CAPE TOWN – The University of the Western Cape on Monday made their much-anticipated debut in the Varsity Cup, following their successful Varsity Shield campaign last season. Here are five things UDubs would have learnt from their Cup debut:
UWC romped over the opposition in the Varsity Shield the past two seasons, but they quickly found the going tougher at the Green Mile on Monday evening. It was particularly upfront where they were required to show more grunt to compete with their bigger and heavier opponents.
Equally, their backline found out they were now being pushed back in the tackle and that playing off front-foot ball would not be that easy anymore. And this was against a UCT team that ranks among the lightest in the competition.
UWC certainly has the skill-set to compete in the Varsity Cup, particularly their explosive and speedy back three consisting of fullback Tristan Leyds and wings Kurt-Lee Arendse and Andre Manuel. Equally, centres Lubelo Scott and Junior Springbok Lyle Hendricks have the ability to test any defence.
However, sometimes they felt the need to throw the elaborate “Sonny-Bill pass” instead of taking the contact or clearing their lines, particularly when they were inside their own 22-meter area.
Similarly to “composure” stated above, there were times when UWC attempted the elaborate when simple passing through the hands would have sufficed. The guilty party on two occasions was flyhalf Aidynn Cupido, who twice opted for a grubber kick when UWC were camped virtually on the UCT tryline.
Cupido – as the general of the UWC team – needs to make better decisions under pressure.
Due to their lack of bulk, UWC always knew that they were going to face an onslaught at scrum time. Unfortunately their worst fears were realised with UCT dominating the scrums and also the mauls.
To be fair to UWC, they were hampered by the loss of prop Justin Theys (sin bin) and lock Gary Porter (ankle injury).
The latter was particularly influential in the lineouts too for UWC and they will hope that he recovers in time for the home clash against Shimlas next week.
UWC really pushed their city rivals to the bitter end at the Green Mile, but the late score by the Ikeys would have shown them that in the Varsity Cup a match is never done until the final hooter goes off.
They will need to show a great deal of mental toughness to maintain focus, concentration and discipline until the end.