The Varsity Cup once again finds itself in troubled waters with claims that champions Pukke fielded an ineligible player, breaking the same complex rule that led to the University of KwaZulu-Natal being docked a massive 12 points, scuppering their chances of being promoted from the Varsity Shield into the big league.
Pukke won the tournament, which was disrupted by unrest at universities across the country, by beating Maties 7-6 a week ago in Stellenbosch, with front-ranker Bart le Roux excelling.
Unfortunately for the Potchefstroom university, Le Roux played previously for the UKZN Impi in 2014 and, due to the arcane regulations for the tournament, had to sit out a certain period of time before representing another university side.
UKZN were found guilty of fielding an ineligible player when a former University of Johannesburg and Lions U-19 player appeared for them in six matches this season, Varsity Cup organisers saying they were deducted two points per game. But tournament auditors KPMG cleared both Le Roux and the UKZN player as being eligible, leaving Varsity Cup organisers in a quandary.
Having set a harsh precedent in punishing UKZN, Varsity Cup is faced with the embarrassing decision to strip Pukke of their title, more than a week after the final.
The situation has led many of the competing teams to question the efficiency of KPMG, whose advice was taken in fielding the ineligible players, and whether it is fair for them to be punished for mistakes by the tournament’s auditors.
The lack of a centralised database comprising all participating players’ tournament histories and educational background so they can be checked before the tournament starts has also been criticised.
UKZN management have also queried the timing with opposition teams seemingly waiting until the final stages of the season, when there is no time for a team to recover from losing points, before making their accusations.
Varsity Cup organisers did not return messages asking for comment yesterday.