Champions Match: Bulls dominate team selection
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: SA Rugby has named the starting XV for the first Champions Match on November 6.
The 15 players were selected by fans of the Currie Cup teams – with Bulls hooker Schalk Erasmus leading the way with the most votes from rugby supporters across South Africa.
The Champions Match will be played at Loftus Versfeld, where the selected team, to be coached by Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White, will face Kenya.
Erasmus is followed closely by his Bulls teammate Simphiwe Matanzima (prop), who managed to collect the second most votes for his inclusion in next weekend’s unique rugby spectacular at the home of the Currie Cup champions.
Players from all seven provincial teams campaigning in the 2021 Currie Cup were eligible for selection.
However, it comes as no surprise that the squad – which also feature an extended replacements’ bench – is stacked with players from Bulls, the Pretoria-based side who have been the dominant force in local rugby the last few seasons.
The Bulls have no less than nine players in the squad of 30 players. The rest of the squad consists of six players from the Cheetahs, five Western Province representatives and four from the Sharks. The remaining players were picked from the Pumas and Griquas (two each) and the Lions (one).
In a first and unique concept for South African rugby as the Currie Cup allowed fans to make their voices heard via their mobile phones (through USSD codes), on Facebook Messenger or the Currie Cup website over the past few weeks.
The Champions Match is a celebration of a sport loved by millions of South Africans and a thrilling showcase that comes on the same day the Springboks will start their Outgoing Tour.
The full squad will assemble in Johannesburg on Sunday, where they will prepare for this special encounter.
Props: Simphiwe Matanzima (Bulls), Ntuthuko Mchunu (Sharks)
Hooker: Schalk Erasmus (Bulls)
Locks: Reniel Hugo (Sharks), PJ Steenkamp (Lions)
Loose forwards: Arno Botha (Bulls), Phumzile Maqondwana (Pumas), Nama Xaba (Western Province)
Scrumhalf: Keagan Johannes (Bulls)
Flyhalf: Brandon Thomson (Cheetahs)
Centres: Howard Mnisi (Cheetahs), Chris Smit (Cheetahs)
Wings: Stravino Jacobs (Bulls), Werner Kok (Sharks)
Fullback: Sibongile Novuka (Bulls)
Hooker: Chad Solomon (Western Province)
Props: Gerhard Steenekamp (Bulls), Aranos Coetzee (Cheetahs)
Lock: Reinhardt Ludwig (Bulls)
Loose forwards: WJ Steenkamp (Bulls), Marcel Theunissen (Western Province)
Scrumhalves: Ginter Smuts (Pumas), Paul de Wet (Western Province)
Flyhalf: George Whitehead (Griquas)
Centres: Stedman Gans (Bulls), Marius Louw (Sharks)
Wings: Tian Meyer (Cheetahs), Leolin Zas (Western Province)
Fullback: Ashlon Davids (Griquas)