Historic Sunday TV semis for Gold Cup
October 21, 2016

The Gold Cup – South African rugby’s three-nation non-university club championships – has exploded into life this year and will make further history this weekend when Supersport airs the semi-finals as part of a groundbreaking double-header Sunday afternoon broadcast.

Local Sunday rugby – especially the televised variety – is something of a rarity and a novelty, but tournament organisers SA Rugby are hoping that the Gold Cup’s positioning as a community event for the whole family to enjoy, will resonate with those looking for something to do to fill lazy Sunday afternoons.

If the tournament so far is anything to go by, the so-called #SundayShowdown experiment should be a success. Club rugby, thanks to the arrival of the Gold Cup, has firmly re-established itself in the public consciousness after years of living in the shadow of professionalism.

At the top of the rugby pyramid, Springbok rugby is facing some challenges. But the good news for the sport as a whole is that, down at the grassroots level, rugby in the heartlands remains special and strong.

For evidence of this, look no further than this year’s Gold Cup opening match at Boland Park in Worcester – a rugby-mad town if ever there was one – where 6,000 fans packed the famous old stadium and more than 220,000 watched it live on Supersport.

The decision to expand the tournament to include the champion clubs of Namibia and Zimbabwe was also an unqualified success. On the field, both FNB Wanderers Windhoek and Old Georgians of Harare were more than competitive, both having gone into the final round of the pool stages with a chance of reaching the play-offs.

Off the field, they epitomised the unique spirit of camaraderie that is still to be found in club rugby, and which the Gold Cup takes very seriously – even going as far as to arrange post-match braais so that competing clubs could socialise and build friendships that will last beyond the life of the tournament.

After 40 pool matches and four quarterfinals at 20 venues across South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe over the past six weeks, there is precious little to choose between the four remaining teams contesting this coming weekend’s eagerly awaited semifinals.

The first semi is a highly-anticipated, all-Western Province affair between defending champions Durbanville-Bellville and WP champions DirectAxis False Bay. The match will take place at Durbell Rugby Club, with kick-off at 13h00. The referee is Rasta Rasivhenge.

There is literally nothing to choose between these two sides. Their meeting earlier this year in the WP Super League – also at Durbanville – saw False Bay scrape home 33-27 en route to an unbeaten season and their first WP title since 1972.

But derbies are by definition tight affairs, won perhaps by a single mistake or moment of brilliance, and Sunday’s clash, already dubbed on social media as the #ThrillintheVille, should be no different. Catch all the action live on SS1/HD from 12h55.

Durbanville-Bellville (15-1):
Raymond Olivier, Jason Kriel, Etienne Swarts, Janco Gunter, Cheslyn Roberts, Tiaan Radyn, Denzel Willemse, Conway Pretorius, Karl Liebenberg, Brendon Esterhuizen, Michael Badenhorst, Daneel-Hermann Botes, Ashston Constant, Arend Brink, Ashley Kohler. Replacements: Erasmus van der Linde, Eduard Loubser, Stephen Potgieter, Andrew Picoto, Gideon Thiart, Angus Cleophas, Jozua Malherbe.

DirectAxis False Bay (15-1):
Adnaan Osman, Danie Roux, Byron Mohr, Riaan O’Neill, Mustaqeem Jappie, Andri Claassen, Mohammed Damon, Ryan Olivier, Justin van Winkel, Brent Stevens, Brandon Wood, Graham Knoop (c), Ashley Wells, Andre van Vuuren, Wesley Chetty. Replacements: Dasch Barber, Wesley Futter, Willie Coetzee, Aiden Monk, Dylon Frylinck, Jason Pretorius, Roemark Smith.

The winner of the Cape Town derby will then be able to sit back and watch the heavyweight northern battle between last year’s runners-up, Rustenburg Impala, and Falcons champions Siyaya Brakpan. The match will take place at Impala Rugby Club in Rustenburg, with kick-off at 15h30. The referee is Pro Legoete.

The last time these two teams met was three years ago in the old Community Cup playoff for third and fourth, Brakpan winning 58-8 at Outeniqua Park in George. But few expect such a scoreline this time around, as arguably the two most physically imposing clubs in South African rugby go toe to toe in the Platinum belt.

Interesting to note is that should any of the semifinals end in a draw, two 10-minute halves of extra time will be played. If thereafter the scores are still level, the team that scored the most tries in the match will be the winner. Should there still be deadlock, the teams will play sudden-death extra time until one team scores points of any description.

With nothing to choose between the final four, what price one of these historic matches going to sudden death overtime?

Rustenburg Impala (15-1):
Xolani Nkosi, Dumisani Matyeshana, Justin St Jerry, Gysbert van Wyk, Aubrey McDonald, Cecil Dumond, Nico Kruger, Leon du Plessis, Justin Wheeer, Tiaan Prinsloo, Tiaan Nel, Robbie Rawlins, Zander de Kock, Bruce Muller, Louis Hollamby. Replacements: Gavin Williamson, Ivann Espag, Henro Huyser, JP le Grange, Stefan Kruger, Francois van Biljon, Maverick van der Merwe.

Siyaya Brakpan (15-1):
Raydall Walters, Thinus Ueckermann, Ronnie Roets, Christo Joubert, Hagen Mumba, Gido Horn, Clayton Gindan, Theo Mynhardt, Francois Robbertse (c), Jaco Lotter, Dwane Morrison, Theo Becker, Jason Arundel, Ian Oosthuizen, Pierre Foord. Replacements: Izak Moller, Armandt Jordaan, Dean van der Merwe, Ricky Menezes, JP Snyman, Shaun Botes, Luzuko Ndanda.

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