The Gold Cup – SA Rugby’s three-nation championship for non-university clubs – kicked off in style last Saturday when visitors Tiger Wheel & Tyre Welkom Rovers upset hosts OneLogix United Bulk Worcester Villagers 39-29 in the tournament’s televised opening match at Boland Park in Worcester.
Scrumhalf Jaco Pretorius, who scored a hat-trick of tries, and flyhalf Tiaan van Wyk, who kicked 19 points, helped the Griffons champions to a bonus-point victory against the oldest club in the tournament, who were spurred on by a fanatical 5,000-strong crowd.
Elsewhere around the country, there were big wins for defending champions Durbanville-Bellville in Pool A, 2014 champions Rustenburg Impala in Pool B, newcomers DirectAxis False Bay in Pool C, and Pretoria Police and Port Elizabeth Police in Pool D.The latter two sides kick off the second round’s action with a much anticipated televised Police derby on Friday afternoon at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, in a tussle which might well decide who tops Pool D. The match is a curtain-raiser to the Currie Cup clash between the Vodacom Bue Bulls and Griquas. Kick-off is 16h15, live on SuperSport 1 & HD.
There is further Currie Cup curtain-raiser action on Saturday when SA Home Loans Durban Collegians, who were beaten 37-19 by DirectAxis False Bay on the opening weekend, host White River, who were edged 20-18 at home by Zimbabwe champions Old Georgians. The Pool C match, at GrowthPoint Kings Park in Durban, kicks off at 12h15 and will be broadcast on SuperSport 6 at 19h45.
In the other Pool C match, DirectAxis False Bay face an acid test of their title credentials when they travel to Bosman Stadium to face Valke champions Siyaya Brakpan.
In Pool A, Tiger Wheel & Tyre Welkom Rovers will host champions Durbell with both teams looking for a second win in as many weeks, while the group’s other heavyweight side, two-time national club champions Your Communications College Rovers, open their campaign at home against Worcester Villagers.
And in Pool B, Pirates, having held on at home to beat an impressive FNB Wanderers Windhoek 28-26 last weekend, will look to make it two from two when they welcome Northam Platinum Rhinos. In possibly the most talked about match of the weekend, Impala travel to George to face SWD champions RSK Evergreens, who will no doubt be spurred on by a packed house at the Pacaltsdorp Sports Ground.
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.
Round 1 results:
OneLogix United Bulk Worcester Villagers 29-39 Tiger Wheel & Tyre Welkom Rovers
Durbanville-Bellville 40-14 Mike Pendock Motors Old Selbornians
Pirates 28-26 FNB Wanderers Windhoek
Northam Platinum Rhinos 19-46 Rustenburg Impala
DirectAxis False Bay 37-19 SA Home Loans Durban Collegians
White River 18-20 Old Georgians Harare
Belaz Sishen 17-44 Pretoria Police
Don’s Pawn Shop PE Police 35-11 Bloemfontein Police
Round 2 fixtures (all matches 15h30 unless otherwise indicated):
Friday 16 September:
Pretoria Police v Don’s Pawn Shop Port Elizabeth Police (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, 16h15 – live on SuperSport 1 & HD)
Saturday 17 September:
SA Home Loans Durban Collegians v White River (Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban, 12h15 – delayed broadcast on SuperSport 6 at 19h45)
Your Communications College Rovers v OneLogix United Bulk Worcester Villagers (KP3, Kings Park, Durban, 13h00)
Tiger Wheel & Tyre Welkom Rovers v Durbanville-Bellville (Rovers Rugby Club, Welkom)
RSK Evergreens v Rustenburg Impala (Pacaltsdorp Sports Ground, George)
Pirates v Northam Platinum Rhinos (Pirates Rugby Club, Greenside, Johannesburg)
Siyaya Brakpan v DirectAxis False Bay (Bosman Stadium, Brakpan)
East London Police v Belaz Sishen (Police Park, East London)