DHL Western Province finally ended their Absa Currie Cup drought while the EP Kings won the battle of the First Division but lost the all-important promotion-relegation war during what was an intriguing and unforgettable 2012 domestic season.
In the Premier Division, the Toyota Free State Cheetahs finished bottom of the new six-team log but had too much firepower for the Kings in a two-legged survival series to ensure the senior status quo would remain for 2013, while at junior level the Vodacom Blue Bulls and WP claimed the honours at U21 and U19 level respectively after the two sides contested both finals.
WP beat overwhelming favourites the Sharks 25-18 at Mr Price Kings Park in Durban to claim their first Currie Cup title since 2001, with flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis the star of the show with 17 points including two match-turning drop goals.
Catrakilis had a season to remember and his rise to prominence has been rapid and remarkable: in just two years he went from playing for False Bay in the WP club leagues to finishing as the second highest point-scorer in the 2012 Currie Cup – his tally of 136 just one short of Blue Bulls pivot Louis Fouché.
Catrakilis' fairytale season was however eclipsed by the arrival of Cheetahs wing Raymond Rhule, who began the year trying to make the Shimlas Under-20 team for the Varsity Shield and finished it as part of the Springbok touring team for their end-of-year trip to the United Kingdom and Ireland. Rhule was also part of the SA U20 team's IRB Junior World Championship triumph and followed that up by finishing the season as the Currie Cup's top try-scorer with eight touchdowns.
The Free State Cheetahs might have had a season to forget by not reaching the Currie Cup semi-finals, but they showed they belong in the top flight by beating the EP Kings 53-14 and 16-6 in their two-legged promotion-relegation series.
For the Kings, it was their only two losses of what was otherwise a very successful season which saw them beat the Ford Pumas 26-25 to claim the First Division title. But that will be scant consolation for the men from PE as they now contemplate another season in the First Division.
In the Absa Under-21 final, coach Nollis Marais' Vodacom Blue Bulls retained their title when they beat WP 22-13 at Mr Price Kings Park in Durban in one of the curtain-raisers to the Currie Cup final. And on the same day, WP's U19s scored the winning try with four minutes remaining to edge their Blue Bulls rivals 22-18 in a match that had to be moved to the Kings Park B field due to bad weather.
The heavy rains had stopped by the time the senior WP side ran onto the Kings Park turf for the final, but for long-suffering Cape fans they proved that every cloud does indeed have a silver (or should that be golden?) lining.