Every single team will have something to play for in the final round of the league phase of the 2013 FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International.
Whilst the unbeaten Maties have already assured themselves top spot on the standings, they will be gunning for another bonus-point victory to equal their own record for log points in a season, which they set back in 2010 when they last lifted the trophy.
The five teams directly below them will all be involved in an intense battle for the last three semifinal spots, with even the sixth-placed UFS-Shimlas in with a shout of progressing to the play-offs if the right results go their way.
The Free State side will certainly have to earn their spot when they travel to Johannesburg to take on UJ who will be focused on bouncing back from their narrow loss to UP-Tuks to give themselves the best chance of hosting a semifinal.
In Port Elizabeth the NMMU Madibaz will be aiming to qualify for their first-ever semifinal when they take on UP-Tuks. The Eastern Cape side has claimed some big scalps this season, and they will have to dig deep once more against the powerful defending champions who will be intent on securing home advantage in the semifinals.
Maties will have their sights set on continuing their unbeaten run this season when they face a hungry NWU-Pukke side in Stellenbosch. NWU-Pukke's late win against NMMU last week gave them a big boost, but they will still have to work hard to secure a place in the play-offs with three teams breathing down their neck.
The battle at the bottom of the table should be just as hard-fought as the two teams yet to record a victory this season - UCT and Wits - slug it out on the Green Mile in Cape Town as they seek to avoid claiming the wooden spoon.
The Ikeys have had a tough time this season, drawing two of their matches and suffering a couple of close losses, and they will be up against a Wits team with nothing to lose at the end of a hard debut season which has seen them learn a number of valuable lessons.
In the Varsity Shield log-leaders CUT will have the tough task of protecting their unbeaten status in the competition against Fort Hare who are sure to be boosted by their passionate fans in Alice.
Fort Hare closed the gap between themselves and UKZN with a late win over the TUT Vikings in Pretoria last week, and they will be monitoring the results of the match between the UKZN Impi and UWC with interest.
Peter de Villiers' UWC side travel to Pietermaritzburg knowing that they could move up to second place on the standings if they manage to secure their first away win of the season, whilst UKZN will be keen to take a step closer to their first-ever final.
The Varsity Young Guns competition will see just one match on Monday, with UJ looking to knock the unbeaten Maties off their perch in Stellenbosch.
The Koshuisrugby Championship will be in full swing with four fixtures which are set to reveal who the real contenders are this season.
In the Penny Pinchers pool defending champions Vishuis from UFS-Shimlas travel up to Johannesburg to take on their closest challengers Bastion, whilst the Cobras from UCT will be eyeing a big victory over Commerce from Wits in front of their home crowd.
In the Hertz pool Maties outfit Medies host Villagers from NWU-Pukke in a curtain-raiser to the Varsity Cup game at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch, and Northernz will be looking to get off the mark when they host Mopanie from UP-Tuks.
Varsity Cup fixtures and team line-ups - Monday, March 18
UJ v Shimlas
(UJ Stadium - 16.45)
UJ: 15 Kobus De Kock, 14 JR Esterhuizen, 13 Bradley Moolman, 12 Luan Steenkamp, 11 Chrysander Botha, 10 Divan van Zyl (captain), 9 Jacques Pretorius, 8 RJ Liebenberg, 7 Johan van der Hoogt, 6 Thilip Marole, 5 David Antonites, 4 Shane Kirkwood, 3 Ewald Van Der Westhuizen, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Wessel Du Randt .
Replacements: 16 AJ le Roux, 17 Wiseman Kamanga, 18 Fabian Booysen, 19 Kobus Porter, 20 Vian van der Watt, 21 Adriaan Vermeulen, 22 Andries Oosthuizen, 23 Njabulo Mkize.
UFS-Shimlas: 15 Nico Scheepers, 14 Maphutha Dolo, 13 Robbie van Schalkwyk, 12 Stephan van der Merwe, 11 JJ de Klerk, 10 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 9 Kevin Luiters, 8 Erik le Roux, 7 Teboho Mohoje (captain), 6 Freddie Ngoza, 5 JC Astle, 4 Fanie van der Walt, 3 Nick Schonert, 2 Elandre Hugget, 1 Charles Marais.
Replacements: 16 JC van Wyk, 17 Carl van Heerden, 18 Lebo Zietsman, 19 Armandt Koster, 20 Hlanlha Hlongwane, 21 Divandre Strydom, 22 Marco Mason, 23 Luan de Bruin.
Referee: Pieter Janse van Vuuren
Maties v NWU-Pukke
(Danie Craven Stadium - 19.00)
15 Craig Barry, 14 Clearance Khumalo, 13 Mark Hodgkiss, 12 Ryan Nell, 11 Dean Hammond, 10 JH Potgieter, 9 James Alexander, 8 Reniel Hugo, 7 Jurgen Streicher, 6 Helmut Lehmann (captain), 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Os Hamman, 2 Charl de Villiers, 1 Alister Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Frderik Kirsten, 17 Hein van der Merwe, 18 Jurie van Vuuren, 19 Brianton Booysen, 20 Jean Nel, 21 Dean Grant, 22 JP Lewis, 23 Brendan Pitzer.
NWU-Pukke: 15 Hoffman Maritz, 14 SW Oosthuizen, 13 Sylvian Mahuza, 12 Hennie Skorbinski, 11 Luther Obi, 10 Justin Botha, 9 Tiaan Dorfling, 8 SJ Niemand, 7 Molotsi Bouwer, 6 Robey Labuschagne, 5 Victor Kruger (captain), 4 Luvoyiso Lusaseni, 3 Martin Dreyer, 2 JC Oberholzer, 1 Arno Ebersohn.
Replacements: 16 Acker van der Merwe, 17 Mashudu Mafela, 18 Danie Jordaan, 19 HP Swart, 20 Jaco Grobler, 21 Rowayne Beukman, 22 Wynand Olivier, 23 Herman Basson.
Referee: Juan Sylvestre
NMMU v UP-Tuks
(NMMU Stadium - 19.00)
15 Jarred Buys, 14 Logan Basson, 13 Hermanus van Lill, 12 Xolani Mnisi, 11 Gerhardus Smith, 10 Justin Van Staden, 9 Dwayne Kelly, 8 Timothy Agaba, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Albertus de Swardt, 5 Mzwanale Zito, 4 Louis Fourie, 3 Gareth Hartley, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Roy Godfrey (captain).
Replacements: 16 Francois Coetzer, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Ferdinand Gerber, 19 Ulrich Pretorius, 20 Simphiwe Shabangu, 21 Devon Lailvaux, 22 Lesley-Dean Luiters, 23 Dexter Fahey.
UP-Tuks: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Vainon Willis, 13 Piet Lindeque, 12 Handre Pollard, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Danie Faasen, 8 Jono Ross (captain), 7 Jacques Verwey, 6 Shaun Adendorff, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Mike Williams, 3 Basil Short, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Christoph Gouws, 18 Schalk Van Heerden, 19 JP Mostert, 20 Emile Temperman, 21 Christopher Bosch, 22 Riaan Britz, 23 Sabelo Nhlapo.
Referee: Daniel Fortuin
UCT v Wits
(UCT Rugby Fields - 19.00)
15 Ross Jones-Davies, 14 Richard Stewart, 13 David Ambunya, 12 Liam Bax, 11 Lihleli Xoli, 10 Dillyn Leyds, 9 Liam Slatem (captain), 8 Bradley Bosman, 7 Joshua Katzen, 6 Derek Asbun, 5 James Kilroe, 4 Kyle Kriel, 3 Digby Webb, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Sti Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Jason Klaasen, 19 Ntsolo Setlaba, 20 Rick Schroeder, 21 Nathan Nel, 22 Paul Cohen, 23 Joel Carew.
Wits: 15 Joshua Durbach, 14 Jacques Erasmus, 13 Kayde Fisher, 12 Mandla Dube, 11 Riaan Arends, 10 Kyle Peyper, 9 Mathew Torrance, 8 Jason Fraser, 7 Rinus Bothma, 6 Carel Greef, 5 Charles Baggot, 4 Devin Montgomery (captain), 3 Phakamilu Zuma, 2 Katlego Kgame, 1 Hannes Ludik.
Replacements: 16 Rory Anderson, 17 Thato Mavundla, 18 Cameron Shafto, 19 Shai Korb, 20 Michael Sephton-Poultney, 21 Greg Blom, 22 Ish Nkolo, 23 Ferdinand Kelly.
Varsity Shield fixtures - Monday, March 18
UFH v CUT, Davidson Rugby Stadium - 19.00
UKZN v UWC, Peter Booysen Sports Park - 19.00
Koshuisrugby Championship fixtures - Monday, March 18
Bastion v Vishuis, UJ Stadium - 15.00
Medies v Villagers, Danie Craven Stadium - 16.45
Northernz v Mopanie, NMMU Stadium - 16.45
Cobras v Commerce, UCT Rugby Fields - 16.45
Varsity Young Guns fixtures - Monday, March 18
Maties Jrs v UJ, Danie Craven Stadium - 15.00
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