Murray Mexted's International Rugby Academy beat FNB UKZN 22-7 at UKZN's Howard College on Friday 14th December. Despite it being a pre-season fixture, and despite the liberal substitution rules in place (the UKZN Impi used 28 members of their squad), it was a competitive and hard fought contest.

The Academy team scored two early tries and a penalty before the Varsity Shield team countered with a converted try to reduce the Academy's lead to 15-7 at half time.

The second half produce entertaining rugby and stubborn defence by both teams, and according to Impi technical coach Dylan Campbell "there was plenty of talent on view. At times UKZN's new recruits gelled with their new team-mates and got the patterns right, but a lot of work still needs to go into perfecting our playing structures. New signing Jandre Smal looked particularly useful."

For the Academy, fly-half Brandon Cope dictated proceedings, and the Impi management will be pleased that Cope has enrolled at UKZN and will be available for Varsity Shield duty in 2013.

After the match, the former Natal and All Blacks No 8, Murray Mexted thanked both teams for the keenly contested match.

The Impi will resume their Varsity Shield preparation on 3 January, and will take on traditional rivals, Wits University, the 2012 Varsity Shield winners, on Saturday 19 January 2013 on the Maritzburg campus.

Jos Robson