The FNB Madibaz rugby team have earned promotion to the Varsity Cup for 2021 after the coronavirus pandemic cut this year’s season short.
Their return to the top flight was greeted with delight by director of sport Yoliswa Lumka and rugby manager Ntsikelelo Ngcakana, who praised the Nelson Mandela University team and management for their efforts.
The promotion came after the Varsity Cup board met to finalise the 2020 competitions.
Madibaz had an unassailable lead on the log over the past two Shield seasons and 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” about the outcome.
“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 must also recognise the teams who look after the facilities, while we are very appreciative of the support we have received from our dean of students, Luthando Jack, and our vice-chancellor, Professor Sibongile Muthwa.
“We are also thankful to our sponsors and partners for their continued backing.”
Ngcakana underlined the input of the players and the coaching staff in achieving their goals.
“It is an opportune moment to thank all those involved who have made this such a successful campaign,” he said.
“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.”
He added that they would immediately start planning for next year.
“Starting now, Madibaz will be working on a rugby committee structure for the 2020/21 season to assist the club manager to take the sport to a new dawn.”
A number of other relevant decisions emerged from the Varsity Cup board meeting.
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.