The next few weeks of Vodacom Cup action have taken on a new dimension following the announcement of the midweek matches during the Castle Incoming Tour by England in June.
The touring side will meet a SA Barbarians South team in Kimberley on Wednesday, June 13 and a SA Barbarians North team in Potchefstroom on Tuesday, June 19.
These teams will be made up of the eight unions in the Absa Currie Cup First Division, but seeing that that competition only starts at the end of June, the two composite teams will be selected from the Vodacom Cup.
“The quality of the Vodacom Cup so far this season has been great and I know we’ll be able to select two very capable teams from the First Division sides to face England. I’m expecting the intensity to lift even further in the coming weeks, with the playoffs also not far off,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux.
“With the International Rugby Board’s plan to bring back fully fledged tours, we’ve decided not to play the midweek games in the main centres and take it back to the platteland. We’re confident Kimberley and Potchefstroom will provide the perfect backdrop for these games as their supporters are very passionate.”
Incidentally, the two host unions of the midweek tour matches face each other in the Vodacom Cup this weekend, when GWK Griquas travel to Potchefstroom to take on the Leopards.
Last weekend, GWK Griquas suffered their first defeat of the season and although their players won’t qualify for the SA Barbarians teams, they will not need extra motivation for their trip to Profert Olën Park – top position in the North Section is still up for grabs if they can beat the Leopards.
The Leopards will have to win to keep their playoff aspirations in their own hands as the MTN Golden Lions will look to go top of the log when they host the Ford Pumas in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The two bottom placed teams in the North Section, the Valke and Griffons, square off in Kempton Park on Friday afternoon.
In the South Section, the match in Durban between the Sharks XV, who lost to the Regent Boland Kavaliers last weekend, and the EP Kings promises to be a humdinger. Both are comfortably in the top four at the moment and a win will set up a place in the quarterfinals.
DHL Western Province face a tricky trip to George where they will play the SWD Eagles at Outeniqua Park. Although the Eagles have not been at their best this season, they always lift themselves for a visit from their western neighbours.
The top two teams in the two sections will host quarterfinals. These will be cross-section against the third and fourth placed teams, meaning North 1 will host South 4, North 2 against South 3, South 1 against North 4 and South 2 against North 3.
Only two teams in the two sections – the Griffons and Border Bulldogs – can’t make the playoffs anymore, while the Valke and SWD Eagles have a slim mathematical change to make the top four in their respective sections.
Vodacom Cup Fixtures – Round 6
Friday, April 20, 2012
Valke v Griffons
Venue: Barnard Stadium, Kempton Park
Referee: Stuart Berry
Regent Boland Kavaliers v Border Bulldogs
Venue: Boland Stadium, Wellington
Referee: Matt Kemp
Toyota Free State XV v Pampas XV
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Referee: Joey Salmans
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Sharks XV v EP Kings
Venue: Mr Price Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Jason Jaftha
Leopards v GWK Griquas
Venue: Profert Olën Park, Potchefstroom
Referee: Tiaan Jonker
SWD Eagles v DHL Western Province
Venue: The Rec, Oudtshoorn
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
MTN Golden Lions v Ford Pumas
Venue: Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Ben Crouse
Bye: Vodacom Blue Bulls