Top-flight rugby will return to Soweto when the Bulls face the Lions in the inaugural Gauteng Cup at Orlando Stadium in February.
Gauteng sports MEC Lebogang Maile hoped the match would attract as much interest from the public as the sold-out clash between the Bulls and the Stormers in the 2010 Super Rugby Final and the Bulls' semifinal against the Crusaders the week before.
The Bulls defeated seven-time champion Crusaders 39-24 in the 2010 Super 14 semifinal and then went on to clinch the title with a 25-17 victory against the Stormers in the Final at Orlando Stadium.
"We are looking forward to re-living the euphoria, excitement and anticipation that we experienced during 2010 when professional rugby return to Soweto," Maile said on Wednesday.
"The Gauteng Rugby Cup is all about sport for social cohesion."
The match would kick-start celebrations of the Blue Bulls Rugby Union's 75th anniversary in 2013, according to Bulls CEO Barend van Graan.
"Playing the Lions in Soweto accomplishes many objectives for us," Van Graan said.
"It is a return to the very beginnings of our union. The game will be played in honour of our legendary players and will also lay the foundation for another successful 75 years of Bulls rugby."
Van Graan said the Pretoria outfit looked forward to playing at the Soweto venue, the home ground of football giants Orlando Pirates.
"The Soweto community is one that is passionate about rugby and was unrelenting in their support of our team in 2010," he said.
The Lions have lost their place in next year's Super Rugby competition, making way for the Southern Kings.
The Lions are now on a journey to reclaim their Super Rugby status and Golden Lions Rugby Union CEO Ruben Moggee said this fixture will give their loyal fans the opportunity to see the team in action.
"This 75th anniversary match is our way of helping our neighbours prepare for their Super Rugby season while also ensuring that our fans are able to watch our team in action in the months preceding the 2013 Absa Currie Cup competition," said Moggee.
The Gauteng Cup would be played in Soweto for the next two years.
The Gauteng Rugby Cup will also bring back fond memories for both unions and their legends from the first ever encounter contested by the newly-formed Northern Transvaal Rugby Union against Transvaal on 18 April 1938.
This trip down memory lane for past and current players will be the highlight of an action-packed outing at Soweto’s Orlando Stadium which will also feature an exciting list of festivities throughout the day.
“Both Unions have rich and proud histories, steeped in tradition in the South African landscape, but history aside, this 75th Anniversary match is our way of helping our neighbours prepare for their Super Rugby season while also ensuring that our fans are able to watch our team in action in the months preceding the 2013 Absa Currie Cup competition.”
Previous Super Rugby and international Test matches in Soweto have not only sold out but also proved to be resounding successes.
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