Defining the student is key
Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)
So, Tukkies, because of a loophole in the Varsity Cup constitution, and a weak ruling from Adv Jannie Lubbe SC, get away with cheating in the Varsity Cup again, and that really does appall me.
The Varsity Cup motto is INTEGRITY, TRUST, FRIENDSHIP, TRANSPARENCY and HONESTY and I feel we are seeing anything but any of that from Tukkies. Having not been able to enforce the rules 12 months ago for the same reason, it is amazing that the Varsity Cup board has not been able to tighten things up so as to prevent this happening again, but Tukkies remain the bad guys here. And this tournament is now tarnished.
They are devaluing the fundamentals of the tournament, and should have done the honourable thing by admitting their indiscretion and withdrawing. Instead the University opted to defend themselves by saying that the transgression was of a “technical nature” relating to a single player.
And of course the other Varsities did not have the guts to withdraw from the games on Monday as they know where their bread is buttered.
But I have had my rant on the Front Row Grunt
(which will no longer cover Varsity Cup rugby), and would prefer now to look at the potential ramifications of this decision...
No doubt the knee-jerk reaction will to further tighten up on the student numbers, perhaps even heading the call to make it a student only tournament. But all that will do is further prejudice the genuine degree only universities (Maties, Wits and UCT) as it is just so much harder to get into these institutions. To the extent that the Varsity Cup may well have a competition with no more than three competitive sides, with the others forced into re-consider their participation.
It was interesting to note in the Tukkies statement that they supported a proposal submitted at the 2012 Varsity Cup AGM that proposed the Registrars of the different universities or their representatives should rule on disputes in this regard. Well indeed they would, because then each university could have its own definition of a “Student”, but what this tournament needs is an agreed upon single definition of a student.
Rules will always be pushed, and were the tournament to go the Community Cup route and make it only for non contracted players, then some provinces and universities would just collude to provide the player with money in some other way. And some universities will always have tougher entrance requirements given the high demand for places (hence them not using marketing money to try and attract any, let alone rugby playing, students), but fundamental to the tournament is the definition of a student.
Modern day players seem not to realise that very few people get to make money out of sport, and that it is not the worst thing in the world to have a backup. Varsity Cup aims to put on display the player with enough sense to have that backup. I think it should be kept that way.
Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt …Disclaimer:
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