Impi net a big fish

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks on 16 Jan 2013 at 10:38
Tagged with : , , , , ,

We’ve been watching and waiting for a few years now, hoping that at some stage, something would happen to help make the UKZN Impi team just that little bit more competitive in the Varsity Shield competition.

As Sharks fans and supporters of rugby in KZN, it’s always been galling that the province (and by extension, the union) has no representation in the Varsity Cup competition and when the UKZN team was confirmed as a competitor in the lower-tier Shield competition, there were definite hopes (from my side at least) that the full might of the Sharks and Sharks Academy would be brought to bear, resulting in virtually immediate promotion to the Varsity Cup proper.

That didn’t exactly happen and for the three years that the Shield competition has been in existed, it’s probably fair to say that UKZN have failed to make any sort of an impact, much less suggest that they may be in line to challenge for higher honours. Left entirely to their own devices by the Durban-based Sharks setup, there simply weren’t enough top players available to ensure success and while I’ve no doubt that everyone involved has been trying their utmost, the results speak for themselves. The Impi haven’t been able to hold a candle to the real powerhouses in the Shield – the likes of Wits and UWC – and are a far, far cry from the lofty standards set by Tuks, Maties and UCT, whose teams bristle with young stars and SA age-group players.

That said, the Impi team did release a very positive piece of news yesterday, in that a Sharks Currie Cup squad member will represent them this year. Hooker Franco Marais, who was a member of last year’s victorious Junior Springbok side, has cast in his lot with UKZN and will play for them in both the Varsity Shield and Moor Cup competitions this year. A stalwart in the Sharks under 21 side last year, Marais gained a single cap for the senior team, when he came off the bench during the Currie Cup clash against the Bulls in Durban.

Impi coach Shawn van Rensburg is most pleased with what he’s seen from Marais so far, saying that “he brings great presence to our squad, having played at provincial and international level. I am very impressed with his motivation at our evening practices, especially after having completed full day training sessions with the Sharks”. Let’s hope that Franco is just the first of many young Sharks to swap the bright lights of Durban for Maritzburg, where something special just might be brewing.


  • Two other baby Sharks too…. under 19 flyhalf Brendan Cope and under 19 centre Gareth Meikle apparently also joining the Impi

  • Comment 1, posted at 16.01.13 11:54:08 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • cant wait for UKZN to be in the varsity cup, almost like when Natal was in the B section hey, but i dont even remember that as i was too young.

  • Comment 2, posted at 16.01.13 12:29:04 by Dunx Reply

  • Why exactly does the team, and in particular the Academy not support the Impi? A team in the Varsity Cup has been shown to be of great help to WP, the Cheetahs and to a bit lesser extent the Lions (not mentioning Bulls here, as for them it doesn’t matter which Varsity side a kid has played for)

    Imagine the strength of our age group sides if they have another platform (televised aswell) to showcase their talents and sharpen their teeth

  • Comment 3, posted at 16.01.13 15:42:02 by Die Kriek Reply

  • @Die Kriek (Comment 3) : I think you guys need to dig a bit deeper and get all the facts. There have been several concerted efforts from The Sharks side to try to get something going with UKZN. Tukkies spend around R8 mill per year on bursaries etc for their players. The other major universities also chip in with significant funds and work with their Professional rugby franchise. How much does the University in KZN put up? And here I am talking about the University not the Rugby Club who obviously don’t have those sort of funds so it’s not their fault.

  • Comment 4, posted at 16.01.13 21:24:06 by insider Reply

  • To have a team in the Varsity Cup would be nice but would it be worth the money spent? UKZN must decide and if they want to play Varsity Cup they must be willing to invest real money.

  • Comment 5, posted at 16.01.13 21:50:27 by JD Reply
    Friend of SharksworldCompetition Winner Administrator
  • I propose that we send one of our top props to UKZN to help them out for the next 5 seasons or so.

    It would be a good sign of commitment by the KZNRU to boosting the varsity side. Not to mention the benefits to the Sharks’ SR team

  • Comment 6, posted at 17.01.13 06:00:48 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 6) : ….aaaand it’s official; your anti-Dale Chadwick bias has surpassed my anti-Marius Joubert bias

  • Comment 7, posted at 17.01.13 06:50:52 by Culling Song Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
    Culling Song
  • @Culling Song (Comment 7) : 😆

    Marius was at least a good rugby player at one time in his career and he did play a few good games, unfortunately “my guy” can’t lay claim to either of those distinctions. 🙁

  • Comment 8, posted at 17.01.13 06:59:01 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©

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