Article by: Pearl Modise
The 2021 Edition of the Varsity Cup will take place in a secure bio-bubble at the University of Pretoria from 4 April to 24 May and for the first time in the tournament’s history it will include comprehensive broadcasting of the Varsity Shield matches.
The two tournaments will alternate during this 51-day period with all 17 teams staying at the Varsity Cup Village, where they will leave and return between bubbles. Matches will be played at Tuks Stadium, the Tuks B-Field and Loftus Versfeld Stadium
SA Rugby’s Covid-19 protocols have been adhered to with players and management being tested regularly during the four-week period that led up to the tournaments.
“It’s been a long and hard journey to this point, but we’re finally going to see the best in young rugby talent again”, says Xhanti-Lomzi Nesi, Varsity Cup Tournament Manager.
“We might not be able to have in-stadium attendance, but we have a feast of rugby planned on Supersport and a couple of surprises for fans. Varsity Cup has always been about innovation, pushing the boundaries and changing lives of those who form part of it. In 2021, we’re going to take this to the next level”
The top four teams on the Varsity Cup log will qualify for the semi-finals, which will be played on 21 May 2021, followed by the final on 24 May 2021. The top two teams on the FNB Varsity Shield log will contest the final on 9 May 2021.
Supersport will broadcast 34 of the 48 Varsity Cup matches live and – for the first time – all 22 Varsity Shield fixtures.
Due to last year’s Varsity Cup and Varsity Shield tournaments being cut short by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Varsity Cup Board opted to promote the Madibaz to the Varsity Cup as they had already secured enough points on the combined 2019/20 Varsity Shield log.
With no team being relegated from the Varsity Cup in 2020 there will be 10 participants in the 2021 tournament.
Varsity Shield will however still have seven teams participating this year after University Sports South Africa (USSA) nominated Durban University of Technology (DUT) to join the tournament. DUT will make their debut against Walter Sisulu University (WSU) in the first Varsity Shield match on 12 April 2021.
After the 2021 season there will be no promotion or relegation. The bottom two teams on the Varsity Cup Log will be relegated to Varsity Shield, while the last placed team on the Varsity Shield log will fall out of the tournament.
From the 2023 season, there will be eight teams in the Varsity Cup and eight in the Varsity Shield.
Varsity Cup Opening Fixtures (Sunday, 4 April 2021):
FNB CUT vs FNB UJ (17:00)
FNB UP Tuks vs FNB Wits (19:00)
Matches will be televised live on Supersport Rugby HD (Channel 211)