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GEORGE, SOUTH AFRICA - Saturday March 16 2013,  during match 40 of the Cell C Community Cup rugby match between Evergreens and Roses United held at the Pacaltsdorp Sports Ground..Photo by Deryck Foster/ImageSA

GEORGE, SOUTH AFRICA – Saturday March 16 2013, during match 40 of the Cell C Community Cup rugby match between Evergreens and Roses United held at the Pacaltsdorp Sports Ground..Photo by Deryck Foster/ImageSA

Johannesburg-based Pirates will host the first-ever international match in the Gold Cup era after SA Rugby on Tuesday evening confirmed the fixtures for the country’s flagship tournament for non-university clubs.

In a first for club rugby, the announcement was made on television, on broadcast partner SuperSport’s popular isiXhosa rugby show, Phaka.

Pirates, founded in 1888 and making their first appearance in a national club tournament since 2009, will play host to FNB Wanderers of Windhoek after the Gold Cup (until 2015 known as the Community Cup) was expanded from this year to include the champion open clubs of Namibia and Zimbabwe.The Gold Cup will kick off on Saturday, 10 September, with 20 clubs once again competing in a Rugby World Cup-style format, with eight pool matches per week for five weeks up until 8 October and the top two from each group progressing to the quarter-finals a week later. All knockout matches, including the semi-finals (22 October) and grand final (29 October) will be hosted at participating clubs.

There are any number of intriguing battles to look forward to on the opening weekend, with champions Durbanville-Bellville kicking off their title defence at home to Border champions Mike Pendock Motors Old Selbornians, who won the corresponding fixture last year.

Capacity crowds are also expected elsewhere in the Western Cape where Boland champions Onelogix United Bulk Worcester Villagers host Tiger Wheel & Tyre Welkom Rovers and Western Province’s best open club, Direct Axis False Bay, make their national tournament debut at home to KZN champions SA Home Loans Durban Collegians.

Last year’s runners-up Rustenburg Impala travel to Limpopo to face Northam Platinum Rhinos in an eagerly awaited clash of the mining towns, while Port Elizabeth will host the first of three all-Police derbies in this year’s pool stages – the other ‘Bobbies’ team in Pool D being Pretoria Police – when Don’s Pawn Shop PE Police welcome their Bloemfontein counterparts to the Friendly City.

“With just four months to go, the countdown has really begun and both SA Rugby and the clubs themselves cannot wait to kick off the Gold Cup era,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux.

“It’s a very exciting time for club rugby. More than 11,000 people attended a Boland league game in Worcester recently and we saw nearly 17,000 fans last month at Alberton Rugby Club for a provincial-club double-header.

“The profile and quality of club rugby has risen sharply in the last few years and fans are once again packing grounds around the country to watch their local community heroes in action.

“We are confident that the Gold Cup will help unearth more hidden gems as it has done with (Cell C Sharks flyhalf) Garth April. Players must know that good performances will bring them onto the radar of provinces and franchises. There are still many issues to address but the days of club rugby being seen as a career cul-de-sac are over,” Roux added.

Full fixtures:

Round 1 (Sat 10 September):
Onelogix United Bulk Worcester Villagers v Tiger Wheel & Tyre Welkom Rovers (Boland Park, Worcester)
Durbanville-Bellville v Mike Pendock Motors Old Selbornians (Durbell Rugby Club, Cape Town)
Pirates v FNB Wanderers Windhoek (Pirates Rugby Club, Greenside, Johannesburg)
Northam Platinum Rhinos v Rustenburg Impala (Northam Rugby Club, Limpopo)
Direct Axis False Bay v SA Home Loans Durban Collegians (Philip Herbstein Field, Constantia, Cape Town)
White River v Zimbabwe Qualifier (TBC) – White River Rugby Club, Mpumalanga
Belaz Sishen v Pretoria Police (Sivos Stadium, Kathu)
Don’s Pawn Shop PE Police v Bloemfontein Police (Kemsley Park, Port Elizabeth)

Round 2 (Sat 17 September):
Tiger Wheel & Tyre Welkom Rovers v Durbanville-Bellville (Rovers Rugby Club, Welkom)
Qualifier 1 (TBC) v Onelogix United Bulk Worcester Villagers (Venue TBC)
Pacaltsdorp Evergreens v Rustenburg Impala (Pacaltsdorp Sports Ground, George)
Pirates v Northam Platinum Rhinos (Pirates Rugby Club, Greenside, Johannesburg)
SA Home Loans Durban Collegians v White River (KP 10, Kings Park Complex, Durban)
Valke Qualifier (TBC) v Direct Axis False Bay (Venue TBC)
Pretoria Police v Don’s Pawn Shop PE Police (Police Rugby Club, Pretoria)
Qualifier 2 (TBC) v Belaz Sishen (Venue TBC)

Round 3 (Sat 24 September):
Mike Pendock Motors Old Selbornians v Onelogix United Bulk Worcester Villagers (Mike Pendock Motors Park, East London)
Tiger Wheel & Tyre Welkom Rovers v Qualifier 1 (TBC) – Rovers Rugby Club, Welkom
FNB Wanderers Windhoek v Northam Platinum Rhinos (Wanderers Club, Windhoek)
Pacaltsdorp Evergreens v Pirates (Pacaltsdorp Sports Ground, George)
Zimbabwe Qualifier (TBC) v Direct Axis False Bay (Venue TBC)
SA Home Loans Durban Collegians v Valke Qualifier (TBC) – KP 10, Kings Park Complex, Durban
Don’s Pawn Shop PE Police v Qualifier 2 (TBC) – Kemsley Park, Port Elizabeth
Bloemfontein Police v Pretoria Police (Bobbies Park, Bloemfontein)

Round 4 (Sat 1 October):
Qualifier 1 (TBC) v Mike Pendock Motors Old Selbornians (Venue TBC)
Onelogix United Bulk Worcester Villagers v Durbanville-Bellville (Boland Park, Worcester)
Northam Platinum Rhinos v Pacaltsdorp Evergreens (Northam Rugby Club, Limpopo)
Rustenburg Impala v FNB Wanderers Windhoek (Impala Rugby Club, Rustenburg)
White River v Valke Qualifier (TBC) – White River Rugby Club
Zimbabwe Qualifier (TBC) v SA Home Loans Durban Collegians (Venue TBC)
Qualifier 2 (TBC) v Bloemfontein Police (Venue TBC)
Belaz Sishen v Don’s Pawn Shop PE Police (Sivos Stadium, Kathu)

Round 5 (Sat 8 October):
Durbanville-Bellville v Qualifier 1 (TBC) – Durbell Rugby Club, Cape Town
Mike Pendock Motors Old Selbornians v Tiger Wheel & Tyre Welkom Rovers (Mike Pendock Motors Park, East London)
Rustenburg Impala v Pirates (Impala Rugby Club, Rustenburg)
FNB Wanderers Windhoek v Pacaltsdorp Evergreens (Wanderers Club, Windhoek)
Valke Qualifier (TBC) v Zimbabwe Qualifier (TBC) – Venue TBC
Direct Axis False Bay v White River (Philip Herbstein Field, Constantia, Cape Town)
Bloemfontein Police v Belaz Sishen (Bobbies Park, Bloemfontein)
Pretoria Police v Qualifier 2 (TBC) – Police Rugby Club, Pretoria

Quarter-finals (Sat 15 October – Pool winners host all matches):
Winner Pool C v Runner-up Pool D
Winner Pool B v Runner-up Pool A
Winner Pool D v Runner-up Pool C
Winner Pool A v Runner-up Pool B

Semi-finals* (Sat 22 October):
Winner Quarter-final 1 v Winner Quarter-final 2
Winner Quarter-final 3 v Winner Quarter-final 4
* For each semi-final, the team with the most log points in the pool stages shall host the match. If both teams have equal log points, Section 2, Clause 1 of SA Rugby’s General Competition Rules shall apply to determine home-ground advantage.

Final* (Sat 29 October):
Winner Semi-final 1 v Winner Semi-final 2
* The team with the most log points in the pool stages shall host the final. If both teams have equal log points, Section 2, Clause 1 of SA Rugby’s General Competition Rules shall apply to determine home-ground advantage.

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