Rising stars in action as Vodacom Cup kicks off – Round 1 Preview
March 05, 2014
Last year’s champions, the Golden Lions, and runners-up, the Steval Pumas, are both in action on Friday.

The opening match takes place in Kempton Park, where the Valke will host the Steval Pumas, after which the Leopards XV host the Golden Lions in Potchefstroom. Both these matches are in the North Section, while the South Section opener will see the Cell C Sharks XV travel to East London to take on the Border Bulldogs.

On Saturday, City Park in Cape Town will host a unique double-header. Kenyan newcomers, the Tusker Simba XV, take on the EP Kings at their official home ground, while DHL Western Province, champions in 2012, and neighbours from Wellington, the Regent Boland Cavaliers, will also clash at this stadium in Athlone.

Each week we will feature emerging young players from the North and the South Sections who are making their way up the rugby ladder. This week it’s the turn of two former SA Schools players – Malcolm Marx (Golden Lions) and Sikhumbuzo Notshe (Western Province).

Vodacom Cup Rising Star (No 1) – Malcolm Marx

One player to watch in Friday’s match in Potchefstroom, is promising hooker Malcolm Marx, who is part of the Golden Lions’ squad in what will be his first taste of senior rugby.

The 19-year-old Marx, who was born on 13 July 1994, stands a solid 1.88m tall and weighs in at 113kg – Bismarck du Plessis is 1.89m and 112kg. Last year, he rubbed shoulders with the Springbok hooker when the Golden Lions Under-19 side helped the national team out at a number of training sessions in Johannesburg.

Marx is a born and bred Johannesburger who attended King Edward VII School – which produced Springboks such as Bryan Habana and Joe van Niekerk. He was named the Golden Lions’ U19 Forward of the Year in 2013 after a number of very strong performances for the runners up in the Absa Under-19 provincial competition, where he scored a try in the final against the Vodacom Blue Bulls U19s.

He is also part of the Lions’ wider Vodacom Super Rugby squad and could make their tour squad as third hooker early in May.

Marx, who likes the physical stuff, is a strong ball carrier and also brings leadership qualities to the table, is on the radar of the national selectors and a couple of strong performances in the Vodacom Cup will put him in line as a strong contender for the Junior Springbok squad for the Junior World Championships, which takes place in New Zealand in June.

Vodacom Cup Rising Star (No 2) – Sikhumbuzo Notshe

A rising star who will start at flank for DHL Western Province against the Regent Boland Cavaliers, is 20-year-old Sikhumbuzo Notshe, who was born in King William’s Town and matriculated at Wynberg Boys’ High School in Cape Town.

He was born on 28 May 1993 and represented WP at the Coca-Cola Under-18 Weeks in 2010 (in Welkom) and 2011 (in Kimberley). Notshe made his senior debut last year in the Vodacom Cup before starring in the Capetonians’ Under-21 side, which won the Absa Under-21 provincial series in 2013.

Notshe, who was one of the stars in the Absa Under-21 Final against the Vodacom Blue Bulls U21s, is an excellent ball-carrier, has superb skills and is very fast. Similar in size current to current Springbok loose forwards Siya Kolisi and Marcell Coetzee, he is 1.90m tall, tips the scales at 100kg and can play blindside flank or No 8.

His first season playing for Western Province – he featured in nine of their Vodacom Cup matches and scored two tries in the process – was a big learning curve for Notshe, who is also a good leader and a candidate to captain his provincial Under-21 side later this year if he is not part of their Absa Currie Cup side.

Notshe capped a great season in 2013 when he was voted DHL Western Province’s most promising Under-21 player. He was duly included in the DHL Stormers’ wider training squad earlier this season, but with loose forward stocks pretty solid in Cape Town, he will get another opportunity to shine in the Vodacom Cup in the coming weeks.

Competition format for 2014:

South Africa’s 14 provincial unions, as well as the Limpopo Blue Bulls and Kenyan debutants, the Tusker Simba XV, will play in two sections, North and South, with eight teams each of the groups. All the teams will play in a single round within their own section after which the top eight sides, four from each section, will progress to the playoffs.

North Section: Vodacom Blue Bulls, Golden Lions, Down Touch Griffons, GWK Griquas, Leopards XV, Steval Pumas, Valke, Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls.

South Section: Regent Boland Cavaliers, Border Bulldogs, EP Kings, Toyota Free State XV, Sharks XV, SWD Eagles, Tusker Simba XV, DHL Western Province.

Round 1 fixtures:

Friday, 7 March

Valke v Steval Pumas
Kick-off: 15h00
Venue: Barnard Stadium, Kempton Park
Referee: Jaco van Heerden

Border Bulldogs v Cell C Sharks XV
Kick-off: 19h00
Venue: BCM Stadium, East London
Referee: Francois Pretorius

Leopards XV v Golden Lions
Kick-off: 19h10
Venue: Profert Olën Park, Potchefstroom
Referee: Quinton Immelman

Saturday, 8 March

Vodacom Blue Bulls v GWK Griquas
Kick-off: 14h30
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen

Tusker Simba XV v EP Kings
Kick-off: 15h00
Venue: City Park, Cape Town
Referee: Rodney Boneparte

Down Touch Griffons v Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls
Kick-off: 15h00
Venue: Bultfontein High School
Referee: Jaco Kotze

Toyota Free State XV v SWD Eagles
Kick-off: 15h00
Venue: Clive Solomon Stadium, Heidedal, Bloemfontein
Referee: Marius Jonker

DHL Western Province v Regent Boland Cavaliers
Kick-off: 16h40
Venue: City Park, Cape Town
Referee: Pro Legoete

The Castle Lager Rugby Championship
Saturday, July 20 2019
17:05 - South Africa vs Australia
Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Saturday, July 27 2019
09:35 - New Zealand vs South Africa
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Saturday, August 10 2019
00:00 - Argentina vs South Africa
Castle Lager Incoming Series
Saturday, August 17 2019
17:05 - South Africa vs Argentina
Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
RWC Warm-up game
Friday, September 06 2019
00:00 - Japan vs South Africa
Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, Saitama
Rugby World Cup
Saturday, September 21 2019
11:45 - South Africa vs New Zealand
International Stadium, Yokohama
Saturday, September 28 2019
11:45 - South Africa vs Namibia
City of Toyota Stadium
Friday, October 04 2019
11:45 - South Africa vs Italy
Shizuoka Stadium
Tuesday, October 08 2019
12:15 - South Africa vs Canada
Kobe Misaki Stadium

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