The SuperSport Rugby Challenge is the good-news story South African rugby needs.
Its mission is to take rugby to the people, using club grounds and going off the beaten track to venues in the rugby heartlands of SA.
The SuperSport Rugby Challenge will provide community upliftment and investment and opportunities for local heroes.
Historically there was always a vital link between club and provincial rugby that has largely been lost in the professional era. The SuperSport Rugby Challenge will hopefully change that by also showcasing some of SA’s biggest provincial club derbies. All the ingredients necessary for club rugby to thrive will be there: packed grounds, TV exposure and a pathway to the top for our best amateur players.
The 67-match provincial tournament will kick off on the weekend of April 22/23 and will feature the country’s 14 provincial unions, plus Namibia’s Welwitschias in a 13-week event.
Professional rugby will also make a starring appearance at well-known community rugby centres for televised rugby festivals. Venues such as the Wolfson Stadium in Kwazakhele, Bill Jardine Stadium in Johannesburg, and Impala Rugby Club in Rustenburg will host Challenge matches.
As part of the new look, the SuperSport Rugby Challenge will SuperStack matches with as many as three games hosted back-to-back at a single venue – one of which will be a local club rugby match.
Some of the club derbies that be televised include African Bombers v Spring Rose; Raiders v Wanderers; Rustenburg Impala v QBR; and Swallows v Winter Rose, which traditionally brings Mdantsane outside East London to a standstill.
The competition will also be divided into three geographical regions – north, south and central.
The tournament will comprise six-pool matches every weekend for 10 weeks, followed by seven knockout games. The 15 teams are divided into three geographical pools, with each playing home and away against the other four teams in their pool over the 10-week period.
The top two teams from each pool, together with the two third-placed teams with the most log points, will qualify for the quarterfinals, which take place on Sunday, July 2, followed by the semifinals a week later and the final on Sunday, July 16.
The tournament will be officially launched at the Bill Jardine Stadium in Bosmont, Johannesburg on Monday, April 10.