On Monday, 21st September, the conclusion of the first World University Rugby Cup saw the University of Cape Town, nicknamed the Ikey Tigers, take on Trinity College Dublin (DUFC). The match was the culmination of a tournament that saw eight of the top rugby universities from across the world come together in Oxford this September.
The wet weather that had blighted the 3rd place play off earlier in the day ceased as the players lined up to sing their national anthems. As the sun gleamed down upon the teams, the Irish and South African travelling fans blasted out each anthem, a testament to what the final meant to both Universities.
The match-up appeared even. Both the Ikey Tigers and DUFC had enjoyed unbeaten runs in impressive performances the previous week. Both teams boasted impressive and physical packs, as well as powerful and skillful backs. The game was set to be a passionate affair and one that could either way.
In a hugely physical first half the score would remain at 7-0 to the Ikey Tigers. The only try of the half came at around 10 minutes as James Kilroe found the line from a rolling maul off a lineout. Cohen successfully put the ball over, adding another 2 points.
The low scoring half was testimony to the huge physicality and defense from both teams. Trinity looked on top for a large part of the second quarter and had utilized quick ball courtesy of scrum-half Angus Lloyd. In the second half, Trinity would look to capitalize on a number of half chances and cut out basic handling errors.
As the second half kicked off the atmosphere in the grand stand of the historic Iffley Road was abuzz with noise from the travelling fans. The Irish contingent seemed to spur on DUFC as they kicked for the corners, only again to be denied in the red zone by basic handling errors. It was however the University of Cape Town who managed to put the first points on the board in the second half courtesy of Cohen’s boot, bringing the score to 10-0.
The strength of the South Africans began to show as they approached the third quarter of the game. A strong scrum lead by Ikey prop Digby Webb forced a penalty on the 46 minute mark, which was kicked to the corner. The driving maul, which proved effective in scoring the first try, is held up by Trinity as they desperately defend their line. Despite some huge hit from the likes of Irish number 8, Tom Ryan, there seemed a sense of inevitability to the Ikey attack and their physicality eventually showed through as they scored courtesy of the infamous driving maul.
Despite the score line standing at an unattainable 17-0 with 10 minutes to go, DUFC showed some outstanding determination and heart, continually trying to break the South African brick wall in front of them. It was however to be in vain, as the referee blew the final whistle, ending Irish hopes and the last game of the World University Rugby Cup.
The final game of the tournament was a tribute to the physicality showed throughout the tournament as a whole and South Africa emerged as deserved winners. The World University Rugby, in its first year, will aim to continually grow over the next four years, as more University teams look to exhibit their skills on an international scale. In the closing ceremony, Waseda University, representatives of Japan, took on the baton and will host the next tournament in alignment with the Rugby World Cup 2019.
Full Time: University of Cape Town 17-0 Trinity College, Dublin