Varsity Rugby

Varsity Rugby is the collective name for four South African rugby union competitions involving the top rugby playing universities in the country. It was launched in 2008, with eight teams participating in the Varsity Cup competition and each university's internal champions competing in the Koshuis Rugby Championships (now known as Res Rugby). In 2011, a second tier competition called the Varsity Shield was added, increasing the number of participating universities to thirteen. A Young Guns tournament for the Under-20 side of the Varsity Cup teams was launched in 2012. A further expansion for the 2017 season saw three additional universities added to the Varsity Shield, totalling sixteen teams.

Varsity Rugby
Upcoming season or competition:
2019 Varsity Cup
SportRugby union
Founded2008
Inaugural season2008
No. of teams9 (Cup)
7 (Shield)
CountrySouth Africa
Most recent
champion(s)
Maties(5th title)
Most titlesMaties (5)
TV partner(s)Supersport
Sponsor(s)First National Bank
Steinhoff
Official websitehttp://www.varsitycup.co.za

The Varsity Cup was dominated by Maties during the competition's formative years, with the team winning the first three tournaments in a row. Four other sides – NWU Pukke, UCT Ikey Tigers, UFS Shimlas and UP Tuks – have also won the tournament subsequently. Those five sides, along with UJ, participated in the Varsity Cup in each season since its conceptions, while CUT Ixias, NMU Madibaz, TUT Vikings, UWC and Wits participated in the Varsity Cup on occasion, but also played in the second-tier Varsity Shield competition in certain seasons. CPUT, Rhodes, UFH Blues, UKZN Impi and WSU All Blacks have never been able to win promotion to the Varsity Cup, spending all their time in the Varsity Shield tournament.

History

The Varsity Cup tournament was founded in 2008. It featured the rugby teams of eight universities, with Maties, NMU Madibaz, NWU Pukke, TUT Vikings, UCT Ikey Tigers, UFS Shimlas, UJ and UP Tuks being the founding members of the competition. At the same time, the Koshuis Rugby Championships (now known as Res Rugby) was also launched; this competition featured the university residence (koshuis) teams that won the internal league for each of the Varsity Cup universities.

In 2011, a second tier was added below the Varsity Cup tournament, called the Varsity Shield, which featured the rugby teams of a further five universities. CUT Ixias, UFH Blues, UKZN Impi, UWC and Wits were the expansion teams that were added to the Varsity Shield for its first season.

In 2012, an Under-20 competition was also added, called the Young Guns. Each season, the same eight teams that took part in the Varsity Cup could enter their youth teams in this Young Guns competition. The name "Varsity Rugby" was also coined in 2012 to describe the four competitions collectively.[1]

From the inception of the tournament in 2008 until 2017, the title sponsors of the tournaments were First National Bank and Steinhoff International. For this reason, the competitions were officially known as the "FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International", "FNB Varsity Shield presented by Steinhoff International", "FNB Young Guns presented by Steinhoff International" and the "Steinhoff Koshuis Rugby Championships". In 2018, Steinhoff withdrew as a sponsor, with FNB retaining the sponsorship rights.

Player eligibility

The Varsity Rugby competitions implemented rules to help ensure that the majority of the players are bona fide students of the relevant universities.[2] In the 2012 season, Varsity Cup and Varsity Shield sides were required to have 16 full-time students in their 23-man squads. The Young Guns and Res Rugby competitions were restricted to full-time students only.[3] In the 2013 season, Varsity Cup teams were required to have 18 full-time students in their 23-man squads. In addition, students needed to have passed at least 30% of their previous year's courses, and all players, even non-students, must have finished high school.[4] From the 2014 season, Varsity Cup teams were required to have 20 full-time students in their 23-man squads and an entire squad consisting of full-time students were to be fielded from 2015 onwards.[5]

A quota system was also introduced to aid transformation in rugby. Each team had to include a certain number of players of colour in both their matchday squads and starting line-ups (for 2016, seven players of colour had to be included in the matchday squad, with three of those in the starting line-up).[6]

Competition rules

Throughout its history, Varsity Rugby adopted experimental rules during the competitions. Since 2012, a points scoring system was adopted whereby conversions would count three points instead of the traditional two, while penalties and drop goals would count two points instead of the usual three. In 2016, a bonus points system was introduced whereby teams could get two of four bonus points for tries, based on where the try-scoring move originated on the field of play.[6] 2017 saw this rule simplified: if a try is originated from the scoring team's own half, it receives two extra points.

The competition was one of the first to adopt 23-man squads to include two props, which reduced the number of uncontested scrums in matches. They also experimented with having two referees officiating in matches and a white card review system, whereby team captains can refer certain incidents to the television match official.

In addition, each school nominates a "Player That Rocks" each week, who wears pink shorts in his next game. Proceeds from the "Player That Rocks" initiative, along with other fund-raisers, go to a charity nominated by each university that fights domestic violence in their local area.

Teams

The following sides have participated in Varsity Rugby since the competition's inception in 2008:

Location of Varsity Rugby teams.
indicates current Varsity Cup teams, indicates current Varsity Shield teams
2019 Varsity Cup teams
Team Name University Stadium
CUT IxiasCentral University of TechnologyCUT Stadium, Bloemfontein
MatiesStellenbosch UniversityDanie Craven Stadium, Stellenbosch
NWU PukkeNorth-West UniversityFanie du Toit Sport Ground, Potchefstroom
UCT Ikey TigersUniversity of Cape TownUCT Rugby Fields, Cape Town
UFS ShimlasUniversity of the Free StateShimla Park, Bloemfontein
UJUniversity of JohannesburgUJ Stadium, Johannesburg
UP TuksUniversity of PretoriaLC de Villiers Stadium, Pretoria
UWCUniversity of the Western CapeUWC Sport Stadium, Cape Town
WitsUniversity of the WitwatersrandWits Rugby Stadium, Johannesburg
2019 Varsity Shield teams
Team Name University Stadium
CPUTCape Peninsula University of TechnologyCPUT Sports Stadium, Cape Town
NMMU MadibazNelson Mandela Metropolitan UniversityNMMU Stadium, Port Elizabeth
RhodesRhodes UniversityRhodes Great Field, Grahamstown
TUT VikingsTshwane University of TechnologyTUT Stadium, Pretoria
UFH BluesUniversity of Fort HareDavidson Rugby Field, Alice
UKZN ImpiUniversity of KwaZulu-NatalPeter Booysen Sports Park, Pietermaritzburg
WSU All BlacksWalter Sisulu UniversityBuffalo City Stadium, East London

Varsity Cup

The Varsity Cup is the premier Varsity Rugby competition and is contested on an annual basis between the nine foremost university rugby union teams in South Africa. The competition – known as the "FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International" for sponsorship reasons – was first held in 2008. It was won by Maties in the first three seasons. Between 2011 and 2014, UCT Ikey Tigers and UP Tuks both won the competition on two occasions, while the only other winner was UFS Shimlas, who won it in 2015.

Those four teams, along with NMMU Madibaz, NWU Pukke, TUT Vikings and UJ, were the founding members of the competition in 2015. All eight those teams took part in every season of the competition, with the exception of the TUT Vikings who were relegated to the Varsity Shield competition at the end of the 2012 competition. Their place was taken by Wits, who took part in 2013 and 2014 before they too were relegated, and CUT Ixias, who took part since 2015.

Between 2008 and 2016, there were eight teams taking part in the competition; this was expanded to nine teams from 2017 onwards. Wits returned to the Varsity Cup for 2017, winning promotion from the 2016 Varsity Shield.

Format

The tournament starts with a round robin stage, during which all teams play each other once, either home or away. Teams are awarded four points for a win and two points for a draw. Teams may also be awarded bonus points for either scoring four tries in a game, or for losing a margin by a margin of seven points or less.

At the end of the round robin stage, the top four teams progress to the semi-finals of the play-off stage. In the semi-finals, the team that finishes first has home advantage against the team that finishes fourth, while the team that finishes second has home advantage against the team that finishes third. The semi-final winners progress to the final, played at the venue of the higher-placed team.

Since the introduction of the Varsity Shield tournament in 2011, a promotion/relegation system between the Varsity Cup and Varsity Shield competitions was also introduced. In 2011, the bottom Varsity Cup side played in a play-off match against the Varsity Shield champions. In 2012, promotion/relegation was changed to a bi-annual process occurring in even-numbered years. The bottom team is automatically relegated to the Varsity Shield and replaced by the champions of the Varsity Shield. In addition, the seventh-placed team will take part in a promotion/relegation play-off against the Varsity Shield runner-up. At the end of the 2016 competition, following a decision to expand the competition to nine teams, the bottom team played in the relegation play-off instead.

Teams

The following teams have participated in the Varsity Cup:

Varsity Cup teams
Team Name Seasons Competitions Champions Play-offs
CUT Ixias2015–present400
Maties2008–present11510
NMMU Madibaz2008–20181102
NWU Pukke2008–present1118
TUT Vikings2008–2012500
UCT Ikey Tigers2008–present1126
UFS Shimlas2008–present1114
UJ2008–present1106
UP Tuks2008–present1138
UWC2019–present000
Wits2013–2014, 2017–present401
Correct as the end of the 2018 competition.

Seasons

Varsity Cup seasons
Year Winner Score Runner-up Losing semi-finalists Relegated
2008 Maties16–10 UCT Ikey Tigers NWU Pukke, UP TuksN/A
2009 Maties11–6 NWU Pukke UCT Ikey Tigers, UP TuksN/A
2010 Maties17–14 UCT Ikey Tigers NWU Pukke, UFS ShimlasN/A
2011 UCT Ikey Tigers26–16 UP Tuks UFS Shimlas, UJN/A
2012 UP Tuks29–21 Maties NWU Pukke, UJ TUT Vikings
2013 UP Tuks44–5 Maties NMMU Madibaz, UJN/A
2014 UCT Ikey Tigers39-33 NWU Pukke Maties, NMMU Madibaz Wits
2015 UFS Shimlas63-33 NWU Pukke UCT Ikey Tigers, UP TuksN/A
2016 NWU Pukke7–6 Maties UJ, UP TuksN/A
2017 UP Tuks28–21 Maties UFS Shimlas, UJN/A
2018 Maties40–7 NWU Pukke UJ, Wits NMMU Madibaz
2019 Maties34–12 UP Tuks UFS Shimlas, NWU PukkeN/A

Varsity Shield

The Varsity Shield is the second-tier Varsity Rugby competition and is contested on an annual basis between the five next-best university rugby union teams in South Africa after the eight Varsity Cup teams. The competition – known as the "FNB Varsity Shield presented by Steinhoff International" for sponsorship reasons – was first held in 2011. The most successful team in the competition to date is CUT Ixias, who won the inaugural competition, and also in 2013 and 2014. Wits won the competition in 2012 before becoming the first team to earn promotion to the Varsity Cup competition for 2013. CUT Ixias also won promotion in 2014, while the 2015 Varsity Shield was won by UKZN Impi for the first time.

Those three teams, along with UFH Blues and UWC were the founding members of the competition in 2011. UFH Blues, UKZN Impi and UWC took part in every season of the competition to date, while TUT Vikings played in the Varsity Shield competition since their relegation from the Varsity Cup in 2012.

Format

The tournament starts with a round robin stage, during which all teams play each other twice, once at home and once away. Teams are awarded four points for a win and two points for a draw. Teams may also be awarded bonus points for either scoring four tries in a game, or for losing a margin by a margin of seven points or less.

At the end of the round robin stage, the top two teams progress to the Varsity Shield final, played at the venue of the higher-placed team.

A promotion/relegation system between the Varsity Shield and Varsity Cup competitions was also introduced since the second tier was added to the competition. In 2011, the Varsity Shield champions played in a play-off match against the bottom Varsity Cup side. In 2012, promotion/relegation was changed to a bi-annual process occurring in even-numbered years. The champions of the Varsity Shield is automatically promoted to the Varsity Cup and replaced by the bottom team from the Varsity Cup. In addition, the Varsity Shield runner-up will take part in a promotion/relegation play-off against the seventh-placed team in the Varsity Cup.

Due to an expansion of Varsity Rugby for 2017, the winner of the 2016 Varsity Shield was automatically promoted, while the runner-up played in a promotion play-off against the bottom team in the Varsity Cup. Three additional universities – CPUT, Rhodes University[7] and WSU All Blacks[8] – joined the Varsity Shield for the first time in 2017.

Teams

The following teams have participated in the Varsity Shield:

Varsity Shield teams
Team Name Seasons Competitions Champions Play-offs
CPUT2017–present200
CUT Ixias2011–2014434
Rhodes2017–present200
TUT Vikings2013–present601
UFH Blues2011–present801
UKZN Impi2011–present814
UWC2011–present824
Wits2011–2012, 2015–2016424
WSU All Blacks2017–present202
Correct as the end of the 2018 competition.

Seasons

Varsity Shield seasons
Year Winner Score Runner-up Promoted
2011 CUT Ixias25–18 WitsN/A
2012 Wits19–17 CUT Ixias Wits
2013 CUT Ixias29–19 UWCN/A
2014 CUT Ixias35–26 UKZN Impi CUT Ixias
2015 UKZN Impi29–24 WitsN/A
2016 Wits39–2 UWC Wits
2017 UWC45–2 UFH BluesN/A
2018 UWC55–10 WSU All Blacks UWC

Young Guns

The Varsity Rugby Young Guns competition is a youth competition that forms part of Varsity Rugby and is contested on an annual basis between the Under-20 teams of the eight foremost university rugby union teams in South Africa. The competition – known as the "FNB Young Guns presented by Steinhoff International" for sponsorship reasons – was first held in 2012. The most successful team in the competition to date is UP Tuks Young Guns; they won four of the first five competitions and played in the final in 2014, where they only lost to UFS Shimlas Young Guns on a kick-off after the matched finished in a 17–all draw.

Teams are included or excluded from the competition based on the university's first team's performance in the Varsity Cup competition.

Format

The eight teams are divided into two pools during the group stage. In the first three editions of the competition, teams played the other teams in their pool once, either at home or away, with the top two teams in each pool progressing to the semi-final. In 2015, this was slightly modified so that teams played the teams in the other pool once, either at home or away. This meant each team played in one more match during the pool stage, but led to the semi-finals being scrapped and the top two teams advancing directly to the final.

Teams are awarded four points for a win and two points for a draw. Teams may also be awarded bonus points for either scoring four tries in a game, or for losing a margin by a margin of seven points or less.

Teams

The following teams have participated in the Young Guns competition:

Young Guns teams
Team Name Seasons No of Comps Champions Play-offs
CUT Young Guns2015–present400
Maties Juniors2012–present715
NMMU Young Guns2012–2018700
NWU Pukke Young Guns2012–present702
TUT Vikings Young Guns2012100
UCT Trojans2012–present701
UFS Shimlas Young Guns2012–present716
UJ Young Guns2012–present703
UP Tuks Young Guns2012–present757
Wits Young Guns2013–2014, 2017–present400
Correct as of the end of the 2018 season.

Seasons

Young Guns seasons
Year Winner Score Runner-up Losing semi-finalists
2012 UP Tuks Young Guns35–26 Maties Juniors NWU Pukke Young Guns, UFS Shimlas Young Guns
2013 UP Tuks Young Guns50–21 Maties Juniors UCT Trojans, UFS Shimlas Young Guns
2014 UFS Shimlas Young Guns17–17 1 UP Tuks Young Guns Maties Juniors, UJ Young Guns
2015 UP Tuks Young Guns26–13 UFS Shimlas Young GunsN/A
2016 UP Tuks Young Guns47–24 UJ Young GunsN/A
2017 UP Tuks Young Guns42–37 Maties Juniors UFS Shimlas Young Guns, UJ Young Guns
2018 Maties Juniors45–37 UP Tuks Young Guns UFS Shimlas Young Guns, NWU Pukke Young Guns
1 The UFS Shimlas Young Guns beat UP Tuks Young Guns in a kick-off following a 17–17 draw in the 2014 final.

Res Rugby

The Res Rugby competition — known as the Koshuis Rugby Championship from 2008 to 2017 — is a competition that forms part of Varsity Rugby and is contested on an annual basis between the winning university residence (koshuis) teams of the nine foremost university rugby union teams in South Africa. The competition was first held in 2008, the same year the first Varsity Cup was also held. The most successful team in the competition to date is University of the Free State koshuis Vishuis, who won the competition on four occasions. The University of the Free State produced the winning koshuis for six competitions, with Huis Armentum and Heimat also winning the competition.

Teams are included or excluded from the competition based on the university's first team's performance in the Varsity Cup competition.

Format

The eight teams are divided into two pools during the group stage. In the first seven editions of the competition, teams played the other teams in their pool once, either at home or away, with the top two teams in each pool progressing to the semi-final. In 2015, this was slightly modified so that teams played the teams in the other pool once, either at home or away. This meant each team played in one more match during the pool stage, but led to the semi-finals being scrapped and the top two teams advancing directly to the final.

Teams are awarded four points for a win and two points for a draw. Teams may also be awarded bonus points for either scoring four tries in a game, or for losing a margin by a margin of seven points or less.

Teams

The following teams have participated in the play-off stages of the Res Rugby competition:[note 1]

Res Rugby : play-off record
Team Name University Play-off years Champions Play-offs apps
BarbariansNelson Mandela Metropolitan University200901
BastionUniversity of Johannesburg201301
CobrasUniversity of Cape Town2012, 201402
DagbreekStellenbosch University2008, 2010, 201213
DromedarisUniversity of Johannesburg2008–200902
HeimatUniversity of the Free State201411
Huis ArmentumUniversity of the Free State200911
MaroelaUniversity of Pretoria2008–201003
MediesStellenbosch University2013–201402
MopanieUniversity of Pretoria201511
NorthernzNelson Mandela Metropolitan University201101
PatriaNorth-West University2011–12, 2014, 2016–201816
SimonsbergStellenbosch University201101
TornadoesUniversity of Cape Town201101
VillagersNorth-West University2010, 201302
VishuisUniversity of the Free State2010, 2012–2013, 2015–201867
Res Rugby : play-off record by university
University Play-off years Champions Play-offs apps
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University2009, 201102
North-West University2010–2014, 2016–201718
Stellenbosch University2008, 2010–201416
University of Johannesburg2008–2009, 201303
University of Cape Town2011–2012, 201403
University of the Free State2009–2010, 2012–201789
University of Pretoria2008–2010, 201514
Correct as of the end of the 2019 season.[note 1]

Seasons

Res Rugby Championship seasons
Year Winner Score Runner-up Losing semi-finalists
2008Dagbreek (SU)22–14Maroela (UP)Dromedaris (UJ), to be confirmed [note 1]
2009Huis Armentum (UFS)30–16Dromedaris (UJ)Barbarians (NMMU), Maroela (UP)
2010Vishuis (UFS)22–7Dagbreek (SU)Maroela (UP), Villagers (NWU)
2011Patria (NWU)21–0Simonsberg (SU)Northernz (NMMU), Tornadoes (UCT)
2012Vishuis (UFS)44–26Dagbreek (SU)Cobras (UCT), Patria (NWU)
2013Vishuis (UFS)20–16Villagers (NWU)Bastion (UJ), Medies (SU)
2014Heimat (UFS)20–12Patria (NWU)Cobras (UCT), Medies (SU)
2015Mopanie (UP)29–23Vishuis (UFS)N/A
2016Vishuis (UFS)37–29Patria (NWU)N/A
2017Vishuis (UFS)25–10Patria (NWU)N/A
2018Vishuis (UFS)55–29Patria (NWU)N/A
University abbreviations:
NMMU = Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, NWU = North-West University, SU = Stellenbosch University, UCT = University of Cape Town, UFS = University of the Free State, UJ = University of Johannesburg, UP = University of Pretoria
  1. One losing semi-finalist in the 2008 Koshuis Rugby Championship is unknown.

Controversies

The Rugby Transformation Coalition has called for a boycott of the Varsity Cup. This is due to the exclusion of formerly black universities, and the low representation of black players.[9]

Varsity Cup universities has faced accusations of professionalism,[10] and breaking eligibility rules.[11] The punishments handed to guilty teams have also been seen as lenient.[12]

The practice of charging students for tickets, as well as the prices set, have been a point of contention. This led to an SMS campaign against the University of Pretoria.[13]

No private universities have been allowed to compete in the tournament, leading to complaints from Varsity College.[14]

Sponsors

The tournament is sponsored by:

See also

References

  1. "Varsity Cup bigger and better". Sport24. 24 January 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2012.
  2. "VC Competition Rules 2012". Varsity Cup. Retrieved 6 February 2012.
  3. "Varsity cheat claims cleared up". Sport24. 19 March 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  4. "Varsity Cup values restored". SA Rugby Magazine. 21 January 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  5. "Varsity Cup eyeing full student 'quota'". SA Rugby Magazine. 20 January 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  6. "Maak reg vir 9-punt drieë in Varsitybeker". Netwerk24 (in Afrikaans). 14 January 2016. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  7. "Rhodes qualify for Varsity Shield". Grocott's Mail. 14 July 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  8. "Fiery WSU storm into next year's Varsity Shield". Dispatch. 9 July 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  9. "Threats of Varsity Cup boycott". City Press. 12 May 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  10. "Rugby that Rocks, or Pops?". Rugga World. 21 February 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  11. "Varsity Cup High Drama!". Front Row Grunt. 20 March 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  12. "Tuks sidestep punishment again after player eligibility "oversight"". Die Matie. 20 March 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
  13. "SMS campaign launched against Varsity Cup entrance fees". AfriForum Youth. 25 February 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  14. "No Varsity Cup/Shield for Durban until 2015". Durban Collegians. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
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