The business end of the SSG Gold Cup begins on Saturday in four intriguing quarter-finals in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, North West and Limpopo respectively.
This follows a nail-biting final weekend in the group stages, which saw all 16 teams still in playoff contention in SA Rugby’s flagship national championship for non-university clubs.
Two-time former champions Rustenburg Impala, 2015 winners Durbanville-Bellville as well as 2013 and 2017 runners-up College Rovers are among the clubs into the last eight. They are joined by a quintet of teams from which the 2019 winner may easily emerge, such has been the competitive and unpredictable nature of the tournament thus far.
In Saturday’s first quarter-final, which kicks off at 12:20, Durbell travel to Durban where they will face Rovers in a heavyweight contest between the open-club champions of Western Province and the Sharks respectively.
The remaining three matches all take place up north — in Gauteng, North West and Limpopo — with kick- off at 16:00.
The winners of the Rovers-Durbell match will take a particular interest in what happens at the Adelaars Sports Ground in Pretoria, where debutants Naka Bulls, representing the Blue Bulls, host Border champions Swallows.
The respective winners of these two matches will clash in next weekend’s first semi-final.
On the other side of the draw, the two rival platinum mining clubs, Impala and Rhinos, are on a collision course to meet in what would be a titanic second semi-final.
However, Griffons champions Welkom and newcomers Gardens, the EP title-holders, have title ambitions of their own and will travel to Rustenburg and Setaria, near Thabazimbi, confident of reaching the final four.
“These are seriously good club sides with seriously good, provincial-quality players throughout their ranks,” said former World Cup-winning captain John Smit, the acting CEO of title sponsors SSG Holdings and the driving force behind this year’s tournament.
“The Gold Cup so far has been a fantastic success. We’ve had people from all walks of life streaming into community grounds to watch their local heroes playing like there’s no tomorrow.”
Saturday’s results and semi-final lineup will be published on the tournament’s Twitter (@GoldCupRugby) and Facebook (The SSG Gold Cup) platforms.
12:20: College Rovers vs Durbanville-Bellville (KP3, Kings Park, Durban)
16:00: Rhinos vs Gardens (Setaria Recreation Club outside Thabazimbi)
16:00: Impala vs Welkom (Impala Rugby Club,
16:00: Naka Bulls vs Swallows (Adelaar Sports Ground, Pretoria).