The third chapter of the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International will kick-off on Monday, February 1 and the organising committee and sponsors are urging the rugby public and various university supporters to ‘Back your Boytjies’ in 2010!
This message came across strongly as the 2010 Varsity Cup was launched at the University of Johannesburg on Monday afternoon, with the country’s top university coaches and captains in attendance – along with the brand-new Varsity Cup refereeing panel and special guests, from the SA rugby fraternity and the tournament’s loyal sponsors.
Former Springbok winger Breyton Paulse – who these days earns his bread as a television analyst – was the Master of Ceremonies at the well-organised launch and he ran a superb function at the home of UJ rugby which was also attended by SA’s top rugby writers.
“The Varsity Cup is an asset to SA Rugby because it gives so many players something to play for in that crucial period between junior rugby and senior provincial rugby,” said Mervin Green, SA Rugby’s Youth and Club Rugby Manager. “Thank you to the sponsors for investing into SA Rugby.”
Francois Pienaar, one of the founders of this ground-breaking tournament, commented: “Between the pink shorts, Miss Varsity Cup, South Africa Rocks campaign and many other initiatives, the 2010 Varsity Cup promises to be more exciting and entertaining than previous years.
“The bar at coaching level is being lifted a little more again this year and that should add even more value to SA Rugby and to the Varsity Cup product (than it did in previous years).”
Pienaar, of course, has stepped down from his role as chairman, but he will continue to serve the tournament in his role as Head of Sponsorships on the Varsity Cup Board.
In turn, the new Varsity Cup Chairman, Jurie Roux, was in attendance at Monday’s launch and he said: “We are truly honoured to have one of the stalwarts of SA Rugby – the South African Breweries – heavily involved, again, in this development side of the game through Carling Black Label, who are coming on board as ‘new’ sponsors.
“It’s also a massive step forward for us to have the SA Referees, here, and forming part of this launch,” added Roux. “The referees form an integral part of the product that is the Varsity Cup and our approach is to embrace that.
“The Varsity Cup continues to be in harmony with USSA and SA Rugby and would like extend a word of thanks to them for their support in continuing to make this such an appealing competition.”
On the playing field, Maties head coach Chean Roux will be hoping to make it a hat-trick of Varsity Cup triumphs in 2010, but he knows the other teams will be out to get the Men from Stellenbosch.
Last year’s losing finalists, the powerful NWU-Pukke – who will be coached by Rudy Joubert – will no doubt challenge strongly again, as will last year’s other semifinalists, John Dobson’s exciting Ikey Tigers, and Freddie Grobler’s dogged Tukkies team.
UJ, with Hugo van As taking the reins once again, and Shimlas (head coach Jaco Swanepoel) will be pushing hard for first-time semifinal places – especially after their near-misses in 2008 and 2009 – and NMMU and TUT – coached by Kolie Brandt and Alex de Kock (Jimmy Watt is still involved as forwards coach), respectively – are very confident of making more progress come the 2010 Varsity Cup.
“This tournament just keeps getting bigger and better,” enthused Chean Roux. “I know it might sound a bit clichéd, but if we don’t stay ahead of the pack we will get caught and eventually left behind.
“We’re obviously looking forward to the start of the 2010 Varsity Cup, but there is also a great excitement amongst the rugby public and I think there is a big buzz because the people out there know that the Varsity Cup always throws up a few new rugby talents – that’s the beauty of this tournament and why it’s been so popular since its inception.”