Community cup to revive club rugby
The Community Cup was borne out of a need to revive and modernise club rugby in South Africa.
The Community Cup was borne out of a need to revive and modernise club rugby in South Africa, SA Rugby Union Chief Executive Jurie Roux said in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
"Today [Wednesday] is truly a red letter day for club rugby, since the game turned professional in 1995, club rugby has been searching for its position in South African rugby," Roux said.
The seven-week competition will see the best non-university clubs from all the provinces plus five wild card invitees battle it out for the inaugural Community Cup title in a format identical to that of the World Cup.
"Pool matches will take place at 20 club venues across the country over a five-week period, followed by play-offs for the top eight at Outeniqua Park in George over the Easter long weekend," Roux said.
The 20 teams have been divided into four pools of five, with each club playing two home and two away matches.
The top two clubs from each pool will advance to the knockout stages, with the eight teams playing quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals each year at a central venue.
Before rugby turned professional the game almost followed a natural progression from school, club to provincial and then onto national representation.
Since the advent of the professional era, club rugby had been in a steady decline.
"One of the primary roles of clubs in the amateur era was to supply players to provincial teams," Roux said.
With the launch of the Varsity Cup in 2008, student rugby experienced a resurgence with some players turning out for provinces and the Springboks.
"Professionalism changed the landscape dramatically, both for so-called open and university clubs," he said.
"The Varsity Cup has successfully revived student club rugby by providing those clubs and players with a high-level exposure platform."
The hope existed that the Community Cup would have a similar effect on club rugby in the country as the positive one Varsity Cup had on student rugby.
IRB Hall of Fame inductee Kennedy Tsimba - who coaches Rustenburg Impala - said the Community Cup was one of SARU's best initiatives yet.
The former Cheetahs and Blue Bulls flyhalf said he made his way into the South Africa rugby scene through club rugby where his talent was recognised.
"I came from professional rugby straight into the club scene, and when I got there I saw so many players that can play professional but they haven't been seen," Tsimba said.
Tsimba hoped that the tournament would be a platform for players that fell through the cracks to launch their careers in rugby.
The Community Cup, which replaced the National Club Championships, will kick-off on February 16.
The competition will culminate in an annual Grand Final to determine the overall national club champion between the winners of the Community Cup and the winners of the Varsity Cup.
Pool A: College Rovers (KZN), Despatch (EP), Sishen (Griquas), Villagers Worcester (Boland), SK Walmers (wild card, WP)
Pool B: Pretoria Police (Blue Bulls), Durbanville-Bellville (WP), Bloemfontein Police (Free State), Welkom Rovers (Griffons), African Bombers (wild card, EP).
Pool C: Rustenburg Impala (Leopards), Roodepoort (Golden Lions), Noordelikes (Limpopo), Bloemfontein Crusaders (wild card, Free State), Raiders (wild card, Golden Lions).
Pool D: Old Selbornian (Border), Brakpan (Falcons), Evergreens (SWD), White River (Mpumalanga), Roses United (wild card, Boland).
(All kick-off times 15.00, subject to change)
Round One - Saturday, February 16:
College Rovers v Despatch (Kings Park 3, Durban)
Villagers Worcester v Sishen (venue TBC, Worcester)
Pretoria Police v Durbanville-Bellville (SAPS Training Academy, Pretoria)
African Bombers v Welkom Rovers (Zwide Stadium, Port Elizabeth)
Rustenburg Impala v Roodepoort (Rustenburg Rugby Fields, Rustenburg)
Noordelikes v Raiders (Noordelikes Rugby Club, Polokwane)
Old Selbornian v Brakpan (Old Selbornian Rugby Club, East London)
Roses United v White River (Pelican Park, Wellington)
Round Two - Saturday, February 23:
Sishen v College Rovers (Kalahari Country Club, Kathu)
SK Walmers v Villagers Worcester (Green Point Track, Cape Town)
Durbanville-Bellville v African Bombers (Durbanville-Bellville Rugby Club, Cape Town)
Welkom Rovers v Bloemfontein Police (Rovers Rugby Club, Welkom)
Roodepoort v Noordelikes (Rand Leases Sports Grounds, Roodepoort)
Raiders v Bloemfontein Crusaders (Bill Jardine Stadium, Johannesburg)
Brakpan v Roses United (Bosman Stadium, Brakpan)
White River v Evergreens (White River Rugby Club, White River)
Round Three - Saturday, March 2:
Despatch v Villagers Worcester (Central Rugby Fields, Despatch)
Sishen v SK Walmers (Kalahari Country Club, Kathu)
Bloemfontein Police v Durbanville-Bellville (Bobbies Park, Bloemfontein)
African Bombers v Pretoria Police (Zwide Stadium, Port Elizabeth)
Rustenburg Impala v Bloemfontein Crusaders (Rustenburg Rugby Fields, Rustenburg)
Roodepoort v Raiders (Rand Leases Sports Grounds, Roodepoort)
Evergreens v Brakpan (Pacaltsdorp Sports Grounds, Pacaltsdorp)
Roses United v Old Selbornian (Pelican Park, Wellington)
Round Four - Saturday, March 9:
College Rovers v SK Walmers (Kings Park 3, Durban)
Despatch v Sishen (Central Rugby Fields, Despatch)
Welkom Rovers v Pretoria Police (Rovers Rugby Club, Welkom)
Bloemfontein Police v African Bombers (Bobbies Park, Bloemfontein)
Bloemfontein Crusaders v Roodepoort (Clive Solomon Stadium, Heidedal)
Noordelikes v Rustenburg Impala (Noordelikes Rugby Club, Polokwane)
Old Selbornian v Evergreens (Old Selbornian Rugby Club, East London)
Brakpan v White River (Bosman Stadium, Brakpan)
Round Five - Saturday, March 16:
SK Walmers v Despatch (Green Point Track, Cape Town)
Villagers Worcester v College Rovers (venue TBC, Worcester)
Pretoria Police v Bloemfontein Police (SAPS Training Academy, Pretoria)
Durbanville-Bellville v Welkom Rovers (Durbanville-Bellville Rugby Club, Cape Town)
Raiders v Rustenburg Impala (Bill Jardine Stadium, Johannesburg)
Bloemfontein Crusaders v Noordelikes (Clive Solomon Stadium, Heidedal)
White River v Old Selbornian (White River Rugby Club, White River)
Evergreens v Roses United (Pacaltsdorp Sports Grounds, Pacaltsdorp)
Play-offs (Outeniqua Park, George):
(Kick-off times TBC)
Thursday, March 28:
Winner Pool C v Runner-up Pool D (Cup quarterfinal one)
Winner Pool B v Runner-up Pool A (Cup quarterfinal 2)
Winner Pool D v Runner-up Pool C (Cup quarterfinal 3)
Winner Pool A v Runner-up Pool B (Cup quarterfinal 4)
Saturday, March 30:
Loser quarterfinal one v Loser quarterfinal two (Bowl semifinal one)
Loser quarterfinal three v Loser quarterfinal four (Bowl semifinal two)
Winner quarterfinal one v Winner quarterfinal two (Cup semifinal one)
Winner quarterfinal three v Winner quarterfinal four (Cup semifinal two)
Monday, April 1:
Shield Final: Loser Bowl semifinal one v Loser Bowl semifinal two
Bowl Final: Winner Bowl semifinal one v Winner Bowl semifinal two
Plate Final: Loser Cup semifinal one v Loser Cup semifinal two
Cup Final: Winner Cup semifinal one v Winner Cup semifinal two
Sources: SAPA & SARU