The Currie Cup Team of The Season

The Currie Cup, the oldest provincial Rugby tournament on the planet, has always been a stepping stone for fringe players who had failed to receive contracts or attention from the bigger unions. These players then put their head down, sign with the smaller unions, learn a thing or two about patience and sometimes play the best rugby of their lives.

This season has seen tremendous talent into the fold, from boys from the Varsity Cup graduating to the Currie Cup to become the men they were destined to be, to old journeyman players who travel across unions looking for that club where they fit in, and sometimes things just click. New surroundings, new mates change perspective. This article will look to dwell a little bit deeper on the players that have lit our TV’s in the past 6 months and re-invigorated our love for rugby again.

Tight Three:

Janu Botha-Who can ever write the chef out? His story is one out of Roald Dahl fairy tale, touched with some heroic panache. This prop had given up on playing rugby in varsity and was headed to become a chef, but then lo and behold, Covid-19 happened and was invited to the CUT varsity team for 2021. Fast forward and the Griquas got themselves a gem. 2022 has been a stellar season for the prop, maturing nicely, with a heavy workload in the breakdown. He is also a good balanced scrummer. Though he can play Tight-head too, I prefer him at Loose-head as he is also formidable with ball in hand. The Griquas will be congratulating themselves end of the season for their recruitment exploits which have culminated to a satisfying season for the team.

Bismarck du Plessis- The veteran hooker signed for the Blue Bulls late last year in what many anticipated to be more of a mentor role to the young tight forwards the Bulls has accumulated in their arsenal, but little did we know that the old timer still had his game on. From the pin point line outs, and linking up the forwards with the backline, his awareness of space and the blindside, du Plessis has shown that indeed some players mature like wine. He has brought a sense of surety to that pack with Captain Marcel Coetzee and he commands it with ease and class. Many balls have been stolen during breakdowns by the Bulls and time and time again, one could bet their lives that Bismarck is in the thick of things. Though his age is showing as he struggles in the latter parts of the 2nd half, it is his commitment that puts him above the other hookers in the tournament.

Marne Coetzee- Cheetahs got the steal of the season with this coup from the Pumas. Coetzee has fitted in perfectly like a key in a lock in the Cheetahs setup. It is the consistency that warrants the man on this list. His ball in hand escapades, his solid scrumming but more importantly his error-proof matches in the opening stages of the tournament. Whilst many wouldn’t put him in the conversation of a possible Springbok call-up. It is however good to note that Coetzee has also gotten the attention of Top 14 and Japanese Clubs. The Cheetahs will look to him to continue his outstanding form as the competition enters its final fray going to the playoffs.


Victor Sekekete- Though this selection would raise eyebrows, the Cheetahs lock has become the staple for the Cheetahs chance of actually clinching the title. Victor is one of those players that many classify as peaking too early. Victor was a guaranteed starter growing for his provincial Lions side, and ultimately got his call-up to the Baby Boks side of 2014 for the World Cup. Contracted with the Lions in his junior professional years, Victor played well but struggled to dominate his place in the franchise, was shipped to Kimberley, where he regained his schoolboy form and matured to be where he is now. It is his domineering stature and good handling in lineouts that has placed the spotlight on him and guaranteed the Cheetahs ball in almost every set-play lineout. His performances against the Sharks and Western Province this season were almost perfect.

Shane Kirkwood- Unknown player in South African Rugby circles, who played his trade in France for a number of years, came back to South Africa and gave the Pumas a sense of direction within the forwards. Kirkwood resembles the play of World-Cup winning captain Martin Johnson with his overbearing stature and loud mouth to direct his forces in breakdowns and in defence organization. Though Kirkwood probably does not have ambitions for International Rugby, he has given a few selectors, something to think about. The Mbombela outfit got themselves a gem here and will probably look to keep him for at least two seasons if they are to compete for the Currie Cup on the coming years.

Loose Forwards:

Nama Xaba- Even though the Western Province has not lived up to their pre-season expectations because of squad burnout, their young captain has dominated breakdowns like a David Pocock. The UCT graduate surely made this season count as he led an inexperienced side in this year’s tournament but did with grace. Western Province did lose matches they could have won but Xaba certainly did his job, and he can’t take the blame for results that are out of his reach. Much is still expected of this young man, a future Bok in the making? That question will probably be answered in the next two years.

Andisa Ntsila- Former Cheetahs captain has again showed why it was imperative for the Cheetahs to keep him in the fold. As Springbok Oupa Mohoje departed in 2020 over fitness issues, Andisa had to claim his place in the squad and make it his. Andisa is not your typical journeyman, who goes around the country looking for a place but tends to not mind benching until he gets his opportunity. Andisa’s tackling prowess and work rate is what makes him this season’s best number 7 by a mile. The Cheetahs have the freedom of passing to their backs because of the protection given by players like Ntsila who are also not so bad themselves with ball in hand. Surely the Cheetahs will be looking to retain his services for a number of years as they head into Europe next year.

Evan Roos- The premium player for the Western Province this season. Fresh out of school but looks so comfortable with ball in hand that one would mistake him for a Duane Vermeluen in his prime. The player has played all games for Western Province and has hardly out a foot wrong. The tenacity and concentration levels that he has are mind gobbling for many analysts. Has a bright future ahead of him.


Ruan Pienaar- Who can ever get tired of watching Ruan Pienaar pass a ball? Of dictating a play of linking up with forwards and the fly half so perfectly and coherent? Of aging like wine? Ruan Pienaar epitomises the professional player that makes South African Rugby what it is now. A World Cup winner in 2007, Pienaar, played his trade in Europe for the most part of his stellar career and came back to help a struggling Cheetahs at home and taking a huge pay cut. It is the love of this game, the level of professionalism that makes Ruan seem like the best player in the World at any given match day. His stats this season have been brilliant along with the link up relationship with fly half Siya Masuku.

Chris Smith- This man is the one of reasons the Bulls have turned their season around to be even title contenders. Smith controls a game of rugby with a composure that is of the highest quality. His right boot to link up his fast wingers always surprises the midfield. Masuku comes close for this title but Smith takes it because of his boot that hardly disappoints. It will remain to be seen what the Bulls have planned for Smith or whether he will play overseas next year.


Zander du Plessis- This boy reminds many of Jan Serfontein. Let’s the gods for being to witness such power and talent but the Griquas got a lot of things right this season. Zander is a premium player, reliable on defence, dangerous on attack but most importantly has a huge boot that comes in handy in the 22m. du Plessis will surely get rewarded with a contract from the bigger unions for his exploits this season. What’s even better about Zander is his versatility as he can slot in at fly half and full back when needed.

Henco van Wyk- Still a lot to expect from this future Springbok, undoubtedly the most talented player in his age right now, along with fly half Marcus Smith. Henco van Wyk can rip through any defence at any given day. He has power, speed and the awareness to recognise the space around him. The future surely looks bright for South African rugby even beyond the upcoming World Cup. Henco has defended well this season for the Lions and will surely get the pock for next year’s starting XV for the URC team.

Back three:

Luther Obi- The Nigerian-born speedster has really turned out for the Griquas this season, after being in the fringes of the Bulls squad for the last 2 seasons. Luther has tremendous pace coupled with his upper body strength that makes him suitable to beat defenders especially in 1 on 1 scenarios. A try-scoring machine, Luther will definitely finish as the tournaments leading try-scorer.

Sergeal Peterson- Peterson resurgence to premier rugby has certainly been beautiful to watch. Dubbed as a future Springbok in his High School days, Peterson has really matured. It is his decision making skills in defence and attack that puts him above the rest of the wingers. There is still so much rugby from Peterson and we still wonder what he might bring us next season. His versatility is one to be reckoned with as he can slot in at full-back with ease.

Tristan Leyds- The younger brother of Dillan Leyds has surely made a name for himself in Cape Town. His blistering speed and assurance under the high ball has raised attention even from clubs across the Atlantic. But it is his awareness for space that warrants his name on this list. Tristan may be young but we are pretty sure he will mature in the coming years.

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