Former Springbok wing Bryan Habana says it is going to be difficult to make the Currie Cup a strong competition again in the current climate. DYLAN JACK reports.
Habana was in conversation with historian Dr Dean Allen as part of weekly fundraiser for the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players Fund.
The global halt in sports brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting travel and border restrictions have led to discussions over a feasible direction for rugby going forward.
The latest rumours suggest that more South African teams could be set to join the Pro14, which comes after renewed talks of Australia and New Zealand forming a trans-Tasman Super Rugby tournament.
Habana was asked whether this could be an ideal time for a renewed investment in the Currie Cup – which has been watered down over the last few years due to a lack of Springboks playing in the tournament and an overabundance of derbies during Vodacom Super Rugby.
‘It depends on the timing, to get your top players playing Currie Cup and making it more valuable,’ Habana explained. ‘The reason we have seen the watering down of the Currie Cup over the last 10 to 15 years has been because you see the teams playing against each other four or five times in a year now. So that north-south rivalry, the fierce competitiveness of the Currie Cup as a domestic competition, you sort of get weaned off it a bit.
‘Should we do the Currie Cup all on our own? I would probably say no. The uncertainty surrounding the future of rugby – essentially a contact sport – make it really difficult to say how we start and where we start. I have been asked the question quite a few times – especially about South Africa going north – and see headlines of “Bryan supports the global season” and I didn’t quite say those exact words.
‘I would love to know the mechanisms of how a global season would work. Where South Africa would fit into the northern hemisphere if they were to go that route? Who do you take out of a Premiership, Champions Cup or Pro14? Would you extend or enlarge the Six Nations? We have seen mixed reviews of the Cheetahs and Kings playing in the northern hemisphere in December and January. If you go from that to Currie Cup, you have a year-long competition.
‘The strength of the Currie Cup is unfortunately something that is going to be really difficult to try and get back. The powers that be need to take player welfare as well as the commercial element of the game into consideration when making what is a very tough decision.’
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