Despatch and White River will kick off the 38th edition of the SARU National Club Championships when the two sides clash in the first of 22 matches in this year’s tournament, hosted by the Rustenburg Impala Club from 15-21 September.
Despatch, EP’s top-ranked non-university club and the only side to have beaten domestic champions NMMU in this season’s Grand Challenge, will play giant killers White River – the first Lowveld side to qualify for the tournament since Nelspruit in 2008 – at 8.30am in the first of five matches to be played on the Impala A field.
The eight first-round winners will advance to the Cup quarter-finals, with the losers contesting the Plate quarter-finals. These matches will be played on Monday 17 September, with semi-finals scheduled for Wednesday 19 September.
The Cup and Plate finals will be played on Friday 21 September with both matches televised live on SuperSport.
Day 1's full match schedule is:
10h00: Sishen vs Brakpan
11h30: Pretoria Police vs Welkom Rovers
14h30: Durbanville-Bellville vs Blanco
08h30: White River vs Despatch
10h30: Bloemfontein Police vs Old Selbornians
11h30: College Rovers vs Noordelikes
13h00: Oening Ceremony
14h30: Roodepoort vs Naka Bulls
16h00: Rustenburg Impala vs Villagers Worcester
In other news from around the country, Evergreens are the new SWD champions after they beat league winners Blanco 43-11 in the Premier League final played at Outeniqua Park in George on Saturday.
In KZN, Jonsson College Rovers added the Castle Murray Cup title to their Moor Cup league honours after beating Telnet Crusaders 27-21 in the final played at the Riverside sports complex in Durban.
Up north, the Predator League reaches the semi-final stage on Saturday with Rustenburg Impala, who finished second on the table after the round-robin section, hosting third-placed NWU Pukke – the reigning national club champions – in an all-Leopards affair.
In the other semi-final, log-topping UJ will be at home to fourth-placed Wits in an all-student clash. Both matches kick off at 5pm and are preceded by U19, U21, 2nd & 3rd XV play-offs.
And down south, Maties closed the gap on WP Super League A log leaders Durbell thanks to a 33-13 win over Tygerberg and an 18-15 win over Hamiltons in midweek. Elsewhere, relegation-threatened Villager were beaten twice in four days, by Victorians and False Bay, to set up a nail-biting conclusion to the league season.