After finishing bottom of the log and failing to win any of the eight matches they played last season, the EP Kings have been booted out of the Currie Cup Premier Division.
The Currie Cup will return to a more intense, strength-versus-strength format this year following a decision of a special general council of SA Rugby in Cape Town yesterday. The Kings returned to the Premier Division in 2014 after a long absence and 22 000 fans watched their comeback game at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium against Western Province.
After a cash crisis hit EP Rugby, the Kings team to play in the Premier Division was only assembled days before the tournament kicked off last year. This year the Kings will play in the lower First Division.
The Premier Division will contract from nine to seven teams this year. The winners of an eight-team First Division (including a representative team from Namibia) will play a promotion challenge series against the last-placed Premier Division team.
The new format will see the return of mid-week rugby, with each of the teams scheduled to play a number of weekday matches during the season.
The Premier Division teams were determined on last season’s top six plus the Pumas, who had the best record of the rest in the competition over the past five years.
The Premier Division will comprise the Free State Cheetahs, Golden Lions, Western Province, Sharks, Blue Bulls, Griquas and Pumas. The Currie Cup First Division will feature Boland, Griffons, Falcons, Leopards, Eastern Province, Border, SWD and Weltwitschias (Namibia). The tournament kicks off on August 12, the week after the final of Vodacom Super Rugby.
The final takes place on October 28