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Springbok squad members Ruan Combrinck, Franco Mostert and Jaco Kriel enjoy the atmosphere last weekend at the Gold Cup qualifying match at Durbanville-Bellville Rugby Club between champions Durbell and contenders Hamiltons. The trio surprised both teams in their changerooms before the match. Photo: Peter Heeger/Gallo Images

Springbok squad members Ruan Combrinck, Franco Mostert and Jaco Kriel enjoy the atmosphere last weekend at the Gold Cup qualifying match at Durbanville-Bellville Rugby Club between champions Durbell and contenders Hamiltons. The trio surprised both teams in their changerooms before the match. Photo: Peter Heeger/Gallo Images

Reigning Gold Cup champions Durbanville-Bellville sent out a strong warning that they won’t be giving up their title without a fight, after a sensational comeback inspired by a surprise visit by members of the Springbok squad.

As part of SA Rugby’s #LoveRugby story, the uncapped trio of Ruan Combrinck, Jaco Kriel and Franco Mostert paid a surprise visit to the changerooms of both Durbell and visitors Hamiltons ahead of their much-anticipated Western Province Super League clash in Cape Town last Friday.

The players’ stirring motivational talks to the two sides – ranked one and three among the country’s non-university clubs – inspired one of the finest club matches of the season, with Durbell sensationally overturning a 25-3 deficit after 30 minutes to score 52 points in the final hour for a 55-32 victory.

“The players had no idea the Springbok squad players were coming and they were just awestruck,” said Durbell head coach and former Griquas fullback Bobby Joubert.

“It was a massive honour not only for ourselves but also for Hamiltons to have our national heroes decide to spend the Friday night before a Test match at our club.“Everyone who was there will remember this gesture for a very long time and we would like to thank the players, the Springbok management and SA Rugby for supporting club rugby.”

Elsewhere around the country, the race for the final two qualifying slots in this year’s Gold Cup – known previously as the Community Cup – intensified with a number of significant results.

The increased levels of competitiveness in this year’s Blue Bulls’ Carlton League was reflected in a fourth different log leader in as many weeks, with the resurgent Naka Bulls hammering Centurion 34-0 to keep their noses in front in the race for a Gold Cup playoff berth.

Your Communications College Rovers – themselves a two-time national club champion – kept their playoff hopes on track with a 57-22 win over Varsity College having beaten KZN Moor Cup champions and Gold Cup representatives SA Home Loans Durban Collegians 24-22 the week before.

And in the Border Super League, East London Police kept alive their chances of joining fellow Bobbies teams Pretoria, Bloemfontein and Port Elizabeth in the Gold Cup, with a 72-0 victory over Africans that, coupled with champions Mike Pendock Motors Old Selbornians’ surprise loss to Swallows, takes them three points clear at the top of the log with just three rounds remaining.

The Gold Cup playoffs will take place on 20 and 27 August after which the tournament proper will kick off on 10 September, with 20 clubs once again competing in a Rugby World Cup-style format consisting of eight pool matches per week for five weeks up until 8 October.

The top two from each group will progress 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.

“With just over 12 weeks go to, the countdown to the start of the Gold Cup era is well and truly underway,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux. “People are flocking back to their clubs in their thousands and the profile and quality of club rugby has risen sharply in the last few years – as exemplified by Garth April’s inclusion in the Springbok squad having steered Durbell to the Gold Cup title just a year ago.”

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 Old Georgians (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)
Old Georgians v Direct Axis False Bay (Harare)
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)
Old Georgians v SA Home Loans Durban Collegians (Harare)
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 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 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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