The SuperSport Rugby Challenge delivers many outcomes to many people and the competition will again embrace a new venue, new players and leave a footprint in the communities where rugby is delivered every weekend when the third round kicks off on Friday.
It is not exclusively for small grounds though and this weekend will see a number of matches being played at big venues, as the tournament swings past the likes of Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg and Hage Geingob Stadium in Windhoek, Namibia.
The competition is also developing another core element of the game of rugby – the referees. No less than three debutants had their first taste of senior provincial rugby so far this year, with Christopher Allison, Divan Uys and Griffin Colby all showing why they were rated good enough to handle matches of this calibre.
And just like the use of bigger venues, there are also – on the other end of the scale of referees – ‘big stadium referees’ in action this weekend. Stuart Berry, for example, has officiated in six Test matches, 28 Vodacom Super Rugby matches and 22 Guinness PRO14 matches, and proudly adds his seven SuperSport Rugby Challenge appearances to his career tally.
Colby, in his third outing at senior provincial level, has a long way to go if he wants to emulate Berry, but will always remember the tournament where he started his senior career. He will be involved when some form of history is made when the Border Bulldogs take their home game to yet another club venue, this time the Police Rugby Club in East London, where they will face unbeaten Boland.
The second Rugby Festival – a unique element of the SuperSport Rugby Challenge – is also due, this time at D’Almeida Stadium in Mossel Bay, with two provincial matches and a club match all part of the televised action on Sunday. SWD, as hosts, will take on Zimbabwe Academy, while the EP Elephants and Toyota Free State XV will play in the earlier encounter of the afternoon.
The action starts on Friday already, with Berry in charge of the match between the Cell C Sharks XV and DHL Western Province in Durban.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls will take on the Down Touch Griffons in a match that will see two of the leading points’ scorers in the competition so far, JT Jackson and Jaywinn Juries, match up.
The third match on Friday evening will see defending champions, the iSG Pumas, host the Leopards in Nelspruit.
On Saturday, Colby will be strutting his stuff in East London, while the Xerox Golden Lions XV host the Valke in a Gauteng derby at Emirates Airline Park. The final match on Saturday takes place in Windhoek, where the Windhoek Draught Welwitschias and Tafel Lager Griquas will try and claim bragging rights.
The weekend’s fixtures are:
Friday 10 May:
Cell C Sharks XV v DHL Western Province
Venue: KP2, Durban
Referee: Stuart Berry
Vodacom Blue Bulls v Down Touch Griffons
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Paul Mente
iSG Pumas v Leopards
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Referee: Stephan Geldenhuys
Saturday 11 May
Border v Boland
Venue: Police Rugby Club, East London
Referee: Griffin Colby
Xerox Golden Lions XV v Valke
Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Cwengile Jadezweni
Windhoek Draught Welwitschias v Tafel Lager Griquas
Venue: Hage Geingob Stadium, Windhoek
Referee: Jaco Pretorius
Sunday 12 May (Rugby Festival at D’Almeida Stadium, Mossel Bay, live on SS 11)
EP Elephants v Toyota Free State XV
Referee: Ruhan Meiring
SWD Eagles v Zimbabwe Academy
Referee: Vusi Msibi