Varsity Cup

Pukke set to learn Varsity Cup fate

2016-04-20 14:22
Pukke (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Pukke will know on Saturday whether they will remain the 2016 Varsity Cup champions.

Last week, the students from Potchefstroom lifted the Varsity Cup trophy after edging Maties 7-6 in the final in Stellenbosch, but their status as champions has been thrown into jeopardy.

It has emerged that Pukke possibly fielded an ineligible player during their campaign, with Varsity Cup organisers to hold a hearing on Saturday to determine their fate.

In a scenario where Pukke are found guilty, Varsity Cup management will have to discuss the impact of the transgression and according Netwerk24, it could even mean that the Varsity Cup knockout rounds are replayed.

Pukke will be able to appeal the judgement.

The alleged ineligible player is tighthead prop Bart le Roux, who played a total of 614 minutes in the tournament and participated as a first-year student.

According to the Varsity Cup and Varsity Shield competition rules, a player is not allowed to participate as a first-year player in the respective competitions on more than one occasion.

Le Roux reportedly previously represented the UKZN Impi as a first-year student in 2014.

Pukke believed that he was one of two UKZN players who were then not enrolled as a student.

From 2015, the rules changed so only enrolled students are allowed to participate in the Varsity Cup.

The Varsity Cup auditors, KPMG, had cleared Le Roux to play before the season and thought it was of no consequence that he had played for UKZN in the past.

However, the organisers now have a problem on their hands because just before the promotion/relegation playoffs they docked UKZN 12 points for fielding a player - hooker Kerron van Vuuren - in the Varsity Shield who was previously a student at the University of Johannesburg (UJ).

That decision kept UKZN out of the promotion/relegation match for a place in the Varsity Cup next season.

UKZN were represented by an advocate at a hearing that was conducted by an independent auditor and when the decision went against UKZN, their advocate warned the organisers that they were setting a dangerous precedent by taking the action they did.

That decision may now come back to bite them.

If it is found that Le Roux was indeed a student at UKZN in 2014, then a precedent has already been set with the punishment dished out to UKZN for fielding Van Vuuren.

Whether Pukke are found guilty or innocent, Varsity Cup organisers will be in a predicament.

Should they find Pukke to be guilty and punish them in the same manner as they did UKZN (two points for every match won) then the students from Potchefstroom would be docked 10 log points - meaning they would not have made the semi-finals - let alone have won the final and lifted the trophy.

If Pukke are found not guilty of transgressing the rules, then UKZN will appeal against their punishment - and rightly so.

Nic Haswell, president of UKZN rugby, confirmed that despite the union being cleared by the auditors of the tournament, they were still docked 12 log points.

Read more on:    pukke  |  varsity cup  |  rugby

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