The Gold Cup – SA Rugby’s three-nation championship for non-university clubs – kicks off on Saturday with eight eagerly-awaited first-round matches being hosted at club venues across the length and breadth of South Africa.
In the Western Cape, all roads will lead to the Cape Winelands town of Worcester, where a capacity crowd is expected at Boland Park for the official opening match between Boland champions OneLogix United Bulk Worcester Villagers and Griffons title-holders Tiger Wheel & Tyre Welkom Rovers.
The Pool A match will be broadcast live on SuperSport1 & HD at 14h30 – directly after the Castle Rugby Championship Test match in Brisbane between Australia and South Africa.The Gold Cup format is simple and identical to that of the Rugby World Cup: 20 clubs are divided into four pools of five, with each team playing two home and two away matches over a five-week period from 10 September to 8 October. The top two clubs in each pool advance to the quarter-finals, scheduled for 15 October. All knockout matches, including the televised semi-finals (22 October) and final (29 October) will be hosted at participating clubs.
In other first-round action, Pool A’s other match sees Durbanville-Bellville open their title defence at home against Border’s Mike Pendock Motors Old Selbornians.
In Pool B, Golden Lions representatives Pirates host Namibia’s top non-university club, FNB Wanderers Windhoek, in the first-ever international match in the Gold Cup, while the Limpopo town of Setaria will host the “Platinum derby” between Northam Platinum Rhinos and 2014 Gold Cup champions Rustenburg Impala.
DirectAxis False Bay, who are unbeaten this season having won their first Western Province Grand Challenge title since 1972, will host KZN Murray Cup champions SA Home Loans Durban Collegians in Constantia in a heavyweight Pool C clash. In the Pool’s other match, Zimbabwe champions Old Georgians make their historic Gold Cup debut in Mpumalanga against White River.
And in Pool D, three of the group’s four Police sides are in action, with Pretoria Police travelling to the Northern Cape town of Kathu to face Griquas champions Belaz Sishen. And a thousand kilometres away in Port Elizabeth, home side PE Police face Bloemfontein Police in the first of a number of intriguing Police derbies.
Round 1 fixtures (all matches 15h30 unless otherwise indicated):
OneLogix United Bulk Worcester Villagers v Tiger Wheel & Tyre Welkom Rovers (Boland Park, Worcester, 14h45)
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 Platinum Recreation Club, Setaria)
DirectAxis False Bay v SA Home Loans Durban Collegians (Phillip 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)