Simon Borchardt

Minnow unions prevented expansion

Cheeky Watson Cheeky Watson

Five smaller provincial unions voted against the proposal to expand the Currie Cup Premier Division from six to eight teams, reports SIMON BORCHARDT.

While the final vote on Monday was in favour of the amended structure of the competition, with a 19/10 split, the motion didn’t carry because it required a 75% majority vote.

EP president Cheeky Watson told on Tuesday that it was Boland, Border, SWD, the Leopards and Valke who prevented the Pumas and EP Kings from joining the Premier Division next year (each union has two votes and the Saru president one).

'No one knows why they voted that way,' Watson said. 'Everyone was flabbergasted. There was no reasoning behind their decision.'

When asked how two of the Kings' Super Rugby franchise partners – Border and SWD – could vote against EP's automatic promotion, Watson said: 'It shows the problem with the franchise system in South African rugby. Franchise partners add no value. Rugby has become a business and it should be run as a business, which is not the case in South Africa.'

EP will now have to spend another year in the First Division, while the Pumas, who finished first on the First Division log, will take on the last-placed team in the Premier Division (probably Griquas) in promotion-relegation matches.

If the EP Kings had been promoted to the Premier Division next year the Southern Kings would have agreed to not play Super Rugby promotion-relegation games against the last-placed team in the SA conference in 2014, but Watson confirmed that the games would now go ahead.

Photo: Richard Huggard/Gallo Images

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