Seven Varsity Rugby clubs have been reprimanded after incorrectly registering players participating in the Varsity Cup, Varsity Shield and Varsity Young Guns competitions. The discrepancies came to light as part of the Varsity Cup's auditing process and the charges were brought by the competition's executive.
Shimlas and NMMU (in the Varsity Cup) and Wits, Fort Hare, UWC and UKZN (in the Varsity Shield) and NMMU and UP-Tuks (in the Varsity Young Guns) fell foul of new Varsity Cup rules relating to academic standards.
A player has to pass 30% of his subjects in the previous year in order to be recognised as a bona fide student in the Varsity Cup or Shield the following season, according to the new ruling, which was brought in this year. The regulations require 16 out of 23 players in the matchday squad to be fulltime students in the Varsity Cup and Shield. The Young Guns tournament is for students only.
"We have increased the requirements for the number of bona fide students competing in the competition each season and it remains of critical importance for us," said Varsity Cup Managing Director Duitser Bosman. "We audit all squads, with the assistance of the varsities, which work was completed on March 7.
"A disciplinary process was set in motion as a result of which Jannie Lubbe SC, an experienced international Judicial Officer, felt a reprimand was sufficient as he regarded the breaches in the nature of an oversight. The Varsity Rugby tournaments start at the end of January, while university registration only takes place in February and some oversights occurred.
"This is the first year with these new rules and we need to be serious about implementing our rules at all times. It shows that we are very serious about maintaining the integrity and trust of the Varsity Cup, which, for us, will always be a student-based tournament. To emphasise that point the Varsity Cup executive appealed against the sanction.
"The appeal went before a three-man committee of Rob Stelzner and André Oosthuizen (both of whom are senior councils) and attorney Louis Booyse, and it was dealt with on Sunday, March 18 as it was always our intention to have this issue sorted out before Monday's final round of league matches.
"In the end, it was found - according to the tournament's constitution - that the Varsity Cup did not have the right to appeal Lubbe's suggested penalty and, thus, the findings and penalties were upheld and accepted.
"The Varsity Cup, together with its members, will continue to work hard to ensure that this remains a fair competition, as well as being appealing and attractive to the rugby-watching public."