We all know that the Currie Cup isn’t what it used to be. Or at least the vibe around it isn’t.
The world’s oldest domestic rugby competition has in recent years been characterised by ever-reducing crowd figures and the interest in the provincial competition has been lacking, to put it mildly.
Under-strength teams influenced by the never-ending player exodus, or lucrative overseas club stints, is one of the culprits of the Currie Cup’s plummet in appeal, and that’s not something that will be solved quickly.
But one thing that I’ve noticed this season that has somewhat revived interest in the competition has been the Springboks’ personnel issues.
Okay, maybe “revived” is too strong a word, but I’ve certainly noticed that the Currie Cup has sparked a little more conversation in recent weeks than what it did, say, a couple of months ago.
The Boks’ struggles has led to disappointed fans watching the Currie Cup with a little more anticipation – whether that’s because of those fans wanting to strengthen their argument as to why is Ruan Combrinck not in the Bok team, or for whatever other reason. It’s led to the Currie Cup, or the players, being watched with a bit more interest.
Guys like wings Raymond Rhule and Courtnall Skosan, No 8 Uzair Cassiem, centre Jesse Kriel and to a certain extent fullback Andries Coetzee are some of the players in the Springbok team who are usually mentioned for the wrong reasons by fed-up Bok supporters when you scroll down rugby-related posts on social media.
And those angry-fan comments do, more often than not, also contain the names of “more capable” replacements for whoever the Bok followers aren’t very happy with.
But it goes further than that. I’m sure that Allister Coetzee and Co have also been scoping out the Currie Cup talent with a slightly bigger magnifying glass. I mean, how could they not?
Last week was a perfect example of that.
When it was announced that Handré Pollard would be available to play Currie Cup at the weekend (which Blue Bulls executive of rugby John Mitchell took a different approach to), a lot of people wanted to see how the flyhalf would go, especially given the fact that he featured for the Boks despite spending less time on the field in the last year than the Springboks were in the game against the All Blacks two weeks ago.
That is not, at all, what should be the drawing card to Currie Cup games.
A couple of horror Springbok performances shouldn’t be the only reason why fans want to watch Currie Cup matches – so they can act as selectors and find replacements to the current Bok crop. But, to me, it seems like it’s added to it.
And, even though sub-par individual performances might have sparked a bit more interest in the Currie Cup, let’s hope that fans continue to follow the competition with the same eye they’re viewing it now.