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Currie Cup to kick-off as scheduled as player welfare concerns taken into account

The 2024 Currie Cup will go ahead as scheduled, while new plans are in place to ensure player welfare, despite a 12-month rugby season, SA Rugby announced on Tuesday.

In a deal struck between the SA Rugby Employers' Organisation (SAREO) and MyPlayers (the professional rugby players' organisation), both parties acknowledged a proposed eight-week shutdown was not a possibility for a South African playing calendar that straddles the hemispheres.

For that reason, both parties accept a 12-month season is a reality but necessitated player welfare strategies to address the unique international match-scheduling challenges South Africa faces.

The agreement was brokered following arbitration of a dispute relating to mandatory rest periods for players.

The arbitrator ruled the players' terms and conditions of employment required all contracted players to rest simultaneously for eight weeks.

The original award cast doubt on the possibility of accommodating the Currie Cup in the current season so it does not overlap with the Vodacom United Rugby Championship.

The Premier Division of the prestigious competition will kick off as scheduled in the first weekend of July, while the First Division will spring into action this weekend with three matches scheduled for Saturday.

"This has been a very fruitful process, and the outcome is that we have collectively faced up to the realities of our post-Covid calendar and come up with a solution for a problem unlike any other sport that I am aware of," said Rian Oberholzer, the CEO of SA Rugby.

"Every sport, everywhere, has an off-season, but we have found a way to balance the equation of maintaining our competition schedule to drive revenues for 12 months of the year while securing player welfare.