Western Province coach John Dobson says the gradual watering down of the Currie Cup is threatening to ‘destroy South African rugby’s production line’. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
This season saw one of the most low-key Currie Cup competitions facing a battle to grab the attention of rugby followers, with the World Cup completely overshadowing the domestic tournament.
However, even before this year, there have been warning signs that the public profile of the Currie Cup is in danger of continuing to diminish, with the continually expanding Super Rugby competition serving to further saturate an overloaded rugby calendar.
Already we have seen top Bok players being withdrawn from domestic action, and with the Super Rugby competition expanding to include 18 teams from next year, while being followed immediately by the Rugby Championship, the Currie Cup will continue to face a battle against waning interest.
‘This is probably the most poorly attended Currie Cup final that I can remember,’ Dobson commented after Saturday’s title decider in Joburg. ‘I appreciate the Boks were playing the All Blacks on the same day, but South African rugby needs to look very carefully at what we are doing to the Currie Cup. It’s a unique selling prospect, and with so many guys playing overseas, these guys here are going so quickly from Currie Cup to Super Rugby to Springbok rugby. If we’re going to keep watering down the Currie Cup, we’re literally destroying our own rugby production line.
‘I really feel incredibly strongly about this, we have to look after the Currie Cup. I think the new Super Rugby format requires a professor from MIT or Stanford to work it out,’ he added. ‘I don’t feel any competition should be judged on teams that don’t play each other; it goes against the very nature of such a competition. We must look after our Currie Cup and I think at the moment we’re in danger of watering it down.’
The expanded Super Rugby competition will kick off at the end of February and run until August, while breaking in June for the incoming internationals. The exact format and dates of the 2016 Currie Cup competition are still to be confirmed.
It’s believed that the Vodacom Cup will be done away with next year, with the Currie Cup qualifying competition set to be run concurrently during part of the Super Rugby season.
Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix