The new Absa Currie Cup Premier Division format featuring eight teams will come into play on August 8 in a fresh start to SA’s top domestic competition, with newcomers the EP Kings taking on DHL Western Province in the opening match.
The official launch of the 2014 Absa Currie Cup competition was hosted by the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and sponsor Absa on Wednesday at Jeppe High School for Boys in Johannesburg where the new format was explained and the 2014 marketing campaign revealed.
The launch featured a Tag rugby match between the media, and the players and coaching staff of the Premier and First Division teams.
The Premier Division of the Absa Currie Cup was expanded from six teams to eight following a decision by SARU’s General Council in February. This format ensures that the six anchor unions in South African rugby ((the Vodacom Blue Bulls, Cell C Sharks, DHL Western Province, Toyota Free State Cheetahs, Xerox Golden Lions and the EP Kings) will be guaranteed their places in the Absa Currie Cup Premier Division for the next two seasons.
First Division champions, the Steval Pumas, meanwhile, gained entry into the Premier Division after winning the promotion-relegation matches against GWK Griquas at the conclusion of last season, while GWK Griquas booked their spot in a thrilling qualifying series which ended last weekend.
SARU CEO Jurie Roux was excited about the new competition format and said it would be beneficial for South African rugby, especially with the EP Kings featuring alongside the other core unions.
“The Eastern Cape region is a rugby stronghold in SA so it is fitting that they receive the opportunity to compete regularly with the other Franchise unions,” said Roux. “This will also assist the EP Kings in their preparation for their inclusion in Vodacom Super Rugby in 2016, so we are excited to see what they have to offer.
“I have no doubt the tournament will continue to generate the excitement it has in the past with a tight race for semifinal places and a few upsets throughout the season.”
David Wingfield, Barclays Africa Head of Marketing, also expressed his excitement about the upcoming season.
“The Absa Currie Cup is the cornerstone of South African domestic rugby, and has always been the foundation upon which our players can prosper as they seek to become Springboks. The tournament has a history of courage, determination and strength against adversity and embodies much of what we at Absa stand for, namely mutual respect, a commitment to excellence, and an ability to evolve. As a bank we are committed to serving our communities, and as a sponsor we can stand alongside them on their journey towards rugby excellence.”