AFTER two years of playing in the Varsity Shield, the Nelson Mandela University outfit have returned to the top flight for the 2021 rugby season.Director of sport Yoliswa Lumka and rugby manager Ntsikelelo Ngcakana have paid tribute to the FNB Madibaz team for their efforts in earning promotion to the Varsity Cup competition.This comes after the Varsity Cup board met to finalise the 2020 competitions, which were cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.Among the decisions made was that Madibaz would earn promotion to the Varsity Cup as they had an unassailable lead on the log over the past two Shield seasons. The competition rules state that the side with the most log points from the 2019 and 2020 seasons will qualify for promotion.Lumka said she was “extremely excited” at receiving the news that the Madibaz were officially back in the Varsity Cup.“It is unfortunate that we could not finish the season and get that outright winning feeling, but we are happy that this has now been finalised,” she said.“None of this would have happened without the supportive team – which includes our coaches, managers and student assistants – that we have internally at Madibaz Sport.“We are also thankful to our sponsors and partners for their continued backing.”Lumka acknowledged that a lot of work lay ahead for the varsity and the rugby club. Ngcakana underlined the input of the players and the coaching staff in achieving their goals.“To coach Jarryd Buys and his management staff and to all the players – well done. We will celebrate in true Madibaz style after this dark cloud is over.”Madibaz will be part of a 10-team Varsity Cup next year as no Cup team will be relegated from 2020. The competitions will also be moving to a format of eight Cup and eight Shield teams respectively in 2022.This means that at the end of the 2021 season the bottom two teams in the Varsity Cup competition will be automatically relegated to the Shield.The team that finishes bottom of the log in the Shield competition in 2021 will be automatically relegated out of the competition and will not be replaced.There will be no automatic promotion of any team in the Shield to the Cup at the end of 2021.