National club champions College Rovers will play Despatch in the opening match of the inaugural SARU Community Cup on February 16.
The fixtures for the pool stages of the World Cup-style tournament were announced on Tuesday, with Rovers earning the right to host the televised opener after beating Pretoria Police in the final of the last-ever National Club Championships, which were held in Rustenburg in September.
The Community Cup, which replaces the Club Champs, will see 20 of South Africa's top non-university clubs battle it out in 52 matches across the country over a six-week period in a tournament that includes five rounds of pool matches at club venues and play-offs to be held in George over the Easter long weekend.
The inaugural Community Cup final will take place at Outeniqua Park on April 1, 2013, with the winners playing the Varsity Cup champions for the overall national title, on a date to be confirmed.
The Rovers-Despatch Pool A opener is also a repeat of the match of the tournament in Rustenburg, which saw the KwaZulu-Natal champions trail the resurgent Eastern Cape outfit 30-28 with five minutes remaining of their Cup quarterfinal before running out 41-30 victors.
With the four Club Champs semifinalists seeded first in their pools and the teams they beat in the Rustenburg quarterfinals seeded second, there are another three enticing rematches in store for the opening weekend of the Community Cup.
Western Province's Durbanville-Bellville, who beat Maties home and away in the Western Province Super League in 2012, will get the chance to avenge their 36-25 defeat to Pretoria Police when they travel to the SAPS Training Academy for what promises to be a crunch Pool B encounter between two of the tournament favourites.
Roodepoort will have similar ideas in Pool C when they return to Rustenburg to face Impala, who beat them 31-19 back in September. And in the final seeded match-up of Round One, Old Selbornians will want to show that their 28-26 win over Brakpan at the Club Champs was no fluke when they host the tough East Rand outfit in East London in a heavyweight Pool D encounter.
Elsewhere around the country on the opening weekend, Boland title holders Villagers Worcester are at home to Griquas champions Sishen, Griffons champs Welkom Rovers travel to Zwide Stadium outside Port Elizabeth to take on wild cards African Bombers, Limpopo's top-ranked club Noordelikes kick-off their campaign with a fixture in Polokwane against another wild card, Raiders, while Mpumalanga champions White River undertake a marathon journey from the Lowveld to the Boland to take on Roses United in Wellington.
SARU Community Cup schedule (all kick-off times to be confirmed):
Round 1 – Saturday, February 16:
Pool A – College Rovers v Despatch (Durban); Villagers Worcester v Sishen (Worcester)
Pool B – Pretoria Police v Durbanville-Bellville (Pretoria); African Bombers v Welkom Rovers (Port Elizabeth)
Pool C – Rustenburg Impala v Roodepoort (Rustenburg); Noordelikes v Raiders (Polokwane)
Pool D – Old Selbornian v Brakpan (East London); Roses United v White River (Wellington)
Round 2 – Saturday, February 23:
Pool A – Sishen v College Rovers (Kathu); SK Walmers v Villagers Worcester (Cape Town)
Pool B – Durbanville-Bellville v African Bombers (Cape Town); Welkom Rovers v Bloem Police (Welkom)
Pool C – Roodepoort v Noordelikes (Roodepoort); Raiders v Bloem Crusaders (Johannesburg)
Pool D – Brakpan v Roses United (Brakpan); White River v Evergreens (White River)
Round 3 – Saturday, March 2
Pool A – Despatch v Villagers Worcester (Despatch); Sishen vs SK Walmers (Kathu)
Pool B – Bloem Police v Durbanville-Bellville (Bloemfontein); African Bombers v Pretoria Police (Zwide)
Pool C – Rustenburg Impala v Bloem Crusaders (Rustenburg); Roodepoort v Raiders (Roodepoort)
Pool D – Evergreens v Brakpan (Pacaltsdorp); Roses United v Old Selbornian (Wellington)
Pool A – College Rovers v SK Walmers (Durban); Despatch v Sishen (Despatch)
Pool B – Welkom Rovers v Pretoria Police (Welkom); Bloem Police v African Bombers (Bloemfontein)
Pool C – Bloem Crusaders v Roodepoort (Heidedal); Noordelikes v Rustenburg Impala (Polokwane)
Pool D – Old Selbornian v Evergreens (East London); Brakpan v White River (Brakpan)
Pool A – SK Walmers v Despatch (Cape Town); Villagers Worcester v College Rovers (Worcester)
Pool B – Pretoria Police v Bloem Police (Pretoria); Durbanville-Bellville v Welkom Rovers (Cape Town)
Pool C – Raiders v Rustenburg Impala (Johannesburg); Bloem Crusaders v Noordelikes (Heidedal)
Pool D – White River v Old Selbornian (White River); Evergreens v Roses United (Pacaltsdorp)
QF1 – Winner C v Runner-up D
QF2 – Winner B v Runner-up A
QF3 – Winner D v Runner-up C
QF4 – Winner A v Runner-up B
Loser QF1 v Loser QF2
Loser QF3 v Loser QF4
Winner QF1 v Winner QF2
Winner QF3 v Winner QF4
Shield – Loser Bowl SF1 v Loser Bowl SF2
Bowl – Winner Bowl SF1 v Winner Bowl SF2
Plate – Loser Cup SF1 v Loser Cup SF2
Cup – Winner Cup SF1 v Winner Cup SF2
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