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The revival of club rugby in South Africa received a major boost on Thursday with the announcement that a new televised national tournament for non-university clubs would kick off in 2013.

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The inaugural SARU Community Cup, which will replace the existing National Club Championships, will begin on Saturday 16 February 2013, with 20 of the country’s top “open” clubs competing in a format identical to that of the Rugby World Cup.

The tournament will culminate in an annual Grand Final to determine the overall national club champion between the winners of the Community Cup and the FNB Varsity Cup, presented by Steinhoff International. An “open” club traditionally refers to a non-Varsity club.

“Club rugby is one of most important items on our agenda and we believe that the SARU Community Cup will breathe new life into club rugby,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux. “It will act as a catalyst for the revival of the club game at all levels across the country.

“Club rugby has suffered from a lack of exposure and sponsorship, since the advent of professionalism. “What the SARU Community Cup will do is give club players and coaches a competitive platform and an aspirational event through which they can reach their goals.”

Roux said the tournament would start with 20 clubs, but plans were already in place to expand the competition over the succeeding two years by introducing a separate division for platteland-based clubs and junior teams. “The revival of rugby on the platteland is of particular importance,” said Roux.

The 20 clubs will be made up of the 14 champion clubs of the provincial unions, with a further six wildcard teams invited by SARU. The clubs will be divided into four pools of five, with each club playing two home and two away matches over a period of five weeks.

The top two clubs from each pool will then advance to the knockout stages, with the eight teams playing quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals each year at a central venue over the Easter long weekend.

The inaugural SARU Community Cup final will be played on Easter Monday, 1 April 2013, with the remaining six teams competing for the Plate, Shield and Bowl.

“The beauty of the format of the Community Cup is that it incorporates the best of both worlds,” said Roux. “Pool matches will take place in towns and cities across the country and give the tournament as diverse a flavour and footprint as possible.

“The play-off component will revive the very special atmosphere of the old Easter Club Championships, which club people still speak about with great fondness.”

Roux said that the success of this year’s new-look SARU National Club Championships in Rustenburg, which conclude at the Rustenburg Impala club tomorrow (Friday) with televised Cup and Plate finals (SuperSport 1, kick-off 13:00), had demonstrated the importance of a separate national competition for open clubs.

“The universities have been a part of the Club Champs since it started in 1975, but times have changed, especially since the advent of the very successful Varsity Cup,” he said.

“We’ve seen what that competition has done for Varsity rugby, and we therefore felt that this year was the right time to test the waters and not include them,” said Roux. “The tournament has been a runaway success, with big crowds, high-quality rugby and a feeling of kinship and solidarity amongst the competing clubs.

“We now want to take things to a new level and give the best open clubs the platforms and exposure they deserve.”

Roux emphasised that the Community Cup was only the first step in SARU’s strategy to revamp club rugby, which also included plans for the revival of the SA Amateur and SA Platteland teams in the coming years.

“We have been working behind the scenes for the past three years to ensure that the SARU Community Cup has a far-reaching effect,” said Roux. “We have consulted club people in every province and listened to what they had to say. This is therefore not our vision but their vision and their competition.

“But far from being an elitist tournament for a handful of teams, the SARU Community Cup will allow us to safeguard the future of club rugby across the country by ensuring that it reclaims its rightful place on the rugby stage.”

 

Important notes:

• Top 20 open clubs to enter World Cup-style tournament
• Club finals return to Easter festival format
• Play off final for winner against Varsity Cup champions
• Platteland and Junior team competitions to follow

9 Responses to SARU announces the Community Cup competition to boost Club Rugby

  • 2

    Yeah this is nice.

    ‘Bout time we developed where it counts.

  • 3

    A “3rd division” club in JHB must survive on < R15k / year. The gap between the top 4 – 5 clubs in JHB, who are all semi-professional and the bottom league clubs, who are truly "community" based clubs is immense.

    While this incentive is welcomed in terms of SEMI-PRO Rugby, it can in no way be deemed to be "community" Rugby.

    Smoke and mirrors from SARU I'm afraid. Stop the cr@p and get your collective arsses out to where real "community" Rugby is played and try to realise the hardships that grassroots clubs must endure.

    Oh I forgot, there are no 5 star hotels within walking sdistance so you can't.

  • 4

    net n vraag hoe gemaak as die profinsiale champ n varsity club is bv laasjaar tuks in pta en shimlas in bloem

  • 5

    Nsaaaaaais!
    Really looking forward to this competition.
    Go Moorreesburg Tigers!!!! Moer hulle!!!

    Ashley-VaalJan sal beslis daar wees wanneer Darling teen Mamre speel, dis verseker.

  • 6

    5 @ Piet-Springbok-Jan:
    Hey, dissie Moorreesburg nie… dis MooGGGEEEEEESbuGGg!

    MoeGGGGGG hulle!

  • 7

    5 @ grootblousmile:
    Pieta, waar is Dammam?

    …. Online ding sê jy is naby Dammam?

  • 8

    @ smallies:
    Smallies, this comp is for non varsity clubs. So Tuks and Shimlas won’t be involved. I would assume then that the next teams on the respective leagues will take part.

    I am glad for this as club rugby is very NB for the sustainability of the game. This will cause more players to be noticed by the bigger sides. Varsity Cup gave us the Josh Strauss’, Callie Visagies, Grant Hattinghs and Demetri Catrakales(sic) of the world. These 4 are just the ones I can recall quickly.

    But I must agree with Scrundown, that more must be done to support the true amateur clubs in the lower leagues across the country.

  • 9

    @ grootblousmile:
    Dammam is aan die ooskus van Saudi, suid van Kuwait,so 40 km vanaf Bahrain(as jy met die die brug oor die Arabiese See/Persiese Golf na die naaste kroeg wil ry!),dit is digby die Emirate.
    Dammam is die hartland van die Arabiese olievelde, die ‘Durban of Arabia’,n vakansiestad.


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