Gold Cup enters international territory
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: History will be made on Saturday when the Gold Cup, SA Rugby's national championship for non-university, clubs takes its first international strides with matches being staged concurrently in three different countries.
Western Province champions False Bay and Limpopo title-holders Rhinos will have the honour of playing the first-ever Gold Cup matches outside of South Africa when they travel to Harare and Windhoek respectively to take on Old Georgians and Wanderers.
"The Gold Cup is on everyone’s lips and this year"s tournament has thrust club rugby firmly back into the national consciousness," said SA Rugby CEO, Jurie Roux.
"We had over 6 000 people attend this year’s opening match in Worcester, while the viewership figures in the three televised matches so far have been excellent and a ringing endorsement of the appeal of club rugby among the rugby-loving public.
"There is great anticipation in Namibia and Zimbabwe ahead of Saturday's matches, with a lot of interest being shown by media and fans.
"This is a historic step forward into Africa for the Gold Cup brand but also club rugby in general."
Injury-hit False Bay must travel over 2 500 km to Harare must beat Old Georgians there to keep their quarterfinal hopes alive after losing 19-26 to Falcons champions, Siyaya Brakpan, at Bosman Stadium last Saturday.
In Pool C's other match-up, Durban Collegians, who lost to False Bay in Round One, will need to overcome Brakpan if they hope to emerge from the so-called 'group of death'.
The match, which will take place at Kings Park 2 in Durban, will be handled by none other than 2011 Rugby World Cup Final referee Craig Joubert.
"A few years ago, the chances of a Craig Joubert refereeing a club game were slim.
"Now our top referees are getting involved at this level and it can only bring benefits for all concerned," said Roux.
Meanwhile, in Pool A, KZN champions College Rovers travel to the northern Free State to take on their namesakes, Welkom Rovers, having opened their Gold Cup account with a 53-10 win over Worcester Villagers in torrential conditions in Durban last week.
In Pool B, the Golden Lions’ top non-university club, Pirates, will be looking for a third straight win and most likely a place in the quarterfinals when they fly to George to take on Evergreens at the Pacaltsdorp Sports Ground.
For Evergreens, victory is non-negotiable having lost there last weekend to 2014 Gold Cup champions and last year’s runners-up, Rustenburg Impala.
And in Pool D, two eagerly-awaited Police derbies are on the menu, with Pretoria Police 40-24 victors over their PE counterparts at Loftus Versfeld last weekend are travelling to the Free State capital to take on the Bloemfontein Bobbies.
In the other match, East London Police, who lost 30-18 at home to Belaz Sishen in their Gold Cup debut last week, are under pressure as they prepare to travel to Nelson Mandela Bay for what is likely to be another hard-fought Eastern Cape Police derby against their PE arch-rivals.
Round Two results:
Welkom Rovers 24-32 Durbanville-Bellville
College Rovers 53-10 Worcester Villagers
Pirates 51-24 Platinum Rhinos
Evergreens 10-29 Rustenburg Impala
Siyaya Brakpan 26-19 False Bay
Durban Collegians 36-17 White River
East London Police 18-30 Belaz Sishen
Pretoria Police 40-24 PE Police
Round 3 fixtures (all matches at 15.30 on Saturday, September 24):
Old Selbornians v Worcester Villagers (Mike Pendock Motors Park, East London)
Welkom Rovers v College Rovers (Rovers Rugby Club, Welkom)
Wanderers Windhoek v Platinum Rhinos (Wanderers Rugby Club, Windhoek)
Evergreens v Pirates (Pacaltsdorp Sports Ground, George)
Old Georgians v False Bay (Old Georgians Club, Harare)
Durban Collegians v Siyaya Brakpan (Kings Park 2, Durban)
PE Police v East London Police (Kemsley Park, Port Elizabeth)
Bloemfontein Police v Pretoria Police (Bobbies Park, Bloemfontein)