The Pumas will begin their first title defence when the 2023 Currie Cup kicks off this week – will they go back-to-back or is another province destined for glory?
The competition kicks off on Friday with Griquas hosting the Cheetahs, while first-time champions the Pumas travel to Pretoria on Sunday to take on 25-time winners the Bulls.
While the Stormers, Bulls and Sharks are all through to the European Champions Cup knockout stages, and the Lions have qualified for the Challenge Cup round of 16, domestic bragging rights are on the line in the Currie Cup.
The United Rugby Championship will be back of mind when age-old rivalries are reignited in classic provincial clashes between Western Province, the Bulls, Sharks and Lions, but the rise of the minnows saw all four watch as Griquas and the Pumas contested last year’s final.
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With their sole focus on the Currie Cup, the defending champions will be in hot pursuit of a second domestic title while Griquas will be determined to prove their run to the final was no fluke.
Six-time champions, the Cheetahs won the Currie Cup in 2019 and, although they scraped into the European Challenge Cup round of 16, they have no URC distractions.
The 2023 Currie Cup will see the return of the Griffons to the Premier Division for the first time since 1999. First Division champs in 2022, the Griffons will take off against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday. They’ve played in Currie Cup semi-finals, as Northern Free State, four times, but a tough task awaits Welkom’s purple jerseys if they want to claim a maiden Currie Cup title this year.
2019 Currie Cup: When Cheetahs took down Lions