In the fifth article of a new series, DYLAN JACK rewinds to the 2015 Varsity Cup final and finds out what happened to the title-winning UFS-Shimlas players.
In one of the more one-sided Varsity Cup finals, Shimlas outscored NWU nine to four to claim a comfortable 63-33 victory and bag their first-ever Varsity Cup title.
The Free State university finished second on the log despite being tied on 30 points with UP-Tuks. However, the final was hosted in Bloemfontein after UP were stunned in the semi-finals in Pretoria by NWU, while Shimlas progressed after beating UCT.
After an end-to-end first half Shimlas took a 26-20 lead into the break, which they quickly extended to 34-20 in the second half, leaving NWU with it all to do. Tries from Neil Marais, Maphutha Dolo and Daniel Maartens in the final quarter all but sealed the result in UFS’ favour.
It was the second consecutive final defeat for NWU, but it would be third time lucky for the Potchefstroom-based university in 2016.
15 AJ Coertzen
Shimlas’ captain was named the Varsity Cup Back that Rocks for the 2015 season after the final. Despite being contracted to the Cheetahs, Coertzen spent the rest of 2015 on loan to Griquas before sealing a permanent move to Kimberley in 2016. After making over 50 appearances for Griquas, he signed for ProD2 side Aurillac, where he is currently based.
14 Vuyani Maqina
Maqina completed his degree in accounting at the University of the Free State. He currently works as a consultant at Allan Gray.
13 Nico Lee
Lee progressed to the Cheetahs senior set-up and was their first-choice outside centre for the 2018-19 PRO14 season. He then moved to France with Top 14 side Brive for the 2019-20 season.
12 Tertius Kruger
One of the stars of Shimlas’ 2015 campaign, Kruger made his Cheetahs debut in the 2015 Currie Cup. However, after struggling to get regular game time, he switched to the Kings after the 2018 Currie Cup.
11 Maphutha Dolo
Dolo, who made his Cheetahs debut in 2014, continued to play for the side until 2018. He has since fallen off the rugby radar.
10 Niel Marais
Marais went on to play for the Cheetahs and particularly starred in their successful 2016 Currie Cup campaign, where he kicked 21 points in the final to help his side win the title for the first time since 2007. Currently, he plays for Yamaha Jubilo in Japan.
9 Renier Botha
Botha had already made his Super Rugby debut for the Cheetahs in 2014. He then moved to Griquas in 2016 and won over 30 caps with the team.
8 Niell Jordaan
Jordaan started all nine of Shimlas’ Varsity Cup games in 2015 and got on the scoresheet with a try in the final. The No 8 made his Super Rugby debut under Franco Smith in the same year and stayed with the Cheetahs until 2019, when he switched to Griquas.
7 Gerhard Olivier
Olivier finished the 2015 Varsity Cup as top try-scorer with teammate Daniel Maartens. He played in the Vodacom Cup for the Free State and made his Cheetahs Super Rugby debut in 2015. He is currently part of the Cheetahs’ PRO14 squad.
6 Daniel Maartens
Maartens scored a brace in the Varsity Cup final to finish tied-top try-scorer for the season. He is also currently part of the Cheetahs PRO14 squad.
5 Johan van der Hoogt
Van der Hoogt played for the Griffons in the 2015 Vodacom Cup and stayed with the team until 2017.
4 Henco Venter
Venter already made his senior debut for the Cheetahs in the 2012 Currie Cup. He made over 50 appearances for the Bloemfontein team and helped them win the 2019 Currie Cup. He then moved to the Sharks for the 2020 Super Rugby season.
3 Conraad Van Vuuren
Van Vuuren continued to play for Shimlas in the 2016 Varsity Cup and thereafter made his senior debut in the 2016 Currie Cup, coming off the bench in the final against the Blue Bulls. He then signed for the Vodacom Bulls for the 2017 season. After being released from the Pretoria-based side in 2019, he found himself a new home in Japan, signing for the Sunwolves for the 2020 Super Rugby season.
2 Elandre Huggett
Huggett was named in the Varsity Cup Dream Team at the end of the 2015 season. He went on to play for the Cheetahs for five years. Currently, he plays for RC Narbonne in the ProD2 in France.
1 Ox Nche
Nche played for the Junior Springboks in the 2015 U20 World Championships, helping his side to a bronze-medal finish. He won two Currie Cups with the Cheetahs, in 2016 and 2019, before joining the Sharks for the 2020 Super Rugby season. Nche made his Springbok debut against Wales in 2018 and has been earmarked as the successor to Beast Mtawarira.
16 Jacques du Toit
The former Junior Springbok hooker played for the Cheetahs until 2019, when he switched to the Kings for the 2019-20 PRO14 season.
17 Theunis Nieuwoudt
Nieuwoudt played in the 2016 Varsity Cup and moved from the Cheetahs to Griquas. The loosehead prop last played for Rugby United New York in the 2019 Major League Rugby season.
18 Boela Venter
Venter currently plays for the Valke, who were set to take part in the 2020 Global Rapid Rugby before the Covid-19 pandemic halted the rugby calendar.
19 De Wet Kruger
The older brother of Tertius, he played alongside his sibling in the 2015 Currie Cup. Kruger currently plays for Griquas.
20 Nhlanhla Hlongwane
Hlongwane did not progress in his rugby career much beyond university. He currently works as a sales executive at Nashua.
21 JP Coetzee
Coetzee moved to Rustenburg and currently plays club rugby for the Impala.
22 Refuoe Rampete
Despite our investigation, Rampete has fallen completely off the rugby radar. Reach out to us in the comments section if you know what he is up to now.
23 Dolph Botha
Botha played for the Cheetahs until 2018, when he moved to America and played in Major League for the San Diego Legion. In 2019, he played for the New England Free Jacks before returning to South Africa with the Griffons.
Photo: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images