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Steeped in history and tradition, the Absa Currie Cup dates back to 1889 and is one of the oldest rugby competitions in the world. 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 competition had its humble beginnings as an inter-town competition in 1884, but when the South African Rugby Board was founded in 1889 it decided to organise a national competition that would involve representative teams from all the major unions. The participating unions were Western Province, Griqualand West, Transvaal and Eastern Province. The first tournament was held in Kimberley and was won by Western Province. As prize they received a silver cup donated by the South African Rugby Board, now displayed at the SA Rugby Museum in Cape Town.

While local unions battled for the Currie Cup from 1892 onwards it would take decades for an annual competition to be established. After years of occasional tournaments, dominated by Western Province, South Africa’s premiere provincial spectacle kicked off in earnest in 1968. That year the Blue Bulls of Northern Transvaal, spearheaded by the legendary lock Frik du Preez, trampled neighbours Transvaal 16-3 in the final, heralding a period of overall dominance that has seen the men from Pretoria win the Currie Cup 16 times and share it on three occasions. This outstanding record is in no small part down to the most influential player to ever star in the competition – fly-half extraordinaire Naas Botha. Dictating play with supreme tactical awareness throughout a career that spanned three decades, Botha single-handedly kicked teams into submission, scoring all the Blue Bulls’ points (including four drop-goals) in 1987 as Transvaal were beaten 24-18 in the final.

Since the Currie Cup became an annual competition only one team has seriously challenged the Bulls’ supremacy – arch rivals Western Province. Wild parties broke out all over Cape Town when Western Province thrashed Northern Transvaal 24-7 in the 1982 final to kick-start their own golden age. Currie Cup heroes like Faffa Knoetze, Calla Scholtz and steam-rolling wing Neil Burger ensured that the trophy remained in the shadow of Table Mountain for a further four years before again heading north.

At the turn of the decade South African 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 the Blue Bulls 16-all. The following year most people believed Northern Transvaal just needed to turn up to beat Natal. The Banana Boys made sure the Blue Bulls slipped up, though, as they 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.

The Currie Cup Trophy

When the first overseas team to tour South Africa stepped ashore in 1891 they carried with them a particularly precious bit of cargo. Among the bags, boots and balls was a golden cup given to the British Isles squad by Sir Donald Currie, owner of Union-Castle Lines, the shipping company that transported them to the southern tip of Africa. The gold trophy was donated by Sir Donald Currie in 1891 before the arrival of the touring British Isles team. Sir Donald was clear with his instructions – hand this trophy over to the team in South Africa that gives you the best game and after a spirited display, Griqualand West became the first ever holders of the Currie Cup. To this day the trophy remains the holy grail of South African rugby. They then donated the trophy to the rugby board, and it became the prize for the Currie Cup competition. The inaugural Currie Cup tournament was held in 1892 with Western Province as the first winners.

Source: Wikipedia

ABSA Currie Cup Winners Summary
Year Winner Score Runner-up Venue
1889 Western Province n/a n/a n/a
1892 Western Province n/a n/a n/a
1894 Western Province n/a n/a n/a
1895 Western Province n/a n/a n/a
1897 Western Province n/a n/a n/a
1898 Western Province n/a n/a n/a
1899 Griqualand West n/a n/a n/a
1904 Western Province n/a n/a n/a
1906 Western Province n/a n/a n/a
1908 Western Province n/a n/a n/a
1911 Griqualand West n/a n/a n/a
1914 Western Province n/a n/a n/a
1920 Western Province n/a n/a n/a
1922 Transvaal n/a n/a n/a
1925 Western Province n/a n/a n/a
1927 Western Province n/a n/a n/a
1929 Western Province n/a n/a n/a
1932 Border, WP n/a n/a n/a
1934 Border, WP n/a n/a n/a
1936 Western Province n/a n/a n/a
1939 Transvaal 17-06 Western Province Newlands
1946 Northern Transvaal 11-09 Western Province Loftus Versveld
1947 Western Province 16-12 Transvaal Newlands
1950 Transvaal 22-11 Western Province Ellis Park
1952 Transvaal 11-09 Boland Wellington
1954 Western Province 11-08 Northern Transvaal Newlands
1956 Northern Transvaal 09-08 Natal Durban
1957 Western Province n/a n/a n/a
1959 Western Province n/a n/a n/a
1968 Northern Transvaal 16-03 Transvaal Loftus Versveld
1969 Northern Transvaal 28-13 Western Province Loftus Versveld
1970 Griqualand West 11-09 Northern Transvaal Kimberley
1971 Transvaal, NTvl 14-14 Northern Transvaal Ellis Park
1972 Transvaal 25-19 Eastern Transvaal Springs
1973 Northern Transvaal 30-22 Orange Free State Loftus Versveld
1974 Northern Transvaal 17-15 Transvaal Loftus Versveld
1975 Northern Transvaal 12-06 Orange Free State Bloemfontein
1976 Orange Free State 33-16 Western Province Bloemfontein
1977 Northern Transvaal 27-12 Orange Free State Loftus Versveld
1978 Northern Transvaal 13-09 Orange Free State Bloemfontein
1979 Western Province, NTvl 15-15 Northern Transvaal Newlands
1980 Northern Transvaal 39-09 Western Province Loftus Versveld
1981 Northern Transvaal 23-06 Orange Free State Loftus Versveld
1982 Western Province 24-07 Northern Transvaal Newlands
1983 Western Province 09-03 Natal Newlands
1984 Western Province 19-09 Northern Transvaal Newlands
1985 Western Province 22-15 Northern Transvaal Newlands
1986 Western Province 22-09 Transvaal Newlands
1987 Northern Transvaal 24-18 Transvaal Ellis Park
1988 Northern Transvaal 19-18 Western Province Loftus Versveld
1989 Northern Transvaal, WP 16-16 Western Province Newlands
1990 Natal 18-12 Northern Transvaal Loftus Versveld
1991 Blue Bulls 27-15 Transvaal Loftus Versveld
1992 Natal 14-13 Transvaal Ellis Park
1993 Transvaal 21-15 Natal Durban
1994 Transvaal 56-33 Orange Free State Bloemfontein
1995 Natal 25-17 Western Province Durban
1996 Natal Sharks 33-15 Golden Lions Ellis Park
1997 Western Province 14-12 Free State Cheetahs Newlands
1998 Blue Bulls 24-20 Western Province Loftus Versveld
1999 Golden Lions 32-09 Natal Sharks Durban
2000 Western Province 25-15 Natal Sharks Durban
2001 Western Province 29-24 Natal Sharks Newlands
2002 Blue Bulls 31-07 Golden Lions Ellis Park
2003 Blue Bulls 40-19 Natal Sharks Loftus Versveld
2004 Blue Bulls 42-33 Free State Cheetahs Loftus Versveld
2005 Free State Cheetahs 29-25 Blue Bulls Loftus Versveld
2006 FS Cheetahs, Blue Bulls 28-28 Blue Bulls Bloemfontein
2007 Free State Cheetahs 20-18 Golden Lions Bloemfontein
2008 Natal Sharks 14-09 Blue Bulls Durban
2009 Blue Bulls 36-24 Free State Cheetahs Pretoria
 
Team Wins Notes
Western Province 32 4 shared (1932. 1934. 1979, 1989)
Northern Transvaal, Blue Bulls 23 4 shared (1971, 1979, 1989, 2006)
Transvaal, Gauteng Lions, Golden Lions 09 1 shared (1971)
Natal Sharks 05  
Orange Free State, Free State Cheetahs 04 1 shared (2006)
Griqualand West, Griquas 03  
Border, Border Bulldogs 02 2 shared (1932, 1934)
Most ABSA Currie Cup Apearances
Name Team Seasons Games
Helgard Muller Free State Cheetahs 1983-1998 (16) 142
Rudi Visagie Free State, Natal, Mpumalanga 1980-1996 (16) 141
Chris Badenhorst Free State Cheetahs 1987-1999 (13) 136
Burger Geldenhuys Blue Bulls 1977-1989 (13) 128
Andre Joubert Free State, Natal 1986-1999 (13) 126
Most ABSA Currie Cup Career Points
Name Team Seasons Points
1. Naas Botha Northern Transvaal 1977-1992 1699
2. Eric Herbert Northern Free State, Free State 1986-2001 1402
3. De Wet Ras Free State, Natal 1974-1986 1210
4. Andre Joubert Free State, Natal 1986-1999 1165
5. Willem de Waal Leopards, Free State, WP 2002- 1090
 
Name Team Tries
1. John Daniels Golden Lions, Cavaliers 74
2. Breyton Paulse Western Province 66
3. Chris Badenhorst Free State Cheetahs 65
4. Andre Joubert Free State, Natal 58
5. Gerrie Germishuys Free State, Transvaal 51
5. Carel Du Plessis Western Province, Transvaal 51
5. Niel Burger Western Province 51
5. Jan-Harm Van Wyk Free State, Pumas 51
 
Name Team Year Points
1. Johan Heunis Northern Transvaal 1989 268
2. Gavin Lawless Golden Lions 1996 263
3. Casper Steyn Blue Bulls 1999 252
4. Kennedy Tsimba Cheetahs 2003 230
5. Kennedy Tsimba Cheetahs 2002 228
 
Name Team Year Tries
1. Carel Du Plessis Western Province 1989 19
1. Colin Lloyd Leopards 2006 19
3. Ettiene Botha Blue Bulls 2004 18
4. Jan-Harm Van Wyk Free State 1997 16
5. Phillip Burger Free State Cheetahs 2006 15
 
Record Record holder Year Stat
Most team points in a season Natal Sharks 1996 792
Most team tries in a season Natal Sharks 1996 112
Most points in a match Jannie De Beer 1997 46
Most tries in a match Jacques Olivier 1996 07
Most Final appearances N Botha, B Geldenhuys 77-91, 77-89 11


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