Jacques van der Westhuyzen

By Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport


OPINION: Tuks’ fall from grace has been staggering

While they didn’t lose by big margins, picking up just five log points is stunning.


No one would have seen this coming at the start of the competition — the mighty Tuks, Tukkies or University of Pretoria (call them what you want) being relegated from the 'first division' of the Varsity Cup rugby competition. Yes, for those who haven’t heard the news - Tuks will not play Varsity Cup rugby next year; they will compete in the 'second division' Varsity Shield competition. This is due to them finishing last out of eight teams in this year’s Cup competition, with a game to still be played. READ MORE: Varsity Cup shock as defending champs Tuks are…

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No one would have seen this coming at the start of the competition — the mighty Tuks, Tukkies or University of Pretoria (call them what you want) being relegated from the ‘first division’ of the Varsity Cup rugby competition.

Yes, for those who haven’t heard the news – Tuks will not play Varsity Cup rugby next year; they will compete in the ‘second division’ Varsity Shield competition.

This is due to them finishing last out of eight teams in this year’s Cup competition, with a game to still be played.

READ MORE: Varsity Cup shock as defending champs Tuks are relegated

Tuks have lost six out of six and have five points, and even if they beat the University of Johannesburg in their final game next Monday they will not pass seventh-placed UJ, who have 13 points. Tuks are relegated automatically to the lower tier.

The University of the Western Cape (30) or Nelson Mandela University (27 points) will move up to the Varsity Cup next year.

Tuks’ fall from grace is massive.

Five log points

While they didn’t lose by big margins during this year’s Cup competition — 21-33 to Wits, 35-46 to Maties, 22-26 to Pukke, 39-41 to Ixias, 19-42 to Ikeys and 25-26 to Shimlas — picking up just five log points is stunning.

This is by the university that has won the Varsity Cup five times, in 2012, 2013, 2017 and back-to-back in 2021 and 2022.

Tuks rugby team
The Tuks rugby team celebrate their victory in the 2022 Varsity Cup. Picture: Anton Geyser/Gallo Images

In more recent times Tuks produced Springbok player such as Manie Libbok, Marco van Staden, Embrose Papier, Jason Jenkins, Warrick Gelant, Franco Mostert, Bongi Mbonambi, Arno Botha and Vincent Koch.

Scotland wing Duhan van der Merwe also made his name at Tuks.

2024 season

But the famous university team from Pretoria will now have to get ready for action in the Shield in 2024 when they take on the likes of Rhodes, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Walter Sisulu University and the University of Fort Hare in, among other places, Grahamstown, Alice and Mthatha.

Tuks’ match against Rhodes in particular could be interesting – in the Shield this season Rhodes have lost 6/6, like Tuks, but have a points differential of -245.

The Pretoria side are almost sure to bounce back to the Cup competition immediately after next year’s competition, but what a 2024 awaits the men from Pretoria.

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University of Pretoria(TUKS)

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