Rhodes University Football Club participated in the USSA Football tournament from 3 to 7 July. The highly anticipated tournament has demonstrated that there is a lot of work to be done by Rhodes Football if they wish to be seen as competition favourites in the near future and if they hope to qualify for Varsity Sport.
The gulf in class among the teams in Section A was shown with Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) beating the RU Trojans (the Rhodes Women team), a whopping 16-0 and again when the Trojans lost 15-0 to University of Zululand. The Rhodes men’s team also suffered heavy losses to VUT Vanderbijlpark (11-1) and 10-0 against CPUT.
The Rhodes men and women’s teams have been placed 19th and 20th respectively, meaning they have been relegated to Section B of the competition. Relegation offers the teams time and an opportunity to adjust to competing at a higher level, perhaps even making history by qualifying for Varsity Sport in the near future.
This competition provided invaluable experience for Rhodes Football Club. If they wish to establish themselves in University Sports, they need to compete more regularly against other Universities to help understand what shape their teams are in, and how they can improve team standards. The current lack of this understanding was clear in the play of both teams. Neither Rhodes team seemed to engage with the challenges that presented themselves in games and, thus, they did not manage to change the course of their games. This was the difference between them and the teams finished higher up in tournament standings. The better teams simply had a depth of quality and skill that the Rhodes teams did not.
The competition was won by Gauteng-based TUT. The women’s team defeated their Varsity Sport rivals UWC to reclaim their title, while men’s team beat arch-rivals and defending champions TUKS to lift the cup.
This tournament also highlighted the sorry state of Eastern Cape football, with none of the EC Universities qualifying for Varsity Sport nor placing in the top 10. Hopefully, next year will be better for Eastern Cape football and Rhodes Football Club can come back stronger and establish themselves as contenders.
Rhodes Trojans Group stage results-
CPUT 7- 0
Knockout stages – losers section –
VUT Vanderbijlpark 4-2
Rhodes men group stage results –
VUT Vanderbijlpark 11-1
Knockout stages, losers section –
CPUT 2-2 (Rhodes won on penalities).