SA Rugby has reduced the number of matches in the 2018 Currie Cup with the aim of increasing the interest in South Africa’s premier domestic tournament.
SA Rugby made the decision to return to the old format of a single round of matches in the hope that the move will boost crowd attendances and television viewership.
‘We regard the Currie Cup as the cornerstone of South African rugby, and we are looking forward to a single pool round, featuring strength-versus-strength encounters, in which every match is likely to have a direct bearing on playoff places. It’ll be edge-of-the-seat stuff for the teams from tournament kick-off [17 August] to the end of October,’ SA Rugby CEO Jurie Roux said.
‘Statistics don’t lie and research from last year has shown that the Currie Cup remains a popular and critical part of the rugby landscape. Premier Division match attendances increased by 12.5% in 2017 and viewership reversed international sporting trends by jumping 20% year-on-year in terms of total unique viewers, and the average audience was up by 55%.
‘We believe the reduced number of fixtures will lead to even higher match attendances and higher average viewership, which will ensure that the competition takes centre stage. It will also ensure that every game is critical to determining the eventual winner, as each match will be a compelling occasion among seven pretty evenly matched teams.’
The seven teams that participated in the competition last season – Western Province, the Sharks, Golden Lions, Blue Bulls, Free State Cheetahs, Pumas and Griquas – will again battle it out for the coveted trophy.
The Premier Division will kick off in Bloemfontein when the Free State Cheetahs host the Blue Bulls in a replay of the 2016 final.
The pool stage will conclude on 13 October, with the final scheduled for 27 October.
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