Currie Cup

The Currie Cup tournament is South Africa's premier domestic rugby union competition, played each winter and spring, featuring teams representing either entire provinces or substantial regions within provinces. Although it is the premier domestic competition, South African teams also compete in the international Super Rugby and Pro14 competitions.
Steeped in history and tradition, the Currie Cup dates back to 1891. The tournament is regarded as the cornerstone of South Africa's rugby heritage, and the coveted gold trophy remains the most prestigious prize in South African domestic rugby.


The Currie Cup is one of the oldest rugby competitions, with the first games played in 1889 but it was only in 1892 that it became officially known as the Currie Cup. The competition had its humble beginnings as an inter-province competition in 1884, but when the South African Rugby Board was founded in 1889 it decided to organize a national competition that would involve representative teams from all the major unions. The original participating unions were Western Province, Griqualand West, Transvaal and Eastern Province. The first tournament was held in Kimberley and was won by Western Province. For a prize they received a silver cup donated by the South African Rugby Board, now displayed at the SA Rugby Museum in Cape Town. The story of how the Currie Cup came to be comes from the first overseas rugby team to tour South Africa in 1891, The British Isles, who carried with them a particularly precious bit of cargo. Among the bags, boots and balls was a golden cup given to them by Sir Donald Currie, owner of Union-Castle Lines, the shipping company that transported them to the southern tip of Africa. Sir Donald was clear with his instructions – hand this trophy over to the team in South Africa that gives the best game; and after a spirited display where the unbeaten British Lions narrowly won 3-0, Griqualand West became the first ever holders of the Currie Cup. They then handed the trophy over to the South African rugby board and it became the floating trophy for the Currie Cup competition. The inaugural Currie Cup tournament was thus held in 1892 with Western Province earning the honour of holding it aloft as the first official winners.
The competition missed a few years here and there for reasons such as war and the like, but in 1968 it became a fully fledged annual showpiece.
Western Province dominated the competition's early years, and by 1920 the team from Cape Town had already secured the trophy 10 times. Only Griqualand West could halt the rampant WP side and win the trophy in 1899 and 1911. In 1922 the Transvaal won the competition for the first time, however Western Province would continue to dominate the Currie Cup throughout the 1920s and 1930s, winning the trophy a further 4 times and sharing it twice with Border. In 1939 the trophy returned to Johannesburg for only the second time after Transvaal defeated Western Province in Cape Town. This was the first time WP had lost a final at their home ground Newlands. The Currie Cup went into hiatus during the Second World War but resumed in 1946 when claimed their first ever trophy by beating Western Province 11-9 in the final at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
The late 1940s and early 1950s were dominated by Transvaal who would win the trophy in 1950 and 1952, however in 1954 the Currie Cup would finally return south following Western Province's narrow 11-8 victory over in the final at Newlands in Cape Town.
At the end of the 1980s, South African rugby supporters were treated to two of the most memorable Currie Cup finals. In 1989 winger Carel du Plessis scored a last-minute try as WP managed to draw with 16-all, Riaan Gouws missed the conversion which would have given WP its 6th title of the decade a feat which has never been achieved. The following year the Blue Bulls slipped up, though, and Natal sneaked home 18-12, inspired by fly-half Joel Stransky. The 1990s saw further improvement by Natal and the rise of Francois Pienaar’s Transvaal. Since the age of professionalism in rugby union in the early 1990s, the Currie Cup has become much more competitive with no team able to carve out an era of dominance like that of WP in the early years or in the 1970s and 1980s. All five of the so-called 'big unions' have won the Currie Cup on at least one occasion in the last 20 years; the Golden Lions have won the trophy 3 times in 1999, 2011 and 2015; Western Province have won the trophy on six occasions in 1997, 2000, 2001, 2012, 2014, and 2017; the Blue Bulls have wom the trophy 5 times in 1998, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2009; the Free State Cheetahs have won the trophy 3 times in 2005, 2007 and 2016 and the have won the trophy 3 times in 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2018. In 2006 the trophy was shared by the Free State Cheetahs and Blue Bulls following their 28-28 all draw in a tense final in Bloemfontein.
Whilst these days the competition lags behind Super Rugby and The Rugby Championship in the order of importance, the Currie Cup still holds a special place amongst South African rugby supporters and players, with the trophy very much still the holy grail of the South African domestic rugby scene.


From 1996 to 2015, the following 14 provincial unions participated in the Currie Cup:
In 2016 and 2017, the Currie Cup added Welwitschias, a team from Namibia, and in 2019, the Jaguares XV from Argentina.
From the 2020 the tournament adds a Georgian team.

Champions and Finals

Between 1892 and 1920, the competition was held as a centralised tournament, with the team with the best record crowned as the winner. Between 1922 and 1936, the winner was the team with the best record following a round-robin competition. In all the other seasons, a final was played to determine the champion.
In addition to the winners above, also won the South African Rugby Board Trophy in 1889. This tournament was effectively the precursor to the Currie Cup, which started in 1892.
1 Western Province and Transvaal did not compete.
2 Contested over two seasons.
3 Transvaal were renamed the Gauteng Lions; now known as Golden Lions.
4 Orange Free State were renamed the Free State Cheetahs.
5 Northern Transvaal were renamed the Blue Bulls.
6 Natal were renamed the Sharks.

Overall winners

Since the competition became established as an annual competition in 1968.
TeamNumber of winsNotesMost recent
Northern Transvaal/Blue Bulls21Four shared2009
Western Province13Two shared2017
Transvaal/Gauteng Lions/Golden Lions7One shared2015
Orange Free State/Free State Cheetahs6One shared2019
Griqualand West/Griquas11970

Records and statistics

Jacques BotesPumas/Sharks2002–2014
Helgard MüllerFree State Cheetahs1983–1998
Rudi VisagieFree State/Natal/Mpumalanga1980–1996
Chris BadenhorstFree State Cheetahs1987–1999
Burger GeldenhuysBlue Bulls1977–1989
André JoubertFree State/Natal1986–1999