Both matches in SA Rugby’s flagship national championship for so-called ‘open’ clubs, championed by 2007 Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok captain John Smit, will take place on Saturday 6 April at 16h00 at two clubs who between them have won three of the last four Gold Cup tournaments.
SuperSport have confirmed that the Final will be broadcast live next Sunday, 14 April at 14:30 (channel to be confirmed). The venue will also be confirmed after Saturday’s semi-finals.
Two-time champions Newrak Impala, who lifted the Cup in 2014 and 2016, will host arch-rivals and neighbours Northam Platinum Rhinos at the Rustenburg Impala Rugby Club in a heavyweight clash between the mining-club giants.
Impala coach Nico le Roux, 47, is a former technical advisor to the All Blacks under then-coach John Mitchell. He also spent five years with Vodacom Super Rugby sides the Chiefs and Blues as well as with provincial teams Waikato and North Harbour.
“It’s my fifth year at Impala and I’ve found that the standard of the SSG Gold Cup in 2019 has been very high,” he said.
“We’ve had to do things a little differently this year in terms of our playing and management style, and I think we have a team, both on and off the field which includes our sponsors Newrak, that embodies what Impala Rugby stands for.
“For us it’s a special year as we are dedicating the campaign to a former player Jaco Fourie, who was involved in a serious car accident. It’s important for us to play for our brothers who played for us in the past.”
Rhinos coach Flip de Kock, 39, is the headmaster of a nursery school in the mining community of Setaria, near Thabazimbi.
“I’m learning every day and would love to learn even more as a coach,” said De Kock, a teacher by profession who graduated from NWU.
He played for the club for a decade and is now into his fourth season at the helm: “Coaching is a lifelong passion of mine and it becomes part of your day-to-day life,” De Kock said.
“I’m a servant of the club and the community and it’s important for me to not disappoint the people who look up to us. It’s important for us to show the rest of South Africa that Limpopo rugby has a lot to offer in future.”
Durbanville-Bellville, champions in 2015, will host the second semi-final, against Border champions Hollywoodbets Swallows at Durbell Rugby Club in Cape Town. The match will be livestreamed on the SSG Gold Cup Facebook page as well as SA Rugby’s new digital platform, www.springboks.rugby.
Durbell coach Johan Kotze, 46, is a born-and-bred resident of Cape Town’s northern suburbs who graduated from Stellenbosch University and who works as a systems and IT manager at a large fruit export company.
After retiring “too late”, he began coaching at Brackenfell Rugby Club before moving to George, where he coached the town club and at local schools.
“After moving back to Cape Town I became the proud dad of twins and didn’t touch a rugby ball for five years!” Kotze said.
“I then went back to Brackenfell and helped them win promotion back to the WP Super League A.
“My involvement in rugby is not due to the nature of the game. I’m more of a people person and am involved to help people build an environment in which they can do great things. People have enormous potential and my job as a rugby coach is to up the skill set so that they can unlock that potential.
“We are completely amped for Saturday and the boys have prepared well. We have no excuses and see it as a wonderful opportunity to put our skills to the test and see where it gets us. We are completely committed to winning and pride ourselves in believing we will peak at the right time.”
Swallows coach Ntando ‘Tyson’ Kebe, 30, was born and raised in Mdantsane outside East London. He attended Thubalethu High in Fort Beaufort and studied at Fort Hare, where he graduated with a diploma in library sciences.
Kebe, a former Border Bulldogs, Boland Cavaliers and Griquas scrumhalf, played Vodacom Super Rugby for the Isuzu Southern Kings in 2016 and was rewarded with two SA ‘A’ caps against England.
“I started coaching Swallows in 2017 and last year we were unbeaten in four tournaments and 24 games,” Kebe said.
“The buildup to Saturday’s game has been good. We were underdogs but decided that we would fly the flag not only for Mdantsane and Border rugby, but for the whole of the Eastern Cape.
“This weekend’s match is going to be a big challenge but we are just going to stick with what has been working for us so far.”