Currie Cup back to full schedule, Craven Week in the pipeline
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CAPE TOWN - After a truncated 2020 season – which actually finished in 2021 due to Covid-19 – local rugby fans will be treated to a full season of action this year.
SA Rugby announced on Thursday that the Currie Cup Premier Division will have a complete schedule, with seven teams – Bulls, Sharks, Western Province, Lions, Cheetahs, Griquas and Pumas – playing each other home and away, with the first round set for June 18/19.
The semi-finals will take place on the weekend of September 3/4, with the final scheduled for September 11.
The first set of matches will see the Pumas face the Lions at Mbombela Stadium on June 18, while a day later, Griquas will host the Sharks in Kimberley, while the Bulls will take on Western Province at Loftus Versfeld.
The First Division competition is also back after it was cancelled last year, with the seven teams – Boland, SWD, Valke, Border, Eastern Province, Leopards and the Griffons – start their tournament on the same June weekend over a single round, with the final on August 14.
The Under-20 competition will begin on August 7, while SA Rugby said that “plans to host the SA Rugby Youth Weeks are also in the pipeline, and will be announced in due course”.
“It has been very difficult to plan for the new season in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, and a number of variables may yet change our plans, but we are very pleased to see the return of the Currie Cup First Division and the women’s leagues after a blank 2020 for them,” said SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux.
“Numerous factors, such as the double-round Carling Currie Cup Premier Division, potential overlapping of competitions and the Castle Lager Lions Series, where four of our provincial teams have to go into bio-bubbles as a requirement, meant that we had to opt for midweek games.
“I’d like to commend the union CEOs and coaches for working so hard on numerous calls with our Rugby Department to produce a workable schedule despite all the challenges, which includes a very full roster for the remainder of the season, as well as our broadcast partner for getting on-board with these plans in an extraordinary season.”
Director of rugby Rassie Erasmus added: “It’s a very big year for our elite men with a full Test season, including the series against the British & Irish Lions, while our top women have already set their sights on next year’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
“We believe we have been able to build a schedule to give them the best preparation we can in the circumstances. It has been a challenge, but later this season we will be in a position where we’ve been able to phase all our provincial teams – men, women and U20s – back into action.”