EP Rugby: Agreement reached on Grand Challenge Final

AUGUST 16, 2016

The Final of the Grand Challenge will now be played at 7pm on the 17 August 2016 at Central Stadium in Uitenhage, after Saru referee Rodney Bonaparte called the showpiece off before it even started over the weekend

Gardens were meant to play Harlequins in an eagerly anticipated final at Wolfson Stadium at 3.30pm last Saturday. The waterlogged, Kwazakhele venue was, however, deemed unfit for play and a decision was taken on Saturday morning to play the match at Kemsley Park.

Bonaparte however deemed the conditions unsafe to continue with the final after a peaceful, celebratory crowd invaded the field when Despatch Oostelike defeated United Barbarians (Easterns) in the Grand Challenge Shield final, which had been played as a curtain raiser to the main match.

SARU Administrator, Monde Tabata, thanked the Presidents and Executives of the Harlequins and Gardens Rugby Clubs for their co-operation and agreeing to play the match on a week day.

"Playing the match on Wednesday will allow the two clubs the opportunity to participate in the qualifier play offs of the Gold Cup 2016, which start on the 20th August," said Tabata.

The winner of the Grand Challenge will play in the Gold Cup play off against the East London Police, in Port Elizabeth.

"I am pleased that all parties have risen to the occasion by subsuming their own disappointment to save the integrity of all the tournaments in the local and national rugby calendar," Tabata said.

Tabata further undertook to deal with the reasons that had led to the confusion around the venue and the subsequent pitch invasion, saying processes would be put in place to ensure the union's operational competence was not found wanting in the future.