The lost opportunities caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 makes holding a Varsity Cup in some form in 2021 all the more important, writes DYLAN JACK.
While not every player who takes part in a Varsity Cup final will go on to have a long rugby career at the top level, it still remains an important stepping stone for both coaches and players.
Think of the likes of Aphiwe Dyantyi, who resurrected his love for rugby from his time at the University of Johannesburg, or Huw Jones, who earned a contract with Western Province after starring for the University of Cape Town in 2014.
There were more who could have used last year’s tournament as a similar platform. I think of UWC wing Lundi Msenge, who set the season alight with a brilliant brace of tries against their Cape Town rivals.
Lundi Msenge.. remember the name 🔥
The UWC winger scored a brace in their narrow loss to the UCT Ikeys, but this brilliant individual try certainly will have made rugby fans in South Africa sit up and take note 🏉#VarsityCup pic.twitter.com/Im8cm12rio
— SuperSport 🏆 (@SuperSportTV) February 18, 2020
Equally, the Varsity Cup allows the franchises to test their U21 players, allowing these players to form relationships and partnerships before they make the step up to the senior set-up.
The latest rumour is that the Varsity Cup could be held in a bio-bubble, similar to last year’s U21 Championship in Johannesburg. It is a solution that makes sense, especially given that the Varsity Cup definitely won’t be able to be held in its traditional format, where each of the nine participating teams face each other once, either at home or away.
Last year’s matriculants not only missed the opportunity to represent their respective schools’ 1st XV, but also potentially their province and country through the U18 Craven Week and SA Schools International Series.
Many of these youngsters would have progressed to university or, alternatively, earned a junior contract with one of the franchises. Either way, with opportunities to play at senior level sparse, they will be relying on the Varsity Cup to provide them with a platform to showcase their abilities.