There was no Currie Cup Tournament played in 1910. The British Lions toured South Africa that year and played against four different Western Province entities namely, Western Province Country, Western Province Colleges, Western Province Town and Western Province. This era saw Billy Millar as both Western Province and Springbok Captain. Furthermore, Western Province provided two players for the first Test, eight for the second, and nine for the third Test.
Veteran Cell C Sharks flank Jacques Botes will break new ground in the Absa Currie Cup competition on Friday as he extends his Absa Currie Cup record to 150 matches, which will make him the first player ever to reach this significant milestone.
Interestingly the player will mark this achievement against the Steval Pumas, the team he first represented in SA’s premier domestic competition. Botes made his provincial debut for the Pumas in 2002 and remained at the union until 2004 before joining the Sharks in 2005.
The Cell C Sharks face the Steval Pumas at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday in the opening match of the weekend and with both teams having had good starts to the competition it could prove to be a thrilling clash.
In Saturday’s matches GWK Griquas host the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in Kimberley, the Vodacom Blue Bulls take on DHL Western Province in Pretoria and the EP Kings go up against the Xerox Golden Lions in Port Elizabeth.
In Nelspruit, history and form favours the Cell C Sharks as they have won 17 out of the 19 matches between the sides since the 1996 season and they remain one of only two unbeaten teams in the competition. The home team, however, proved against GWK Griquas and the Toyota Free State Cheetahs that their pack could stand their ground and that they can score tries, and they will bank on these skills to challenge the visitors.
The match-up between GWK Griquas and the Toyota Free State Cheetahs is expected to be hard-fought as the teams both attempt to bounce back from defeats last weekend. This will mark the second clash between the teams in the series.
They met in Bloemfontein two weekends ago and the home team secured a narrow 34-27 victory. With former Free State backline coach Hawies Fourie at the helm at GWK Griquas, he is expected to use his knowledge of the visitors’ structures and some players to register their first victory in the series. Interestingly the Free State have won the last five matches between the teams.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls will face another tough test against log-leaders DHL Western Province, this time in Pretoria, following their heavy 41-17 defeat against the Cape side at DHL Newlands earlier in the month.
The visitors will enter the clash as overwhelming favourites following three victories in as many matches, but the hosts will be desperate to build on their first victory in the series at home last week.
With DHL Western Province’s attack proving to be one of their main strengths, the Vodacom Blue Bulls will have to tighten up their defence significantly to prevent the Capetonians from registering their second successive Absa Currie Cup victory at Loftus Versfeld.
The Xerox Golden Lions, meanwhile, will look to bounce back strongly from their first defeat in the series against DHL Western Province when they line up against the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth.
The Premier Division newcomers have their backs against the wall after three defeats and only one log point to show for their efforts so far in the series. They are also still carrying the scars of the 60-19 hiding by the Johannesburg team two weekends back. Given this the EP Kings will have to deliver their best performance yet to topple the Johannesburg side.
Cell C Sharks coach Brad Mcleod-Henderson has handed scrumhalf Conrad Hoffmann his first start while Springbok lock Stephan Lewies continues his return from injury off the bench. In the Steval Pumas camp coach Jimmy Stonehouse has handed former Western Province scrumhalf Dylon Frylinck a start, while Springbok Sevens star Rosko Speckman will start on the wing and JW Bell at fullback. The match will be particularly special for centre JW Jonker, who will play his 50th Absa Currie Cup match.
GWK Griquas coach Hawies Fourie, meanwhile, named an unchanged side for their Heartland derby against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs, while the Bloemfontein coach has made only one change to his team, with lock Henco Venter being promoted to the starting team, while Waltie Vermeulen is drafted onto the bench.
In the Vodacom Blue Bulls camp, flyhalf Joshua Stander could make his debut after being bracketed alongside Jacques-Louis Potgieter for their clash against DHL Western Province. Potgieter is nursing a rib injury and will be given until Saturday to recover.
The other changes to the run-on team were the inclusion of scrumhalf Piet van Zyl, hooker Callie Visagie and prop Werner Kruger. Meanwhile, DHL Western Province coach Allister Coetzee made only one change to his starting team, which sees Springbok Jaco Taute earn his first Absa Currie Cup start for the union as a replacement for the injured Michael van der Spuy. Pat Howard has been drafted onto the bench as cover.
In Port Elizabeth EP Kings coach Carlos Spencer has named Junior Springbok Aidon Davis as the replacement for their captain Luke Watson, who has been ruled out due to concussion, while prop BG Uys comes in Lizo Gqoboka who is being rested.
At flyhalf George Whitehead replaces Gary van Aswegen, who is nursing a groin injury. His Xerox Golden Lions counterpart Johan Ackermann, meanwhile, made several changes to his team with the most notable being the inclusion of Andries Coetzee at flyhalf, which made way for Ruan Combrinck at fullback, while captain Warren Whiteley reclaims his position in the loose trio after returning from the Springbok tour to Argentina.
Absa Currie Cup Premier Division round four fixtures:
Steval Pumas vs Cell C Sharks
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Date: Friday, 29 August
Referee: Ben Crouse
Assistant Referees: Marius Jonker and Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Johan Greeff
GWK Griquas vs Toyota Free State Cheetahs
Venue: GWK Park, Kimberley
Date: Saturday, 30 August
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant Referees: Jaco Peyper and Francois de Bruin
TMO: JJ Wagner
Vodacom Blue Bulls vs DHL Western Province
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Date: Saturday, 30 August
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant Referees: Rasta Rasivhenge and Cobus Wessels
TMO: Willie Vos
EP Kings vs Xerox Golden Lions
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Date: Saturday, 30 August
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Referees: Francois Pretorius and Lusanda Jam
TMO: Jason Jaftha