South Africa’s Rugby Union has cited competition congestion as the reason for the cancellation of this year’s annual South Africa Rugby Union (SARU) Gold Cup, a premier rugby union club competition for non-university teams.
This comes amid rumors that the tournament had been cancelled after failing to secure sponsors.
The Gold Cup was launched as the SARU Community Cup in 2013 to replace the SARU National Club Championships and renamed to the SARU Gold Cup for 2016, when teams from Namibia and Zimbabwe were also included in the competition.
Namibian league champions, FNB Wanderers rugby club were set to represent Namibia at the tournament, which was supposed to start in September this year.
“The scheduling of the tournament was reviewed earlier this year. The competition’s current scheduling presented problems for certain club leagues to produce Gold Cup entrants while the calendar is also heavy at that time with provincial age group, Currie Cup and Castle Lager Rugby Championship fixtures,” Andy Colquhoun, General Manager for Communication at South Africa Rugby told the Windhoek Observer.
He also said the tournament will be played next year during the Easter Weekend, as it was played in 2013-2015, when it was still referred to as the ‘community cup’ before it was rebranded as the SARU Gold Cup.
“A decision was taken to reschedule the tournament to Easter 2019, when it will have a clearer playing field to continue the job it has successfully achieved of reviving interest in club rugby. There are no negative financial implications caused by the rescheduling,” Colguhoun said.
Last week, president of the Namibia Rugby Union (NRU) Corrie Mensah told Windhoek Observer that he was confused regarding the rules of SARU Gold cup after Wanderers in 2016 played in the tournament despite finishing second behind then champions, University of Namibia.
Wanderers were also second on the log standings after the first round of matches that season. While last year, Western Suburbs played in the Gold Cup by virtue of being second to UNAM in the league after the first round of matches.
This year, Wanderers were set to represent Namibia in the competition as champions, but were fourth on the log standings after the first round of matches.
Both Wanderers and Suburbs failed to pass beyond the group stages of the competition.
“The NRU has been advised on the postponement of the Gold Cup. No final decision has yet been taken on participants for 2019 in a number of SARU competitions, including the Gold Cup, as all SARU competitions and formats are currently subject to a comprehensive review. The Exco and/or general council will confirm future competition structures later this year. And on UNAM, you will need to speak to the Varsity Cup organisers as it is not a competition run by SA Rugby,” Colguhoun said.