The 16 teams participating in the 2019 Gold Cup have been confirmed following a nail-biting conclusion to the domestic club season in Worcester on Saturday.
An intercept try deep into injury time gave Worcester Villagers a 36-29 win over defending champions Roses United, seeing them become the final team to qualify for the tournament.
They will join the 15 other teams already confirmed for South Africa’s flagship national championship for non-university clubs, among them 2017 finalists College Rovers, who will be celebrating a milestone 120th year of existence.
The line-up includes two former champions in the Rustenburg Impala, who won the Gold Cup in 2014 and 2016, and Durbanville-Bellville, who claimed the 2015 title.
The most surprising omission is that of defending champions False Bay, who lost to Durbell in the semi-finals of the WP Super League. A decision taken in 2016 to no longer extend an automatic invite to the defending champions means that Bay will unfortunately not be able to defend their title in 2019.
The Gold Cup will henceforth occupy a slot early in the season, with the 2019 edition kicking off on Saturday, 9 March and concluding with the final on Sunday 14 April.
The 16 teams will be divided into four pools of four, with each team playing three pool matches. The pool draw and fixtures will be confirmed by SA Rugby in the next few weeks.
The 16 teams are:
Naka Bulls (Blue Bulls)
Roodepoort (Golden Lions)
East Rand United (wildcard, Valke)
Rhinos (Blue Bulls Limpopo)
Bloemfontein Police (Cheetahs)
College Rovers (Sharks)
Worcester Villagers (Boland)
Progress George (SWD)