SA Rugby confirms schedule for double-round 8-team Currie Cup

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The Pumas won the 2022 Currie Cup Premier Division. (Gallo Images)
The Pumas won the 2022 Currie Cup Premier Division. (Gallo Images)

  • The 2023 Currie Cup Premier Division will be increased to eight teams as the Griffons join the top-flight.
  • The Currie Cup will overlap with the URC and Champions/Challenge Cups.
  • SA Rugby also announced a new Mzansi Challenge between the six First Division provinces and five international outfits.

SA Rugby on Monday confirmed the competition structure for the 2023 season.

The Currie Cup Premier Division will be expanded to eight teams as last year's First Division champions, the Griffons, are added to the mix. The double-round Currie Cup will start on 10 March and run until the final on 24 June.

This will see an overlap with the URC and Champions/Challenge Cups, which means the provincial teams' top players will hardly feature in the Currie Cup.

READ | Rassie eyes 'referee coach' for Boks at World Cup - report

Six local teams will contest the Currie Cup First Division, which starts on 10 February, and they will later be joined by five international teams - the Diables (Spain), Simbas (Kenya), Welwitschias (Namibia), Tel-Aviv Heat (Israel) and Goshawks (Zimbabwe) - in a new Mzansi Challenge on 24 March.

All 11 teams will contest the Mzansi Challenge in a single round format which includes a semi-final and final during the 14-week period.

At the same time, the six local teams will carry points earned against each other into the race for the Currie Cup First Division title. The team who finishes with the most log points (only matches involving the SA teams to be taken into account) will be crowned the winner.

2023 SA Rugby competition structure:

Currie Cup Premier Division

Participating teams: Pumas (defending champions), Bulls, Griquas, Sharks, Western Province, Cheetahs, Lions, Griffons.

Opening round: 10/11 March (double round of matches)

Final: 24 June

Currie Cup First Division & Mzansi Challenge

Participating teams: Leopards, Valke, Boland Cavaliers, Eastern Province, Border Bulldogs, SWD Eagles (Currie Cup First Division); Diables (Spain), Simbas (Kenya), Windhoek Draught Welwitschias (Namibia), Tel-Aviv Heat (Israel) and Goshawks (Zimbabwe) (Mzanzi Challenge).

The highest-placed SA team will be crowned Currie Cup First Division league winners.

Opening round: 10/11 February

Mzansi Challenge Final: 17 June

Women's Premier Division

Participating teams: Border Ladies (defending champions), Western Province, EP Queens, Boland Dames, Blue Bulls Women, Sharks Women, Mastercard Golden Lions Women

Opening round and final: TBA

Women's First Division

Participating teams: Leopards, Valke, Limpopo, Pumas, Free State, Griffons, Griquas, SWD

Opening round and final: TBA

SA Rugby Under-20 Cup

Participating teams: Lions (defending champions), Western Province, Bulls, Cell C Sharks, Leopards, Cheetahs, Valke

Opening round: 17/18 February (single round of matches)

Final: 6 April

SA Rugby Under-21 Cup

Participating teams: Bulls, Cheetahs, Leopards, Lions, Sharks, Western Province

Opening round: 18/19 August (single round of matches)

Final: 14 October

SA Rugby Under-21 Shield

Participating teams: Boland, Border, Eastern Province, Griffons, Griquas, Limpopo, Pumas, SWD, Valke

Opening round: 4/5 August (single round of matches)

Final: 14 October

All fixtures will be confirmed in due course on the SA Rugby website.

SA Rugby president, Mark Alexander, acknowledged it was tricky to formulate a schedule in a bumper rugby season.

"In a year when we will see the Springboks defend their Rugby World Cup title in France, we are extremely pleased to announce these confirmed competitions, ranging from the Currie Cup Premier Division and brand-new Mzansi Challenge, to our provincial women's leagues right down to age-group rugby," Alexander said in a statement.

"I'd like to commend everyone involved in this planning process, including the provincial union CEOs and coaches, for working so hard in collaboration with our rugby and competitions departments to produce an incredible detailed and workable schedule for the entire local season.

"I also want to thank our broadcast partner SuperSport for again getting on-board with these plans in what promises to be an epic season of local rugby action."

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