The Varsity Cup and Varsity Shield have a different feel to them this year as they will take place in a secure bio-bubble called the FNB Varsity Village. Here’s everything you need to know …
The Varsity Village will be located at the University of Pretoria which will host some of the matches, the rest being played at Loftus Versfeld Stadium down the road.
The Varsity Cup and Varsity Shield tournaments will alternate during the 51-day period (4 April to 24 May), with the Varsity Cup played across three bubbles and the FNB Varsity Shield across two. Teams will remain in the Village for the duration of each bubble and adhere to strict Covid-19 protocols.
Each team will travel to the Village with a squad of 35 (30 players and five management staff) as well as any additional management members requested by the team. Before travelling to Varsity Village, all participants (players and management) will undergo Covid-19 education.
COVID-19 Testing and Screening
All people travelling to the bubble must return a negative RT-PCR Covid-19 test 48 hours before arriving at the Village. In case any reserve players or management staff need to be called up, the Varsity Cup will provide RT-PCR Covid-19 testing for 45 people per team, per bubble.
Although the tournament has an independent doctor, each team is encouraged to travel with a medical doctor and will need to appoint a Covid-19 manager.
All participants will be screened daily and should a participant be ‘red-flagged’ and then test negative for Covid-19, they will remain in isolation for 72 hours before being tested again. If that test is negative, they will be allowed back into the Village. If it is positive, they will be required to isolate for 10 days, with isolation facilities being provided by tournament organisers.
While in the Village, standard Covid protocols will apply: washing hands, maintaining social distance, wearing masks etc.
The teams will stay at the Tuks High Performance Centre (HPC) and Future Africa residence. Players from the same team will share rooms but there will be no sharing of rooms between players from different teams.
Whilst in the Village, different teams will not be allowed to interact on non-match days and will be kept in separate ‘pods’. There will however be a shared physio and medical room per team (which will have strict hygiene policies).
Meals will occur in a communal dining area but on a rotational basis for different teams. The dining area will be cleaned before and after use and social distancing between participants is required. Kitchen staff will serve all the food, with limited use of the communal/buffet arrangement to prevent cutlery from being touched by multiple people.
A study area is available for all participants (with Covid protocols in place). In addition all participants will have access to the internet and can continue with remote learning. After each week-long bubble, students will return to their universities for any necessary in-person tutorials, practical and tests.
The training venue will be sanitised before a team arrives. All players will be given their own personal water bottle, with no sharing of bottles permitted. Gym time will need to be booked to ensure that there is a staggering of players in the gym.
When in the gym, face masks must be worn at all times and the equipment must be sanitised before and after use by a player. Post-match showers will take place at the players’ accommodation and not at the training venue.
Matches will be contested at Tuks Stadium, the Tuks B-Field and Loftus Versfeld Stadium. Whichever venue it may be for the match day, there will be one entry and exit point with screening and sanitation taking place there.
When varsity matches are played at Loftus, only varsity teams will be at the stadium on that day. (They will not come into contact with Bulls players or management staff.)
Physical contact is to be avoided or kept to a minimum inside the stadium, with social distancing and face mask use only to be broken by players entering the field.