The University of the Western Cape (UWC) is calling on the community to support the FNB Varsity Cup side as they make their historic debut in the 2019 FNB Varsity Cup. Coach Chester Williams, rector and vice-chancellor Prof. Tyrone Pretorius and director of sport Mandla Gagayi have made an impassioned plea to the UWC community, including alumni, former rugby players and donors, to support UWC as they make history this year.In 2018, UWC were promoted to the Varsity Cup after beating the University of Fort Hare 39-18 in the final match of the Varsity Shield. The promotion was a dream come true and the culmination of seven years of hard work to reach the Varsity Cup.Since the arrival of 1995 Rugby World Cup winner Chester Williams in 2016, the UWC side has been in top form. Now, Williams is calling on everyone connected to UWC to rally behind the team.“The players have worked very hard, not just with rugby training but in their studies too, and they are now going to put their bodies on the line for this university. I want to urge the students to come out and support. I want them to come to every home game and show their support for the team,” says Williams. Professor Pretorius, who has been a staunch supporter of the rugby side, says advancing to the Varsity Cup is proof that UWC is committed to excellence, performing at the highest levels and nurturing talent. “I am very proud of the team and coaching staff and glad that their hard work has been rewarded with their move to the top tier in university rugby,” says Pretorius. “As a university community we should be exceptionally proud that we are the first historically disadvantaged institution to be competing at this elite level. We need to rally behind our boys, cheer them on and celebrate their successes. We need to encourage and pick them up on days that they are not successful,” Pretorius adds. Gagayi say: “The promotion to the Varsity Cup symbolised a great game changer and it is proof of UWC’s role of giving hope to those who never had opportunities before.” Gagayi says that during all the pressure and excitement, the team must never forget the things that led to where they are. “We must never lose our identity just because we want to conform or adapt to challenges of the present. “We must manage our expectations and never put our student athletes and coaches under pressure. “Our teams have been great because we have always allowed our student athletes and coaches to express themselves freely on and off the field,” adds Gagayi. The UWC rugby team is preparing to take part in the 12th season of the Varsity Cup, kicking off against the University of Cape Town’s Ikey Tigers on Monday 4 February.