Varsity Cup saga: UKZN being told to keep quiet?

VARSITY Cup officials are allegedly putting pressure on UKZN administrators and players to keep quiet about an investigation into allegations that Varsity Cup champions Pukke fielded an ineligible player throughout the competition.

A source told The Witness yesterday: “Players of 19 and 20 years old have been phoned, telling them to not tell anybody what is going on.”

The source, who has also received anonymous phone calls about the matter, added: “Although they are trying to bully us, we will not stand for that.”

Numerous attempts to get comment from the Varsity Cup regarding the alleged bullying were unsuccessful yesterday.

UKZN is central to the investigation because the player in question is Bart le Roux, who formerly played for the Impi.

A hearing into allegations that Le Roux was ineligible to play for Pukke was on Saturday postponed for a second time.

The allegation puts the North-West University’s (NWU) status as champions on shaky ground because the competition organisers previously docked UKZN two points per game for their use of a player who was deemed ineligible for the Varsity Shield.

That decision removed the Impi from the final of the competition and prevented their playing a promotion/relegation match against the University of Cape Town for a place in next season’s Varsity Cup.

Varsity Cup CEO Duitser Bosman said in a statement on Saturday: “Advocate Stelzner SC, acting as the independent chairperson, ruled that the matter should be postponed to a future date to allow time for scrutiny of further relevant documentation and to hear evidence in person from certain witnesses to get clarity on key issues in dispute.”

The Varsity Shield final between Pukke and Maties was played on April 11, yet the investigation remains ongoing and the hearing has been moved “until a date in early May”, according to a statement on the Varsity Cup website.

“It’s unacceptable. The UKZN case was dealt with in 48 hours,” a source told The Witness.

The scale of the investigation into Le Roux’s matter appears to be vastly greater than that which went into looking into the circumstances surrounding UKZN’s Kerron van Vuuren, who had previously spent a few months at the University of Johannesburg.

Varsity Cup organisers have requested numerous documents from UKZN and have involved five lawyers.

Bosman said at the time of the decision regarding Van Vuuren that the rules and regulations were clear and needed to be strictly adhered to, so why, when a precedent has been set regarding the punishment, are the organisers taking so long to come to a decision regarding Le Roux?

Bosman said: “Obviously we are working hard to finalise this matter as soon as possible. However, out of respect for due process and bearing in mind the significance of this matter, Stelzner’s ruling was supported by both Varsity Cup and NWU.”

The real fly in the ointment for the Varsity Cup remains the fact that both Van Vuuren and Le Roux were cleared to play in the competition by the Varsity Cup’s auditors KPMG, but that fact appears to have been disregarded when making the ruling on Van Vuuren.

It cost UKZN dearly, but if the same punishment is applied to Pukke — two points docked per match the ineligible player played in — things become even trickier.

That would mean Pukke should never had made the semi-finals, which throws up all sorts of questions regarding the impact of that fact and how to deal with it.