Category Archives: South African Rugby
Veteran Cell C Sharks flank Jacques Botes will break new ground in the Absa Currie Cup competition on Friday as he extends his Absa Currie Cup record to 150 matches, which will make him the first player ever to reach this significant milestone.
Interestingly the player will mark this achievement against the Steval Pumas, the team he first represented in SA’s premier domestic competition. Botes made his provincial debut for the Pumas in 2002 and remained at the union until 2004 before joining the Sharks in 2005.
The Cell C Sharks face the Steval Pumas at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday in the opening match of the weekend and with both teams having had good starts to the competition it could prove to be a thrilling clash.
In Saturday’s matches GWK Griquas host the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in Kimberley, the Vodacom Blue Bulls take on DHL Western Province in Pretoria and the EP Kings go up against the Xerox Golden Lions in Port Elizabeth.
In Nelspruit, history and form favours the Cell C Sharks as they have won 17 out of the 19 matches between the sides since the 1996 season and they remain one of only two unbeaten teams in the competition. The home team, however, proved against GWK Griquas and the Toyota Free State Cheetahs that their pack could stand their ground and that they can score tries, and they will bank on these skills to challenge the visitors.
The match-up between GWK Griquas and the Toyota Free State Cheetahs is expected to be hard-fought as the teams both attempt to bounce back from defeats last weekend. This will mark the second clash between the teams in the series. They met in Bloemfontein two weekends ago and the home team secured a narrow 34-27 victory. With former Free State backline coach Hawies Fourie at the helm at GWK Griquas, he is expected to use his knowledge of the visitors’ structures and some players to register their first victory in the series. Interestingly the Free State have won the last five matches between the teams.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls will face another tough test against log-leaders DHL Western Province, this time in Pretoria, following their heavy 41-17 defeat against the Cape side at DHL Newlands earlier in the month. The visitors will enter the clash as overwhelming favourites following three victories in as many matches, but the hosts will be desperate to build on their first victory in the series at home last week. With DHL Western Province’s attack proving to be one of their main strengths, the Vodacom Blue Bulls will have to tighten up their defence significantly to prevent the Capetonians from registering their second successive Absa Currie Cup victory at Loftus Versfeld.
The Xerox Golden Lions, meanwhile, will look to bounce back strongly from their first defeat in the series against DHL Western Province when they line up against the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth. The Premier Division newcomers have their backs against the wall after three defeats and only one log point to show for their efforts so far in the series. They are also still carrying the scars of the 60-19 hiding by the Johannesburg team two weekends back. Given this the EP Kings will have to deliver their best performance yet to topple the Johannesburg side.
Cell C Sharks coach Brad Mcleod-Henderson has handed scrumhalf Conrad Hoffmann his first start while Springbok lock Stephan Lewies continues his return from injury off the bench. In the Steval Pumas camp coach Jimmy Stonehouse has handed former Western Province scrumhalf Dylon Frylinck a start, while Springbok Sevens star Rosko Speckman will start on the wing and JW Bell at fullback. The match will be particularly special for centre JW Jonker, who will play his 50th Absa Currie Cup match.
GWK Griquas coach Hawies Fourie, meanwhile, named an unchanged side for their Heartland derby against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs, while the Bloemfontein coach has made only one change to his team, with lock Henco Venter being promoted to the starting team, while Waltie Vermeulen is drafted onto the bench.
In the Vodacom Blue Bulls camp, flyhalf Joshua Stander could make his debut after being bracketed alongside Jacques-Louis Potgieter for their clash against DHL Western Province. Potgieter is nursing a rib injury and will be given until Saturday to recover. The other changes to the run-on team were the inclusion of scrumhalf Piet van Zyl, hooker Callie Visagie and prop Werner Kruger. Meanwhile, DHL Western Province coach Allister Coetzee made only one change to his starting team, which sees Springbok Jaco Taute earn his first Absa Currie Cup start for the union as a replacement for the injured Michael van der Spuy. Pat Howard has been drafted onto the bench as cover.
In Port Elizabeth EP Kings coach Carlos Spencer has named Junior Springbok Aidon Davis as the replacement for their captain Luke Watson, who has been ruled out due to concussion, while prop BG Uys comes in Lizo Gqoboka who is being rested. At flyhalf George Whitehead replaces Gary van Aswegen, who is nursing a groin injury. His Xerox Golden Lions counterpart Johan Ackermann, meanwhile, made several changes to his team with the most notable being the inclusion of Andries Coetzee at flyhalf, which made way for Ruan Combrinck at fullback, while captain Warren Whiteley reclaims his position in the loose trio after returning from the Springbok tour to Argentina.
Absa Currie Cup Premier Division round four fixtures:
Steval Pumas vs Cell C Sharks
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Date: Friday, 29 August
Referee: Ben Crouse
Assistant Referees: Marius Jonker and Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Johan Greeff
GWK Griquas vs Toyota Free State Cheetahs
Venue: GWK Park, Kimberley
Date: Saturday, 30 August
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant Referees: Jaco Peyper and Francois de Bruin
TMO: JJ Wagner
Vodacom Blue Bulls vs DHL Western Province
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Date: Saturday, 30 August
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant Referees: Rasta Rasivhenge and Cobus Wessels
TMO: Willie Vos
EP Kings vs Xerox Golden Lions
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Date: Saturday, 30 August
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Referees: Francois Pretorius and Lusanda Jam
TMO: Jason Jaftha
Xerox Golden Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named his 22-man outfit, which will face the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Ackermann has made a few changes to the Xerox Golden Lions backline, following last weekend’s match against DHL Western Province. Ruan Combrinck will start at his preferred position of fullback, Lionel Mapoe will run out at right wing and Stokkies Hanekom reverts to the outside centre berth for this match.
Alwyn Hollenbach returns to action and will start at inside centre, while Andries Coetzee will fill the flyhalf slot.
In the forwards, the Xerox Golden Lions welcome back captain Warren Whiteley at eighthman. Jaco Kriel will also start this match alongside Whiteley in the loose trio. In the front row, Armand van der Merwe will make a start at hooker.
The match will kick off at 19h10.
Xerox Golden Lions: 15. Ruan Combrinck 14. Lionel Mapoe 13. Stokkies Hanekom 12. Alwyn Hollenbach 11. Courtnall Skosan 10. Andries Coetzee 9. Ross Cronje 8. Warren Whiteley (c) 7. Warwick Tecklenburg 6. Jaco Kriel 5. Franco Mostert 4. MB Lusaseni 3. Ruan Dreyer 2. Armand van der Merwe 1. Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16. Robbie Coetzee 17. Jacques van Rooyen 18. Willie Britz 19. Derick Minnie 20. Kwagga Smith 21. Ricky Schroeder 22. Howard Mnisi
Jaco Taute will make his first Absa Currie Cup start in DHL Western Province colours, after being named at inside centre for Saturday’s meeting with the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Pretoria (kick-off 17h05).
Springbok Taute replaces the injured Michael van der Spuy (hamstring) in the No.12 shirt in the only change to the DHL WP starting XV from last weekend’s 27-14 win over the Golden Lions.
Former SA Under-20 star Pat Howard, a Round One try-scorer against the EP Kings, replaces Taute on the bench – meaning just two changes overall to the Province 22 from last week.
Taute scored a valuable try off the bench last week after replacing Van der Spuy in the 59th minute and his experience will be a major boon for the unbeaten and table-topping DHL Western Province outfit ahead of Saturday’s clash at Loftus Versfeld.
DHL WP coach Allister Coetzee told www.wprugby.com: “This is a great opportunity for Jaco. I’ve said before that his size and skill-set could make him into the ideal centre and he now has an opportunity to show us just that.
“Jaco is still very young (at 23 years of age) but he’s already very experienced having played Test and Super Rugby at centre before.
“But his skill and strength aside, his communication is his biggest attribute and I look forward to seeing him operate in the No.12 jersey.
“Your depth is tested quite severely during the Absa Currie Cup,” added Coetzee, “so having versatile players like Jaco (in our squad) is a good thing – especially ahead of a big game like Saturday.”
The Bulls picked up a welcome 30-25 win over the EP Kings last weekend and will be determined to make it back-to-back victories in front of their home support as they also look to avenge their Round Two defeat to DHL WP in Cape Town two weeks ago.
“We will respect any team we play against and it doesn’t get much bigger than playing against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld – no matter what happened last time between us,” said Coetzee.
“The Bulls did well to beat the EP Kings. Don’t look at the scoreline, they’ve come off a difficult few weeks and it was a big and valuable win for them.”
The DHL WP team for Saturday (v the Blue Bulls, away) is as follows: 15. Cheslin Kolbe 14. Kobus van Wyk 13. Juan de Jongh (captain) 12. Jaco Taute (First Absa Currie Cup start for DHL Western Province) 11. Seabelo Senatla 10. Demetri Catrakilis 9. Nic Groom 8. Nizaam Carr 7. Michael Rhodes 6. Siya Kolisi 5. Manuel Carizza 4. Jean Kleyn 3. Pat Cilliers (vice-captain) 2. Stephan Coetzee 1. Alistair Vermaak
Replacements: 16. Neil Rautenbach 17. Brok Harris 18. Ruan Botha 19. Rynhardt Elstadt 20. Louis Schreuder 21. Kurt Coleman 22. Pat Howard
Referee: Craig Joubert Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge, Cobus Wessels Television Match Official: Willie Vos
The Absa Currie Cup First Division will resume on Friday following seven rounds of matches in June and July, which served as the Qualifier for the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division.
It means the Leopards kick off part two with a healthy eight-point lead at the top of the log, on 25 points, with the Down Touch Griffons leading the chasing pack.
The log table has been adjusted with the removal of match and competition points that have been taken or conceded against the Kimberley side following their promotion to the Premier Division.
The six First Division teams will play five more pool rounds, with the semifinals and final to be contested on October 4 and 17 respectively.
In Friday’s matches the Border Bulldogs host the Valke at the BCM Stadium in East London and the SWD Eagles meet the Leopards at Outeniqua Park in George.
In the only match on Saturday Boland Cavaliers take on Down Touch Griffons at the Boland Stadium in Wellington.
The First Division teams will be keeping one eye on events in the Premier Division. Should either or both of the GWK Griquas or Steval Pumas feature among the bottom two teams in the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division this year, their place will be up for grabs next year.
The six ‘franchise’ teams have been entrenched in the Premier Division and will reappear in 2015 – but the GWK Griquas and Pumas have to finish in the top six if they are to avoid appearing in an Absa Currie Cup Premier Division Qualifying tournament next year.
Meanwhile, in East London the Border Bulldogs will be determined to register a victory against the Valke to keep alive their semifinal hopes despite occupying fifth position on the log table. The fact that the Valke suffered defeats in all of their qualifying matches will certainly give Border hope to begin the last few rounds of the competition on a positive note. They will, however, be wary of the Valke’s main playmaker, fullback Jaun Kotze, who topped the point scorer’s list in the Qualifier with 93 points.
In the Leopards camp coach Robert de Preez has retained the core of the team that steered them to five victories in six matches in the Qualifier for their clash against SWD. With wings Luther Obi and Sylvian Mahuza and veteran Springbok flyhalf Andre Pretorius, who were among the top five point-scorers in the Qualifier looming large, the Eagles will have to produce a solid defensive effort and remain disciplined to prevent a similar fate to the 51-23 defeat they suffered against the Potchefstroom side in June.
The Down Touch Griffons, meanwhile, will look to celebrate captain and No8 Nicky Steyn’s 100th Absa Currie Cup match with a victory against the Boland Cavaliers in Wellington. A victory would also allow them to remain within range of log-leaders the Leopards. But they may face a tough test as the Wellington side put up a brave fight in their last clash and suffered a narrow 27-25 defeat, which should boost their confidence, especially with home ground advantage counting in their favour.
Absa Currie Cup First Division fixtures:
Border Bulldogs vs Valke
Venue: BCM Stadium, East London
Date: Friday, 29 August
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant Referees: Rodney Boneparte and Fernando Uithaler
SWD Eagles vs Leopards
Venue: Outeniqua Park, George
Date: Friday, 29 August
Referee: Pro Legoete
Assistant Referees: Christie du Preez and Ruhan Meiring
Boland Cavaliers vs Down Touch Griffons
Venue: Boland Stadium, Wellington
Date: Saturday, 30 August
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe
Assistant Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni and Linston Manuels
Absa Currie Cup First Division log table:
|TEAM||P||W||L||D||PF||PA||PD||TF||TA||LOSS BONUS||TRIES BONUS||POINTS|
|Down Touch Griffons||5||3||2||0||159||170||-11||21||23||1||4||17|
Heyneke Meyer has announced his provisional squad to tour Australia and New Zealand in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship. And it is a case of in with the old and out with the new or younger players.
Victor Matfield, the oldest Springbok, will rejoin the squad. Alongside him will be Willem Alberts should he pass his fitness test on Thursday. This means Warren Whitely will be released to the Golden Lions with Juan Smith remaining the back up for Alberts if needed.
Marcel vd Merwe will replace the injured Frans Malherbe. Malherbe will undergo surgeryn his ankle and probably miss the rest of the season.
“Victor is over his injury and has been declared fit to travel with us for the next two Tests, while we’re awaiting a final verdict on Willem,” said Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer.
“It will be good to have them back. Willem has been part of the squad for the last number of seasons and Victor showed he can still add a lot of value when he returned to the Bok fold earlier this year.
“Losing Frans is a huge setback and my heart bleeds for him, because he’s done well since returning from a long injury lay-off recently which saw him miss the June Tests.
“It’s also a big disappointment for Frans, whose involvement with the squad was cut short because of injury last November as well, but Marcel has been with us before and will slot in seamlessly. He provides specialist tighthead cover as Tendai Mtawarira, Gurthrö Steenkamp and Trevor Nyakane are specialist looseheads.”
Meyer added that Whiteley had impressed him immensely during his week with the Springboks and that Smith had made a massive contribution during his time with the squad in the last fortnight.
“Warren and Juan know exactly where they stand and it was great to work with them, even if it was only for a limited period of time,” said Meyer.
Now we will have to wait and see what the Springboks do on tour.
The Cell C Sharks, DHL Western Province, Vodacom Blue Bulls and Steval Pumas this weekend all registered invaluable home wins in their round-three Absa Currie Cup clashes to build momentum in their campaigns.
Steval Pumas 33 GWK Griquas 15
The Steval Pumas produced a strong second-half performance to build a progressive lead against the GWK Griquas in a tense clash at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit. The visitors showed fantastic innovation on attack in the first half with flashy passing and impressive running rugby, and were able to score two tries to one against the hosts before the break for a narrow 12-11 lead.
But the home team shut out the Kimberley side in the second half thanks to their solid defence, while they supported this with a quality display on attack, which earned them three more tries for an invaluable bonus point.
Steval Pumas – Tries: Corne Steenkamp, Jerome Pretorius (2), Renaldo Bothma. Conversions: JC Roos, Justin van Staden. Penalties: JC Roos, Justin van Staden (2).
GWK Griquas – Tries: Dean Grant, Marnus Schoeman. Conversion: Dean Grant. Penalty: Dean Grant.
Vodacom Blue Bulls 30 EP Kings 25
At Loftus Versfeld the clash between the Vodacom Blue Bulls and EP Kings was hard-fought from the outset as both teams tried hard to end their winless runs in the competition. The clash, however, delivered a total of seven tries, with the Vodacom Blue Bulls managing a bonus-point victory, with veteran wing Akona Ndungane contributing two tries.
The hosts held a narrow 11-8 lead at half time, but both teams found their rhythm in the second half and managed to breach the defence. Three back-to-back tries by the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the second half to only two by the EP Kings, however, guaranteed the hosts their first victory of the season and catapulted them into sixth place on the log table.
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Akona Ndungane (2), Deon Stegmann, Jesse Kriel. Conversions: Tony Jantjies (2). Penalties: Tony Jantjies (2).
EP Kings – Tries: Lizo Gqoboka, Michael van Vuuren, Shane Gates. Conversions: Scott van Breda. Penalties: Scott van Breda (2).
DHL Western Province 27 Xerox Golden Lions 14
The clash in Cape Town was closer than the scoreboard suggested as the Xerox Golden Lions dominated possession throughout the match, but battled to breach the solid DHL Western Province defence.
In stark contrast the hosts did well to convert their try-scoring chances into points, which earned them three tries to only one by the visitors, while goal kickers Demetri Catrakillis and Kurt Coleman kept the score up with three conversions and two penalties. Two of Province’s tries were scored in the first 16 minutes thanks to back-to-back tries by wing Kobus van Wyk, while the Lions hit back later in the half with a try by fullback Andries Coetzee and a penalty by Ruan Combrinck to trail 14-8 at the break.
DHL Western Province’s ability to convert their chances into points, meanwhile, allowed them to stay ahead on the scoreboard throughout the second half for their third victory, which in turn allowed them to remain at the top of the log table.
DHL Western Province – Tries: Jaco Taute, Kobus van Wyk (2). Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (2), Kurt Coleman. Penalties: Demetri Catrakilis (2).
Xerox Golden Lions – Try: Andries Coetzee. Penalties: Ruan Combrinck (3).
Cell C Sharks 19 Toyota Free State Cheetahs 16
The clash between the Cell C Sharks and Toyota Free State Cheetahs proved to be a kicking festival as the teams both opted to kick in behind the defence throughout the match. The battle up front was tough, and with both teams defending well, they were forced to settle mainly for penalties by flyhalves Fred Zeilinga and Willie du Plessis to keep the scoreboard ticking. Such was the closeness of the match only two stunning individual tries were scored in the 80 minutes.
The Bloemfontein side built up an encouraging 13-3 lead by the end of the first half thanks to the try by fullback Clayton Blommetjies, but the Sharks levelled the scores at 16-16 in the 69th minute. A late penalty by Zeilinga, however, sealed the 19-16 victory for the Durban side.
Cell C Sharks – Try: Tonderai Chavhanga. Conversion: Fred Zeilinga. Penalties: Fred Zeilinga (4).
Toyota Free State Cheetahs – Try: Clayton Blommetjies. Conversion: Willie du Plessis. Penalties: Willie du Plessis (3).
Absa Currie Cup Premier Division log following Round 3:
|TEAM||P||W||L||D||PF||PA||PD||TF||TA||LOSS BONUS||TRIES BONUS||POINTS|
|DHL Western Province||3||3||0||0||103||47||56||13||4||0||2||14|
|Cell C Sharks||3||3||0||0||84||57||27||8||6||0||1||13|
|Xerox Golden Lions||3||2||1||0||115||59||56||14||7||0||2||10|
|Toyota FS Cheetahs||3||1||2||0||71||74||-3||8||8||2||1||7|
|Vodacom Blue Bulls||3||1||2||0||60||107||-47||6||13||0||1||5|
The Springboks came back from 28-16 down with 20 minutes to go to win 33-31 against Argentina on Saturday in Salta. This was mainly due to the impact the bench made late in the game. Many hailed it to be a well deserved win by the Springboks.
Although we all know that it is not easy to go to Argentina and just came back with a win, especially these days, it was still a closer game than the Springboks expected. Overall the Springboks have won 18 tests against Los Pumas and one test was drawn. This is at an average of 39-19. That puts the 33-31 score a bit more into perspective.
As captain, Jean de Villiers put it:
“I’ve said it before, but I really think Argentina is a much better team than what their world-ranking shows, and they showed it again today,” said De Villiers after the match.
“We’re happy that we could pull it through, but it could’ve gone either way.”
He went on to praise the effort of the bench:
“That is not saying that the players who started did badly, but our bench, whom we see as impact players rather than replacements, certainly made an impact today and that is probably where the difference was.”
Heyneke Meyer added to this:
“All credit to Argentina though – they’ve been together for a month and you could see that today as they played some great rugby,” said Meyer.
“We don’t want to say every week that we’ve shown great character, but we’ve now won nine out of our last 10 away games and I think the guys have shown that they know how to win.
“At one stage, we were down and out and the team came back. We know there are a lot of areas we have to work on, but we’re still in this competition.”
The Springboks next faces Australia and then New Zealand away from home. They will then return to play the same teams in South Africa. As it stands the Springboks top the log by 1 point from New Zealand.
They will have a lot of work to do before the next leg of the Rugby Championship. One of these being the scrums where the Springboks were decimated two weeks in a row. Wales also out scrummed them earlier this year.
Head coach Allister Coetzee has named an unchanged line-up for Saturday’s top-of-the-log Absa Currie Cup clash between DHL Western Province and the Xerox Golden Lions at DHL Newlands (kick-off 17h05).
Hookers Tiaan Liebenberg (back) and Scarra Ntubeni (calf muscle) remain sidelined, meaning Stephan Coetzee continues in the No.2 jersey with Neil Rautenbach again warming the bench.
Centre Juan de Jongh continues to lead the team, having led DHL WP to wins over the EP Kings (away) and the Blue Bulls (home) thus far, with tighthead prop Pat Cilliers serving as his vice-captain once again.
Province and the Lions met on three occasions in last year’s Absa Currie Cup, with the team in Blue & White hoops winning both matches at DHL Newlands and the teams playing to an exciting 31-31 draw in Johannesburg.
DHL Western Province coach Coetzee told www.wprugby.com: “The Lions represent a big test for us as they’re not scared to have a go with ball in hand, even from their own goalline.
“I’d say they’re the overall favourites in the Absa Currie Cup. They’re the pace-setters, they have a good set-piece and, like I said, they’re not scared to attack from anywhere.
“Yes, we are also unbeaten so far, but I’d like to see us become a bit more consistent… especially if you want to become the tournament pace-setters. (So) you can’t have any so-called ‘soft’ moments in your game.”
Saturday’s action gets underway at 12h45, with the DHL WP Under-19s in action against the Lions Under-19s, before the DHL WP Under-21 team takes on the Lions U21s – also in a top-of-the-table match-up – at 14h45.
Match tickets are priced from just R35 (for standing), whilst seating prices range between R55, R65, R75 and R95 and can be purchased right now from http://wprugby.ticketpros.co.za.
Tickets can also be bought directly from the DHL Newlands Box Office (opening times this week: Tuesday-Friday, 09h00-16h00 and Saturday, 09h00-14h30), or from selected Western Cape Spar stores and PostNet branches (nationwide).
The DHL WP team for Saturday (v the Golden Lions) is as follows:
- Cheslin Kolbe 14. Kobus van Wyk 13. Juan de Jongh (captain) 12. Michael van der Spuy 11. Seabelo Senatla 10. Demetri Catrakilis 9. Nic Groom 8. Nizaam Carr 7. Michael Rhodes 6. Siya Kolisi 5. Manuel Carizza 4. Jean Kleyn 3. Pat Cilliers (vice-captain) 2. Stephan Coetzee 1. Alistair Vermaak
Replacements: 16. Neil Rautenbach 17. Brok Harris 18. Ruan Botha 19. Rynhardt Elstadt 20. Louis Schreuder 21. Kurt Coleman 22. Jaco Taute
Referee: Craig Joubert Assistant referees: Christie du Preez, Marc van Zyl Television Match Official: Deon van Blommestein
The Springboks arrived in Buenos Aires after 22 hours of travelling via Sao Paulo in Brazil. They left on Sunday night after beating Los Pumas on Saturday at Loftus Versfeld in the worse condition possible.
Meyer called on the Boks to make a step up after what many called a lacklustre performance.
“It was a tough start in difficult conditions for both teams, but we simply have to execute better this weekend in Salta,” said Meyer upon the team’s arrival in the Argentinean capital.
“We have first-hand experience on how tough it is over here from our last two visits to Argentina. They are a very proud rugby nation and have improved immensely over the last number of years.
“The players know they have to be 100% sharp and focused when we hit the training field this week. It’s a great challenge to improve on our results here from 2012 and 2013, but we have to be at our best.”
The team will have a light session on Tuesday while the medical staff sort out the bumps and bruises of the past weekend. Warren Whitely has joined the team. The Xerox Golden Lions Captain replaced Willem Alberts and flew out with the squad from OR Tambo.
THE quest to secure one of the five ‘wild card’ slots at the 2015 Cell C Community Cup will kick off in the Northern Cape platteland on Saturday with the first of 13 play-off matches to be contested across the country over the coming weeks.
Kimberley will be the neutral venue when Griquas Super League runners-up Upington Dorp and Free State’s number-two non-university club, Bloemfontein Police, ‘meet halfway’ at GWK Park (kick-off 13h00).
With exactly six months to go before the start of the third edition of SARU’s new national championship for so-called ‘open’ clubs, 12 teams have already qualified automatically from their respective provincial premier leagues, with only the champions of Western Province, Boland and SWD to be confirmed.
The remaining five places will be decided on the field of play this year, with the second-best open clubs from each province fighting it out in four regions in play-offs identical in format to that of Rugby World Cup qualifying – right down to the repechage round that gives lucky losers a third bite at the cherry.
The four respective winners of the South West, South East, Central and North region finals will join the 15 automatic qualifiers in the 2015 field, with the repechage final winner earning the 20th and final spot – and a place in Pool A alongside defending champions Rustenburg Impala.
The 2015 Community Cup is provisionally scheduled to take place from 21 February to 6 April 2015.
“The recent Rugby World Cup qualifying matches involving our neighbours Namibia and Zimbabwe went right down to the wire, as have a number of other games around the world, and we are hopeful that these ‘do-or-die’ Community Cup play-off clashes will create the same levels excitement in our rugby communities,” said SARU CEO, Jurie Roux. “The play-off format has given clubs from towns such as Malmesbury, Uitenhage, Upington, Orkney, Secunda and Mokopane a first taste of Community Cup rugby and their enthusiasm has been very encouraging.”
2015 Cell C Community Cup Qualifying Matches – details TBC unless otherwise stated:
SOUTH WEST REGION:
Match 1 – Boland 2 vs WP 2 – Winner qualifies for Community Cup as South West 1, loser to Repechage Semi-final 1. The Boland Premier League runner-up and the second-best open club in the WP Super League A will contest this one-off match.
SOUTH EAST REGION:
Match 2 – East London Police (Border 2) vs EP 2 – Winner to Match 3. Loser eliminated. EP 2 will be decided after the final round of the EP Grand Challenge this Saturday (see fixtures below), with SAPS and Gardens the front-runners.
Match 3 – Winner Match 2 vs SWD 2 – Winner qualifies for Community Cup as South East 1, loser to Repechage Semi-final 1.
Match 4 – Bloemfontein Police (Free State 2) vs Upington Dorp (Griquas 2) – 23 Aug, 13h00, GWK Park, Kimberley. Winner to Match 6. Loser eliminated.
Match 5 – Kroonstad (Griffons 2) vs Jonsson College Rovers (KZN 2) – walkover College Rovers.
Match 6 – Winner Match 4 vs Jonsson College Rovers – Winner qualifies for Community Cup as Central 1, loser to Repechage Semi-final 2.
Match 7 – G5 Metals Brakpan (Valke 2) vs Vaal Reefs (Leopards 2) – 6 Sep, 12h45, Olen Park, Potchefstroom. Winner to Match 8. Loser eliminated.
Match 8 – Winner Match 7 vs Vaseline Wanderers Chiefs (Golden Lions 2). Winner to Match 11. Loser eliminated.
Match 9 – Potgietersrus (Limpopo 2) vs Sasol (Mpumalanga 2). Winner to Match 10. Loser eliminated.
Match 10 – Winner Match 9 vs Blue Bulls 2. Winner to Match 11. Loser eliminated.
Match 11 – Winner Match 8 vs Winner Match 10. Winner qualifies for Community Cup as North 1, loser to Repechage Semi-final 2.
Match 12 – Semi-final 1: Loser Match 1 vs Loser Match 3
Match 13 – Semi-final 2: Loser Match 6 vs Loser Match 11
Match 14 – Final: Winner Match 12 vs Winner Match 13. Winner is 20th & final team to qualify for Community Cup.
Pool A – Rustenburg Impala (Leopards, defending champion), Kempston Old Selbornians (Border), Springs (Valke), repechage winner, regional qualifier.
Pool B – Raiders (Golden Lions), Pretoria Police (Blue Bulls), Bloemfontein Crusaders (Free State), BB Truck Noordelikes (Limpopo), regional qualifier.
Pool C – Western Province No.1 open club, Boland champion, Aveng Moolmans Sishen (Griquas), SWD champion, regional qualifier.
Pool D – SA Home Loans Durban Collegians (KZN), Gap Management Despatch (EP), Welkom Rovers (Griffons), Shumba Ferros (Mpumalanga), regional qualifier.
THIS WEEKEND’S LEAGUE FIXTURES:
Eastern Province – Grand Challenge, Sat 15h30:
Brumbies vs NMMU Madibaz (Oval, Grahamstown)
Progress vs Harlequins (Central Ground, Uitenhage)
African Bombers vs SAPS (Zwide Stadium, PE)
Kruisfontein vs Gap Management Despatch (Country Club, Humansdorp)
Spring Rose vs Crusaders (New Brighton Oval, PE)
Western Province – Super League A:
Stor-Age False Bay vs Bellville (Philip Herbstein, Constantia)
Helderberg vs UWC (Charles Morkel Stadium, Strand)
Victorians vs UCT (Danie Craven Stadium, Stellenbosch)
Primrose vs Maties (Rosmead Sports Grounds, Kenilworth)
Hamiltons vs Tygerberg (Stephan Oval, Green Point)
Belhar vs NNK (Accordian Park, Belhar)
SK Walmers vs Durbanville-Bellville (Green Point Track)
Boland – Premier League, Sat 16h00:
Hawston vs Saldanha (Bospark, Hawston)
United Bulk Villagers Worcester vs Ceres (Boland Park, Worcester)
Wesbank vs Robertson (Wesbank Sports Grounds, Malmesbury)
Roses United vs Never Despair (Pelican Park, Wellington)
Delicous vs Wellington (Ceres Sports Grounds)
SWD – Premier League, Sat 16h00:
Evergreens vs Bridgton (Pacaltsdorp Sports Grounds)
Uniondale vs Groot-Brak (Uniondale Sports Grounds)
Bonnievale United vs Silver Stars (Bonnievale Stadium)