Varsity impress against international academy side

2012-12-20 00:00

A UNIVERSITY of KwaZulu-Natal preliminary squad line-up gave legendary All Blacks number eight Murray Mexted’s Investec International Rugby Academy side a run for their money on the Howard College campus in Durban, before going down 22-7.

The university’s coaches used 28 members of their preliminary squad for this pre-season fixture ahead of the announcement of the UKZN Impi final squad for the 2013 Varsity Shield competition. Despite their liberal substitution of players during the match, the squad ensured that Mexted’s team were given a hard-fought contest.

Mexted’s charges scored two early tries and a penalty before the Varsity squad players settled down.

The understandably rusty start gave way to a sequence of excellent phase play as the squad countered with a converted try to reduce the margin to 15-7 at halftime.

The second half conjured up entertaining, attacking rugby on the part of both teams that was kept in balance by resolute defence.

“There was plenty of talent on view among the squad,” said UKN Impi technical advisor and analyst Dylan Campbell, and at times UKZN’s prospective new recruits gelled with their new team-mates and got the patterns right.

“But a lot of work still needs to go into perfecting our playing structures.”

A new face on the UKZN scene, Jandre Smal, looked particularly useful, while the Mexted combination’s flyhalf, Brandon Cope, dictated proceedings during the match. The Impi management are pleased that the number 10 has enrolled at UKZN for the 2013 year and will be available for Varsity Shield and KZN Premier Division Moor Cup duty.

“Further encouraging news is that centre Gareth Meikle has joined us for 2013,” said UKZN Impi committee member Mark Schulze.

“Meikle was in the Sharks team, which made it to the semi-finals of the recent Premier League Sevens competition.”

Varsity head coach Shawn van Rensburg said Durban-based Mark Cameron had come in as a backline coach.

“The whole support staff set-up is so much more professional and the players have responded well to it.

“Mark is key in that we need to link the Durban-based players with the Maritzburg guys, while we also have an awesome team manager in Wayne le Roux as well as a very good physio in Bryce Jackson,” he said.

Van Rensburg said mutual respect was well-established between the coaching staff and players, training sessions had been well-planned and with the core that did so well for PMB Varsity in the KZN Premier Division last year, a good blend of fresh talent had been added to the mix.

“There is a lot of pressure, but it is a positive, motivating pressure, and the players are embracing the challenge with enthusiasm.”

The final UKZN Impi squad will resume their Varsity Shield preparation on January 3 and will take on traditional rivals Wits University, the 2012 Varsity Shield winners, on Saturday, January 19, at the Peter Booysen Sports Park rugby ground (off Golf Road) on the Pietermaritzburg campus.

The UKZN Impi will once again play all their 2013 Varsity Shield home games at Peter Booysen Sports Park.

UKZN Impi 2013 Varsity Shield Home Fixtures

Mon, Jan 28 (4.30 pm): vs Fort Hare (televised)

Mon, Feb 4 (7 pm): vs Central University of Technology (CUT, Bloemfontein)

Mon, Mar 4 (7 pm): vs Tshwane University of Technology (TUT, Pretoria)

Mon, Mar 18 (7 pm): vs University of the Western Cape

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