Experience should carry the day in Gold Cup semi-finals

Experience should carry the day in Gold Cup semi-finals

The clash between the two platinum mines that face one another in the SSG Gold Cup semi-final in Rustenburg on Saturday will in a manner of sorts involve three rugby unions.

How is that possible? would be the obvious question. And the answer is just as easy: former two-times winners, Impala Platinum from Rustenburg represent the Leopards, where they are registered. However, they play their club rugby in the Carlton Cup competition of the Blue Bulls Rugby Union because of the higher quality of opposition.

The Rhinos from Northam Platinum Mine near Thabazimbi are the Limpopo representatives – and they are a sub-union of the BBRU, although they have been playing as an independent union in SA Rugby competitions for some years.

What is also noteworthy is that the two sides, both from platinum mines only 130 kms apart but in two different unions, draw most of their players from the country districts.

Who will progress to the final?

♦ It’s a playoff and predictions are never clever in matches such as these, especially where the teams cannot be gauged against similar opposition. To venture what is as educated a guess as possible under the circumstances, the prediction must be for the more experienced side.

Impala are used to the pressures of the Carlton league; they have been in every one of the five play-offs of the SA Community Cup which was replaced in name and trophy by the Gold Cup for the last two competitions in 2016 and ‘17 (There was no competition in 2018.)

They have played in three finals, have two titles to their name and in the other two tournaments were knocked out in the semi-finals.

♦ The other semifinal will be played at Durbell Rugby Club where another former winner in 2015, between the title winning years of Impala whom they beat that year will, meet the Swallows.

Again, because not much is known about their opponents other than that they won the Border league, Durbell must be backed as probable winners.

Swallows are coached by Ntando ‘Tyson’ Kebe, a former Border Bulldogs, Boland Cavaliers and Griquas scrumhalf who played Super Rugby for the Southern Kings in 2016 and was rewarded with two SA ‘A’ caps against England.

The Swallows, says Kebe, were unbeaten in four tournaments and 24 games last year. But again, how strong was the opposition, considering they are playing against the Western Province champion side Durbell who played top varsity sides like the Maties, Ikeys and Victorians and the 2017 winners of the Gold Cup, False Bay, week in and week out? 

Kebe said they are aware of the challenge awaiting them. “The buildup to Saturday’s game has been good. We were underdogs but decided that we would fly the flag not only for Mdantsane and Border rugby, but for the whole of the Eastern Cape. 

“This weekend’s match is going to be a big challenge but we are just going to stick with what has been working for us so far.” 

♦ Both matches will kick off at 16:00 and the match in Durbanville will be livestreamed on the SSG Gold Cup Facebook page as well as SA Rugby’s new digital platform, www.springboks.rugby.