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Vodacom Cup

GWK GriquasVodacom CupGWK Griquas dethroned the defending champions to clinch the Vodacom Cup for the 5th time when they beat the Golden Lions by 30-6 in the final at GWK Park in Kimberley on Friday evening.

These 2 teams are now the undoubted kings of Vodacom Cup rugby, both with 5 titles out of the 17 on offer since the inception of the competition in 1998.

It was GWK Griquas’ first Vodacom Cup title since 2009 and also avenged their home defeat in the in the final seconds of the 2012 final against DHL Western Province. They won their other Vodacom Cup titles in 1998, when they also beat the Golden Lions in the final, as well as 2005 and 2007.

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Vodacom CupGolden LionsGWK GriquasThe 2 biggest ‘dogs’ in the history of the Vodacom Cup, the Golden Lions and GWK Griquas, take on each other in Kimberley on Friday evening in the grand finale of the competition in 2014.

Between these 2 sides, who will clash at 19:10 SA Time at GWK Park, they have won the Vodacom Cup 9 times since its inception in 1998. That means more than half of all the titles have gone either to Johannesburg or Kimberley.

It’s the Lions’ 2nd visit to Kimberley this year. They lost their Round 5 encounter at GWK Park by 33-18.

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Golden LionsGolden Lions Head Coach, Russell Winter, has announced his team to take on GWK Griquas in Kimberley on Friday night.

Should the Golden Lions win, they will remain as the team with the most victories in the competition with 6, but if Griquas triumph they will join the Golden Lions as 5 time winners of the competition.

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Vodacom CupThe two most successful teams in Vodacom Cup history, GWK Griquas and the Golden Lions, will contest the 2014 final after both won their semi-finals away from home this weekend.

In both matches, the team that scored more tries were knocked out and the points’ difference in the semi-finals in Nelspruit and Pretoria was a single point.

On Friday evening in Nelspruit, the Steval Pumas lost their first match of the season when they went down by 14-15 to four-time champions, GWK Griquas, after a last-minute penalty goal by fullback Gouws Prinsloo.

The visitors to the Mbombela Stadium had the best possible start when flyhalf Francois Brummer put them ahead by 3-0 after only 20 seconds with a well-struck drop-goal.

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Golden LionsGolden Lions head coach Russell Winter has named his 22-man side to front the Vodacom Blue Bulls in a Vodacom Cup semi-final clash on Saturday.

The team remains unchanged from last week’s side that trumped the Cell C Sharks XV 27-20 in Durban.

The venue for the game has been changed to take place at Loftus Versfeld, after carefull scrutiny of the rules of the tournament, leading to the conclusion that the Vodacom Blue Bulls are ahead of the Golden Lions on the Logs and therefore should host the semi-final.

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Vodacom CupWith 12 titles out of 16 between them, three of the four teams contesting the Vodacom Cup semi-finals this weekend – all of them from the North Section – know a thing or two about winning this competition.

It’s only the Steval Pumas, runners up in 2013 and the only unbeaten team this season, that hasn’t won the Vodacom Cup.

But the Golden Lions, whose title last year was their fifth, GWK Griquas (four-times champions) and the Vodacom Blue Bulls (three-time champions) have dominated the competition between them since its inception in 1998.

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Vodacom Blue BullsA late venue change handed the Vodacom Blue Bulls home ground advantage for their Vodacom Cup semifinal match against defending champions, the Golden Lions, on Saturday.

The two teams will now meet at Loftus Versfeld due to the hosts finishing above their southern neighbour on the points log.

The match was originally scheduled for Johannesburg on Friday, but a proper look at the regulations of the competition prompted a venue switch.

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Vodacom CupGWK Griquas scored the biggest playoff victory in the history of the Vodacom Cup as all four teams from the North Section proved too strong for their counterparts from the South and progressed to the semi-finals.

With three of the winning margins over the weekend between one and seven points, GWK Griquas’ 84-15 victory over the SWD Eagles perhaps best illustrated the dominance the North had over the South.

The previous biggest victory in a playoff match also involved the team from the Northern Cape, when they lost 73-7 to the Golden Lions in the 1999 Final.

The Golden Lions and Vodacom Blue Bulls, with eight Vodacom Cup titles between them, had to travel for their quarter-finals, while the Steval Pumas and GWK Griquas won their playoffs at home.

This means that for a second successive year the winner of the Vodacom Cup will come from the North Section – last year the Golden Lions proved too strong for the Steval Pumas in the Final in Nelspruit.

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Vodacom CupThe Steval Pumas, Cell C Sharks XV, GWK Griquas and Toyota Free State XV will host the four Vodacom Cup quarter-finals after the pool phase of the competition came to an exciting conclusion this weekend.

It was an exciting end to the competition in 2014, with a total of 75 tries scored in the eight pool matches at an average of just over nine per match, or one try every eight or so minutes.

While the North Section went pretty much as expected and the Steval Pumas managed the become the only team to go through their pool matches unbeaten, the last round in the South Section saw the log getting a proper overhaul following upsets in Durban and George on Friday evening.

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Vodacom CupWhile the four teams who will contest the Vodacom Cup quarter-finals from the South Section have been decided, the race to get into the playoffs in the North Section is not over yet after the penultimate round of pool action.

And to add some spice, in the final round (in two weeks’ time) four of the top five teams in the North Section take on each other in two highly anticipated clashes. The defending champion Golden Lions (currently fourth on the log) host 2013’s runners-up the Steval Pumas (first), while GWK Griquas (second) have to travel to North West province to take on the Leopards XV (fifth).

The Vodacom Blue Bulls (third) host their neighbours to the north, the Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls, in Pretoria and a likely win should cement their place in the quarter-finals.

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Vodacom CupThe Down Touch Griffons and Cell C Sharks XV were the big winners in the first round of the 2014 Vodacom Cup, which kicked off across the width and breadth of South Africa this weekend.

These two teams top the North and South Section logs after round one when they managed to bag a full-house of five log points in their opening victories over the Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls and Border Bulldogs respectively.

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EP KingsSiviwe “Shakes” Soyizwapi and Scott van Breda will start against the Tusker Simba XV in Cape Town on Saturday in the Eastern Province Kings first Vodacom Cup match of the season.

Vodacom Cup head coach, Mzwandile Stick, said both Soyizwapi and Van Breda, who had been on loan to the Stormers, had returned to the Kings this week, as they had not been selected as part of the Stormers touring squad.

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South AfricaJean de VilliersSpringbok captain Jean de Villiers on Wednesday became only the sixth player to be named South African Rugby Player of the Year more than once, while Eben Etzebeth was named the Young Player of the Year for 2013 for the second successive season at a glittering ceremony at the Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City in Johannesburg.

De Villiers led the Springboks to 10 wins in 12 Tests in 2013 and scored five tries in the process following an outstanding Vodacom Super Rugby campaign for the DHL Stormers. His first-class record now stands at 254 matches with 91 tries scored.

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Vodacom CupKenya will add an international flavour to the Vodacom Cup this year when they compete in this 17th annual edition of this national competition for the first time.

The South African Rugby Union (SARU) on Wednesday confirmed that Kenya will form part of the Vodacom Cup in the place of Argentina’s Pampas XV, Vodacom Cup champions in 2011.

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GWK GriquasMartin BezuidenhoutTiaan MeyerGriekwas het die dienste van twee Leeus-staatmakers vir die Vodacombeker- en Curriebeker-reeks bekom.

Die haker Martin Bezuidenhout en die skrumskakel Tiaan Meyer, wat albei sterk aanspraakmakers op insluiting by die Cheetahs se Superrugby-span sal wees, sluit hulle later vandeesweek by die span in die Diamantstad aan.

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WhistleA lot of rugby will be played this weekend, with the much awaited friendly between Saracens and the Cell C Sharks, the HSBC Sevens World Series tournament in Las Vegas and the LV Cup, amongst others, happening.

The Referees & Match Officials have been named.

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EP KingsGary GoldThe Eastern Province Kings may be keen, but they are a long way off from securing the services of Gary Gold.

Media reports on Friday suggested the former Springbok assistant coach could be heading to Port Elizabeth – to fill the void left by the departure of another former Bok assistant, Alan Solomons, and New Zealander Matt Sexton.

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EdinburghCarl BezuidenhoutEdinburgh Rugby have recruited 2013 Currie Cup (First Division) and Vodacom Cup winning stand-off Carl Bezuidenhout on an extended trial until the end of the season.

The 27 year-old began training with the squad at Murrayfield Stadium this morning (Monday 30 December) two months after the Pumas’ unbeaten Currie Cup First Division triumph, in which he ended the season as tournament top points’ scorer.

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Jean de VilliersBismarck du PlessisEben EtzebethWillie le RouxDuane VermeulenFive key members of the Springbok squad in 2013 will go head-to-head for the annual SA Rugby Player of the Year Award, while the Steval Pumas have been rewarded for their great form this season with nominations in four categories.

Springbok captain Jean de Villiers, the winner in 2008 who led South Africa to 10 victories in 12 Tests in 2013, will go up against Bismarck du Plessis, Eben Etzebeth, Willie le Roux and Duane Vermeulen for the most prestigious individual award in South African rugby.

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Vodacom CupLosing will not be an option when the four Vodacom Cup quarter-finals take place across the country this weekend. Durban, Cape Town, Nelspruit and Pretoria will host the top eight teams on Friday and Saturday in a weekend where second best will no longer be good enough.

Exactly the same eight teams that played in the quarter-finals in 2012, are back again this year. Even their positions from last year are almost the same. The Vodacom Blue Bulls “replace” GWK Griquas as hosts, while the Sharks XV, Steval Pumas and DHL Western Province will all host a quarter-final for the second successive year.

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Vodacom_cupThe Steval Pumas and Sharks XV are still the only teams in the Vodacom Cup with perfect records and held onto their positions at the top of the North and South Section respectively with solid away victories this weekend.

They are followed, in the south, by the Argentinean Pampas, who’ve won three on the trot after a draw in the opening round, and in the north by the Leopards XV, who recorded an impressive win in Pretoria over the Vodacom Blue Bulls.

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The Vodacom Bulls on Tuesday confirmed the appointment of Victor Matfield as their new Forwards and Attack Coach for the 2013 Vodacom Super Rugby season, while also naming Derick Hougaard as a skills and kicking coach and Handrè Pollard as part of their extended playing squad for the new season.

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