Jacques van der Westhuyzen

By Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport

2023 Currie Cup: First round fixtures this weekend

Will this year's competition be the swansong of Cheetahs stars Ruan Pienaar and Frans Steyn?

The 2023 edition of one of the world’s oldest domestic rugby competitions, the Currie Cup, kicks off this weekend.

The competition has been brought forward because of the Rugby World Cup later this year.

Also, the four United Rugby Championship unions, the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers, will have to battle on several fronts for the next few weeks as the URC, Currie Cup and Champions Cup will run alongside one another.


Those four teams’ depth and strength will be tested against the so-called minnows, who will be at full strength. Here we think of the defending Currie Cup champions the Pumas, Griquas, newcomers the Griffons, and to a lesser extent, the Cheetahs.

The Pumas were first-time winners last year, beating favourites, Griquas, 26-19 in a thrilling final in Kimberley.

Welkom’s Griffons return to the Premier Division for the first time in several years after they won the First Division in 2022, making this year’s competition an eight-team shootout over two rounds, home and away.

Ruan Pienaar and Frans Steyn

Last year’s runners-up, Griquas, get the competition going on Friday afternoon with a home match against neighbours, the Cheetahs, at 4pm, in Kimberley.

Griquas will no doubt be keen to make-up for failing in the final on home turf last June, while the Cheetahs will once again be out to show why they should still be considered among South Africa’s top franchises after getting the boot from the URC.

One’s got to wonder if this will be the last time South African rugby fans get to see veteran stars Ruan Pienaar, who turns 39 on Friday, the day of the opener, and Frans Steyn, 35, in action before they call it a day.

Cheetahs player Ruan Pienaar
Veteran star Ruan Pienaar. Picture: Anton Geyser/Gallo Images

There are two matches on Saturday. The Sharks host the Griffons in Durban at 1.30pm and at 3.30pm it’s the turn of the Lions to welcome Western Province to Ellis Park.

The first round will conclude on Sunday when the Bulls host Jimmy Stonehouse’s Pumas at Loftus at 1pm at Loftus Versfeld.

Currie Cup first round fixtures:

Griquas vs Cheetahs (Friday, 4pm, Kimberley)

Sharks vs Griffons (Saturday, 1.30pm, Durban)

Lions vs Western Province (Saturday, 3.30pm, Johannesburg)

Bulls vs Pumas (Sunday, 1pm, Pretoria)