Golden boys and new kids on the block will be brandishing their skills at Varsity Hockey, as the competitors look to knock UJ off their throne.
The UJ men’s hockey team will look to reclaim the Varsity Hockey trophy in arch-nemesis Wits’ backyard when the tournament returns on 4 May, for the first leg. The second leg will take place at the Tuks Astro from 11 May to 14 May, with the final on 21 May. In 2016, the UJ men lifted the Varsity Hockey trophy after defeating Tuks 4-2 at the UJ Astro. Varsity Hockey is sponsored by Samsung, Mugg & Bean and FNB.
UJ duo Che February and Spencer Botes could be the key to UJ’s title ambitions. Both forwards represented South Africa at under-18 level and are in the current South Africa under-21 squad making them dangerous weapons in the Johannesburg side’s arsenal.
Traditional-powerhouse Tuks, have their own set of super stars. South Africa under-21 player Nduduzo Lembethe, who leads the Pretoria side from the midfield, and Northerns Senior A goal-keeper Estiaan Kriek will have an axe to grind as both players were present in Tuks’s loss in the final to UJ in 2016.
Maties could prove to be dark horses with the defensive prowess of Andrew Hobson keeping the opposition at bay, in conjunction with experience of Alex Stewart, a former South Africa Junior World Cup player. The men from Stellenbosch will be boosted by the lethal Keenan Horne. The ever-industrious striker recently returned from the Commonwealth Games where he captained the Proteas against Wales.
Eight universities will compete for South Africa’s greatest Inter-Varsity hockey prize in Johannesburg with Wits (University of the Witwatersrand), UCT (University of Cape Town), Maties (University of Stellenbosch), Madibaz (Nelson Mandela University), NWU (University of the North West), Tuks (University of Pretoria), UJ (University of Johannesburg) and Kovsies (University of the Free State) all taking part.
The Power Play remains a fan favourite in the Varsity Hockey tournament. A Power Play is taken by one side at any stage of the game. The side choosing to initiate the Power Play forces the opposition to remove two players from the field. Any goals scored during the Power Play count for two goals.
Varsity Hockey code manager Jana Arlow explained that the tournament is one of the greatest amphitheatres for the sport in South Africa.
“The sheer number of Varsity Hockey alumni that have gone on to represent South Africa is an indication of the strength of the tournament and how much value it brings to the sport as a whole.
“Just this year, eight of the 18 players in the South African Commonwealth squad played Varsity Hockey.
“None of this would be possible without the generous support of our sponsors, including Samsung, Mugg & Bean and FNB. We are also grateful for the support from South African Hockey Association and USSA Hockey.”
The last day of the Wits leg of the competition will be televised live on SuperSport on Monday 7 May, while the final three days of the Tuks leg will be televised, which includes 13 and 14 May. The final will also be broadcast live on SuperSport on 21 May.
|VARSITY HOCKEY FIXTURES – 2018|
|Date||Day||Time||Game||Team 1||Team 2||Venue||TV|
|14-May||Monday||13:30||29||Position 7||Position 8||Tuks||√|
|15:15||30||Position 5||Position 6||√|
|17:00||31||Position 2||Position 3||√|
|18:45||32||Position 1||Position 4||√|
|21-May||Monday||18:45||33||FINAL||Top of log||√|