Nailbiting action at revamped Currie Cup
SA Rugby sure revised format will boost attendance, viewership
Rugby fans can expect “edge-of-the-seat” excitement when the shortened single-round Currie Cup Premier Division kicks off on August 17, SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux says.
The action will end on October 27 with the Currie Cup final, preceded by the finals in SA Rugby’s provincial U21 and U19 competitions.
This year the Currie Cup First Division will be contested by the Griffons, Falcons, Leopards, Cavaliers, SWD Eagles, Border Bulldogs, Welwitschias and Eastern Province.
The First Division kicks off on August 24, concludes on October 19 and will follow the same format as last season, with eight teams playing a double round of matches followed by the semifinal and final.
The seven teams that took part in the Premier Division last season – Western Province, Sharks, Golden Lions, Blue Bulls, Free State Cheetahs, Pumas and Griquas – will again battle it out for the coveted gold trophy.
Bloemfontein will host the opening Premier Division clash when the Free State Cheetahs take on the Blue Bulls in a replay of the 2016 final.
The pool stages conclude on October 13 and the season will reach its climax with the semifinals and final in the following fortnight.
“We regard the Currie Cup as the cornerstone of South African rugby, and we are looking forward to a single pool round, featuring strength-versus-strength encounters, in which every match is likely to have a direct bearing on playoff places,” SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux said.
“It will be edge-of-the-seat stuff for the teams from tournament kick-off to the end of October.
“The provinces made certain suggestions about the format of the Currie Cup and we listened.
“Research from last year has shown that the Currie Cup remains a popular and critical part of the rugby landscape.
“Premier Division match attendances increased by 12.5% in 2017, viewership reversed international sporting trends by jumping 20% year-on-year in terms of total unique viewers; average audience was up 55%.”