New-look Currie Cup: All 14 unions to get chance to compete for top prize
The competition will also be played in a new window, which won't clash with the European competitions.
Cheetahs player Ruan Pienaar shows his delight at winning the Currie Cup earlier this year. Picture: Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images
The Currie Cup has been given an overhaul and will now be played from July to the end of September.
This is just one of the changes made to the competition following an SA Rugby general council meeting in Cape Town on Friday.
A new format has also been introduced, from 2025, that will allow all 14 unions to play for the top prize in South African domestic rugby.
The change to a July start is to avoid the competition clashing with the European competitions, which will free up the unions’ best players to also feature in the Currie Cup.
This year’s structure will, however, remain in place, with eight team contesting the Premier Division and six teams competing in the First Division.
From 2025, the Premier and First Divisions will be preceded by a local competition featuring 10 provincial sides (Cheetahs, Griquas, Pumas, Griffons, Boland, Border, SWD, Eastern Province, Valke and Leopards), but will exclude the four United Rugby Championship franchises (Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers).
This “SA Cup” (working title) competition, which will kick off the senior local calendar next year, is scheduled to be played over a single round from March to June, with semi-finals and a final determining the winner. Players will then enjoy a break before the Currie Cup starts.
In 2025, the top four teams from the “SA Cup” competition will join the four URC franchises in the Currie Cup Premier Division, with the remaining six teams contesting the First Division. Both competitions will culminate in semi-finals and a final.
‘Currie Cup the pinnacle’
“I think it’s fair to say that the changes to the rugby calendar over the last few years have necessitated a change in approach to the Currie Cup, which we still consider to be the pinnacle of the local calendar,” said Rian Oberholzer, CEO of SA Rugby.
“We spent many hours consulting with all relevant stakeholders, our broadcast partner and possible sponsors, and the message was clear – we need the Currie Cup to have its own window in the calendar.
“This will not only make it easier for our provincial unions when it comes to planning and contracting, but it will also be better for the broadcaster, potential sponsor and supporters.
“We believe this change in the way we approach the Currie Cup will provide it with an opportunity to reclaim its rightful place at the jewel in the local rugby crown. To win the Currie Cup remains a massive achievement – ask any of the Cheetahs or Pumas players who have lifted the trophy in the last two years – and we have to ensure it’s as competitive as possible.
“By giving all the teams an opportunity to qualify for the Currie Cup Premier Division from 2025 onwards, we’ll also make it more appealing for sponsors at provincial level, especially as all their matches will be broadcast.”