Revitalizing South African Rugby: Currie Cup's Bold Evolution Unveiled

Revitalizing South African Rugby: Currie Cup's Bold Evolution Unveiled

Discover the exciting transformation of South African rugby, as the Currie Cup gets a fresh format and window, promising more action and inclusivity.

Dec 13, 2023 by Philip Bendon
Revitalizing South African Rugby: Currie Cup's Bold Evolution Unveiled

In a momentous development that signals a transformative chapter in South African rugby, the iconic Currie Cup is set for a revitalizing makeover, boasting a new window and format. 

Unanimously approved at SA Rugby's recent General Council meeting in Cape Town, this groundbreaking decision opens the door for all 14 unions to vie for the revered gold trophy, starting from the 2025 season. 

The driving force behind this evolution is a strategic decision to relocate the Currie Cup Premier and First Divisions to a new window in the rugby calendar. 

This adjustment, slated for the upcoming year, aims to prevent scheduling conflicts with European competitions. 

Taking into account feedback from member unions, broadcast partners and commercial collaborators, the move is contingent upon reaching agreements on rest periods and international travel arrangements for players participating in the United Rugby Championship and EPCR competitions. 

Negotiations between SARU and MyPlayers are in advanced stages, and pending approval from players, the revised schedule will be officially confirmed. 

Once established, the 2024 Currie Cup competitions will unfold from July to September, featuring the same eight Premier Division teams and six First Division sides as the preceding year. 

The qualification process is slated for a significant overhaul in 2025, providing enhanced opportunities for all member unions to partake in South Africa's premier rugby competition. 

An exciting precursor to the Currie Cup festivities is the introduction of the "SA Cup" competition, set to kick off the senior local calendar in the coming year. This tournament, featuring 10 provincial sides, will exclude the four Vodacom United Rugby Championship franchises. 

Scheduled from March to June, it will unfold over a single round, culminating in semifinals and a final to determine the champion. Players will enjoy a well-deserved break before the commencement of the Currie Cup. 

In 2025, the top four teams from the "SA Cup" will join forces with the four Vodacom URC franchises in the Currie Cup Premier Division. Simultaneously, the remaining six teams will vie for supremacy in the First Division. 

Both competitions will culminate in gripping semifinals and a final, promising an intensified level of competition. 

A significant boon for South African rugby comes in the form of SuperSport's commitment to broadcasting all matches. Whether through their linear offering on DStv or various streaming platforms, fans can relish every moment of the action. 

Rian Oberholzer, CEO of SA Rugby, expressed the necessity for this shift in approach to the Currie Cup, considering the changes in the rugby calendar in recent years. 

The unanimous decision from stakeholders, broadcast partners and potential sponsors underscores the importance of providing the Currie Cup with its dedicated window, streamlining planning for provincial unions and enhancing the overall experience for broadcasters, sponsors and supporters. 

"This change in the way we approach the Currie Cup will provide it with an opportunity to reclaim its rightful place as the jewel in the local rugby crown," Oberholzer emphasized.

By allowing all teams to qualify for the Currie Cup Premier Division from 2025 onward, the competition becomes more appealing for sponsors at the provincial level, with the added allure of all matches being broadcast. 

Beyond the Currie Cup, other decisions made during the meeting include the reintroduction of a single-round competition for U19 teams and a double-round competition for U21s (Cup and Shield). 

The U20 competition will be discontinued, with the time frame for U19 and U21 competitions to be confirmed. 

The structure of the women's provincial competitions (Premier and First Division) will mirror the 2023 season, and the Free State Women's side, winner of the First Division, earns promotion to the Premier Division for the next two years. 

In summary, the Currie Cup's transformation heralds a new era for South African rugby, promising increased accessibility, heightened competition and a reinvigorated fan experience. 

As the sport continues to evolve, these strategic decisions pave the way for a more inclusive and compelling rugby landscape in the years to come.