Varsity Cup managing director Duitser Bosman says the ‘serious reprimand’ given to Shimlas and NMMU for fielding ineligible players was an independent decision.
On Wednesday, the Varsity Cup confirmed that the two parties were found guilty after the annual auditing process, which was completed on 7 March. It was during this process when the competition’s executive realised that these teams were not filling the competition’s new student quota (16 of the 23 players in the match-day squad must be full-time students). The Varsity Shield’s Wits, UWC, Fort Hare and UKZN, and Tuks and NMMU’s U20 sides in the Young Guns league (which is for students only) were also exposed. A disciplinary hearing was carried out soon afterwards, which was headed by judicial officer Jannie Lubbe.
After the different cases were presented, Lubbe decided that a ‘serious reprimand’ was a suitable punishment for all teams. Bosman said this was when the Varsity Cup’s executive made an appeal because they wanted to see the teams punished via wins or log points deduction.
‘Basically, the start of our competitions and the timing of the universities’ registrations is the major problem,’ Bosman explained to keo.co.za. ‘Players tell their coaches that they do plan to register and study full-time, so the squads are finalised accordingly at an early stage. But when registration comes, it’s realised that some of these players’ academic records are so poor, they can’t be accepted as a full-time student.
‘Because of this and the fact that the rule is new, it was decided that the reprimand was enough. But we appealed this initial decision.’
The appeal was presented to a Saru-appointed committee of advocates Rob Stelzner and André Oosthuizen, and attorney Louis Booyse. The case was carried out last Sunday (18 March) as the intention was to make a final decision before Monday’s last round of league matches. It was decided that according to the tournament’s constitution, the Varsity Cup executive did not have the right to appeal Lubbe’s suggested penalty. Therefore, the initial punishment was upheld and accepted.
‘We wanted a harsher punishment, but the committee in charge of the appeal process made their call. This was not in the Varsity Cup’s hands,’ said Bosman.
However, defending champions UCT, who have failed to qualify for the semi-finals this season, have decided to write a formal letter to the Varsity Cup, to find out why the guilty parties weren’t punished according to the tournament rules.
Line 4.10 in the list of Varsity Cup tournament rules states that ‘Where a member university transgress any of the rules laid down in points 4 or 5 (student eligibility and development), a dispute will declared against them and they stand the chance to:
4.7.1 – Lose all points gained for that match, and/or;
4.7.2 – Also give full points to the other team, and/or;
4.7.3 – Also lose 5 league points from the log as a penalty.’
When asked about UCT’s initiative, Bosman said: ‘I will react formally when I get the chance to read the letter properly.’
By Gareth Duncan