Should Super Rugby contracted players play Varsity Cup?

February 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

So I watched the Varsity Cup on Monday night and could not help to notice how many contracted players are playing Varsity cup. Esp in the Bulls and Ikeys teams.

That got me thinking should players already contracted by the unions (like BBC or WPRU) be allowed to play Varsity Cup? These players are professional rugby players and not students. Some of them have been professionals from grade 10 already.

Varsity Cup have made a ruling that at least 18 out of the 23 players in the match day squads be full-time students that have passed at least 30% of the subjects they studied the previous year. And even the non-student players need to have passed Grade 12.

Now this is all idle but the BBC/WPRU can easily enroll a player in some make shift degree to get their players to play Varsity Cup. And to only have to pass 30% of your subjects is a disgrace to any university. One only have to achieve 50% in a subject to pass the subject which will mean that a player will only have to achieve 50% in 3 of his subjects. The universities should at least be asking a student to pass 70 – 80% of all his subjects. If this is to demanding then university is maybe not for you. At university studies should be 1st and sports an extra curricular activity.

The whole concept of the Varsity Cup was to catch talent that was missed at schoolboy level. Thus giving late developers a chance to shine and be seen by recruiters of the unions. Thus creating more depth in our country catching these players who would have been lost to SA Rugby. BUT at the moment all the Varsity cup is doing is giving more game time to the players already contracted by the unions. Thus the late developers again will be falling through the cracks. 

Varsity Cup should be an amateur competition with amateur students getting time to shine. It was not intended for the already rich players with huge contracts at the unions to get some more game time.

I am not talking about players that play varsity cup and then gets called up to the unions in times of crises to help out on s short term contract game by game. But rather about the players who already have a 2 – 3 year contract with the unions.

At the moment the line between university and union are totally blurred and it looks like the unions are only using the universities to develop their contracted players. Rather than the universities developing new players.

Look if they want to go the way they are going then they should scrap all the academic B.S. and say the Varsity cup is a club comp that is funded by the unions for the enjoyment of the students. But do not try to then market it as a Varsity vs Varsity comp like in the old days.


10 responses to Should Super Rugby contracted players play Varsity Cup?

  1. Francois Pienaar started the VC because he wanted the guys who don’t come through to have a degree that they can fall back on. The primary thing they marketed wasn’t rugby… it was an education.\

    A lot of the guys sign to a union after leaving high school and then enrol with a bursary at the closest varsity “want my Ma-le sê ek moet ‘n graad ook kry”.

    The varsity bursaries are normally covered by an Alumni body and have academic requirements lined out. The Player is expected to pass x amounts of credits a year, and to maintain a 50 or something pass rate on subjects taken. A Player who makes a the provincial team consistently will have a hell of a time completing all of his studies first time, since he’s going to miss a lot of class.

    So now you have a smart 19-yr old who is not yet ready to play at Superlevel. He attends the university, he’s studying to become a doctor, he’s on a bursary being paid by the alumni, and because the union was afraid his talent would be lost they’ve given him a junior contract. Why shouldn’t he play for his varsity? He’s going to play for them in every Interver in any case?

    There is a rule limiting players that have played Superrugby. I think its 3 games and your out. Lappies Labuschagne was supposed to lead Shimlas last year and due to injuries got fasttracked into the Superrugby team for a few games. After that he wasn’t eligible to captain the Shimlas any more.

    • Well I am all for the players getting an education and studying to become doctors ect. If they are smart enough why not.

      But as they are contracted to the union they can play for the union at age group level or senior level.
      This will actually give them more time to study as they will be playing less rugby. Then other players can get an chance to play Varsity cup.
      In the first few seasons of VC this was the normal trend until about 3 years ago when the unions started funding the universities.

      Ps. I am about 100% sure that you cannot play union rugby and complete a doctors degree. There is just not enough time. Jannie du Plessis first placed his rugby career on the back burner while completing his studies and only after that started to play serious rugby.

      • Jannie played u/21 rugby in 2002, CC and VC from 2003 tp 2007 and Super Rugby in 2006 and 2007, throughout his time at varsity.

        I think another Cheetah finished his MBChB last year, not sure who.

        Seems FS University gives them enough time off for rugby :)

        • In 2006 and 2007 Jannie was busy with his internal and comservice year where you do not study just work in Hospital. I am sure they accommodated him a bit by lessening his workload and hours.
          In 2003 – 2007 he only played on and of again and did not play like say Kitshoff or Malherbe SR and CC from a young age. Thats what I meant, a guy like Kitshoff with his playing commitments wont have time to study MBChB there is just not enough time.

          • Michael Claasens did full time B.Acc Hons and had a perfect record… And he missed a lot of class.

            a LOT of the WP players are UNISA students and not UCT/Matie. Natal is probably going to win the community cup this year because their players all play for a club, not a varsity.

  2. Fact is, most university clubs are open clubs with no academic requirements when they play in normal club fixtures. The Varsity Cup looks to change that and the Young Guns is even stricter – all players must be fulltime students.

    Ross van Reenen, in his book “From Locker Room to Boardroom” states that “70 percent of the guys don’t study at all and 81 percent of them have no idea what they will do once they stop playing rugby”. So, any competition that “forces” young players to study, even if they only need to pass 30% of their subjects is a massive improvement on the past.

    Yes, unions are using the varsities as parking garages for their young players but I have no issue with that, there are normally enough new players coming through as well.

    • Well fact is if you only have to pass 30% of your subjects you will never get a degree.

      But agree it is a step in the right direction but I just feel we should follow the American example where the universities stays amateur and the professional game is with the unions.

      • Keep in mind that the 30% is a minimum requirement. Some may actually use the time to get a degree they otherwise might not have got even if it mean taking a break from rugby towards the end of their degree, like Callie Visagie did in 2011

  3. there is a reason why america has the NCAA. the national colegiate athletics association is mandated to ensure that young athletes are not exploited by big sports corporations. they limit eligability for many reasons and investigate malpractice. if we are going to start televising schoolboy and university rugby eventually a body like this will have to emerge as well to protect youngsters from being snatched up too early by contracts etc

    • Can’t agree more.
      Rugby has become fully professional now and the youngster should be protected.
      Guys getting signed when still in grade 10 is ludicrous.
      You will end up like in EU soccer where 13 and 14 yo get signed.

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