The FNB Varsity Cup and Varsity 7s has a mandate to provide a platform for rugby players to pursue their studies while pushing for their spot in the South African rugby landscape. The competition has undoubtedly become a platform where players lost in the system can put up their hands and be noticed. Luvo Claassen is one such player who has taken any scrap of an opportunity and turned it into [green and] gold.
Claassen finished his schooling at Pretoria Boys High and represented the Limpopo Blue Bulls U19s before moving to Port Elizabeth where he opted to study a Diploma in Building Engineering.
His talent at scrumhalf saw him being drafted into the Madibaz Varsity Cup team in 2016 and he has consistently performed for them and their 7s outfit. He has also represented the EP Kings at U21 and and Currie Cup level.
He credits the Varsity Cup for much of his success for giving him a second shot at a professional career.
"The Varsity Cup is highly important especially for players that missed out on contracts after school. You don’t get many second chances in life and the Varsity Cup provides that second chance for many of us," explained Claassen.
"How the Varsity Cup helped me realise my dream was the fact that it gave me an opportunity to play with some of the best young players in our country. I found myself playing with and against players with union contracts and that gave me confidence that I can make it," he added.
It is the shorter format where Claassen has truly excelled and he received a call up to the SA Sevens Academy team that contested the Punta del Este Sevens (Uruguay) and Viña del Mar Sevens (Chile) in January of this year.
Amateur sevens in South Africa lacks the exposure that is needed to unearth the gems scattered around the country and this is where Varsity 7s steps in to save the day.
"I'm grateful for Varsity 7s for the fact that in the Eastern Cape there are no competitive sevens tournaments and Varsity 7s was basically the only opportunity I had. It’s a great platform, games are televised and a good opportunity to showcase your talent."
It is a new year which means new goals for the 23-year-old playmaker as he continues his studies albeit a different course [BTech Construction Management] while helping his university to be a competitive force in the FNB Varsity Shield.
"The Madibaz are keen to rectify a lot of things in this tournament. The boys are motivated and see it as an opportunity to start fresh and get the team back to winning ways. There’s a lot of talented players in the group so the goal is to win the Shield and I certainly back them that they’ll do so," said Claassen.
The FNB Varsity Cup kicks off on 4 February with the FNB Varsity Shield getting underway on 18 February.