Blues head to USSAs with Varsity Cup dream very much in mind

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Staff Reporter

Blues head coach Chase Morison says this year’s USSAs will give his charges a taste of the intensity required to play Varsity Cup rugby.

The Blues view this week’s USSA rugby championships in Makhanda as a significant stepping stone in their quest to play elite-level FNB Varsity Cup rugby in the next few years.

The Blues’ never-say-die attitude saw them blitzing the opposition in the last few matches of this year’s Varsity Shield campaign to book their spot for the 2025 season.

They eventually ended fifth in the competition they famously won in 2022. Now, they are on a mission to become the first tertiary institution east of the Fish to play in the prestigious Cup competition.

“The boys have spoken. If we do well in the Shield next year, we could be the first university out of Walter Sisulu and Fort Hare to play in the Cup the following year,” UFH head coach Chase Morison said.

“That is the goal, the massive dream, and I think the USSAs will be an eye-opening experience for the boys to see the level of intensity the Cup teams will bring.”

At the USSAs, hosted at Rhodes University from July 1 to 5, they will dine at the table of several opponents from Varsity Cup fame, hoping to pick up more than just scraps.

Among these is CUT, who, despite not having had the best seasons this year, is still a formidable force given their status as a Cup mainstay.

Fort Hare has had mixed fortunes in the Border Super League competition, winning three and narrowly losing four out of their five other games.

Regularly having five or six players called up to the Border senior provincial side was a challenge regarding consistency, but Morison remained positive.

“The two months since the Shield ended have been about blooding new players, and I’m happy with the progress. Fifty per cent of our Border players will also be available for the USSAs.”

It was widely known that Fort Hare was always up for the big occasions, and he felt it would be no different at the University Sports South Africa event.

Morison participated in three USSA tournaments as a player, but the outing in Makhanda will be his first as a coach.

While he acknowledged that Fort Hare was not a “finished product,” he believed it was a fantastic base from which to work.

As much as 80 per cent of next year’s Shield team will be the same as it was this season, and this experience will prove invaluable.

Morison said he considered the first six months of 2024 a “trial run” and that the next six would be about “upping the ante.”

With inspirational skipper Kamvelihle Fatyela no longer at the institution after graduating earlier this year, the armband has been handed to Cinga Nqotyana, among those who had tasted championship success two seasons ago.

“Cinga has been in the setup for three or four years. He is a fantastic guy and understands better than anyone that filling the shoes of KV (Fatyela) is massive.”

Morison was convinced that Fort Hare could become a “very, very good team” if they focused on the positives.

INSIDE EDUCATION

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