Vata Ngobeni.
The Currie Cup is almost dead. In fact in the eyes of many, it is dead.

Just a look at the dwindling stadium attendance and the overall quality of the competition leaves much to be desired and tells the story of a once proud competition dying a slow and painful death.

And this has nothing to do with the lack of quality players in South Africa or the hundreds of expats that ply their trade in almost all of the top leagues abroad.

All of this comes down to that age old problem of the suits that gather every now and then, mainly in Cape Town, to discuss and decide on the future of the country’s second most loved sport.

Yes, I said it, the administrators.

It is because of poor administration and interpersonal politics, the drive for self-preservation, that the Currie Cup’s existence and relevance is now in question.

It is because of the administrators and elected officials that the oldest domestic competition in world rugby has now been squeezed in between Super Rugby, the Rugby Championship and the PRO14. 

These officials, all of them members of Saru’s General Council, were wise enough to bounce the Currie Cup from pillar to post, adding and subtracting teams when they felt like it with little or no regard for the value of the competition.

Now Currie Cup rugby has become a farce and lacks integrity, epitomised by the big scorelines we see on a weekly basis.

Yes, that running rugby gets bums on seats. But it still has to be rugby and not ping-pong, like we have seen this year with teams caring less about sticking to the fundamentals of the game and preferring rather to score tries by the minute.

I am all for watching running rugby and seeing the unearthing of future stars, but I wouldn’t pay a cent towards the mockery that seems to be a slightly more physical version of the Sunday Touch Rugby league played at Pirates Rugby Club.

It has been enjoyable watching Griquas beat WP in Kimberley and the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, in the very same way the Pumas' performances in beating the Golden Lions and the Blue Bulls in Nelspruit have been a beautiful advert of what the competition is all about.

But it cannot be that the Cheetahs are now playing with their “C” team because their top players are playing PRO14, while the Lions are also scraping the bottom of the barrel with their player resources due to their top players being with the national team and elsewhere, such as Japan.

Something has to be done urgently to resuscitate the Currie Cup and find it a place on the calendar, where it won’t be undermined by any other competition, be it internationally or domestically.

More than just placing it somewhere on the rugby calendar, there must also be a format that will last beyond just one season so that unions and players can have more stability in their planning and in attracting sponsors.

It would be ideal that the current strength v strength format be adopted for at least five years while incentive is given to the First Division winners to be automatically elevated, while the bottom-of-the-log team in the Premier Division is relegated.

This seems to be logical, but I doubt that has dawned on those suits who already have one foot in the grave and seemingly want to take the Currie Cup with them when they die.


Pretoria News