28 April 2008

Helen Theron's sympathetic review of the UCT Tigers performance in the Varsity Cup rugby final (Monday Paper, vol 27 #5) is correct. The UCTTigers did not lose the final because the Maties had added two professionally-contracted players to their team.

As the Tigers knew before the final began, the addition of "better" players seldom improves a team at its first outing. Whilst Stormers' player Joe Pietersen had a fine game for the Maties, his impact was offset by the less-than-stellar performance of some who played around him. Perhaps those players underperformed because they thought that Pietersen and his contracted colleague would do the business for them. In fact the "strengthened" Maties team did not play any better than had the team of "lesser" players beaten by the Ikeys during the league phase of the competition.

The 2008 Ikey Tigers were not victims of something over which they had no control - the use by the Maties of players who some would argue should not have been considered for the final. In fact the Tigers know that they lost because they failed to play to their own high standards - they failed to execute properly the key plays that would have assured a convincing victory. In the end they were beaten by the best team in the competition - themselves.

Adopting a victim mentality never produces winners. Instead the outstanding legacy of the 2008 Varsity Cup Ikey Tigers is the evidence they provided that through the application of attitude, hard work, enterprise, innovation and self-belief, UCT rugby can become the envy of all the rugby-playing universities in South Africa in the next few years.

Professor Tim Noakes,
Discovery Health Professor of Exercise and Sports Science

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