Mini Currie Cup: good or bad?

The Currie Cup was shortened to a single round competition last year and, on the eve of the 2019 edition, the AOR team debates whether the change has been a good one.

Tank Lanning says – GOOD
As an out and out exporter of talent, for both rugby and socio-economic reasons, and having written far too many cheques that cannot be honoured, any talk of expansion – and thus further dilution of the product – should be reserved for those eating dry bread in a padded cell.

The only reason all 14 unions do exist, is because of the bail out money from SA Rugby, so I am chuffed we have moved on from that debate to one around a single or double round! Now we just need to persuade those that are not in the top flight to accept that they are amateur, and exist only on that level.

The fact that EP cannot qualify for the Currie Cup not only muddies the waters, but speaks to how political wrangling makes any call complicated in SA, no matter how simple it looks from the outside!

The Currie Cup is our premier domestic competition, and needs to remain exactly that. Despite the hammering it has taken as we have chased Super Rugby cash. Having now hopefully learnt from diluting it because we felt bad for a few unions that thrived in an amateur era, we now must think carefully about dilution via a double round.

Development is for the SuperSport Challenge and club rugby. The Currie Cup must be about excellence. That means it cannot overlap with Super Rugby, and needs to finish in time for the players to have a proper off season.

So I would add EP to make it 8 sides, and keep it to a single round. Those not in the 23 can go and play club rugby, with the big club game of the weekend being a curtain raiser to the local Currie Cup game. One that doesn’t end an hour before the Currie Cup game starts!

Zelim Nel says – BAD
I’ve got this completely wrong if the Currie Cup is supposed to be a placeholder competition aimed at providing broadcasters with rugby content to complement the Rugby Championship between the end of Super Rugby and the beginning of the Boks’ perennial November tour to Europe.

But the single-round competition is not constructive if its purpose is to showcase South Africa’s domestic heavyweights or to nurture burgeoning talent for eventual promotion to the Super Rugby echelon.

A single-round competition is inherently imbalanced – it’s possible for a team to fall out of contention because they are drawn to host the weakest teams and play the eventual finalists on the road.

Taking inventory of potential Super Rugby assets is also made more challenging by a shorter schedule, which means each match has a significant bearing on the race to reach the playoffs and book a home semi-final and final.

For example, after making one start at flyhalf for the Sharks during the 2018 Currie Cup, Curwin Bosch this year earned nationwide respect in five consecutive Super Rugby starts at 10. However, he spent the first half of the season riding the bench or starting at fullback and, while it’s easy to put this all down to the unique coaching situation in Durban with Robert du Preez, it’s reasonable to suggest that the Sharks may have reached this point earlier in their selection process with Bosch had the 2018 Currie Cup run a 12-match league phase.

The Currie Cup was an eight-team, double-round competition in 2006 when Dick Muir peppered his lineups with promising youngsters. Frans Steyn was given a run at flyhalf and fullback in 10 appearances, went on to make 14 starts for the Sharks in Super Rugby the following season and then helped South Africa win the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

It’s possible that Steyn may only have appeared on the Bok radar much later had his Currie Cup opportunity been denied by a shortened, must-win format.

You’ve read what they think, now let us know which way you’re leaning by commenting below, or join the #BigDebate on Twitter!

- Big Debate

Let's chat

  • Herman

    Calling it a strength against strength Currie Cup is an insult to the long proud history of the CC as the oldest domestic rugby trophy in the world where the Provinces fought with all their might at real full strength to win it. It meant something in those days and even ensured the game in this country survived the years while we were booted out of world rugby.

    Full houses were the order of the day then compared to this pale imitation where the guys selling hot dogs outnumber spectators ( family members excluded ). I don’t even mind if the SR derby game winner ( six game each ) is given the trophy at least it will get us as close as possible to the real deal.

    Of course the Bulls will then be this years CC winner and the Lions winners in the three previous years. Will also finally get the Bulls some silverware to place in that dusty old cabinet, if they can find the keys that is. Cheers.

  • John Comyn

    Sad news! Just heard James Small passed away.

    • Barry

      Yes sad indeed. He was not that old – I would think mid forties!

  • Barry

    It is surely neither good nor bad, it is simply what we can afford under the current structure and allocations of the pot of gold! Pragmatically there are no alternatives this year.

    Inevitably there will be ruffled feathers and perhaps rightly so, but the alternative of dragging Rugby SA into the red over an extended competition, would not make sense either.

    The reality is that we are in urgent need of a total over haul of our structures and leadership. Pro rugby and the amateur game should be entirely separated and neither should cross subsidize the other!

  • John Comyn

    Dobson’s comment:

    ” don’t mind the single round, but if you are trying to bring players through to increase the depth of South African rugby then it probably should be a double round.”

    Dobson added that the one positive is that the season will end of September 7 this year.

    “There’s an opportunity for players to get some good rest, recover from their injuries and gain energy for next season.”

  • boyo

    Can we not just ad maybe 2 teams?

    Yes they will weaken the comp but those extra games will allow for the experimentation that is lacking and lengthen the comp a bit without adding an full extra 6 games? Or and this may seem like madness do a double round as a league no semi or final?

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