So club rugby might not be as dead and buried as some might believe!
The awesome news out of SARU last week saw the launch of a new televised national tournament for non-university clubs that gets going next year …
It’s called the Community Cup and will replace the existing National Club Championships – won by College Rovers last week – and will begin on Saturday 16 February 2013, with 20 of the country’s top “open” clubs competing in a format identical to that of the Rugby World Cup.
The tournament will produce a national club champion side, and they will play the winners of the Varsity Cup to see which is the fairest club of them all! How bloody legendary is that!!
“Club rugby is one of most important items on our agenda and we believe that the SARU Community Cup will breathe new life into club rugby,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux. “It will act as a catalyst for the revival of the club game at all levels across the country.
The tournament will start with 20 clubs, but plans were already in place to expand the competition by introducing a separate division for platteland-based clubs and junior teams.
The 20 clubs will be made up of the 14 champion clubs of the provincial unions, with a further 6 wildcard teams invited by SARU. The clubs will be divided into four pools of five, with each club playing two home and two away matches over a period of five weeks.
The top two clubs from each pool will then advance to the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals each year at a central venue over the Easter long weekend. The first final will be played on Easter Monday, 1 April 2013.
So as Roux continues: “Pool matches will take place in towns and cities across the country and give the tournament as diverse a flavour and footprint as possible, while the play-off component will revive the very special atmosphere of the old Easter Club Championships.”
Roux also emphasised that the Community Cup was the first step in SARU’s strategy to revamp club rugby, which also included plans for the revival of the SA Amateur and SA Platteland teams in the coming years.
Now we just need to ditch the Vodacom Cup, start the Currie Cup earlier, and persuade the clubs not in the Community and Varsity Cup tournaments to play a knockout tournament as part of their build up to the league, which will start after the completion of the Grand Final …
Meanwhile … The okes at Varsity Cup central have released their fixtures for next year:
Monday, February 4:
Maties v UJ, Danie Craven Stadium – 5pm (TV)
NWU-Pukke v UP-Tuks, Fanie du Toit – 7pm (TV)
UCT v NMMU, UCT Rugby Fields – 7pm
Wits v Shimlas, Wits Rugby Stadium – 7pm
Monday, February 11:
UP-Tuks v UCT, Tuks Rugby Stadium – 5pm (TV)
NMMU v Wits, NMMU Stadium – 7pm (TV)
UJ v NWU-Pukke, UJ Stadium – 7pm
Shimlas v Maties, Shimla Park – 7pm
Monday, February 18:
Shimlas v UP-Tuks, Xerox Shimla Park – 5pm (TV)
Maties v NMMU, Danie Craven Stadium – 7pm (TV)
Wits v NWU-Pukke, Wits Rugby Stadium – 7pm
UCT v UJ, UCT Rugby Fields – 7pm
Monday, February 25:
Wits v UJ, Wits Rugby Stadium – 5pm (TV)
UP-Tuks v Maties, Tuks Rugby Stadium – 7pm (TV)
NWU-Pukke v UCT, Fanie du Toit Sports Ground – 7pm
NMMU v Shimlas, NMMU Stadium – 7pm
Monday, March 4:
UCT v Maties, UCT Rugby Fields – 5pm (TV)
Shimlas v NWU-Pukke, Shimla Park – 7pm (TV)
UP-Tuks v Wits, Tuks Rugby Stadium – 7pm
NMMU v UJ, NMMU Stadium – 7pm
Monday, March 11:
NWU-Pukke v NMMU, Fanie du Toit – 5pm (TV)
UJ v UP-Tuks, UJ Stadium – 7pm (TV)
Shimlas v UCT, Shimla Park – 7pm
Wits v Maties, Wits Rugby Stadium – 7pm
Monday, March 18:
UJ v Shimlas, UJ Stadium – 5pm (TV)
Maties v NWU-Pukke, Danie Craven Stadium – 7pm (TV)
NMMU v UP-Tuks, NMMU Stadium – 7pm
UCT v Wits, UCT Rugby Fields – 7pm
Monday, March 25:
Semi 1: Log position 1 v Log position 4 – 4.30pm (TV)
Semi 2: Log position 2 v Log position 3 – 7pm (TV)
Monday, April 8:
Final: Semifinal winner One v Semifinal winner Two – 7pm (TV)