Cape Town - This year's edition of the Varsity Cup, which starts on January 30, will see a few changes implemented.
The tenth edition of the tournament has grown from eight universities in 2008 to 16 in 2017.
In 2017, three new universities are added to the second-tier Varsity Shield, with the addition of Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), Rhodes University (Rhodes) and Walter Sisulu University (WSU) seeing the Shield competition grow from five teams to seven.
Last year’s Varsity Shield winners, Wits, re-join the top-tier Varsity Cup after a few seasons of absence, growing it from eight to nine teams.
“There is definitely excitement from the three new universities,” said Xhanti-Lomzi Nesi, Varsity Cup manager. “There is a long-standing rivalry between the University of Fort Hare and Walter Sisulu University, both rugby-mad universities, and we can’t wait to see what they will deliver this season.”
The Western Cape now boasts four teams in the tournament - two teams in the Varsity Cup (Maties and UCT), and two teams in the Varsity Shield (UWC and CPUT), while the Eastern Cape sports one team in the Varsity Cup (Madibaz) and three in Varsity Shield (UFH, WSU and Rhodes).
Unique rules for 2017:
Bonus Point Try
The bonus point try has been reviewed, and the nine-point try has been disregarded. This year only a seven-point try and a five-point try will apply. The seven-point try will be awarded to the team who scores a try originating from their own half, while the five-point try will be awarded if the try originates in the opposition’s half. Conversions will remain at two points (this applies to Varsity Cup competition only and not Varsity Shield, Koshuis Rugby and Young Guns).
Red Card Rule
The red card rule is a new rule that will be implemented in the 2017 season. If a red card is given to a player, that player will leave the field immediately, and his team will play with 14 men for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, any other player in the final match-day squad may return to the field, apart from the player who received the red card. This rule will only apply to Varsity Cup.
Other rules exclusive to Varsity Cup include the white card rule, strategy breaks, free catch rule, 23-player match-day squads, defending nine offside rule, mauling, and scrumming laws. All players are required to abide by the current Regulations of World Rugby and the Constitution and Regulations of the South African Rugby Union (SARU), which include Bok Smart Regulations, as well as that of the Varsity Cup.