JP to cut his teeth with Sharks Currie Cup squad

JP Pietersen, Sharks Currie Cup coach. | BackpagePix

JP Pietersen, Sharks Currie Cup coach. | BackpagePix

Published Jul 5, 2024


YOU have to hand it to the indomitable Currie Cup for its refusal to go away as the rugby landscape continues to morph away from grassroots rugby to the stratosphere of international competition.

The United Rugby Championship has just had its thrilling climax, the European Cup competitions are freshly ended and all the eyes of the rugby world are on blockbuster meetings this weekend between the Boks and Ireland; New Zealand and England; and Australia and Wales.

But don’t go away folks, there is more. This afternoon the Currie Cup kicks off.

And in this period of rude health for the game in South Africa, it is warming that the Currie Cup continues to have an important role to play as a feeder system to the big bucks leagues.

Interestingly, the Currie Cup once again has a sponsor in Carling Black Label after a year of being in the financial wilderness.

In an exciting new feature, the competition will be staged over one-and-a-half rounds, followed by two semi-finals and the grand finale on September 21.

This season, the eight teams are divided into two groups of four each by last year’s standings.

The one group will consist of the Cheetahs (No 1 ranked last year), the Bulls (4), Western Province (5) and the Griffons (8), while the second group are the Sharks XV (ranked No 2), Pumas (3), Lions (6) and Griquas (7).

Teams will play home and away matches within their respective groups plus a single round of games against sides in the opposite group. In the end, the top four sides on the combined log will progress to the semi-finals on the weekend of September 14 (1 v 4, and 2 v 3), with the two winners set to battle in the final.

The Sharks will be coached by former Springbok wing JP Pietersen, a man who played in a host of glittering Currie Cup finals, and now he is cutting his teeth in senior coaching.

“The Currie Cup is crucial to our plans to see which of our youngsters are good enough to make it at a higher level,” the 37-year-old said.

“The Currie Cup also means game time for the fringe URC players who did not see much action throughout that competition

“That means our team will always have a blend of youngsters trying to make it and seasoned players who are trying to fight their way into the URC team.”

Pietersen points out how the Currie Cup has provided a lifeline for teams like Griquas and the Pumas.

“Those teams put everything in the Currie Cup and it ultimately benefits the greater South African game. Also, the Currie Cup teaches youngsters the importance of winning. It is not just about them showcasing their talents.”

The Sharks host the Lions at 5.15pm this evening. Earlier, Griquas host the Pumas at 3pm. Tomorrow, the Cheetahs host the Griffons at 1.30pm and Western Province play the Bulls at 3pm on Sunday.

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