The Currie Cup has been on the back of most supporters minds because of the Rugby Championship and Springbok performance taking most of the attention during the group stages, but this weekend most unions will bring back a tally of their Springbok players to help them out.
I wasn’t a fan of the new shortened Currie Cup competition to the top 6 unions instead of 8, I still don’t care much for it, I still feel that at least two of the Pumas/Griffons/Kings/Leopards/Boland deserve to play with the top tier teams, especially now that the Kings are stepping into Super Rugby, this would have been a good year for them to get used to playing against tougher teams, please note that I said tougher and not tough. This could only be a boost for Rugby in general, take the Pumas performance for example, they have beaten their push over status by playing good Currie Cup rugby and even besting the Bulls on two occasions, now they were forced to play in the bottom tier again because of the length of the Currie Cup. My solution, instead of 10 weeks of round robin/Super Rugby matches between 6 teams, let all 14 teams play in the Currie Cup against all the other teams once, i.e. The Cheetahs play the Sharks in Durban this year and next year, they play in Bloemfontein. This will make the current competition 3 weeks longer, so start it three weeks earlier. This can only be a good thing for rugby in general in SA, with all teams and players getting exposure in the top domestic rugby competition in the world.
Here is my biggest problem with the new format, there are 4 top tier teams in danger of playing a relegation match against the Kings/Pumas leading into this weekend, with WP, Griquas, the Cheetahs and Bulls in danger of ending bottom of the log, it deserves to be said that this is more fair than the Lions complete expulsion from Super Rugby without having anything to say or do about it, I would still have let it ride for two years and then play a promotion/relegation game, here is my theory because let’s say the Cheetahs end at the bottom and play the Kings, lose the two games and the Kings get promoted and Cheetahs get relegated, next year the Cheetahs should win the First Division and the Kings could end bottom of the log and the Cheetahs play them and get promoted again, the Kings have to build again and hopefully win the First Division to stand a chance to play for a top spot again, instead of giving them two years to develop in the Currie Cup.
The new format can also backfire heavily, let’s say next year, WP are ridiculed with injuries again, end bottom of the log and the Cheetahs lose the final against the Pumas, the Pumas play their promotion/relegation matches against WP and win, that means that the Pumas and Kings play Currie Cup and the Cheetahs and WP play first division with only one of them standing a chance to play for promotion and the end of the season.
So I say again, I am not a fan of the new Currie Cup format.
Hopefully the Lions destroy the Bulls and Cheetahs without Goosen at worst draw the game in Cape Town with a bonus point for tries and the Sharks win without Griqaus getting any points, but if the Cheetahs end bottom of the log in what has to be their worst Currie Cup performance in the last 16 years, they have to play and beat the Kings/Pumas to show that they deserve their spot.
I hope that Johan can take this time to get rid of all his injury niggles and start the Super Rugby season fresh and fit and stronger than ever.