Ten teams will battle it out in two sections in the new format of the SA Rugby U19 Championship, which will be hosted in Paarl and Johannesburg respectively over one week in September.
In a strangely structured competition, where the two section winners that progress to the final will be determined in two different formats with one a knock-out competition and the other a round robin, the ten teams are divided into the Coastal Section and an Inland Section.
The new format replaces the league system of the past with financial considerations at the heart of the change.
♦ SA Rugby Communications report that the Coastal Section, which will run concurrently with the Iqhawe Week at Paarl Gymnasium, features four teams, namely Boland, Eastern Province, Western Province and the Sharks.
The Inland Section which will be hosted at Ellis Park will feature six teams, namely the Blue Bulls, Valke, Free State, Golden Lions, Leopards and Pumas.
The teams in the Coastal Section will each face each other once during pool play, with the top team on the standings at the end of the three rounds advancing to the final, while the Inland Section will be played in a knock-out format based on the teams’ log positions from the 2018 season, with the top team earning their place in the final.
The final will be hosted at the home ground of the winner of the Coastal Section on the first weekend in October. Should Western Province host the final, the match will be played as a curtain-raiser for the Springbok Women’s Test against Scotland at City Park in Athlone.
Western Province will face Boland in an entertaining Western Cape derby on the opening day’s play of the Coastal Section on Monday, 23 September, with Eastern Province taking on the Sharks.
The first round of the Inland Section will see the Blue Bulls take on the Valke, the Golden Lions face the Pumas, and Free State and Leopards take on one another.
This will be followed by the second round of matches on Wednesday, 25 September, and last round of pool games on Friday, 27 September.
SA Rugby U19 Championship fixtures –
Monday, 23 September:
Western Province v Boland
Eastern Province v Sharks
Blue Bulls v Valke (QF1)
Golden Lions v Pumas (QF2)
Free State v Leopards (QF3)
Wednesday, 25 September
Western Province v Eastern Province
Boland v Sharks
Semi-final 1: Winner of Q1 vs Best loser (based on points’ difference)
Semi-final 2: Winner Q2 vs Winner Q3
Playoff: The other two sides face one another
Friday, 27 September
Sharks v Western Province
Eastern Province v Boland
Winner SF1 vs Winner SF2
Four other sides to play for rankings
Final – Date and venue TBC
Issued by SA Rugby Communications