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Pic: Ashley Vlotman Gallo.

Pic: Ashley Vlotman Gallo Images

Brakpan and Vereeniging will be playing for one of the three remaining places in the 2016 Gold Cup when they clash in the Valke premier final at Barnard Stadium in Kempton Park on Saturday (kick-off 15h00).

The match is just one of a host of Semi-final and Cup Final clashes around the country as leagues reach a climax ahead of the Gold Cup play-offs on 20 and 27 August, which will decide the final two spots on offer in SA Rugby’s three-nation championship for non-university clubs.

The likes of Vaal Reefs (Leopards), College Rovers (KZN), Centurion (Blue Bulls), Raiders (Golden Lions), Wesbank (Boland) and East London Police (Border) are already confirmed for the play-offs, which will feature a maximum of eight teams who will be seeded according to the final rankings of the 2015 Community Cup – as the Gold Cup was known then. The format is straight knockout, with the two surviving teams taking their places in Pools A and D of the Gold Cup proper.“With just five weeks go to, the countdown to the start of the Gold Cup era is well and truly underway,” said SA Rugby 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 – look through the Currie Cup team sheets for this coming weekend and they are filled with players who have cut their teeth in club rugby.”

Apart from the Valke final, the Griffons title is also at stake when champions Tiger Wheel & Tyre Welkom Rovers face arch-rivals Welkom Club in a highly-anticipated town derby.

Only four teams remain in the hunt for the Eastern Province Grand Challenge crown, with Don’s Pawn Shop PE Police – the union’s representatives in the Gold Cup – hosting Gardens of Uitenhage, and Park at home to giant-killers PE Harlequins, who shocked Despatch in the quarter-finals last week.

Witbank Ferros host Middelburg in one Mpumalanga Super League Semi-final, with Gold Cup reps White River and Sasol Secunda locking horns in the other.

Champions Evergreens host Bridgton in Pacaltsdorp, while Mossel Bay Barbarians are at home to Progress ahead of the SWD Premier League final in George on 13 August – a match that traditionally fills Outeniqua Park to the rafters.

And in Western Province, history could be made on Saturday at the Philip Herbstein field in Constantia where unbeaten DirectAxis False Bay will win their first Grand Challenge trophy since 1972 should they secure a bonus-point victory over unpredictable Sir Lowrians.

The Gold Cup kicks 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.

The fixtures for the play-offs on 20 and 27 August will be confirmed by SA Rugby in due course.

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, Johannesburg)
Northam Platinum Rhinos v Rustenburg Impala (Northam Rugby Club, Limpopo)
DirectAxis False Bay v SA Home Loans Durban Collegians (Philip Herbstein Field, Constantia, Cape Town)
White River v Old Georgians Harare (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 27 Aug) 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, Johannesburg – Fri 16 September, 19h00)
SA Home Loans Durban Collegians v White River (KP 10, Kings Park, Durban)
Valke Qualifier (TBC 6 Aug) v DirectAxis False Bay (Venue TBC)
Pretoria Police v Don’s Pawn Shop PE Police (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria – Fri 16 September, 16h45)
Qualifier 2 (TBC 27 Aug) 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 27 Aug) – 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 DirectAxis False Bay (Police Grounds, Harare)
SA Home Loans Durban Collegians v Valke Qualifier (TBC 6 Aug) – KP 10, Kings Park, Durban
Don’s Pawn Shop PE Police v Qualifier 2 (TBC 27 Aug) – Kemsley Park, Port Elizabeth
Bloemfontein Police v Pretoria Police (Bobbies Park, Bloemfontein)

Round 4 (Sat 1 October):
Qualifier 1 (TBC 27 Aug) 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 6 Aug) – White River Rugby Club
Old Georgians v SA Home Loans Durban Collegians (OGSC, Harare)
Qualifier 2 (TBC 27 Aug) 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 27 Aug) – 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 6 Aug) v Old Georgians Harare – Venue TBC
DirectAxis 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 27 Aug) – 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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