Every game will be vital when the Currie Cup Premier Division – sponsored by Nashua and DirectAxis – kicks off on Friday, 17 August with South Africa’s top teams taking each other on in a single round of action-packed rugby.
The action will culminate on Saturday, 27 October with the Currie Cup final, which will be preceded by the finals in SA Rugby’s Provincial Under-21 and Under-19 competitions.
Adding to the excitement for die-hard Currie Cup fans, the fixture list includes three Saturday triple-headers, while the action will be limited on the days of the Springboks’ local Tests in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, against the Pumas (18 August in Durban), Wallabies (29 September in Port Elizabeth) and the All Blacks (6 October in Pretoria).
The seven teams that participated in the competition last season – DHL Western Province, the Cell C Sharks, Xerox Golden Lions, Vodacom Blue Bulls, Toyota Free State Cheetahs, iCOLLEGE Pumas and Tafel Lager Griquas – will again battle it out for the coveted gold trophy.
The Currie Cup Premier Division will kick off in Bloemfontein on Friday, 17 August, when the Toyota Free State Cheetahs host the Vodacom Blue Bulls in a replay of the 2016 final, and the pool stages will conclude on 13 October. The local season will reach its climax with the semi-finals and final in the following fortnight.
The only other match in the opening round of the Premier Division be between the iCOLLEGE Pumas and Tafel Lager Griquas in Nelspruit, at 14h05 on Saturday, 18 August.
“We regard the Currie Cup as the cornerstones 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 play off places – it’ll be edge of the seat stuff for the teams from tournament kick off to the end of October,” said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.
“The provinces, who are our main stakeholders, through the Franchise Committee, made certain suggestions about the format of the Currie Cup and we listened.
“Statistics don’t lie and 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 and viewership reversed international sporting trends by jumping 20% year-on-year in terms of total unique viewers, and the average audience was up by 55%.
“We believe the reduced number of fixtures will lead to even higher match attendances and higher average viewership, which will ensure that the competition takes centre stage. It will also ensure that every game is critical to determining the eventual winner, as each match will be a compelling occasion among seven pretty evenly matched teams.”
The Currie Cup First Division – also sponsored by DirectAxis and Nashua – starts on Friday, 24 August and concludes on Friday 19 October with the final (including the SA Rugby Provincial Under-20 competition). This competition will follow the same format as last season with eight teams playing a double round of matches followed by the semi-final and final.
The First Division will be contested by the Down Touch Griffons, Hino Valke, Leopards, Boland Kavaliers, SWD Eagles, Border Bulldogs, Windhoek Draught Welwitschias and Eastern Province.
Currie Cup Premier Division fixtures (all fixtures are subject to change):
Friday, 17 August:
19h00 – Toyota Free State Cheetahs v Vodacom Blue Bulls (Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein)
Saturday, 18 August:
14h05 – iCOLLEGE Pumas v Tafel Lager Griquas (Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit)
Friday, 24 August:
19h00 – Xerox Golden Lions v Tafel Lager Griquas (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)
Saturday, 25 August:
15h00 – Cell C Sharks v Vodacom Blue Bulls (Jonsson Kings Park, Durban)
17h15 – DHL Western Province v Toyota Free State Cheetahs (DHL Newlands, Cape Town)
Friday, 31 August:
19h00 – iCOLLEGE Pumas v DHL Western Province (Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit)
Saturday, 1 September:
15h00 – Vodacom Blue Bulls v Xerox Golden Lions (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
17h15 – Toyota Free State Cheetahs v Cell C Sharks (Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein)
Friday, 7 September:
19h00 – Cell C Sharks v iCOLLEGE Pumas (Jonsson Kings Park, Durban)
Saturday, 8 September:
15h00 – Tafel Lager Griquas v Vodacom Blue Bulls (Tafel Lager Park, Kimberley)
17h15 – Xerox Golden Lions v Toyota Free State Cheetahs (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)
Saturday, 15 September:
15h00 – Xerox Golden Lions v DHL Western Province (Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg)
17h15 – Tafel Lager Griquas v Toyota Free State Cheetahs (Tafel Lager Park, Kimberley)
19h30 – Vodacom Blue Bulls v iCOLLEGE Pumas (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
Saturday, 22 September:
15h00 – Toyota Free State Cheetahs v iCOLLEGE Pumas (Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein)
17h15 – Cell C Sharks v Xerox Golden Lions (Jonsson Kings Park, Durban)
19h30 – DHL Western Province v Tafel Lager Griquas (DHL Newlands, Cape Town)
Saturday, 29 September:
14h00 – DHL Western Province v Cell C Sharks (DHL Newlands, Cape Town)
Friday, 12 October:
19h00 – iCOLLEGE Pumas v Xerox Golden Lions (Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit)
Saturday, 13 October:
15h00 – Tafel Lager Griquas v Cell C Sharks (Tafel Lager Park, Kimberley)
17h15 – Vodacom Blue Bulls v DHL Western Province (Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria)
Saturday, 20 October: Semi-finals
Saturday, 27 October: Final