The University of Pretoria (UP) wishes to state its position regarding the dispute declared by Varsity Cup and provide further clarification in response to press reports over the past few days, including a press statement from Varsity Cup itself.
Dispute resolution proceedings between FNB Varsity Cup and the Rugby Club of UP took place on 12 and 14 March. The dispute related to an issue about whether a number of players in the UP team qualify as bona fide players for purposes of the Varsity Cup as well as the Young Guns competition.
The chairperson of the proceedings was Advocate J. Lubbe, SC.
The outcome of the proceedings was that all the players concerned in the dispute (except one) qualify as bona fide students and, therefore, are eligible to participate in the competition.
In regard to the player considered to be ineligible, the chairperson concluded that the individual was not a bona fide student according to his interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution and Regulations of the competition, even though the player was registered as a student at the University and was performing well academically. Adv. Lubbe SC pronounced in his determination as follows:
“I find that the transgression was neither intentional nor negligent but, rather, technical based on an imperfect interpretation (of the Constitution and Bye-laws).” (Our translation)
UP was sternly reprimanded for the transgression. The University accepts the outcome of the proceedings.
The University would like to point out that the transgression was of a technical nature and relates to a single player from a group of approximately 97 junior and senior players. The player participated in four Varsity Cup matches.
During the 2012 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Varsity Cup, a proposal was submitted that would have provided a mechanism to guide decisions about what constitutes a bona fide student that, by its very nature, could be interpreted and treated differently by participating universities. It was proposed that Registrars of the different universities or their representatives should rule on disputes in this regard. That would have prevented divergent interpretations of the rules. Unfortunately, the proposal was not accepted.
Mr. Kobus van der Walt, Director of TuksSport, said the following about the incident that caused the dispute:
“Sportspersons are regularly chosen to participate in junior South African teams or training camps. Unfortunately, the various sports federations do not always take students’ academic programmes into consideration when they organise training camps or international competitions such as the U/20 Rugby World Cup.
“To accommodate this, the University allows students to discontinue in a given year and, where possible, resume their studies in the same year where it is practically and academically possible. Students allowed such concessions are given no special treatment and often take a year or more to complete their academic programmes. Students are often multi-talented individuals and higher education institutions have to provide opportunities for them to develop all their abilities to the full. The finding in the current dispute resolution process is that the Varsity Cup Constitution and Regulations require that a student has to be enrolled for the full duration of the preceding year, and not just a part thereof, to qualify to participate in the competition as a bona fide student”.
In regard to the participation of the student concerned for the rest of the competition, Mr. Van der Walt said:
“The player will be able to participate in the rest of the competition as part of the group of five players that are allowed to participate as non-bona fide students as allowed for in the Constitution. UP’s position is that we are dealing here with a talented student who is performing well academically but who, unfortunately, cannot compete as a bona fide student”.