Currie Cup weakens Boks

Dawie Boonzaaier

The Currie Cup is a feeder competition for South Africa’s Super Rugby and Pro14 contenders, but it’s value to those franchises is diminishing as the domestic championship becomes an arena for all-out attack.

Defence is close to extinction in the Currie Cup and that trend has caused a similar slide in the ability of SA’s Super Rugby teams, and Springboks, to deny opponents points.

Let’s forget, for a second, about the empty stands at Currie Cup matches and focus on the rugby that is on display. Round 5 of the competition dished up the following results: Blue Bulls 39-29 Pumas, Golden Lions 38-65 WP and Griquas 52-24 Free State.

Over the past two seasons, Currie Cup teams have so far conceded an average of 33 points per match (excluding the playoffs). During the Boks’ golden years between 2006 and 2009, the average points conceded by Currie Cup teams was 28 per match.

Now, five points per match doesn’t sound like a lot, but between 2006 and 2009 the Currie Cup consisted of eight teams, with the lowly Falcons, Boland Cavaliers and even Leopards earning stints in the competition. Matches against those teams would sometimes produce an 80-7 result, as was the case when Griquas face Boland in 2009.

During those four years, SA’s Super Rugby teams conceded on average 24 points per match, while the Springboks came in at an average of 25 points per match in the Tri-Nations.

Those were the days when the Wallabies and All Blacks were our only competition, not just in the southern hemisphere, but in the world.

Over the past two years, SA Super Rugby teams have conceded an average of 29 points per match; the Boks are at 28 in the Rugby Championship, which now includes Argentina who had never beaten SA before 2015.

So the leak in our defence, domestically, has been mirrored all the way up to the national team. This is a worrying statistic if you believe in the gospel of “defence wins matches” which gained many followers after last week’s result in Wellington.

Earlier this week, Jake White wrote: “In the eight playoff matches (including the 3rd/4th place playoff) at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, seven were won by the team with less possession.”

This statistic holds true for all but one of the knockout matches during the 2011 World Cup, but only three knockout matches during the 2015 World Cup.

Think the game has shifted since then? Think again – only three of the eight matches in this year’s Rugby Championship have been won by the team with more possession. And in this year’s Super Rugby play-offs, only two of the seven matches were won by teams that claimed more ball.

But in the Currie Cup, there’s a 50-50 split, and last year’s champions, Western Province had 60% possession in the final.

The next generation of talent is being groomed in a competition that plays a game closer to what is seen on schoolboy fields rather than what is played in the Test arena.

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Follow Dawie: @dawiboon

- Dawie Boonzaaier

Let's chat

  • Herman Schroder?

    First of all quoting Jake and his pre 2009 game plan is pretty irrelevant today. Stats are very subjective anyway. The game has moved on and more tries are being scored because the players in the main are more skilled, fitter and creative than before. Teams are prepared by coaches and a host of technical assistants to plot the opposing teams downfall and the rules are now designed to favour the attacking team and the referees blow accordingly on most occasions. The days of a 9-8 win and calling it a classic are long gone. Tries are what brings bums on seats and long may it live.

    In the watered down CC the plethora of tries can be seen to be ‘turnstyle’ stuff but it does improve the attacking skills so sadly lacking in our players predominantly conservative mindset. The more players are allowed to express themselves on the field the easier it is to transfer those acquired skills to the next level up ie SR and onwards to test rugby. In fact teams with a highly developed attacking game should be better equipped to handle attacks from their opponents knowing the dynamic behind those intricate moves.

    Admittedly a good defence should never be neglected and every player must be prepared to put his body on the line at all times. This however involves picking players with the required skills and mindset but more importantly the team must be developed into a unit where they play for each other based on a solid team culture. That is why I believe flying in these overseas ‘stars’ for guest appearances to be counter productive over the longer term.

    Rugby has always been a balance between defence and attack but most of our Franchises have clung to the former as their go to game plan to no avail. We cannot rely only on defence to win games these days. We must pick suitably skilled players to take the game to the opposition forcing them to defend for all they are worth and display the same grit and determination on defence as last Saturday In other words we must play smart rugby then we won’t have to rely on lady luck to get us home again. Cheers.

    • Dean

      If more tries put bums on seats, then the Currie Cup would have the best attendance. What does it average these days? 1500-2000?

      Second point. Running through non-existent defense doesn’t improve any teams attack. Ask the Stormers? Lol. Test teams are better organized on defense than ever before, which has in turn made teams more innovative on attack.

      • Herman Schroder?

        The ‘Curry’ Cup is a poor imitation of the original so there’s no need to even bring this into the debate.

        The Stormers were praised for their attacking game so what’s your point ?

        The AB’s still score more tries than anyone and it’s built on a solid defence ( a totally natural part of rugby, not the Holy Grail ) and skilled individuals who can capitalize on it. But when you have to make 250 tackles and still concede SIX tries like the Boks did then you well and truly dodged the bullet. An aberration is the only way to explain it but now all the domkraggers want to get excited and start chirping away. What a joke.

        The only problem the Boks now have is that they must repeat that in their next two games and later in the year. Anything less and it will simply emphasize the freakishness of that result and good luck to them. Cheers.

    • Greg Shark

      “…more tries are being scored because the players in the main are more skilled, fitter and creative…” but defence according to you is …oh so yesterday….

      “….Tries are what brings bums on seats….” you obviously have not seen the dearth of ‘bums on seats’ at you own helter skelter teams stadium?

      “…a good defence should never be neglected….” … just a throw away by phrase hermie…..according to you the only way to play is to attack, attack and attack and to hell with a solid defence….. just like the “watered down CC” dished up against lions/WP last week end – your lions got handed their backsides because they could not defend!

      “…We cannot rely only on defence to win games these days…”… tell that to the Boks!

      Another long winded …… oh so “like a stuck recorder” as Albert muses below…

      • Herman Schroder?

        You so missed my point. Defence is a basic element of rugby if done properly but it’s not the be all and all. The Boks came up with a game that was the exception to the rule thanks to the ‘unusual’ errors by the AB’s but that wonderful defence of ours still conceded SIX tries. Where was the defence then. You are reading far too much into this one off victory pal the stars merely aligned in our favour. Sorry to repeat myself here but you seem to have a mental blockage on this defence question.

        Also tell me if Dom krag rugby is the definitive way of playing how come the Sharks / Boks / Bulls / Stormers have been so piss poor over the past few seasons ? The Lions don’t play it and get to THREE SR Finals in a row.?? A bit strange isn’t it ? Cheers.

      • Dr Hoffman

        Helter skelter? If u think the Lions play helter skelter then u are just as clueless as your comment suggests. Ps genius, WP conceded 30 odd points, can they defend? duh

      • Herman Schroder?

        Your response was , as Shakespeare put it, Much Ado About Nothing’. Cheers.

        • Greg Shark

          so now it is clear why you write in such convoluted manner, same old same old, you’re attempting to emulate the wisdom of Shakespeare…. sorry old chap but you’re as boring as …. well, I’m lost for a suitable significant word…what would Shakespeare have said… cheers

          • Herman Schroder?

            Pretty poor response and as usual getting personal unnecessarily. Shakespeare obviously way above your intellectual level so it was best that you did not attempt to quote him. You know the story of being a fool and commenting on social platforms. ( See I can also get personal, lol. ).

            Chuffed to hear I’m boring you, only question is why are you still reading my posts ?? Cheers ( with a capital letter please ).

  • Albert

    I’m going to sound like a stuck recorder…but then so do most people on this site when commenting.

    New Zealand have one of the best defensive systems in world rugby. Most of New Zealand tries stem from good defence forcing mistakes and then turning that into an attacking platform. The springboks in 2007 were the best at that. New Zealand adopted the Springbok defensive game into their attacking mindset. And have dominated world rugby since.

    Rugby is built in solid platforms: set-piece, defence and drawing in the defense in order to create space. It’s quite simple really. But shocking how many just see it as wide attacking rugby Vs narrow forwards based. Watch the crusaders in the SR final. They played exactly like the Boks did in 2007 but with a more dynamic attack.

    The article highlights a key issue with SA Rugby. We need all teams to play to a unified blue print and then add their own identity on top. This all out attack is going to benefit us in the short term as players will develop the right skills. However, in the long run, our players will no longer have that killer instinct on defense. We will struggle to win the big finals.

    • Herman Schroder?

      Your assumptions are incorrect. No one ever said it must be ‘willy nilly’ rugby but if you look at the absolute lack of skills by many of our players the answer is obvious, too much time spent on defence and conservative rugby game plans over the years. The poor performances of the failed three basement dwelling Franchises in this country over the past three years in SR is proof enough of that.

      My point was after you created these scoring opportunities through a good defence how do we capitalize on it ? When skills and vision are called open to take advantage and then cocked up by poor response levels you begin to understand exactly why we’ve been so poor in tests these past five years. How did a dom krag defence based system help the Boks since it went out of fashion after 2009 ?. Why did Toetie and the Stormers fail year after year because of their defence based game plan. Why have the Bulls disappeared off the SR map ? Lack of skills brother.

      You actually got it quite right when you said the Crusaders ‘react with a more dynamic attack’. Precisely, but you need skilled players to seal the deal. The final three passes in the two tries scored in the test had 5 Lions players involved plus Willie who also has those instinctive skills. Coincidence ? Sure the forwards had to set it up but the players utilized those instinctive skills developed through playing attacking rugby week in and week out.

      Again, I’ve never said it’s ‘either / or’ it’s a balance between the two but tries win tests these days and the team best equipped to capitalize on their hard won possession will win nine times out of ten. Like some others you are reading far too much in the Bok win. Those stats on any given day will bring a score like 57-0 on the scoreboard again and even more so if you’re playing the AB’s.

      I assume your bet will be on the Boks to beat the AB’s at Loftus and good luck to you but what I do know is we won’t be able to defend our way to victory again, that ‘get out of jail free’ card has well and truly been used up. Cheers.

      • Albert

        Why did you comment on my comment? You paid zero attention to what I said. No mention of Lions from me, no mention of anything you discussed.

        Please read my post before commenting. Thanks

        • Herman Schroder?

          I was contrasting what you were saying about AB rugby by pointing out where WE have got it wrong all these years and why, so your response seems a little unreasonable if truth be told. I needed to bring the Lions in because they rocked the ‘dom krag’ boat while the others fell away. Perfectly reasonable imo. Cheers.

          • Albert

            Again, nothing added or detracted from my comment. You merely used it as a spring board for your own Lions propaganda. I guess your goal is to comment on every comment for some sort of record perhaps?

    • Greg Shark

      Spot on! “….in the long run, our players will no longer have that killer instinct on defense. We will struggle to win the big finals….” and ain’t that the truth!

      • Herman Schroder?

        Rather to have played in three Finals and lost than never having played in a Final at all. Finishing ‘runners up’ sounds a wee bit better than 8th on a 15th team log, ouch. By the way aren’t the Sharks the biggest chokers in SR history ?? People in glass houses……….., lol.

        Have responded to Albert below. Cheers.

        • Greg Shark

          seems the greatest chokers of all time have failed on consecutive occasions…. and got their arses handed to them each time…. as for the Sharks your memory only goes so far back as the lions became more successful than stone last on consecutive occasions ….. much lolling gone on here….

          • Dr Hoffman

            do u even know what a choker is? clearly not, stop being stupid! A choker has it in the bag and still loses, when did the lions have it in the bag. They were underdogs in all the finals they have played. What ever suits your pathetic jealous agenda towards the Lions. so lame.

        • Albert

          Firstly, the comment is above.

          Secondly, don’t completely change the subject just to discuss the Lions and belittle everyone else. Show some class please.

          • Herman Schroder?

            Have responded above. The Lions were used by me to prove a point and they did ‘show a lot of class’ along the way, lol. Cheers.

  • SweetAz

    Well………..Another week, another gatteng cubs implosion. All those skills, innovation, attack and just sheer awesomeness seems to have taken a long holiday,—–lol.

    • Greg Shark

      and another implosion last evening…..seems like even with …”…All those skills, innovation, attack and just sheer awesomeness…”…. and all those ‘awesome must be Springbok players’ that particular “gatteng cubs” just don’t seem to be making it happen….

      It was palpably noticeable what a powder puff pass that Ross Cronje has, it looks like a girl playing net ball. And compared to opposing scrumhalves he’s the BOK? Ungerer makes cronje look positively ordinary as does the WP and both Sharks scrummies!

      • Dr Hoffman

        shame baby so jealous cause your team has achieved f all. go have a good cry baby. siestog.

      • SweetAz

        NO man!!!!! He’s a Lion, he walks on water, only Lions and their supporters know anything, can do anything and make Super Finals.——-They just never WIN anything, LOL. A while ago I explained why the Lions were successful, it was simple. They were so shit nobody was trying to buy their players so they managed to stay together longer than any other franchise thus being the ONLY franchise with continuity and cohesion. Now that their better players are off to greener pastures that cohesion is no better than any other franchise and we can all see the result.
        NOTHING to do with “superior skills”, “expansive gameplan” “attack minded”.======just simple teamwork the result of continuity and cohesion.
        Oh well, there goes another theory I guess.

        • Dr Hoffman

          another pathetic jealous troll. Love it! go cry with your boyfriend greg.

      • Herman Schroder?

        Cronje the best tackling scrumhalf ( some netball player ) and more intelligent than any other Franchise scrumhalf. He’s also taken his team to three SR Finals so he has the heart .and a proven pedigree.
        The others are average at best.

        You read too much into this watered down developmental competition my friend. See you in the playoffs when we change gear like the Lions SR team does EVERY year. Cheers.

        PS : You’re pissing into the wind here pal the Sharks record doesn’t help your cause at all.

        • Greg Shark

          hermie…you’re a real laugh a ‘comment’….

          • Herman Schroder?

            Running out of words my friend ? Cheers.

            PS : Thanks Doc, yeah non so blind ………………Cheers.

          • Dr Hoffman

            your stupid comments are actually scary and concerning.

  • Barry Smith

    Not sure I agree, the two “Premier Divison” Unions looked pretty balanced last night, with good facets of both defence and attack! It will be good to watch them go up against each other this coming weekend! The other, lessor unions are certainly battling to find balance, but one might argue that they are only semi professional and really only making up the numbers. lol

    • SweetAz

      Luv it,,—” 2 Premier division Unions”. As they say, form is temporary but class is permanent. Nothing cooked up in the slums just below Berea and the Brow could ever be construed as having “class”.

      • Barry Smith

        Lads hail from Kloof, Hillcrest and Umhlanga, so not to worry, all under control!

        • SweetAz

          I was referring to the ones living in Lewies Late’s dorpie. The ones who dodge hijackers and crack addicts on the way to training

          • Barry Smith

            Ah, got it. Hermie yours I believe, in coming, bend to receive!

    • Herman Schroder?

      Are you talking about the two “Premier Division’ teams that finished 8th and 11th on a 15 team log in SR perhaps ?? , lol.

      On the plus side I do agree with the you about the skill levels shown and it is encouraging. The only problem is when Fleck and Du Preez are faced with real competition in SR those skill levels seem to disappear for some unknown reason. Then dom krag takes over and history repeats itself once again. Cheers.

      • Barry Smith

        Thought you may pop up! Amazing how Dobson can achieve so much with far less resource than Fleck! Surely their administration can see this?
        On the Sharks issue, no, I’m referring to the Sharks that did the Lions a number in the final weeks of the Super Rugby pool stages. You surely remember that?

        • Herman Schroder?

          One win in four years ?? I’d be quiet if I were you. Cheers.

        • Greg Shark

          and almost upset the lions apple cart the previous year only to be undone by a pretty well taken long range penalty. Otherwise completely outplayed and undone by the unfancied Sharks….my, would that not have been a total embarrassment … denied their ‘rightful’ place in the SR final by the lowly Sharks …

          • Herman Schroder?

            Would never happen with the operative word in your post being ”almost’. As I told your pal Barry one win in four years, yeah right. Cheers.

        • SweetAz

          I watched a Dobson interview on Youtube and he seems WAYYYY more switched on than Fleck.

  • Baylions

    The writer only looked at tries conceded as the be all and end all, a simplistic view

    From 2006 to 2209 the SA teams conceded more tries and more points than they scored in 3 of the 4 years

    2009 (5 teams): 150:157 | 1276-1298
    2008 (5 teams): 126:172 | 1109-1393
    2007 (5 teams): 142:123 | 1344-1218
    2006: (5 teams): 127:174 | 1212-1497

    From 2016 to 2018, when “Lions rugby” became the in thing, SA teams scored more tries and points than the conceded

    2018 (4 teams): 204:201 | 1592-1561
    2017 (6 teams): 263:256 | 2136-1996
    2016 (6 teams): 243:240 | 2005-1976

    Still a simplistic view but it doesn’t support the author view

    • Greg Shark

      you’re kidding…right? Your mate hermie consistently comments that besides the lions all the other franchises play ‘domkrag’ rugby…. but the for and against has improved?

      • Herman Schroder?

        The Lions scored the bulk of the tries. One example: Sharks 135 tries in that period the Lions 245. Take the Lions out of those figures above and divide by three to get the average for the others. No contest. Cheers.

    • SweetAz

      Back to the future?- I don’t think any of us will be around in 2209. “Lions Rugby” has never been a thing, its an anomaly and still hasn’t won anything. They are simply the best of a putrid conference,–when they start having the kind of record the Crusaders have, THEN perhaps we can start talking of “Lions Rugby”.

      Helmet on, visor down,-now.

      • Herman Schroder?

        Before their ‘red card’ Jackass Peyper ‘win’ last year the Crusaders hadn’t won SR in the preceding EIGHT years. True Story. Cheers.

  • Nick

    You bunch of twats. Despite hermies less than perfect judgement, the lions still need to be bettered by any local pretenders. Do you boys account for the fact that swys is with the boks. Don’t make me laugh bulls, shorks stormers etc al, come super rugerugby time lions will still stand on your necks. If we’re kak, how kak are you?

    • Herman Schroder?

      ‘Less than perfect’ ? I’m mortified, lol. A good ‘klap’ handed out to the ill informed though, thanks. Cheers.

  • Dean

    The Currie Cup, you mean the Vodacom Cup? It’s nothing more than a talent spotting competition these days. You cannot even compare to the premier provincial competitions in the World anymore. How can it be any better if the best players and coaches are not present. The Lions are being coached by their fitness coach. The Cheetahs with their already thin resources are spread across 2 competitions. WP won last year and were still very poor in Super Rugby. It’s not a true reflection of the best SA has to offer, nor is it anywhere near the quality it once was.

  • Herman Schroder?

    Spot on Dean. The Lions have almost a full team out and not even including those that have left our shores recently. They should change the name to the Curry Cup imo. Cheers.

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