Threats of Varsity Cup boycott
Transformation coalition says it wants to be part of the Varsity Cup setup, which it calls an ‘exclusively white’ tournament.
The Rugby Transformation Coalition (RTC) is demanding that the University of Fort Hare (UFH) and the University of the Western Cape (UWC) get a free pass into the main Varsity Cup.
These formerly black universities compete in the Varsity Shield – a second-tier tournament – which RTC spokesperson Bantwini Matika said was holding back black rugby development while letting white rugby prosper.
“No white players will want to come to these universities and the Varsity Cup is exclusively for white players, as all the tertiary institutions that take part are Afrikaans,” alleged Matika.
He added: “The Cup has been transformed into a professional setup and we want to be part of that setup. “If we don’t get this wish, we will take steps to ensure the Varsity Cup is boycotted. We have spoken to progressive SRCs to help us achieve that objective. We want 50-50 representation in all teams, which is not currently the case.”
Varsity Cup managing director Duitser Bosman dismissed Matika’s claim as a personal vendetta.
“I’m not sure what the man’s agenda is and where he is going with this. He is out of line and uninformed.
“He wrote to FNB and they gave him a proper answer. The whole UWC thing is a total lie. I’ve been in close contact with them, so I don’t know where he gets this from,” said Bosman.
He said the two universities were aided from baby steps to get to where they are.
“The Varsity Cup has had good answers. Transformation has always played a role in our rules and constitution. People must just ask. Varsity Cup has invested into Fort Hare and UWC for three years prior to bringing them into the Varsity Shield in 2010. At the time, UFH had no ‘residence’ rugby at all,” said Bosman.
“They now have four teams in their club and 12 residence teams (which are village teams) that form part of their club. Those players are eligible to be picked by the club and all their on-field clothing is sponsored by Varsity Cup.”
SA Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins defended the tournament.
“It’s true we need more black players, but we can’t be criticised for having all-white teams, because we’ve never seen all-white teams there.
There is less transformation in the Vodacom Cup and in the Currie Cup than in the Varsity Cup.
“We have insisted that they don’t play all-white teams. No mention is being made of the all-black teams, a fact we are very proud of. The Varsity Cup has produced nonracial audiences,” Hoskins said:
Matika argued that:
» Of the 346 players in the eight Varsity Cup teams, 11% were African;
» Nelson Mandela Bay University and Wits University had the highest number, with nine and seven, respectively, and;
» Champions, the University of Pretoria had the lowest representation, with only one African player.
They were also fined for flouting competition registration by fielding ineligible players in their Varsity Cup and Young Guns team.
Former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers, who is now UWC director of rugby, said he
was not aware of the RTC’s objectives, but the move was long overdue, though would perhaps not achieve much.
“They need you to judge them on the field by winning and losing against them. A boycott will play into their hands perfectly as that will not last for the whole tournament.
It will last for only two or three weeks, then the morass will continue,” he said.
“How do we grow something that is separated? There are two parallel structures running that are not feeding into each other. This is counterproductive.”