Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) president, Corrie Mensah, says he is just as confused as most people regarding the rules of the South Africa Rugby Union (SARU) Gold Cup, a competition reserved for non-university teams.
The gold cup was initially launched as the SARU Community Cup in 2013 replacing the SARU National Club Championships and was later renamed the SARU Gold Cup in 2016, when teams from Namibia and Zimbabwe were included in the competition.
The competition, however, continues to bring confusion in Namibia as many people interpret the qualification rules differently.
In 2016, Namibia was represented by Wanderers, who had finished behind Namibia Rugby Premier League (NRPL) champions, University of Namibia.
Wanderers were also second on the log standings after the first round of matches that season.
Last year, Western Suburbs played in the gold cup by virtue of being second to UNAM in the league after the first round of matches.
This year, champions Wanderers will represent Namibia in the competition, but they were fourth on the log standings after the first round of matches.
Speaking to the Windhoek Observer this week, Mensah said the criteria for qualification to the competition, which gives amateur players a chance to showcase their talent at the highest level, is still a source of confusion.
Mensah, who was appointed president of the NRU in April this year, when he succeeded Bradley Basson, said his office will follow up with SARU in order to get clarity on the competition’s rules and regulations.
“According to the old rules the team that qualifies for the gold cup is the one that finishes in second place after the first round of matches, as long it is behind UNAM, who are not eligible because it is a university club or if it is topping the standing after the round of matches and it is not a university team.
“Wanderers were fourth on the log, but now they have won the league so I am still not sure what the rules say since it’s a non-university team.
“People have different opinions and interpretations regarding the rules and regulations. I still have to find out from SARU if the rules remain the same or not. I am also confused about it,” Mensah said.
He refused to reveal the name of the club that will represent Namibia during the competition which has since been postponed to next March because of sponsorship challenges.
“I do not want to be quoted which team will represent Namibia in the gold cup,” Mensah said.
Wanderers coach, Vince Dreyer, accused the union of trying to change the rules of the competition to their disadvantage.
“We received letters from the union earlier this year regarding the rules. The rules are that the team that wins the league qualifies to the gold cup as long as it is not UNAM. Or the team that loses in the final to UNAM.
“I do not know why we did not play in the gold cup last year after we lost to UNAM in the final. SARU only changes the dates and venues for the gold cup,” Dreyer stressed.
He added that they are still waiting for an official letter from NRU regarding their participation in the gold cup so that they can start preparing for the competition earlier.
Namibia Rugby Union Chief Executive Officer, Mervin Green, who was part of SARU for 17 years and helped with the formation of various club competitions including the gold cup, told the Windhoek Observer in February that the Namibian team that should play in the competition is one that finishes on top of the standings in the first round.
“If UNAM happens to top, then the second team on the log will be in the cup,” Green said at the time.