|Kick off: FNB Varsity Cup's Francois Pienaar (left) and Duitser Bosman (right) with UCT player Herbert Mayosi at the launch of the FNB Varsity Cup, a new rugby league.|
Set Monday nights aside for rugby that rocks.
That was the message at the recent launch of the FNB Varsity Cup, brainchild of World Cup '95 icon Francois Pienaar.
The new league, which goes under the slogan Rugby that Rocks, will showcase the talents of university players under 25. Importantly, it will bridge the gap between the schoolboy and provincial arenas, a chink in South Africa's rugby armour.
Games will be played on Monday nights and some screened live on SuperSport.
Endorsed by the South African Rugby Union and SASSU, eight university clubs will participate. Big-name sponsors include Steinhoff International, Canterbury and South African Breweries.
The concept was modelled on the successful college Monday Night Football league in the US and is designed to showcase talent at local universities.
Stars like Jean de Villiers cut their teeth playing for varsity clubs and administrators and coaches are hoping the new league will produce more in his mould.
"This competition should keep the next echelon of rugby players who are not entirely ready for the big scene yet, in the country, and help them develop their skills locally," Pienaar said. Pienaar is chair of the Varsity Cup board.
A FNB Varsity Cup Festival will be held in George over the Easter Weekend. The league includes a residence rugby league.
Kick-off is on 18 February with UCT vs NWU-Pukke. It's a home game at 17h30 so unfurl your Ikey banners.
(The eight competing universities also include: the University of Stellenbosch (Maties) University of Pretoria (Tuks), Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), North West University (NWU-PUKKE), University of the Free State (Shimlas) and the University of Johannesburg (UJ).
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