Varsity Cup relegation battle heats up
SPOTLIGHT: The stage is set for a sensational finish to the 15th edition of the Varsity Cup as four teams – Wits, UJ, UWC and the CUT Ixias – battle it out to retain their Varsity Cup status.
Madibaz will be relegated to the Varsity Shield.
This season, two teams will be relegated from the Varsity Cup and will compete in the 2023 Varsity Shield.
No Varsity Shield team will be promoted to the top-tier competition, with both tournaments having eight teams from 2023.
Here are the permutations for each team:
2022 log position: 5th
2021-22 combined log position: 6th
Remaining fixtures: UCT Ikeys (home), NWU Eagles (away)
What they need to do: Wits may qualify for the 2022 semi-finals if they win their last two games. Two losses without any bonus points, however, may leave them in a vulnerable position with regards to relegation. If they lose heavily in the next two rounds, and UWC win both of their remaining matches, then the Cape side will move ahead of Wits on the combined log. If UWC win both games and CUT claim two losing bonus points – or even one win from their last two fixtures – then both of those teams will surpass Wits. In that scenario, they will need UJ to lose their games against UWC and UP-Tuks to stay in the top flight. If Wits win one of their last two games, however, they will be safe from the drop.
2022 log position: 7th
2021-22 combined log position: 8th
Remaining fixtures: UWC (away), UP-Tuks (home)
What they need to do: In the context of the 2022 tournament, UJ are still in with a chance of qualifying for the playoffs. In terms of the two-year campaign that will determine which eight teams remain in the top flight, and which sides drop down to the Varsity Shield, however, UJ are not safe yet according to the combined log. They need to beat UWC next week to put the relegation matter to rest. They don’t want to leave themselves with too much to do in the last league game against UP-Tuks. If they lose both of their remaining matches, they will need to pick up a couple of bonus points and hope that Maties do them a favour by handing UWC a heavy defeat in round nine. They could also finish ahead of CUT in that scenario, if the Ixias don’t claim any further log points from their remaining matches.
2022 log position: 10th
2021-22 combined log position: 7th
Remaining fixtures: NWU Eagles (home), UCT Ikeys (away)
What they need to do: The CUT Ixias are playing for pride as well as survival. They could do a few of the top teams a favour if they beat the Eagles or the Ikey Tigers. If they claim losing bonus points from those fixtures, they may well avoid the wooden spoon for the 2022 tournament. In the context of the relegation battle, they are five log points ahead of UWC on the combined table. If the Ixias claim one losing bonus point next Monday – at least – and UWC fail to claim any points from their fixture against UJ, then UWC will be relegated. The odds are against the Ixias winning their remaining matches but as seen in their recent attacking performance against UWC, they certainly have what it takes to score four tries and claim bonus points.
2022 log position: 8th
2021-22 combined log position: 9th
Remaining fixtures: UJ (home), Maties (away)
What they need to do: At the end of the current season, a single log point may determine whether UWC remain in the top flight or drop down to the Varsity Shield. With this in mind, UWC will be kicking themselves after they allowed the CUT Ixias to hit back in the latter stages of the last game and claim two valuable log points. The upshot is that UWC trail CUT by five points – as opposed to three – on the combined log with two rounds to play. It’s looking like they will have to win both of their remaining matches to survive. While one wouldn’t underestimate them at home, they will be hard-pressed to beat Maties at the fortress-like Danie Craven Stadium. A win against UJ may be enough to keep them in the Varsity Cup, providing they improve their points-differential and other results go their way.
2022 log position: 9th
2021-22 combined log position: 10th
Remaining fixtures: Maties (away), UFS Shimlas (home)
What they need to do: There is nothing they can do, at least not for themselves. They cannot make up the difference between themselves and the other teams on the combined log and will be relegated at the end of the season. They could do a few others teams a favour, though, if they score an upset win against Maties or UFS Shimlas, or even if they prevent either of those sides from claiming a four-try bonus point.
Varsity Cup Round Eight fixtures (April 4):
* UWC vs UJ (17.00, UWC Stadium)
* UFS Shimlas vs UP-Tuks (19.00, Shimla Park)
* Maties vs Madibaz (19.00, Danie Craven Stadium)
* CUT Ixias vs NWU Eagles (19.00, CUT Rugby Stadium)
* Wits vs UCT Ikeys (19.00, Wits Rugby Stadium)