Varsity Rugby

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Varsity Rugby
Upcoming season or competition:
Current sports event 2016 Varsity Rugby
Sport Rugby union
Founded 2008
Inaugural season 2008
No. of teams 8 (Cup)
5 (Shield)
Country South Africa
Most recent
champion(s)
NWU Pukke (1st title)
Most titles Maties (3)
TV partner(s) Supersport
Sponsor(s) First National Bank
Steinhoff
Official website http://www.varsitycup.co.za

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. 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.

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

History[edit]

Maties won the first three Varsity Cup competitions

The Varsity Cup tournament was founded in 2008. It featured the rugby teams of eight universities, with Maties, NMMU 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 was also launched; this competition featured the "koshuis" (university residence) teams that won the internal league for each of the eight 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]

Since the inception of the tournament, the title sponsors of the tournaments were First National Bank and Steinhoff International. For this reason, the competitions are 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".

Player eligibility[edit]

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 Koshuis 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 amount 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[edit]

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]

The competition was one of the first to adopt 23-man squads to include two props, which reduced the amount 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.

Teams[edit]

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

2016 Varsity Cup teams
Team Name University Stadium
CUT Ixias Central University of Technology CUT Stadium, Bloemfontein
Maties Stellenbosch University Danie Craven Stadium, Stellenbosch
NMMU Madibaz Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University NMMU Stadium, Port Elizabeth
NWU Pukke North-West University Fanie du Toit Stadium, Potchefstroom
UCT Ikey Tigers University of Cape Town UCT Rugby Fields, Cape Town
UFS Shimlas University of the Free State Shimla Park, Bloemfontein
UJ University of Johannesburg UJ Stadium, Johannesburg
UP Tuks University of Pretoria LC de Villiers Stadium, Pretoria
2016 Varsity Shield teams
Team Name University Stadium
TUT Vikings Tshwane University of Technology TUT Stadium, Pretoria
UFH Blues University of Fort Hare Davidson Rugby Field, Alice
UKZN Impi University of KwaZulu-Natal Peter Booysen Sports Park, Pietermaritzburg
UWC University of the Western Cape UWC Sport Stadium, Cape Town
Wits University of the Witwatersrand Wits Rugby Stadium, Johannesburg

Varsity Cup[edit]

The Varsity Cup logo

The Varsity Cup is the premier Varsity Rugby competition and is contested on an annual basis between the eight 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[edit]

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[edit]

UCT was one of the founder members of the Varsity Cup

The following teams have participated in the Varsity Cup:

Varsity Cup teams
Team Name Seasons Competitions Champions Play-offs
CUT Ixias 2015– 2 0 0
Maties 2008– 9 3 7
NMMU Madibaz 2008– 9 0 2
NWU Pukke 2008– 9 1 7
TUT Vikings 2008–12 5 0 0
UCT Ikey Tigers 2008– 9 2 6
UFS Shimlas 2008– 9 1 3
UJ 2008– 9 0 4
UP Tuks 2008– 9 2 7
Wits 2013–14, 2017– 2 0 0
Correct as the end of the 2016 competition.

Seasons[edit]

Varsity Cup seasons
Year Winner Score Runner-up Losing semi-finalists Relegated
2008 Maties 16–10 UCT Ikey Tigers NWU Pukke, UP Tuks N/A
2009 Maties 11–6 NWU Pukke UCT Ikey Tigers, UP Tuks N/A
2010 Maties 17–14 UCT Ikey Tigers NWU Pukke, UFS Shimlas N/A
2011 UCT Ikey Tigers 26–16 UP Tuks UFS Shimlas, UJ N/A
2012 UP Tuks 29–21 Maties NWU Pukke, UJ TUT Vikings
2013 UP Tuks 44–5 Maties NMMU Madibaz, UJ N/A
2014 UCT Ikey Tigers 39-33 NWU Pukke Maties, NMMU Madibaz Wits
2015 UFS Shimlas 63-33 NWU Pukke UCT Ikey Tigers, UP Tuks N/A
2016 NWU Pukke 7–6 Maties UJ, UP Tuks N/A

Varsity Shield[edit]

The Varsity Shield logo

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[edit]

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] – will join the Varsity Shield for the first time in 2017.

Teams[edit]

The following teams have participated in the Varsity Shield:

Varsity Shield teams
Team Name Seasons Competitions Champions Play-offs
CUT Ixias 2011–14 4 3 4
TUT Vikings 2013– 4 0 0
UFH Blues 2011– 6 0 0
UKZN Impi 2011– 6 1 2
UWC 2011– 6 0 2
Wits 2011–12, 2015–16 4 2 4
Correct as the end of the 2016 competition.

Seasons[edit]

Varsity Shield seasons
Year Winner Score Runner-up Promoted
2011 CUT Ixias 25–18 Wits N/A
2012 Wits 19–17 CUT Ixias Wits
2013 CUT Ixias 29–19 UWC N/A
2014 CUT Ixias 35–26 UKZN Impi CUT Ixias
2015 UKZN Impi 29–24 Wits N/A
2016 Wits 39–2 UWC Wits

Young Guns[edit]

UP Tuks are the most successful team in the Young Guns competition.

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[edit]

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[edit]

The following teams have participated in the Young Guns competition:

Young Guns teams
Team Name Seasons No of Comps Champions Play-offs
CUT Young Guns 2015– 2 0 0
Maties Juniors 2012– 5 0 3
NMMU Young Guns 2012– 5 0 0
NWU Pukke Young Guns 2012– 5 0 1
TUT Vikings Young Guns 2012 1 0 0
UCT Trojans 2012– 5 0 1
UFS Shimlas Young Guns 2012– 5 1 4
UJ Young Guns 2012– 5 0 2
UP Tuks Young Guns 2012– 5 4 5
Wits Young Guns 2013–14 2 0 0
Correct as of the end of the 2016 season.

Seasons[edit]

Young Guns seasons
Year Winner Score Runner-up Losing semi-finalists
2012 UP Tuks Young Guns 35–26 Maties Juniors NWU Pukke Young Guns, UFS Shimlas Young Guns
2013 UP Tuks Young Guns 50–21 Maties Juniors UCT Trojans, UFS Shimlas Young Guns
2014 UFS Shimlas Young Guns 17–17 1 UP Tuks Young Guns Maties Juniors, UJ Young Guns
2015 UP Tuks Young Guns 26–13 UFS Shimlas Young Guns N/A
2016 UP Tuks Young Guns 47–24 UJ Young Guns N/A
1 The UFS Shimlas Young Guns beat UP Tuks Young Guns in a kick-off following a 17–17 draw in the 2014 final.

Koshuis Rugby Championship[edit]

The Koshuis Rugby Championship logo

The Koshuis Rugby Championship competition is a competition that forms part of Varsity Rugby and is contested on an annual basis between the winning koshuis (university residence) teams of the eight foremost university rugby union teams in South Africa. The competition – known as the "Steinhoff Koshuis Rugby Championship" for sponsorship reasons – 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 competitions 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[edit]

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[edit]

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

Koshuis Rugby Championship : play-off record
Team Name University Play-off years Champions Play-offs apps
Barbarians Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University 2009 0 1
Bastion University of Johannesburg 2013 0 1
Cobras University of Cape Town 2012, 2014 0 2
Dagbreek Stellenbosch University 2008, 2010, 2012 1 3
Dromedaris University of Johannesburg 2008–09 0 2
Heimat University of the Free State 2014 1 1
Huis Armentum University of the Free State 2009 1 1
Maroela University of Pretoria 2008–10 0 3
Medies Stellenbosch University 2013–14 0 2
Mopanie University of Pretoria 2015 1 1
Northernz Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University 2011 0 1
Patria North-West University 2011–12, 2014, 2016 1 4
Simonsberg Stellenbosch University 2011 0 1
Tornadoes University of Cape Town 2011 0 1
Villagers North-West University 2010, 2013 0 2
Vishuis University of the Free State 2010, 2012–13, 2015–16 4 5
Koshuis Rugby Championship : play-off record by university
University Play-off years Champions Play-offs apps
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University 2009, 2011 0 2
North-West University 2010–14 1 6
Stellenbosch University 2008, 2010–14 1 6
University of Johannesburg 2008–09, 2013 0 3
University of Cape Town 2011–12, 2014 0 3
University of the Free State 2009–10, 2012–15 6 7
University of Pretoria 2008–10, 2015 1 4
Correct as of the end of the 2016 season.[note 1]

Seasons[edit]

Koshuis Rugby Championship seasons
Year Winner Score Runner-up Losing semi-finalists
2008 Dagbreek (SU) 22–14 Maroela (UP) Dromedaris (UJ), to be confirmed [note 1]
2009 Huis Armentum (UFS) 30–16 Dromedaris (UJ) Barbarians (NMMU), Maroela (UP)
2010 Vishuis (UFS) 22–7 Dagbreek (SU) Maroela (UP), Villagers (NWU)
2011 Patria (NWU) 21–0 Simonsberg (SU) Northernz (NMMU), Tornadoes (UCT)
2012 Vishuis (UFS) 44–26 Dagbreek (SU) Cobras (UCT), Patria (NWU)
2013 Vishuis (UFS) 20–16 Villagers (NWU) Bastion (UJ), Medies (SU)
2014 Heimat (UFS) 20–12 Patria (NWU) Cobras (UCT), Medies (SU)
2015 Mopanie (UP) 29–23 Vishuis (UFS) N/A
2016 Vishuis (UFS) 37–29 Patria (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. ^ a b c One losing semi-finalist in the 2008 Koshuis Rugby Championship is unknown.

Notable Players[edit]

The following Varsity Rugby players went on to represent South Africa in international rugby:[9]

Player Name Varsity Rugby team Springbok debut Springbok no
Juan de Jongh Maties 2010 806
Coenie Oosthuizen UFS Shimlas 2012 824
Eben Etzebeth UCT Ikey Tigers 2012 833
JJ Engelbrecht Maties 2012 836
Jaco Taute UJ 2012 842
Arno Botha UP Tuks 2013 843
Trevor Nyakane CUT Ixias (Varsity Shield) 2013 850
Lourens Adriaanse Maties 2013 853
Lood de Jager NWU Pukke (Young Guns) 2014 856
Handré Pollard UP Tuks 2014 857
Marcel van der Merwe UFS Shimlas 2014 858
Oupa Mohojé UFS Shimlas 2014 859
Damian de Allende UCT Ikey Tigers 2014 862
Nizaam Carr UCT Ikey Tigers 2014 865
Rudy Paige UJ 2015 869

In addition to producing players for the national team, Varsity Rugby also established itself as the main development pathway for players playing in the domestic Currie Cup competition. Over 67% of the 88 players that were included in squads for the 2015 Currie Cup Premier Division semi-finals played Varsity Rugby earlier in their careers.[10]

Controversies[edit]

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.[11]

Varsity Cup universities has faced accusations of professionalism,[12] and breaking eligibility rules.[13] The punishments handed to guilty teams have also been seen as lenient.[14]

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[15]

No private universities have been allowed to compete in the tournament, leading to complaints from Varsity College.[16]

Sponsors[edit]

The tournament is sponsored by:

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  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. ^ a b "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. ^ "Varsity Cup to honour Boks that Rock". Varsity Cup. 10 April 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  10. ^ "Varsity Cup alumni rules Currie Cup". Varsity Cup. 16 October 2015. Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  11. ^ "Threats of Varsity Cup boycott". City Press. 12 May 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  12. ^ "Rugby that Rocks, or Pops?". Rugga World. 21 February 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  13. ^ "Varsity Cup High Drama!". Front Row Grunt. 20 March 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  14. ^ "Tuks sidestep punishment again after player eligibility "oversight"". Die Matie. 20 March 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  15. ^ "SMS campaign launched against Varsity Cup entrance fees". AfriForum Youth. 25 February 2013. Retrieved 21 January 2014. 
  16. ^ "No Varsity Cup/Shield for Durban until 2015". Durban Collegians. Retrieved 21 January 2014.