Shimlas claim first Varsity Rugby double

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 MORGAN PIEK

The University of the Free State Shimlas added the Varsity Sevens trophy to their cabinet after winning their first ever Varsity Cup title earlier this month.

Shimlas beat the University of Pretoria Tuks 24-19 in a thrilling final at Villagers Rugby Club in Cape Town to round off a solid weekend for the side from Bloemfontein, who also topped the standings after the round robin phase.

The men in royal blue beat bitter rivals, North West University Pukke, in the semi-finals, while Tuks dispatched the University of Johannesburg to secure their place in the final.

Shimlas manager, Riaan Schoeman, said they are chuffed to have become the first university to win the Varsity rugby double, and the players needed little motivation to play the format.

"It’s the first time that any varsity has ever done it. Maties were the defending champions of the sevens, but they weren’t able to win the Varsity Cup in the same year, so we’re the first to do it," Schoeman said about the feat the team achieved this month.

"The guys really like playing sevens. We only got together about a week and a half before the tournament and the first game we played was the one against Maties," the long-time servant of Shimlas rugby added about the little preparation his team had heading into the tournament in Claremont.

"We don’t need to really try and motivate these guys. They enjoy it all-out. They just like the sevens and the whole setup convinces them to play well," Schoeman concluded.

The defending champions, Maties, had to be content with the seventh place after losing to their nemesis, the UCT Ikeys, in their Plate semi-final.

Pukke beat UJ with a fairly comfortable 31-19 win to clinch the third sport in the standings, while Ikeys won the Plate with a last second try to beat UWC 17-12.