Community Cup breaking new ground
The Community Cup will break new ground at the end of the season with a series of World Cup-style regional qualifying matches.
The Community Cup will break new ground at the end of the 2014 season with a series of Rugby World Cup-style regional qualifying matches set to decide which five clubs will join the best non-university teams from each province in next year's tournament.
SARU’s General Council is set to approve a decision that the current 'wild card' format – which sees five teams invited to join the best 'open' clubs from the 14 provinces plus Limpopo – be replaced by post-season qualifiers to be played across four regions.
One club from each region (South West, South East, Central and North) will qualify directly for the 2015 Community Cup, while a repechage round involving the runners-up in each region will decide the 20th and final team.
“The wild card format was devised with the best of intentions but it didn't quite work out as we had hoped,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux, who made the announcement at a Community Cup media day at the Springbok Experience museum in Cape Town on Tuesday.
“We listened to the feedback and believe we've come up with a solution which puts the destiny of each club firmly in their own hands.
“The qualifiers format will reward the best clubs but they can also provide an opportunity for more teams to play in the tournament.
“There are ambitious clubs in places like Namaqualand, the Eastern Free State, North West and Limpopo who have the potential ability to play in the Community Cup but who cannot compete in their provinces' premier leagues simply because of their geographical location. Qualifiers can help us build pathways between these clubs and give them a chance to dream.”
The announcement follows on the news that live Community Cup rugby will be broadcast on a Thursday night for the first time when East Rand arch-rivals Brakpan and Boksburg clash under lights on March 20 at Bosman Stadium in Brakpan (kick-off 18.00).
Next week's opening match, between defending champions Despatch and their Eastern Province rivals Spring Rose from the WJ de Wet Stadium in Despatch will also be broadcast live (kick-off 14.30).
All 12 matches from the Easter Championship play-offs, from April 17-21, will also be on televised, while a second six-part season of the popular Community Cup television magazine show, “Working-Class Heroes”, will be start on Thursday, March 13 at 19.00.
The Community Cup 2014 first-round fixtures:
Saturday, March 8:
Match One (Pool A): Despatch v Spring Rose
(WJ de Wet Stadium, Despatch - Kick-off: 14.30 - TV)
Match Two (Pool A): Mossel Bay Barbarians vs Bridgton
(D'Almeida Stadium, Mossel Bay - Kick-off: 16.00)
Match Three (Pool B): Roodepoort v Bloemfontein Crusaders
(Rand Leases Sports Ground, Roodepoort - Kick-off: 16.00)
Match Four (Pool B): College Rovers v Welkom
(KP3, Kings Park, Durban - Kick-off: 13.00)
Match Five (Pool C): Noordelikes v Boksburg
(Noordelikes Rugby Club, Polokwane - Kick-off: 16.30)
Match Six (Pool C): Roses United v Brakpan
(Pelican Park, Wellington - Kick-off: 16.00)
Match Seven (Pool D): Ferros v Wesbank
(Puma Stadium, Emalahleni/Witbank - Kick-off: 15.30)
Match Eight (Pool D): Rustenburg Impala v Sishen
(Rustenburg Impala Rugby Club, Rustenburg - Kick-off: 16.00)
Byes: Old Selbornians, Rovers, Centurion, Hamilton.