The Currie Cup will return to a more intense, strength-versus-strength format this year following a decision of a Special General Council of SA Rugby in Cape Town on Friday.
The Premier Division of the Currie Cup, supported by Nashua and DirectAxis, will contract from nine to seven teams. The winners of an eight-team First Division (including a representative team from Namibia) will play a promotion challenge series against the last-placed Premier Division team.
The new format will see the return of mid-week rugby with each of the teams scheduled to play a number of weekday matches during the season.
The Premier Division teams were determined on the last season’s top six plus the Steval Pumas, who had the best record of the rest in the competition over the past five years.
The Currie Cup Premier Division will comprise of the Toyota Free State Cheetahs, Xerox Golden Lions, DHL Western Province, Cell C Sharks, Vodacom Blue Bulls, Tafel Lager Griquas and Steval Pumas.
The Currie Cup First Division will feature Boland, Down Touch Griffons, Hino Valke, Leopards, Eastern Province, Border, SWD and Weltwitschias (Namibia). They will play a single round.
The tournament kicks off on 12 August, the week after the final of Vodacom Super Rugby. The final takes place on 28 October.