The Currie Cup is the oldest rugby competition on the planet but unless SA Rugby take action soon – it’s days are numbered.
I’ll start by saying that I love the Currie Cup. What it used to be at least.
I love how it talked to the pride of provisionalism attached to supporting your local sports team and it’s power to unite us around a team. If you support your local team that is.
I also love how winning the Currie Cup used to mean you are the best team in the country.
Lastly, I loved how you once saw your favourite Springboks run out for a game or two toward the tail end of the season (I know others didn’t feel as strongly about this though)
But I fear those days are gone.
Now-a-days, the best team in SA is determined in August instead of October with the Super Rugby conference trophy and the very same tournament also creates the same excitement with plenty of SANZAR mandated derby matches.
The best players in the country never run out in the Currie Cup anymore due to longer Springbok obligations and gentleman’s agreements between Super Rugby, Currie Cup and Springbok coaches surrounding the amount of rugby their stars play in a season.
From where I sit, the Currie Cup is a hot mess.
But the good news is that it can be fixed by addressing two key issues.
The first is positioning.
If I watch the Currie Cup ads on SuperSport (the only advertising the competition does) – you get the impression that the tournament positions itself as a platform for the stars of tomorrow. The young up and coming guys. The future Springboks.
The problem is that it’s not the only competition positioned this way.
The popularity of the Varsity Cup has exploded (2016 aside) and has become a great starter for a long meal of great rugby showpieces. In this tournament, whilst it doesn’t necessarily feature players with provincial colours, it is also a stage for future stars. And it works too if you consider guys like Demetri Catrakilis, Garth April and Niel Marais (all flyhalves).
Then if you look at Super Rugby – the season has become so bloated that coaches and selection committees have no choice but to toss opportunities to green youngsters like Jean-Luc Du Plessis, Rob Du Preez, Dan and Jean-Luc Du Preez, CJ Velleman and many many more. Again. this by virtue of the above, becomes a stage for the stars of tomorrow.
So if you consider the above – which players are left to contest the Currie Cup? You’d think it would be largely Super Rugby squads with the exclusion of those who received a Bok call up and those that were injured.
In essence, the Currie Cup is competing too closely with the Varsity Cup and Super Rugby.
The second is format and schedule
The Currie Cup has become longer and more confusing with a qualification tournament before the actual tournament. This has obviously been done to make it more inclusive but all that it has done has made it a scheduling headache. For this reason, teams like WP and the Cheetahs are playing at 5PM on Friday afternoon which is ridiculous.
Who the hell is able to watch a match at 5pm on Friday on TV let alone live? You have to wonder what the viewership looks like for matches like these. My feeling is pathetic. I managed to catch the Pumas vs the Kings one Friday afternoon after work and I shit you not – there was not a single person in that 50 000 seater stadium.
How do the powers that be think that affects the players ampedness to play?
In my opinion, the competition needs to go back to basics and again become the real determinant of who the best local rugby team in the land is but this requires suits in the boardrooms see it this way and I fear they don’t.
Hopefully more conversations like this help.
What’s your thoughts on the Currie Cup in the modern era? As always, we’d love to hear from you so drop us a comment or hit us with a tweet @leftbacks. We’d love to hear from you.