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EC universities ready for battle

Date Released: Fri, 17 August 2012 14:59 +0200

Grahamstown to host intervarsity showdown.

GRAHAMSTOWN will be awash with students this weekend as young Eastern Cape sporting stars gather to contest the annual intervarsity. More than 1 000 competitors will be taking part in a variety of sports, beginning this morning and ending tomorrow afternoon with the rugby clash between Rhodes and Walter Sisulu.

From an initial contest between Rhodes and then UPE, the intervarsity was transformed into the tri-varsity with the introduction of Fort Hare University. Walter Sisulu University, with its main campus in Mthatha, have since joined, making this a true Eastern Cape varsity showdown.

A total of 21 sports will be played over the two days as the varsities vie for the title of being the region's best - a position often claimed by NMMU, but they are sure to face some strong opposition this weekend. The proceedings kick off with golf at 7.30am. While each sport will be significant in the overall competition, there will be plenty of focus on the soccer, rugby and cricket clashes.

The cricketers will be well tested in their Twenty20 competition tomorrow. Like the soccer competition, the teams will play two matches, with the winners of the preliminary rounds meeting in the final. NMMU and Fort Hare will meet at the Albany Sports Ground at 9am and Rhodes take on Walter Sisulu at the Prospect field.

The soccer players will be in action today and tomorrow. In the first matches, NMMU face Walter Sisulu on the King field at 5pm and Rhodes play Fort Hare on Prospect B at 8pm. NMMU, the reigning SA varsity champions, are the favourites to win the competition. Both WSU and the Madibaz have boosted their sides with players who play in the Eastern Cape Vodacom League. Madibaz coach Lukhanyo Wasa said WSU's Ibika campus in Butterworth defeated them 2-0 in the provincial University Sports South Africa League.

"It will be even tougher for our side when we play against a team that combines players from all three WSU campuses, with most of them playing for provincial semi-professional teams," he said. Today's winners will clash in tomorrow's first-place playoff. The rugby players, however, will only be involved in one game over the weekend.

The hosts will be looking to end with a flourish when they meet Walter Sisulu in the competition's final encounter on the Great field at 3.40pm tomorrow. ' It will be even tougher when we play against a team from all three WSU campuses ... RARING TO GO: Basketball players from Rhodes and Fort Hare, seen here during a match earlier this year, will line up against each other again when the intervarsity takes place in Grahamstown today and tomorrow Picture: STEPHEN PENNEY

Story appeared in The HERALD (Morning Final), Sport 17 Aug 2012, Page: 20