Letter: Lockdown to offer solution to SA Rugby future?

In another letter to the editor as we continue to encourage our readers to send CRAIG LEWIS submissions, Darryl Farmer believes there could be a positive spin-off to this period of lockdown.

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The isolation will force SA Rugby into a better quality Currie Cup this year just to keep the doors open and have the investors and sponsors happy, but would this not be an ideal situation to create our own type of future instead of staying with Sanzaar or moving to up north to add to their hopes and dreams?

My idea goes like this: Currie Cup in with all eight franchises (WP, Sharks, Lions, Bulls, Kings, Cheetahs, Pumas & Griquas) with the rest in the First Division (you can’t call that a Currie Cup because there is only one original Currie Cup). We also add privatisation of all franchises and eventually all unions.

With the above in place we can have the top four qualifying for European Rugby Champions Cup and a Sanzaar-based Super Rugby Cup, this will allow us to play in the Rugby Championship in the south and, if need be, play in the Six Nations (Seven Nations if it does happen).

Obviously some planning needs to be done in terms of scheduling and administration around this; for that I’m not the person to speak to, but this will serve well for player welfare in terms of travelling and workload, which is the major concern for players moving abroad (my opinion).

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Yes, it sounds like this might be boring to begin with the first time, but as with any new product, it needs to grow and be marketed properly to attract TV viewers and crowds at stadiums.

I think SA fans will be attracted to a Currie Cup of higher value; to be able to watch any given match in a time slot that allows for a South African curtain-raiser that consists of a braai and a few cold ones with family and friends gathering from early morning at home or also live at a stadium.

Furthermore we need privatisation at all our unions (excluding the mother body). This will result in smaller unions to become stronger, build better infrastructure, attract better coaches, players, fans, development of players and coaches, and in the long run serve as a driver for job creation.

I would like to see a small union such as Boland perhaps build to a level to be able to have a match against Toulon, Munster or even Exeter Chiefs. Boland can fill stadiums with their club games – a huge indication is that a normal club game normally has around 7,000 supporters with some reaching close to 20,000 fans at normal club games.

It’s all good and well to move up north for SA Rugby, but the problem with that is that the north is way more professional than the south. If it doesn’t add value they will cut it, not like the south that will ride that boat until it sinks. Therefore we need to create a product of high value in SA and then have that conversation of qualifying for other competitions such as the ERCP.

Originality is what attracts investors. In football the English Premier League is an example of how this works: a very original product supported by private investors and club owners where the most no-name clubs can become giants of the world.

– Darryl Farmer

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*If you’d like to join Ngcebo in sending us a rugby letter, we invite you to share any of your thoughts or memories in an email to editor Craig Lewis at this address: [email protected]

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Craig Lewis