Scrap Currie Cup playoffs?

The All Out Rugby team debates whether, with a congested rugby calendar and waning interest in the Currie Cup, it’s time to dump the playoffs and hand the trophy to the league winners.

Tank Lanning – Yes
After 14 rounds of the 2017 edition of the Currie Cup, all we have done is eliminate the bottom three sides! Over three months of rugby to work out that the Griquas, Pumas and PRO14 leftovers are Currie Cup clip-ons!

This in an era when its palpably obvious that too much rugby – and ordinary watered-down rugby at that – is being dished up to an audience getting wiser in how it utilises their entertainment Rand. It’s no wonder the SuperSport crew forgot to pitch at one of the games, and that their crew outnumber the actual crowd at some games.

The once great Currie Cup is now a tournament fraught with all sorts of issues, with the playoffs just being another.

Both semi-finals this weekend look mouth-watering, but is it really fair to ask the Sharks – 10 log points clear of second-placed Western Province after the league games, and quite clearly the best side on show – to now switch into playoff mode in order to take home the trophy?

More pertinently, do the Bulls – who have won only five games this year for an abysmal win rate of just 42% – really deserve to be in contention for the trophy? Are we not just rewarding mediocrity?

The fact that the non-contracted Boks now join the tournament, while fantastic for the fans, further taints the playoffs as teams are not affected equally.

Semi-finals and finals are fun, and draw big gates, but as seen last weekend when six sides were scrambling for three semi-final spots, the finishing weekends to a log-points champion can be just as exciting.

A tournament based on log points rewards the best side over the course of a season, and makes every single game count.

Zelím says – No
These days, the only time the Currie Cup registers a pulse is after the four Super Rugby provinces are the last teams standing.

The player exodus has downgraded a once-renowned domestic championship into something that plays more like a club game than a Test match. Having said that, it is the only competition available to local players who don’t turn Japanese after Super Rugby, and a host of entitled rugby academy graduates who recently added the term “professional rugby player” to their online profiles.

The greenhorns are not all chaff; there are traces of South Africa’s traditional, abrasive edge that have yet to be detected by French investigators.

The commercial value of running a playoffs format at the conclusion of the league phase includes the likelihood of a season-high crowd at the stadium, publicity for the stakeholders and a positive sense of excitement about rugby that is in short supply during the first nine months of the year.

Another thing that is rare during that period is knockout rugby. When last did the Super Rugby playoffs feature more than one serious SA contender in the playoffs?

And that’s where the value lies in the Currie Cup champions having to survive a semi-final and final. The scattering of players with any sort of Test ceiling, together with a clutch of inexperienced coaches, need the growth that comes from running that gauntlet.

The All Blacks waited 24 years to win their second World Cup. One of the reasons identified for the drought was a lack of experience with knockout footy, and the Kiwis tweaked their domestic championships accordingly before claiming and retaining Bill in 2011 and 2015.

Without a Currie Cup post-season, it’s possible that a future Springbok coach and his players could find themselves puckering up for their first taste of playoff rugby in a World Cup quarter-final.

You’ve read what they think, now let us know where you stand in The Big Debate!

 

- All Out Rugby Staff Writer

Let's chat

  • Arch Rautenbach

    No. Knock out rugby must stay. As a competition, the Rugby Championship is a boring competition because of the winner of the log takes it situation. This year the All Blacks already had the Championship wrapped up when South Africa drew to the Aussies. Which meant they played two dead rubber games. People will argue that the Springbok All black (at Newlands) game was still supported well, but games between these two are always legendary, and will always be supported well. You can’t say the same about the Currie Cup. The Sharks sealed top spot of the log three weeks ago. I we didn’t have knock out games, it would have meant two weeks of dead rubber games. Who would go watch that. Your team has nothing to gain, accept for maybe some practice for next year. How boring. I won’t want to pay to watch my team practice. In my opinion, if they remove knock outs in Currie cup, they might as well remove the whole currie cup.

    • Sharky

      I must agree, though removing the play-offs would probably help my Sharkies who have had a bit of a choking problem in the past.

      • Arch Rautenbach

        Well the Sharks have on plenty occasions gone away and won the cup. Recently they went to Newlands and beat WP in the final. If there wasn’t knock outs, WP would have been crowned champions that year.

        • Sharky

          Swings and roundabouts I suppose. I just remember the Sharks losing plenty of finals (both SR and Currie Cup) in the 2000s.

  • Louis

    Good points both ways… but if the Sharks had already won 3 weeks ago, I wouldn’t have watched any Currie Cup this weekend. And by extension the whole tournament.

  • Graham

    Why not make the entire currie cup a knockout tournament? The currie cup needs a good shake up so no first or premier division, have a 16 team draw to see who plays who. One month of rugby, every game is do or die. The excitement will be there for the fans and pressure will be on the players and coaches. No dead rudder games, no arduous, long and tournament lapping season and no need for contracted Boks not to play. Then bring back something like the Vodacom cup that runs parallel to Super Rugby with 2 tiers, having 2 teams play promotion/relegation every year (again no dead rudder games). After what SARU did to the currie cup last year I think its worth a try.

    • Arch Rautenbach

      Why not just copy the 7’s system and split the 16 teams into 4 pool of 4 teams based on their rankings. Then you have short pool stage where they play against each team in their pool before going into the quarter finals and semi final and eventual finals. And like the 7’s, let there be a cup (the main big deal and actual currie cup) and then a bowl (basically first devision) and plate and so on and so forth. Think it would be the best system and then the smaller unions still get exposed to better rugby and television broadcasting.

    • Sharky

      Interesting thought!!! Would suck if the Lions/Sharks/WP/Bulls/Cheetahs were drawn against each other in round 1 though. Maybe they could not have a random draw but a draw based on the last years ranking with the first round seeing 1 playing 16, 2 playing 15 etc That would also mean that the lower ranked teams would still be playing ranking matches while the “main” tournament goes on (i.e. in order to establish which of the teams knocked out in round two are ranked 16 to 9, which knocked out in round two are ranked 8 to 5 etc.). Those extra matches would also give the broadcasters something to air.

      • Graham

        Good idea but I quite like the idea of a random draw. It gives the smaller unions a chance to win it instead of the tournament stacked in favour of the top 5 unions. Give a nice cash prize for the winner and I think the teams would really go at it and with the lift in intensity it will draw the crowds.

  • Peter

    Here’ s an innovative idea…
    Two sections A + B of Premier(four each) play home and away
    1st and 2nd then play counter teams in knockout for the final.
    Currie Cup” B” section reduced to 14 teams…(EP so weak…let them join up with Border Bulldogs)
    Two teams promoted…one each to A and B.

  • Saartjie

    Of course that’s what Tank would say… That’s also the only reason why his beloved province boasts the most trophies.

    Remove the home AND away games. Make it a year on year change.

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