Rhodes University crowned Eastern Cape Intervarsity champions for the first time

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Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sizwe Mabizela, celebrates with the rugby team after the final whistle. Photo cred: Vusumzi Tshekema.
Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sizwe Mabizela, celebrates with the rugby team after the final whistle. Photo cred: Vusumzi Tshekema.

For the first time in the history of Eastern Cape Intervarsity, Rhodes University emerged victorious at the 2023 tournament, beating the nearest competition by 16 points to take the winning spot from titleholders, Nelson Mandela University (NMU).  

Hundreds of students attend the exhilarating games hosted by Rhodes University from 11-12 August 2023. The tournament saw Rhodes University, NMU, the University of Fort Hare (UFH) and Walter Sisulu University (WSU) putting each other through their paces in fixtures such as football, basketball, rugby, volleyball, golf, blackpool, chess, and choir.

Rhodes University, which dominated rugby, football, and basketball with both men’s and ladies’ teams, was the overall winner.

Rhodes University Sports Manager Frans Mamabolo attributed the win to the strategy and planning. He said: “It is always good to see the plan and strategy coming to fruition. This is the goal we set ourselves to be the best in the province and maintain the top 8 spot in the country. This victory belongs to the entire Rhodes University community: the student-athletes who sacrifice their time every day to train and play leagues, the management that supports Rhodes Sports, and the dedicated staff at Rhodes Sports that includes coaches, facilities and field staff and the sports officers. This victory there belongs to all.”

Rugby captain Simelela Mbanzi said he hopes the win will boost the team’s confidence going into the Varsity Shield’s promotional relegation. The Rhodes University intervarsity rugby team beat NMU by 15-7.

Ladies basketball captain, Asekhona Zondi, said she was very proud of her team. “One thing that has always been our strength is our attitude towards sport and how we always give it our all. Every single player pulls their weight forward, and no one plays for individual glory,” she said. Basketball ladies played against UFH and won by 44-42.

Football captain, Kwenza Hadebe, said the home-ground advantage played a pivotal role in their win. He thanked all the Rhodes University students and staff who came out in numbers to support them and said he hopes the team can build from this win and be an even stronger team. The football team beat NMU by 1-0.

Rhodes University Sports Council Chairperson, Sue Smailes, said this huge achievement will help students believe in themselves and their peers and think that anything is possible. “Winning Intervarsity has brought enormous joy to our campus. Purple blood was proudly evident. On the eve of our 120 anniversary, we showcased what Rhodes Sport is capable of. The building phase led by Frans Mamabolo is now clearly evident. We are entering a new era for Rhodes Sport. Winning Intervarsity is a massive achievement. Go Rhodes!” she said.

Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sizwe Mabizela, who attended all the games, congratulated all Rhodes University sportspeople for their exceptional performance in their sports codes. “We are immensely proud of them.  Winning the 2023 Intervarsity has been a tremendous achievement which has come as a result of hard work, dedication and discipline.  We congratulate the team coaches, our Sports management team and the Sports Council for creating the best conditions for our sports people to excel in their sports codes.By far, this year’s Intervarsity was the best in living memory. The amazing spirit that prevailed throughout the two days was a source of great pride. We commend all those who assisted in organising what will go down in history as the most memorable Intervarsity,” he said.

Professor Mabizela thanked UFH, NMU and WSU for their contribution to making this year's Intervarsity a fabulous success.

The overall results were:

  • 1st place: Rhodes University with 237 points
  • 2nd place: NMU with 221 points
  • 3rd place: WSU with 207 points
  • 4th place: UFH with 159 points


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