The Currie Cup - South Africa's premier rugby competition

The Dunnottar Castle
The Dunnottar Castle

Brief historical introduction

In 1890 the British Rugby team sailed to South Africa aboard the Dunnottar Castle on her maiden voyage. The team carried with them, in addition to all their rugby equipment, a golden trophy cup donated by Sir Donald Currie, founder and chairman of the shipping line which owned the Dunnottar Castle, The Castle Mail Packet Company Limited.

This trophy was to be given by the British team to the colonial team which gave them their best game on the tour. The trophy was duly handed to the Griqualand West rugby team and it was later handed over to the rugby board which inaugurated an annual competition for the trophy, which came to be known as the Currie Cup. This competition is one of the oldest in world rugby.

Ever since South Africa is gripped in the winter months by a fanatical fervour of rugby - fans follow their teams with total devotion and the winner of the trophy achieves the highest prestige of any club within South Africa.

The competition is fiercely fought and is based mainly on provincial lines, though some provinces have more than one franchise, for example Gauteng has both the Blue Bulls based in Pretoria and the Golden Lions based in Johannesburg. Prior to 1994 South Africa had only four provinces but after the elections of 1994 this was increased to nine.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Holy Grail of South African rugby. From the SA Rugby Board siteChildren get involved at a very early age! Catherine's sister Susan with her daughter Kerrin in Blue Bulls kit. Source Catherine McGregor
The Holy Grail of South African rugby. From the SA Rugby Board site
The Holy Grail of South African rugby. From the SA Rugby Board site
Children get involved at a very early age! Catherine's sister Susan with her daughter Kerrin in Blue Bulls kit. Source Catherine McGregor
Children get involved at a very early age! Catherine's sister Susan with her daughter Kerrin in Blue Bulls kit. Source Catherine McGregor

Organisation of the tournament

Of the 14 rugby unions spread across the nine provinces there are eight in the Premier Division that contest the Currie Cup. The other six unions are in the First Division and play for promotion to the Premier Division.

The eight in the Premier Division are the Sharks from Durban in kwaZulu-Matal, Western Province from Cape Town, the Cheetahs from Bloemfontein in the Free State, Griquas from Kimberley in Northern Cape Province, Leopards from Potchefstroom in North West Province, Boland from the Western Cape, the Blue Bulls from Pretoria and the Golden Lions from Johannesburg.

Of these the most fanatical and best organised supporters are from the Blue Bulls, the franchise with the second most wins (22 wins) in the tournament, after the Western Cape (32 wins).

The excitement of a final at Loftus Versfeld. Catherine and Susan at the 1988 final. Source Catherine McGregor
The excitement of a final at Loftus Versfeld. Catherine and Susan at the 1988 final. Source Catherine McGregor
Tears of tension and relief after the Bulls won a hard-fought narrow victory. Catherine (left) and Susan showing the strain. Source Catherine McGregor
Tears of tension and relief after the Bulls won a hard-fought narrow victory. Catherine (left) and Susan showing the strain. Source Catherine McGregor
Celebration time with their mascot Stoffries also decked out in Blue Bulls kit. Source Catherine McGregor
Celebration time with their mascot Stoffries also decked out in Blue Bulls kit. Source Catherine McGregor

Bulls fever in Pretoria

Although I am not a rugby fan by any means I have had to start taking some notice of the game since marrying Catherine as she is one of those fanatical Blue Bulls supporters! As a result every week end becomes a tense time as she waits for and then watches each game her team plays. Then the Blue Bulls flag comes out and the Blue Bulls song, composed and sung by equally fanatical singer Steve Hofmeyr, gets played very loudly on the stereo if the Bulls win, or the set gets switched off in silence if they lose.

It's all very serious stuff indeed. Tears frequently follow losses and tears of joy wins.

Every week end that the Blue Bulls play Pretoria becomes awash with flags and t-shirts and caps and even bull's horns on the fronts of cars. Posters proclaim "Our blood is blue!" on lamp poles and bill boards shout "Waars jou blou trui? (Where's your blue rugby jersey?)" and street vendors do a roaring trade in rugby accessories like shirts, caps and scarves.

Catherine was born in Cape Town so her support of the Blue Bulls is unusual and so strong that she actually looked for work in Pretoria in order to be near the team she loves so much! I guess I owe the Blue Bulls!

The Blue Bulls' homes ground is the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria which has become a shrine of South African rugby, and not many teams are able to overcome the home ground advantage that the Blue Bulls enjoy there. the Loftus Versfeld crowd is known for its passionate and partisan support of the home team.

The Blue Bulls last won the Currie Cup in 2004 when they beat the Free State Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld. The next year they were surprisingly defeated on their home turf. This year's result is rather eagerly awaited in this household!

Copyright Notice

The text and all images on this page, unless otherwise indicated, are by Tony McGregor who hereby asserts his copyright on the material. Should you wish to use any of the text or images feel free to do so with proper attribution and, if possible, a link back to this page. Thank you.

© Tony McGregor 2009

More by this Author


Comments 8 comments

judydianne profile image

judydianne 7 years ago from Palm Harbor, FL

I have never seen a rugby match but we in the Tampa Bay Florida area love our Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team! Nice hub!


fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 7 years ago from Southern California

tonymac, you write so well, that you make me read things that hold no interest to me at all. Still don't understand it, but it sounded good. Stop that, I can't get any writing done. I read everything that you write, even if I don't comment on it. I am a reader first, that's why I don't have many hubs yet.


BrianS profile image

BrianS 7 years ago from Castelnaudary, France

I played rugby for more than 20 years, my body has fallen to bits to prove it following broken bones, torn ligaments, concussion, a dislocated shoulder and the coup de gras a snapped achilles tendon. Wouldn't take any of it back though, it was my passion.


ESAHS 7 years ago

"Very!" Very!" Nice

"Two Thumbs up!"

CEO E.S.A.H.S. Association


SuperSkyRockets profile image

SuperSkyRockets 7 years ago from United Kingdom

Excellent Hub on the Currie Cup, a tournament which really has a great story and a rich history. What do you think of the Super 14 (soon to be 15) with this in mind? SANZAR often seems to get a bad rep for various money-grabbing decisions and yet the competition also produces some of the most spectacular rugby in the world. Hmmmm


Peter Kirstein 7 years ago

Good hub Tony. Up the Sharks!


huttriver0 profile image

huttriver0 6 years ago from lower hutt

I don't see many of your Currie Cup games, but we are all involved in the Super 14 competition played between NZ, Australia and South Africa. Although living in the Wellington region, home of the Hurricanes, I have never lost my support for my home town Canterbury Crusaders.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Thanks for the comment, Huttriver0. Appreciated

Love and peace

Tony

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working