The Currie Cup returns once more, as South Africa’s most elite rugby players battle it out to see who is the best domestic side this season. What has been a prolonged and unpredictable World Rugby season, will see the in-form rugby sides in South Africa compete for the prestigious Currie Cup trophy this weekend.
Currie Cup History:
The Currie Cup had its inaugural tournament back in 1892 and is the oldest rugby competition in South African Rugby history. The overall tournament success favour Cape Town-based Western Province, as they have won the annual tournament an impressive total of 34 times, whereas the Bulls are the second most successful side, lifting the trophy on 23 occasions.
The Currie Cup has always been the major talking point in Springbok rugby, where national team selections get measured on the player’s performances and plenty of players increase their camaraderie to contest for national selection. With the possibility of a British and Irish Lions series in the balance this year, there will be a major opportunity for players to be recognized, as 2021 will hopefully be the year South Africa returns to international test rugby, post-COVID.
To date, numerous household names in World Rugby and recent Rugby World Cup Winners continue to wear their local jerseys with pride, with the likes of; Duane Vermeulen, Elton Jantjies, Siya Kolisi and Lukhanyo Am set to lead their teams and take the field this Saturday in the Currie Cup Semi-Finals.
Currie Cup Semi-Finals Fixtures:
After the conclusion of the group stages of the tournament, Blue Bulls topped the overall standings, followed by Western Province at second place, and the Natal Sharks and Golden Lions finishing third and fourth, respectively. With the current Currie Cup Tournament format, the first-placed side hosts the fourth-placed side in the first Currie Cup Semi-Final and the second and third-placed contest the second Currie Cup Semi-Final. Both Semi-Finals see the big four franchises compete with Blue Bulls being favourites, as they were the far superior side in the 2020 tournament’s group stages.
Saturday 23rd January:
Blue Bulls v Golden Lions Semi Final – 1 (GMT 12:00 – CAT 14:00) Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Western Province v The Sharks Semi Final – 2 (GMT 14:30 – CAT 16:30) Newlands, Cape Town
Who do you predict to be in the finals of this season’s Currie Cup?
Currie Cup Semi-Finals Weekend Line-Ups:
Blue Bulls: 15 David Kriel, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Stravino Jacobs, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Sintu Manjezi, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Schalk Erasmus, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Jan Uys, 20 Arno Botha, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren.
Golden Lions: 15 Tiaan Swanepoel, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 André Warner, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 21 Morné van den Berg, 22 Dan Kriel, 23 Francke Horn, 24 Nathan McBeth, 25 EW Viljoen, 26 Ross Cronjé.
Western Province: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Angelo Davids, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Johan du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (C), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ali Vermaak
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Ernst van Rhyn, 21 Jaco Coetzee, 22 Paul de Wet, 23 Ruhan Nel, 24 Sazi Sandi, 25 Tristan Leyds
Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Marius Louw, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 JJ van der Mescht, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Fezokuhle Mbatha, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Jaden Hendrikse, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Manie Libbok
Writer’s Currie Cup Semi-Finals Predictions:
Blue Bulls v Golden Lions:
What has traditionally been referred to by South African rugby fans as the Jukskei Derby, the formerly known Transvaal sides contest the first Currie Cup Semi-Final this weekend. The Blue Bulls are firm favourites heading into this encounter as the table-topping Currie Cup side. Their dominance in the forwards and elite execution in their backline has posed as a major threat in this season’s competition. Under the leadership of Rugby World Cup Final, Man of The Match, Duane Vermeulen, the Bulls side has displayed a complete rugby team with very little weakness to expose their defence.
With the experience in the Bulls side, The Lions are set to have a tough day on the field. The Bulls should undoubtedly overcome the majority of the Lions threats on the day and be able to overpower their traditional rivals.
I predict the Bulls will easily translate their phenomenal form this season and book their place into the Currie Cup Final with a 15-point victory.
Western Province v Sharks:
In what could likely be the final Currie Cup fixture at Newlands, Western Province will look to make history with a win over their coastal rivals Sharks, since both sides have an evenly matched forward pack with a few Springboks in the mix. On paper, the Sharks backline poses a more lethal threat to complete the respective starting line-ups. There will be serious trouble for the Western Province side if the Sharks forwards can dominate the forefront, enabling the backline to execute their set-pieces with sublime flair.
That being said, I will go with saying the Sharks will triumph with 10 points in the second Currie Cup Semi-Final.
What are your scoreline predictions for this weekend’s Currie Cup Semi-Finals? Let us know in the comments below!
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