Cape Town - The Varsity Cup is almost back and ready to rock with a new innovations and even more excitement set to form part of this year’s competition. The 2015 season kicks off on Monday, February 9 and among some of the exciting innovations is the return of the white card.
The white card, which allows coaches and captains to refer decisions for review to Television Match Officials (TMOs) during games, was first introduced during the inaugural Varsity Cup competition in 2008. The system is back this year and is endorsed by the South African Rugby Union (SARU).
This is just another way Varsity Cup ensures it remains at the forefront of sporting innovation and assist SARU in testing ideas.
This season will also see the addition of the Defensive Scrumhalf. The Defensive Scrumhalf is a simple change in rules where the scrumhalf defending the scrum will not be allowed to pass the mouth of the scrum once the ball has been inserted. In other words, the defending scrumhalf will not be allowed to follow the ball. Varsity Cup hopes that this rule will encourage a running rugby style of play and diminish the breakdowns at the scrum.
Founder of the competition, former Springboks captain Francois Pienaar, believes that this year will be even bigger and better than last year.
“This year is a very exciting year for Varsity Cup Rugby. The return of the White Card presents us with a unique opportunity to trial something that we could one day see used in international rugby. Sport cannot afford to stagnate in this day and age and it is important that it evolves with the players in mind. The White Card is there to ensure the correct decision is always made,” said Pienaar.
The 2014 edition saw UCT Ikeys crowned champions after an emphatic comeback. Ikeys scored three tries in five minutes to beat North-West University (Pukke) 39-33 after being 33-15 behind and Duitser Bosman, CEO of Varsity Sports, hopes that this year’s competition will be equally exciting.
“We saw some brilliant rugby played last year and believe that this year will be no different. The excitement around the tournament has really come of age in the last few years. The crowds have been brilliant, but most importantly, we have seen the Varsity Cup be a springboard for players to launch their career,” Bosman explained.
The competition is also a springboard for players to further their careers. Last year’s Currie Cup final saw 29 of the 44 players come from a pool of ex-Varsity Cup players, evidence that the platform is breeding some of the best talent in the country.
As usual, there will be hotly contested derby matches between Ikeys vs Maties as well as Shimlas vs CUT, UJ vs Tuks & last year’s final repeat Ikeys vs Pukke in Potchefstroom. There will be two televised fixtures on SuperSport 201 each week to make sure that the rugby keeps on rocking.
The competition would not have been able to grow were it not for the continued support from the sponsors, something Bosman feels is testament to the quality of the competition.
“With First National Bank (FNB), Steinhoff International, Spur and Cell C continuing their commitment to sponsorship, it underscores what a great product we have,” Bosman concluded.