Welkom Rovers will represent the Griffons at next month’s Club Championships in Rustenburg after an unbeaten season that culminated in victory over Henneman in last week’s Cup final.
With a month to go until the tournament kicks off, all but one of the 16 teams are now confirmed. The Mpumalanga champion will be decided in the coming weeks when Witbank Ferros and Lowveld champions White River contest the province’s final, with details to be confirmed.
The list of qualifiers:
Blue Bulls: Police – Pretoria
Blue Bulls Limpopo: Noordelikes – Polokwane
Boland: Villagers – Worcester
Border: Old Selbornians – East London
Free State: Police – Bloemfontein
Golden Lions: Roodepoort
Griffons: Rovers – Welkom
Griquas: Sishen – Kathu
KZN: College Rovers – Durban
Leopards: Impala – Rustenburg
Mpumalanga: tbc – either Witbank Ferros or White River
SWD: Blanco – George
WP: Durbell – Durbanville/Bellville
SARU invited team: Naka Bulls – Pretoria
Welkom Rovers may be one of the most successful clubs in Griffons rugby and they might have gone through the 2012 league unbeaten, but the club still had to win the league final to book their Club Champs tickets, which they duly accomplished last Thursday when they beat Henneman 38-20.
Interestingly, the two Rovers – Welkom and College – and Noordelikes are the only clubs who will go to Rustenburg having appeared in last year’s tournament in Stellenbosch, with the other 13 teams all having missed out on the 2011 event.
“I’m very proud of the team and I think they can do very well this year,” said ecstatic chairman Kallie Joubert, who played for Free State against the 1976 All Blacks as well as in that year’s Absa Currie Cup final. “Rovers made the 1999 Club Champs final, where we lost to Shimlas, and we made the semi-finals in 2006 before losing to College Rovers.
“Last year we gave UJ a big scare in the Cup quarter-finals before bowing out and with the universities not being there this year I think we’re in for a very evenly-matched event.”
In other news from around the country, the Blue Bulls Carlton Cup final will take place this weekend at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, between league winners and FNB Varsity Cup champions Tuks and Club Champs qualifiers Pretoria Police. It will be the fourth time in a row that the two sides contest the final, with the Bobbies winning the 2009 clash.
Tuks beat Centurion 32-17 and Police beat Naka Bulls 36-20 in last weekend’s semi-finals, played at the Police College grounds in Pretoria.
Staying in Gauteng, UJ beat Wits 31-15 in a top-of-the-table Predator Super League fixture while Rustenburg Impala moved to second following their 50-17 win over Raiders.
Shimlas are Free State champions for 2012 after beating their second team, Irawas, 34-22 in the City League final last week.
And in the Western Province Super League A, Club Champs qualifiers Durbanville-Bellville stretched their lead at the top of the standings to 19 points following a comprehensive 33-13 away victory over UCT.
Up the coast, league winners Blanco will host Barbarians and second-placed Evergreens will be at home to Bridgton in the semi-finals of the SWD Premier League knockouts. The semi-final draw for the KZN Castle Murray Cup has thrown up a heavyweight clash with Durban Collegians and College Rovers doing battle for a place in the final against either Crusaders or Zululand Rhinos.