Varsity Cup: 'Buying' players' days counted

Varsity Cup: 'Buying' players' days counted

The 12th edition of the Varsity Cup competition kicks off on Monday night. And Francois Pienaar, a founder member of the competition who now effectively runs it, has made it clear that the playing field field will be leveled for future competitions.

While the Varsity Cup is regarded as probably South Africa’s favourite and most attractive rugby competition, the biggest detraction remains the (sometimes huge) monetary incentives offered to coax players from other universities.

In Sunday’s Rapport newspaper Pienaar is quoted that universities should be stopped from ‘buying’ players left, right and centre. It places a restraint on the ability of the competition to grow even further than it has since its inception in 2008.

He is a firm believer that it can only be a competition if the outcome is not guaranteed. It is currently
not the case in the Varsity Cup.

Pienaar believes the competition will be enhanced by placing limits on the amount and number of bursaries offered to student players as all the universities are not in a position to do so.

“You want a competition where the matches are viewed (on television) on Monday nights because viewers don’t want to miss the drama of closely contested matches,” he explains.  

“Here we have an inequality. Certain universities have unbelievably successful alumni who can easily write out a cheque for the rugby team. But what about the previously disadvantaged universities? We must provide them with the same opportunities.”

Pienaar is quoted in Rapport that a current topic of discussion is whether the Varsity Cup authorities should investigate a limit on the number of bursaries offered by a university. He also stressed that there must a buy-in from the universities in this regard.

“If one continually obtains players from elsewhere rather than using your own players and improving them, it smacks of poor leadership,” he is quoted as saying.

Pienaar is quite outspoken about universities which may be against such a move. “Our competition is voluntary. If you don’t want to abide by our rules, you don’t have to take part, it’s as simple as that.”

Monday night’s Varsity Cup fixtures  ‒

16:45 – UJ vs Pukke (TV SS1)
18:30 – Ikeys vs UWC
18:30 – Tuks vs CUT
19:00 – Maties vs Wits (TV SS1)