Cheetahs start title defence against Sharks

Wed, 07 Jun 2017 08:58
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CURRIE CUP NEWS: The defending Currie Cup champions, the Free State Cheetahs, will kick off the 2017 season on Friday, July 21, when they host the Sharks in Bloemfontein.

The opening round of action in the Currie Cup will also see the Vodacom Blue Bulls, last year's runners up, travel to Kimberley to take on Griquas on Saturday, July 22, while the Pumas will host the Golden Lions in Nelspruit on Sunday, July 23.

Western Province will have a bye in the first round.
The First Division, which will be contested by the Griffons, Falcons, Leopards, Boland Cavaliers, Border Bulldogs, Eastern Province, SWD Eagles and Welwitschias, starts in the last weekend of August.
The semifinals in the Premier Division are scheduled for the weekend of October 21 and the Final – as well as the finals of the Provincial Under-19 and Under-21 competitions – will be on Saturday, October 28.

The First Division semifinals are on October 14 and the Final on October 20.
"The recent changes to the Currie Cup format are hugely exciting and the countdown has now truly begun to what promises to be another thrilling competition of high-class South African provincial rugby," said SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux.
"Returning to a seven-team Premier Division format, with all teams facing each other home and away, will bring about a more intense, strength-versus-strength competition, and the fact that we've re-introduced a promotion challenge series between the winner of the First Division against the last-placed Premier Division team, will add to the excitement."
Roux explained the decision to start the Currie Cup earlier than originally planned and to do away with the proposed midweek matches: "The opening rounds of the Currie Cup overlap with the Super Rugby playoffs, but that is a decision that was taken following a recommendation by the Franchise Committee to Exco as to the scheduling of the competition.
"One of the positive outcome of the constitutional changes made last year was to streamline our governance processes and put unions closer to the decision-making process. The CEOs of the premier Division teams were central to deciding on the format of the Currie Cup.
"As the Premier Division will be played by seven teams over a double round of matches, it was difficult to fit all of the encounters into the existing playing window. The Franchise Committee's recommendation was to bring the kick off of the competition forward – even though there may be an overlap with Vodacom Super Rugby play-offs for some teams.
"They preferred this model to playing multiple midweek matches, which had also been on the table. The franchise teams that are likely to be affected have factored it into their planning."

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Fri, 23 March 2018
Crusaders v Bulls 06h35 Christchurch
Rebels v Sharks 08h45 Melbourne
Connacht v Edinburgh 19h35 Sportsground
Dragons v Cheetahs 19h35 Rodney Parade
Glasgow Warriors v Zebre 19h35 Scotstoun
Bath v Exeter Chiefs 19h45 Recreation Ground
Sat, 24 March 2018
Sunwolves v Chiefs 04h15 Tokyo
Hurricanes v Highlanders 06h35 Wellington
Kings v Treviso 13h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
London Irish v Gloucester 15h00 Madejski Stadium
Saracens v Harlequins 15h00 London
Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors 15h00 AJ Bell Stadium
Stormers v Reds 15h15 Newlands
Cardiff Blues v Ulster 15h15 Cardiff Arms Park
Munster v Scarlets 17h30 Thomond Park
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints 17h30 Kingston Park
Ospreys v Leinster 19h35 Liberty Stadium
Jaguares v Lions 19h40 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Sun, 25 March 2018
Leicester Tigers v Wasps 15h00 Welford Road
Team P W D L Pts
Sharks 12 10 0 2 47
Western Province 12 7 0 5 37
Golden Lions 12 6 0 6 35
Blue Bulls 12 5 0 7 32
Free State Cheetahs 12 6 0 6 31
Pumas 12 4 0 8 27
Griquas 12 4 0 8 26