UCT will host Stellenbosch in the opening round of next year’s Varsity Cup – a repeat of this year’s final.
The defending champions, Maties, scored a try with the last movement of the game at Coetzenburg this year to claim the title from Ikeys.
UCT will now get a chance to get some sort of revenge when they host Stellenbosh at Groote Schuur, while this match will be preceded by the NMMU vs Shimlas game at the same venue, with both games televised live. All the fixtures will take place on a Monday night, with the Easter weekend programme that was adopted this year, scrapped.
Francois Pienaar, the driving force behind the tournament, said market research showed that Monday nights is the best time for the fixtures to take place. “We’re taking Mondays back!” declared Pienaar.
“We did it last year already, but not all the games were played on Mondays,” he said in a statement. “But, moving forward, we don’t want to compete with anything else anymore.
“Our extensive research has shown that the public want to watch ‘Monday-night football’; the students are back at their universities after weekends away and they want to grab an ice-cold beer and watch their teams play some entertaining rugby on Monday nights.”
Of the 31 matches, 19 will be televised. The inaugural tournament was a massive success and Pienaar said this placed extra pressure on next year’s competition.
“There is plenty of excitement ahead of the 2009 tournament, but at the same time we’re also a bit nervous due to the successful start we made this past season,” said Pienaar.
“People were a bit unsure what to expect this year but, now, after a great start to the Varsity Cup, there is a massive sense of anticipation out there,” he added. “People I meet on the street come up to me asking me about next year – it puts pressure on us, the organisers, players and coaches, but it’s good pressure.
“It’s our responsibility to deliver on the brand that we promised this past season and I have no doubt that the Varsity Cup can be as good as it was in 2008. However, it won’t simply be as good, it will be better!”
The Varsity Cup proved to be a nursery for young players in the country and Pienaar is adamant it will be the same in 2009.
“The Varsity Cup has shown that there is plenty of talent in our country. Take Mat Turner, from UCT, for instance. He began 2008 as a Varsity Cup player; he is now playing against some of the best players in Europe as a Premiership player in England.
“I believe we are fortunate to have some fantastic coaches in the Varsity Cup – we witnessed some exciting rugby in 2008. If the coaches embrace that same approach in 2009 we could be in for one helluva ride!”
The 2009 Varsity Cup fixtures:
Monday, February 2:
Shimlas v NMMU, Groote Schuur Rugby Field – 2.45pm (TV)
UCT v Maties, Groote Schuur Rugby Field – 4.45pm (TV)
UJ v TUT, Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds – 4.45pm (TV)
Pukke v Tuks, Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds – 6.45pm (TV)
Monday, February 9:
TUT v UCT, TUT Stadium – 4.45pm (TV)
NMMU v Tuks, Xerox NMMU Stadium, South Campus – 6.45pm
Shimlas v Pukke, Shimla Park – 6.45pm (TV)
Maties v UJ, Danie Craven Stadium – 7.30pm
Monday, February 16:
UCT v UJ, Groote Schuur Rugby Field – 4.45pm (TV)
Tuks v TUT, LC de Villiers Stadium – 6.45pm (TV)
Shimlas v Maties, Shimla Park – 6.45pm
Pukke v NMMU, Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds – 6.45pm
Monday, February 23:
UJ v Shimlas, Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds – 4.45pm (TV)
Tuks v UCT, LC de Villiers Stadium – 6.45pm
NMMU v TUT, Xerox NMMU Stadium, South Campus – 6.45pm
Maties v Pukke, Danie Craven Stadium – 6.45pm (TV)
Monday, March 2:
Shimlas v Tuks, Shimla Park – 4.45pm (TV)
TUT v Maties, TUT Stadium – 6.45pm
UJ v Pukke, Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds – 6.45pm
NMMU v UCT, Xerox NMMU Stadium, South Campus – 6.45pm (TV)
Monday, March 9:
Maties v NMMU, Danie Craven Stadium – 4.45pm (TV)
TUT v Pukke, TUT Stadium – 6.45pm
UCT v Shimlas, Groote Schuur Rugby Field – 6.45pm
UJ v Tuks, Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds – 6.45pm (TV)
Monday, March 16:
Pukke v UCT, Fanie du Toit Sports Grounds – 4.45pm (TV)
NMMU v UJ, Xerox NMMU Stadium, South Campus – 6.45pm
TUT v Shimlas, TUT Stadium – 6.45pm
Tuks v Maties, LC de Villiers Stadium – 6.45pm (TV)
Monday, March 23:
Monday, March 30: