Did Varsity Cup drop the ball?
EXCLUSIVE: The organisers of the Varsity Cup have found themselves staring down both barrels after further allegations have surfaced that newly-crowned champions NWU-Pukke may have fielded an ineligible player.
Throughout the 2016 tournament numerous participating Universities were docked points for fielding ineligible players, none more so than UKZN-Impi who were docked 12 points for the rule breach, which subsequently cost them a place in the promotion/relegation match.
The latest scandal involves a Pukke player, who represented the Impi in 2014. A reliable source linked with UKZN spoke to rugby365 to reveal their concerns.
"What has happened is that one of our former players was playing for Pukke. I never knew about him playing for them and was only made aware of it when I received a call from someone pointing it out to me.
"He was a registered student here in 2014, much in the same way that our player was at UJ. In our case, we submitted our full list of players at the start of the season, and we end up getting a letter from the auditors stating that all our players are good to play.
"Surely, they [the auditors] should have picked up that our player had played for UJ Young Guns in 2014 and everything would have been avoided.
"Varsity Cup should be given the chance to apply the precedent and the rules they have set. We just want fairness and the same rule of thumb to be applied across the board. I don't really see what the differences in the cases are," the source stated.
However, Pukke believe that UKZN are clutching at straws as they feel everything is above board.
"The player concerned played for UKZN in 2014. He did not represent the Pukke in the 2015 Varsity Cup, however, he represented the Leopards in the Currie Cup First Division," a spokesperson for Pukke said.
Having gone through the competition rules and numerous clauses outlined in the official Varsity Cup media guide, the only rule which applies to the matter states the following:
Rule 4. Eligibility (Clause 8 of the Bye-Laws)
4.5.1. No student that was registered as a student at any Varsity Cup and/or Varsity Shield Member University as to referred to in Clauses 3.1 and 3.2 of the Varsity Cup Bye Laws ("Member University") and/or player that has played for any representative team at any Member University during a particular year, is allowed to play for a team of another Member University in any of the Competitions in the following year unless he is a newly enrolled post-graduate student at the University for which he wants to play, or unless he has been authorized in writing to play in terms of the provisions of Clause 8.9 of the Varsity Cup Bye-Laws. No player that is an enrolled bona fide student at a Member University may play for another Member University.
There is no doubt that there are glaring similarities in both cases. However, when looking at the applicable rule, both Universities seem to have played within the rules.
So who is at fault? The Universities or the Varsity Cup board themselves?