THE race for the final 10 spots in the 2015 Cell C Community Cup intensifies this weekend with a number of intriguing qualifying matches around the country.
With just over six months to go before the third edition of SARU’s new national championship for non-university clubs, 10 clubs have already qualified from their respective provincial premier leagues – and next year’s field is already an interesting mix of old and new.
Raiders and Pretoria Police, who took part in the inaugural Community Cup in 2013, will return in 2015 after topping the Golden Lions Pirates Grand Challenge and Blue Bulls Carlton Cup logs respectively. With qualification assured, both clubs will this weekend aim for overall provincial glory when they take on Varsity opposition in their respective finals.
Raiders will host UJ at the Bill Jardine Stadium in Johannesburg on Friday night (kick-off 21h00), while Police will entertain Tukkies on Saturday at Loftus Versfeld B (kick-off 17h00).
And while G5 Metals Brakpan won the Valke final on Wednesday night for the fourth time in succession, beaten finalists Springs will represent the Union at Community Cup 2015 after finishing top of the log after the round-robin stages.
It will be Springs’ first appearance in the tournament, although the East Rand club were a regular fixture at the old Club Championships.
So too SA Home Loans Durban Collegians, who qualified for the Community Cup after winning the KZN Fidelity Security Moor Cup last week for the first time in eight years, thereby relegating 2013 Community Cup runners-up Jonsson College Rovers to the post-season play-offs that will determine the final five spots.
The other six confirmed teams all return – defending champions Rustenburg Impala, Border Super League winners Kempston Old Selbornians, Bloemfontein Crusaders (highest-placed open club in the Free State Town Challenge Cup), Aveng Moolmans Sishen (winners of the Griquas Super League final), Griffons champions Eagle Towing Welkom Rovers (who beat Kroonstad 23-19 in the Senior League final) and Shumba Ferros, who won the Mpumalanga Super League title last weekend with a 29-11 victory over Sasol.
BB Truck Noordelikes may join them but the reigning Limpopo champions must first overcome Waterberg league winners Potgietersrus in a two-legged eliminator, the first of which takes place on Saturday in Polokwane.
And down south, 2014 Community Cup bronze medallists Hamiltons will move one step closer to qualification should they beat Belhar in their WP Super League A match in Green Point, Cape Town, while Stor-Age False Bay and Durbanville-Bellville, look set to fight it out for second place and the right to play the Boland runners-up in a qualification match in October.
In Uitenhage, 2013 champions Gap Management Despatch resume their EP Grand Challenge campaign with a tough away encounter against Progress, who themselves are not yet out of the qualifying race.
And in the Boland, United Bulk Villagers Worcester will retain their massive lead in the Premier League should they beat newcomers Never Despair at Boland Park.
This weekend's premier club fixtures:
Golden Lions – Pirates Grand Challenge final, Fri:
Raiders vs UJ (Bill Jardine Stadium, Johannesburg, 21h00)
Blue Bulls – Carlton Cup Final, Sat:
Pretoria Police vs Tukkies (Loftus Versfeld B field, 17h00)
Eastern Province – Grand Challenge, Sat 15h30:
Park vs Harlequins (Londt Park, PE)
Grahamstown Brumbies vs SAPS (Oval, Grahamstown)
Progress vs Gap Management Despatch (Central Grounds, Uitenhage)
African Bombers vs Crusaders (Zwide Stadium, PE)
Kruisfontein vs Gardens (Country Club, Humansdorp)
Western Province – Super League A, Sat 16h00:
Tygerberg vs Victorians (Florida Park, Ravensmead)
FNB UCT vs Stor-Age False Bay (Groote Schuur, Cape Town)
FNB UWC vs FNB Maties (UWC Stadium, Cape Town)
Hamiltons vs Belhar (Stephan Oval, Green Point)
Primrose vs SK Walmers (Rosmead Sports Grounds, Kenilworth)
Kuils River vs Durvanville-Bellville (Kuils River Sports Fields)
Blue Bulls Limpopo – Community Cup eliminator, 1st leg:
BB Truck Noordelikes vs Potgietersrus (Noordelikes Rugby Club, Polokwane, 16h00)
Boland – Premier League, Sat 16h00:
Vredenburg vs Roses United (Vredenburg Sports Grounds)
Saldanha vs Ceres (Saldanha Sports Grounds)
United Bulk Villagers Worcester vs Never Despair (Boland Park, Worcester)
Hawston vs Delicious (Bospark, Hawston)
SWD – Premier League, Sat 16h00:
Bridgton vs All Blacks (Bridgton Sports Grounds, Oudtshoorn)
Silver Stars vs Uniondale (Rosemore Stadium, George)
Evergreens vs Mossel Bay (Pacaltsdorp Sports Grounds)
Blanco vs Crusaders (Blanco Rugby Field, George)
Bonnievale United vs Progress (Bonnievale Stadium)
Groot Brakrivier vs Mossel Bay Barbarians (Groot Brak Secondary School
2015 Cell C Community Cup Pools:
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), Limpopo champion (Noordelikes or Potgietersrus), regional qualifier.
Pool C – Western Province champion open club, Boland champion, Aveng Moolmans Sishen (Griquas), SWD champion, regional qualifier.
Pool D – SA Home Loans Durban Collegians (KZN), EP champion open club, Welkom Rovers (Griffons), Shumba Ferros (Mpumalanga), regional qualifier.