RUGBY: Wits Boytjies face relegation

Despite their best efforts in this week’s match, the Wits Varsity Cup rugby team have lost yet again.

The Boytjies played valiantly this week against the NMMU, another tight match with a very close score margin.

DRENCHED: Both teams had to focus on ball handling due to slippery weather conditions. Photo: Luke Matthews

DRENCHED: Both teams had to focus on ball handling due to slippery weather conditions on Monday evening. Photo: Luke Matthews

Where do we stand?

Wits is still at the bottom of the log with two points and only two more games left. If the Witsies don’t manage to get themselves even one place higher on the log, they will find themselves relegated back to the Varsity Shield tournament, having to fight their way to the top of that log to make a Varsity Cup return.

Coach Andrew Royale said that their matches this season have been very competitive and that there’s a vast “improvement, considering where we’ve come from”. This is only the second year that the Wits team has been competing in the Varsity Cup tournament, last year the team was “blown away” by much more experienced teams in their first appearance in the Cup, said the coach.

Royale said the improved performances this year have to do with the players “having confidence in their abilities”, no drastic changes have been made to the team – with the core team from last year remaining the same.

Toeing the line

The Varsity Cup rules for this year stipulate that only 3 players on the team may be non-students, to ensure the integrity of the student based tournament. This rule was implemented after rumours of some teams cheating by having older, more experienced players in their teams emerged.

Last year’s winners of the tournament, Tuks have been accused on more than one occasion of this kind of “cheating”, and as punishment the team received a “strong reprimand”.

Wits  is historically an academics-focused institution and this could account for the way the team is structured to their disadvantage. “Other teams are running full professional clubs with students who study on the side. Our players are students who play a little rugby on the side,” explained Royale.

[pullquote align=”right”]”All we can do is keep on keeping on”[/pullquote]

In the Wits team only one player is a professional player, who has a contract with the Lions. Royale said: “we don’t want to put money into non-students, our highest priority are Wits students.”

With regards to relegation Royale said that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world and in fact would give the Boytjies the opportunity to nurture new, young talent. “Everyone understands our position, all we can do is keep on keeping on,” said the optimistic Royale.

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