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Rule changes for FNB Varsity Cup 2019

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FNB Varsity Cup has dropped the Power Play rule and will use the same points system for all competitions in the 2019 season.

FNB Varsity Cup will no longer use the Power Play rule and will implement World Rugby’s points system in all competitions, barring the Point of Origin rule.

The FNB Varsity Cup Rules ensure to put together a product that is strong for the spectator to enjoy and and do everything we can to ensure growth in the game of rugby. The FNB Varsity Cup aims to create a vibrant eco-system that works in the same direction as SA Rugby in building a strong feeder system for South African Rugby Competitions.

FNB Varsity Cup have kept the rules that have worked for us in achieving these aims:

  • The Free Catch Rule: Limits the amount of possession kicked away by attacking teams.
  • The Defending Nine: Creates more time and space for the attacking scrum-half to clear the ball at the base of a scrum and improve set play attack for backline players.
  • The Red Card Rule: Keeps the contest alive when an “unfair” or early red card is given. This rule states that the offending player will go off for 20 minutes.
  • Point of Origin (POR) Tries: When an attacking team starts their move from inside their own half, and score a try, they are awarded a POR try that gives them an extra two points. If the POR try is converted, the team will get nine points altogether.
  • White Card: Only used at the semi-finals and finals to ensure that in our high stakes games, we give teams the ability to ensure a fair contest.

FNB Varsity Cup Manager Xhanti-Lomzi Nesi explained that, like the universities that play FNB Varsity Cup, the tournament is about innovation and learning.

“The FNB Varsity is a platform for innovation and improvement. Our aim is always to put in place rules that improve the game of rugby and implement laws that assist South African Rugby and World Rugby in making the sport safer, more easily understandable and interesting to watch. The tertiary space the world over, is known as a platform for research and FNB Varsity Cup Rugby, as a university tournament, is no different.”

“We have worked closely with coaches, SA Rugby and members of the public to refine our rules and keep only what is working. As such, in 2018, above the conventional rules as set out by World Rugby, FNB Varsity Cup will have the following unique rules: Free Catch Rule, Red Card Rule, POR (Point of origin) Tries, Defending Nine and the White Card rule which is only used in the semi-finals.  All these rules where in place in 2017 and 2018.

“The Power Play has been discontinued as our technical results found it did not contribute as anticipated to game flow and game management.”

Nesi believes that the return to a standardised scoring system, will make FNB Varsity Cup easily followable for spectators.

“In our attempts to make them easily understandable for spectators, we have returned to traditional rugby scoring across all our competitions. The only variant is with the FNB Varsity Cup Competition that will still have the Point of Origin Try worth 7 points.

“We have no doubt that after wide consultations and collaborations, we have settled on a great mixture of rules that enhance the best qualities of SA Rugby, improve players and coaches’ technical ability and allow for a great game of positive rugby that can be enjoyed by all spectators. FNB Varsity Cup is for everyone and this season will once again deliver a successful competition.”

FNB Varsity kicks-off on 4 February 2019, with FNB UJ taking on FNB NWU, FNB Maties hosting FNB Wits, FNB UCT plays FNB UWC in the new Cape Town derby and FNB UP-Tuks will want to get their season off right with a win over FNB CUT.