They came, they saw, and they conquered. The North-West University (NWU) Eagles are the newly crowned Varsity Cup champions after beating Ikeys from the University of Cape Town (UCT) 27-25 at the Fanie du Toit Sport Grounds in Potchefstroom on Monday night, 17 April 2023.
The half-time score read 20-9 for the Eagles. This marks the first time the NWU Eagles won the trophy since 2016, and the second time overall.
It was the culmination of a dream campaign for the Eagles who, under the tutelage of coach Burger van der Westhuizen, topped the Varsity Cup log having only lost one game during the group stages.
Nerve-wrecking, nail-biting and mesmerising. This was a game for the ages. The Eagles only missed 16 tackles and made a mountain full.
The Eagles were backed by fanatical home support, the stands were painted in the NWU’s distinctive purple, and the stage could not have been more perfectly set for an unforgettable evening.
Ikeys had nothing to loose and this did not bode well for the Eagles. The home team was the firm favourites and all the pressure was on them. How else, they had everything going for them. Then there was the lingering disaster of 2014 to contend with. Although none of the players were part of the team that lost to Ikeys during that final in Potchefstroom, they were well aware of the stigma sticking since that encounter. Ikeys scored three tries in quick succession, to eradicate the Eagles more-than-comfortable lead with five minutes of game time to spare.
The death shot was given with time. Would the hex of nine years ago hold?
The NWU Eagles showed ample fortitude and all their resolve. They kept fighting. They kept defending. And, they won.
“Congratulations to our NWU Eagles, this was a well-deserved victory. You were great! It was a triumph seven years in the making after we last won the Varsity cup in 2016, and we have reclaimed our mantle as Varsity Cup champions,” says Prof Bismark Tyobeka, principal and vice-chancellor of the NWU.
“The NWU community is proud of you. We are indeed the champions.”