The stage is set for a sensational finish to the 15th edition of the Varsity Cup as four teams – Wits, UJ, UWC and the CUT Ixias – battle it out to retain their status in the tournament.
This season, two teams will be relegated from the Varsity Cup and will compete in the 2023 Varsity Shield. No Varsity Shield team will be promoted to the top-tier competition, with both tournaments having eight teams from 2023.
Eastern Cape-based Madibaz have already been relegated, as they cannot finish any higher than bottom place on the combined 2021-22 log.
Here are the permutations for each team:
2022 log position: 5th
2021-22 combined log position:
Remaining fixtures: UCT Ikeys (home), NWU Eagles (away)
What they need to do: Wits may qualify for the 2022 semi-finals if they win their last two games. Two losses without any bonus points, however, may leave them in a vulnerable position with regards to relegation.
2022 log position: 7th
2021-22 combined log position: 8th
Remaining fixtures: UWC (away), UP-Tuks (home)
What they need to do: In the context of the 2022 tournament, UJ are still in with a chance of qualifying for the playoffs. In terms of the two-year campaign that will determine which eight teams remain in the top flight, and which sides drop down to the Varsity Shield, however, UJ are not safe yet according to the combined log. They need to beat UWC next week to put the relegation matter to rest. If they lose both of their remaining matches, they will need to pick up a couple of bonus points and hope that Maties do them a favour by handing UWC a heavy defeat in round nine.
2022 log position: 10th
2021-22 combined log position: 7th
Remaining fixtures: NWU Eagles (home), UCT Ikeys (away)
What they need to do: The CUT Ixias are playing for pride as well as survival. They could do a few of the top teams a favour if they beat the Eagles or the Ikey Tigers. If they claim losing bonus points from those fixtures, they may well avoid the wooden spoon for the 2022 tournament.
2022 log position: 8th
2021-22 combined log position: 9th
Remaining fixtures: UJ (home), Maties (away)
What they need to do: At the end of the current season, a single log point may determine whether UWC remain in the top flight or drop down to the Varsity Shield. It’s looking like they will have to win both of their remaining matches to survive. A win against UJ may be enough to keep them in the FNB Varsity Cup, providing they improve their points-differential and other results go their way.
2022 log position: 9th
2021-22 combined log position: 10th
Remaining fixtures: Maties (away), UFS Shimlas (home)
What they need to do: There is nothing they can do, at least not for themselves. They cannot make up the difference between themselves and the other teams on the combined log and will be relegated at the end of the season. They could do a few others teams a favour, though, if they score an upset win against Maties or UFS Shimlas, or even if they prevent either of those sides from claiming a four-try bonus point.
Photo: ASEM Engage/Nasief Manie