The Cell C Community Cup, introduced in 2013, is South Africa's elite club rugby competition and the catalyst for the revival of the club game in rugby communities across the country, from Wellington to Welkom, Kathu to Pacaltsdorp, Brakpan to Zwide and everywhere in between.
A total of 115 'open' clubs will fight it out in premier leagues across SA during 2013 to qualify for the 2014 Cell C Community Cup.
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There are around 900 rugby clubs in South Africa, competing in various tiers of leagues in the 14 rugby provinces. Each province has a premier league, from which the best non-university or 'open' club will emerge each season to compete for the iconic and pricess Gold Cup in the following year's Cell C Community Cup.
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The Cell C Community Cup replaces the old SARU National Club Championships, contested from 1975-2012. The tournament features the best non-university clubs from all 14 provincial unions plus Limpopo, plus five wild card invitees in a format identical to that of the Rugby World Cup.
With the Cell C Community Cup takings its place as the "World Cup" of club rugby in South Africa, the various provincial premier leagues now automatically assume the role of Community Cup qualifying leagues - thereby making the Community Cup a year-long event that aims to provide an aspirational platform for as many clubs as possible.
" The Cell C Community Cup tournament format is an exciting blend of old and new and we would like to spread the coverage net as far and wide as possible as we look to build the tournament in the coming years," says SARU CEO, Jurie Roux. " In 2013, pool matches took place at 20 club venues across the country over a five-week period, followed by play-offs for the top eight at Outeniqua Park in George over the Easter long weekend.
" The Easter Championships revived the very special atmosphere of the old Easter Club Champs in Durban, which is still fondly remembered by players and fans alike," adds Roux.
The old SARU National Club Championships had a proud history, with Maties winning the first of 12 titles by beating Durban Collegians 28-20 in inaugural final played at Kings Park in Durban in 1975. But the advent of the professional era and the FNB Varsity Cup meant that the week-long event had become stale, outdated and in urgent need of a revamp, Roux says.
The final Club Champs, held in Rustenburg in September 2012, symbolised the transition from old to new as it was also the first time in the tournament's 38-year history that Varsity teams were not involved.
Jonsson College Rovers of KZN, whose home ground is situated just a stone's throw away from Mr Price Kings Park, were the 38th and final winners to have their names engraved on the trophy after beating Pretoria Police 23-10 in the final.
College Rovers' victory earned the Durban-based club the right to usher in a new era by hosting the opening match of the inaugural Cell C Community Cup on 16 February 2013, against GAP Despatch, a match which Rovers won 38-17.
Ironically, these same two teams would meet six weeks later in George in the inaugural final, with Despatch turning the tables on Rovers with a penalty after the hooter by fullback Monty Dumond giving the Eastern Cape side a dramatic 26-24 win and making them the first side to lift the iconic and priceless Gold Cup.
For more information about club rugby in South Africa, contact:
Duane Heath - Tournament Manager: Cell C Community Cup
021 928 7055 (office)
082 375 8294 (cell)
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