It shows how serious we are about giving the Varsity Shield teams a decent opportunity
Having won promotion to the Varsity Cup, newcomers Wits have the comfort of knowing there is no relegation at the end of this season.
With the TUT Vikings spending 2013 and 2014 in the Varsity Shield - after finishing 2012 as the bottom-placed team in the Varsity Cup, Wits, the 2012 Varsity Shield champions (who thus earned automatic promotion), have two full seasons of Varsity Cup ahead of them... no matter what.
"The idea around the 'double' promotion/relegation was mooted before the start of the inaugural Varsity Shield tournament (in 2011)," explained Varsity Cup Managing Director Duitser Bosman.
"It shows how serious we are about giving the Varsity Shield teams a decent opportunity and it will no doubt help both tournaments - the Shield and the Cup - take another step up in terms of quality and its competitiveness."
The eight Cup teams in action in 2013 will be UP-Tuks, Maties, UJ, NWU-Pukke, NMMU, Shimlas, UCT and Wits.
The five Varsity Shield teams will be CUT, UWC, Fort Hare, UKZN and TUT, who have, of course, dropped down from the Varsity Cup.
All the Cup teams will also be represented in the Varsity Young Guns tournament - a students-only Under-20 competition - and also in the Steinhoff Koshuisrugby Championships, a tournament for the top residence teams from each Cup university.
The UP-Tuks Under-20 won the first-ever Young Guns tournament last year, beating the Baby Maties in the final in Pretoria, whilst Steinhoff Vishuis (from Shimlas) beat Steinhoff Dagbreek (from the Maties) in the 2012 national Koshuisrugby Final.
In all, 82 matches are set to take place across the four Varsity Rugby competitions in 2013. Twenty-three of those matches - including all the finals, across all four tournaments - will be televised.