While their Super Rugby side is in New Zealand for Saturday’s final of the top Southern Hemisphere rugby competition, the Jaguares XV play their first match in the Currie Cup First Division when it kicks off with a full round of matches this weekend.
The Jaguares have depth, as was clear from their performances in the recent Nations Cup competition where their B team came up against World Cup representatives Russia, Uruguay and Namibia. It is uncertain to what extent players from this group will play in the Currie Cup First Division
SA Rugby Communications say in a release say that 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 on Saturday.
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 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
Boland Cavaliers vs Border Bulldogs
Venue: King Edward Sports Ground, Montagu
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Leopards vs EP Elephants
Venue: Olën Park, Potchefstroom
Referee: Egon Seconds
Griffons vs Jaguares XV
Venue: Northern Free State Stadium, Welkom
Referee: Stuart Berry
Valke vs SWD Eagles
Venue: Bosman Stadium, Brakpan
Referee: AJ Jacobs