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Currie Cup playoffs pushed back due to COVID-19 issues

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COVID-19 precautionary measures have triggered the adjustment of the Carling Currie Cup playoff dates, with both semi-finals and the final now scheduled for a week later than initially planned. The change is to ensure tournament integrity and allow the participants to manage COVID-19 challenges.

The Carling Currie Cup final has been moved to Saturday, 30 January, with the two semi-finals scheduled for the previous weekend – when the Vodacom Bulls will host the Xerox Lions in Pretoria, and DHL Western Province taking on the Cell C Sharks in Cape Town – with both matches on Saturday, 23 January.

The final two matches of the regular season will play out in Kimberley and Nelspruit this weekend, with all the action, including the playoffs, broadcast live on SuperSport.

“The integrity of the Carling Currie Cup was key in our discussions and the communication and co-operation between the four teams in the semi-finals is appreciated,” said Rassie Erasmus, Director of Rugby.

“During the season teams affected by COVID-19 also had options to move their matches if they could agree on an alternative date – such as the recent clash between the Vodacom Bulls and the Xerox Lions – even though it didn’t always materialise.

“We’ve agreed to move out the dates of the semi-finals and the final by a week to give all the teams the best possible chance to be ready for their matches, bearing in mind we did not have the option to move it out by weeks.

“I would like to thank the semi-finalists for their co-operation in ensuring that we can see the season play out the way it should – in spite of these challenging times – with a champion being crowned in the next few weeks.”

Should a team not be able to participate in the semi-final because of COVID-19 infections, that team will forfeit the match and the opposing team will progress to the final.

If neither team is able to compete, the side with the most log points at the conclusion of the pool stage will progress to the final.

In the event of the final having to be postponed, an alternative date will be agreed between the teams.

Issued by SA Rugby Communications

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Currie Cup

Currie Cup has taught Western Province how to handle pressure

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Western Province’s propensity to fall asleep at the wheel during matches in this season’s Currie Cup has taught them how to handle pressure according to backline coach Dawie Snyman.

Snyman points to Western Province getting over the line in a crucial match against the Cheetahs as evidence that the team had got over their big-match nerves.

Have Western Province shaken off the yips?

Western Province needed Tim Swiel to goal a penalty after the hooter to seal that match and clinch a home semi-final against the Sharks.

They were denied a final round-robin match against the team they will face in the last four, after the Sharks suffered a coronavirus outbreak in their camp but their backroom staff are confident they are in a position to bid a fond farewell to Newlands, or set up a Currie Cup final at the famous venue, depending on who wins the third Jukskei derby of the restarted season.

“If you look at the Bulls game, we had an opportunity to close that game out but we missed that opportunity,” Snyman told reporters during a virtual press conference.

“Against the Lions at Ellis Park, we were in a good position, but they won with that kick at the end. Against the Cheetahs, we showed we had learned from those previous two games and used our opportunities.

“Going into this weekend, it’s going to come down to the last five or 10 minutes and the decisions we make in those moments. That’s where we have made mistakes previously, the wrong calls at the wrong time in those scenarios.

“We know what works for us and how to handle those pressure situations,” the coach added.

The Sharks meeting with the Stormers in Super Rugby Unlocked was called off as was what should have been Western Province’s final Currie Cup round-robin fixture, but Snyman says the team will be well-prepared for the Sharks.

“We’ve prepared for the Sharks for two games that didn’t happen,” Snyman said

“It almost feels like a month that we’ve been preparing for them now. We prepared for them in three sessions previously and now of course the sessions this week.

“The plans will stay the same, so that’s actually nice, so we don’t have to change too much. We’re looking forward to playing against them.”

Western Province vs Sharks – Match information

Date: Saturday, 23 January 2021

Time: 16:30

Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen

Assistant Referees: Cwengile Jadezweni and Aimee Barrett-Theron

TMO: Stuart Berry

TV: SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby

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Currie Cup

Latest rugby news | Referees named for Currie Cup semi-finals

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Rasta Rasivhenge and Marius van der Westhuizen will referee the Currie Cup semi-finals on Saturday in Pretoria and Cape Town, respectively.

READ | EBEN ETZEBETH RETURNS FROM CONCUSSION TO LEAD TOULON TO VICTORY

Rasivhenge will have AJ Jacobs and Griffin Colby by his side as Assistant Referees in the match between the Bulls and Lions at Loftus Versfeld at 14:00, with Marius Jonker performing the Television Match Official (TMO) duties.

Van der Westhuizen, meanwhile, will take charge of the semi-final between Western Province and the Sharks at 16:30 in Cape Town, and will be assisted by Cwengile Jadezweni and Aimee Barrett-Theron, while Stuart Berry has been appointed the TMO.

Rasivhenge has taken charge of two previous Currie Cup semi-finals – 2016 and 2017 – while Van der Westhuizen has held the whistle in three semi-finals in 2013, 2016 and 2018.

READ | EBEN ETZEBETH RETURNS FROM CONCUSSION TO LEAD TOULON TO VICTORY

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