Clubs in trouble as Varsity face relegation

2009-06-23 00:00

A SMALL crowd saw Premier Division champs College Rovers beat home side Maritzburg Varsity 71-3 at the weekend after they had led 31-3 at half-time.

Varsity were physically outmatched and forced to over-commit at rucks, with Rovers crossing the advantage line every time.

With the surfeit of quick, clean possession, slick hands saw Rovers run in 11 tries.

Bottom of the log and without a win with two matches left (their last two defeats saw 146 points conceded) Varsity are again staring relegation in the face — and with it lies the future of PMB and midlands club rugby.

Clearly, serious action is needed sooner rather than later.

Varsity need the financial resources to compete with the semi-professional Durban clubs. This requires a firm commitment from the UKZN vice chancellor before the community can be expected to invest significantly in the campus rugby programme.

A number of Varsity old boys and businessmen have asked what priority does rugby have in the sporting future of UKZN. Until a commitment is made by the Varsity hierarchy with a view to gaining entry to the FNB Varsity Cup (top eight rugby universities in SA), old boys and businesses will remain interested but wary of investing their money.

It’s not about the sporting code, it’s about the benefits — marketability, credibility and profile — that will come to UKZN on a major scale should the institution qualify for this highly successful, televised rugby competition. Realistically, there is no institution in KZN other than the PMB campus-based team — the only campus playing Premier Division rugby — that can qualify for the Varsity Cup.

The UKZN team, drawn from all the campuses, leaves on Saturday for Johannesburg and the University Sport SA Rugby Week hoping to qualify for the promotion/relegation match that could see entry to the Varsity Cup.

A closer relationship is also required between the Midlands Rugby Academy (MRA) and Varsity, with MRA players filtering through to the only PMB club that offers Premier Division rugby.

Varsity’s biggest problem is the lack of a functioning administration. Varsity need more businessmen like former player Richard Bates — who has done an outstanding job — to secure sponsorship.

At the moment, too few people are doing too much and then being in a position where they can’t execute their core functions optimally.

The bottom line is money. A strong financial base is needed to attract players capable of competing with the best club players in Durban and beyond. The top schoolboys in the midlands are not staying here. Talent has to be out-sourced from other cities and provinces or PMB club rugby will die as a competitive force.

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