Sixteen teams line up at the start of the 2011 Vodacom Cup on Friday, aiming to lift the title while SARU and provincial unions will take rugby back to the community by creating family fun days at selected matches.
A total of 140 schools across the country have been invited to matches and will participate in events in a competition that will culminate with one school driving off with a brand new school mini-bus – courtesy of SARU and Vodacom – as part of the initiative.
On the field the focus will be on a different prize – claiming the 14th edition of the Vodacom Cup.
The competition retains its international flavour with the participation of teams from Rugby World Cup-bound Argentina (Pampas XV) and Namibia (Welwitschias). The Pampas XV are grouped in the South Section with DHL Western Province, Boland Cavaliers, SWD Eagles, EP Kings, Border Bulldogs, The Sharks XVs and the Free State Cheetahs.
The Welwitschias are joined by the Vodacom Blue Bulls, Golden Lions, Valke, Ford Pumas, Platinum Leopards, Griquas and the Griffons in the North Section. Each section will play in a single round across the section and will compete in eight matches – four home and four away matches.
The tournament kicks off in Bloemfontein tomorrow (Friday) when last year’s losing finalists – Toyota Free State Cheetahs – host the Valke at the Free State Rugby Stadium at 16h45. The Welwitschias travel to Port Elizabeth for their clash against the EP Kings on Friday at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (19h00).
Friday’s other Vodacom Cup games takes place in East London where the Border Bulldogs host the Platinum Leopards at 19h00, and at Outeniqua Park in George where the SWD Eagles start their 2011 campaign against the Ford Pumas at 19h00.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls begin their title defence in Durban on Saturday when they take on The Sharks XVs at Mr Price Kings Park at 14h40 as a curtain-raiser to the Sharks v Blues Vodacom Super Rugby match.
The Pampas XV will play their first “home” game of the competition on Saturday when they “host” the Griffons at the Fanie du Toit Stadium in Potchefstroom at 15h00 before the DHL Newlands clash featuring DHL Western Province and the Golden Lions at 16h45 – another Vodacom Super Rugby curtain raiser.
The four-time Vodacom Cup champions – Griquas – are in the town of Bredasdorp on Saturday for their clash against the Boland Cavaliers at 16h00.
The first Vodacom Cup Community match is scheduled for 11 March when the EP Kings host the Ford Pumas at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth (kickoff – TBC).
SARU, competition sponsor Vodacom together with the development offices of the various provinces hosting these games will present basic rugby training sessions for schools. Aspiring rugby players will be put through their paces on game days and will participate in a rugby basic obstacle course where they will be able to apply their passing, catching, kicking as well as side-stepping skills.
There will be a number prizes awarded to the school entrants at the conclusion of these activities at the community matches.
In the week of the final, one lucky school that participated in these programmes will win a minibus which could be utilised for future rugby and sport activities in their community.
Vodacom Cup Fixtures (Round One):
Friday, February 25, 2010:
- EP Kings v Namibia (19h00) – Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
- Toyota Free State Cheetahs v Valke (16h45) – Free State Rugby Stadium
- Border v Platinum Leopards (19h00) – Buffalo City Stadium
- SWD Eagles v Ford Pumas (19h00) – Outeniqua Park, George
Saturday, February 26, 2010:
- DHL Western Province v Golden Lions (16h45) – DHL Newlands
- Sharks XV v Vodacom Blue Bulls (14h40) – Mr Price Kings Park, Durban
- Boland Cavaliers v Griquas (16h00) – Bredasdorp
- Pampas XV v Griffons (15h00) – Fanie du Toit Stadium, Potchefstroom