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CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 13: Aphiwe Dyantyi (VC) of FNB UJ during the FNB Varsity Cup match between FNB UCT and FNB UJ at UCT Rugby Fields on March 13, 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – MARCH 13: Aphiwe Dyantyi (VC) of FNB UJ during the FNB Varsity Cup match between FNB UCT and FNB UJ at UCT Rugby Fields on March 13, 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

The very popular and highly competitive SuperSport Rugby Challenge makes yet another sweep into the heartlands of South Africa, with a fourth Rugby Festival, this time in Mdantsane, as well as matches in Clermont, outside Durban, and Garsfontein High School in Pretoria.

After highly entertaining Rugby Festivals in Port Elizabeth’s Wolfson Stadium, Johannesburg’s Bill Jardine Stadium and the Impala Rugby Club in Rustenburg, the fourth and penultimate Festival will be hosted in the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane, outside of East London, on Sunday.

As usual, the Rugby Festival will first see two local clubs competing for a spot in the Gold Cup later this year, before a double-header of provincial action. In this case, Swallows and Spring Rose will clash, before two matches in the South Section of the competition should keep the crowds glued to their seats. In the first, the SWD Eagles take on the EP Kings and with the Eagles the only team yet to register a win, one can expect the Outeniqua Park-based squad to come out all guns blazing.

In the second, the Border Bulldogs will try to become the first this year to lower the flags of the DHL Western Province. They will need all the home support they can get, as the Cape Town side has proved just too strong, fast and slick for the Southern teams after five weeks of action.The weekend will explode into action on Friday in Johannesburg and Bloemfontein.

The North Section is fast becoming a three-team race between the Steval Pumas, Xerox Golden Lions XV and Vodacom Blue Bulls. The first two will face each other at Emirates Airline Park on Friday, while the Pretoria team will host the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias in a curtain raiser at Garsfontein High School on Saturday.

The Johannesburg showdown could have a big impact on the overall standings, as the winner is most likely to stay top of the pool over the last couple of rounds.

The Xerox Golden Lions XV have included University of Johannesburg midfielder, Aphiwe Dyantyi. The hard-running outside centre has been a feature in the UJ backline during the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International and also made the tournament Dream Team that played against the Junior Springboks in April. Dyantyi represented the Xerox Golden Lions XV last year in a solitary appearance when he came off the bench against Boland, so he will be keen to make this start a telling one. The former Dale College pupil progressed through the ranks nicely so far, after first being spotted playing Coca-Cola Craven Week rugby for Border.

It is apt for the Vodacom Blue Bulls to play the match at one of their leading feeder schools and no one will be more excited than Franco Naude and Jan-Henning Campher, who played for Garsfontein’s first team three years ago. The host school will play Helpmekaar College in the main match of the day.

The Central Section will also be keenly contested. The Leopards need to rebound urgently after two successive defeats, but will find the Toyota Free State XV a confident opponent who is starting to hit their straps, when they meet on Friday in Bloemfontein.

The fact that the match will be played at Toyota Stadium will no doubt benefit the Free Staters, but the Leopards need to turn their tide with immediate effect and only a win will get their season back on track.

In the other match of this tight Central Section, the Cell C Sharks XV are again taking a home game to the community, this time hosting the Down Touch Griffons at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Clermont, outside Durban on Saturday.

The KwaZulu-Natalians have really embraced the community involvement, but will be mindful of their last defeat in Ballito, a result which hampered their progress. For the Welkom side, every match will be a must win from here on in, so they will be a desperate and thus dangerous team.

The weekend’s matches are:

Friday 2 June 2017

Xerox Golden Lions XV vs Steval Pumas

Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg

Referee: Quinton Immelman

Kick-off: 14h00

Toyota Free State XV vs Leopards

Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein

Referee: AJ Jacobs

Kick-off: 15h00

Saturday 3 June 2017

Cell C Sharks XV vs Down Touch Griffons

Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium, Clermont

Referee: Pro Legoete

Kick-off: 15h00

TV: SS 198

Vodacom Blue Bulls vs Windhoek Draught Welwitschias

Garsfontein High School, Pretoria

Referee: Egon Seconds

Kick-off 13h30 

Sunday 3 June 2017

Swallows vs Winter Rose (Gold Cup qualifier)

Sisa Dukashe Stadium, Mdantsane

Referee: Archie Sehlako

Kick-off: 10h30

TV: SS 201

Eastern Province Kings vs SWD Eagles

Sisa Dukashe Stadium, Mdantsane

Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni

Kick-off: 13h00

TV: SS 201

Border Bulldogs vs DHL Western Province

Sisa Dukashe Stadium, Mdantsane

Referee: AJ Jacobs

Kick-off: 15h00

TV: SS 201

  • Festival Entrance is free. DJ Kwesta will keep the crowds entertained between matches and there will be hamper and T-shirt give-aways during the day.
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