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The new-look Gold Cup was unveiled for the first time on the SuperSport rugby magazine show Phaka on Tuesday night. The nine-carat gold trophy was crafted in 1929 by London-based royal jewellers Mappin & Webb, to whom it was returned last month for the first time in 88 years so that it could be restored it to its former glory.

The Gold Cup – SA Rugby’s flagship three-nation champions’ league for non-university clubs – kicks off this weekend with matches being staged simultaneously across South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe on Saturday and Sunday.

“The Gold Cup is one of the most iconic trophies in South African rugby and is essentially the Webb Ellis Cup of club rugby,” said SA Rugby CEO, Jurie Roux.

“After nearly a century of wear and tear, including long stretches where it went missing, it was decided to properly restore what is an extremely valuable asset in our collection.”

Despite extensive research conducted in South Africa and the UK, the origins of the Gold Cup remain a mystery. “All we know is when it was made. But records from that time have been lost, meaning we still have no idea who commissioned it, for what purpose, or indeed when or how it came to South Africa,” Roux added.

A hallmark of the restored Cup is that the names of every player, coach and manager to have won the Gold Cup since its inception in 2013 have been engraved in four plaques. Four Springboks can be found among the names: Adri Geldenhuys and Danie Gerber (Despatch head & assistant coach, 2013); Hugh Reece-Edwards (Impala head coach, 2014) and Attie Strauss (Impala assistant coach, 2016).

This weekend’s first round sees the action take place in Windhoek, Harare, Rustenburg, Cape Town, East London, Welkom and Orkney. The Cup will be on display in the Mother City, at the Phillip Herbstein Ground in Constantia on Saturday, and Florida Park in Ravensmead on Sunday.

Broadcast partners SuperSport have confirmed that they will televise the Gold Cup quarter-finals (Sunday 15 October), semi-finals (Sunday 22 October) and final (Sunday 29 October).

ROUND 1 FIXTURES (Saturday 9 September, all kick-off times 15h00 unless otherwise stated):

Pool A:
Newrak Rustenburg Impala v Recall Security Bloemfontein Police (Impala RFC, Rustenburg, 16h00)
Human Auto Welkom v Sasol Hydra-Arc Rugby (HP Pelatona Projects Stadium, Welkom, 13h30)
Bye: Wesizwe Security Vereeniging (Falcons)

Pool B:
Speedy Car Sales Vaal Reefs v Northam Platinum Rhinos (Oppenheimer Stadium, Orkney)
Old Georgians v Raiders (Old Georgians Sports Club, Harare)
Bye: QBR (Blue Bulls)

Pool C:
Swallows v Mike Pendock Motors Old Selbornians (BCM Stadium, East London)
Bye: Progress George

Pool D:
DirectAxis False Bay v Roses United (Phillip Herbstein, Constantia, Cape Town)
Western Suburbs v Go Nutz College Rovers (Suburbs Park, Khomasdal, Windhoek)
Bye: IMT Sishen

ROUND 1 FIXTURES (Sunday 10 September):

Pool C:
Tygerberg v Progress Uitenhage (Florida Park, Cape Town, 14h00)

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