Known for fearlessly tinkering with the laws of the game, the Varsity Cup has shelved one of the competition’s more farcical innovations.
In the 2018 version of the students-only tournament, a team calling the Power Play was allowed to remove any two nominated backline players from the opposition for a period of three minutes of playing time.
Hoping to “Encourage coaches to employ exciting, attacking tactics while fostering a generation of dynamic and adjustable rugby players”, the idea was based on the space created by yellow and red cards.
It failed. Spectacularly. Not that the party-chasing Monday night crowds at the grounds would have noticed, but it did come in for a fair amount of stick from the traditionalists.
So credit to the head honchos for shelving the ego and giving it the heave-ho.
The 2019 iteration, which gets going on Monday the 4th of February, sees a return to more traditional rugby laws. The 9-point try has been disregarded, but they are keeping the 7-point try for a move that originates in the team’s own half. All other scoring reverts to current normal rugby scoring.
New this year is a red card rule that many people have been calling for: If a red card is given to a player, his team will play for 15 minutes with one less player. The player given the red card will leave the field. After 15 minutes, another player may go back on to the pitch, but not the player who was red carded.
Strategy breaks at the 20 and 60 minute marks will be 2 minutes duration. The pink ball will be used for a period of 2 minutes after said break, as was done in previous years
Teams will again be awarded a free-kick for a ball caught directly from a kick. The referee will play advantage, and the player does not have to indicate free catch.
Also different to what one sees on a Saturday is the defending scrumhalf’s offside line at the scrum. It remains the middle of the scrum and not the ball.
The student and colour quotas will be governed by the following:
- 4 first-year students may form part of the match day 23, provided all are under the age of 22 (may become 22 in the year they play), and that 3 of the 4 are black.
- A further 3 first-year students may form part of the match day 23, on the condition that these additional first-year students must have been in Grade 12 in one of the previous 2 years
- Only 2 postgraduates – from other 2019 member universities – will be allowed to form part of the match day 23.
- There must be at least 8 black players in the match day 23, of which 5 must be in the starting line-up.