The Currie Cup will reach a thrilling conclusion in Cape Town on Saturday when the unbeaten DHL Western Province will set their sights on a fairy-tale finish to the season against a Cell C Sharks side determined to avenge defeat in last year’s final.
The match, which marks the ninth time the sides battle it out for the title since 1984, will be the last of three finals played at DHL Newlands on Saturday. Kick-off in the final of the Currie Cup Premier Division – sponsored by Nashua and DirectAxis Financial Services – is at 16h00.
The day’s action will kick off at 11h00 with the SA Rugby U19 Championship final between the Vodacom Blue Bulls and Cell C Sharks, which will be followed by the SA Rugby U21 Championship final between the Vodacom Blue Bulls and Xerox Golden Lions at 13h00.
DHL Western Province, who will be hunting back-to-back titles, will enter the match on a seven-match winning streak, although their 100-minute extravaganza in the semi-final against the Vodacom Blue Bulls will undoubtedly serve as a stark reminder that anything can happen in finals rugby.
The Cell C Sharks, meanwhile, have suffered only one defeat this season, and that was a 50-28 loss against DHL Western Province in the Mother City.
This, combined with the fresh memories of their home defeat in last year’s Currie Cup final, in which they allowed a 21-15 halftime lead to slip out of their hands, will fuel the Durbanites’ determination to topple the hosts this weekend.
- First encyclopaedia of Black Rugby unveiled
- Digital exhibit goes live at The Springbok Experience
- Compilation will be an on-going process
SA Rugby launched what it hopes will grow into the definitive A to Z of Black Rugby, at the Springbok Experience Rugby Museum at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town on Thursday.
The touch screen installation – which was developed with the help of funding from the National Lotteries Commission – is the first stage of an ambitious project to collate the often ‘hidden’ history of black rugby in South Africa until the sport’s unification in 1992.
The objective of the work is to capture the A to Z of black rugby prior to unity. The biographies of all 409 players to have appeared for the pre-unity African, coloured and non-racial rugby boards will be featured in due course, as well as the stories of clubs, trophies, administrators, federations and other personalities or events that may have shaped the development of black rugby.
Mr Mark Alexander, president of SA Rugby, said at the launch that the work was a first step to filling an embarrassing vacuum in the story of black rugby.
“The story of black rugby has increasingly been brought out of the shadows by the work we have done at The Springbok Experience and in the heritage field over recent years, but there is still not a single point of reference where anyone can go and discover the hidden story,” said Mr Alexander. Continue reading
Western Province Rugby Group CEO, Paul Zacks, has reaffirmed his commitment to working for Western Province Rugby.
Following recent reports linking Zacks to the position of CEO at the Blue Bulls Company, the Western Province Rugby Group CEO has moved to commit himself to his current role.
Zacks said he remains fully committed to his work with Western Province Rugby and will not be taking up a position elsewhere.
“There has been much speculation regarding my being considered for the CEO position at the Blue Bulls Company.
“Unfortunately, the speculation within WP Rugby circles and in certain sections of the media has now reached a level where it is beginning to distract from the important work being done at WP Rugby, and thus can no longer be ignored.
Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Jano Vermaak will both return from injury for DHL Western Province to play in the Currie Cup Final against the Cell C Sharks at DHL Newlands on Saturday.
Scrumhalf Vermaak and No.8 Notshe come straight into the starting line-up for the replay of last year’s final, which kicks off at 16h00 on Saturday.
DHL Western Province will be looking to make it an unbeaten season and secure a record 35th Currie Cup title when they run out at DHL Newlands.
The only other change sees Josh Stander come into the starting XV at flyhalf, with Damian Willemse shifting to inside centre.
DHL Western Province Head Coach John Dobson said that his team want to make the most of the opportunity they have at DHL Newlands on Saturday.
“There has been a lot of hard work to get to this point, with many different people making important contributions.
The Isuzu Southern Kings, with a new captain in JC Astle, and Toyota Cheetahs will be determined to get off to a fresh start in the Guinness PRO14 this weekend as the competition resumes after a revitalising two-week break.
The Isuzu Southern Kings will host the Scarlets at the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth on Friday at 19h00, while the Toyota Cheetahs take on the Cardiff Blues in Bloemfontein on Saturday at 19h15.
While the men from Port Elizabeth have won one of their first six matches, the Toyota Cheetahs’ best result was a draw against Ulster – although the Bloemfontein outfit will draw inspiration from the fact that they were in the lead at some point in a handful of their matches.
The Isuzu Southern Kings – with Astle replacing regular skipper Michael Willemse who has been ruled out for up to three months due to a shoulder injury – have faced 2017 finalists, the Scarlets, three times since joining the competition last season, but they have yet to beat them.
However, Deon Davids’ men came close in Port Elizabeth last season, where they suffered a heart-breaking 34-30 defeat. This result, which the Scarlets followed up with a comprehensive 54-14 victory against the Southern Kings in September, is expected to inspire them as they go in search of their second victory this season.
The U18 Craven Week will return to Grey College in the Bloemfontein for the first time since 2005, when the popular schools rugby showcase plays out from 1 to 6 July 2019.
The flagship tournament in the SA Rugby Youth Weeks series will run concurrently with the Academy Week at Grey College, while the Learners with Special Education Needs (LSEN) week will be hosted at the same venue two weeks earlier from 17 to 20 June.
The U13 Craven Week and U16 Grant Khomo Week will be hosted at Hoërskool Rob Ferreira in Mpumalanga from 24 to 28 June, with the National Girls U16 and U18 Weeks returning to Jeppe High School in Johannesburg from 17 to 21 June.
The U18 Craven Week and Academy Week competitions will follow the same competition format as the last few seasons, which saw the Blue Bulls, Golden Lions, Sharks and Western Province field invitational sides in addition to their regular Craven Week teams.
Lionel Mapoe will join the Springbok training squad in Stellenbosch as injury cover for Lukhanyo Am, who is unlikely to be fit for the first two Tests of the Castle Lager Outgoing Tour.
Am sustained a fractured arm against the All Blacks in Wellington last month and indications are that he will not be ready for the Tests against England, on Saturday 3 November at Twickenham, and a week later against France in Paris on 10 November.
As a result, Mapoe, capped 14 times for South Africa, was added to the Springbok training squad currently preparing in Stellenbosch.
Meanwhile, the training squad of 20 players are hard at work in Stellenbosch in preparation of the November tour to the United Kingdom and France. By Tuesday afternoon, the group already had four very good field training sessions and two gymnasium workouts under their belt.
The players will wrap up preparations on Friday and the final tour squad will be announced after the 2018 Currie Cup Final on Saturday evening. DHL Western Province and the Cell C will contest this year’s Currie Cup Final, which is sponsored by DirectAxis Financial Services and Nashua.
Jaco Peyper will referee his fourth Currie Cup Final in seven seasons when DHL Western Province host the Cell C Sharks at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday at 16h00.
Saturday’s final match of the season in the Currie Cup Premier Division – sponsored by Nashua and DirectAxis Financial Services – will be the third consecutive Currie Cup Final appointment for the 38-year-old Peyper.
Peyper, who also took charge of the finals last year in Durban, and in 2016 in Bloemfontein, will be assisted by AJ Jacobs and Cwengile Jadezweni, while Shaun Veldsman will handle TMO duties. Peyper’s first final was between the same two coastal sides, in 2012 in Durban.
Griffin Colby (U19) and Ben Crouse (U21) will referee the two Junior Provincial Championship finals, also at DHL Newlands on Saturday.
Finals match official appointments (Saturday, 27 October at DHL Newlands, Cape Town):
Currie Cup Final – DHL Western Province v Cell C Sharks
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Referees: AJ Jacobs and Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Shaun Veldsman
TV: SS1 Continue reading
The momentum of the Currie Cup – sponsored by DirectAxis Financial Services and Nashua – will change significantly on Saturday as the teams make the switch from qualifying mode to final mode as they take to the field in the Premier Division semi-finals.
The Cell C Sharks will host the Xerox Golden Lions in Durban at 14h30, while defending champions and log-leaders, DHL Western Province, will meet the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Cape Town at 17h00. All four teams will field 23-man squads, as opposed to applying rolling substitutions as in the pool stages.
A victory for DHL Western Province will guarantee them a home final at DHL Newlands on Saturday, 27 October, however, should they suffer a defeat, the winner of the Cell C Sharks and Xerox Golden Lions match will host the final.
At Jonsson Kings Park, the Cell C Sharks will be determined to build on their 37-21 victory against the Xerox Golden Lions in a repeat of this match in the pool stages, but they will be wary of underestimating the visitors.
The Durbanites have suffered only one defeat at home against their Gauteng rivals since 2008, and that was in 2015, which should bolster their confidence going into the match. Interestingly, the Xerox Golden Lions have scored 46 more points than the KwaZulu-Natalians in the pool stages, but they conceded 80 more.
The Xerox Golden Lions made only three changes to their team, with Pieter Jansen joining Springboks Warren Whiteley and Aphiwe Dyanti in their starting team.
The Border Rugby Union (BRU) has been suspended from membership of SA Rugby as a consequence of its dire financial position and on-going administration issues.
The decision was taken by the Executive Council (Exco) of SA Rugby at a meeting in Cape Town on Wednesday. It allows SA Rugby to appoint an administrator to take full control of the union’s affairs.
The Exco exercised its constitutionally mandated powers relating to the financial affairs of unions.
Border first invited SA Rugby to assist in 2014, when an administrator was appointed to take limited financial oversight. The administrator’s role was reduced as the union’s affairs were regularised. However, in light of escalating issues the Exco applied the full extent of its constitutional powers.
“This intervention is for the benefit of rugby in the Border region and has only been taken as a last resort,” said Mr. Mark Alexander, President of SA Rugby.
“The union has critical financial problems and repeated attempts to engage with the union’s leadership on a turnaround strategy have met with no success.
“Other members with similar challenges have engaged with us but Border have repeatedly missed scheduled engagements both with the SA Rugby Executive Council and Finance Committee. We were left with no alternative.”