The Currie Cup First Division, sponsored by DirectAxis Financial Services, will feature added beef in the form of Argentinean outfit, the Jaguares XV, when it kicks off this weekend with a full round of matches.
The South Americans will play in the Currie Cup First Division for the first time after a similar sortie in the Vodacom Cup a couple of years back. They are based in Potchefstroom and will face a short, but tough trip to Welkom, where they will face Down Touch Griffons, in their tournament debut.
The Argentineans could again prove a handful. Coach Ignacio Fernandez Lobbe himself is a well-known figure in world rugby, having played for the Pumas in three Rugby World Cups, while they have some notable players in their squad as well.
Gonzalo Bertranou (scrumhalf), who played for the Jaguares in the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament this year, is returning from injury and will be a boost to the squad.
The arrival of two of their junior stars at the recent World Rugby Under-20 Championship, will also add to their backline stocks – Juan Pablo Castro (fullback and centre) captained his country and the speedy Mateo Carreras scored against the Junior Boks in their bronze final in Rosario last month.
Defending Currie Cup First Division champions, the SWD Eagles, start their campaign away from home, against the Valke in Brakpan. The same two sides contested the final last year, with the Southern Cape side prevailing 36-27.
The Potchefstroom rugby public will still see some action though, as home team the Leopards host EP Elephants at Olën Park. The Leopards have returned to their old stomping ground and will hope this will give them an edge in what promises to be a very competitive tournament.
Boland, one of the surprise packages of the recently completed SuperSport Rugby Challenge, will be keen to continue with that form as they take on Border. The match takes place at King Edward Sports Ground in Montagu and should be well supported by the locals.
Boland last year took their games to venues such Robertson, Bredasdorp and Lamberts Bay, and now can add the Klein Karoo town to that.
Currie Cup First Division Fixtures – Round 1:
Saturday, 6 July 2019
Boland Cavaliers v Border Bulldogs
Venue: King Edward Sports Ground, Montagu
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Leopards v EP Elephants
Venue: Olën Park, Potchefstroom
Referee: Egon Seconds
Down Touch Griffons v Jaguares XV
Venue: HT Pelatona Projects Stadium, Welkom
Referee: Stuart Berry
Valke v SWD Eagles
Venue: Bosman Stadium, Brakpan
Referee: AJ Jacobs