Namibia will replace Tusker Simba XV in this year’s Vodacom Cup tournament after the Kenyan side withdrew at short notice.
It will be the Welwitschias’ first season back in the Vodacom Cup since they last took part in 2011. By special arrangement and agreement, all seven their pool matches will be played in Windhoek.
Sixteen teams, split into two sections of eight each, will contest the 2015 Vodacom Cup, with defending champions Griquas heading up a strong South Section.
Griquas agreed to move to the South Section as a result of Tusker Simba XV’s withdrawal.
Joining the five-time champions from Kimberley in the South Section will be winners in 2012, Western Province, as well as the Boland Cavaliers, Border Bulldogs, Sharks XV, EP Kings, SWD Eagles and Free State XV.
The Golden Lions, runners up last year and champions in 2013, are in the North Section with the Limpopo Blue Bulls, Griffons, Leopards XV, Pumas, Valke, Blue Bulls and Welwitschias.
“It’s a pity that Kenya decided to withdraw, but we respect their decision,” said SARU CEO Jurie Roux, “and at the same time it’s very exciting to welcome our neighbours from Namibia back into the competition.
“We have a mandate to help improve and develop the game in Africa and with the Welwitschias back in the Vodacom Cup I’m sure it will add impetus to Namibia’s preparations for the Rugby World Cup later this year.”
The pool matches will be contested within the two sections. The quarter-finals will be cross-section, with the top two teams from each section hosting the third and fourth sides from the other section in the first knock-out round.
“The format of the Vodacom Cup is unchanged from last year and I’m sure it will yet again deliver hard-fought and exciting rugby,” added Roux.
“We’re excited to see which rising stars will come through the competition this year. In 2014, ‘Oupa’ Mohoje played in the Vodacom Cup three months before he made his Springbok debut, while a host of our Junior Springboks also came through the ranks in Vodacom Cup.”
The Vodacom Cup kicks off on the weekend 6/7 March with the final scheduled for the end of May.
Vodacom Cup 2015
Blue Bulls, Golden Lions, Griffons, Leopards XV, Limpopo Blue Bulls, Pumas, Valke, Welwitschias.
Boland Cavaliers, Border Bulldogs, EP Kings, Free State XV, Griquas, Sharks XV, SWD Eagles, Western Province.