Photo: Roger Sedres/ImageSA
A fierce Western Cape derby awaits defending champions Durbanville-Bellville after SA Rugby on Thursday confirmed the pool draw for this year’s Gold Cup national championships for non-university clubs.
Durbell, who beat Rustenburg Impala 31-30 in last year’s Community Cup final to cap a fairytale campaign which they had begun as the 20th ranked team, are ranked first for the inaugural Gold Cup and will be joined in Pool A by Boland champions Villagers Worcester, Border title-holders Old Selbornians (who beat Durbell in the pool stages last year), and the Griffons’ number-one club, Welkom Rovers.
Impala are ranked second and face a tough Pool B campaign having been drawn against newcomers Pirates (Golden Lions), double SWD champions Pacaltsdorp Evergreens and new Limpopo victors Northam Rhinos. The pool has an international flavour in the form of Windhoek Wanderers, who have been nominated by the Namibian Rugby Union to be that country’s first representative in what has become a Southern African club tournament.
Debutants Direct Axis False Bay of Western Province head up an intriguing Pool C, which also includes double KZN league champions SA Home Loans Durban Collegians, new Mpumalanga title-holders White River – who last played in the 2013 Community Cup – and the Valke champions, who must still be confirmed. The pool also has an African feel to it with Zimbabwe’s representatives, who will be decided in June following national play-offs in Harare and Bulawayo, rounding out the five-team group.
Pool D is a veritable ‘Battle of the Bobbies’, with no less than three Police teams drawn against each other. In what amounts to a tournament within a tournament, Port Elizabeth Police (EP) will face their Pretoria (Blue Bulls) and Bloemfontein (Free State) colleagues in a group that also includes perennial Griquas champions Sishen.
As per the tournament rules, the pool draw is determined by the final rankings of the previous year’s national tournament, in this case the 2015 Community Cup.
The remaining two qualifier slots will be decided by 2016’s provincial leagues, with those teams who finish as the best open clubs in their leagues this year, having not done so in 2015, playing off for the last two Gold Cup slots on 20 and 27 August. These two qualifiers will become the fifth and final teams in Pools A and D respectively.
The Gold Cup will kick off on Saturday, 10 September, with 20 clubs once again competing in a Rugby World Cup-style format, with five weeks of pool stages and the top two from each group progressing to the knockout stages. The tournament will feature 47 matches in all.
In a departure from the Easter weekend play-off format which was a hallmark of the Community Cup era, the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the Cup final itself will be hosted by participating clubs.
2016 Gold Cup Pools:
Durbanville-Bellville (defending champion, Western Province)
Villagers Worcester (2015 Boland champion)
Old Selbornians (2015 Border champion)
Welkom Rovers (2015 Griffons champion)
Rustenburg Impala (top Leopards non-university club in 2015)
Pirates (top Golden Lions non-university club in 2015)
Evergreens (2015 SWD champion)
Northam Rhinos (2015 Limpopo Blue Bulls champion)
Windhoek Wanderers (top Namibian non-university club in 2015)
False Bay (top WP non-university club in 2015)
Durban Collegians (2015 KZN champion)
White River (2015 Mpumalanga champion)
Valke – team to be confirmed
Zimbabwe – team to be decided on 11 June
Port Elizabeth Police (nominated by Eastern Province)
Pretoria Police (top Blue Bulls non-university club in 2015)
Bloemfontein Police (top Free State non-university club in 2015)
Sishen (2015 Griquas champion)
2015 Community Cup rankings by province:
(Note: Top 8 as they finished in Rustenburg Easter play-offs; remainder as they finished in the pool stages. Where provinces had two clubs taking part, the club that finished highest determined the ranking):
- Champions (qualify automatically for 2016 Gold Cup), 2. Leopards, 3. WP, 4. EP, 5. Blue Bulls, 6. KZN, 7. Golden Lions, 8. Boland, 9. Border, 10. SWD, 11. Mpumalanga, 12. Free State, 13. Griquas, 14. Valke, 15. Limpopo Blue Bulls, 16. Griffons.