Vodacom Cup Preview: Round One
The Pampas XV from Argentina, the defending champions, will get the 2012 Vodacom Cup season, the 15th since its inception in 1998, underway on Friday when they host the EP Kings in Stellenbosch.
The Argentineans were unbeaten last year as they romped to the title in their first season of involvement and will be looking to build on that performance.
They have chosen to base themselves in Stellenbosch this year, as teams no longer play their pool games across sections, but within their own divisions, meaning they will face all the teams in the Southern Section.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls, who only just made it to the play-offs only to lose by 14-9 in the final to the Pampas XV, open their account at home in Pretoria against GWK Griquas – along with the MTN Golden Lions the most successful side in Vodacom Cup history.
The Lions and Griquas have each won the title four times, followed by the Blue Bulls (three). The Valke, Free State and Pampas have one title each.
The first round of action sees a number of games between neighbouring unions – DHL WP against the Regent Boland Kavaliers in Cape Town, the Valke at home against the Ford Pumas, the MTN Golden Lions travel down the N12 to Potchefstroom to face the Leopards and Bulldogs host the Sharks XV in East London.
This year, the Vodacom Cup will aim to provide the ultimate opportunity for those less fortunate with a dedicated Legacy programme in which the fundamental skills of rugby will be taught to eager youngsters countrywide.
This initiative called “Tjovitjo” (meaning ‘it’s all good’), rings true in a partnership between the South African Rugby Union, the TAG Rugby Association and various provincial unions in their effort to take the joy of rugby to all communities within South Africa with the Tjovitjo Legacy Clinic programme.
In order to boost rugby development and grow the game within communities (and give all youth fair and equal chance to share the love and opportunity that rugby holds), the TAG Rugby Association, a registered non-profit organization at the Department of Social Development and a SARU affiliate, will be holding focused rugby clinics throughout the Vodacom Cup tournament.
The initiative will be broken down into five 3-day clinics held in townships, within some of the major rugby playing unions as well as 15 smaller 1-day clinics in other key development areas within the country.
Competition Format for 2012:
South Africa’s 14 provincial unions and the Pampas XV from Argentina will play in two sections – North and South, with seven teams in the Northern Section (following the withdrawal of Namibia due to financial constraints) and eight in the Southern Section. All the teams will play in a single round within their own section after which the top sides will progress to the play-offs.
Northern Section: Vodacom Blue Bulls, MTN Golden Lions, Griffons, GWK Griquas, Leopards, Ford Pumas, Valke.
Southern Section: Regent Boland Kavaliers, Border Bulldogs, EP Kings, Toyota Free State XV, The Sharks XV, SWD Eagles, DHL Western Province, Pampas XV.
Round 1 Fixtures:
Friday, 9 March 2012
Pampas XV vs EP Kings
Venue: Paul Roos Gymnasium, Stellenbosch
Referee: Stuart Berry
Border Bulldogs vs The Sharks XV
Venue: Buffalo City Municipality Stadium, East London
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Saturday, 10 March 2012
Leopards vs MTN Golden Lions
Venue: Profert Olën Park, Potchefstroom
Referee: Sindile Mayende
Valke vs Ford Pumas
Venue: Barnard Stadium, Kempton Park
Referee: Ben Crouse
Toyota Free State XV South Western Districts Eagles
Venue: Clive Solomon Stadium, Heidedal, Bloemfontein
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
DHL Western Province vs Regent Boland Kavaliers
Venue: DHL Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Vodacom Blue Bulls vs GWK Griquas
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe