5 things that show the Currie Cup is still alive and kicking

The Cheetahs won the Currie Cup final. Photo: Charle Lombard/BackpagePix

The Cheetahs won the Currie Cup final. Photo: Charle Lombard/BackpagePix

Published Jun 27, 2023


The Currie Cup is far from dead, and the Free State Cheetahs showed their mettle on Saturday night by defeating the Pumas to claim the crown.

They picked up momentum at the right time in the competition to secure a seventh title in front of their fans in Bloemfontein.

Here, Leighton Koopman looks at five moments from South Africa’s premier domestic rugby competition that shows it is still alive.

Champagne Champions

They had a slight hiccup with a few losses but when they finally hit their straps in the last couple of games, there was just no stopping the Cheetahs.

It was their team effort that took them over the line with the evergreen Ruan Pienaar and captain Victor Sekekete leading from the front.

They came up with some exciting running rugby, especially when they beat a Bulls team full of United Rugby Championship (URC) players while they put on a defensive masterclass in the final, keeping the Pumas at bay with some hard tackles.

Pienaar shows age is but a number

There can only be one winner when it comes to the best player this season: Pienaar.

The 39-year-old turned back time and produced some match-winning performances despite being almost twice as old as some players in the competition. He was the glue that kept the Cheetahs together and it didn’t matter where he was played by coach Hawies Fourie.

He was the general at scrumhalf and controlled the ball well. When he was called upon at flyhalf, he produced classy performances to get his side over the line. In the semifinal, he outclassed the Bulls; and in the final, the Pumas endured the same fate.

A match they won’t forget

There were brilliant performances from all the teams across the tournament, and one that needs a mention is the Griffons beating the Bulls in their only win of the season.

But the way the Cheetahs absolutely manhandled Jake

White’s Loftus side to get to the Bloemfontein final was phenomenal.

In that semi-final, just a week after the Bulls lost narrowly to the eventual winners, the Free State side did the talking on the field and romped to a 39-10 win. Pienaar scored 22 points to take his side to the final in this match that the supporters in Bloem will remember for years to come.

Underperforming stars

While all the franchises had their URC stars back at the backend of the competition, the Sharks and Western Province decided not to make use of all their players.

But the Bulls and Lions – the Bulls for most games of their Currie Cup campaign – could call on their URC players to take them further in the competition. Granted, the Loftus side barely made the semi-finals and they should’ve done better with the players available.

Even after sacking their coach Edgar Marutlulle shortly after starting the competition, things didn’t look up for the side even with their stars playing almost weekly. That loss in Welkom to the Griffons will forever be etched in their minds.

Hope for the Currie Cup and ‘smaller’ teams

The Pumas, who were defending champions, and Griquas showed once again that they belong at the top table of SA’s domestic competition.

They toppled the more fancied teams - the Pumas played brilliantly to beat the Sharks in Durban for a final place; and with a little bit bigger playing pool, they will consistently give the so-called big four a run for their money.

The competition came to a scintillating end in Bloemfontein and the teams can look back on a tournament that unearthed new talent and that the pride of playing for your province and the cup is far from dead.