Varsity rugby fight for survival in three weeks time

2008-07-24 00:00

THE acid test for Maritzburg club rugby starts at 8 pm on Friday, August 15.

The Peter Booysen Sports Park off Golf Road will be the venue when PMB Varsity host Hillcrest in what is a fight for survival for the campus-based club.

There will have been few times in the 97 years of their existence that PMB Varsity rugby has faced such a crisis. Hillcrest, winners of the First Division, have served notice on the KZN Rugby Union and Varsity chairman Zak Binikos that they wish to challenge the Green-and-Whites to a promotion/relegation winner-takes-all match.

All it will take is 80 minutes from 8 pm on that mid-August Friday night to decide Varsity and indeed Pietermaritzburg club rugby’s fate. Should Hillcrest win, it will be the end of top-level club rugby in the KZN capital. It’s as simple as that.

Despite the aberration in the rulebook mentioned in Tuesday’s Witness, whereby it appeared Varsity might get out of this nightmare match on a technicality, the KZNRU administrators have wisely covered themselves from such an embarrassment right at the end of the myriad of do’s and don’ts.

The last regulation states: “Notwithstanding these rules and regulations, all unforeseen problems, eventualities and disputes not catered for will be referred to the KZNRU for adjudication and the decision shall be final.”

The KZNRU have informed Varsity that the match is on and the Hillcrest challenge has been accepted.

Rightly or wrongly, the fate of each club depends on the respective first team line-ups in this stand-alone match.

Second teams and the rest don’t have a say.

From the university point of view, one hopes that all ex-players — and even those with no affiliation but who want PMB club rugby to continue at the top level — will come out in their droves to support the Varsity first XV on the night of August 15.

An institution in KZN club rugby, having had in its illustrious ranks celebrated former Sharks and Springbok captain Gary Teichmann among many others, deserves a better future than that which currently threatens.

Meanwhile, and it seems almost irrelevant from a PMB perspective, the various knockout competitions kick off this weekend, with College Rovers and Old Boys the only sides in a final when they meet at King’s Park Stadium from 2.45 pm to decide the outcome of the U20A Division’s Basil Medway Trophy.

In the only match in the capital, PMB Collegians tackle PMB Waratahs in an U20C Division knockout tussle at 6.30 pm on Woodburn 2.

KNOCKOUT FIXTURES

Tonight — Prem Div (8 pm): College Rovers vs Harlequins; Crusaders vs Jaguars; Old Boys vs Durban Collegians; Zululand vs Maritzburg Varsity. First Div (8 pm): Hillcrest vs PMB Collegians; Amanzimtoti vs South Coast.

Tomorrow — First Div: Vryheid vs Piet Retief; Drakensberg vs Newcastle. U20A final: Rovers vs Old Boys (2.45 pm King’s Park Stadium).

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