The respective winners of two of the most famous trophies in South African club rugby go head to head on Saturday as the race for the last two places in the upcoming Gold Cup reaches its climax.
Matleng Centurion, who recently lifted the Blue Bulls’ iconic Carlton Cup for the first time since 1999, will host two-time national club champions and reigning KZN Moor Cup league winners Your Communications College Rovers on Saturday in the first play-off final. The winner will qualify for the Gold Cup – SA Rugby’s three-nation championship for non-university clubs, which kicks off on 10 September.
The match, which kicks off at 15h30 at the Centurion Rugby Club, promises to be a hard-fought battle between the reigning champions of two of South Africa’s biggest provincial unions, both of which have witnessed a surge of interest at club level.
And in the other play-off final, East London Police, who went unbeaten this year en route to winning the Border Super League, will travel to Klerksdorp to face Vaal Reefs, who squeaked home 18-17 in their play-off semi-final against Potgietersrus last week. The match takes place at Wesvalia High School (kick-off 15h30).
SA Rugby also announced on Thursday that the Gold Cup’s Player, Coach and Administrator of the Year would once again be rewarded with all-expenses-paid international exchanges to top UK clubs. This is made possible through a partnership with the British High Commission and Richard de Jager of RDJ Sports Development, as well as Richmark Holdings and the SA Rugby Legends.
“The Gold Cup was established to provide club players, coaches and administrators with a platform to display their talents and it’s fantastic that the programme will once again give the tournament’s top performers a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play and learn overseas,” said SA Rugby CEO, Jurie Roux.
“Last year’s club player of the year, Leon du Plessis of Rustenburg Impala, spent six months at Scottish Premiership side Selkirk and so impressed that he ended up playing a match for the Edinburgh franchise against Scotland Under-20, scoring a try.
“Young player of the year Dashston Wellman of Wesbank made such an impression at Selkirk that we was invited back this year to play in the Scottish Sevens circuit, where he emerged as one of the star players. He has just signed a contract with a French club – none of which might have been possible had he not been spotted in the Gold Cup,” added Roux.
The Gold Cup kicks off on 10 September, with 20 clubs once again competing in a Rugby World Cup-style format consisting of eight pool matches per week for five weeks up until 8 October. The top two from each group will progress to the quarter-finals a week later. All knockout matches, including the televised semi-finals (22 October) and grand final (29 October) will be hosted at participating clubs.
The rugby-mad Boland town of Worcester will host the televised opening match of the tournament when OneLogix United Bulk Worcester Villagers – at 133 years, the oldest club in the Gold Cup having been founded in 1883 – host Tiger Wheel & Tyre Welkom Rovers in Pool A. The match will be broadcast live on SuperSport 1 & HD, kicking off at 14h45.
Issued by SA Rugby Communications
Matleng Centurion centre Christiaan Burger on the charge during his team’s 24-15 win over Wesbank in a Gold Cup play-off semi-final played at Centurion Rugby Club last Saturday.
Centurion, the 2016 Carlton Cup champions, now face KZN champions Your Communications College Rovers in Centurion on Saturday for a place in the Gold Cup.
Photo: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images.