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All the details on the revamped SA rugby calendar

South Africa’s senior rugby landscape will have a strong international flavour in 2019, with the return of an Argentinean XV, and full-strength Namibian and Zimbabwean teams, to the provincial scene, while the Currie Cup Premier Division will move to an earlier time-slot in the season.

Western Province vs the Golden Lions in the Currie Cup. Picture: wprugby.com

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s senior rugby landscape will have a strong international flavour in 2019, with the return of an Argentinean XV, and full-strength Namibian and Zimbabwean teams, to the provincial scene, while the Currie Cup First Division will move to an earlier time slot in the season.

The Currie Cup First Division will be bolstered by an Argentina XV and Namibia, the SuperSport Rugby Challenge format will change, and the SA Rugby U19 Championship will be played over a week in a similar format to the SA Rugby Youth Week.

The status quo will remain in the Currie Cup Premier Division – sponsored by DirectAxis Financial Services – with the Vodacom Blue Bulls, Xerox Golden Lions, Cell C Sharks, DHL Western Province, Toyota Free State Cheetahs, ISG Pumas and Tafel Lager Griquas competing for the title.

The competition has been moved to an earlier time slot in the season though, from 13 July to 7 September, which means that the Currie Cup Division will not overlap with the Rugby World Cup, Vodacom Super Rugby or the Guinness Pro14.

The Currie Cup First Division will now feature eight teams in an action-packed tournament, with the Argentina XV and Namibia battling it out with defending champions SWD, Boland, the Down Touch Griffons, Valke, Leopards and Eastern Province.

The SuperSport Rugby Challenge will be split into two sections – North and South – with the top two teams from each section progressing to the semi-finals.

The North Section will consist of Namibia, the Leopards, Valke, Xerox Golden Lions, Vodacom Blue Bulls, ISG Pumas, Down Touch Griffons and Tafel Lager Griquas.

In the South Section, Zimbabwe, DHL WP, the Boland Cavaliers, SWD Eagles, Eastern Province, the Cell C Sharks and Toyota Free State Cheetahs will battle it out.

The only major change in the junior competition structures will see the SA Rugby U19 competition being converted into a compact one-week tournament comprising 16 teams – the 14 provincial unions, Limpopo and another team to be determined in due course – at a single venue.

In a new development, club players in their first year out of school will be eligible for selection in line with the competition’s objective of unearthing new promising players who have not represented their provinces at school or junior provincial level.

The SA Rugby U20 and U21 Championships show slight changes – only six teams will play in the U21 competition (DHL WP, Toyota Free State, the Vodacom Blue Bulls, Xerox Golden Lions, Cell C Sharks and Leopards).

Eastern Province will take part in the U20 competition this year with the eight other teams – the Leopards, Tafel Lager Griquas, Down Touch Griffons, Valke, ISG Pumas, Limpopo, SWD and Boland.

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