Who would have thought that the two smallest unions would be battling it out in the final of the 2022 Currie Cup?
So there it was … Saturday, June 25 2022, Currie Cup day in Kimberley. It was the day two underdog teams ran onto the field to decide who was the best team in the 2022 Currie Cup Championship. After beating all the high-ranking teams during the championship, it came down to the Windhoek Draught Griquas and the Airlink Pumas.
Yes, you heard correctly. Who would have thought that the two smallest unions would be battling it out in the final of the Currie Cup?
Even in the Stadium’s parking area, you couldn’t miss the festive atmosphere. You saw people everywhere, flags and hats were being sold, and fans were having a braai before the game. From the parking area, walking into the sold-out 12,500 capacity Windhoek Draught stadium, you couldn’t help but feel the mood in the air, it was so palpable that you could cut it with a knife.
People were draped in Griqua and Puma flags, you heard them chattering about, laughing, and enjoying the moment of being together on a day that would be one for the history books.
The lifting of the mask mandate and restrictions on gatherings made covid feel like something of the past, even if it was just for one day. The anticipation of what the day had in store could be seen on the faces of everyone walking around.
As the time moved closer to the 3pm kick-off, the stadium filled up quickly – no one, it seems, wanted to miss a moment of the game. It was a sight to see the stadium in all its glory.
The two teams ran onto the field to loud cheers coming from the stands. Each team took their place on the field of play for the South African National Anthem to be sung, and while standing, everybody in the stadium was united together as one.
From when the whistle blew for kick-off, the Pumas showed up. They were hungry and their performance on the field showed that. The Griquas had their usually strong backline dismantled, and that took the sting away from the Griqua team. The visitors stuck to a game plan, and it paid dividends as they kept on piling up points on the board.
Griquas had their moments, and for a second or two they had hope, but when the final whistle blew, it was a well-deserved win for the Airlink Pumas. History was made on Saturday, as it is the first time in their history that the Pumas have won a Currie Cup.
When the final whistle blew, you could see what that win meant for each of the Puma players. Tears of joy ran down their faces, while the coach was lifted onto the players’ shoulders.
Stonehouse was carried across the field to where a small group of Puma supporters were waiting in the stands. He lifted his cap and thanked the supporters for being there. The tears on his face showed how much this win meant for him.
At the end of the day, the Puma players lifted the Currie Cup with celebrations happening all around the park, while the Griqua players could only stand and watch, wondering what went wrong. It must be said, it was a well-deserved win for the Puma’s
So now we will have to wait until next year to see who will be lifting up the Currie Cup once again. But, for now, we can appreciate the fact that when history happened, those of us who were at Windhoek Draught Stadium were part of the spectacle.