity Tournament but the first time being victorious. In 2015 he played for the UP-Tuks team that lost in the final against Kovsies.
He ascribed his team’s success to have taken the lessons learned during the USSA Tournament to heart.
“We finished fifth at USSA’s after losing only one game. I would say that was the turning point for all of us. We knew we were better than the results showed. We had something to prove. To finally being able to lift the Varsity 7s trophy is special.”
Dewald Naude who impressed throughout the tournament with his fleet-footedness and uncanny ability to wriggle through the smallest of gaps to score tries referred described his feelings by saying: “The tougher the battle, the sweeter the victory. It must be one of the best performances ever by a Tuks sevens side. And to be able to contribute in a small way to our victory made the whole experience so much more rewarding.”
According to Dabeon Draghoender (UP-Tuks coach), the team prevailed because they stuck to the processes which led to the players being able to dominate on the field.
“I am really impressed with our defence. To concede only eight tries in six games really show how hungry and committed the players were. They were also brilliant with ball in hand.”
The UP-Tuks results: Pool Games: Beat UJ 29-12 (due to a rule infraction UJ was afterwards declared the winners); beat Wits 43-5; beat Ikeys 45-7. Quarter-final: beat Maties 29-0. Semi-final beat UWC 36-12.
By Wilhelm de Swardt