PRETORIA – If one didn’t know better, it would be a safe assumption to make that the South African Rugby Union is doing its utmost to sabotage and destroy the Currie Cup.
Over the years we’ve seen the suits make irrational decisions of taking the oldest domestic competition in the world from being a free-for-all with all 14 of their unions to a strength versus strength and now it has been watered down further to a single-round tournament.
It leaves one wondering if any thought is actually put behind preserving and strengthening the position of SA’s premier domestic competition, or has the lust to earn foreign currency through Super Rugby, PRO14 and the Rugby Championship got the better of them.
Whatever the thought process or lack thereof behind the constant chopping and changing of the competition is, it has dropped the commercial value of the competition and strengthened the call by supporters to do without it.
It is not that there is no need for a domestic competition, but its existence becomes meaningless when it is played over one round and doesn’t feature SA’s best players.
But there still seems to be life in the competition if the last round of matches is anything to go by, and the deliberate ploy by coaches to beef up their respective teams with Springboks.
That is the life blood of the Currie Cup, competitive matches and an abundance of Boks doing their thing.
And yes, one understands the need to have a strong and vibrant Rugby Championship, where the southern hemisphere’s best are put out to showcase their talent, but it mustn’t be at the expense of the Currie Cup.
So what is the solution?
Well there shouldn’t be a debate on whether the Boks must play, it should be part of the rules of the competition that SA’s best must feature especially when the national team is not playing.
The return of the Boks will breathe back life into the competition particularly in the semi-finals as was evident in Western Province’s annihilation of the Blue Bulls in one half of rugby at Loftus on Saturday.
And the free-flowing running rugby the Golden Lions and Sharks dished out in their outings against the Pumas and Griquas, respectively.
Imagine if more of those Bok stars would be available to play in the semi-finals then nobody would be worried about the eye sore that has been of the low stadium attendance figures and lack of good rugby played on the field.
Instead, the return of the Boks will bring back that intense and fierce rivalry and bring about a level of unpredictability to the games that was last seen when the competition still had some credibility and thousands queuing for tickets.
While the playing product will regain its shine with quality players on the field, one cannot ignore the need to take the game to the people by taking the competition to smaller venues in the communities especially during the round-robin stage.
Much still needs to be done to bring glory and life back into the Currie Cup.
But more importantly, it is those suits who make the decisions on the shape of the tournament, that need to apply their minds and stop sabotaging and destroying a competition that has stood the test of time and continues to produce SA stars.