All eyes will be on Polokwane on Saturday afternoon when the Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls make their Vodacom Cup debut.
Limpopo, which is a sub-union of the Blue Bulls Rugby Union, has been granted a place in the tournament in its own rights to help grow the game in the most northern province of South Africa. They join the 14 provincial unions, as well as the returning Pampas XV from Argentina in the tournament, which concludes in mid-May.
The team from Limpopo host the Down Touch Griffons at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Saturday afternoon. It’s the first competitive rugby match ever played at this stadium, which was one of the venues for the 2010 FIFA World Cup hosted in South Africa.
The pick of the weekend’s action is probably the North Section encounter in Kimberley, where GWK Griquas, runners up in 2012, have a massive game at GWK Park against the Vodacom Blue Bulls in a replay of one of last year’s semi-finals.
Between them, GWK Griquas and the Vodacom Blue Bulls have won the Vodacom Cup seven times out of the 15 times the competition has been played. The men from the Northern Cape have won it four times (equal with the MTN Golden Lions), while the Pretorians have three tournament victories behind their name.
Competition format for 2013:
South Africa’s 14 provincial unions, as well as debutants Limpopo and former champions from Argentina, the Pampas XV, will play in two sections, North and South, with eight teams each of the groups. All the teams will play in a single round within their own section after which the top eight sides, four from each section, will progress to the playoffs.
Northern Section: Vodacom Blue Bulls, MTN Golden Lions, Down Touch Griffons, GWK Griquas, Leopards XV, Steval Pumas, Valke, Limpopo.
Southern Section: Regent Boland Cavaliers, Border Bulldogs, EP Kings, Toyota Free State XV, Sharks XV, SWD Eagles, DHL Western Province, Pampas XV.
Round 1 fixtures:
GWK Griquas v Vodacom Blue Bulls
Venue: GWK Park, Kimberley
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assupol Limpopo Blue Bulls v Down Touch Griffons
Venue: Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane
Referee: Nic Rocono (USA)