Impi beat the odds to claim Var­sity Shield ti­tle

The Mercury - - SPORT - Jos Rob­son

IT WAS an Easter week­end of mixed for­tunes for the KZNRU clubs.

FNB UKZN Impi did the prov­ince proud by win­ning the Var­sity Shield for the first time, beat­ing Wits 29-24 in an en­ter­tain­ing fi­nal in Jo­han­nes­burg.

It cer­tainly sent a mes­sage to the rest of the clubs in KZN, with the Fidelity Se­cu­rity Pre­mier Di­vi­sion kick­ing off in two weeks.

With this in mind, the Moor Cup may well be re­turn­ing to the cap­i­tal, where it was handed over to Vic King, then pres­i­dent of the Mar­itzburg Rugby Sub-Union, in Kings Sport shop by an un­known per­son.

It would be a fit­ting story con­sid­er­ing that the first win­ners of the Moor Cup on its re­turn home to KZN were Dur­ban Uni­ver­sity in 1957, fol­lowed by Mar­itzburg Uni­ver­sity in 1962.

The last time a side from Pi­eter­mar­itzburg won the old­est piece of sil­ver­ware in world rugby was 49 years ago in 1966, when Mar­itzburg Col­le­gians had their name en­graved on the tro­phy.

What made the Impi’s victory even more cred­itable was the fact that they went into the game as the un­der­dogs.

Play­ing away from home, they pulled off the im­pos­si­ble with quite the most sub­lime per­for­mance against the odd­son favourites.

It wasn’t at all sur­pris­ing to see multi-tal­ented Impi fly­half Inno Radeba, who was sen­sa­tional on the day, be­ing awarded the Player that Rocks award.

He de­liv­ered an ex­cep­tional per­for­mance be­hind his pack, who also de­serve ac­co­lades for their per­for­mance.

For coach Ryan Strud­wick, who led Jon­s­son Col­lege Rovers to Na­tional Club cham­pi­onship glory in 2010, and his stu­dent charges it was a mo­ment to cher­ish as they added to their rugby his­tory.

How­ever, it was heartache for Col­lege Rovers, who had dearly wanted to end their Cell C com­mu­nity Cup cam­paign on a high for their de­part­ing skip­per. Alas, Chris Mick­le­wood played his last game on a los­ing note against Pre­to­ria Po­lice in the fi­nal of the Plate Com­pe­ti­tion, go­ing down 37-15 to the Bob­bies in Rusten­burg, home of last year’s cham­pi­ons, Rusten­burg Im­pala.

Chris Jor­daan was the top try scorer in the com­pe­ti­tion, while Mick­le­wood fin­ished as the sec­ond-top points scorer, at least end­ing his ca­reer on a pos­i­tive note.

His con­tri­bu­tion to the club and the club game has been an in­spi­ra­tional les­son to the many peo­ple who have come across this young man, and we wish him well go­ing for­ward.

Un­der­dogs Dur­banville Belville, who reached the play­offs via the back door, so to speak, sur­prised ev­ery­one by tak­ing the honours af­ter win­ning 31-30 in a thriller of a fi­nal against the hosts and hold­ers of the Gold Cup, Rusten­burg Im­pala.

Their mer­cu­rial fly­half, Garth April, was voted the man of the se­ries.

It will be a spe­cial week­end for KwaZulu-Natal’s old­est rugby club, Kok­stad Rugby Club, who are cel­e­brat­ing their 125th an­niver­sary.

Steeped in his­tory and win­ners of the Cas­tle Mur­ray Cup in 1920, there will be a golf day on Fri­day fol­lowed by an an­niver­sary din­ner in the evening.

On Satur­day the Sharks XV and the Chee­tahs XV will mark the oc­ca­sion by play­ing their Vo­da­com Cup game at the fa­mous El­liott Park Sta­dium in the East Gri­qua­land town.

It is a spe­cial mile­stone for this old club, which boasts one of the most fa­mous Springboks from the side of 1937 on their honours board.

It is well doc­u­mented that this Spring­bok side beat the All Blacks in a Test se­ries in New Zealand.

The team was cap­tained by a leg­endary sheep farmer and his friend from Grey­town, Philip Nel. That man was Ebbo Bas­tard.

There will many sto­ries to tell as they cel­e­brate 125 years of rugby ex­cel­lence.

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