THE quest to secure one of the five ‘wild card’ slots at the 2015 Cell C Community Cup will kick off in the Northern Cape platteland on Saturday with the first of 13 play-off matches to be contested across the country over the coming weeks.
Kimberley will be the neutral venue when Griquas Super League runners-up Upington Dorp and Free State’s number-two non-university club, Bloemfontein Police, ‘meet halfway’ at GWK Park (kick-off 13h00).
With exactly six months to go before the start of the third edition of SARU’s new national championship for so-called ‘open’ clubs, 12 teams have already qualified automatically from their respective provincial premier leagues, with only the champions of Western Province, Boland and SWD to be confirmed.
The remaining five places will be decided on the field of play this year, with the second-best open clubs from each province fighting it out in four regions in play-offs identical in format to that of Rugby World Cup qualifying – right down to the repechage round that gives lucky losers a third bite at the cherry.
The four respective winners of the South West, South East, Central and North region finals will join the 15 automatic qualifiers in the 2015 field, with the repechage final winner earning the 20th and final spot – and a place in Pool A alongside defending champions Rustenburg Impala.
The 2015 Community Cup is provisionally scheduled to take place from 21 February to 6 April 2015.
“The recent Rugby World Cup qualifying matches involving our neighbours Namibia and Zimbabwe went right down to the wire, as have a number of other games around the world, and we are hopeful that these ‘do-or-die’ Community Cup play-off clashes will create the same levels excitement in our rugby communities,” said SARU CEO, Jurie Roux.
“The play-off format has given clubs from towns such as Malmesbury, Uitenhage, Upington, Orkney, Secunda and Mokopane a first taste of Community Cup rugby and their enthusiasm has been very encouraging.”
2015 Cell C Community Cup Qualifying Matches – details TBC unless otherwise stated:
SOUTH WEST REGION:
Match 1 – Boland 2 vs WP 2 – Winner qualifies for Community Cup as South West 1, loser to Repechage Semi-final 1. The Boland Premier League runner-up and the second-best open club in the WP Super League A will contest this one-off match.
SOUTH EAST REGION:
Match 2 – East London Police (Border 2) vs EP 2 – Winner to Match 3. Loser eliminated. EP 2 will be decided after the final round of the EP Grand Challenge this Saturday (see fixtures below), with SAPS and Gardens the front-runners.
Match 3 – Winner Match 2 vs SWD 2 – Winner qualifies for Community Cup as South East 1, loser to Repechage Semi-final 1.
Match 4 – Bloemfontein Police (Free State 2) vs Upington Dorp (Griquas 2) – 23 Aug, 13h00, GWK Park, Kimberley. Winner to Match 6. Loser eliminated.
Match 5 – Kroonstad (Griffons 2) vs Jonsson College Rovers (KZN 2) – walkover College Rovers.
Match 6 – Winner Match 4 vs Jonsson College Rovers – Winner qualifies for Community Cup as Central 1, loser to Repechage Semi-final 2.
Match 7 – G5 Metals Brakpan (Valke 2) vs Vaal Reefs (Leopards 2) – 6 Sep, 12h45, Olen Park, Potchefstroom. Winner to Match 8. Loser eliminated.
Match 8 – Winner Match 7 vs Vaseline Wanderers Chiefs (Golden Lions 2). Winner to Match 11. Loser eliminated.
Match 9 – Potgietersrus (Limpopo 2) vs Sasol (Mpumalanga 2). Winner to Match 10. Loser eliminated.
Match 10 – Winner Match 9 vs Blue Bulls 2. Winner to Match 11. Loser eliminated.
Match 11 – Winner Match 8 vs Winner Match 10. Winner qualifies for Community Cup as North 1, loser to Repechage Semi-final 2.
Match 12 – Semi-final 1: Loser Match 1 vs Loser Match 3
Match 13 – Semi-final 2: Loser Match 6 vs Loser Match 11
Match 14 – Final: Winner Match 12 vs Winner Match 13. Winner is 20th & final team to qualify for Community Cup.
Pool A – Rustenburg Impala (Leopards, defending champion), Kempston Old Selbornians (Border), Springs (Valke), repechage winner, regional qualifier.
Pool B – Raiders (Golden Lions), Pretoria Police (Blue Bulls), Bloemfontein Crusaders (Free State), BB Truck Noordelikes (Limpopo), regional qualifier.
Pool C – Western Province No.1 open club, Boland champion, Aveng Moolmans Sishen (Griquas), SWD champion, regional qualifier.
Pool D – SA Home Loans Durban Collegians (KZN), Gap Management Despatch (EP), Welkom Rovers (Griffons), Shumba Ferros (Mpumalanga), regional qualifier.
THIS WEEKEND’S LEAGUE FIXTURES:
Eastern Province – Grand Challenge, Sat 15h30:
Brumbies vs NMMU Madibaz (Oval, Grahamstown)
Progress vs Harlequins (Central Ground, Uitenhage)
African Bombers vs SAPS (Zwide Stadium, PE)
Kruisfontein vs Gap Management Despatch (Country Club, Humansdorp)
Spring Rose vs Crusaders (New Brighton Oval, PE)
Western Province – Super League A:
Stor-Age False Bay vs Bellville (Philip Herbstein, Constantia)
Helderberg vs UWC (Charles Morkel Stadium, Strand)
Victorians vs UCT (Danie Craven Stadium, Stellenbosch)
Primrose vs Maties (Rosmead Sports Grounds, Kenilworth)
Hamiltons vs Tygerberg (Stephan Oval, Green Point)
Belhar vs NNK (Accordian Park, Belhar)
SK Walmers vs Durbanville-Bellville (Green Point Track)
Boland – Premier League, Sat 16h00:
Hawston vs Saldanha (Bospark, Hawston)
United Bulk Villagers Worcester vs Ceres (Boland Park, Worcester)
Wesbank vs Robertson (Wesbank Sports Grounds, Malmesbury)
Roses United vs Never Despair (Pelican Park, Wellington)
Delicous vs Wellington (Ceres Sports Grounds)
SWD – Premier League, Sat 16h00:
Evergreens vs Bridgton (Pacaltsdorp Sports Grounds)
Uniondale vs Groot-Brak (Uniondale Sports Grounds)
Bonnievale United vs Silver Stars (Bonnievale Stadium)