SA Rugby confirms expanding domestic calendar

  • Georgia, Zimbabwe and Kenya join Carling Currie Cup First Division
  • Women’s Premier Division expands to eight teams
SA Rugby has announced the confirmed competition structure for the remainder of the 2022 rugby season, which will see an expansion of the Carling Currie Cup First Division as well as the Women’s Premier Divisions and more provincial age-group rugby.

With the Vodacom United Rugby Championship and Carling Currie Cup Premier Division already in full swing, SA Rugby confirmed the competitions structure for the rest of the local rugby calendar, which will include a 10-team Carling Currie Cup First Division competition as well as eight teams in the Women’s Premier Division.

The bumper 2022 season is happening against the backdrop of the on-going uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, after the unusual January kick-off for the Carling Currie Cup Premier Division was prompted by the realignment of the South African domestic rugby calendar to dovetail with the northern hemisphere season.

Four South African franchise teams – the Vodacom Bulls, Cell C Sharks, DHL Stormers and Emirates Lions – are currently involved in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship (VURC), which culminates in the final on 18 June. A week after the Vodacom URC showdown, on 25 June, is the climax of the local season, the Carling Currie Cup Premier Division final.

In the Carling Currie Cup First Division, seven local provincial teams will be joined by Georgia, Kenya and Zimbabwe in a brand-new competition, earmarked to get underway on the first weekend of April.

The trio of international participants will join the defending champions, the Leopards, Griffons, South Western Districts, Boland, Eastern Province, Border and the Valke over a single round of action, with the final scheduled for the final weekend of June.

Last December, the General Council of the South African Rugby Union approved a motion that the top South African team in the First Division be automatically promoted to the Premier Division at the end of the 2022 Carling Currie Cup season, creating an eight-team Premier Division.

In addition, the promoted team will be entrenched for two seasons (until the end of the 2024 Carling Currie Cup season) when the bottom team in the Premier Division will be automatically relegated in favour of the top South African team in the First Division, which will also be entrenched for two seasons before promotion/relegation at the end of the 2026 season.

Plans on a competition for the First Division sides in the last quarter of the year are also underway and will be confirmed in due course.

Furthermore, 2022 is also an important year for women’s rugby, with the Rugby World Cup to be staged in New Zealand in October, following last year’s postponement.

Locally, the Mastercard Golden Lions Women will join the six teams from the 2021 Women’s Premier Division – defending champions, the Border Ladies, as well as DHL Western Province, EP Queens, Boland Dames, Blue Bulls Women and Cell C Sharks Women – in a new-look competition played over a single round from 23 April, with the final scheduled for 30 July.

The Women’s First Division, featuring eight teams – Leopards, Valke, Limpopo, Pumas, Free State, Griffons, Griquas and SWD – commences on 11 June, with the structure of the competition to be confirmed in due course.

First up though will be the provincial Under-20 sides. The SA Rugby U20 Cup competition will be contested over a single round by the Vodacom Bulls, Toyota Cheetahs, Eastern Province, Leopards, Lions, Cell C Sharks and DHL Western Province, with the first round of fixtures on 25/26 February and the final on 16 April.

Six teams will contest the U20 Shield, from 9 April. The teams will be split in two groups, North (Limpopo, Pumas and Valke) and South (Boland, Border and SWD), with the group winners squaring off in the final on 28 May.

The newly introduced U21 Cup and Shield competitions start simultaneously on 20 August and after a single round fixtures, the two top sides will battle it out for the title on 15 October.

The U21 Cup will see the Vodacom Bulls, Toyota Free State, Eastern Province, Leopards, Lions, Cell C Sharks and DHL Western Province battle it out, while the U21 Shield will be contested by Boland, Border, Griffons, Griquas, Limpopo, Pumas and Valke.

SA Rugby CEO, Jurie Roux, said the announcement of the confirmed competition structure for this year comes with both a sense of relief and excitement.

“Understandably, it has been very difficult to plan for the new season in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and while a number of variables may yet change our plans, we are pleased to announce these competitions, ranging from the Carling Currie Cup First Division and women’s leagues down to provincial age-group rugby,” said Roux.

“I’d like to commend the union CEOs and coaches for working so hard on numerous calls with our Rugby Department to produce a workable schedule despite all the challenges, which includes a very full roster for the remainder of the season, as well as our broadcast partner for getting on-board with these plans in an extraordinary season.”

All fixtures will be confirmed in due course on the SA Rugby website.

2022 SA Rugby Competition structure

Carling Currie Cup Premier Division
Participating teams: Vodacom Bulls (defending champions), Cell C Sharks, Tafel Lager Griquas, DHL Western Province, Airlink Pumas, Toyota Cheetahs, Sigma Lions
Opening round: 14/15 January (double round of matches)
Final: 25 June

Carling Currie Cup First Division
Participating teams: Leopards (defending champions), Griffons, Valke, Boland Kavaliers, Eastern Province, Border Bulldogs, SWD Eagles, Georgia, Kenya, Zimbabwe
Opening round: 1/2 April (single round of matches)
Final: 24/25 June

Women’s Premier Division
Participating teams: Border Ladies (defending champions), DHL Western Province, EP Queens, Boland Dames, Blue Bulls Women, Cell C Sharks Women, Mastercard Golden Lions Women
Opening round: 22/23 April (single round of matches)
Final: 30 July

Women’s First Division
Participating teams: Leopards, Valke, Limpopo, Pumas, Free State, Griffons, Griquas, SWD
Opening round: 10/11 June (competition structure to be confirmed)
Final: 16 July

SA Rugby Under-20 Cup
Participating teams: Lions (defending champions), DHL Western Province, Vodacom Bulls, Cell C Sharks, Leopards, Toyota Free State, Eastern Province
Opening round: 25/26 February (single round of matches)
Final: 16 April

SA Rugby Under-20 Shield
Participating teams: North – Limpopo, Pumas, Valke; South – Boland, Border, SWD
Opening round: 8/9 April (two pools of three teams each, double round of matches)
Final: 28 May

SA Rugby Under-21 Cup
Participating teams: Vodacom Bulls, Toyota Free State, Eastern Province, Leopards, Lions, Cell C Sharks, DHL Western Province
Opening round: 19/20 August (single round of matches)
Final: 15 October

SA Rugby Under-21 Shield
Participating teams: Boland, Border, Griffons, Griquas, Limpopo, Pumas, Valke
Opening round: 19/20 August (single round of matches)
Final: 15 October

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