17 March 2017
SA Rugby announced on Friday, March 2 that the Steval Pumas are now included in the new Currie Cup Premier Division. The Currie Cup is returning to a more intense, strength-versus-strength format this year following a decision by the SA Rugby Special General Council. The Premier Division is contracting from nine to seven teams, including the top six sides from last season, and the Steval Pumas, who had the best record of the remaining teams over the past five years.
“There’s been a huge amount of improvement over the past several years and we are grateful to have received recognition for that,” said Pieter Burger, Chief Executive Officer, Mpumalanga Rugby Union. “We’ve never wanted to be seen as a team that’s just kept in a competition for good graces, that’s never part of our dreams and aspirations. We want to consistently drive ourselves to be better, beat some of the bigger franchises and continually grow.”
Burger added that the much-anticipated decision was healthy for the psychology of players, staff, supporters and sponsors. “There has been some uncertainty about whether we would be in the Premier Division so this decision is extremely important from a playing, coaching and commercial perspective. A lot of players are attracted to the Pumas because we’ve become known as a very good union which advances careers. This decision therefore continues that attraction. “
The Currie Cup Premier Division will start on August 12. First up for the Steval Pumas is the SuperSport Rugby Challenge, a revamped version of the Vodacom Cup incorporating the north, south and central divisions. The exciting new format will include televised Sunday rugby festivals at community stadiums and clubs, as well as triple headers and regional championships. Before the competition kicks off at the end of April, the Steval Pumas will prepare with warm-up matches against the Lions, Western Province and the Sharks.
Image:From left: Brent Janse Van Rensburg (Head Coach), Pieter Burger and Marius Van Rensburg (Operational Manager). Photo: Barry Odendaal.