UCT wins World University Rugby Cup

27 September 2019 | Story Supplied. Photos Supplied. Read time 5 min.
The Ikey Tigers celebrate winning their second successive World University Rugby Cup title.
The Ikey Tigers celebrate winning their second successive World University Rugby Cup title.

Unbeaten throughout the tournament in Japan, the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Ikey Tigers secured their second successive World University Rugby Cup title when they beat Bordeaux University 17–3 in the final match.

The squad’s winning streak began with victories over the University of British Columbia in Canada (40–0), Bordeaux University in France (52–0) and a combined New Zealand Universities team (33–14) in the group stages.

The Ikeys then faced old foes Oxford University (United Kingdom) in the semi-final – they met at the same stage in the tournament four years earlier – before going on to secure the title over the French side at Kamiigusa Stadium, Tokyo.

The Ikey Tigers claimed the inaugural title in Oxford in 2015, beating Trinity College Dublin, after being selected following their 2014 Varsity Cup triumph.

UCT Rugby Football Club director Johnny Biderman-Pam, commenting on the significance of the team’s achievement, said that winning back-to-back World University Rugby Cup titles is an indication of the strength not only of UCT rugby, but also of South African rugby.

Ikey Tigers Robbie Ball and Nyasha Tarusenga with the World University Rugby Cup in Japan.

“This Ikeys squad have come to Japan and made a huge statement on the international stage, setting the benchmark for university rugby the world over,” he said.

SA vs Namibia

As the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup tournament progressed into its next round of group fixtures this week, South African rugby fans will hope that UCT’s success will be mirrored by the national team who take on Namibia in their second match of the tournament tomorrow, 28 September.

In addition to winning the world title, the Ikeys pinpointed watching the Springboks take on New Zealand in their Rugby World Cup opening fixture in Yokohama Stadium as a standout highlight of the tour.

Notably, three former UCT rugby players – captain Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth and Damian de Allende – formed part of South Africa’s starting XV who took on New Zealand, adding a special dimension to the game for some of the club’s management team who overlapped with these special players during their time at UCT.

Junior Springbok, Western Province and Ikey Tigers flanker Nama Xaba said the trip to Japan was “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, to … experience a different culture, play against some of the top university rugby clubs in the world, and watch your heroes play in the Rugby World Cup”.

“It just doesn’t get better than this.“

Fully funded

The UCT team’s Japan tour was fully funded by the direct efforts of the club’s volunteer, player and supporter community. In January the club launched its Japan tour fundraising campaign, which aimed to secure enough funding to get the 35 members of the touring squad and staff to Japan.

Through shirt sponsor deals, a series of player-led fundraising events and a community raffle and auction night, the club managed to hit its target in August.

Ikey Tigers captain Liam Greenhalgh said the team was overwhelmed by the support they had received from the Ikeys community.

Tour captains Liam Greenhalgh and Nama Xaba.

“From individual donations to messages of support on social media, it has all formed part of the success of this tour. It is this type of generosity and support that makes the Ikey Tigers community unique and so very special.”

The touring squad will now take a short break in South Africa before beginning preparations for their 2020 Varsity Cup campaign.

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