JOHANNESBURG – Despite the setback of losing Steinhoff as one of its major sponsors, the 2018 Varsity Cup will be as good as ever, promised chairman and South African Rugby Union chief executive Jurie Roux on Tuesday when the 11th edition was launched in Johannesburg.
The troubled retail giant, with operations in Africa, Australia, Europe and USA, withdrew their sponsorship of the Varsity Cup a few weeks ago, and last week also announced they would no longer be involved with the SA Sevens teams as the main sponsor.
Roux though stated on Tuesday that while it was a big blow to the competition, main Varsity Cup sponsor FNB had stepped in to make up the shortfall of Steinhoff pulling out.
“It’s a setback for the Varsity Cup and the Sevens team, but FNB has stepped up and helped us out in the interim,” said Roux.
“We’ll now go to market, but it would have been unfair on anyone else to be asked to step in so quickly.”
The #FNBVarsityCup11 captains for 2018 all smiles at the launch. Come next week Monday 29 January it will be all business! FNB Tuks, FNB UJ, FNB UCT and FNB NWU all with home games so get to the stadiums and #MakeTheTeam! pic.twitter.com/0LNo7Ou29J
With regards the Blitzboks, who are the current World Series champions, Roux said: “We’re in the market. There are contracts that need to be considered and there are legal hoops we have to jump through... but the good news is there is a long list of people interested in the Sevens team.
“They’re hot property at the moment... they’re a transformed team, they’re a winning team and they’re a vibrant bunch.
“Also, there is the World Cup coming up this year and the Commonwealth Games... they’re a great sell, and we hope to make an announcement soon,” said Roux.
The Sevens team is back in action in Australia this weekend, while the Varsity Cup competition kicks off next Monday.
The experimental laws in the 2018 Varsity Cup competition
1 The Powerplay rule allows each team to expel two backline players from the opposition for a period of three minutes at any stage during the 80 minutes of the match. This will force both the attacking and defending team to think “out of the box” when it comes to trying to break down the opposition team’s defence, and the defending team to use their players wisely in trying to keep out the attacking team.
2 The assistant referee (linesman) that is closest to where a scrum is awarded will move in from off his line to help the on-field referee to best manage the scrum – and prevent resets and get the call, either way, correct.
3 Thirdly, if the opposition doesn’t contest the throw-in at the lineout, the hooker will be allowed to throw the ball in crooked – or rather, it won’t have to be a straight throw, and the referee won’t blow his whistle for a skew throw-in.