The Currie Cup is the premier domestic rugby competition in South Africa. In 2014, major changes were made to the way the competition was organised. This was continued in 2015.
Further changes were made in each of the following years, including the addition of a Jaguares XV team, from Argentina, to the First Division in 2018.
In 2020 changes were required due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A later start allowed for a 7 team competition that ended in January 2021. There was no First Division competition played.
The History of the Currie Cup
The Currie Cup is South Africa's premier domestic rugby competition. It dates back to 1889 when the first provincial tournament was held. This competition was won by Western Province, who received the "Raadsbeker' as the prize. This trophy now resides in the South African Rugby Museum in Cape Town.
In 1891 the British Isles rugby team toured South Africa. With them came a silver trophy, donated by Sir Donald Currie. This trophy was to be presented to the team that did the best against the tourists. Griqualand West was given the trophy from the British team. They in turn presented it to the then South African Rugby Board for the inter-centre competition. In 1892, Western Province won the trophy.
In the early days of the tournament, it was played for by 5 teams over a week to 10 day period. It was not always an annual event, with international tours and war service interrupting it's playing.
In 1922 the competition was changed to an 8 team format, played home and away during the season.
By 1939, there were 12 teams involved. They were split into North and South regions. The winners of each region played in the Currie Cup final, the first 'final' for the competition.
In 1954 there were further changes made, with 15 teams being involved. They were split into 3 sections and there were semi-finals for the first time.
In 1957 further changes were made. The Currie Cup would be played for on a league basis, over 2 seasons. These were 1957 and 1959. No play occurred in 1958 due to a tour by the French national rugby team. This format was very unpopular and the competition was cancelled for the following 5 years.
In 1964 a 5 section format was introduced. The winners of each section went into a league competition to determine the winner. This format was repeated in 1966. In 1967 there was again no competition due to a tour by the French national rugby team.
In 1968 there were 16 teams in the competition. They were split into 2 pools. Since then there have been regular changes to the number of divisions but there has always been a final played.
In 2006 there were 2 Divisions, the Premier Division with 8 teams and the First Division with 6 teams. The 5 teams affiliated to the Super Rugby franchises were 'entrenched' in the Premier Division for 5 years. The best 2 teams from the 2006 Vodacom Cup also played in the Premier Division. The last position was awarded to South Eastern Cape. This was in preparation for the Southern Spears entry into Super Rugby. However, the Southern Spears were denied entry so the 8th spot in the Premier Division was given to the Griquas.
In 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 the same number of teams played in the 2 Divisions. At the end of the competition the 7th placed team in the Premier Division played the 2nd placed team in the First Division and the 8th placed team played the winner of the First Division.
In 2011 the same number of teams played in the 2 Divisions but with changes to happen the following year there was no play-off matches. The bottom 2 teams in the Premier Division would be relegated.
In 2012 there were 2 divisions, the Premier Division of 6 teams and the First
Division of 8 teams.
Teams play each other on a home and away basis. From the results of these games the top 4 teams play semi-finals with the winners then going on to the final.
The winner of the Premier Division final wins the Currie Cup.
The winner of the First Division final plays against the bottom placed Premier Division team in a 2 match series to determine which team plays in which Division for the following year.
In 2014 changes were made and the Premier Division had 8 teams in it, with the First Division having 6 teams. In 2014 the first round of the First Division, with 7 teams, was played as a qualifying round for one team to be promoted to the Premier Division. The First Division then continued with 6 teams. The bottom 2 teams in the Premier Division will play in the qualifying competition the next year if they are not one of the 6 franchise teams.
In 2015, the same format was followed, with a qualifying competition run as the first round of the First Division. The top team then qualifies for the Currie Cup Premier Division.
In 2016 changes were made to the Currie Cup competition. There was a qualification competition played for by all 14 South African provinces and a team from Namibia (Welwitschias).
The six Super Rugby franchise teams all automatically qualified for the Currie Cup Premier Division. They were joined by the next 3 best finishing teams in the qualifying series. The other 6 teams played in the Currie Cup First Division.
In 2017 the Premier Division was reduced to 7 teams, the top six finishers from 2016 and the Pumas, who were the best performing team over the previous 5 years out of the remaining teams. There will be a promotion relegation match between the winner of the First Division and the last placed team in the Premier Division.
2018 saw further changes made. The same 7 teams from the previous year remained in the Premier Division but they would only play the other teams once, followed by the semi-finals and final. The same 8 teams would play in the First Division as well.
In 2019 the Premier Division was played earlier, starting in July, due to the Rugby World Cup in September, but followed the same format with the same 7 teams.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic caused the competition to be postponed and then altered to suit a much later start. A Super Rugby Unlocked competition was played in October and November. At the conclusion of this all points were carried over and the provincial teams based on the franchises played one round to determine a top 4 to play in semi-finals and a final. No First Division competition was played for in 2020.
As of 2015, only 6 teams have won the Currie Cup since it has been an annual competition (1968): Western Province, Griquas, Blue Bulls, Golden Lions, Free State Cheetahs and Natal Sharks. Prior to this the only other team to have won the Currie Cup was Border, which shared the title with Western Province in 1932 and 1934.
Currie Cup Premiership Results for previous years
Currie Cup First Division results for previous years