Currie Cup

Classic Currie cup matches revisited – 1989 Final

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Final 1989 – Western Province 16 Blue Bulls 16

CAPE TOWN – Investec Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls have produced many classic encounters over the past 67 years of action in the country’s premier domestic competition, the Absa Currie Cup.

The oldest Provincial Union in the country, Western Province, has won the coveted title 32 times since becoming the first-ever winners in 1889. The Bulls, founded in 1938, won their first title in 1946 and to date they have won 21 titles in all. The two have contested 11 finals down the years, with the Blue Bulls winning five, Western Province 4 and the title being shared on two occasions.

In their last meeting in an Absa Currie Cup final, in Pretoria in 1998, the home side won 24 – 20. Their previous final showdown in 1989 ended in a 16-all draw and was played at Newlands in Cape Town, where the Class of 2005 meets in a crucial Premier Division clash on Saturday.

In 1989, the Blue Bulls (then known as Northern Transvaal) were playing in their third consecutive final, having won the title in 1988 (against WP) and in 1987 (against Transvaal).

The Blue Bulls have experienced many periods of dominance in their history. As has been the case in the past three seasons, the Blue Bulls of 1989 were a team of great character and pedigree. They had reached the final having won all 14 of their league fixtures and ended the season eight points ahead of Western Province on the log. Before the final they were unbeaten in 26 consecutive Currie Cup games.

Western Province had won 10 of their 14 league matches, twice losing to the Blue Bulls, and they qualified for the final after beating “B” Section winners Western Transvaal (Leopards) 71 – 9 in a semi-final. Ironically, as far back as  17 years ago  debates raged over the format for the competition and questions were raised about eight teams being too many in the “A” Section!

That aside, the Blue Bulls entered the final as the favourites, much as they will do in Cape Town this weekend.


Except for the first five minutes, when Western Province flyhalf Riaan Gous kicked a penalty, and the last two minutes when winger and captain Carel du Plessis leveled the scores, the Blue Bulls held the lead. They scored a try through flanker Burger Geldenhuys, whilst fullback Johan Heunis kicked three penalties and flyhalf Naas Botha kicked a drop-goal. Western Province points were completed by a further three penalties by Gous.

Looking back at the contest, fullback Heunis, an Absa Currie Cup Legend said: “It would have been nice to win the final outright for a third year running, but at least we didn’t lose the match and had a share of the trophy”.

“That was one of the best sides in Blue Bulls history and it was a privilege to play during that era. We achieved a lot of success and many people were expecting us to win that final. It is always difficult when you play away and there is no tougher venue than Newlands, where the fans are passionate, and loud!”

Heunis has avidly followed the fortunes of the Blue Bulls since retiring and he expects the Blue Bulls to win Saturday’s contest. “It won’t be easy … Absa Currie Cup matches never are. But the Bulls appear to be in better form at the moment after bouncing back last week and Province are feeling the pressure with some of their key Bok players missing,”.

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