The Currie Cup has entered its 124th year, making it one of the oldest club competitions in world ruby. The Currie Cup is famous for producing Springbok players and forms a successful transition between club and international rugby. It also allows players to step up from Varsity Cup into franchise rugby. Many players from UP are set to shine in this year’s competition and hope to feature in the upcoming games of the season.
The Currie Cup recently underwent a revamp and has been divided into qualifiers and premier season. The top South African clubs, namely the Lions, Bulls, Sharks, Cheetahs, Eastern Province and Western Province, have all automatically qualified for the premier stage of the competition. The qualifiers have allowed some of South Africa’s smaller clubs, like the Pumas, Griquas and Boland Kavaliers, to qualify for the premier stage of the competition too.
UP captain and flank Ruan Steenkamp earned his third Currie Cup cap in the first game of the season for the Blue Bulls in their 45-26 win against Western Province. Steenkamp is a flank who performs well in the tackle area. At 100 kg, Steenkamp makes up for his small stature with tough tackling and running when in possession of the ball. With a vacancy in the Bulls’ loose forward department after the departure of Lappies Labuschagne to Japan, Steenkamp hopes to stake a claim for a place in the Bull’s Super Rugby squad this year.
UP prop Andrew Beerwinkel is a player hoping to nail down a spot in the Currie Cup starting lineup for the Bulls. The departure of experienced Super Rugby campaigner Werner Kruger and the poor form of prop Marcel van der Merwe means that the Bulls currently have a shortage of tighthead props. Beerwinkel can play on both sides of the scrum and put in standout scrumming and ball carrying performances in this year’s Varsity Cup.
UP and former Springbok u/21 centre Dan Kriel hopes to stake a claim for the centre position for the Bulls. With his brother, Jesse Kriel, away on Springbok duty and Springbok centre Jan Serfontein injured, this season could belong to Dan. Kriel’s talent lies in his ability to run with the ball, but also in his handling and passing skills that help assist the team for tries. Kriel came off the bench for the Bulls in the win against Western Province and hopes to build on that as the competition goes on.