Latest National Club Champs Qualifiers Confirmed
Middelburg, Brakpan and Noordelikes are the latest teams set to qualify for the 37th National Club Championships in Stellenbosch next month, following a drama-filled weekend of club rugby action from around the country.
The season-ending tournament, which features the 14 provincial champions, a team from Limpopo, as well as one invited club in a 16-team knockout draw, takes place at the Danie Craven Stadium from September 17-23.
Defending Mpumalanga champions Middelburg retained their title on Saturday after opponents White River, the province's newly-crowned Lowveld champions, withdrew from the second leg of the Super League final. Middelburg, the Hoëveld-Koolveld regional champions, won the first leg 35-8.
Brakpan caused an upset when they beat favourites and defending champions Springs 25-15 in the Valke Peregrine Super League final. Springs, playing on their home ground and in their 15th consecutive final, were expected to retain their crown after losing just one of their 14 league matches, but league runners-up Brakpan, the 2008 Club Champs semi-finalists, hung on for a nailbiting win.
Noordelikes beat Dorp 32-22 in Saturday's Limpopo Blue Bulls final.
All three teams' participation must still be officially ratified by their provinces.
It was however confirmed at a meeting of SARU's Executive Committee in Cape Town on Friday that Western Province Super League A club SK Walmers would be the invited team at this year's tournament.
Middelburg, Brakpan, Noordelikes and SK Walmers will be joined in Stellenbosch by defending champions and KZN qualifiers College Rovers, Roses United (Boland), Maties (WP), Progress (SWD), Shimlas (Free State), Kimberley Police (Griquas), Welkom Rovers (Griffons), Winter Rose (Border), and University of Johannesburg (Golden Lions).
Eastern Province's qualifier will be known on Wednesday when two-time national champions Despatch play Park in the province's Grand Challenge final.
Tukkies will play Pretoria Police in the Blue Bulls' Carlton League final on 10 September, following the students' 37-23 semi-final victory over Centurion on Saturday. Police beat Pretoria Harlequins 34-18 in the other semi-final.
The Leopards will confirm their teams in due course.