Gold Cup kicks off this weekend

The Carlton Cup champion, Quins-Bobbies Rugby Club (QBR), will represent the Blue Bulls in the national Gold Cup tournament. Photo: GB Jordaan

Club rugby will take centre stage simultaneously in three countries on Saturday.

The Gold Cup kicks off with eight highly-anticipated matches across the length and breadth of Southern Africa. The fixtures for SA Rugby’s flagship three-nation champions’ league for non-university clubs see Windhoek, Harare, Rustenburg, Cape Town, East London, Welkom and Orkney hosting first-round matches.

Gold Cup champions Rustenburg Impala, which was officially part of the Blue Bulls prestigious Carlton Cup tournament this year, will kick off the defence of their title with a tough home fixture against Cheetahs champions Bloemfontein Police.

Griffons champion Welkom, Pumas representative ARC rugby, and Valke champion Vereeniging are the other three teams with Impala in pool A.

The Gold Cup, which runs until 29 October, is identical to the Rugby World Cup format, consisting of four pools of five teams each, with each club playing two home and two away matches over the five-week period of the pool stages.

The top two sides from each pool will progress to the quarter-finals on 14 and 15 October. The semi-finals are scheduled for
22 October. The Blue Bulls’ representative, Quins-Bobbies Rugby Club (QBR), will enjoy a bye in week one of the tournament.

They are part of pool B and will be up against Vaal Reefs (Leopards) on 16 September in their first game of the tournament.
It will be a home game for Nico Luus and Gert Mulder’s men.

QBR’s second game is on 23 September away in Harare against Old Georgians (Zimbabwe). Then they play home again in Pretoria against Raiders (Lions) on 30 September.

The Pretorians’ last league commitment is on 7 October when they will play away in Setaria against Northam from Limpopo.
Luus said they had rested their players for a while after the Carlton Cup final.

After that, they subjected the men to a typical pre-season exercise programme to prepare them for the Gold Cup. Luus said they had strengthened their ranks in key positions for the prestigious tournament.

He said he did not believe they would have easy matches in their pool. Luus said they would have to try to win all their pool matches.
Although two teams in every pool will go through to the quarter-finals, it will be important for QBR to end first in their pool to avoid a possible clash with defending champion, Impala in the quarter-finals.

 

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  AUTHOR
Koos Venter
Sport Journalist

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